How To Turn Your Content Into A Relationship-Building Engine
If you pay attention to marketing at all, you’ve heard the following:
- Just create great content
- You have to create great content
- The bottom line is creating great content
And if you play any part in the content creation process yourself, you’ve waited to hear exactly how these marketing thought leaders suggest you create great content.
But they rarely do – because there is no one-size-fits-all content creation formula.
"Great content" is subjective on every level: target industry, job title, location and right down to each individual consuming your content. As you’ve probably discovered if you’ve ever recommended a book or a TV show to a friend and missed the mark, people can respond wildly differently to the exact same stimulus.
Regardless of industry, job title or other factors, though, these five strategies will help you create valuable buyer-focused content that builds strong relationships with your clients and prospects.
1. Know Your Target Audience
Really know your audience. That means going beyond the basic demographic-driven persona deck and actually speaking to your customers. Listen to what they love (or don’t) about your product, but also pay attention to the way they communicate.
- What specific language do they use? For example, long-distance cyclists and runners use different terms to describe the same phenomenon: the moment the body exhausts its fuel supply and shuts down. Cyclists call it bonking; runners call it hitting the wall. Is your content ruined if you mix them up? Probably not, but you'll lose a bit of credibility and miss the opportunity to create a connection with your buyers.
- What do they emphasize as being critically important to them or to their business? You may argue that you already know this. But if you aren’t part of their world yourself, you’re just making educated guesses. You might think HR directors focus most of their energy on retention and company culture – a fair assumption – when in fact recruiting a talented bench may be most important to them.
- What nuances of their challenges or aspirations might you have missed in your messaging? Let’s say you’re working in marketing at a fintech firm with the goal of creating efficiencies for financial advisors. Most of your assets are focused on reporting and billing solutions, but talking with clients reveals that compliance is the real headache, and your built-in oversight suite saves hours of time on regulatory requirements. Good to know, right?
Another way to accomplish this is to listen in on sales calls. What objections to purchasing do you hear? What features or benefits does sales have to explain over and over? These represent opportunities to refine your content so it answers your audience’s actual questions. And when you do, your sales team will have an easier time presenting content in context to prospects.
2. Let Intention Guide Your Execution
When you approach content creation with the intent to sell versus the intent to educate, your content changes.
Knowing you’re going to lock up your case study behind a form and use it as a means to collect leads alters the content creation process. You might spend your time coming up with a clickbait headline, for example.
Instead, you could be exploring how the pains of this particular customer will resonate with your larger target audience, structuring your content so it’s as easy as possible for them to consume and making sure you're capturing that authentic language you learned.
Creating content with the intent of generating leads is seller centric, not buyer centric. Focus on the message you want your audience to take away from your content, and make that the goal of your piece – not finding a way to hit a metric.
3. Use Your Strengths And Weaknesses To Determine How You Create Content
Maybe the thought of writing a long-form guide fills you with existential dread, or you would find a series of root canals preferable to being on camera. Luckily, digital marketing is a world of abundance, and there are myriad ways to develop content.
As always, though, think about your buyers first. How do they consume content? If your target audience is binging quick-hit videos on LinkedIn, you’re going to have to find a way to get in front of them. Platforms like Powtoon, Vidyard and Descript let you create engaging videos that don’t require you to ever show up on camera.
When you force yourself to develop content in a way that isn’t enjoyable, or at least comfortable, it shows. Use modern content creation resources to align your strengths with your audience’s consumption preferences.
4. Minimize The Utilization Of Occupational Vernacular And Grandiose Language
How much did you hate reading that headline?
Use jargon and big words sparingly. See? Much better.
Overly sophisticated language not only alienates your audience, it also diminishes your credibility. That’s because the more deeply you understand something, the more simply you can explain it. Jargon has its occasional place, especially if you’re creating highly technical medical or legal content. But for the most part, no one wants to read it.
In fact, an Ohio State study found that "people exposed to jargon when reading about subjects like self-driving cars and surgical robots later said they were less interested in science than others who read about the same topics, but without the use of specialized terms."
The same goes for unnecessarily lofty language and intricate sentence structure. Check out publications like theSkimm and The Clikk for examples of how to present complex information in a clear, approachable way.
(Semi-pro tip from me, a writer who’s been told more than several times to put on her running shoes and get to the point: Write first in a way that feels natural to you, then go back and cut what you don’t need.)
5. Be Thoughtful About Your Call-To-Action (CTA)
You’ve talked with your customers, mastered their language, simplified yours and created a piece of content that’s both educational and easily accessible.
Don’t ruin it with a tone-deaf CTA.
Here’s where understanding the buyer’s journey becomes critical. Most prospects engaging with your top-level educational content aren’t ready to buy or even interact with your business. They just want to learn. Adding Get In Touch or Request A Demo CTAs to these assets creates wariness and even skepticism, undercutting the value you just provided and the trust you’ve built.
Instead, simply provide more of your great content with a link to another article, an invitation to sign up for a webinar or an easy way to subscribe to your blog or podcast.
Remember, modern buyers are smart. If they want to get in touch with you, they will.
Creating Great Content For Your Buyers Also Benefits You
When you approach content creation with the sole intention of helping your audience solve a problem or make a decision, it’s more likely your content will actually do those things. And successful buyer-centric content establishes trust, encourages deeper engagement and inspires further action, creating a stickiness between you and your buyer that seller-focused content does not.
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