I saw a quote the other day from the founder of a very successful American SEO company that offers a useful insight on how to deliver best practice in content marketing.
“The best way to sell something: Don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect and trust of those who buy.” – Rand Fishkin, founder, Moz
Fishkin’s words “awareness, respect and trust” are particularly appealing because they remind me of what we enjoy with our best client relationships.
What do those esteemed values mean for us? Usually lots of hard work, together with lots of talking and more than a few tall tales to tell.
What are the principles behind the best client relationships? To my mind:
A bit like friendship.
How do these principles apply to content?
Delivering well refers to getting it right. Do the content basics well. The basics are filling a need, being consistent, having an authentic tone of voice, making it good, having a point of view and avoiding sales pitches.
It’s like a pilot’s pre-flight checklist. You wouldn’t want to take off before doing it.
Communicating well. Being understood is fundamental but it is surprising how much corporate content lacks this basic requirement of communication.
If you have to reread a sentence three times to understand it or ask yourself what a word or acronym means, the content lacks clarity.
Offering value is the hardest part. It’s one thing to produce content, but to truly offer value requires thought and effort. Traditionally, value is measured by the quality of the information, entertainment and education the content provides.
Information is news, content telling you something you didn’t know. Entertainment is content you watch for the sake of engaging with it: a movie, a book, a song. Education is content that helps you learn things, like a webinar. If you can combine these all the better.
Making the process enjoyable refers to user experience, or UX, as the tech people say. There are lots of ways you can make content consumption enjoyable. Think about how your audience would prefer to consume their content. Is it a blog, graphic or a video? Where do you publish it? Being where the audience are and using audience-friendly platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn is important. Engaging with that audience, responding to comments, etc, will then make the process even more enjoyable.
By sharing in success I don’t just mean celebrating a win on awards night but sharing with your wider community. I have this theory that every content creator needs a cheer squad and if you have one, it is then incumbent on you to share the love so others can grow their fan bases. It is said you only need a thousand true fans to make a living as an independent content creator.
A final note on tone of voice. An important aspect of earning the trust and respect of your audience is the power of your unique voice. I try to make sure that mine is that of the friend or fellow traveller. In classic movie theory, I’d be your ally. But that might not suit everyone. You might prefer to be “the coach” for instance. Or “the mentor”.
Think about what tone of voice works for you. Then when you’re creating content, use your voice to earn the awareness, respect and trust of those who listen and live up to Mr. Fishkin’s fine quote.
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