Content Creation Fundamentals
People have an irrational fear of writing I think. To be fair, I have a degree in journalism, so writing is not usually a struggle for me, however, there are times that I find the idea of writing daunting and I get stuck. Why do people struggle creating content, even short blog posts? I think it comes from wanting to be the best at everything and just not knowing how to start.
How much content do we create? According to the State of Content Marketing Report 2014 Survey Report by LookBook HQ and Oracle Eloqua, marketers are producing a lot of content. In fact, 62% of content marketers produce at least one asset every two weeks, and 29% create multiple pieces per week.
How to start the writing process when you don’t know where to begin? One of my favorite pieces of advice came from last year’s MarketingProfs B2B Forum where I heard Erika Napoletano speak for the first time. She said, “Your words are the best words” and to me that pretty much sums it up. Stop worrying about writing War and Peace or the next “home run” piece, just start writing and then write some more and then optimize. Aspire to hit it out of the park, but don’t let it hinder your process.
The key to writing good content is having a holistic Demand Generation Strategy. You won’t get too far in developing relevant and engaging content without defining your audience, understanding what they need and want to hear, planning what you want to convey to your audience, and how you want to share information with them along their buying journey. Here are some guidelines for content creation to get you started keeping a few things in mind.
Strategy: A content strategy is not documenting how many pieces of content you will produce, the titles and when you will complete them. That is just an editorial calendar. To develop a basic strategy, you need to think about who your buyers are (because B2B purchases involve many different buyers), how they consume information, when they consume information in the buying cycle, what they actually like to read (or watch, or listen to), and why they consume information. When you create content think about how each piece is going to help your buyer with their needs and where it is most appropriate in their buying cycle. If you can’t do that- stop and figure that out first.
Audience: Always think about your buyer when you write. Don’t write unless you know who you are writing for. Write to them and for them. Your goal is to write something your buyer wants and NEEDS to read to help them solve their problems, not the latest product specs or brand propaganda. Not sure what motivates or concerns your buyer? Ask them. Ask your sales team too – just don’t make assumptions. Make understanding and helping your buyer top of mind when you write anything.
Content Type: All content types are not created equal. Content type is almost as important as the content itself. Not all information can be presented via a cool infographic no matter how much we as marketers want to develop one. Certain topics lend themselves better to certain formats. It all goes back to the strategy and knowing your audience. If you have technical content to share with your buyer, a white paper or instructional video with drawings on a white board might be the best choice verses a complex infographic or an eBook. You need to map content type to best fit the audience and their preferences and pay attention to when they consume the content in the buyer’s journey. Think about when and where your buyer will see this when you decide on which content type. It matters.
Voice: This part can be tricky – people often struggle to find their “voice” when writing content. Individuals have personalities and we tend to write and speak differently depending on topic and audience. It is important to let your personality/corporate identity shine through in certain areas (blog posts are an example where writing can be more informal) but not so for white papers or customer case studies. Again, know your audience and tailor your “voice” accordingly. You shouldn’t put forth cheeky, funny marketing-speak in your white paper or technical videos, but it might be appropriate for your eBook to a junior marketing audience. Once again, it goes back to understanding your buyer and that Demand Strategy.
When producing content, remember, you are the expert. Your voice and your content format matters, but you first have to have a buyer-centric strategy to ensure the content achieves your objectives. Don’t worry about perfection if you are new writer. Plan out what you need to accomplish, keeping the buyer’s needs in mind, and write. Then keep writing.