The case for valuable content
I love the beginning of a new year. After 18 years running a business I’m not exactly starting with a blank sheet but nonetheless, fresh possibilities abound and I find that really exciting.
If you are like me you’ll have sat down this week to hone your focus and direction for the months ahead. Content plays a huge part in driving our business forward. The blogs, guides, talks, newsletters, social media posts and books that Sharon and I write are our business development engine (and much more besides) so we’re planning very carefully here too.
But creating content is a big commitment isn’t it? It takes up a lot of energy, thought and time. And time is soooo darned precious when you’re running a business. If we’re going to invest in creating content this year – you and me – it’s important we approach this INTENTIONALLY, starting with the ‘why?’
So what do we want our content to do for our businesses in the coming year? What purpose will it fulfil? Now is just the right time to get this clear.
7 surprising goals for your content
One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that there are many good reasons for creating and sharing valuable content. Some might even surprise you.
1. Happier, more successful clients
This is a key goal for us. First and foremost we see content as a part of our service. We write for our clients – for those we are helping with content and business development strategy, and for our Pub School trainees. We write to add value to their experience as clients of Valuable Content. If they’re struggling with an issue or we want to embed the learning and advice we’ve given them, we’ll write something just for them. We send them links to our content directly and make our ideas available to others too, which brings us neatly to point number two.
2. More of the right clients and projects
Now this one you’d probably expect. Pure business development. And it certainly works that way for us. A key goal for the content Sharon and I create is to get us found, liked and trusted and ultimately to build a really engaged list of advocates who love what we do, become our clients or recommend our training programmes and strategy work to their circles. Our aim is to attract not just any old leads, but the right leads – to form a connection with type of people we love to do business with. The right content acts both as a filter and a magnet for your lead generation efforts. And it’s not just at the top end of the sales funnel where valuable content makes a difference. If you have plenty of powerful content to hand that illustrates the value at proposal and pitch stage you’ll see faster and more successful bids.
3. Clearer thinking, better advisers
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking.” ― Joan Didion.
Writing your thoughts down – giving your perspective on a matter – makes you and your team better at what you do. It’s the best way I know to organise your thinking, your ideas, and give them structure. If you’re a consultant, adviser or coach of any variety this will develop your practice no doubt.
4. A test bed for new ideas
Creating content is a low risk way of testing out ideas. Your content can become part of your research and development. Got an idea for a new way of helping your clients? Get your thoughts down and ask your readers what they think first. Assess the reaction. Does it hit the spot? If not, tweak and modify before you invest time and resources.
5. Get your team contributing to business development
Business development works best if the whole team contributes to the sales effort. But it’s often hard to motivate experts across the business to get out there and ‘sell’, in the traditional sense. One of our clients, change consultancy Project One, has set this as an explicit goal – to encourage people across the business to create and share content with their networks and so contribute to the sales effort in a way that feels natural. We back their mission, and the collaborative team effort is driving up brand awareness, building stronger relationships and driving new referrals and sales leads. You can read Project One’s content story here.
6. Save you time
This one might well surprise you. You might feel like it takes you hours and hours to perfect a blog. Content takes serious time so how can it save time? But if that blog can be sent out numerous times over the coming years in response to questions you get asked over and over again, you’ll quickly get the time back. Turning FAQs into helpful blogs can save you many hours, stop you reinventing the wheel – and demonstrate your usefulness. The forgotten purpose of content – saving time!
7. Build pride and confidence in your business
Creating a fantastic body of content that supports and strengthens your brand builds pride and confidence in your business. We love seeing the change the right content makes for clients; they move from being embarrassed about the face they’re showing to the world to walking tall. If you’ve got your website and content right, you’ll understand the difference it makes having an online presence that reflects who you are, and demonstrates the best of what you do. Happiness – that’s got to be a great goal for 2017 hasn’t it?
What do you want your content to do for you?
Setting clear, motivating goals for your content is the first step in any sound strategy. What do you want it to do for you and why?
For us, content fulfils all the different purposes above but in our content strategy for the year we are highlighting and tracking three main goals:
- Content for customer service. To support our clients better. To teach, educate and inspire our people to adopt the valuable content marketing approach for the long term, and so build businesses they love.
- Content for lead generation. Our business development goal is to pull in the right leads for two sides of our business. To fill our termly Pub School programmes and attract more great clients for our consultancy and strategy work.
- Content to make a difference. Our altruistic goal is to make a difference to the wider world. We create and share valuable content to fulfil our bigger mission – to help people across the world create marketing their customers love and so build good businesses they’re proud to run. Better, happier business – that’s our aim. Not everyone can afford our services but our free content helps get the word out more widely.
How about you? What’s the main purpose of your content? Pick a few key goals – not too many – and write them down. Kick off your new year’s content thinking here.
Want to really push your content efforts this year?
Getting clear on your goals is the first step of documenting your valuable content strategy. You can download our useful content strategy workbook here.
Serious about investing in your content this year? Check out January’s Pub School – our group training programme to help you get your content into gear. Full Pub School details here.