Engaging with you is a privilege.
No, don’t blush — I’m serious!
If I have earned the right to write to you, speak to you, engage your mind for a few moments, and yes, even market to you, that is a privilege. As a content marketer, your attention, your interest, your trust are all extremely valuable to me. Perhaps even more valuable than a sale.
A sale is a single transaction, after all, but what I’m really after is a relationship, and that requires many interactions over time.
In fact, content marketing requires quite a bit more than a sale. I must be able to attract your attention amid this sea of noise and static, and once I have it, I must be engaging, interesting, informative enough to hold your interest for the space of longer than one post.
And once I have your attention, I must stoke your curiosity, uncover your desires, remind you of the problems that drove you here in the first place and finally ask you to take an action.
If, and only if, I have done my job well, you may consider it.
It’s an intricate dance we content marketers do with our audiences, and even more intricate for me because you are content marketers — I’m showing you all my secrets, lifting the skirt and even chatting about my metaphorical supportive undergarments that you might be better at the dance yourselves.
Really, what it comes down to is asking yourself: Is this the best piece of content I can create, and will it earn me the right to further engage with my audience? And in order to help you answer that question, I’ve created a short checklist of questions for you to ponder.
I’ve made this list into a nicely formatted printable list — so that you can print it out and hang it up somewhere you will see it whenever you’re creating content. Just click here to get it immediately sent to your inbox.
- Why are you writing this particular piece?
I’ve developed a couple of frameworks for thinking about this question, which I lay out in Content Intelligence Academy, but what it really boils down to is that you must know how any particular piece of content — blog post, email, even dare I say it, a social media post — fits into the grand scheme of your content marketing strategy. Otherwise, why bother?
- Why does your particular audience need to read it?
This comes back to remembering your audience’s pain points. It always seems a bit callous to talk about pain points, but in truth, people are seeking relief from their aches and pains (whether physical, mental, or metaphorical) and will be thrilled to see that you understand their pains and want to relieve them.
- Why is it better than what’s already out there?
This is a tough one, because better is so subjective. But it is a good practice to Google whatever topic you choose to write on and scope out the competition. This is not an exercise designed to make you feel “less than” or rile up your imposter syndrome, but to help you objectively think about how you can make your content more than what others have already done. Because, again, if you’re not going to give it your best effort, what exactly is the point?
- Why should people take action?
You are asking them to take an action, right? I hope it goes without saying that every blog post should have a call to action (there, I said it anyway!), but beyond that, you need to have a good reason for them to take the action. Just saying, “Click here to sign up for my newsletter,” is not enough. Have you made it abundantly clear why they should want to take the action, what’s in it for them?
- Why now?
People are busy. We all have lives to lead. Why should they stop and read your post or take your action now? What is the urgency? Is it that there is a limited time to act? Is it that they can relieve their pain? Is it that they can save money, spend more time with family and friends, achieve enlightenment? What’s going to prevent them from clicking away and saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow…”? If you have a call to action (which you should), you must also explain — subtly or explicitly — why they should take that action now.
If you can answer these five questions, you can write content that will move your business forward. Honestly, the only one you might need help with is question No. 1, which is why I created the Content Intelligence Academy — to help people see the big picture of their content marketing strategy and allow them to answer the other questions clearly.
Your job as a content marketer is to earn your readers’ attention, their trust, and their curiosity. Your job is not to be the teacher and answer every question they have; that’s done with the products and services you offer. It’s not to close the sale — that’s done elsewhere.
As Seth Godin puts it, “The purpose of this work is to amplify interest, generate interaction and spread your idea to the people who need to hear it, at the same time that you build trust.”
I encourage you to use the button below to download the printable version of this list, print it out, and hang it up somewhere that you will see it when you are writing. Make answering these questions a part of your writing process, and I can guarantee that the content you produce will be worthy of your audience’s engagement.