Have you ever noticed the hidden visuals inside some of the world’s most preeminent logos? Once you see them, they can never be unseen. You’ll notice them every time you look at the logo. In a sense, the same is true for your brand and its content creation process. Once you’ve immersed yourself in the language, visuals, and value proposition, you can never again see your brand as that of an outsider.
This is especially significant in the realm of content creation. So often, the content we create internally (and I’m including myself here) is based solely on our own perception of our brand and audience…not the reality. In turn, we create, publish and promote content that doesn’t always align with our audience’s real interests. It solves no problems. This type of content often fails to gain traction, generate leads, or increase brand awareness. You can find it everywhere.
Luckily, unlike the logo scenario we mentioned above, it is possible to “unsee” your own brand in a sense as it relates to the content. If you’re interested in getting a fresh perspective on what to write (and why), here are a few valuable tips:
Watch Your Competitors
Don’t copy your competitors, but do keep a watchful eye on them. By doing this, you’ll conclude one of two things. One is that the topics they are covering are resonating with readers (as evidenced by comments, shares, likes, etc.), and if so, find a way to add more value and insight into similar topics. If, on the other hand, they seem to be missing the mark with untimely, off-topic, or irrelevant content, then ask yourself why it appears to be falling flat. If you can answer that question, you will have gained valuable insights into mistakes you can now avoid.
Whenever I used to write case studies, one of the questions I would always ask of the participant was, “Describe what (our company) does in your own words.” This was never helpful for the actual case study, mind you, but it was incredibly helpful for other forms of content, as it gave me a firsthand look into how our customers viewed our product and service. If you have the opportunity to talk with customers, here are a few more questions to consider asking them in order to get a fresh perspective:
- How did you hear about us? If they found you via search, ask them what keywords they used. If they were referred, ask what that person said about you. You’re trying to figure out where they got their first impression of you and whether it was accurate.
- Why did you choose us over X? This lets you determine whether your perception of the value proposition is the same as the reality. Maybe they chose you for a reason you were completely unaware of.
- What sites do you read to learn about X? This lets you find other sites to emulate your content in terms of topic, tone, and frequency.
- What topics would you be interested in reading on our blog? An explicit question that most customers won’t be able to answer, but if they do, it’ll be incredibly helpful.
For more tips on interviewing customers and subject matter experts, check out this blog we wrote for Kapost a few months back.
Crowdsource Content Ideas
This is perhaps the fundamental value we provide here at nDash. Companies sign up and complete a basic profile, and based on that information, writers from our community will pitch them unique ideas for blog posts, articles, and whitepapers. The point here is not to make a shameless plug but to show you, in practical terms, how crowdsourcing content ideas work. What we’ve seen with this approach has been nothing short of remarkable. To date, almost 65% of all the completed work on the platform has come as a result of a writer pitching an idea. What does this tell us? It tells us that brands see the value in having a fresh perspective and that writers are able to hit the mark knowing very little about that particular brand. You can get started on this approach here (okay, now that’s a shameless plug).
Bonus Tip: Search Quora
Want to know what you should be writing about? You won’t find a clearer answer outside of Quora. We’re constantly scouring the site for ourselves and our clients, looking for answered and unanswered questions of relevance. This is perhaps the best way to understand how your content can solve audience problems, offer value, and position your brand as a thought leader.
Final Thoughts on Aligning Content Creation With Your Audience
It never hurts to get a fresh perspective, even if the content you are creating is getting tens across the board. By keeping these tips in mind, you ensure that the reality of your content efforts aligns with the perception—and not just on a few posts, but across the board.