Bill Harper's POV on What Makes Good Content gets picked up by CornerstoneContent.com.

“What is the #1 habit of highly successful content marketing campaigns? In other words, what do businesses with successful content marketing programs consistently do well?”

Every time someone asks this question – and it’s been asked a lot – you get a lot of this:

  • Develop content relevant to your audience
  • Share what works
  • Document and review your content marketing strategy
  • Get your advocates involved in content development
  • Tell compelling stories  

Trouble is that answers like these are the equivalent of Tiger Woods saying you should swing the club at the ball to be a good golfer. In other words, it doesn’t tell you jack.

We need something with more traction.

A dose of reality

Let’s begin by saying something no one ever says: Good copy is hard to write. Period. And as content is copy, you’d better be thinking of them as one and the same.

Good copywriting:

  • Is pithy (succinct if your prefer) and engaging
  • Gives you something new & interesting to think about
  • Avoids buzzwords & jargon
  • Always has an editor

Most content writers out there aren’t copywriters. As a result the majority of online content seems hell-bent on avoiding what’s listed above and ranks just below reading tax code.

So, how do the successful guys do it?

Truth is, it’s not any one single habit. The successful guys are because they do a handful of connected things consistently - which ultimately result in a positive outcome over time. (Pay close attention to that ‘over time’ part. Good things take time.)

Here’s a short list of the basics: 

  1. Stay on brand (a.k.a. Know thyself)
    Print this next part out and hang it on your wall: “We are not all things to all people.” Whatever your brand strategy is, stay on it and craft your messaging to support it. Content marketing is still marketing, which means its purpose is to further show your leadership within the category. Talk to subjects you know better than anyone else and don’t worry if they go somewhere else for other content – that’s not why you exist in their world. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid that you’re having a relationship with them by talking about things that aren’t relevant to your brand. You’re just wasting your time and theirs.

  2. Really know your audience (a.k.a. Keep it relevant and meaningful)
    People want content that makes their lives easier, increases their social capital or entertains them – it’s just that simple. Write content that focuses on delivering these and you’ll have a loyal fan base in no time.

    a. Make life easier – What are the pain points of your target audience and what does your product do that your competition can’t or won’t to fix the problem? And if you don’t know, ask them. Chances are what’s bothering one client/potential client is bothering several.

    b. Increase social capital – Help people connect the dots; tell them something new about the category, trend or upcoming product. Give them something new to think and talk about which they can use to look smarter to bosses, colleagues and friends. This ups their personal value and makes them feel good. People like feeling good.

    c. Entertain them – This is YouTube’s turf so unless you’ve got something directly tied to the brand, you want to stick to points A and B above. That said, if your brand is doing something really amazing – like a really great guerrilla marketing campaign or advertising commercial that’s truly entertaining – share away.


  3. Say something interesting (a.k.a. Be thoughtful)
    The Internet is full of repackaged/reworded content – much of which wasn’t helpful to begin with. If you’re forwarding content (the polite term is Curating), do something new with it. Have a hypothesis, challenge peoples’ POV, give them something new to consider. Once people know that you’re a VALUABLE content resource, they’re likely to return.

  4. Be brief. Avoid jargon.  (a.k.a. Edit)
    Nothing numbs the brain faster than wandering copy filled with phrases like, ‘…robust synergies that streamline sustainability’. Gag me with a Webster. Get on with it already.

Successful content is like any other marketing, the more original, useful, engaging and brief the better.

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