This is one of the greatest challenges I face every single day. Picking up my laptop and deciding what to write about today.
The blog. It isn’t meant to be a journal. It isn’t supposed to be for me. It is supposed to help my audience, or at least a part of my audience.
So, every day I need to decide on a topic that would be valuable to my audience, I need to think of a challenge they might be facing in their business, and then I need to think of the best possible way for me to craft a narrative around all of it. It’s hard, and since no entrepreneur wants to let their audience down, it comes with its own set of expectations.
Content marketing is crucial for us, and if you do it right, it can add tremendous value to your business.
For the indisputable value content marketing adds to the business, there are not many businesses that do content marketing right. Let’s get it straight, having a blog isn’t content marketing. If you don’t have a well crafted strategy and plan behind how you are going to be producing your content, why you are producing that content, and for who, then all you have is a blog that people may or may not check out once, after they have already landed on your website. Oh, and the secret sauce? Two parts quality of the content, one part its relevance and contextuality with your audience and your space, and a generous dollop of consistency.
Consistency matters in content. I grew my Medium account from 0 to 3k followers in three months without promoting my stories on even my own social media handles. All backed by a few publications, strict adherence to what I wrote about, and publishing every single day. (And in the 4 years it’s been since that three month mark, I have not gained even 500 new followers. Why? Because I stopped writing.)
If you try understanding the traffic at Hubspot, SEMrush, Moz, or any of the marketing bigwigs, you will discover that ~40% of their traffic comes from Google. And a bulk of this traffic is because of their content. Hundreds of thousands of visitors every day, all coming in because these guys never stopped producing good quality content that’s relevant to their audience.
Always remember, the right marketing is supposed to create, communicate and deliver offerings that are of value to the audience. Your content marketing will be bound by the same parameters.
So, how do you go about it?
#1. Tell a story!
This is the most common and prevalent advice you will come across. Marketers are supposed to be storytellers. Well. Yes and No. While the storytelling part is true, what the story is about is much more important than how you tell that story. If all your stories are about what your product is, what it does, or what it has done, you will have a tough time keeping your audience engaged, interested and intrigued.
Effective storytelling involves a deeper understanding of emotions, motivations and psychology. Storytelling in marketing is an intersection of problem solving and storytelling. Before you push out any piece of content, you should always have a very clear, specific and satisfactory answer to the question : what problem is this solving for my audience?
For example, by the end of this story, I want my audience (marketers, SaaS entrepreneurs and content creators) to feel confident in their ability to create a consistent stream of quality content themselves.
“…what the story is about is much more important that how you tell that story…” As I was writing that line, I realised that’s not always true. Good storytelling can, at times, be exceptionally crucial. But it is impossible to be amazingly great at telling a bad story, if the content is at best mediocre. It is, however, completely possible and manageable to be great at ensuring “what the story is about” matters to your audience.
Your customer comes onto your website. What do you want them to do next?
Your customer stumbles onto your blog. What do you want them to do next?
Your customer is reading a story on your blog. What do you want them to do next?
There are countless such questions I can ask you, and while I stopped at just three, you should ask yourself these questions. It will help you get clarity in setting up your goals and objectives.
For example, when a customer comes onto Benne’s website, I want them to check out the features first. So, everything on my homepage and a good percentage of my other pages are designed in a way to facilitate that pathway.
When a customer stumbles onto this blog, I want them to check out at least one story.
When he is reading a story, I want them to read at least 60% of it.
To measure these actions, I have goals set up in my analytics account to help me get an overview of how these pathways are performing day after day.
But, the real point is, for each of those questions, my answer could have been a bullet list. When a customer comes on the website, I could have wanted them to (1) check our product page, (2) check our pricing plans, (3) create an account, (4) follow us on twitter, (5) initiative a chat with us.
Each one of those is an action branching out in a completely different direction. How can I take effective steps to facilitate those pathways, if the right way for one is completely different from the right way for another?
In a business, focus is good. It helps you keep your eye on the prize at all times. So, if you answered those questions, and any answer had more than one action in it, you know you need to answer it again!
Focus and priority is important in every facet of your business, and your content isn’t any different.
In deciding what you write about, and what you don’t needs you to have an absolute unwavering focus on the objectives. For every story I write every single day, there are at least ten to twelve ideas that pass my thoughts and get rejected - either immediately, or after some thinking. That’s almost 500 story ideas that have been rejected since this blog came into existence.
Be authentic. Customers can smell inauthenticity. They can sense ulterior motives. So be honest in your desire to be helpful.
Do not create content that is presented with the ruse of being helpful to your audience while in reality they are pieces meant to be helpful to you and you alone.
Any business, whether it is Buffer, Hubspot, or Benne Analytics, wants their content to drive value back to the business. When I create content every day, I do want it to some day translate into revenue. But I want to do that because my customers find my product to be valuable and they trust me and my credibility, my expertise enough to transact with me instead of any other option they may have.
And my content pieces are a part of my business.
Despite the fact that our product is a web analytics platform that helps customer measure and analyze the traffic to their website, that is not my business. My business is to help my customers grow. That is what drives me. The product is a tool we use to help our customers do that. That is the same driving force behind our content. So, while I do want my content to drive revenue to the product, the primary focus while creating the content is always the same - to help my customers grow their business.
So how can you create quality content consistently?
Start your day, week and month by asking yourself one simple question - what can I help my customers with today/this week/this month. And then start creating content that helps you do exactly that.
Does your content need to be perfect? No!
Does your content need to be a literary masterpiece? No!
Does your content need to be absolutely unique and godly? Hell no!
It just need to be helpful.
Start creating the content.
In time, your quality of writing will improve, the flow will come, the writers’ block will disappear, and the topics will come naturally to you.
As long as you continue being genuinely helpful to your customers with your content, the rest will fall into place with time.
I once started a simple initiative. “Let’s write together”. It was designed to help anyone who may be struggling with their writing. I would help them formalise a plan for their writing routine. Let’s do it again! If you are struggling with getting your content marketing started, or if you are stuck anywhere because of any reason, I am just a tweet away for you. Tell me what you are struggling with, and I will make your pain go away.
That’s it for today, see you tomorrow.
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