Whether it’s a blog post, a magazine article, a slide deck presentation, or customer support FAQs, creating content is tough. And it’s made tougher when you feel as if there’s nothing to say. The good news is that there’s always something to say, it’s just a matter of teasing that great content out of whatever nook or cranny hides it.
It used to be that companies would share information only when they had something newsworthy to say, but those days are over. If you want to remain relevant and top-of-mind today, you need to find a way to converse much more frequently than only when you have big news.
In general, you should think of good content as something that solves or shares. It doesn’t shill. It doesn’t hawk your wares or push sales messages. Instead, it creates value by positioning you as a reliable and valuable source of information.
Good content is the soul of who you are. The best content appeals to an audience on an emotional level. It pulses with life, allowing your audience to connect with you as one person to another and to view your business as what it is–a living, breathing entity that’s run by real people.
When you’re creating content, always keep three questions in the back of your brain:
- What’s relevant to my customers or my prospects?
- Why should they care?
- What’s in it for them?
What is your audience really interested in reading, seeing, knowing?
The first thing to do is to tell your story, your own history. Think about the inspiration behind your company, share that inspiration and the ‘A-ha’ moments that you went through along the way to building your business. You can tell stories of how your product has evolved. Search through old marketing collateral, for example, and mine stories from there.
The key is to find the angle that makes your story appealing and then frame that into true, relevant, human, passionate, and surprising content in terms of why it matters to your customers. Remember, when talking about your product or services, you want to think about how they add value to people’s lives, how they ease their troubles, how they help shoulder their burdens, or meet their needs.
You could also give an inside look into your business— behind the scenes—show things that your customers don’t always get to see. Share photos from an insider’s view of your company, or maybe tease some new products. Again, it’s important to think like an outsider. What’s relevant to your customers, what’s in it for them? What’s interesting? Remember that what you consider normal or boring is something that others might think is cool.
Number two, answer frequently asked questions. What are some of the recurring questions that you get from customers? What does customer service say that customers are contacting them about? What keywords are people using when they land on your site? Monitor those keywords to find what people are looking for; they can impact existing content and suggest new opportunities.
Another source to find questions to answers is social prospecting. Take a look at keywords that trend on Twitter, for example, but also look at question sites like LinkedIn forums, Focus.com, or Quora, where you can target certain areas and see what are people talking about there. It’s a great way to find prompts for writing and to see what questions people have so that you can answer them in your own voice on your site.
Finally, many companies use crowdsourcing to create content. If you opt for this angle, ensure that you’re always focused on making your customer the hero. Make it about the end-user, not about the product. Make it super simple for people to share their stories with you. Ask questions in a way that compels a response. Not “How was your experience?” but, “What was your favorite photo? What was the best time you had and why was it so special?”
For more tips, check out the MarketingProfs Slideshare presentation, “What to Write About When There’s Nothing to Say.” And for an even deeper dive into the art of content creation and writing, please join us for Marketing Writing Bootcamp, starting on June 13. Use promo code MEDIABISTRO to save $200!