How to Research and Prepare for Quality Content

February 23, 2017

How to Research and Prepare for Quality Content

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What makes you different? Why should your audience pay attention to what you have to say? If “content is king,” then your company should be searching high and low for resources that will make your messaging come out on top. In other words, you need to do some solid research and preparation before hitting “share.” This is the in-between stage in the content-creation process—you know what you want to say, but you aren’t quite sure how to say it or back it up. Your research and preparation will determine the overall message, tone, and audience for your content. Although the topics of each piece will differ, using quality research and thoroughly preparing your messaging will give your audience consistent, dependable content. Here are three tips for researching and preparing content that will make your audience keep coming back for more.

  1. Who do you want to read your content?

It’s time to pinpoint your target audience. In other words, you need to create your ideal buyer personas. “Trying to sell products and services without understanding your ideal customers is like driving with your eyes closed,” says Greg Ciotti, lead content manager at Help Scout. “Although making use of customer feedback is a great place to gather intelligence on your customers, what to do with that information is the next step that often eludes many business owners.” Basically, buyer personas involve making a profile of a person that would be interested in your product, and then identifying how to appeal to their self interest—you outline what their attitudes are, what they care about, their goals and challenges, how they can be reached, how they’d use your product, etc. It may sound strange, but you’re essentially creating your ideal customer and the ideal ways to appeal to them. This should all be based off of real customers data, whether you interview them or use feedback to determine who your main customers truly are. Your team can use this as a guide for brainstorming how to write and distribute messages that customers care about.

  1. How do you want to speak to them?

This question is important for keeping your brand consistent and determining how you want customers to perceive your brand. Some messaging formats are more appropriate than others depending on the nature of your business and who your customers are. If your business is more intimate, and you want to connect with customers on a personal level, then a friendly, conversational tone with a little bit of humor could work wonders. If your company is on the technical or scientific side, and your customers just want the data and facts, then a more direct tone might work better.

In addition to thinking about your brand perception, you’ll want to consider what your audience’s brand is. If you’re trying to appeal to a professional audience that knows their business, then they’ll appreciate a professional tone. If you’re reaching out to students who might be unfamiliar with business jargon, then be careful not to use acronyms or strategic principles they haven’t learned yet. It’s important to make your audience feel at home and that they belong in the atmosphere you’re creating.

Some of the best ways to learn how to speak to your target audience include looking at competitors’ and other brands’ content that already do a good job—let’s call it taking a “content inventory.” Think about how they connect to customers, what tone they use, and what they write about.

  1. What makes you, you?

Now that you’ve decided your target audience and how you want to speak to them, it’s time to figure out why they’re going to read your content instead of a competitor’s. The best way to do this is to create unique content. Sean Bestor says the value of content is two-fold: “1. The search engine optimization (SEO) payoff is enormous. 2. The value your current and future readers will receive gives your site an aura of authority.” Many people are trying to do the same thing on the internet, and if you aren’t sharing something new or innovative, then people will either continue to listen to the companies they already know and trust, or will leave your platforms in search for something unique. So, unless you’re a multibillion dollar company that can dominate the page rankings and trending tweets, then you need to be original.

How do you do this? Well, one idea is reading a lot of content. If you read a lot of blogs, watch a lot of videos, and listen to a lot of podcasts, etc., then you can get the general idea of what is already on the market and what’s missing. Though it’s hard to be completely original, you can at least take what other people have done and add your voice to the conversation, offer insight, respectfully voice contradicting ideas, and brainstorm ideas.

Another solution is looking at your own product/service and seeing what makes it unique. Identify what makes it desirable to your audience, and use that to draw in more customers. Think of what your product/service represents, why it offers a solution to customers’ problems that no other product or service offers, and then apply that to your content.

These three steps will help you create strategic and attractive content. Now that you have a clear idea of who you want to reach, how you want them to see you, and how you can stand out among the crowd, you’re that much more ahead in creating a strong content marketing strategy. Use this guide to find the overarching theme that will guide you in your path to making content worth sharing.

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