As a business owner or sales professional you have likely been thinking about how to do a better job of producing content. Good for you! Because good content drives solid returns in lead generation as well as shortening sales cycles. I can speak from personal experience as the lead content producer for Print Audit. For those of us that understand the power of social media platforms like LinkedIn we know that the single best way to harness that power is to produce good content on a regular basis. Content that people actually want to read. Some people will tell you it’s about long-form or short-form or imitating others who are knocking it out of the park. I don’t subscribe to any of that. You have a voice, you have expertise and you have a story to tell. So tell it.
If you’ve tried producing content and have received lackluster results, don’t frett. I’ve produced a lot of content in my career and some of it has worked and some of it hasn’t. The following are some of the best things I’ve learned in over 5 years of producing content directed towards driving social and sales interactions (some of which has gone viral by being “featured” on LinkedIn):
1. Mix It Up: Just because you sell copiers for a living doesn’t mean that every blog post you write should be about the latest and greatest machines you offer. You’ll bore your audience to death through repetition. Your customers have their own business problems in addition to the ones you traditionally help them with. Do you go to a lot of conferences? Write a post about how to get the most out of your time at a conference! Is there a particular skill set you have in sales above your competitors? Your customers sell stuff too, share some of what you’ve learned! Did you discover a powerful element to LinkedIn recently? Write about it and make sure your readers can benefit too! The more diversified your portfolio of content the more likely readers are going to continue to find you interesting.
2. Know Your Audience: Buyer Personas, the Voice of the Customer, Verticals, whatever you want to call it, make sure you understand your audience. Are they C-level or mid-management? Do they make their money in finance or in farming? I’m not saying your audience is going fit into one tidy compartment but every time you write something you should ask if it will interest enough people in your network. I love BBQ and consider myself one of the best at smoking a brisket but I haven’t written about that because most of my network couldn’t care less. I do one mean brisket though, I’m not even joking.
3. Grow Your Audience: The more people that follow you the more likely your content is going to be appreciated. I’m not saying you should send connection requests to everybody on LinkedIn (that could get you in trouble BTW) but I am saying that you should have an eye on continually growing your fan base. If you meet people at an event and get their cards, don’t just send them an email, send them a LinkedIn request. If somebody comments on one of your blog posts be sure to thank them and ask if you can add them to your network so they can more easily receive further content. I usually spend an hour a week reviewing and adding to my connections on LinkedIn.
4. Don’t Forget Your Sense of Humor: Did I mention I love BBQ? Not every post you write has to be serious. As the driving force for content creation at Print Audit, I sometimes post material just to make people smile. Everybody likes to smile and no matter what industry you’re in there’s loads of things we can all laugh about. You can still educate and inform without being too serious.
5. Get An Editor: I’m lucky enough to have somebody at Print Audit who checks over all my material. How many times can I spell beautiful incorrectly? Almost every time! Most of us have a few errors we make on a consistent basis and a second set of eyes is invaluable.
6. Read A Ton: If you talk to any best selling author one of the things they do is read a lot, in some cases more than they write. This is important because the more we read the more ideas we come up with for our own material. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been inspired to write a post because of something I’ve read. Not only will you come up with better ideas but by reading more you’ll improve your ability to write. Period. So go read something!
7. Keep At It: Wax on, wax off. Repeat. The thing about content is you never really know what is going to work and what isn’t. But if you write 4 pieces a month instead of 4 times a year I can guarantee you that you’ll have more success. The other thing about writing frequently is that you’ll improve your craft and each successive article will be better than the last. Okay, sometimes you’re still going to produce garbage, but on average your work will only improve!
Hopefully these tips will inspire you to produce some of your own content. Remember, content should be helpful, relevant, and geared towards bringing your customers additional value. If you do it enough they’ll thank you in contracts and orders, I promise. Happy writing, and happy selling!