“A problem well stated is a problem half-solved” – Charles Kettering
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of B2B marketers plan to create more content in 2017 compared to 2016. There’s a good chance that you either are considering it or in that 70% already.
Once you’ve decided to implement content creation as part of your marketing strategy, most people want to immediately get going on creating!
But hold your horses!
When faced with the challenge of producing consistent, high-quality content that works — fast — it’s best to get a good handle on understanding the approach to solving your content problem before you get rolling.
Stop and think about your goals and what you want to accomplish with your content. Then, consider who you’re creating content for and why it matters to them. Finally, you’ll want to put systems in place to help you be fast, nimble and effective.
Here are three things to consider before you build your content empire!
Before you start on your content creation expedition, you need to know what your ultimate business goals are. Developing your approach up front helps to keep you on track when you’re producing.
To use a sports analogy, imagine yourself in the film room. No pads and sneakers. Just your team and a whiteboard for sketching out your goals and how you want to get there. This is where you define your content strategy. Moz has crafted what is probably my favorite definition of content strategy at the moment:
“Content strategy concerns itself with the vision—the ins and outs of how and why your content will be created, managed, and eventually archived or updated. It looks at all of the content your customers ever encounter”
When we drafted our Social Strategy for People and Words, we came up with three primary goals. We decided that we wanted to (a) gain awareness by sparking conversation, (b) earn attention by contributing to it and (c) gather intelligence by listening to the community.
Those goals serve as a general guide for what we produce on social.
After you know the objective of your content, you need to think about what value you can create for your customers with your content.
Asking the right questions is everything. What challenges are they facing in their roles and lives? What frustrates them about the solutions they have at their disposal? How can you help?
After you’ve collected and synthesized answers to these questions, you’ll probably start to notice some themes. Those themes are your starting point for how you might be able to organize the content you create.
From there, you test and learn what resonates with your audience.
Whether you’re writing website homepage copy to improve your messaging, building a landing page to sell a product, or developing content for an email campaign, think of your people first! How can this content serve them?
I know what you might be thinking, though!
“We’ve got to get going on! We need to start creating! There’s no time for all that”
The reality is that speed counts for something, too. A lot, actually.
When it comes to creating content, there’s a parallel processing challenge marketers are faced with. You have to “keep the lights on” and hold your audience’s attention while you develop the longer term strategy and continue to learn more about your customers.
One of the panelist at a recent Content Strategy Chicago Meetup, was a Senior Manager of Content Marketing at LinkedIn, Sean Callahan. Regarding the process of creating content, he said,
“You have to be accurate, fast, entertaining and do it all again tomorrow”.
And that’s true. It’s best practice to create content quickly and consistently. Just make sure that there is value added for the reader and the subject maps to your overall strategy.
In fact, the process of creating helps you refine your strategy. You can only learn what truly resonates with your audience by testing, learning and adapting.
For that reason, it helps to create light, nimble and flexible systems to help you adjust without too much fanfare.
We’ve started to build templates and formats for blogging and social posts. We’ve outlined themes and started to develop a library of topics so we can create in bulk.
These systems are helping us move towards consistency, increase the speed that we can create and allow us to adjust as we learn more.
— People and Words (@peopleandwords1) March 16, 2017
When you make the decision to add content creation to your marketing strategy to help grow your business, it helps to approach it strategically.
Once you’ve solved the problem of getting the foundation in place, that’s half the battle.
If we begin the process of creating with a purpose in mind that serves our audience, we’re on the right track. And by building systems to steward the process, we can create consistent, high-quality content that helps us reach our goals — and adjust as necessary along the way.