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Creating & Managing Content

How to Produce Content that Delivers Real Value

Over 400 million blog posts are published every day.

Most won’t get more than a few clicks.  

How do you stand out from the noise?

The typical answer usually involves focusing on best practices and case studies and looking for any “shortcuts” or “hacks” to get your content noticed.

We see one company’s video, post or meme go viral, and then over the next few months, there are 80 billion copycats. The copycat attempts never do better than the original.

A classic example is the original Old Spice campaign video. This video has more than 55 million views on Youtube and has been copied thousands of times. Sesame Street even got in on the action. Their video has five times fewer views than the original campaign.

If a media juggernaut with hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on fancy production equipment and resources can’t beat the original idea, what makes you think your small business can?

There’s a better way to produce content. In this post, we’ll outline five tips for creating content that delivers real value. 

Follow The WIIFM Method 

WIIFM stands for, “What’s in it for me?” but here, we turn the principle on its head. If you want people to read your content, you need to be thinking about what’s in it for THEM, not YOU.

Or, another way to think about this is: why should anyone care about what you are creating?
While it is usually not intentional, the content that entrepreneurs write is often pretty self-serving.

You wouldn’t go to a bar and shout at the top of your lungs about how amazing you are, your last accomplishment, and why you’re God’s gift to the world.

That’s exactly what many brands do when they only talk about themselves and how great their products are on their blog, Twitter account or Instagram feed. 

A better strategy is to put yourself in your customers’ (or potential customers’) shoes. Think about what they need and care about, and then write content that speaks to that.  

Know Your Customers 

To create WIIFM content, you need to understand your customers. Building customer personas can help with this.

hedgehog contemplating a globe

At the most basic level, you need to know the following:

  • Who are your customers or target customers?
  • What are their key demographics (age range, job title, location(s), etc.)? 
  • What type of content are they already consuming?
  • What are their values?
  • What are their pain points?
  • How does your product or service solve those pain points?

Demonstrate Real Expertise 

In our experience, one of the biggest reasons why your content isn’t resonating is because you are writing mirage content, which is content that duplicates what everyone else in your industry is writing. This often happens because the person writing the blog post doesn’t have real expertise doing the thing that they are writing about.

If you sell race car parts, the blog posts on your website should be written by someone knowledgeable about race cars (Maybe they build and race cars every weekend?) and not some junior copywriter that you hired to read and paraphrase a bunch of content that they found in 20 minutes through a basic Google search.  

Developing expertise takes time. You, or whoever writes your content, needs to:

  • Read a lot
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Spend time doing the thing that you are going to be writing about 
  • Be willing to run lots of experiments
  • Fail often 

If you don’t have expertise in the thing that you are writing about, you need to find a way to address that. This could be hiring writers who are subject matter experts, interviewing experts, or investing the time to become an expert yourself. 

Finally, take the time to edit your work and review all information. Make your piece readable by avoiding unnecessary jargon, ditching fancy metaphors, and keeping your language simple. You can demonstrate your expertise best when you explain complex issues clearly.

Focus on Intent, not Traffic

Most companies go after the top of funnel (TOFU) keywords that have tons of search volume and organic traffic but are less likely to convert into trials or paid accounts. Not to mention, these keywords are likely going to be competitive and will be difficult to rank on page one of Google.

The opposite approach works way better. Start with bottom of the funnel (BOFU) long-tail keywords that may only have a fraction of the traffic, but are easier to rank for and the chances of that leading to customers are much higher. 

hedgehog reviewing social media post for keywords

For example, Hubspot’s most popular post on their site is “how to make an animated gif?” How many of those people are looking for a complex CRM or marketing automation software? My guess—not many.

You can find long-tail keywords to target using an SEO tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush.

In addition, some of the best keyword research tools are completely free and include:

  • Reddit 
  • Quora
  • Pinterest
  • Youtube
  • Twitter
  • Amazon 

Social media, in particular, can provide a glimpse into how your customers are already talking about your product and your competitors’ products. This allows you to not only get ideas for what content to write next but also how to frame the content in a way that is most likely to resonate with them. 

Don’t Try to Go Viral 

Trying to go viral is the marketing equivalent of buying lotto tickets. You are banking your strategy on something that you can’t control, isn’t repeatable, and probably won’t happen.

For example, if you sell gardening tools, the chance of your video about which fertilizer to use for your tulip garden going viral is pretty low.

The problem with “viral content” is that you are looking for a one-time wonder. If you do get lucky and one of your videos takes off, the chances of that leading to tons of sales and being able to repeat that success over and over is low.

A more lucrative strategy is to consistently put out how-to videos week after week that demonstrate your company’s expertise and help your customers and potential customers solve real problems. These videos may only collect a few hundred views each, but they are helping solve a real problem. 

For example, Minaal makes carry-on luggage for minimalist travelers. They don’t focus on creating viral stunts. Instead, they do a great job of producing how-to videos related to packing light.

In sum, if you want to create content that delivers real value, you need to invest time in understanding your customers. This requires spending a ton of time learning (and talking to) your customers, practicing humility, and being empathetic. Just starting out? Check this detailed guide for beginners and learn how to start a blog in 5 easy steps.

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Jessica Malnik avatar

Jessica Malnik

Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMrush, CMX, Help Scout, and Convince and Convert, among many other places. Her website is blog.jessicamalnik.com. More articles written by Jessica.

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