The money continues to be on the promotion and now engagement phases of customer acquisition. White papers are a dime a dozen, so are loads of articles and posts patiently written with the audience in mind.
Tell me the truth, you've been guilty of wanting to hire someone who can write crisp copy that sells, which is not the same as just writing copy, without wanting to pay them a premium for doing so.
You are not alone.
Until you figure out that there is value in creating great content, you will have a hard time getting the results you hope to achieve with just-content-to-put-out-there-thinking.
Valuable content builds context
Back in the days when I was doing a lot of interpreting and written translation work, I was getting paid pennies per word and dollars per page. The fact that meaning had to come across as well was never a consideration.
Dictionaries don't do well with cultural references. They sure provide lots of information, facts, and examples for each word. It's the editorial choice that carries the meaning to its intended consequence. A diplomatic agreement, a new contract, a cure for a disease.
Your content's purpose is to orient your readers. What is your intent? Do you want to educate, entertain, engage? To then what?
A match made in heaven
Education, entertainment, and engagement lead to purchase. Only if they bring the reader along. Whether you're working with a complex B2B offering, or in a B2C environment, it's not enough just to educate, entertain, or engage. You need to have a clear path to what's next mapped out.
Automation and promotion can help get the word out and track what happens, they still need content to make that happen. Yet, a great deal of time and effort goes into putting the tools in place while content that maps to the buyer's cycle is still very much an afterthought.
You need to marry the two to direct your readers. What's next in the progression that informs them, helps them deal with their challenges, and seek more of your advice?
Lots of the right content
If you don't like to write, or don't have people who are willing and able to write as part of a context-building marketing strategy, don't start a blog. Outsource the white paper writing and be willing to provide lots of guidance and information to the writers.
Remember that great writers appropriate for your industry and culture are as rare as great professionals of any kind. Select for attitude and approach, and be willing to collaborate with them to get them up to speed on tone/style, and technical aspects, if any.
And be mindful that you don't just want truckloads of content. You want lots of the right content to inspire action.
Action is not the last bullet on the page
Yes, calls to action are very important and you should map them carefully. However, the whole piece should be designed and written to lead you there. So much so that if you cut the last sentence, you'd still want to take the next step.
For the literal readers, this doesn't mean you repeat the same phrase in a couple of places. It means your intent comes across crisply throughout the piece via persuasion. The story is told to demonstrate one thing and one thing only.
They said of Winston Churchill that he could marshal words into battle. That kind of action writing.
Readers can tell the difference
Back in my translation days I noticed that people thought that anyone who could speak a couple of languages could be a translator. Technically, yes. Practically, not so much. There's a third step in there, that of the actual contextual translation. That requires skill and experience.
We live in the age of information overload and there is going to be an increased emphasis - and value - placed upon great content. Great content cuts through the clutter, helps you think through your challenges and provides you with insights as to what you need to do next.
When it comes to content, more is better when aligned with your purpose and useful to your readers. They can tell the difference - and so will you with results.
Content is not an end in itself, it's a beginning. When you start a relationship with your customers through content, you'll be able to glean information about what resonates and what doesn't, what you need more of, what you can cut out.
With all the goodness content creation brings to the business, how come businesses still think there's nothing to it? Why isn't the same level of attention and resources allocated to content as it is to tools?
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