By Katie Mientka

“You need to create ridiculously good content – content that is useful, enjoyable and inspired.” Ann Handley, digital marketing pioneer.

“Ridiculously good content” is the foundation for effective marketing campaigns. But for those who find it easier to build an actual foundation — or transform a kitchen into a chef’s dream, provide creative design solutions, install innovative lighting, or deliver efficiency through advanced doors and windows — generating content poses a significant challenge. In fact, 60% of brands struggle to produce engaging content, and one of the biggest obstacles is coming up with ideas that will resonate with audiences.

Haven Media designed this helpful guide to content creation to get your brand’s creative (and strategic) juices flowing.

Overcoming Obstacles to Generating Content

The 2019 Marketing Survey, conducted by ClearVoice, asked 2830 marketers one simple question: What’s your biggest challenge with content? Developing compelling article, whitepaper, infographic, video, and blog ideas ranks in the top 10, as does consistency. At core, these are interrelated problems: coming up with a few ideas is great — and relatively easy. Keeping the inspirational fires burning, though, requires not just creativity but a strategic approach.

What is the goal of producing a video or writing an article or blog? Providing “useful, enjoyable, and inspired” content is critical, but ultimately, the primary goal is to educate your customers and drive an action (i.e. connect with you for business). You want your audience to see you as an expert in the field, as a trusted authority to whom they can turn. Through content, you have the opportunity to position your brand as the guide who will see them through their project or problem.

“The buyer journey is nothing more than a series of questions that must be answered.” Michael Brenner, author of The Content Formula

Start at the End

The first step in generating content that will allow you to connect with your audience is to establish a goal or outcome for your article, blog, or other piece. What do you want the reader to know, feel, and do after consuming the content?

From there, create a topic outline and note the questions you want the article or blog to answer. Include quotes from yourself, your team, your customers, and/or your vendor partners.

The end is always your starting point when generating content: figure out what you want people to think, feel, and do, and then give them a roadmap to get them there. To do this effectively, every piece of content needs to be:

Specific.

One blog, one idea. Avoid being too general or discussing too many ideas in the same piece. If you find you have related or extra ideas, they can stand as their own blog posts. (This also allows you to compile or rework blogs and videos that center around a particular theme into a long form whitepaper or ebook).

Purposeful.

Creating content is too important to take a “wing it” approach. Every piece must have a purpose. What’s the goal? What do you want your audience to know, feel, and do? If you don’t know, they won’t know, and you have wasted a chance to connect.

Targeted.

Who is your audience? What are their interests? Needs? Problems? Demographics? At what stage of the buyer’s journey are they (Awareness, Consideration, Decision)?

Generating Ideas and Refining Your Topic

So, you know that video, article, blog, and infographic topics need to be specific, purposeful, and targeted. But… what story do you tell? This:

● Highlight a service, product, brand, or a vendor partner.
● Project spotlight: How does your product/service solve a problem that is common to your target audience?
● Customer testimonial: How did your company, product, or service affect the life of someone else? How did it improve or enhance it, make it easier, increase convenience, etc.?
● Brief company story: Why did you start the company? How are you changing lives?
● Company milestones: Highlight company anniversaries, long-term employees, specific hurdles you have overcome, etc.
● Community involvement: What are you doing to better your community? Highlight employee volunteerism, charitable projects you’re working on, your fundraising efforts, or the local youth basketball team you’re sponsoring.
● Seasonal spotlight: What should your customers be thinking at certain times of year (e.g. installing energy efficient doors and windows before fall/winter, revamping a home for the holidays, etc.).
● Your industry trends: highlight a specific trend or do a top 5 list.
● A look forward: what new trends, technologies, or products are coming soon? Create be-on-the-lookout or “what’s changing in your industry?” pieces.
● Problems facing your customers or industry: What issues should your audience be aware of and on the lookout for? Why and when do customers need to call you?
● Debunk industry myths: Most industries deal with misconceptions and misperceptions. Take the opportunity to clear these up!
● Your unique selling proposition: What is special about your solution, service, technology, and/or process? Demonstrate how your USP helps solve customers’ problems.
● What else you can do: Talk about a new division of your company, a new product you offer, or a service that many people don’t realize you offer.
● FAQs: What do people frequently want to know about your company, solutions, services, products, or industry? An FAQ page can save you time and establish you as a helpful authority in your space.

This list will get you started and allow you to build a list of compelling ideas. When you get stuck, refer back to it for inspiration. You have a dynamic, interesting business: don’t hesitate to share your knowledge, expertise, and differentiators.

Flesh Out Your Topic Ideas

After brainstorming and creating a list, take the next step and fill out your topics so they become strong, stand-alone pieces. Key questions to ask yourself:

● Who is your audience? They are the hero of your story — not you! You are their guide, and your role is to help them solve their problems.
● Why is this topic important to the customer? (And if it’s not, why are you wasting time talking about it?)
● What problem does this piece help your customer solve?
● How does this topic align with your business in a unique way?
● How do you do X differently/better than others?
● How will Y product/project/brand/technology affect the future of your industry? How will it change your customers’ lives? It is nearly always more important to highlight how a product, service, etc., will improve customers’ lives. Discussing how the industry will be impacted, however, does speak to your authority and expertise.
● What problems may occur if customers don’t call you when they should?
● What happens when customers try to DIY it? Why should they call a professional?
● Why is it not advisable for your customers to cut corners or skimp on quality? Highlight the importance of doing the job right the first time.
● What is the difference between your brand and big box stores, generic products, cookie cutter builders, or fly-by-night contractors?

If you are working on a customer testimonial, a powerful form of social proof, target the following questions:

● Why did the customer choose your company?
● What problem or challenge did they face?
● How did you help solve that problem?
● What was unique about your solution?
● How has this experience/their results made their lives better?
● Are there future implications or ways that this will help them down the road?

There is also value in utilizing outside resources, like the SEMRush Topic Research tool. With this tool, you can enter your topic idea, they will analyze currently available content, and generate winning headlines, questions, and related topics.

When you have a bank of video, article, and blog ideas, as well as an idea of how they address these critical questions, then you have the tools you need to combat both idea generating and consistency obstacles. It also allows you to overcome another content creation challenge: time. You will not waste your time scrambling for topics or creating pieces that don’t deliver value for your customers — or your business.

Wrapping It Up

Close out each of your videos, articles, and blogs with a strong call-to-action. CTAs are designed to encourage a specific response, and they should be tailored to different stages of the buyer’s journey to move leads through your sales funnel.

For example, if a prospect is in the Awareness stage, prompting them to “Buy Now!” isn’t going to be effective. They are not there quite yet.

Instead, your CTA can be centered around learning more, signing up for a newsletter, or downloading a guide on a topic of interest.

Like this: For more marketing tips from Haven, download our free ebook: 9 Steps to Effective Marketing. Our goal for this guide to content creation is to help design and construction professionals overcome some of the most common frustrations of marketing. We’ll help you tell your story of expertise and connect with clients that value relationships over discounts.