- How-to articles and tips are the most popular forms of content marketing
- Use tie-ins to grab your audience’s attention
- Create lots of different media for your content
- Get your audience involved
Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing famously gave this advice to content marketers: “Be the best answer.” It’s great advice. You’ll never be the only answer—there’s far too much content competition out there—but you can be the best answer for the prospects and customers you’re marketing to.
After a few decades of doing content marketing (we called it by different names in the past, but the principle is the same), I can think of four foolproof ways for you to be your audience’s best answer. But they come with a caveat, the same caveat marketers and performers, writers and musicians have always known: the first step in connecting to others is always to know your audience. Listen to what they want, listen to what they need, and know what it is.
With that as a given, then, here are four steps to creating content that will be the best answer for your audience:
- You probably are reading this because of the title, where it says “four steps to developing winning content.” That’s because how-to articles and content offering tips and practical advice are perennial favorites. While I think this Cosmo-style headline is sinking slowly in the west, it’s still effective, because people want to learn how to do whatever they do better, faster, more often, more easily… the list is endless. And so are your options for content creation. Finding what your audience wants to do—and wants to do better—is key to getting your content read, thought about, and shared. Becoming the one whose advice gets followed is key to becoming a thought leader, a guru, a star in whatever firmament your audience inhabits. Face it: we’re all pretty self-centered, and any content that’s addressing us directly and giving us tips for self-improvement is automatically a winner.
- The next big content attention-grabber is content that’s tied in to other things going on in the world. The best and most obvious example of tie-ins is working a connection between your content and a holiday. Don’t have a holiday? Make one up: Days of The Year gives you the opportunity for a little humor and creativity in making connections with your marketing. How about a celebration of Cuddle Up Day for a furniture outlet selling sofas? And there’s no one who can’t find a tie-in to Talk Like a Pirate Day. But don’t stop at holidays: use the news, as long as it’s positive (no one responds well to tragedies being monetized). Local events and celebrations can work extremely well for locally based businesses. If the event is (or can be made) relevant to your audience, tie-ins are great tools for seizing attention. Just make sure the content that follows is equally riveting!
- If you are, like me, a writer, then when you think “content,” you also automatically think “copy.” We wordsmiths in particular have to remember that content—and often the most compelling content—embraces all media, including graphics, sound, and videos. The more different touchpoints you can create, the more people you will reach. Present useful webinars, put together helpful ebooks, record podcasts, and remember that YouTube is the fastest-growing search engine on the net.
- Finally, follow social media’s golden rule and get people involved. Tap into where your prospects and customers/clients hang out, and be present there. Make them laugh, offer trivia, send them reminders—it’s all great content that begs to be shared with others. Long-form content still works, too, so write blogs and engage segments of your customer base specifically within that content; write newsletters and make sure your forward-to-a-friend technology is turned on. The most brilliant content in the universe will do you no good at all if you don’t share it and engage people so that they share it as well.
Be the best answer by constantly creating content that adds value to the lives of your audience, and prospects and customers alike will see you as their first—and best—resource.
Jeannette de Beauvoir is a partner and content director at ptownie.com. A slightly different form of this article was published in MarketingProfs.