Useful content (blog posts, articles, infographics, on-page text and graphics, etc.) has become a major focus of Internet marketing. If you’ve been looking into or working with Internet marketing agencies, I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about how “content is king.” But how do you ensure that you can get quality content from an agency? In my opinion, it’s mostly about knowing what you want and conveying those desires clearly.
I’ve been creating graphic and written content for some of Netmark’s clients for a while now, and I’m here to tell you that it can be quite frustrating to try to create quality graphic or written content without proper guidance. Unfortunately, I’m not actually an expert in everything from human resources solutions to hot dog carts (I just have to sound like it!). Whether it’s an infographic about replacing your windshield or a blog post about paleo dinner ideas, having the best information from the beginning goes a long way toward creating quality content.
Without the proper context and direction, I can end up wasting valuable time trying to figure out what the client wants. If you’re not sure what you want your content to be, it can be beneficial to take the time to determine exactly what you want, and hopefully the questions I’ve listed below will help you. Depending on your situation, your point of contact with your Internet marketing agency may be able to help you with this process.
Maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum and know exactly what you want but don’t have the ability to create it. If this is the case, clearly conveying as much information as possible to the content creator is the best way to get content that matches your desires. You can use descriptions, sources, and even examples to help convey your thoughts. Just remember: we can’t copy something exactly no matter how good it is!
As you and your agency move forward with content creation. I hope these five questions will help you clearly convey your ideas so that you get the quality content you need.
Question 1: Who is the target audience for this content?
This might be a more complex question than you think. It all starts with style and tone: Are we writing for Joe Public or Evalyn Executive? Sally Everywoman or Paul Pedantic? Who your audience is can change a lot about how your content needs to be created. Sometimes content needs to be directed at a wide audience, which means that you have to make sure that you’re not assuming that they have prior knowledge of anything. Other times you need to address a more targeted audience in order to move people further down the sales funnel. Determining who your audience is can help your content perform as expected.
Question 2: What is the exact topic for this content?
Having a specific topic can save time that can then be utilized in improving the quality of the content rather than determining the topic of the content. If I’m told to “write something about wedding rings and mention [specific product],” I’m going to end up spending a good chunk of time just figuring out what specific facet to write about. A good topic is specific enough that I don’t have to narrow it down, but not so specific that I can’t find any information. If I’m not finding any information, that means that there might be a very real need for that specific piece of content. Nevertheless, it also means that I probably won’t be able to write or create it without additional input from our client. With that specific of a topic, it is sometimes best if you write at least the bare bones of the article and then I can flesh it out and optimize it.
Question 3: Do you have something specific in mind or any specific sources that you want used?
Over the years, I’ve realized that there isn’t much that I dislike more than trying to guess what someone is thinking (or, as one of my high school teachers would have called it, playing “pick my brain”). I sit twenty feet from my boss’s desk, and I can’t pick his brain consistently. I’m certainly not going to be able to read your mind to figure out what you want. The more specific the idea you have in mind, the more direction you’re going to need to provide in order to get what you want. If you want something specific, just say so. Providing specific sources can also be incredibly helpful in creating the content you want or quality content in general.
Question 4: What is the goal of this post?
Any content that you create or that is created for you should have a purpose. If it doesn’t have a purpose, what’s the point of creating it? Here at Netmark, we say that most content should serve one of five purposes, each leading a customer down a sales funnel. Each piece of content should:
- Inform the customer about something in your industry,
- Advise the customer that they have a problem,
- Instruct the customer on something related to their problem,
- Solve the customer’s problem, or
- Sell your product or service to the customer.
It’s definitely possible for a single piece of content to fill more than one of these purposes, but at least one of them should be the goal of each piece of content.
Question 5: What do you want the readers to do?
Now that you know who you’re talking to, what you’re talking about, how you want to say what you’re saying, and why you want to say it, it’s time to figure out what you want the reader to do. Generally speaking, your content should serve to funnel a potential customer toward a final destination. Whether that’s a sale or something else, it doesn’t matter: you need to be leading them somewhere. The best piece of content in the world won’t do you much good if you don’t give the person reading it or looking at it somewhere to go or something to do. What is the call to action you want to use? What is the next step in your sales funnel? Which products or services that you offer relate to this topic that you can link to? These are all very good questions to ask before content is created.
In the end, creating quality content takes a lot of time, effort, and input. However, answering these five questions before content creation begins can make things a lot easier and simpler for everybody involved. In my opinion, clearly conveying your desires to the content creator is the key to quality content creation.