Ask the big questions to find your voice
We’ve come a long way, baby.
It’s accepted that having a strong online presence and marketing with content is a cornerstone of marketing today. Businesses of all shapes and sizes have committed to creating and sharing valuable content online as a way of winning more work.
So much so that content marketing has become a sprawling metropolis. The range of activities and tactics that fall under the content marketing postcode is huge, and is still growing.
The production of quality content has got simpler. Business owners can write a blog and share it in minutes. Companies can fire out content via smart CRM systems that take the guesswork out of targeting and measurement. Agencies can write and share your content for you. You can tweet from the train, or go Live in your lunch break. Content marketing tactics stretch as far as the eye can see.
So getting content out there into the world is not hard. Anyone can make a noise these days. What’s not so straightforward is getting heard. How can you develop a clear voice that invites the right people to listen and take notice?
Despite the tech and the tactics, the fundamental question of what content you should be creating has not got any easier.
There’s no system or app that can define the purpose of your content. The first stage of creating a content strategy remains resolutely people, not technology, focused.
Working out what to say and how to say it is still a matter of hard thought and soul searching. It takes research and creative thinking. You have to talk to your customers and listen well. It’s a process of exploration, and while you can get help with it, you also have to engage with it fully yourself.
In the sprawling metropolis of content marketing, we’ve set up the Valuable Content camp at this first stage of content strategy. The big ‘why’ and ‘what’ of content marketing, rather than the ‘how.’ We’ve developed a process that helps you understand your business and your customers better, so that you can define the purpose of your content marketing and find your business voice. It’s one of the big things we teach at Pub School, and it’s where we add value to larger organisations through our Content Lab consultancy projects. I want to share the essence of that with you here.
Questions to help you find your content marketing voice
If you’re wrestling with the big content questions, this is for you.
What content should we be creating? What should we be saying? Where should we be focusing our marketing efforts for the results we want?
Start with these questions.
Questions for you:
- What are the goals for the business?
- What work do you want to win?
- What does the business need to deliver – both in terms of the life you want to lead, as well as the bottom line?
- What’s your mission?
- Which clients light up your life?
- What’s the change your business wants to make in the world?
Get clear on your own purpose. Your time and energy is finite, divert it towards the areas that matter most. Think hard about the clients and work that are most profitable, but define profit widely. Clients that bring you joy become natural advocates of your business, and pull in more of the right kind of work. They’re worth more than clients who don’t value you, and who you struggle to please.
Who are the people who believe what you believe? Seek them out through the content you share.
Questions for your clients:
- What’s your goal? What are you trying to achieve?
- Which challenges do we help you with?
- How do you describe the process of working with us?
- What difference do we make?
- Why did you choose to work with us?
- How can we deliver more value?
- What’s the pain that we take away?
- What would have happened if you hadn’t found us?
Understand your client’s world, and how you fit into it.
The content that’s right for your business lies in the intersection between the responses to those two sets of questions.
The content that’s right for your business lies in the intersection between the responses to those two sets of questions. Focus your content delivery at the clients who are most closely aligned with the goals of the business. Create content that helps the customers that light up your life. Deliver more value for the people who share your mission.
Put it all together to find the right tone
Create this content using the language your people use. Ditch internal jargon or inward looking phrasing, use the words your customers use to describe their challenges. Speak directly to their challenges in an every day conversational way. Tell stories that show you understand their fears and aspirations. Ground it in reality and it will resonate with the people you want to talk with.
Find your voice, and use it to connect with the people who will help you build your business.
Make finding your voice a priority.
- Book some time out of the business so that you can answer the big questions away from the day-to-day distractions.
- Make a list of clients and customers to interview over the phone, and book phone calls with them over the next few weeks.
- Put it altogether. Do some creative thinking in your sweat lodge and emerge with a plan!
P.S. Big thanks to Lizzie Everard for the image of Pow Wow Plain. More of this coming soon.