With the constant typhoon of content that floods us everyday, just being accurate and informative isn’t enough to stand out from the crowd. Pick any topic, Google it, and you’ll find page after page full accurate advice and information – some worthwhile, some not. It all depends on the reader.
People are looking to the internet for genuine solutions, searching for everything from tutorials, to tips, to instructions, to ideas and inspiration. So, as our audiences and their needs grow more sophisticated, so should our content grow more valuable, providing more than static and noise to the digital universe. Below are 5 very simple guidelines that help us get there.
1. Identify the real pain points.
Sometimes good content is like good medicine. The more you know what ails your audience, the better you can be at providing a useful solution. While it’s fine to provide aspirin for a headache, it’s even better to find out what’s causing the headache to begin with, and treat that. Approaching any subject further upstream will help build toward better solutions.
Think about a customer that is trying to lose weight, but isn’t eating right… perhaps they are time starved and have fallen into a rut of relying on fast food, or they consider healthier foods too expensive. A good content provider can deliver easy solutions and inspire their customers to overcome these barriers on their way to success.
2. Provide something new.
Once you settle on a topic, do yourself a favor, do a little research – most topics are well represented with existing content. The good news? A good content provider creating from a position of passion probably has a unique point of view, and can provide something relevant and valuable. Switch it up, bring new ideas to the conversation. Try new mediums, video, infographics, podcasts, whatever it is, make sure it’s providing something real and new to your audience.
3. Get to the point.
Set it up, make it easy to digest and understand, and close. Guy Kawasaki says if you can’t pitch your business in 10 pages and 20 minutes, then you probably haven’t got a business.
If you can’t present your content succinctly in a handful of points, then you probably haven’t sorted out it’s authentic value yet, or how to communicate it. No worries – keep at it, distill, hone, tweak, cut and refine. If you feel need to elaborate on something, it might be better to create a link to content on a related topic. This will go a long way to keeping your content easy to digest, and help you build your expertise on a subject. Along with this, if the purpose of your content is lead generation, make that easy and rewarding for your customers. Keep it apparent, that doesn’t mean you have to put on clown shoes and break out a neon sign, but get to the point as succinctly as possible.
4. Relate and be positive.
Chances are, there is not a brand out there that relates to everyone on Earth. Here’s a secret. That’s okay. Going back to the research you did on your subject, you probably saw a lot of “general” posts on it. How do you step out from that crowd? Build your content on shared passions. Relating to an audience on shared passions in a positive, meaningful way is far more infectious than watering it down and hoping it sticks. Be fired up, be positive, know what buttons to push with your audience and relate to their enthusiasms. It will end up being far more rewarding to both of you than if you fall into a passionless murmur.
5. Kill your bore.
This is probably the most important point. Kill your bore. Kill it dead!
It sounds like a no brainer, and we all nod in agreement, but sometimes, as content providers, we feel like “All we need to do is tell the facts! Our side of the story! People will love it! They’re searching for it after all! We find it interesting… everyone else will too!”
If this were true, we’d still be using dial-up and reading fields of text in 14 px Tahoma on a gray backgrounds – just for the facts. Your information can and should be entertaining, dialogue built on shared passions. Even Airlines, some of the stodgiest companies on the planet, have learned this. Despite having an audience sealed in a tube and facing the right direction, despite presenting something as important as a safety video, people still tune out. Many airlines have discovered that if they want to capture attention from devices, newspapers, crying babies, etc., dialing up the entertainment not only captures attention and helps deliver the material, but also leaves an indelible impression on the audience about the brand. And it also helps make flying, or at least bucking in, suck a little less.