Content is king – But watch out for surfing pigs
Much has been written (not least by me!) about the importance of content in today’s marketing. However, what exactly is content?
At BSA, we have a phrase – Surfing Pigs – describing the sort of content that arises from this situation….
I need to get some marketing content out but I have no idea what. I know, I’ve found this video of surfing pigs. That’ll make people laugh and get them engaged, I’ll post it…
Just one problem; how does this promote your business? (OK, if you have a porcine surfing school I’ll let you off). Pointless content can be worse than no content at all. It can send wrong messages about your business.
In my experience, good content ticks 3 boxes:
- Promoting and reinforcing your business proposition
- Relevant and accessible to your target audience
- Engaging and Interesting to read
Beware, even content talking about how great your business is can fail at least one of these tests!
However, just magicking content ideas out of thin air is a challenge. Planning is the answer.
Creating a strong content plan is a great way to really think through the messages you want to get out to your audience and make sure that not just each piece is doing its job but that the overall impression you give over time is joined-up and building your business marketing message.
To find out more about planning and building a Content Calendar, check out this post.
Don’t let writing grind you down
A content calendar is only the beginning. The really clever bit is actually writing and publishing. Once you have content, the rest is a breeze!
Many people find putting pen to paper and writing content is a real challenge. Consequently, it is often the reason why a content marketing withers and dies. Initial enthusiasm can get you through the first few articles but within a month or 2, things dry up.
When I visit a website for the first time, I always head straight for the blog/news section. It can be very revealing. A good archive of articles coupled with up to date posts shows a business has embraced the power of content marketing. All too often, however, I am greeted with half a dozen posts (or fewer!), written over a 6 month period with the most recent at least a year ago. What does this say about commitment to even your own business, never mind customers?
How do you write ‘Content‘?
Being faced with a blank piece of paper and the expectation of coming up with 4-500 words of carefully created prose is challenging.
This is where a plan starts to help. With a plan at least you know what you want to write about!
I base my own approach to writing content on 3 things:
- Writing content is a process, not an event.
- No target word count
- Content writing should be a team game.
A process, not an event
Don’t just fire up your writing app of choice and expect to have a finished post in 30 minutes. A staged approach gives you more chance to think and develop ideas.
I normally start with a working title and rough notes/bullet points. An initial stab at a structure for my article. Bullet points can become draft sub-headings to which I add a few more thoughts.
By this stage, I will have the basis of a ‘brief’ for the article. I sometimes continue on from here but, at this point, I also have the option of bringing in a copywriter to flesh out my structure. See below
If I do carry on myself, I may stop and come back to my post 2 or 3 times over a day or so.
Giving yourself time and not leaving things to the last minute is immensely valuable.
No target word count
Actually, no target word count that isn’t quite true.
Most people will think of a target word count as a minimum, a goal that might be tough to reach. Actually, when you get in your stride, the issue can be the opposite – writing too much! If I find I’m getting up to 1000+ words I will start to see whether I can split my post into 2. Hey, 2 for the price of 1!.
If you do find you are running out of steam with only a couple of hundred words written, don’t worry. Read what you have written and if you have said what you want to say, stop! The quality of what you write is more important than length.
Content writing should be a team game.
Earlier, I mentioned the idea of using a copywriter. A good copywriter can be really helpful but remember, copywriters aren’t mind-readers! You will need to give a clear brief and work with them if you are to get the article you want in eth style you are looking for.
Don’t feel that all content is entirely down to you. Get your colleagues involved. Even if someone can only get ideas to a ‘brief’ stage, believe me writing from a pre-prepared brief is normally much easier. If you work by yourself, get friends and family involved. They may not be in a position to write for you but they can come up with ideas and proof read your finished work.
When it comes to writing content, have a plan and give yourself time.
Talking of team game, we are currently looking for copywriters to work with BSA and our clients. If you’d like to find out more, drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org