Business owners often find themselves in a bind. They realise that they have to get content out there to bolster their brand and build credibility and expertise. They may realise that great content is what will attract and retain their best customers. But they often struggle with lack of ability or lack of time when it comes to doing the writing themselves.
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So they turn to an agency like Future Content. But hold on, who are these writers? What do they know about waste management? Or DNA tests? Or steel hardness testing? (all topics we’ve tackled by the way). How are they going to create material that expresses our authority? How do they create expert content in fields they are not yet experts in themselves? It’s a good question. With quite a simple answer.
That’s the short answer anyway. But research comes in different guises
1. They go to the primary source
Talking with clients is always the starting point. Understanding what they do and what their goals are, asking questions to clarify what makes them experts and what makes them unique gets the creative juices flowing.
These initial meetings and workshops are a crucial part of the content marketing process at Future Content. Understanding key goals, mission, and core values, mapping out the customer journey and customer personas, gaining insight into the company and the industry…workshops lay the foundation for the writer’s learning knowledge.
2. They Google…a lot
Content marketers often let themselves fall down the Google rabbit hole when it comes to researching a new company and a new industry. Reading everything they find about the topic helps them to get a grip on what is important, what they need to know more about, and what people are talking about. The insightful matter tends to float to the surface and trigger deeper exploration. Future Content writers learn why their client’s product matters, who it matters to, and what people know or don’t know about it.
3. They question everything
Content marketers take nothing for granted. We challenge our clients, we ask why constantly, like an irritating 5-year-old, and we don’t take anyone’s word as gospel. That’s how we break new ground. This is a common problem nowadays: producing content based on content that is already out there even though the whole chain is often based on foundation-less data or faulty information to begin with. Even prominent journalists and news organisations are guilty of this: they don’t check their sources.
4. They build a glossary of terms
There are keywords in the SEO-sense and then there are authoritative keywords which can make the difference between a knowledgeable article and a bunch of fluff and filler.
The importance of keywords: It’s not just about SEO…
As KISSMetrics founder, Neil Patel says, you have to learn the industry jargon. These unfamiliar terms are opportunities for more learning and more revealing conversations with the client. The more the writer learns about a new niche, the better the understanding they gain of what other people are searching for and the range of customer segments they’ll be addressing.
5. They follow the buzz
Social media is one of the content marketer’s best tools for learning more about their client’s industry and their consumers. Product reviews, questions on Quora, relevant Facebook and LinkedIn groups, Reddit threads…these can all be plumbed to discover what’s going on and what matters to readers.
Similarly, analytical tools such as Buzzsumo can tell us what’s being shared on certain topics or competitors.
6. They find the experts
Research leads writers to discover the best niche sites, trade journals, and associations in the new industry. In the same article as above, Neil Patel recommends finding the “biggest players” and top bloggers in the niche by plugging in keyword searches. Sometimes competitors are the best source of industry information and there is an added advantage to following them: it helps Future Content writers to understand what their clients are and what they are not. It helps to differentiate them from the herd. Plus, a plethora of content ideas are triggered by reading what others say and developing an alternate take on a subject.
7. They track big news
World events can have a huge impact on industries. Considering how a volcanic eruption in Ecuador affects the client’s coffee trade or the role a client’s software system played in a political movement can help Future Content writers to develop great insights and create timely content with higher relevance and shareability. Sometimes, the most impactful content is designed for readers and influencers rather than primary customers.
8. They look for the “spicy meatball”
Combing through data and reading research reports is just part of the job for writers at Future Content, but it is coming up with their own conclusions and finding new insights that helps them to spearhead new trends and create compelling content.
Adding insight: Great content marketing is not just about effective research.
As Tom Webster tells Convince and Convert: “You can’t do research for research’s sake. You also have to think through what would surprise people to the positive. What, if true, would challenge conventional wisdom?” Webster also tells MarketingProfs that data should be used to try and prove what you or your client thinks about the market is wrong. If you can’t: you’re probably right. If you can: you need to give your strategy another think. This is the way to reveal biases and bad assumptions that can skew the whole process.
9. They follow their noses
Curiosity is what makes a good journalist and a good content marketer. Learning from the experts is part of developing authority but asking why things are done as they are done, why the client thinks their market lies here and not there, and coming up with original and unique hooks, slants and takes on the industry is what results in content with real impact. Future Content writers are endlessly inquisitive.
10. They brainstorm with others
Confirmation bias and silo thinking affect everyone. That’s why everyone at Future Content shares their ideas and seeks out feedback. Conversations are a constant part of the process at Future Content. Writers, editors, and content strategists meet with each other and the client’s team to share research, measure impact, explore possibilities and find intersections between ideas. Creativity is born of constructive conflict. Collaboration builds effective strategy. Making sure everyone is on board and headed in the best – and agreed upon – direction ensures a seamless and successful branding experience.
The content marketer’s learning journey offers countless opportunities for a new client. It is a way for clients to think about their offering in a new way. It can reveal untapped audiences and provide better brand differentiation. As Future Content writers learn to write with authority about a new niche; they ask the questions that clients may have taken for granted and so better represent consumer interests and issues. This makes for truly relevant content. And that’s what you’ll find at Future Content: writers that know how to write with authority.
Featured image credit:
By Got Credit, via Flickr