I was doing some research for a blog post recently and came across a post that - based on the title - had exactly what I was looking for. I was trying to find practical advice for storytelling in a particular context. I eagerly started reading the post, curious to see what the author could add to my research.
The post was written in a storytelling format, offering up examples of how the author had used the tactic they were writing about. But I was lost by the second line of the blog post.
The author was writing about how they explain the difference between two different things. I think they were describing their own products. But only the customers and users of these products would be able to relate to this blog post.
The irony? It was a post helping others relate.
I've talked about the idea of selfish communication before and reading this post reminded me of why it's so important to avoid creating content that creates confusion.
There's a bigger picture to content marketing
With every piece of content I create, I think about:
- How it will be perceived by someone who doesn't know my work
- What value I'm giving to readers who click through
- Whether there are applications beyond my niche
You see, if you tie content too closely to your products, you're automatically limiting the audience who will be interested. You're also limiting the story you can tell about your business.
There's a better way.
1) Focus on the problems you solve
When it comes to content, it really doesn't matter what your product does or how it works. What matters is the problem you solve. Most businesses have a big overarching problem they solve for clients and customers.
But there are also related problems - big and small - that they solve. Talk about those problems. Talk about solutions that don't have anything to do with your products.
Assert a philosophy that fits your values and point of view. Have an opinion about what works best and why.
All of these things build a case for why you're so good at what you do.
2) Give away all the knowledge
Don't worry about losing business because you share the what and the how of your solutions. If this is your fear, remember:
- People who take your content and use it on their own aren't your ideal client.
- Or they might not have the budget...yet.
- Others may ignore your content; they're also not your ideal client.
The point of showing your expertise through content is that your ideal client has a better chance of finding you. It's the marketing equivalent of the impact of compound interest. You put the regular effort in and it adds up over time.
3) Go back to the beginning of the story
You're really smart and you have a ton of knowledge about a specific subject. The audience you want to attract does not have your knowledge, which is why they need you.
So, don't open the book in the middle and start reading as if they know what's happened in the first half. Always set your audience up to understand your message by giving enough explanation of anything that's specific to your business or expertise.
The picture is complete when there are no more questions
Will all the questions ever truly be answered? I sure hope not. But in each piece of content, you can answer all the questions.
You'll know you've been thorough when you've accomplished the goal of the piece, there's no lingering clarity questions about the content, and you've provided value that isn't exclusively aimed at your customers.