The Unselfish Guide to Creating Content

Creating purposeful content will help you reach your marketing goals, but it’s primarily about writing what clients want to hear and marketing that content where they want to hear it. In other words, don’t be selfish when creating content.

Good Marketers Strive to Make Their Customer’s Life Easier, But Sometimes Forget

As marketers, we often talk about the “selfishness” of customers. Seth Godin’s post What Every Good Marketer Knows says, “People are selfish, lazy, uninformed and impatient. Start with that and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.” Of course customers want to take the easiest route possible to learn about your business and products. After all, it’s said the attention span of Americans in the digital age is only 8 seconds.

Understanding this, good marketers strive to meet the needs of customers. But, marketers act selfishly too sometimes, putting personal needs or business needs first. That’s because it can sometimes seem that the business’ goals, the customer’s goals and your own goals all clash.

To ensure these goals don’t compete for your attention and they remain properly balanced, consider the following:

  1. The business’ goals: To succeed, the business needs to remain relevant in a changing industry, stand out from competition, get the attention of others, increase brand awareness, and, most importantly, reach its revenue goals — all with shrinking time and budgets.
  2. The customer’s goals: Sometimes our customers have specific or ”unsexy” needs, like wanting product FAQ information or comparison tables to understand how one of your products differs from another. They want data that details how your product performs in a specific situation. They want answers to challenges when they aren’t yet ready to consider making a purchase or even listen to your sales pitch.
  3. Your personal goals: We set personal goals to continue growing and learning, sometimes to get a promotion, win an award, or get some other form of recognition. In a quest to be cutting edge and build a bigger, more attractive-looking case study of our marketing genius, we sometimes lean toward campaigns and initiatives that are “over engineered,” or “unnecessarily complicated.” Examples of this might include being the first to a new social media site, being on too many social media sites or building a mobile app without a strategy in place.

When you focus too heavily on your personal goals and the business’ goals, you end up with bloated content that doesn’t provide value to your potential customers, making it even harder to reach your long-term goal.

So, How Can Marketers Balance These Goals and Priorities?

To create purposeful content, marketers should move away from over-engineering their efforts by focusing on a content marketing strategy that merges your business’ goals, your product or service niche, and the needs or pain points of your audience.

Purposeful content:

  • Has a reason to exist, so your audience will read it and take action.
  • Is intentional and part of a greater plan to move your audience toward a sale.
  • Meets your business’ goal, which is to generate revenue.

It starts with creating a content marketing strategy that defines your:

  • Goals for your content creation efforts.
  • Audience – including decision makers and influencers.
  • Brand’s niche.
  • Channel plan.

The beauty of a strategy is that it guides what you create and gives you the freedom to say no to anything that cannot be tied back to the strategy. The Content Marketing Institute provides more ideas on what information is typically included in a content marketing strategy.

How Do You Learn What Your Audience Needs from Your Content?

To better understand your audience’s needs and prioritize your purposeful content creation efforts, focus on the following:

Align Content with the Buyer’s Journey:

Think about your content in terms of the buyer’s journey, and map out appropriate content for each phase, ideally for each audience. You likely already have content to fit each phase of the journey (Awareness, Consideration, Transaction and Loyalty), so doing an audit of this content will help you better understand what you have and how to prioritize it. Also, be sure to align your CTAs with the appropriate buyer’s journey. Nothing turns your audience off faster than an in-your-face sales pitch when they’re not yet thinking about buying anything.

Solicit Customer Feedback via:

  1. Surveys: Google’s Consumer Survey is a great starting point for web surveys. Email surveys like SurveyMonkey and TechValidate are great options, too. A web survey will help you understand if visitors found your site helpful and if they were able to accomplish their goals. An email survey will allow you to ask questions about your audience’s purchasing behaviors, demographics, challenges and current perceptions.
  2. Product or business reviews: Reviews often provide great insights into how current customers are using your products, as well as their expectations.
  3. In-site search phrases: This is an often-overlooked tool, but terms used in in-site searches tell you what information your visitors hope to find on your site. If you’re using Google’s Custom Search Engine site search, this information will be available in your Google Analytics account.
  4. Support and sales calls: Ask these teams for call logs or occasionally sit in on calls to get valuable insights into what current and potential customers are asking.

Research your audience’s preferred channels:

Does your audience rely more heavily on trade publications, social media or forums for information? You can obtain this information through a customer survey, a social listening tool, attribution models in your Google Analytics account, or by researching where your competitors are focusing.

Creating Purposeful Content is a Win for Everyone

The result of purposeful, customer-centric content is a win for your customers and a win for your business, which means opportunities for you as well!

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