If you’re starting to write content in your business, or training a team to write content, knowing where to start is one of those lovely challenges you always face.
It’s tempting to jump straight into content topics, or what content methods you’ll use to attract customers and market your business.
But hold up.
There are a few things I want to share with you.
Master these first and they that will make your life so much easier.
I’ve been teaching these very things just this week in Paris as part of a corporate content workshop.
And now I want to walk through them quickly with you. Ready?
1. Know your goals (and how to measure them)
Why do you want to write content in your business?
Don’t worry, it’s just you and me here so you can be honest. Is it because you’ve seen the flurry of activity from other companies? Or because there seems to be a lot pressure to join in the content marketing craze and to start business blogging?
That’s okay. Seeing what other people are doing is a great way to get ideas and stay on top of what’s happening in your industry.
But if you’re going to invest time and money into the creation of content you need to know how it is going to help your business.
Some common content goals include:
- Promoting you products
- Building your audience engagement
- Increasing your brand awareness
- Improving the experience of customers to your site
Which is it for you? All of them? Just a couple?
Once you know this, you then need to know how you can measure if your content is moving you closer to, or further away from that goal.
Here are some ways to measure this:
Promoting products: Are you getting more traffic to your product pages? Is time spent on your product pages increasing? Are you making more sales?
Building your audience engagement: Are you driving more people to subscribe to your newsletter? Or are you encouraging them to like your Facebook page? Are you seeing an increase of followers on Twitter? Are more people commenting on the blog posts that you write in your business?
Increasing brand awareness: Are people sharing your content so that new people can discover your business and what you do? Are you monitoring social media accounts to see if people are sharing your content across Twitter or Facebook?
Improving the experience of customers to your site: In large organisations, a lot of valuable time is often spent on phone enquiries. This is especially true if you offer an application service (to register for a program or course for example). I’ve worked with a lot of customers who want to reduce the time spent on this. As a result we focus on publishing clear instructions, making important information easy to find on the site and answering the most common enquiries through the web content.
2. Know your audience
Once you know what it is you want to achieve (and what success looks like), you need to know who it is you want to reach. Who can help you achieve those goals?
If you want to write content that people love, read and share you have to know what it is they’re looking for. What problems they have, what goals they have, and what questions they tend to ask.
For an in-depth (and free) guide to creating your customer profile, click here.
3. Understand what makes an engaging story
The facts are not enough.
You have to know how to tell an engaging story. During the workshop the team did a memory exercise to illustrate why facts are not enough. Their first task was to remember a list of 20 items read out in a list.
Most people remembered between 10-12 items.
Next, they were told a new list of 20 items. Except this time it was read as a short story.
After being questioned, the group were able to remember between 19-20 items, and they remembered details much faster than when they were trying to recall a list.
4. Study strong content structures
Whether you’re writing sales pages, web content or blog posts, you need to know how to place everything in an order that:
- Gets the attention of your ideal reader
- Makes them interested with your page / post opening
- Gives them simple and clear details
- Tells them what to do next to find out more / take action
Want a quick tip on transforming your current content structure?
Start your page by addressing the interests of your reader. For example:
- If you’re interested in…
- If you enjoy…
- If you want to achieve…
- If you struggle with…
- If you’d like more information about…
- If you’re wondering about…
This is something we work on more in depth during full day content workshops and the effect on content is stunning.
5. Know how to review content (respectfully)
Unless you want your content team to fall out after the first draft, make sure you have guidelines about how you will review content as a company.
This saves a lot of time when it comes to the revision stage of writing content because you can focus your efforts on the really important changes, rather than arguing over whether it should be ‘while’ or ‘whilst’.
When drafting your revision guidelines, consider:
- Formatting rules
- Audience interests (making sure content is a suitable topic)
- How the content relates to your goals
- SEO considerations
- Style / tone-of-voice
- Easy-to-read paragraphs and language
Guidelines give your employees more confidence when it comes to writing content because they have an idea of what to aim for, and a guide to keep discussions objective and useful rather than personal and painful!