What’s the Secret Behind Successful Content Creation?

By Nigel Cliffe

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How do I create engaging, helpful, valuable content?

I get asked this all the time. If I knew the answer I would probably be on a beach sipping cocktails whilst sharing this!

But I do know one thing. It’s not all about you – it’s about YOUR customers and THEIR interests. Start here, and you won’t go far wrong.

Or am I missing something?

Just as you can’t measure the success of a strategy or project unless you first identify your goals and objectives, you can’t possibly hope to deliver ‘successful content’ if you don’t know what your target market wants or expects from you.

After posting this question over on LinkedIn and following insightful comments from my Connections, here are my top 5 tips for successful content creation:

1) Really Listen

Many professionals purport to listen to their potential customers but most are just telling themselves what they want to hear or making assumptions about what their prospective customers want. As my good friend and LinkedInGuru, Jeff Young pointed out, “God gave you two ears and one mouth, use them in that ratio.” The more you actively listen and really take the time to understand your audiences’ interests, the easier producing useful content that resonates with them will become.

2) Patient, Pain & Prescription Method

Successful content isn’t just about how many Likes, Shares, Clicks, and Comments a post gets (though those are always great!). Those stats are a measure of how popular a post has been but creating successful content is deeper than that. As my Connection and fellow LinkedIn Specialist and B2B Marketing Consultant, Darrel Griffin highlighted – ask yourself who the Patient is (your prospective customer); only by asking yourself who your ideal customer is can you successfully identify what they want/need.

Next, identify what the Pain or Problem is for the Patient (how your particular skills, knowledge, and experience can help solve challenges they are facing or make their lives easier).

Once you have identified the Patient and Pain you can then write a Prescription – helpful and insightful content full of practical tips and inspirational ideas. If your content solves an issue for your prospective customer, it is much likely to secure higher engagement levels.

3) Research, Research and More Research

There are countless online tools and assets available to help discover what your prospective customers’ interests are to help you refine and shape your content accordingly.

Another Connection of mine, user experience, conversion rate optimization and digital marketing expert, Jamie Hands referred to a site called buzzsumo.com, which allows you to input a keyword or phrase and then lists the content on the topic you searched for along with how many Facebook engagements and Twitter and Pinterest Shares that each post secured – great inspiration for your own content, especially if you know what subjects have proven popular before.

Alternatively, storybase.com (pictured above) is another platform which enables you to see which questions your audiences are asking, helping you to use your professional knowledge to provide the answers to these queries in the form of successful content. Buzzsumo.com also offers a similar feature.

4) Less Bragging, More Helping

Social media pro, Lee Kenny would recommend taking an 80/20 approach, with 20% of your content promoting you or your business, focusing on your products, services, and awards you’ve won etc and the remaining 80% being valuable content that solves the Pain points or appeals to your target audiences’ interests, as discussed above. This content should always have your potential customer in mind and come with absolutely no obligation (to become a paying customer of yours).

For me, not selling is the wisest course of action as, if people like my content, they will often find their way to my door. It all depends on what stage in their journey the prospective customer is at. For example, a person who has just discovered my content is not likely to appreciate being ‘sold’ to straight away via promotional content, whereas someone more acquainted with my content may ‘tolerate’ the occasional promotional post.

5) Remember, People Buy People First

It also pays to think of your potential customers as people, as marketing and process automation expert Russell Mills advises. Whilst you will no doubt have a target audience in mind to which your services and/or products will be suitable for and appeal to, potential customers are people after all and even people who fall outside your target demographic might, on the off chance be interested in your content – don’t discount them entirely!

Bonus Tip: Quality Not Quantity

With so much content out there, it can be tempting to publish content every day, but you should avoid publishing content for the sake of publishing. You’re much more likely to stand out from the crowd if you take the time to craft a well-researched and high-quality piece of content.

Remember that variety is key, could your content’s message be expressed more effectively as an infographic, video or image? If so, embrace these mediums as well as standard text!

To keep up with my content about LinkedIn tips Connect with me on LinkedIn – I hope my posts prove useful!

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