3 Ways to Create Content That Connects
I’ve touched on the topic of writer’s block before. This is a bit different however. Finding the right content to create for your marketing can mean the difference between content that leads a prospect down the path to a sale and the kind that (even if popular) is unproductive.
Of course you know, this isn’t magic. Every single person who stops at your site won’t stay no matter how great it is, and every piece of content you create may not drive traffic or sales or anything else that might lead to bigger profits for your company.
Sometimes your content will miss the mark and fail to drive sales, but it may pique customer interest enough to earn a return visit.
So how do you make content that connects with as much of your audience as possible?
Find out what they want to know. Then tell them in several ways.
1. Answer the obvious questions first
Let’s deal with step one for now. How do you find out what people want to know? And why do that instead of talking about your fabulous product and how it will change their lives forever?
Well, first of all the issue isn’t “instead” it’s “also.” What you’re selling may be the new oxygen, but that doesn’t mean everyone wants to hear you list its benefits all the time.
For the ones that do, it’s sometimes as easy as collecting a list of frequently asked questions from various departments in your company, and just answering them on the site.
Why isn’t answering questions about your product enough? Because it doesn’t cast a wide enough net. People who know they are looking for you, or have already found you, will have questions that are specifically about your products.
What about people who don’t know they need you yet? Wouldn’t you rather have them on your list as early in the decision making process as possible? If so, talking about your product and your needs is only the tip of the iceberg.
Go beyond discussing your products
Have you ever gone to a networking mixer and had to sit next to “that guy”?
You know who I mean. The person who is always talking and never listening, going on forever about his favorite topic, himself. Not even in a way that could help you – what he could do for you, how he could help.
How would he know how to help you when he never stopped to find out who you are?
Remember that feeling. And in digital marketing, never let your company voice, or any of the voices from your company, sound like “that guy.” It’s much easier if as much of your content is focused as much on the lifetime value of connections as the immediate sale.
Now let’s talk about how to find out what your prospects want to know.
Put on your customers’ shoes
Start with your product or service. If your company has done its market research, you know who your best prospects are, where they gather, even what their general concerns are. At this point it’s time to get specific.
The first thing you can do is ask them. If you have an existing client base you can survey them, and as we’ve stated, include answers to questions you already know that they have. And if your email list is brand new? Send your newsletter subscribers, a short questionnaire to get to know more about them.
I consider it a mistake to stop here, though. People think they know what they want, and yes, they’re usually at least partially right. Everyone knows what their desires are when they are fully formed.
But again, it’s harder to convey your desires when you don’t know what you want yet. Arguably this is the best time to become acqainted with a buyer, before interest is fully formed. Bias hasn’t been formed yet either. The guard is down, the mind is open.
Despite mountains of research, we don’t know everything about why and when people buy things. Sometimes they go with what’s convenient, or what’s trusted, instead of the best value or perceived market leader. If you can be there before this decision is made, why not?
2. Could you find your company without its name?
The second thing to do is to take your product or service and start thinking about how you’d find your product if you were a potential customer that didn’t quite know what they were looking for at the time.
Write down lists of keyword searches and see if you can find your site, or at least your competition. Take note of where you find information and who has it, especially if it’s not your company.
What do you search for? How do you start this search? There are keyword research tools you can use, like Wordtracker, that will help you find more keywords. But it’s not just about keywords, it’s about being found by association, in searches on social sites, or even being where your customers might learn of you offline.
An example might help here.
If I’m still deciding whether or not I want to buy a new car or a used car, I might be looking for sites that have general information about cars for sale – car review sites, tools that help me compare. This is probably too early to catch me.
However, once I’ve narrowed it down to new cars or used car or a specific make of car, you can start to predict the kind of questions I might ask. I might look up information about fuel efficiency, start weighing the pros and cons of a hybrid car, try to figure out safety options for a family car, horsepower for a sports car.
If you know that people like me ask questions like these, you can have them answered in advance, and perhaps even find a place to put them where I’m more likely to discover them.
With that, let’s return to your specific quest here, making queries in YouTube, Google, Boardreader or Twitter, and how to find questions your customers may ask.
You don’t need a crystal ball to find out what people are already asking. Take the most general queries you found and add the word “help” to your query.
If you haven’t started this discovery process for your product, you can return to our example. If you go to Boardreader, which searches discussions and forums, and enter “help used car” you get results where people ask for help buying a new car, or articles that were posted about the most reliable used cars.
By reading the discussion, you’ll get a peek inside your future customer’s heads. They’ll tell you all their concerns, hopes and needs and all you had to do was conduct a search.
3. Use third party intelligence wisely
A third way is to look at what your competition has created. Howeve,r proceed with caution and a clear head – this can be a slippery and dangerous slope. You have no idea if your competition did their due diligence, or if they are participating in content marketing because that’s the thing to do right now.
And even with all other things equal, you can’t know just from Twitter shares, Facebook likes or the popularity of a YouTube video how their moves impacted profits, at least not soon enough to both take advantage of trends and be sure that your spend was worth it.
So knowing what else is out there can be a smart exercise, but it’s not an excuse to completely skip research.
Now that you know what to create, where do you put it so it gets the most coverage? Should you produce a video on your company blog or upload it to YouTube? We’ll talk about that next time.
Tinu Abayomi-Paul is Chief Visibility Officer of Leveraged Promotion, which performs corporate reputation management for mid-sized companies and builds demand generation systems. Want more marketing advice from Tinu? Click here!
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