In last week’s webinar, we were joined by Anna Hrach, speaker, marketing strategist and content expert for Convince & Convert. In just 40 minutes (the average Sydney commute time), Hrach revealed everything you need to know about creating exceptional content. Don’t believe us? Here’s just an overview of Hrach’s brilliant and comprehensive presentation – for the full tutorial, you can watch the webinar on-demand here.
“You can’t create exceptional content out of nothing.”
Hrach’s first point may sound obvious but, apparently, most of us are trying to do exactly this. Quoting the Content Marketing Institute’s most recent stats on the topic, 67% of marketers are committed to creating content, 50% plan to increase their spend on content marketing in the next 12 months, but only 4% rate their efforts as ‘extremely successful’ and only 39% have a documented strategy. The lack of a documented plan leads to, what Jay Baer (Convince & Convert’s founder and NY Times bestselling author) calls ‘random acts of content’.
Hrach’s antidote to ‘random acts of content’ is her formula to exceptional content – simply, the place where business goals meet audience needs.
1) Identify your business goals
Firstly, it’s crucial to recognise that business goals and content goals aren’t the same. Business goals have hard KPIs and results, while content goals must always focus on the ‘why?’ (e.g. ‘Why are we creating content?’ rather than ‘what are we going to gain from creating it?’).
Business goals and content goals aren’t mutually exclusive, so an ideal blend of the two might look like this:
- Build trust by showing commitment to transparent and ethical business practices
- Become a go-to resource for customers to trouble-shoot implementation issues
…whereas a bad example of blended business and content goals might look like this:
- Drive more qualified leads
- Increase return visits to drive incremental sales
By simply focusing on the question ‘why?’, Hrach reveals that your true content goals can be identified. To evidence this concept, Hrach encouraged viewers to complete her first exercise, starting with the statement ‘We need to do content marketing’ followed by asking the question ‘why?’ five times in a row. The results might resemble the example below:
- Why? Our competitors are outperforming us
- Why? They have good marketing, but we walk the walk
- Why? We actually have the latest & greatest technology
- Why? Our culture is built on innovation
- Why? We genuinely care about making the world better
The final answer in this exercise should give you a more tangible idea of your mission, upon which you can base your business and content goals.
2) Understand your customer needs
“Relevancy magically creates time and attention. However, in order to be relevant, you need to understand your audiences” – Jay Baer, Convince & Convert
Hrach quoted her friend and colleague, content marketing expert Jay Baer, and used a local example of Sydney Football Club to outline her next point. By identifying the many different segments of customers (from casual fans who may have been given a one-off free ticket, to die-hard fans who attend every game), it’s possible to identify their different needs at different times, as they move through the customer journey from awareness to advocacy.
Getting to know your customer segments requires both qualitative and quantitative data. Examples of qualitative data include: customer interviews, personas and customer journey maps, while qualitative data includes: social measurement, third party research and web analytics. Hrach’s personal favourite method of qualitative research is social listening, which arms marketers with a true indication of what customers are thinking and saying.
Hrach’s second exercise, called empathy mapping, required viewers to complete the six sections outlined in the diagram below, based on their customers’ perspectives. Once completed, Hrach urged attendees to identify the key themes and answer questions such as: what do your customers need? What is their ultimate goal?
Once you’ve identified your customers’ needs, you can match these with your business goals to identify your content goals. Hrach provided an example of how these exercises could work, hypothetically, for a company like Starbucks; when applied, the content goals produced included:
- Connect with coffee-as-a-lifestyle content
- Showcase coffee options and customisability
3) Create more by doing less
Before you can create exceptional content, you must repurpose, re-use and remix existing content. Hrach explains that a fast and efficient way to slash the looming workload of a content overhaul is by simply auditing old content that can be tweaked and realigned with your new ‘exceptional’ messaging – but be prepared to ‘trash’ whatever isn’t exceptional!
An interesting (and slightly alarming) statistic is that 80% of our online time is spentd on just 15 sites or fewer. On this basis, content must be distributed accordingly, with Hrach advocating a 1:8 rule; for every single piece of long-form content that sits on your own website, produce up to 8 small (lightweight and shareable) pieces of content that sit off-site.
Large content = whitepapers, eBooks, videos, research studies and podcasts
Small content = LinkedIn posts, emails, Slideshares, social posts and infographics
4) Hire the right writers
Planning content is one thing, creating it is another, warns Hrach. Clearly speaking from personal experience, Hrach urges employers to pay attention to each candidate’s experience and hire a team with a variety of disciplines and experiences under its belt. No one content producer is alike, so understand and respect the variations between journalists, traditional copywriters, SEO specialists and email marketers (to name a few).
On the same basis, Hrach warns us not to create positions for superhumans that are expected to fulfil the end-to-end content creation process (the average content producer can only perform 2-3 of the required content creations tasks exceptionally well).
So, in summary; in order to create exceptional content, follow these four steps. Or, watch Hrach’s webinar on-demand, to get the full tutorial in detail.
For more information about Anna Hrach, Jay Bayer and for content marketing expertise, visit convinceandconvert.com. Alternatively, for more free marketing webinars, tutorials and videos from Acquia, check out our upcoming and on-demand webinars here.