Rewriting pain points as headers
If you’ve done the work outlined in my previous blog posts, you know which key customer roles to influence for the most important buying scenarios. You also know what they care about in each step from awareness to decision, which is to say, their pain points. If you’ve done this right, it should be pretty easy to come up with relevant content ideas just by looking at the pain points and areas of concern that you’ve discovered.
Let’s say that one of the common pain points your workshops revealed is “Fear of not complying to the new data law when it comes in effect.”
To address it, a content piece might have the headline “What you need to know about the new data law to ensure compliance.” Another pain point might be “We are losing online customers and it’s too costly to acquire new ones.” Your answer could be: “5 ways to retain your customers online.” Setting tentative headers like this using challenges and goals that can be changed later is a very effective way both to formulate and document your content ideas.
Figure 5: Turning pain points into content ideas.
Focus on pain points first, then consider persona characteristics
So how do we make use of the more detailed information you have about the personas (assuming you have created personas, as descibed in my blog article on personas)? Based on learnings from content idea generation, it is effective to first concentrate on pain points. That is, to turn goals, desires, needs and challenges into content ideas. This is the part where you probably will get the most concrete ideas for need-to-know content for your different buyer focuses.
Then consider the other characteristics of the personas – are they reflected in the pain points? Usually you find that some content headlines needs to be rephrased to really resonate with the persona, tweaking the perspective or message. Revisiting the personas can also trigger additional content ideas, preferably based on recognised pain points.
A common mistake when brainstorming for content ideas is to get hung up on a certain format or channel right away, such as “is it a white paper, a video or a blog post.” Don’t. A content idea needs no format. At this point, stay focused on subjects that hit the sore points. By using a template as the one in figure 5, you will document all the basic information you need about each content piece directly in the workshop. Above all, this gives you control of the whole process.
Plan for multi-purpose content
Now it’s time to go into formats. Based on your content strategy, what the target reader prefers (ideally considering learnings from measured behavior) and your budget, decide the format of the primary or core content piece. In principle, the core content piece contains all of the content – the full version. It is the valuable asset that the target prospect will download from your web site by submitting personal details, at least an email address enabling you to send content proactively later on to nurture the prospect. It could be a white paper or an ebook but it might as well come in the shape of a webinar or an online training course.
When you decided the format and outlined the rough content of the core content piece, decide on secondary content pieces. They should have different formats and use different parts of the core piece. The content of a ten-page white paper, for example, can be used to produce an infographic, three blog posts and an animated video (and of course, a number of social media posts), as illustrated in figure 6.
Figure 6: Example – getting the most out of a content idea.
Multi-purpose content does not only refer to multiple formats but also that the same content piece is distributed in multiple channels. For example, the infographic from our example could be put into the white paper, a blog post, a landing page, a LinkedIn post and an animated video. Plan for the different formats from the very beginning. For instance, if we know the ebook will be used for three blog posts published a week apart, we can write it with stand-alone chapters that can be pasted into the company blog with minor adjustments.
The advantages of multi-purpose content creation are obvious: first of all, you save heaps of time and money since the secondary pieces reuse content you already created. Second, it ensures that your content is consistent, which is key to building your brand or expert position. Third, the secondary content pieces act as advocates of your core content piece, promote it and drive traffic to your site where some if it is converted into new contacts in your database.
Integrate pain points into your content process
As mentioned before, the first time you go through the five step method, it probably is best managed as a cross-functional project. Once you’re through it, go for integrating this way of working into your content creation process (plan-create-promote-measure-analyse-plan etc.). Use the map you’ve created with your key business opportunities and personas as the basis for your content planning, and update it when needed (quarterly or at least yearly). Make sure to revisit your documented pain points and customer insights on a regular basis to confirm the relevance of what you are planning.
As you know, unforeseeable things happen: new market trends, shrewd competitor moves or changed product strategies. These things will always call for changes in your editorial calendar, including new content ideas. So when you come up with new ideas, make sure they:
- align with the company’s expert position
- hit confirmed pain points of the right personas
- lead them towards the right business opportunities
A simple, effective way to ensure this is to use brief templates that require business opportunities, personas and pain points to be filled out. This information is preferably part of the qualification criteria that any content has to meet before you decide to spend part of your content budget on it (well, not any content, we’re not talking about social media posts).
So, there you have them: the shortcuts to the hearts of your online audience, revealed!
You can get a full guide to how you can generate ideas for content that will give traction with the right audience in my ebook.
Learn how to go from ’relevant’ to ’need-to-know’ content in my ebook How to Add Business Value Throughout the Buyer’s Journey.
Download your free ebook here.