Ever noticed a parent kneeling down to talk to their toddler?
That one gesture speaks volumes. It shows a level of care and empathy that can’t possibly be communicated while standing up, towering over that little soul. You could be standing there looking down at her with the face of an angel, you’d still look huge to that little girl looking up at you.
But when you kneel down to talk to her?
She knows you’re meeting her where she is. She feels seen and heard. She trusts you more.
That’s the mental stance you want to take when creating content for your audience.
Creating content can be a challenge at the best of times. But creating useful content? Well, that’s a whole other ball game.
The good news?
The process of creating useful content is fairly simple.
The bad news?
It may be simple, but it’s not easy.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at what we mean by the term ‘useful content’ and how to create it.
So what’s useful content?
It’s content that meets your audience where they are on their journey. It solves a problem they’re facing in a way that’s meaningful to them and helps them get to their solution as quickly and painlessly as possible.
So let’s start there …
Some time ago I interviewed Joe Pulizzi the founder of content marketing institute. We talked about how to create useful content and he said something that’s stayed with me ever since. He said it’s important to create content which meets your customer where they are on their journey.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you want to buy a new washing machine. You ‘re doing your research on washing machines and what features you want. You’re learning about front loaders, top loaders and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Now let’s say you do a google search and you come across content that explains the various advantages and disadvantages in a nice interactive format. Wouldn’t that solve your problem at that point in your ‘customer journey’?
Now let’s say that a particular piece of content is on Whirlpool’s website. Wouldn’t you be more likely to buy a Whirlpool washing machine rather than any other brand? I know I would.
Why would I now be predisposed to buying from Whirlpool rather than General Electric or any other brand? Because Whirlpool earned my trust even before I made my purchase. They solved my problem via their thoughtfully created content.
What made the content so thoughtful?
The content wasn’t talking about how good their machine was. Or why it was better than the competition. They were busy trying to help me solve my problem which is deciding on what features I would want in my new washing machine (regardless of the brand).
The brand question only comes up after I’ve solved the front loader vs top loader question. Without helping you answer the top loader vs front loader question, there was no hope of you becoming anyone’s customer. But once Whirlpool helped you solve their problem, the chances of you becoming their customer went up.
Banks are doing this well too. Australian banks have mortgage repayment calculators available on their website so they can solve the customers’ first problem which is to answer the question about affordability.
Once they’ve answered the affordability question (and only after they’ve answered that question), then they can (and probably will) become a customer of that bank.
Useful content creates a result. It delivers some kind of transformation.
In both the above examples it solves a tangible problem for the reader which moves them from a point of confusion to a point of clarity.
Other examples of useful content are checklists, guides, and blog posts like this one.
So here’s my question for you: What problem of your customers are you solving with your content?
Creating content for the sake of it has its place as Ed Dale explained in one of our podcast conversations.
However, you ultimately want to create content that delivers a specific result. If you’re not clear about the specific result you want to deliver, that’s unlikely your content will be impactful.
When you’re clear about the result you want to deliver to your audience, you tend to organize your thoughts and the flow of your content around that results.
So what does “a result” for the audience look like? I hear you ask.
Typically, I believe good quality content inspires action in a reader, listener or viewer. And it inspires action by creating an emotional reaction in the readers’ minds.
Ever watched a movie that moved you to reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in years? Or maybe you read a blog post that inspired you so much that you just had to share it on your social media accounts.
That’s a result.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about how to create content that delivers a result.