Creating good content has always been a challenge, let alone ensuring it’s consistent and compelling. I get it — it’s tough. But it’s not a choice. If you desire to be in a continuous dialogue with your customers, you need an apparatus that churns out “content that works,” every single day.
Over that last decade, I have gone through the struggle of building content from scratch a number of times. Some of the experiences were nothing but a series of unfortunate events. But with each mistake I made, I gathered new lessons that became more valuable than a room full of trophies.
I am conscious that when it comes to learning, the “law of least effort” applies. So, I am going to keep this crisp and limit it to just five lessons. These could help anyone, from a tiny startup to an enterprise with an army of writers, to craft compelling content that meets business objectives.
1. Make a commitment to content in sickness and in health.
Who is responsible for producing content in your organization? Eight out 10 people I ask tell me it’s their marketing or content writers. While it may be the reality in most organizations, a commitment to producing good content cannot rest only with marketing.
Building compelling content is a leadership commitment. Prompts marketing to work conjointly with product management, pre-sales, sales and customer service (or even human resources teams when it comes to employer branding topics). But it does help to have an in-house editor-in-chief whose job is to lead and collate all content development projects and ensure everything is on brand.
2. You need a Simon and a Garfunkel to get copy and design to walk down the aisle.
There is popular verbiage in the marketing circles: “Good design gets noticed. Great design is invisible.” To make content work, the copy and design teams need to be married to each other. Well, not in a literal sense, but content writers and designers need to work as a marketing duo rather than in silos. In that sense, I am a believer in an in-house agency model where copywriters and designers work together.
Hire a content marketing leader who is a journalist by training and can inspire young writers to produce error-free copy that can reach and engage audiences. Hire a creative leader who is a design thinker and not merely a designer. You need someone who can bring powerful visuals and copy together in harmony — where design is invisible.
3. Know what story to tell because the better always wins.
We live in an undifferentiated world where it’s not only the products but brand messages that are commoditized. Gone are the days when the better mousetraps sell — the marketer who tells a better story wins. This doesn’t just apply to humans. Due to the rate at which search engine bots are getting smarter, it applies to them too.
There are stories all around us, just waiting to be told. Stories can win hearts, change perceptions and make even the most rational decision maker become emotional. Each piece of content that you produce needs to tell a story to truly connect with your audience.
4. Remodel, rework and repurpose — it’s not just your cat that has nine lives.
Reusing and recycling is not just good for the environment, but it’s good for your content strategy as well. Every piece of content that does well needs to be transformed and reimaged into alternate formats to reach newer audience segments. Each piece of content that doesn’t do well also needs to be transformed into alternate formats until it works.
Build anchor content pieces, and then adapt them into different formats to drive a multipronged campaign. For instance, a whitepaper can be adapted into a blog for those who prefer shorter reads. Better still, make it into a crispy two-minute video for those who prefer low-effort content.
5. Fake it till you make it.
It has been said that you need to practice your craft for 10,000 hours before you become an expert at it. For those of you who don’t have that many hours before you churn out that next piece of content, you must start somewhere. A good starting point would be to look at what your peers, competitors and industry at large are doing — and get inspired.
Don’t wait till you become the next big thing in all things content. Understand the difference between ripping off content and developing inspired content with due credit to the owner of the idea that inspired you. This process will also help you build content in a way that customers are used to consuming it.
Put some of these lessons to use — your customers will thank you for it!
Originally Published @ Forbes.com