November & December theme:
“Choose One Thing”
Posted in :  Brain Waves

I recently taught a class at The Grove, a coworking and collaboration space in New Haven, Connecticut. The class was How to Develop a Content Strategy for Your Website, an approach that can lead to great success in generating new business and establish thought leadership. It is also a topic that can seem overwhelming to many people because it’s still relatively unknown or, if known, unpracticed.

Content marketing includes your website but is only one piece of a holistic strategy.

For the class, we discussed a framework for determining what your potential customers care about and how to develop the content that will persuade them to take action. Simply put, content marketing is everything you do online and offline to start a conversation that will uncover new possibilities and relationships. Note the key ideas of “conversation” and “relationships.” Yes, you are creating content but that content is designed to engage with people so it turns into new opportunities.

Whenever I teach, I always learn something new from questions posed from the class. This time, two questions stuck out that seemed to resonate as popular pain points:

How do you know what people care about?

There’s a great quote by Jeff Eisenberg that I use as my credo when it comes to relevance: “Speak to the dog, about what matters to the dog in the language of the dog.”

Ensuring relevancy comes through in your blog posts, social media, videos, white papers or any published content begins with listening. There is no lack of content online in any given expertise or industry. Forums like Quora, industry trade publications, blogs, LinkedIn Groups and collective news sites like Alltop are great places to uncover what others are talking about. Another great way to gather market research is by watching people in your network. What do they post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? If you’re not sure, email them and ask.

Another way to find out what your audience cares about is to implement tools on your website like the 4Q Survey that asks four questions:

1. Based on today’s visit, how would you rate your site experience overall?
2. Which of the following best describes the primary purpose of your visit?
3. Were you able to complete the purpose of your visit today?
4a. (If yes) What do you value most about this website?
4b. (If no) Please tell us why you were not able to fully complete the purpose of your visit today?

Why should anyone believe me?

Good question. Essentially, this question is about trusting strangers. If you’re a stranger to someone, why would they believe you and not see your efforts as self-serving? Begin by ensuring your content is 80-90% educational, and 10-20% promotional (or less). Help others learn something and walk away with real value. You are competing with endless amounts of content online so chances are high that the basic knowledge about your industry is already out there. A nearly infallible way to generate interest and show credibility is to speak from experience. Theories are worthwhile but make sure what you have to say always points back to the personal experiences you’ve had. That way, there is no question about where your expertise comes from.

In your content marketing strategy, there could be other pain points that might prevent you from beginning, or taking it to the next level. Have no fear and trust your gut. And, by the way, what works for someone else may not work for you. Be ready to test and learn (and mess up), and test and learn again. The more you keep trying, the more you get to something that sticks.

What’s your greatest challenge when it comes to generating content? Please add your comment below.

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Posted by: Steve Machesney
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