We specialise in finding and sharing great content. That’s really the essence of what a content marketing agency does. And we love it. Each member of our team is a passionate life-long learner, a motivated researcher and a dedicated writer (or writer-in-training). We have the added advantage of having a writer-in-chief who is both talented and qualified to provide the guidance we all need to improve our writing every single day.
Even so, we have days when we all stare at each other and say, “What more can I say about this subject?” We get this question even more often from our clients as they work on creating great content on a consistent basis.
Write what you know
This seems like a no-brainer, and yet we come back to it time and time again. Obviously we can’t write about a subject if we know nothing about it. Either we need to be immersed in our subject to the point of near-expert status, and many of you are that deep in your business; or we need to be expert researchers, able to plumb the encyclopaedic depths of Google and distil the essential truths contained therein. This is a skill and, frankly, it’s one we believe will be the key identifying feature of the visionaries of this millennium. Discernment is the new IQ.
There’s more to writing what you know, however. And it is this: you know more than you think you do. Take a moment to listen to yourself at the next family gathering, the next friendly braai. What do you talk about? How much do you say? Chances are, you’re talking about a subject you know and love. It may be your work (and we hope that it is … more on that to come), or a hobby. It may be a social or environmental cause. It could be your kids. It might be their education. The range of subjects is potentially infinite, and buried in there is something you really know a lot about. You’re practically an expert. Don’t sell yourself short. What you know has value for someone else. Share it.
Write what you love
This is where we touch on doing what you love. It’s a well-worn cliché that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life; but it’s only a cliché because it’s true. True passion and proficiency both result from finding what truly turns you on in life, and then pursuing it with all your heart. You can’t help but be good at something – awesome, even – if you love doing it. And the added bonus here is that your work will energise you, rather than drain you. You’ll be positively overflowing with enjoyment, excited to start work every day. This passion is contagious and affects every area of your life, making it a better place for every person you interact with. What could be more valuable to both your family and your team than an inspired, motivated individual? You’ll be engaged and engaging – every day.
Now, if you take that drive, passion and energy, and record it, you’re becoming exponentially more contagious. And you can share your vision with a massive audience, via the Internet, and potentially change the world. At the very least, you’re creating great content. You’re also recording your journey and leaving a legacy. There’s no greater gift than the gift of knowledge, and sharing your love of what you do is a practical way to give that gift.
Have a strategy
Alright, so you know what you’re going to write about: what you know, and what you love. That could be a LOT of content, however. And if you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve with what you’re saying, you’re going to be creating a lot of chaos. The last thing we should ever be doing with our content is muddying the waters or overwhelming our audiences. Really, strategy should be the first point. Once you’ve percolated the essence of what motivates you enough to write about it, you need to decide what you’re trying to achieve before you write a single word.
Who are you speaking to?
Identify your audience. Know their ages, genders, demographics. Where do they live? Where do they work? What makes them tick?
What do you want them to feel?
Should they want what you’re selling? Should they realise that their business needs the services you offer? Should they be jolted awake by the reality of crime in their area and their need for the security your company provides? Should they feel calmed and inclined to come to you for a massage every month? You need to know that before you start writing.
What do you want them to do?
Should they call you? Do you want your message forwarded to someone else? Would you like them to come to your store? Are you trying to generate awareness of what you do, or simply creating an online brochure to offer third party validation to a warm prospect? Be clear in your mind about why you’re creating content.
What aspect of your business will you focus on first?
For example, we have decided to concentrate on aXent’s core values as the foundation of the content of our first three marketing campaigns. We are focused on empowering women, building small businesses, and supporting life-long learning. We’re developing content that inspires and informs, based on what we know, believe, and have researched on each of these subjects.
Proper prior planning prevents poor performance. Now that you know what you’re saying, why you’re saying it, and who you’re saying it to, start saying it. But don’t publish anything yet! Make sure that you have at least four weeks’ worth of great content written, designed and scheduled before you launch. Then revise, revise, revise. It’s very rare that refining your work is not a good thing, and in online marketing it’s best to be as thorough as possible. Read it as if you were completely ignorant on the subject, and see if it makes sense. Then ask someone who IS completely ignorant on the subject to read it again, and check if they understand it.
Ideally, a well-structured strategy takes the reader along a path of discovery. So, if you present your uninitiated reader with all of the content in sequence, by the time they’ve finished reading it all, they should have a firm grasp of what it is you’re trying to communicate. If they don’t, you need to revise, restructure and rearrange until you’re getting it right. While time is of the essence in online marketing, a poorly-structured campaign can be worse than dead silence. You only have one chance to get it right, so make the most of it.
Keep looking for inspiration
Make sure you spend some time every single day reading about your field. This is good for your business, yourself and your writing. It’s such an essential part of your work that it really needs to be prioritised every single day. You’ll find inspiration to keep you motivated and on track in your personal and business growth. You’ll also find resources to share with your audience.
Share news relevant to you and your business
It’s all about you. At least a little bit. Keep clients in the loop with developments in your industry and in your business, giving them the tools they need to make the smartest decision for their business.
Share news relevant to your client base
Alright, we admit it. It’s not about you, after all. Not really. At the end of the day the most important content you share needs to be content that is relevant to your clients. It needs to meet their needs and provide value for them. If you never share anything besides the latest sales in your shop, or the newest shipment of stock, you’re not only not going to grow a following, you’re going to lose whatever following you may already have. People need to know that you care about what they care about, and that means taking the time and making the effort to find out what matters to your followers, and then making sure they get that information in an easy-to-use format. Retweet interesting articles. Share entertaining infographics. Be human and be social. Connect with your audience, and they’ll connect with you.
You need to establish yourself as an expert in your field, and that takes continual reminders and reassurance. You need to share your expertise with your audience, helping them to “do it themselves” while also subtly communicating the fact that what you do takes time, training, and expertise and perhaps, after all, they’d be better off having you do it for them. Your updates need to feed your audience’s requirements for growth. Whether they’re learning how to do their jobs better, developing a hobby or researching a new skill, you can help them. And if you do, you’ll win their trust and eventually develop long-term customers.
Keep an ear to the ground
It’s important to know what’s going on in your industry. As content marketers, we need to be on top of the latest developments in areas like, for instance, Google’s latest search algorithms or the newest social media platform. In your industry, too, there are bound to be elements that change regularly. Sometimes, there’ll be an aspect of your business that undergoes a major or radical change and that needs to be communicated with your audience. More than that, it needs to be explained. Never assume that because a new development makes perfect sense to you, your clients will understand it, too. Rather, simplify the key concepts and share them in a lively, readable manner. The value you add in this way is significant. When you simplify the facts you relieve stress, and this alone can position you as a trusted service provider.
Writing content, in the end, is simple and achievable. You can do it – and your business needs you to. Following these steps will help you achieve that goal. Once you have found your ‘voice’ you need to be able to use that content to convert customers from browsers into buyers. But that’s a whole post on its own, so keep an eye on the aXent blog to find out how to make your content get your customers to take action.