5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Creating Your Next Piece of Content

Its no news in the marketing world nowadays, that to establish yourself or your business as an authority, you have to produce content. Whether that’s a blog post, infographic, video, podcast, or whatever medium you choose to use. Creating authoritative content consistently, just like doing anything well consistently, will yield you better results down the road.

Now that we got that straight, I’m not going to preach to you about why you need to create it since that’s a given already. What I do want to talk about is what to do before you create the content to yield better results. But, before I get into that, I want to give you a quick background on where I’m coming from on this.

I’ve been working in the digital marketing field, specifically SEO, for six years. Working for a handful of agencies over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about how different one agency can be from another with their skills, talents, and approaches to SEO, marketing, advertising and business. In the agency world,  we hear “content is king” more often than we’d like. While it’s true content is important, I have experienced very few well-executed ways this phrase is actually carried out to the hype that it is made up to be. Even by talented marketers.

This isn’t a “poo poo” to other marketers or business owners, its simply a “hey, we need to start putting our smart heads together and make some awesome things happen”.

In a field where results are crucial as to whether you get a bigger marketing budget the next quarter, keep a client, or keep your or your employees’ job, good intentions aren’t going to cut it for very long.

In a field where results are crucial as to whether you get a bigger marketing budget the next… Click To Tweet

What I want to encourage us all to take a deeper look at, is the strategy, investment and the execution we as marketers, business owners and brands need to think about before getting into content creation in the first place.

As an SEO and content marketer, I’m even willing to admit that I’m guilty of creating content that has tanked with no results to show for it. Yeah, sure, it may look pretty. It turned out just how I pictured it. But as Jim Yu mentioned in his recent piece on how to create and measure effective mobile content, “many marketers create content based on what they think is interesting, rather than building content to meet a specific, quantified customer need”. Yep, I’m guilty as charged there. And that’s only one of the many reasons content fails.

Many marketers create content based on what they think is interesting, rather than building… Click To Tweet

Another way I know I’ve failed and why many others have failed, is we’re afraid of admitting to ourselves or others that marketing isn’t an exact science. It takes a lot of research, work and testing, and that can also mean a lot of educating and convincing (repeatedly) to those with limited knowledge on the topic. That can mean all of those things combined to multiple people. You have to be willing to emphasize this and do it from the beginning, which all comes down to setting the proper expectations. Whether it’s your boss, your client, or a stakeholder in your business, you have to be willing educate others, to fight for what you think the best or right approach is and tie what you’re doing into the bigger picture.

One of the hardest parts of the content creation process is that it can be scary to challenge others opinions, especially if they are your senior, you’re the new kid on the block in the organization, or the person you’re speaking to has a completely different approach than you had anticipated on taking. Share your experience, thoughts and ideas on it and take it one step at a time.

An often overlooked part of content creation is promotion. Promotion of your content is huge and since I’ve gotten more into content marketing, I’ve realized just how much work it takes to get people to notice and respond to you, and its a lot of work. Don’t underestimate the time investment and resources needed to accomplish your content goals. From influencer research and outreach, to writing emails and following up on them, it’s very time intensive. What you do here can truly can make or break your content efforts.

With my failures in this area I’ve experienced so far, its time to take a better approach. And I want you to, too. Before you create another piece of content for your zero audience blog or your company’s next infographic, try to take a more strategic approach to yield better gains.

Expanding on Jim Yu’s three points made in the mobile content for micro-moments article, below are 5 questions to ask yourself before creating another piece of content that should attack the goals, measurement, and results from the beginning:

  1. What’s the purpose of the content? Are you creating your piece of content based off of your own interest, or answering a customer need? Interests are nice, that’s what hobbies are for. When creating content, don’t get romantic about your “wonderful idea”. Make sure you have a business case for your idea to back it up.
  2. Who is the content for?
    Define a specific audience. Don’t skimp on nailing down a very specific demographic. After all, content that speaks to everyone, speaks to no one.
  3. How are we going to reach them?
    Promotion is half the battle. How are you going to get your content seen, heard and shared? This is where a lot of great content fails. Great content alone is not enough. Promotion should begin before and after the content is created.
  4. What will we measure for success?
    Creating content is useless, unless it accomplishes your goals. What are the KPIs for your content piece? Make sure they realistic so you can set proper expectations.
  5. Why this and why now? As Jim Yu pointed out, “why this content and why now?” Meaning, why create your piece of content and why is now the best time to create it? As we all know, timing is everything.

I truly believe that if you can answer all of these questions before you create your next piece of content, you will be much more successful with your content development and marketing efforts to yield the results you’re looking for.

I’ve been trying to push myself out of getting sucked into tactic-based work and really trying to take the reigns on strategy, even when I’m not leading the charge. Because as a team, if one fails, we all fail.

I’d love to hear how your content efforts have gone, or ones you plan on trying. Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.  Or, if you’re more of an email person, feel free to shoot me an email at rachel [at] rachelmhowe.com.

-Rachel