The problem with so much of content today? Frankly, it’s cliché.
Nothing is less differentiating or exciting than stale content repackaging well-trodden ideas. Audiences know it, too. If they can find the same information across any of the million other search results, what reason is there to stay and engage? Why bother with the same-old, same-old?
Meaningful content makes an impact on the reader and leaves them wanting more. It gives them something that they couldn’t get anywhere else, whether that’s a nugget of information, a tool, checklist or video.
It’s time for marketers to level up content development –- and here are six principles to make it happen:
Be a visionary -– or, at least, have a vision
Anyone can write a piece of content and throw it online. A simple search will pull up page after page of formulas for crafting the perfect blog or whitepaper. That’s one of the reasons why the web is cluttered with so much dull content.
Instead, consider the why behind content. Know who the audience is, their expectations and what perception marketing wants to convey. Ask what actions the content should encourage, and then combine this information into a sentence or two.
Voila! A content vision. Now, rather than producing the same stale content as competitors, marketers can say:
“We are creating retention-centric content to provide our customers with knowledge and resources to maximize their investment with us and keep them engaged.”
Don’t be afraid to be ruffle some feathers
It’s easy to get caught up in jargon and specifications. But customers are never purely rational –- they have feelings and emotions fueling them. Rather than playing it safe, adopt a unique point-of-view that stands out, or perhaps is even a little provocative.
For example, rethink overused themes. Listicles are popular because readers like brevity. But too many listicles are straightforward and unimaginative. Instead, try taking a narrative-driven approach –- rather than “5 reasons cybersecurity is essential,” try “5 times companies wished they had better cybersecurity.”
Humans also don’t talk like machines or computers. Limit jargon to the bare minimum and work to engage audiences in a conversation. Build rapport and serve as a trusted source (or…maybe even a friend).
Embrace your new salesperson
Forget the handshake. Content is the new first impression. Seventy percent of B2B buyers engage with content before they reach out to a salesperson. The upside is companies have more space to tell their story. The downside, however, is audiences’ ever-strained attention spans.
Remember: most buyers are looking to solve a problem, not engage with content or vendors. Amid a hundred other solutions on the market, marketers have to demonstrate and differentiate their company’s value above and beyond any other. Keep in mind the famous quote, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.”
Then, once content has done its job and the buyer is ready to seal the deal, do not make them struggle to find someone to speak with. Content, especially down-funnel, should provide a clear next step to engage, start a conversation and make a purchase.
Follow the Rule of 7
A great piece of content should never stand alone. Reuse, repurpose and recycle it to reach an even broader audience – whatever their preferred channel or format. One rule of thumb, if content cannot be converted into at least seven assets, it’s time to think bigger.
- Cornerstone: The core piece of content that serves as the foundation for multiple assets across multiple mediums. For instance, use survey research to draft a meaty, content-filled whitepaper.
- Infographic: Take the survey results and whitepaper to create an infographic summarizing the findings.
- Social media: Break apart the infographic into individual stats and soundbites for animations and interactive content on social channels.
- Blogs: Use each survey finding as the premise for separate blog posts.
- eBook: Then combine all the blog posts into a punchy eBook.
- Webinars: Harness subject matter experts from your business to host sessions discussing the survey findings.
- Videos: Now, edit the recorded webinars into a fast-paced video or two. There you have it! Seven pieces of content to suit any and all audiences or channels.
Keep the content rollin’
From “Stranger Things” to “Bridgerton,” bingeable content keeps audiences glued to their screens and looking forward to the next season. The same holds true for content marketing.
Consider Netflix or Hulu. Every time a show ends, what’s the very next step? The streamer either transitions to the next episode or provides a recommendation. Do the same with content! Relate them by industry, problem or solution and make it a compelling transition for audiences.
Likewise, pay attention to how audiences engage – and with what. Which videos do they watch all the way through? What content do they click on next? What gets downloaded? There’s a reason streamers keep those numbers close to the vest – they offer a tremendous amount of insight into audience behaviors and trends.
1% to make a difference
The internet is awash in content. But 99% doesn’t speak to buyers’ problems, uses terminology they don’t understand or repeats advice they’ve heard before.
Remember the phrase, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all?” Use a similar phrase as the guiding star for content development, “If you don’t have anything unique or interesting to add, best say nothing at all.”
Be a part of the 1% that makes a difference. Those million other search results are no problem when you deliver something no one else can. Using these principles, marketers can differentiate their content and give their audience what they cannot get anywhere else.
Karsten Burgstahler and Traci Scherr are senior content creators for Arketi Group, an integrated digital marketing and public relations firm that helps B2B technology organizations generate revenue and accelerate growth.