Pardon our dust.
Content marketing is under reconstruction right now, and frankly, it has been for years.
Even when content marketing was a newer tactic online, there were naysayers. Now the naysayers point to the loads of crappy content and say, “You think that works?”
But there has always been junk. Currently, it’s just easier to find. It feels kind of dirty, like there’s a layer of filth that requires some serious Clorox Clean-Up.
But I know content marketing isn’t dead because it works on me every week.
I buy from brands who publish smart articles. I subscribe to video channels that persuade me to pay attention to them.
Underneath the dirt, there’s still a proven process that builds your business.
How we got here
I love “easy.” We all love “easy” … but one factor that contributed to the current content marketing climate involves the dark side of easy.
It’s easy to write for “everyone.”
It’s easy to put words together for a general group of people you want to attract.
And technology makes it easy to publish online.
So, all of this easy-to-produce, repetitive information exists on the internet, but the content doesn’t connect with anyone … potential audience members move on and the content creators are left thinking content marketing doesn’t work.
Writing for specific people requires a lot more skill.
It takes real research, real listening, real empathy, and real cojones … to publish over time and earn an audience’s attention.
As Sonia Simone always points out:
“We’re (still) not suffering from a glut of good content.”
Bulldozing the filler
There’s no substitute for the creative momentum you get when you publish on a regular schedule.
I like using the example of releasing new content once a week. It’s a model for focused content — a presentation your audience truly sees as a gift, something they look forward to getting.
That’s the type of content worth publishing.
Let’s say your ideal audience is “small business entrepreneurs.” I can think of a ton of typical information that would interest that group.
But as a focused content creator, you don’t publish for “the small business entrepreneur,” you publish for the small business entrepreneurs:
Those are characters whose attention you aim to earn and whose needs you aim to serve.
Start with your cast of characters each time you create
One piece of content won’t satisfy everyone in your audience, so that’s another reason why publishing on a set schedule is important. It gives you frequent opportunities to connect with different types of people.
When you plan your content for small business entrepreneurs, you’ll start with the question:
Who do you want to create content for this week?
Your profiles for each character will outline their problems and the types of resources they’d prefer to have for help.
For fun, let’s look at sample characteristics of what you might include for Charles and Colette’s personalities.
- He likes doing everything for his bespoke pastry business himself and doesn’t like hiring people.
- He writes engaging email autoresponders that nurture his prospects.
- He eats (tuna, BLT, chicken, etc.) sandwiches for lunch most days, sometimes while reading about garnish techniques.
- She wakes up at 6:00 a.m. and walks to a local coffee shop to socialize with other daily customers before she starts work.
- She loves collaborating in a team environment to grow her fashion-styling app.
- She enjoys taking her dog Nevil to a park in the early evenings.
Charles Content and Colette Content may have some overlap since they both belong to the group “small business entrepreneurs,” but avoid the temptation to be vague.
One week could be for Charles … the next week could be for Colette … and so on, for the other characters you create.
In your editorial calendar, keep track of who you’re serving, so that you speak to each character regularly, but there’s no need to be strict about it.
For instance, if you happen to write for Cynthia two weeks in a row, you’re not necessarily neglecting the rest of your audience. Cynthia Content might be useful for Carl or Cedric, too.
Get precise about what each person:
You’ll use those details to make individuals feel that your articles, podcast episodes, or videos were created just for them — because they were.
Copyblogger’s Content Writing Masterclass
Starting Monday, March 23, 2020, Stefanie Flaxman will be hosting a live learning experience called the Copyblogger Content Writing Masterclass. This is a live, interactive, 5-day workshop that is built for all types of content creators who want to build an audience of interested prospects.
Register for The Masterclass