We get it: creating great content is tough. So tough, in fact, that 46 percent of respondents to a survey by Ascend2 labeled relevant content creation as one of the most difficult marketing tasks.
Sometimes it’s easy to think maybe content doesn’t have to be great—after all, have you seen some of the stuff that goes viral? And isn’t volume the key?
Unfortunately, quality does matter, especially in the B2B world. Every piece of content you create is a reflection on your brand, an opportunity to drive website traffic and boost SEO, and an element in lead capture, nurturing and sales closure.
Imagine you are the prospect, and you run across the problems highlighted in this Kissmetrics blog post, which happens to have cringe-worthy examples from some pretty big brands. Oops.
Quality content meets five primary criteria:
It tells a story. Your content should solve a problem or have a character readers can root for, and it should show the human side of your business. (This blog post, for example, is intended to provide solutions to the content creation challenge, in a way everyone can relate to. Because we’ve all made writing mistakes somewhere along the way.)
It is useful. Again, solve a problem, provide resources and be more informative than you are promotional.
It is shareable. Readers aren’t likely to share dry, formulaic writing. Make your content interesting, entertaining and unique.
It is findable. If you want your content to be searchable, make sure you have identified what your audience is searching and include those keywords or long tail keyword phrases. And have a plan for promoting your content to reach more readers.
It is technically sound. Minimize corporate jargon and buzzwords, while paying attention to grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Not every reader is going to act like the grammar police, but inadvertent errors or typos that slip in can be jarring and stop a reader in their tracks. If there are too many errors, you lose credibility altogether.
So, what can you do to be sure you are creating the great content you need? My rules for getting great content from my team are simple:
1. Assign projects to the best people.
2. Give them time to do what they do best.
It sounds easy, but I know a lot of marketing departments, with staffing and budget resources stretched thin, can slip into the bad habit of breaking one of these rules by either assigning writing to less qualified staffers, or overloading their best workers with too many tasks.
1. Find talented writers and designers.
Remember that both writing and design are skills that take both time and talent to perfect. While you may have people within your company who know everything there is to know about your brand and the industry, they may not always be able to craft the copy or create the visual content that you need. A good writer, however, can research, find resources, and learn the essentials of just about anything in order to present quality content.
It may take a few weeks for a writer to learn the specific intricacies of your business, but it is easier to correct a few details in strong writing than turn poor writing into good writing.
Similarly, while today’s apps and technology put a world of templates and opportunities at the fingertips of all marketers, great design is more than putting your information into the same boilerplate model every other marketing department is using to try to create inexpensive visuals in-house. Great designers understand how to use the elements they are working with to guide readers, create a feeling that matches your brand, and match great visual appeal with functionality.
2. Let your best content creators focus on what they do best.
Good writing (and good design) requires focus and practice. Even if you don’t have a true dedicated writer or designer on staff, identify your team members who excel in those areas and give them time and space to do their thing, rather than piling on additional duties and distractions.
In addition to maximizing their content creation output, having the majority of your writing and design done by one or two individuals helps ensure a consistency to the content that is created. When others are involved in content creation, such as having someone from another department write a guest blog post, have your designated writer or editor work with the content to make it the best it can be.
By identifying your best writers and designers, and then giving them the time to excel at their craft, you will be more likely to generate the content that drives results.
Of course, there is one other secret method you can use to get great content: Find an agency you trust that follows the two rules I just outlined. See our philosophy on hiring and enabling great writers in our two-page Your Problem-The JONES Solution white paper on content creation.
Or review the pros and cons of four different approaches to staffing marketing needs in The Complete Guide to Resourcing Your Inbound Strategy.