The five basics of content marketing begin with your audience and learning who they are and what they need. A great starting place is constructing personas. Once you’ve identified your intended audience, you can tailor your content to help motivate prospective users deeper into the buyer’s journey and your goal to convert them into paying customers, new subscribers, attendees and so on. Now that you’re armed with this ammunition, you’re ready to create your content!
What Separates the Great from the Good
B2B marketer and leading content expert, Jonathan Kranz, recently published a post with the Content Marketing Institute about his experience as a judge at the Content Marketing Awards, specifically the trends he identified that separated the top three submissions in each category from the rest. Clear patterns emerged, and he summarized them as a guide to help others create “relevant content that reinforces bonds and encourages trust.”
You need to serve somebody -- but not yourself
The weakest content was clearly self-serving. Kranz noted that he could “practically hear product managers and PR people whispering in the writer's ears as they wrote,” where the best content put the audience first by focusing on their needs and concerns. As we discussed previously on our blog, instead of pitching your products or services directly, deliver information that provides value to your audience. And if you’ve done the research to ensure you understand your audience, you can better understand what problems they might be looking to your business to solve and create the insightful, compelling, and useful content that will engage them and increase their loyalty to you.
Take deep dives instead of Shallow Strokes
The best content was focused, specific, and favoured concentration. Rather than spreading itself widely, it dug deeply to uncover fresh new insights or information. An example of these two different approaches could be a hypothetical “Is Drupal Right for You?” versus “The Top Five Ways Drupal 8 will Benefit Your Business” -- the former is too vague to stand out, but the latter addresses a specific need with a specific tool.
No Risk, No Reward
Much of the content that Kranz reviewed was what he called “same-old, same-old: the same-old tips, the same-old recipes, the same-old human interest tearjerkers — even the same-old pop culture references.” The best content offered not only something new, but it often had something unexpected as well -- “unusual inspirations, unconventional analogies, and surprising stories.” Ideas that make you the most nervous are often the ones most worth pursuing. Without risk, there is no reward.
Successful execution often goes beyond the basics
We understand the foundation for good content -- it’s well-researched, well-written, and above all else, it’s useful for those who consume it. But the best content goes above and beyond these basics. The best content is unique, whether that means original photography rather than royalty-free stock images, professional illustrations commissioned specifically for that piece, or writing that connects with users by going beyond the facts to uncover the hidden truths behind them.
Bigger Isn't Always Better
Kranz reported that there was no correlation between the quality of the content being produced and the budgets of the brands behind them. What differentiated great content from the rest was imagination; the great content broke new ground, whereas the mediocre content stuck to the conventional path. Understanding your audience, taking a creative leap to connect with them, and sticking to your core vision matters more than an uninspired execution, no matter how well-funded it is.
All of that said, we’re not unreasonable. Not every piece of content you create will be the best one since your last creation -- that kind of output just isn’t realistic. The good news is, as long as you continually create relevant and useful content and stay abreast of current trends and content marketing strategies, they will work together to contribute to your specific content marketing strategy and help build a trusting relationship between you and your audience. The next post in our content marketing series will discuss winning ways to promote the content that you’re now ready to create.