So You Want to Create Content? Do These 4 Things First.
It may seem simple at first: Create content. Write a blog or social post. Design an infographic. Film a video. Make something people can watch/read/use/experience.
All these are valuable tools indeed—and these are only a few—but have you thought about the why? About what—or who—is calling for this particular form of content? Or content at all? Have you thought about the strategy behind the content you’re developing? The reasons for its existence?
Although we like to say that content is king (at least content writers like me do), and it sure is fun to get in there and make lots of things, we all should still take a step back and remember a few key areas to address before plunging in.
It’s like starting to make Thanksgiving dinner without any preparation. Are you really going to start cooking without first considering essentials like the menu, how much oven and counter space you need, if you have enough silverware, the dietary requests of your guests—and so on?
That sounds like a recipe for panic.
But with planning and understanding, you can get a result that satisfies you and everyone on your guest list.
What you need to think about before creating content generally falls into four main categories: Audience, Goals, Tools, and Repurposing.
The first thing you need to think about is your audience. You may have fantastic tools, tactics, tricks, etc., but the audience won’t care unless there’s something in it for them. Think about who they are. What do they need and want?
At DemandLab, we work closely with our clients to develop personas: relevant slices of their key market segments. A persona is an imagined ideal customer for the product or service being marketed. It’s defined by their requirements, demographics, and what you already know about your existing customers or prospects. This work helps everyone hone in on the people you’ve targeted and identify what matters to them. It clarifies their pain points and goals. By developing personas, you can understand what they need and what you can offer. When you give this work the time and thought it deserves, it can transform your marketing performance.
Have you ever tried on a one-size-fits-all shirt and had it look good? No. Use personas to ascertain who will be most receptive to your offering. All your content should stem from that.
Even though your audience should be the first thing you think about, of course, you’re not going to ignore your own goals for content.
What do you want to do? Educate? Inform? Create awareness? Engage your audience? Get them to buy stuff? To buy more stuff? It can be a combination of all the above and more, but your second priority is to consider your goals.
Goals don’t work if you develop them in a vacuum. So make sure you have buy-in from all parties. For example, sales may have one goal, marketing another, product development another, and IT still another. Before developing content, you’ll need to align those goals as much as possible within your organization.
And let’s face it, you probably want to increase revenue. Because while all the awareness in the world is excellent, marketing eventually needs to prove it’s contributing to the bottom line. Content that draws in and converts prospects—for which marketing is responsible—will play a massive role. Good content drives revenue.
Literally hundreds of content deliverables exist, from blogs to infographics to podcasts to ebooks to memes to videos and so much more. And it’s totally fun to glom onto the latest and the greatest.
But is it going to work for your audience?
All content has a purpose. But let’s go back to those poorly fitting one-size-fits-all shirts. It might cover you, but it’s probably not super-flattering. You need content tailored for your company and its needs. And that comes from developing a content strategy.
As usability.gov says, “the goal of content strategy is to create meaningful, cohesive, engaging, and sustainable content.” Much of that will develop from your work assessing goals and personas.
Consider all the content deliverables available to you. But also think about if they will resonate with your audience and move them toward your goals. That’s part of your content strategy. It informs the tools you’ll use.
Your opportunities to repurpose
Sustainability not only applies to the environment; it also applies to content. Once you’ve determined your audience, goals, and the types of content you need, it’s time to think about how you can recycle all that great material.
Think of content as a valuable resource. Are you getting the most use out of it, and are you using it effectively? Taking content and strategically spreading it across multiple channels should also be part of your strategy.
Because just like Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll have leftovers. And those are pretty good if they’re done right.
For example: Say you have a white paper. You can turn it into multiple blog posts or even a podcast or video. You could take a video and make it into shorter videos or a social media post. And are you transcribing podcasts into articles for people who can skim the content but can’t devote the time to a podcast? Or vice-versa: Say someone doesn’t have the screen time to read an article but has lots of time in the car. They’d appreciate a podcast.
The best use—and reuse—of your content reflects your audience, goals, and tools. If you think about what speaks to your audience, your strategies, and the many sources of content you can create, employing content in other areas will come naturally.
It’s worth the wait
I believe if something is designed well, you don’t just notice its design; you notice how it makes you feel. And just like good design, good content should also feel seamless.
But those experiences can only truly support your marketing goals when you develop a thoughtful process behind them. It’s tempting to want to jump in right away, but planning will serve you well in the long term.
Wondering what to do about your content? Check out how DemandLab’s content marketing services can help.