“High-quality, original content creation is difficult.”
Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose, Killing Marketing, p. 26
Who can argue with that? It’s a simple, straightforward statement that few would (or could) quibble with. But the source makes it interesting: two authors and experts who have probably done more to promote and popularize “content marketing” than anyone else.
Yet they’re speaking the truth, even if it pains the tens of thousands of content creators who have jumped aboard the content marketing bandwagon to create a growing pile of low-quality, look-alike content.
Creating high-quality, original content is difficult because it demands unblinking attention to the needs and demands of a precisely defined audience. It’s difficult because it requires deep dives into issues and ideas relevant to that audience. It’s difficult because, in a media environment already saturated with content, we need fresh ideas, bold stories, and clever execution.
But these same difficulties can play to your advantage. Because creating high-quality, original content is indeed difficult, most of your competitors won’t do it, leaving the playing field wiiiiide open for you.
I don’t honestly know of any way to make high-quality content creation easy, but I do have a few suggestions that can make it easier:
- Understand what motivates and moves your audience. Screw demographics—you want a profound understanding of customer and/or buyer behavior. Why do they look for a product like yours? What do they look for when they shop? What do they find desirable, and what fears inhibit their purchase? How do they go about making a buying decision? Who influences that decision and how? Etc.
- Build your content at the intersection of their needs and your expertise. High-quality content focuses on one theme with the tenacity of a dog on a bone. So what’s the right theme? One that has two qualities: 1) It’s of urgent and unmistakable importance to your audience; and 2) it’s one to which you can contribute demonstrable experience and expertise.
- Keep a tight grip on the overall vision, a light hand on the individual executions. Invest the time necessary, at the start, to build consensus on the two previous points: your audience and your theme (editorial focus). Once established, this vision must be guarded zealously. Ideas that conform get green-lighted; ideas that don’t should be “terminated with extreme prejudice.” But at the tactical level, lighten up. Don’t stand over your creators’ shoulders; don’t line edit every sentence; don’t insist on arbitrary color choices because violet is your sister-in-law’s favorite color. Let your talent fulfill their talents on your behalf with minimal interference, and you will get more truly original work.
Commit to the long haul. Of course you’ll test various tactical executions. But if you’re going to do content right, you gotta’ commit to the long haul – go all in or stay out. The occasional one-off just won’t do it. Before you begin, get the commitments you need to make your efforts last.