What is valuable content?

Sonja Jefferson

Let’s be clear about what we are talking about here. ‘Content’ is the words on the page you are reading. It’s the copy on your website, the Tweet you posted last night, the videos and images you share. When we’re talking about content, we just mean words, knowledge, and information.

Valuable content is supercharged content. It is content with a bigger purpose; useful information created for a particular audience; content that hits the mark. By valuable content we mean the words, knowledge and information you choose to shape and share for your clients and customers: content that educates, helps or inspires them. Content they appreciate.

Like beauty, the value of a piece of content is in the eye of the beholder. What is valuable to me isn’t necessarily valuable to you. Here is some of content that I find valuable.

My valuable content

It’s Monday morning. I sit at my desk with a packed week ahead. I open up Outlook and face the usual deluge of emails. I delete about 30 of them straight off (starting with the spammy ones I don’t know and didn’t ask for), but there are a few emails I always look out for:

  • The niche newsletter from Recourses for marketing services firms like mine which consistently gives me good ideas on how to run my business better.
  • The timely ‘Monday Morning Wave’ email from Surfers Path magazine, with a stunning surf photo and links to videos on their site.
  • Swimtreks monthly missive about wild swimming, with tips on swim technique, photos of gorgeous places to swim and upcoming events I can join.
  • Copyblogger’s superbly written articles on writing and marketing on the web.

I valued the content on these companies’ websites enough to sign up for their email updates in the first place; and I read them, even look forward to them despite the pressures on my time.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that all these companies are trying to sell me something.

  • Surfers Path want me to keep buying their magazine (and I do).
  • David Baker of Recourses has a few books he could sell me (I have got most of them).
  • Swimtrek wants to encourage me to take up one of their swimming holidays (I have and will again).
  • And Copyblogger wants me to spread the word, and sign up for more of their services.

But the content these companies share on their websites, in their emails, across social media doesn’t major on the hard sell. Their marketing all starts from the premise of delivering valuable information to me, their kind of customer. They understand their customers well enough to know exactly what type of information we appreciate, and they focus their marketing communications on generously sharing their knowledge. Their marketing majors on delivering high quality educational, informative and entertaining content – the kind that customers like me really appreciate, and it gets results.

Making your content valuable

Valuable content is at the heart of all successful marketing today. If you want results for your business, take a leaf out of the books of the companies listed above. Here is a quick guide to help you ensure the content you create hits the spot with your clients and customers.

Create content that is:

  • Useful – educational, informative or entertaining.
  • Focused – relevant, timely and meaningful to its target audience.
  • Clear and compelling – telling a story that people understand & respond to.
  • High quality – interesting, well produced, with substance.
  • Genuine – written from the heart by people who care.

In any combination, these attributes form just the kind of content that gets read, shared and acted upon. Businesses that really win with their marketing exhibit all these qualities across the variety of content they put out there.

What content hits the spot for you? I’d love to know. And most importantly, what content would your customers really value?

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10 Comments

  1. Hi Sonja,
    great article, very clear as always. I’d just add “entertaining” to the list. Life (especially in the world of business) can be awfully serious.

    I write a monthly newsletter for a client in the field of commercial property. I suggested that we put in one story a month that’s purely “fun” and only loosely connected to business in general. Reluctantly the client agreed.

    A few months down the line the open rates for the fun story are significantly higher than for all the other more serious articles. I think this has helped lift overall readership of the newsletter.

    In my own blog I like to have a bit of fun. Not sure if this makes others inclined to read it, but at least I amuse myself.

    Reply
  2. Valuable content as usual Sonja. Thanks for sharing.

    I would add a bit of personal stories to content… Just to make the material relatable (if that is even a words) to your audience. I struggled to open up and share my personal journey but I find that blogs and newsletters with personal stories are the ones that can passed on and shared.

    Reply
  3. How do you edit comments? Noticed typos in mine but no option to delete or edit 🙂

    Reply
  4. Good points you two.

    Jim – I think that’s hugely important, especially in this market. We all need a bit of a lift. I certainly get that from your blogs – http://www.storiesthatsell.co.uk/blog!

    Hi Griselda – I think that is very valid. I too find it difficult to share personal stories in my blogs, but I do enjoy it when I read a personal slant from others. Ian Brodie does this very well I reckon – http://www.ianbrodie.com. I like his style. Must try harder on that one. (I fixed the typos by the way!).

    Thanks for the comments.

    Sonja

    Reply
  5. What a cracking blog! I think it says it all quite frankly – the only thing I can think of to add to the list is:

    Visual – sometimes us content marketers get too focused on copy when a striking image can say so much. With the volume of info out there, we can find it hard to process all the words. Visuals make it that much easier. Pinterest’s success is telling. That and the fact I can’t get that amazing surf shot out of my head!

    Reply
  6. Hello Lucinda.

    That’s very true. The recent rise in ‘infographics’ as a form of content bears testament to that fact too (although my graphic design friend does laugh at the fact that infographics – i.e. graphical representations of an idea – are heralded as something new!).

    Love the definition of valuable content that our friend Steve at F-works just posted on Twitter in response to this article:

    “Valuable content is created with a genuine desire to help, free from a need to make money first, though that often follows.” @steve_fworks

    Perfect, don’t you think?

    Sonja

    Reply
  7. Absolutely – nicely put. Although you could get into the realms of help… inspire… nurture… but sometimes ‘less’ is definitely ‘more’.

    Reply
  8. My clients are fellow business owners, so whatever helps them make money/save money with their website/internet web presence or save time seems to be at the epicentre of valuable content from a business context. I have a love of cool productivity tools. If appropriate, I’ll share. Although it’s tempting to share personal items, there are only so many people that appreciate my travel pictures with my Gnome. (ok, maybe I’ll include just one:))

    Reply

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