GUEST: Brad Smith, Founder at Codeless
Everybody wants more leads...
And when it comes to getting more leads, content is king.
Put simply: If you want more leads, you need better content.
We sat down and went over what makes great content and how you can sharpen your content-creation skills.
- Why content (and competition) is more complicated than it used to be
- How to approach content and what to look for in a writer
- Content under COVID-19
Content: It’s not like it used to be.
In the halcyon days of creating content — way back 15 years ago — things were simpler.
Anyone could churn out 500 words as a blog post and that was it. That was all you needed to do.
Fast forward to today and things have changed.
“You can't create content today as easily as you could 15 years ago. It’s just too competitive.”
The landscape today is far more competitive and none of the old methods work anymore.
Your competition is savvy. They understand that quality is paramount and that great content needs to be informed by a whole lot more than word count.
Great content needs strategic involvement. It needs to be optimized properly. There needs to input from designers.
Your competition is creating way longer, more in-depth content… with fancy pictures.
And they are pumping up the volume of their content, too.
So, how do you beat them?
How you should approach content (and writers)
With all of these aspects of great content in mind. It can seem like a lot of work.
Add to that the volume of content you need to compete and it can quickly seem unmanageable. (Brad and his team are churning out 250 pieces of content a month, for example.)
But you can do it. With the right processes in place, it all becomes manageable.
First, you need to figure out what to write about, right?
To figure this out, just look at your byproduct.
What questions do your technical support team answer every day? What email responses are you sending out 10 times a day? What comes up in every meeting?
People want content to give them answers. So, what are you answering?
These are your topics. And for each one, you should have 2 or 3 angles you can tackle them from. And you can repurpose these angles for updates or other topics.
Once you know what to write about, you need an assembly line to churn out the content. Specialized roles are key.
For Brad, this means writers (whose time is not clogged with emails and meetings so they can spend it writing instead), editors and account managers.
And these employees all need subject matter expertise — especially your writers.
“I would rather have a subject-matter expert whose writing is pretty good than an amazing writer who doesn’t know what they are talking about.”
Because if you’re in SaaS, Hemingway may have some pithy-yet-moving quote about how your software is “a fine service,” but chances are, he’ll have no idea what he is talking about otherwise.
Even with expertise, it’s important to have a tried and true formula. A strong formula means a writer is spending time writing, not diving into minutiae.
Similarly, Brad recommends spending much more time developing the asset than promotion and advertising.
When it comes to writing, most people want to be cheap — but that makes things like advertising much more expensive.
Think about it: If you’re pitching your content to, say, journalists to publish (or worse, you’re having a PR firm do this for you)...
Do you think it’ll be easier to pitch a barely-polished turd or some fire content?
Content under COVID-19
We’ve looked at the state of content in today’s world broadly, but what about in the specific environment of the pandemic?
Well, some adjustments need to be made here, too.
It’s probably no surprise to read that a ton of coronavirus-content is getting published. In fact, you’re technically reading some of it right now. So, yeah…
“If you're trying to pitch content to big publishers, if you can relate it back to something that's timely, unfortunately, that's what's going to get moved.”
As annoying as it can be, it makes sense to create timely content. Especially in light of gigantic news events like a global pandemic.
People care about current events — there’s a reason we watch the “news” and not the “random moments throughout human history.”
But focusing on current events doesn’t mean you just insert “COVID-19,” “zombie apocalypse” or “international flash-mob gets funky” in the headline and call it a day.
You still need to give value to create great content.
Brad has some awesome examples to get your creative juices flowing.
Take Brad’s friend at candor.co. He started a database with all of the companies laying off and hiring workers right now, which is updated in real-time.
In this environment, this is extremely helpful for people facing economic uncertainty. And it’s simple to do.
Or take Kiva Kiva, the micro-financing lending company. They came up with a course curriculum for kids stuck at home.
This is fire content. It’s not just some company saying their stance on [current event]. Nobody cares what Burger King thinks about murder hornets.
So yes, create timely content. But make sure it has value to your target audience. If it doesn’t, it’s not worth publishing.