Long before it was in vogue to be talking about thought leadership, we knew content was king. Now everyone is talking about – and pushing out – a whole lot of content.
The exponential growth of mobile technology and professional social networks such as LinkedIn has put the movement into overdrive. Good content cuts through the clutter and is able to leverage the power of social media.
Unfortunately, much of the content being served up isn’t all that good. Here are five things you need to ask yourself before hitting “publish” on your next blog, white paper, case study, article or opinion piece to determine whether it’s good and share-worthy:
• Do you know your target audience?
Content is the most effective way to reach your target audience and make a first impression.
But first, you need to know who they are. Who is your content intended to reach?
Are you trying to make an impact with C-level executives or are you looking to strike at pain points of a mid-level employee?
Are you trying to get noticed in the information technology department? Purchasing? Business unit level?
Are you serving it up on their preferred medium (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)?
Do they prefer short, to-the-point case studies or lengthier articles?
It’s imperative to know what your prospects are looking for so you can provide solutions for them.
Once you’re able to answer these questions, you’ll be able to tailor your content to their needs.
• Does it offer a solution?
Once you know your target audience inside and out, the next step is to demonstrate how your services can solve one or several of their pain points – right now and into the future.
By addressing issues your prospects aren’t yet having, but very easily could have, you are both keeping ahead of the game and delivering real, actionable information.
In other words, if you can’t identify a direct-use case for the information you’re serving up, you might as well not be serving it at all.
• Is it timely?
Timely content is relevant content. By tying your content in with recent industry news, you’re addressing a topic that people are already interested in and likely want to know more about.
A newsworthy piece is more likely to get shared because people always want to be in the know. When your content is on-trend, it puts you in the position to become a thought leader in your industry.
And if your content marketing is really good, it may even go viral.
• Is it engaging?
Nobody wants to read a blog post that sounds like it was generated by a robot. Your company should not only have its own voice, the content you produce needs to be human, relatable and thought provoking.
Organize your ideas in such a way that makes them easy to parse, so your audience can pick and choose the points that appeal to them the most.
Remember, connecting with your audience is everything – never place additional roadblocks in their way.
• Is it customer-focused?
Your content should not be an inflated sales pitch or purely SEO-driven. Shoving your brand down a prospect’s throat via content marketing won’t help anyone, and it certainly won’t drive leads.
Focus instead on educating your readers with useful, industry-relevant information that they’ll be inclined to share with others.
Your content isn’t all about you – it’s about helping your customers.
Once you’ve drafted a piece you’re happy with, go back and read it critically – and with these five questions in mind.
If you can answer “yes” to all five, you’re ready to hit that publish button.