If you follow me online or have read a few of these posts, you'll know how I feel about being told that I have to do something.
You must post a million times a day! Push new, fresh content on every platform all the time! Blog or die! Sigh.
If you listen to the noise, you could be forgiven for thinking that producing a content is a WAR. And the only way to win is to fire more bombs than the other side.
More content = more ammunition = you win!
Recently, I had a someone ask if I could help with blog content.
“Sure, what are you thinking?”
“Other people have told me, and I agree, we need a blog. They don’t need to be long, just 2 to 3 paragraphs. Just one a month.”
You may have been in similar situations like:
- I’m planning a website and my competitors have these 5 pages, so I will too.
- I like that sliding testimonial thing on that person’s homepage, I want one.
- [online guru] said I should do a case study / ebook / blog / novel / jump of a bridge so I’m going to do that.
The best antidote to shiny bright light syndrome is this: ask why.
‘Why?’ is the most powerful question in your content arsenal.
There is likely a sound reason for following the shiny lights. When we question ‘why?’ then we follow them in the best way for us. We put the content in the best possible format, and the best possible place, for our audience.
Back to my blogging business owner: they wanted to look and behave more like their clients online. The point of blogging was to show, ‘we are the same’.
Now we’re getting somewhere.
Good content puts the audience first.
And that means stepping into the audience's shows.
Get out your post-its.
Map their journey one step at a time.
What trigger drives your audience to seek out your products, skills or services?
Where in that journey should you speak to them (hint: the easiest bits are places where they might be on your website)?
What questions do they have in that particular moment? What emotional state are they in?
What do you want them to do next, and what information can you give them to guide them there?
An example (or two)
Let's take the, ‘I want to put a testimonial slider on my homepage’ example and run with it.
You are now an online educator selling a small biz finance course (go you!).
You map your journey, check your website analytics (because you’re multi-talented), and realise that the people heading to your homepage probably know you from somewhere else. They’re landing on your site because they know your name.
But new people, new people seem to arrive via search to specific landing pages.
What questions might they have?
- Does this course suit people in my exact situation?
- What did they get out of it?
- Did they stay motivated to finish it?
- Where do they work?
- Are they like me?
Tell me I’m not alone!
These questions help you understand a) what to ask to gather the testimonial and b) where and how to share it.
First, you think, I'm not going to pop these on my homepage. They need to go on the course landing page, in context of where the person is making that decision to spend the dollars.
Then, you decide which testimonials to share.
“10/10 would recommend this course” - Lorelai G.
“As a new business owner, I really felt lost when it came to my numbers. Doing this course was a big investment of time and money, but it was so worth it. Luke’s direct but comforting voice memos kept me motivated. He explained complex ideas with ease. 10/10 would recommend.”
[Photo of smiling, happy, Lorelai. She looks about the age of your target market]
Lorelai Gilmore, Owner, Independence Inn, Connecticut*
If you’re a major construction firm, your audience is going to need something totally different. Maybe your clients ask:
- Have you done a project like this before?
- What was the budget, the location, the scope, what went wrong?
Did your brain, like mine, immediately think ‘we need to show these buildings!’?
Testimonial schestimonial. We’re now thinking videos, photography, renders, case studies, interviews with the client and the project manager.
Which means it’s time to ask the third and most important question.
What can I afford?
A video fly through of an epic new building sounds SO AMAZING. But is it feasible? Write down all your ideas, even the bad ones, and work out what you can afford in terms of time, effort, and money.
There is no harm in starting small if you’re answering the right questions.
There are different ways to win the war. I encourage you to play a more strategic game.
We’re going to be the covert ops team of content.
Stealthy and targeted. We avoid the bright shiny lights so that we don’t blow our position.
*This one will be lost on the non Gilmore Girls fans. Sorry not sorry. Did anyone else think that is was weird that Lorelai, the General Manager of an Inn for many many years, taking a business course, didn’t understand how money worked and needed to ask her local diner owner? Yeah, I haven't spent 15 years thinking about that either...