Content. Content. Content. Because of the way Google’s structured their SEO scoring system, everyone’s obsessed these days with producing a ton of content. Good or bad…just write something, publish it, and get started on the next piece. It’s all about getting crawled by Google’s SEO spiders.
And while there’s certainly some value in that approach—at least in making search engines happy—we can’t fully ignore the basics of copywriting in exchange for a better position on the search engine results page (SERP). It’s time to return to the basics of good writing. It’s time to swing the pendulum back from writing for arachnids to writing for humans. After all, they’re the ones who will ultimately make a purchase to buy your products or services.
Before you ever pick up your pen or make your first keystroke, ask these five questions (in order) to see if what you’re about to create will add any value in the minds of your buyers.
Why does this blog post, ebook, email campaign, or whatever piece of content matter? Why would your prospects or customers be interested in it? Is there a problem that you’re trying to address, an issue you’re trying to raise, or a role you’re trying to fill? Simon Sinek has a great TED Talk on starting with the why. And while it focuses on how leaders can inspire, consider the following quote from that presentation and how it’s equally applicable to the content creation process:
“Why? How? What? This little idea explains why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t. Let me define the terms really quickly. Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP. But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result. By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? As a result, the way we think, we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in, it’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations — regardless of their size, regardless of their industry — all think, act and communicate from the inside out.”
Assuming you passed through the first gate and found good answers to the “Why” question, then it’s time to ask yourself who would care about it. Is it best suited for your current customers? Which ones—long-time users or first-time buyers? Or maybe it’s better for prospects. Is there a certain buyer persona that needs to hear this message? Or maybe several groups need to hear it, and so a one-size-fits-all message just won’t do. Your content will need to be refined per each audience. Be sure to clearly identify who would be interested in your content marketing piece before you start creating it.
Once you’ve clarified the “why” and the “who,” then you can consider the best type of content to create for these groups. Will a series of tweets with targeted hashtags suffice? Maybe adding a collection of CTAs on your website that point to a well-designed landing page will work better. Or maybe it’s time to invest your time and energy into creating an eb00k. Only you know what deliverable will best send your message and be best consumed by your audience. Or maybe you don’t! Maybe you should start by reviewing your marketing analytics or surveying your audience to first see what they prefer.
Parkinson’s Law says “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Very true. Figure out when this content needs to be created and set some deadlines. Create some milestones for you and your team to reach so that your great content ideas actually come to fruition.
Will it sit on your website? In how many places? How will it be found? Or maybe you’ll also end up creating a hard-copy piece that needs to be delivered to your brick-and-mortar locations. Does a display need to be created for the content? Think through all the locations this content will be posted and consider all the corresponding elements to make this content shine.
Ask these five questions and you’ll be writing great content capable of feeding both humans and spiders.