The marketing department has evolved from a focus on advertising designed to grab attention, interest, and action to a focus on building trust through delivering and creating quality content. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2014 report indicates that 93% of B2B organizations use content marketing.
With so much emphasis on creating content marketing, it’s no surprise that some marketers are producing less than quality content. This statement is not an attack on marketers. Rather, it’s an honest assessment of what this marketer (yours truly) has observed during the past three years. Said another way—it’s noisy out there!
Creating Content that Stands Out
Much has been written about the importance of developing personas for your target audience and creating content for each persona across their buying cycle. While I agree that is very important, I wish to stress the importance of the 3 Ps in content marketing: punctuation, polish and power.
I choose this word as the umbrella phrase to describe the importance of a well structured story that accomplishes the intended goal of the content producer. Have you ever watched a short video from a brand and walked away asking—what was the main point? I can make the same claim of written content. I’m shocked when I read a 1000 word article that doesn’t clearly make a compelling point. Any content asset, whether it’s an article, a video, an infographic, etc., needs to clearly articulate a purpose.
Of course, it needs to be grammatically structured too. More importantly, it needs an old fashion introduction to the main point, an explanation of the main point, and a take away summary of the main point.
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We live in a hyper fast, hyper competitive world. The average time a user takes to decide whether to stay or bounce on any page visited online (desktop or mobile) is less than five seconds. Whether you like it or not, as (former tennis star) Andre Agassi use to say “image matters.” The overall polish of your content assets really does influence visitor engagement.
Subconsciously, a visitor to a content asset is immediately turned on or turned off based on its appearance even before they consume your content. That means all elements of your content need to be polished. The selection of images including their size, their resolution, and their placement—all matter. The layout, formatting, and overall presentation of your content matters.
If you think because your content might be targeted to very technically savvy consumers who (presumably) don’t care about polish, you’re mistaken. Said another way, the first impression of your content is important enough to keep the consumer engaged long enough to consume it beyond the headline. You only have five seconds to convert a visitor to a consumer of your content. Deliver polished content.
Creating content that is powerful is closely aligned with “punctuation” but distinct enough to warrant its own “P.” Each content asset you create must have a compelling take away point. While it’s not necessary for a 500 word blog article to revolutionize your industry, it should cause the reader to have a reaction. The litmus test for “power” in your content is: did you cause the consumer of your content to think differently about a topic? This doesn’t mean that you must change someone’s opinion on a topic. But, it does mean that if, for example, your blog post offers a technical explanation to how a chemical is used in a scientific application, did the reader say “I understand that better than I did previously, and consequently it may affect my life in some way.” Translate this litmus test into your content strategy. What powerful response do you want to cause from the consumers of your content?
The Three Ps of creating content marketing are the closest thing to a formulaic approach to what is otherwise not considered a science. But maybe it’s time that we as marketers embrace the fact that marketing has in fact become a science.