Content can be powerful stuff. But for big brands with lots of cooks in the kitchen, it is often a challenge to create great content. In fact, according to Forrester, only 32% of marketers believe their organisation is effective at content.
So to create content that actually moves the needle, where should you focus? Before you overhaul your content strategy or make a major content investment, make sure you know your audience.
Creating Great Content
Good storytelling is essential in content marketing. If you don't have excellent writers, videographers, and/or designers working on your content, that's a problem. But creating great content actually starts before someone puts pen to paper, or presses record. Great content starts with discovering what will resonate with your audience.
To discover what will resonate, you have to research. Research is just as important as storytelling, if not more so. The writing, video, or design is how you're saying it, but the research informs what you're saying, and to whom you are saying it.
Start By Listening
Here's the reality: you probably don't know your audience as well as you think you do. To create truly relevant and engaging content, it's important to listen.
A research framework should comprise three steps:
- Identify a representative set of your brand's audience
- Conduct one-on-one interviews
- Identify common interests, needs, and desires among the audience
This framework can be employed for all different kinds of projects. But in terms of creating acontent-driven experience, the goal is to understand people's interests, needs, and desires so that you can tell a story that will resonate with them.
Research also informs what medium will be most effective for communicating with your audience. We're fond of saying "build sidewalks where the people walk," which essentially means capitalizing on existing behaviors. Is your audience reading this publication or that? Do they use apps? Are they subscribing to newsletters? The latest trend is usually only worth investing in if your audience is already at the party.
Make It Relevant
Working from the foundation of the audience's interests, their context, and your brand message, different paths toward engagement emerge. Brands like General Electric and IBM have ample opportunity to tell stories about discovery; ADP and American Express can inform and empower their audiences.
Developing an effective content strategy and editorial voice requires a 360-degree view. But with both your brand message and your audience in clear focus, it can be one of the most powerful ways to achieve your business objectives.