Let’s be honest. A lot of business marketing content is lackluster. It feels like anyone could have written it. If your content lacks voice, it’s because it lacks your voice. But writing a catchy title is not going to help you grow your audience. What you need is to boost the content that follows the title.
If you’re like most businesses, your most popular tactics for content marketing are social media, articles, in-person events, Newsletters, and blogs. In the most comprehensive survey about B-2-B content marketing, MarketingProfs and Junta42 found that 9 in 10 organizations use those tactics to market with content: social media (excluding blogs) (79%), articles (78%), in-person events (62%), eNewsletters (61%), blogs (51%).
The problem is, the little voice in your head constantly says: “I’m no writer!.” Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Those little voices reflect the confidence gap that affects those who use those tactics. For example, of the 79% of B2B marketers who use social media, only 31% of users think they use this tactic effectively.
Yet content is king in today’s rapid-fire communication world. Producing engaging content is the biggest challenge every micro and small business owner and professional marketer face. Everyone seeks to differentiate their company from competitors on the market. To do so, you need high-quality content that balances message with delivery in a way that makes you unique. Creativity is what will make you stand out from the crowd.
You may not consider yourself a writer, even less so a creative one. But the average micro and small business owner spends at least an hour every day wondering how they can produce not just enough content but enough variety of content that is engaging. Then they spend at least another 2-5 hours during the week writing it.
So, in reality, today’s micro and small business owners are accidental writers. Whether you come out unscathed or not depends on how willing you are to spice your content up by creating content that resonates and is engaging.
Create content that resonates
Creative content is all about providing your present and potential customers with something new that they’re craving for but don’t know about yet. Creating content that resonates starts by really getting to know your targeted audience so you can create chemistry. Just like you don’t just jump into a relationship on the first date on the assumption that you know the other person, you don’t jump into a relationship with an audience you’re not familiar with. You first ask questions, listen actively, and explore what they like and dislike. You get to know your customers/readers.
To create content that resonates with your intended audience, you first need to understand the demographics and psychographics. Don’t assume you know what kind of content will be interesting and/or helpful to your intended readers. Nine times out of ten you’ll be wrong. Instead, do your research. You can pull from Google analytics, delve into existing research, or go through social media analytics. They’re all helpful. But the best thing you can do is carry out a survey (see, you’re writing again!) on your website or an informal poll on your social media. Make sure you make a call to action to the members of the business networking groups you belong to so they participate in the survey or poll. If you really want to get creative, build a persona with the attributes of your target market segment. But make it short (no more than 10 questions) and easy (multiple choice), with a Comments section at the end (for those who actually like to write).
Once you’ve gotten the results from the survey, analyze them to identify the behaviors, usage and business or lifestyle habits that define your target audience. Then share it and start a discussion. This will help generate ongoing content development ideas.
Now you can start creating content. But make sure it takes into account the results and insights gained from your survey and ongoing discussion. That’s what will make your content useful. It’s helpful to plan your content out in a series of quick-info bites. For example, you can plan an article/blog series around a key topic of interest to your audience and break it up in 10 brief pieces. Each one should support your general topic with one argument.
Using bullet points and visuals will increase readability and usefulness and promote sharing. And if you reach a point of blockage, you can always repurpose older blogs or take a longer blog you plan on posting and break it into two or more shorter blogs.
A last bit of advice: set aside one day of the week to work on your series. First, choose your topic and outline the 10 articles/blogs that will present your arguments. Then plan for at least 2-3 hours to write them. You don’t need to have the arguments clear in your head from the start. Just sit down and start writing your initial thoughts. If you need added booster ideas, go online and google search your topic to see what’s buzzing. Then go back and write a pro or con argument to one of those buzzing ideas. Let your ideas flow freely. You can structure them into an argument later. Just make sure that what you write is engaging.
Make your content engaging
Engaging content affects your audience through meaningful impact and triggers a response to a message. It sparks curiosity and changes your reader in some way. That can be opting in to your list, liking, sharing, buying, inquiring, or, best of all, connecting emotionally.
It starts with an attention-grabbing headline. But it keeps the reader going with content that provides some new (rather than regurgitated), original content that leaves a lasting impression and with intent. It ends with a call to action, even if it’s to encourage the reader to just think about it.
Intent builds resonance. Once you understand what your audience needs, you have to have a clear goal. What are you writing for? To educate? To inform? To entertain? To raise awareness about your brand? To build your reputation? To increase conversions? Whichever it is, just make sure you provide genuine value.
Engagement is not about fluff or catchy phrases or the latest buzzwords that are circulating out there. It’s about writing something that is attractive to the reader because it’s new, inspiring or entertaining in a way that is relevant NOW. It gets the reader to think (but not so much that it sparks a headache!).
The key to creating engaging content is to make it compelling:
- Write something in a conversational voice that overcomes audience content fatigue. It shouldn’t make the reader feel like they’re being marketed to. It should help the reader focus on what’s important to them, not to you.
- Provide data. Facts and figures are essential for persuasive writing, and they add to the credibility of your content.
- Stimulate them intellectually by leveraging facts with ideas that leaves them wanting to know more.
- Make your content emotionally relevant. Engaging content not only educates, it also entertains. That’s why it’s important to know how to tell a good story, with insider details and challenges overcome. A story helps us understand who we are and what’s important to us.
- Create or inspire solutions to everyday problems that your audience can act on. That’s the ultimate key to creating engaging content. It’s about creating an emotional pathway or a desire to do something or think in a different way. We’re all seeking answers, and we’re hungry for solutions. How do I say No? How do I network? How do I reduce my overhead? How…
- Write for humans. Throw away all those big fancy words and toss the overused buzzwords. Write it as if you’re explaining it to a friend. If all else fails, practice with your dog. They’re great listeners, and if your voice gets boring because your words are, you’ll know it.
You and your business are unique in their own way. So start writing like it. You don’t need to be a Pulitzer Prize winner to write content that resonates. You just need to let loose your creative flair to spark a wow in your readers!