Last time around, we talked about how long the content on your website pages should be if your goal is to attract, engage, and retain your audience through content marketing.
This month, let’s look at a checklist of what your articles need, regardless of length, in order to succeed as content marketing. We’ve found that the best way to build a checklist that works for you is to identify the questions you must answer before you put pencil to paper — or fingertips to tapping.
Who Am I Trying to Reach?
Your first checklist item should focus on who you are trying to reach. You may be pro or con when it comes to the value of creating prospect personae, but they are an excellent way to draw a clear picture of who your target audience is. If you have another approach you prefer, that’s fine. Just as long as your profile includes data points on your prospects’ professional lives, as well as demographic information. Here are a few examples. The data points that are relevant to your marketing will vary.
- Company size
- Level of education
What Is My Prospect’s Motivation?
Once you have a picture of who your prospect is, you need to understand what is driving them to seek the change that you could potentially provide. In other words, what are their pain points around this problem?
The key here is to dive into their pain points as deeply as possible. Your goal should be to not only know what their pain points are, but to understand why they are pain points, in the first place.
In most cases, that will require calculating what the value of solving the problem is to the prospect and his or her organization. That can help you determine your pricing and their sense of urgency.
As critically, you’ll want to identify what the costs will be of doing nothing. (That is often your biggest competitor, rather than another solution provider.)
As you identify the most critical benefits to your prospect, you may find your content beginning to take shape. Those benefits — or language alluding to them — are often best used as sub-headings in your article.
What Is My Goal for This Page?
Your goal is always the same: Get the prospect to take action.
What that action is will depend on all of the data we covered above, as well as where in the buying cycle your prospect is. That last piece will likely determine the nature of your offer: Asking someone who is just beginning their research to agree to an in-person meeting is likely a non-starter, while a prospect who is putting together her short list will be much more open to the idea.
Regardless of the action you seek, be sure you are thinking a few moves ahead, as a good chess players does. Once they’ve taken this action, what action would you like them to take next? What content can help you move your prospects in that direction?
With luck, your pre-writing checklist can help you not only with the content piece in front of you, but with fitting what you create into a broader content library and content marketing strategy.