No one has time for marketing fluff. Focus on producing useful content that people actually want instead!

useful contentOne of the downsides of living in the information age is that we are literally drowning in a sea of content. In 2008, for example, the average American actively consumed information for nearly 12 hours every day. Whether reading articles, listening to podcasts, watching videos, or absorbing content in any of the countless other ways available to us, we’re all being inundated with vasts amounts of information.

And yet, while we are digesting more content than ever before, we’re also becoming increasingly selective about what content we will and won’t make time for.

Think about it. How many e-mails do you receive every day that go unread? How much direct mail winds up in your trash unopened? The bottom line is that with so much content competing for our attention, we have very little patience for marketing fluff or any other noise that could potentially distract us (busy people that we are) from getting what we need. Quite simply, we prioritize what we consume based on whether or not we think it’s useful.

The simple takeaway is this: in the world of B2B Marketing, good content is useful content. The question then, is how can you ensure that your content is useful? Here are some ideas:

  1. Create How-to Content — People need content that explains in a simple, step-by-step format how to do specific tasks. As part of this blog, for example, I’ve created posts detailing step-by-step instructions to creating a content marketing style guide and a case study. Giving people straightforward instruction about how to do something can be incredibly valuable and is a great example of useful content.
  2. Go Broad — Publish content that pertains to your industry as a whole, rather than just your company’s product or service offerings. If your content addresses issues that people in your industry care about, it will be useful content. If, on the other hand, your content is all about you, people aren’t ever going to use it.
  3. Share Proprietary Research — Any time you can create content that includes proprietary research that people can’t get elsewhere, it has the potential to be incredibly useful. Share your insights and analysis of key issues and people will flock to your content.
  4. Link to Other Useful Content — Always link your content to other high-quality related content regardless whether or not it’s yours. One way to make your content useful is not only to create great stuff, but to also direct people to other great stuff that they may not have otherwise found.
  5. Curate Great Content — Content curation is a valuable service, and one that can make your website useful to visitors. Any time you can bring together the best sources of information to one place, you’re saving people the time and hassle of having to tracking that information down themselves. There’s huge value in that.
  6. Develop Assessment Tools — Create online tools to measure how well someone is doing a particular activity and that provides information to helps them get better at it. Such tools, notably HubSpot’s Marketing Grader, are incredibly useful and, not surprisingly, successful.

Importantly, no matter how you go about making your content is useful, you have to make sure that its usefulness isn’t lost on your audience. People assess content incredibly fast, deciding whether or not to consume a piece of content in the blink of an eye. Make sure that you’re communicating how useful your content is in your headlines so that it grabs your audience’s attention.

photo by: IK’s World Trip

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