So you’re going to do some content marketing. Articles seems like a great place to start. Great! Now what?

Before pen goes to paper (or as the case may be, fingers start pecking at a keyboard), it’s essential to develop an angle for your piece. Writing any kind of content article (whether it’s a self-help story, advice piece, how-to outline or other material of value for your propsect) without an angle in mind is like driving without headlights: There’s a chance you’ll get where you want to go, but there’s an even better chance you’ll end up somewhere you weren’t expecting or, worse yet, stuck in a ditch.

The concept behind a content marketing article is simple. It’s a feature-length story of 500 to 1,000 words that offers information of true value to your target consumer while mentioning your brand, product or service in the process. The article needs to optimized for the kinds of search terms that people would typically use to find that kind of information.

But nobody wants to read about your product or service alone. That’s boring, not to mention blatant advertising and unproductive too. That’s not what content marketing is about. Your consumers and potential customers want information that will help them in some way. Your brand just makes it into the equation as a choice or option on that journey … if you mention your brand at all. (There’s also much power in just being the trusted provider of information and insights.)

So here are 11 potential angles for your content marketing pieces. Think about each one of these concepts and how it applies to your brand. Then pick an angle and use that as the starting point for your next article.

[Warning: Don’t try to do all the angles at once! You’ll lose focus and sacrifice effectiveness. And why burn everything up for one article? Instead, home in on one angle or a combination of two of these concepts. Also use this list to vary your angle / approach in a series of articles. Variety is essential in any content marketing campaign, you always need new ideas,and you do need to keep the new material coming on a steady basis.]

MATReleaseAngles-Icon-TimeSave time

If there’s one thing today’s busy consumer needs, it’s more time. Between job, family and extracurriculars, there’s precious little left of this most precious of commodities. How can you save your target market time in their busy personal and/or work lives? Develop an angle that makes their life more efficient. Somewhere along the line, your product or service will come into play.

MATReleaseAngles-Icon-MoneySave money

Who doesn’t want to save money? Even if it’s in a passive way, I have yet to meet ANYone who wouldn’t be happy to save some of their (or their company’s) hard-earned money. Work an angle that concentrates on saving dollars. How does your product or service come in? [Note: Saving time may well be your most natural corollary here, because, after all, time is in fact money these days.]

MATReleaseAngles-Icon-SolveSolve a problem

The need for any product or service stems from one source: The consumer or propsect has a problem to solve, an issue to quell, or a need to meet. This angle is as simple as introducing one problem and then providing ideas for the solution in a straightforward, step-by-step manner. In the sequence, your product or service may appear.

MATReleaseAngles-Icon-QuestionAnswer a question

One of the best sources for content is your current or would-be customer. What questions are they asking? Turn to Customer Service and social media to discover these questions and concerns, then finesse those concepts into story angles. The headline could be as simple as repeating an oft-asked question or inquiry you see.

MATReleaseAngles-Icon-ImproveImprove yourself

Everybody wants to get better. Whether it’s getting in better shape, becoming smarter, earning a promotion, finding a better job, gaining education or just learning new things, almost every person alive still has the desire to improve him- or herself. Offer a pathway to improvement and include your brand, product or service as one of the methods.

MATReleaseAngles-Icon-WorldMake the world better

People do care about the world – the environment, to be sure, as well as relationships and people. Can you offer ways to make the world a better place? This angle works best when you can make it easy for the reader to improve things. Then your product or service comes into play.

MATReleaseAngles-Icon-FamilyBring the family together

In these time-challenged times, everybody is looking for more ways to spend more days / hours / minutes – whatever they can get – in the company of those they love most in the world. How can you help bring the family together for good times and great memories? It might be as simple as meal-sharing or a little weeknight family quality time … or full-fledged approaches that really change lifestyles.

MATReleaseAngles-Icon-InterviewInterview an expert

Make the case that a certain expert (maybe someone from your company, or perhaps some closely associated with it), has something worthwhile to say – ideas that will save the reader money or time, solve a problem or provide one of the other benefits listed above. An interview with an expert is an effective way to angle your article. Expert quotes and insights add credibility and memorability … much moreso than an unknown writer.

MATReleaseAngles-Icon-UprootUproot tradition

If you can uproot tradition and challenge beliefs and practices that are ingrained into your readers’ lives and lifestyles, then you have a highly engaging angle for your article. Everybody wants to see if what you’re saying in your headline is true … should I really change my beliefs and challenge “how it’s always been done?”

MATReleaseAngles-Icon-Holiday Celebrate a holiday

Because family time is so important these days, never pass up the chance to help people celebrate this integral element to quality-of-life. Holidays are the perfect opportunity to do this. Often, holidays are one of the few times on the calendar that are reserved just for family. People want to make these times special. Show them how, and insert your brand into the mix.

MATReleaseAngles-Icon-ControversyCreate controversy

Sometimes you have to stir things up a little bit. So think: How can you create controversy with your article’s angle? It’s easy to develop an article that has been written a hundred times before and doesn’t take any chances. Instead, how can you take a topic and create the image or concept of controversy?

For more ideas and insights to kickstart your content marketing efforts into high gear, visit the Brandpoint Blog.

Read more: Getting The Most Out Of Content Marketing