By Mark Schaefer
What’s the best content for your business?
That’s one of the most common questions I’m asked by students, entrepreneurs, and business owners. And, it’s an important question! Creating content with consistency takes time and resources so this is a weighty decision.
Of course, I can’t tell you the best kind of content for your business without studying your unique situation, but if I did look at your business, these are the five questions I would ask to help you find your answer:
1. Is content marketing the best strategy in the first place?
The first decision point is to determine if you should be creating content at all. Is this the wisest way to spend your marketing dollars?
For example, I was helping a company that made step ladders. A better use of marketing dollars might be an end of aisle display at a store like Lowes or Home Depot. Don’t create random acts of content just because this seems like the thing to do.
There is a role for content marketing in most businesses but don’t prioritize resources without a thoughtful assessment first. Place your marketing bet where you will get the biggest return.
2. Where is there room to maneuver?
This is the single most important question to ask before starting any sort of content production. You need to determine:
- What is the competitive situation? Is there an un-contested content niche you can occupy? Here’s a blog post I wrote that provides a simple technique for doing a content density assessment. If you read one other post on content marketing, make it this one because if you don’t understand this concept you’ll waste a lot of time and money creating content that will never work.
- Once you find that niche, what are your opportunities to maneuver? Many people become overwhelmed by all the content options out there, but in fact, your strategy is usually pre-determined for you! Here’s a post about the importance of marketing maneuverability. And if your niche is depressingly crowded, you still have options.
Finally, here is a very important article on 12 possible content marketing strategies once you determine a viable niche. In content marketing, you can’t just copy what everybody else is doing. You have to occupy a distinct space on the web.
3. Where are your customers? What are their needs?
This is such an obvious question but often overlooked. Where do your customers prefer to receive their content?
If you’ve done a competitive assessment and found a few options, the next step is to survey your customers and ask them what they prefer. Or better yet, get out there and talk to them.
Another option is to filter your options by looking at your customer’s greatest needs. I wrote a comprehensive post about this idea that can help you called the content marketing hierarchy of needs.
4. What is your source of rich content?
If you have limited resources, you might be overwhelmed by the dizzying array of social media options. Should you be on Facebook? Twitter? Should you blog or create a podcast?
Actually, you have very limited choices. You need to pick one source of what I call “rich content” to fuel your social media presence:
- Writing (like a blog)
- Audio (like a podcast)
- Video (like you post on YouTube)
- Visual (for Instagram or Pinterest)
If you have limited resources, pick ONE of these, master it, and stick with it. Social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube are distribution channels, not necessarily content sources. The rich content you produce powers your social media presence. I wrote an entire blog post on the importance of rich content that will help you sort through this decision for your business.
5. What brings you joy?
If you’re an entrepreneur or own a small business, chances are you’ll be creating a lot of content yourself, so you better have some fun while doing it!
If you’re bored while developing your content, it’s going to show through in your final product. If you love to write, then write. If you want to try video or a podcast, then do that.1
Creating content needs to bring you joy. Bottom line, the other factors in this post don’t really matter if you’re not having fun, so make that a priority.
Best content for your business — but then lift-off!
I need to end with one final — but crucial — piece of advice.
You must remember that the economic value of whatever content you produce is zero unless is is seen and shared. Yes, you need to create exceptional content. Yes, you need to build your audience. But if your content isn’t being shared through your audience and beyond, you are literally getting nowhere with your content marketing.
This is an essential concept being overlooked by most marketers today. Social sharing represents organic advocacy. People trust content shared by friends and it impacts buying behavior. In terms of metrics for your business, social sharing is second only to conversions in importance.
So, you absolutely, positively need to focus on this imperative of content ignition and build a competency in getting your content to move.
I’m not here to be “salesy” but I did spend two years studying this crucial idea and determining every way to get your content to move. I put all of this essential wisdom into a book called The Content Code. Sincerely, if you’re responsible for content marketing, please read this eye-opening book if you want to drive business benefits from your content. It is ten thousand dollars of consulting advice for less than $20! Don’t create content without a plan to make it move!
I hope these guidelines have been helpful to you. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away in the comment box below. Thanks for reading my post today!
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