28 April 2015
When I worked as a journalist, I wrote about the economy, politics and local events. And although I would like to consider myself a super smarty-pants in all of those fields, I wasn’t. I just did my research, made a lot of phone calls and conducted hard-hitting interviews (well, maybe not THAT hard hitting).
Good content writers are just like journalists. They can cover a lot of varied topics and write compelling content armed only with their strong research and interviewing skills. Companies waiting to find writers who are experts in their field may be limiting themselves. Writers are in the business to make money, and unless you have a full-time gig to offer them, they’ll most likely remain diversified.
A better approach to hiring writers is to find people who have a strong portfolio, have a genuine interest in your field and who are willing to learn what they don’t know. Perhaps even more important: you’ll get far more bang for your buck if you hire a writer who also understands marketing. As a business owner, you don’t just want to produce random content. Content marketers have an eye for how they can make the content work for you, how they can repurpose it into multiple pieces of content across different channels, and how they can align it with your company’s business goals.
When interviewing a content writer/marketer, here are the questions they should be asking you:
- Who is your audience/target market?
- Do you have branding guidelines? What is the tone and voice you want in your content?
- Do you have buyer personas so they can address the fears, needs and wants of your target audience?
- What are your goals for the content? For example: brand awareness, thought leadership or lead generation?
- Who are your top 3 competitors, so they can research what other people are writing about in your industry – and differentiate?
- Do you want to educate your customers about a particular problem in your industry or do you want to discuss your products and updates?
- How do you plan to distribute the content?
- Do you have analytics in place to monitor the content to make sure it’s working?
When you hire a writer, you should also be ready to allow them to interview key people in your company. A half an hour interview can provide the writer with quotes, ideas, inside information and the perspective of the people closest to your target audience. I find that 5 thought-provoking questions can yield an enormous amount of information for multiple pieces of content.
While we’d all love to be experts in everything and we’d all love to hire that person. Yet common sense tells us that that person doesn’t exist (except perhaps on Jeopardy). Writers with strong research and interviewing skills, combined with an eye for marketing, will generate top-quality content that your target audience actually wants to read – and leave them coming back to your site for more.
Tags: audience personas, buyers cycle, content marketing, content writers, freelance writers, inbound marketing, industry experts, lead generation
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14 April 2015
Not long ago, I talked to a friend who worked for an SaaS company. He said that everyone in the company was required to write a blog once a week – but they HATED doing it. In fact, it became a bit of a joke around the office about whose turn it was that week to write their blog. LOSER!
As you can imagine, their blogs weren’t very good and they definitely didn’t generate new leads.
If this story sounds familiar, then you’re probably not giving content the time and effort it deserves. The shotgun approach to content production has been proven over and over again not to work.
Here are 5 reasons why your content is failing to generate leads:
YOU DON’T HAVE A CONTENT STRATEGY
Every piece of content should have a reason for being produced: to support higher-level objectives. Without a strategy, content becomes a confusing and random exercise that doesn’t produce any results and leaves management shaking their heads. Content needs to be analyzed and measured just like every other marketing effort, and new strategies need to be developed in place of strategies that aren’t producing any return. You should know when, where, how and why you’re producing every content offer and you should be making sure that your content is getting in the hands of your target audience. Content should always be working for you in a strategic way to generate new leads – but without a strategy, your efforts will fall flat.
YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
What’s the point of producing content for just anyone? You’re in business to make money and your content should support that goal. How are you going to drive new leads to your website if you’re not giving your prospects the kind of content they want? Understand what your audience consumes and where they consume it. Make sure you understand their needs and wants and produce the kind of informative content they’re searching for online. If you consistently produce content that solves their problems, you’ll eventually become a trusted resource.
YOUR CONTENT ISN’T VERY GOOD
Not just anything will do. We’re in a state of content overload on the internet which means you’ve got A LOT of competition. Your content needs substance and it needs to provide new information for your readers. Lack of time is one of the top reasons cited for producing poor-quality content. Fortunately, there are scores of quality freelance writers available to alleviate your burden. Writing isn’t something that just anyone can do – it’s a skill, like any other skill, that takes time to perfect. If you want results, sometimes it’s better to leave it to the professionals.
YOUR DISTRIBUTION IS TOO LIMITED
Many people fail at generating leads from their content because the right people aren’t seeing it. Distribution is KEY to getting people to read your contact. One tweet or post with a link to your blog isn’t going to drive any significant amount of new traffic. You need to get creative with distribution. Here are some ideas:
1. Create a monthly newsletter with links to your blogs that you can email to your prospects
2. Look into guest blogging opportunities within your industry
3. Following industry influencers on all of your social sites, engage with them, comment on their blogs and see what kinds of blogs they’re sharing
Sites like Buzz Sumo are a great way to see what kinds of blogs are performing well in your industry, who the influencers are, and what kinds of blogs influencers are sharing so you can try and get your content in front of them.
YOU DON’T HAVE GOOD CALLS TO ACTION
Once again, this goes back to the bigger picture of WHY you’ve created content in the first place. You’ve done it to drive new leads to your business. It’s great if your target audience is reading your content, but do you know what you want them to do after they read it? It’s essential to have a call to action in every piece of content you produce – and that call to action should be strong enough to entice your readers to go a step further with you and click on your CTA.
Inbound Marketing is proven to work when done properly. If you don’t have the time to give your inbound marketing the effort it deserves, agencies like Smashdeck Marketing can help. We’d be happy to set up a free consultation to see why your current content marketing isn’t working and how we can help make it better.
Don’t believe inbound marketing works? Download our free white paper to see the facts: Inbound Marketing: Let’s Talk Numbers. Why Content Makes Good Business Sense.
Tags: audience personas, calls to action, content marketing, content strategy, customer-centric content, distribution, freelance writers, inbound marketing, lead generation
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