The Great Content Challenge

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We all know we need it. We all instinctively recognize it. The challenge for businesses is to get it. To create that perfect intersection of relevance, “entertainment” value and authenticity that will make consumption of your content a satisfying experience for your target consumer. In other words, the Holy Grail is to have people out there in the universe want to view, share and post your content.

We have arrived in the era of Content Marketing.

Why is it so difficult to create this type of content? Why is it so rare? Increasingly, good quality content is becoming a serious business asset that can generate eyeballs, click-throughs, and ultimately leads for your business.

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With exciting platforms for content distribution and placement in the marketplace content is quickly becoming a strategic way for your potential customers to find out about your business in the increasingly complex web of social networks, communities and socially-oriented apps and Web sites. If your content can demonstrate serious value to your target audience, you’ve got a better-than fighting chance of engaging them. Paid placement of content can yield click through rates (CTR) of up to four to five times that of a digital display ad. In fact, in our campaigns for clients, we frequently see paid content marketing CTRs in the range of 0.5 – 0.7. Tricky part is, that content has to be good in order to perform.

There are three things that make this good quality, shareable content really hard to create. Not to say there aren’t lots of challenges, but these are the stand-outs:

  • It takes a lot of time and skill to produce. It always takes more time to produce great content, than anybody thinks. Assuming that you go to the trouble to hire a great content producer, in order to create something that is relevant, entertaining and authentic, that producer will have to properly understand your target audience, the nugget of information you can provide to your audience that adds value, the sub-culture of your audience, your brand identity, voice etc. You get the idea. We’re talking a full creative brief, multiple revisions, identifying the right visual look if the content is graphical, etc. Not to scare anyone off, but this can be a major project.
  • It’s got to be short. Copywriting and word-crafting have never been more important skill sets than in today’s short attention span world. Whole new disciplines are evolving around writing social media friendly lines of copy that will generate interest and social activity, while also keeping content short, easy to scan and easy to digest. This is really hard. Always. Full stop.
  •  Your content has to add value. You need to deliver the goods. You can thrill, inspire, inform, entertain… go ahead and indentify what works best for you — but you need to add something to the value exchange equation. You need to deeply understand where you can add this kind of value. And you likely need to deeply understand the relationship between your target audience, and your product, brand, service, company or topic. This is the intersection between the intrinsic skills of a creative team, and the deep understanding of your audience that can come from research, twenty years in the business or shared life experiences. It almost doesn’t matter where it comes from, but that understanding is likely going to be there, for your content to resonate.

I love that after all my years working with technology we’re coming back to the age-old skills of storytelling and connecting with our audiences. But we do need to remind ourselves that writing, drawing, painting and crafting content has always been hard, and producing the best of the best will always be a messy, painstaking process. Just because we can publish with a tap of a finger does not make the creation process any easier…even if Seth Godin and other incredible communicators make it look easy!