Content, content everywhere. You know it is important to your marketing. You want to create stuff that customers appreciate and like you for; valuable content that spreads the word, builds your reputation, pulls people towards you and motivates them to buy. But when you log into LinkedIn or cast a weary eye on your inbox you’re inundated – 5 top tips for this, the ultimate guide to that. Everyone seems to be at it!
If you’re going to invest in this content thing you have to be sure it’s worth it, that it means something. You don’t want your customers to feel like you often do – a bit ‘meh’, or at worst downright annoyed. Is content becoming the new spam?
I worry about this. Yet even in this era of overwhelm there is content I truly value. Some of it comes from the ‘superstars’ who have been honing their skills for a long time – Chris Brogan (on business), Henneke Duistermaat (on writing), Doug Kessler (on B2B marketing), Hiut Denim’s David Hieatt (on purpose and brand) – I always look forward to their stuff. So damned useful and interesting.
But it’s not just content from the superstars that I appreciate. Christian Tait’s blogs make me think harder about design; small video production firm Doubleshot has only just got started with content marketing but they are absolutely on point in sharing their video secrets; photos shared by Sands Beach Resort in Lanzarote make me long for the sun and keeps them front of mind.
Content like this I appreciate and act on. I’ve referred all of these companies very widely (hell, I’m like an extension of their marketing departments!) and, what’s more, I’ve bought from most of them too.
Creating truly valuable content that connects IS possible, and it’s worth it, even in an increasingly crowded space. You just have to approach it right.
Here are a few ideas to help you do just that.
How to create content that connects
- Get your intentions right and your actions will follow. When it comes to creating and sharing content ‘help don’t sell, talk don’t yell, show don’t tell‘ is the very best mantra to hold in mind. I’ve found that there’s a paradox at the heart of marketing: the more you help, the less you sell, the more you sell. Funny isn’t it? To truly connect you have to genuinely care.
- Think like a customer. Put yourself in their shoes. I don’t just mean conjuring up ideas for content we think our customers would like. The trick is to get out there and talk to real people. Listen hard and they’ll willingly tell you what content they’d value from you. Ask what they struggle with, then answer their questions through your content.
- Write for one, help many. Have a real person in mind with everything you produce – that’s a great rule for writing good content. Can’t think of WHO it’s for and how your content will help? Then the content is unlikely to connect. Write for someone, always (Ian – this is for you!). If what you create helps or inspires one person then chances are it’ll help many others like them too. But write for everyone and it’ll fall between the cracks. It always helps to have someone in mind.
- Give away the process. You have loads of experience in your business. You might not even think that this will be interesting or useful to anyone but be assured it will be. Lifting the lid on your process makes for compelling content. Take a look at the way web firm Newfangled share their thinking – this is ‘show, don’t tell‘ at its finest. Show your work.
- Share the excitement. Enthusiasm is infectious. Share what you truly love about what you do and you’ll find that energy bubbles through it. Check out design agency owner Bob Mytton’s Jazz Types project to see genuine design love in action.
- Share lessons from the dark. Not just the polished corporate version of yourself but the human side too – real, messy stories with genuine authenticity. Chris Brogan does this with warmth and bravery. Living with depression, wrestling with his weight, business lows as well as his highs – we love him for his openness and we learn from his stories. His vulnerability makes us trust him more, and his content is always super engaging as well as useful.
Inherently valuable or surprisingly human
Create and share stuff that’s “inherently valuable, surprisingly human or unexpectedly useful.”
If you want to connect in the sea of noise you have to really push it on the value front these days. Create and share stuff that’s “inherently valuable, surprisingly human or unexpectedly useful.” That was Joe Chernov’s advice in a recent interview and I think he’s so right.
Yes, the content game is not an easy one but that’s an opportunity, not a blocker. You can do this. Even if your budget is small. Even if you’re part of a corporate firm removed one step removed from customers. Whatever your business you CAN create meaningful content that makes a real connection.
Start here – call up one of your customers
Want to create stuff that connects? Ask your customer. Call someone you love to work for and look at the world through their eyes. Start by asking them this question:
What’s the biggest challenge you face when it comes to X* right now?
(* X = the area your business helps with)
What insight do they crave? Use the conversation that springs from this question to write a blog post for that person. Write about the challenge, and use your knowledge to help. Keep it tight and focused – one person, one challenge. And share it widely.
Content does matter. And there’s everything to play for.
Let me know how you get on.
Other content that might help
- Is this content valuable? A useful checklist for you
- Check out our latest Valuable Content Award winners Project One to see how it works in practice
- Where are you on your content marketing journey now? See where you are on the map.