One of the common objections we hear from people regarding writing a blog regularly, producing content for marketing purposes, is that they are likely to just waste hours of time with no real results.
However, one of the keys to finding online success is great content — without it, any real success is unlikely. Some reasons why content continues to be king:
- Your competitors are doing it
- Your customers expect it
- It builds credibility and community
- Most importantly, it’s a central component of SEO strategy – from dynamic updates, to links, to keyword relevance
How do you write content that will bring you links and leads, and is not just wasted time? I find that judging content is very similar to how I shop for fruit in the produce aisle.
1) On the Shopping List
If it’s not food that I need, I’m going to walk right by it. Just like the produce section is filled with items I don’t care about, so the online world is filled with content that just doesn’t matter to me. Is your content a piece of information that your customers need? Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What are common pain points that they share? What are common decisions that they have to make? Only write about what is relevant to them and their role.
The audience for exotic fruits is significantly smaller than for the basic staple fruits. What is considered exotic depends on many factors such as season, geography, demographics, etc. A highly sought-after fruit in Honolulu might not see the same demand in Hoboken. Think carefully about your target before you decide the flavor of content to provide. Like all good marketing that produces results, your content must be a highly targeted staple for your customers.
3) Not Covered with Dents or Bruises
Every time you mention your own product, solution, service or anything else promotional, it’s just as if you’ve taken a lovely banana and pounded a hammer on it – well, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you get the point. Do not constantly mention your products, solutions, services in your content. Think of your content as an additional service you are providing to your customers, potential leads and industry as a whole. This is not the place for naked self-promotion, with one exception: case studies. If you’re able to tell a story about how a customer using your products was able to achieve a particular objective, and that information may be useful to many others, go ahead and tell that story. Just be sure to highlight your customer more than your own products.
4) Fresh and In-Season
Don’t write about anything that’s so yesterday, or over talked-about, or is no longer a hot pressing issue. Stick with current events. What’s the impact of a recent news event? What’s a way to deal with a new or upcoming change in the industry? Be current. Be fresh. Also be sure to do this in a way that maintains a politically neutral voice (unless your business is about being partisan!), and is seen as intending to be helpful to all your customers. You don’t want to inadvertently alienate a segment of your customer base.
5) Home Grown
There are channels for just being an information pusher — that is, simply republishing what others are saying — but if you want links and to showcase your unique knowledge, you’re going to have go home-grown. Be original and express your unique view, experiences or knowledge. Help expand your customer’s way of thinking by sharing new ways to look at things. If you’re not a naturally strong writer or video producer, get help from friends or associates who are. You don’t have to write “War and Peace”, but dashing off a couple paragraphs of thoughtful prose, proof-read by someone you trust, should be easy for most people to do. We frequently hear from business professionals that their kids helped them produce short videos that have big impacts.
6) Looks Appealing
Fruit that’s bruised, or has worms crawling out from a holes, will get passed over. Which is why content format matters. Something that looks appealing will easily catch my eye. You don’t have to be a great designer or deeply experienced in the art of blogging. If the content appears to be easy to read – usage of images, headers, etc. — then I’m more likely to read it since it seems like it will be quickly digestible.
7) Easy to Eat
A tough chew is going to get spit out, so make your content readable and even entertaining. Jokes, no matter how lame, are almost always appreciated. We are more engaged in learning when we are entertained along the way. Just be sure you’ve got an angel on your shoulder whispering in your ear, in addition to that little devil!
8 ) Easy to Digest
There’s not point in chowing down on something if it’s just going to come right back up. No one wants any pain from eating something. So make sure to write in the correct tone and language for your customer base. Only use advanced terms or acronyms if that’s the way your customers speak and think on a regular basis.
This is fruit, so it should be good for you. Content that is bashing or negative in tone isn’t a healthy read, so keep positive.
10) Disease Free, and Passes the Scratch-and-Sniff Test
I might be wary of some random piece of fruit if I’m not sure it comes from a credible source. Make sure you give credit where credit is due and provide context around why or how you know what you know.
11) Tastes Good
The end result needs to be positive. If the recommendations you share don’t work, or the news is inaccurate then the whole thing was a waste of time. If it doesn’t taste good it will be thrown away, and worse, the reader might even tell their friends how truly awful it was. Check and double check that your information is right.
When we find something amazing, we love to tell others about it: “Oh my gosh – you have to taste this!” Make it easy to share and even encourage comments and sharing. If your website isn’t built on a blogging platform like WordPress, be sure your blog is (and that it’s integrated into your website — a stand-alone blog won’t help your SEO prospects). Blog publishing platforms automatically build in optimization features so you don’t have to worry too much about your content being found. If you haven’t already, make sure you have a “Share This” feature included in your blog posts, which enables readers to instant share a link to your stuff via Twitter or Facebook, among other social sharing services, and ensures your content is as portable as possible.
13) Get it Delivered
If I fall in love with something, I’d really like to make getting it again a breeze. Make it as easy as possible for a happy reader to subscribe – whether it’s an email newsletter, an RSS feed, or following you on a social network. Once you’ve got their attention, make them a repeat reader. You should be gathering a following of your content just like you gather customers of your products.
14) Regularly Available
I will stop looking for a type of fruit or fruit from a certain producer if it’s not regularly available. So preset how frequently you are going to publish content and stick with the routine. (For instance, if you subscribe to the Yield Software newsletter, you can count on getting it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday morning.)
15) Consistently Good
We are creatures of habit and value consistency. If I don’t consistently have a good experience with a particular type of fruit or producer, I’ll look elsewhere. So take the time consistently to ensure you content is always great and aligns naturally with your brand’s values.