Your internal team may not have time to create the content you need to drive a successful digital marketing campaign, and that’s okay! Digital marketing is such a diverse and complex field that leaning on a professional writer makes sense for creating consistent, high quality, and economical content that helps you turn a profit.
But have you ever received content that was just left of the mark? Maybe it was written beautifully, well-researched, and on time, but it didn’t quite match what you had in mind. These pieces of content aren’t wrong, but they’re not as productive as they could be for your purposes. You can get spot-on content every time you place an order by providing the information writers need to hit the bullseye.
Think Content Development First
When you begin working with an outside team, a contract writer, or a new in-house writer, take some time to talk strategy. There was a time when any content was beneficial for SEO. Today, everyone from small family practices to large, multi-national corporations produces some form of content. They write blogs, develop product descriptions for Amazon, and try to earn the spotlight in industry-related publications. Without targeted content, you might spend money on articles that fade away in 24 hours instead of helping you reach your goals. Ask yourself:
- What is the purpose of this content or campaign? Beyond adding value, think about what you’re trying to accomplish. You may want to primarily inform an audience about your company’s offerings or background. You may want to earn a following connecting you to a certain cause (e.g. the (RED) campaign that so many companies support each December). Having a clear focus will help you direct the content development process, and it provides a performance indicator you can use to measure success.
- Who makes up your primary audience? Tap into your marketing personas and start thinking about your ideal customers. Create well-rounded lists of what those people find important in life beyond your product offering. These types of idea maps will facilitate the creation of multi-dimensional content that resonates. Don’t stop with “established professionals looking for x, y, and z.” Use statements like, “established professionals who value high quality work in x, y, and z but who also appreciate letting their hair down on the weekends.” Appeal to the person, not just the consumer profile.
- Where can I find fresh ideas? Go beyond your marketing team or consultant, and tap into your company’s natural intellectual capital. Talk to sales reps, customer support specialists, and accountants. Everyone who interfaces with clients will have a different perspective, which may provide valuable insight for content.
While you can use big data to really focus in on creating targeted content that drives results, taking a little time to flesh out campaign directionality goes a long way. You know more about what your audience wants to read than you think. Write down everything to keep your strategy focused.
Voicing Your Needs
Next, you need to get your content desires across to your writing team. Professional writers can create content with little direction, but it may not be optimized for SEO or your target market. More information is infinitely better than less. Here are the tips you need to get results:
- Your writer doesn’t automatically know your angle. You have a vision for a piece of content. However, your writer may not know your perspective or much about your company, for that matter. An excellent website “about” section and further guidance from you can help launch writers with the right voice, style, and mission. If you don’t have an effective “about” section, commission or write one ASAP.
- Spend more time on initial assignments. Once a writer or writing team has a feel for your style, you can grant more freedom with subject matter. However, initial assignments will make or break your relationship with a writer. Give him or her the tools needed to succeed. Fill out voice documents and company profiles, and include a list of topics or angles. Guidelines produce results.
- Always ask for pitches. Writers tend to be high achievers and feel terrible when they miss the mark. Pitches provide a way for both parties to get on the same page before writing a commissioned piece. Some companies prefer to offer their own pitches and resources, while others provide writers with the freedom to create. Either way can be a wonderful launch pad.
- Create a scope. Many clients get into a groove with a writing team. They want X number of pieces per month for blogs or certain publications. Some leave the topics up to the writers. If you commission several topics per week or month, you may want to help writers expand their scope in an industry-appropriate way.
Some niche industries only have so much readily-available research information. Offer links or publication names to help them generate new ideas, create guidelines for when it is and isn’t okay to recycle old content, and list some tangential fields that add value to your target market. For instance, a recipe blog may expand into table décor, foodie technology, and local restaurants.
- Communicate as needed. You’re a busy professional, which is why you’re relying on a writer to help you develop highly relevant content. However, communicating clearly is an essential skill for commissioning effective material.
Phone calls are helpful for understanding content campaigns, but following up with an email provides hard guidelines that won’t get overlooked. If you don’t have time to list out your needs in an email, ask your client representative to email a review of the assignment request for your approval. This additional communication will prevent errors.
Professional writers offer value in the form of well-researched pieces at a fast turnaround rate for an affordable price. If we do our jobs right, you should see more engagement and online traffic to support your business goals. Make sure your company gets the best value possible with strong communication from the beginning of each project.