Last post, I talked about how a start-up marketing plan can be summarize in four simple words: create content, get found. And, while I touched on some of the tactics that can be used in both of these areas, I thought it would be valuable to explore each in more detail.
I'll start with content as I believe that needs to be the cornerstone of your marketing efforts. However, you can't just put up any old content to address this need. The content needs to be valuable to your audience. Great content that people are compelled to share will do wonders for your start-up.
I recently discovered the Internet Marketing for Smart People podcasts by Copyblogger Media and listened to a recent episode called How to Constantly Create Compelling Content which was very timely given my topics recently.
This got me to think about what the most important elements of compelling content and I came up with three: Relevant, Educational and Interesting. There are no doubt others but these are the top three in my mind. Let me explain.
First and foremost, your content must be written for your audience. This may seem obvious but I've seen cases where technical content is presented to a business-focused audience and I'm sure vice-versa. The content must also be relevant to the problems your audience is facing or need to solve. Timing is also important to the relevance of your content. Whatever you write, it must be relevant for your audience first and foremost.
Not only does the content need to be relevant but it must also be educational. The content you produce cannot always be about your products and services. It needs to show how problems are solved, talk about market trends or explain difficult concepts. Your audience wants to learn and you need to position yourself as a subject matter expert and thought leader. There will be a time and place for product-focused content but that is not what will be shared or help you get found. Educate your audience and they'll reward you for it.
I almost had well-written as my third element but thought that would go without saying. However, you do need to make sure your content reads well and is not written as a colleague of mine once said "like a 2-year old". But let's assume the content is well written, at which point the third element is that it needs to be interesting. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing an ebook or white paper or some other piece of content that uses a story to explain a concept.
A friend of mine once wrote a technical white paper and added a sex scene to make sure it was read by the reviewers. It worked because it was interesting and explained the concept in a novel way to say the least. Unfortunately, if memory serves, the scene was too graphic and got cut in the published version. Too bad. You may not want to, or be able to, add a sex scene to your content but remember the best non-fiction books are not only interesting because of the topic but also because how it is presented and how the story is told. Your content should be no different.
Brian Clark (@copyblogger) asked on the Copyblogger Facebook page recently "What’s your biggest challenge when creating compelling online content?" and found that the two elements that lead to reader engagement are meaning and fascination. As you can see, there are some similarities between these and my elements of relevant and interesting. What do you think are the most important elements of compelling content?