Last week a member of LinkedIn Group, Inbound Marketing, posted an interesting discussion question: What is the number one rule of content marketing? Like a student of Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah’s book, Inbound Marketing, I responded with “remarkable content!” That is the goal, right? To get found. You are your content. Halligan and Shah write:
We borrowed the term from Seth Godin who uses it [the word “remarkable”] in place of the word “unique” and we took the liberty of italicizing “remark” in order to prompt you to ask yourself whether your product or service is worthy of other people’s “remarks.”
This is to ask if you genuinely and professionally believe the motive or mission behind your product or service is valuable. In today’s digital age, value does not only mean how wonderful your product/service is, but how well you can stand out and offer something that is both of substance and unique.
Remarkable content is two-fold: the content must work (substance, uniqueness) and the strategy must work (how you put it out in the world).
UNIQUE CONTENT OF SUBSTANCE
Content is language strung together into some kind of sense-making creature. You want the content to become alive, to carry its own weight.
Before we can understand what I mean by content as a “living creature,” we must first ask, what is good writing? It’s a difficult and broad question, but it’s a question that forces you to consider your own reading palate—what makes reading enjoyable for you? What elements of the writing do you appreciate?
I’ve taught many college writing courses, and regardless of writing level, I always ask my students this question because I think it humanizes the sometimes daunting task of writing. What IS good writing? I stand in front of the classroom as they stare at me with blank expressions, glossy eyes. I’m comfortable with silence, so I wait. They squirm in their seats and begin to turn on their brains. Some say good writing must possess humor; some believe writing must ask the reader to react; some think writing must be grammatically correct; it must have a purpose; it must have detail.
They are all correct—in a cumulative sense.
Good writing must possesses the following:
- Purpose: What are you setting out to achieve?
- Voice: Who is behind the writing— what is your character?
- Tone: What is the emotional background or ambiance of your piece?
- Organization: How will you structure your piece?
- Sentence Structure: This is less of a question—Vary your sentence structure!
- Rhetorical Mode: Use various techniques—narrative, description, persuasion, argumentation, how-to/process, etc.
- Ask the reader to react: What do you want the reader to feel or do at any given moment in the piece?
- Target audience: Who are you speaking to?
- Use examples: Help your reader understand what you’re talking about.
- Validate: You must validate your discussion (if it is a discussion) by using other sources, statistics, professional opinions on the topic. This gives you credibility and legitimizes your discussion.
- Logic: Be logical and reasonable.
Once you consider these questions/elements, you can produce good writing.
CONTENT STRATEGY: BEFORE YOU PUT THE WRITING OUT IN THE WORLD
There are a few things you must do to.
- Competitors: Who are your competitors? You want to take a close look at their content and examine what’s already said. Then, take it further. Consider it a challenge. What variables are they missing? Implications? *Note, if you are having trouble coming up with your target audience, this general search for competitors will help you scaffold an idea.
- Marketplace: Generalize your marketplace and consider alternative competitors—those that don’t stand out as “your” competitor.
- Narrow or Widen: Given what you find among your competitors, new and old, you may want to go smaller, provide a narrower specialty or focus. Or, you may want to open up a bit, provide more, a broader focus.
- Put out a Google Alert: There are all different ways to receive live updates on your subject/topic/product/services, but Google Alert is a general way to stay in tune.
Thank you for reading! Please join the discussion with questions, comments, other ideas!