Is Your Content Worthy of Being Published?

By Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy Officer

December 2, 2016

magazine-stack

Remember when producing “good” content was easy? The formula was tried and true: Harvest the most interesting factoids and data points from the latest third-party research, repackage them in your marketing and sales content, and hope against the odds that your competitors aren’t using the exact same information (and if they are, that none of your prospects and customers will notice).

That was the model. It was simple, it was passable–but it may not work anymore. Not if you want to create content that keeps prospects and customers returning to you for a distinct point of view and regarding you as the go-to source for helping them see their world in fresher, more revealing ways.

Compelling content has gotten harder to create as the bar for qualifying as an insights provider has gone up. Faced with content fatigue, barraged by the same familiar stats and figures, prospects and customers are getting more discerning about the content they consume and are demanding more rigor around insights generation. In response to this shift, companies need to take more edgy, counterintuitive stands in their marketing and sales content, delivering original perspectives and insights only they can provide.

That’s where the demand for content is going. Here are four pointers you can apply to meet it:

  • Base your content on original, forward-looking insights: Content that acts only as a reflecting pool of others’ insights won’t establish you as a go-to source for original interpretations of your industry. For a content program to shape the conversation, it needs to be based on unique, independent research that yields insights you own (and others cite). The more forward-looking and visionary those insights are, the better your content will be at delivering fresh, bold perspectives on emerging issues, challenges, and trends. A survey from my company found that B2B professionals consider “visionary” insights the most powerful insight type. But get this: They also say they create this type of insight the least.
  • Take counterintuitive stands: The job of your content is to create “hand raisers” by presenting prospects with an alternative vision that’s better than what they’re doing today. But convincing prospects to change is notoriously hard, and you won’t do yourself any favors with content that only corroborates what those in your industry already know (or can easily intuit). To be status quo-busting in your message and content, you have to be counterintuitive, putting forth views that go against the grain of conventional wisdom. That starts with developing research and insights that challenge traditional approaches to doing business and show clear contrast between your prospect’s current situation and the future state you’re proposing.
  • Take your story beyond the data point: Surprising data points and numbers are the beginning of a powerful, urgency-creating story. New research my company conducted with an expert in persuasion revealed that the most compelling message (and by extension, the most compelling marketing or sales-facing assets) are those that show prospects the risks they face in their current situation, while also demonstrating how you can resolve those risks with your new, alternative solution. The study found that by pairing risk and resolution in your content, rather than just creating risk, you stand to make the biggest impact on buyer behaviors and emotions.
  • Ground your content in decision-making science, not best practices: Swaying buying decisions in your favor depends in large part on your ability to speak to what matters to your buyer. It’s a buyer-focused world, and to win in this environment, you need a buyer-centric approach to content development. That means grounding your content program in the decision-making sciences, not seller-focused best practices. By applying principles from fields like neuroscience, behavioral economics, and social psychology to your visual storytelling, you’ll be better at tapping into the forces that shape how buyers make decisions.

By using some of the content principles above, my company has seen our research-based content perform at two times the standard on LinkedIn’s sponsored content program. On that same platform, the content has surpassed audience engagement benchmarks by 106% and exceeded click-through rate benchmarks by 98%. When it comes to inciting prospects to engage and take action, these principles work.

This article originally published in CMO.com

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