CONTENT is king. Content IS king. Content is KING. Who else is exhausted by this very arbitrary statement?

While there’s no denying that the data is there, the tools for generating great content ideas is less about the fact that content IS king and more about WHY content is king. The “why” is the most defining factor in the quality of work that viewers will identify and connect with. If you think a one-and-done listicle once a week with a few key hashtags will do the trick, here’s the rub: It won’t.

So what’s the secret? Consider these questions.

What’s your story?

In the early 1960s, Truett Cathy was met with a proposal from a chicken distributor: Could Cathy use chicken breast cast-offs from an airline meal supplier? As the owner of the Dwarf Grill in Hopeville, Ga., he took a stab at the opportunity and set to work. Trial and error landed him with a product in 1964 that, as his customers described it, “rocked.” It was a breaded, fried chicken sandwich on buttered buns with two signature pickles — nothing seemingly revolutionary, but fifty years later, it’s one of the most beloved sandwiches in the world. He had invented the classic Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich (and according to Chick-Fil-A’s story, they invented the entire genre of chicken sandwiches).

Now, you’re probably going to remember something from that little tidbit for much longer than you would care to admit. What stands out the most to you? The chicken bits that worked out with a little bit of elbow grease? The fact that Cathy invented the sandwich by a strange turn of fate? Or perhaps something more abstract: that everyday day we have the possibility to create something extraordinary?

We tell stories for very specific reasons: to engage, to learn, to teach, to inspire. These are all things you want to cultivate with your audience through your product or services. Since we know that stories put your entire brain to work, it’s literally a no-brainer that telling a story is the single most effective form of communication. It’s why brands that weave their intention through a strong story structure win the clicks. So tell your story, and let it all sink in.

What do you want to be known for?

A fashion designer once complained to me that she was blue in the face tired of the fact that her potential clients didn’t know about the “made in America” aspect of her business. After looking closer at her website, it was clear why they didn’t know: It wasn’t in her main messaging (or on her blog) at all. Instead, the explanation was hidden on an “About” page and only shown on the homepage as an icon you could only view if you scrolled all the way down to the bottom of the page.

If someone is going to know and remember you for one thing, what do you want that one thing to be? Once you’ve identified what that is, do everything you can to make that known. For the designer, “Made in America” should be part of her brand identity and woven throughout all content — whether that be her website, blog posts, or social media posts.

What does the data show?

A software company is struggling. They know they have a market for their product, their audience is large and receptive, and they’re getting the clicks. However, they aren’t closing. What’s the deal? The likely culprit is probably their brand messaging, and the fact that it isn’t hitting home.

Remember this: Numbers don’t lie. If you’re getting a lot of traffic but no buys, it means you’re losing your audience in the journey. You may think you know your audience, but if the data disagrees, it’s time to have a “come to Jesus moment.” The best content writers consistently check back to see what’s working and what’s not working. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Am I using terms that my audience is familiar with and using themselves?
  • Do I write at a level that is too high or too low for my audience?
  • Does my audience prefer to skim content or read it in-depth?
  • Am I paying attention to SEO and what keywords people are searching for?
  • Do I know what topics resonate with my audience?
  • Are you truly adding providing value, or are you just writing to write?

When you gear your content toward answering these questions, you’re getting to the heart of what your audience needs, in a way that they can understand. And when that happens, we call it a home run.

Whether you’re a pro at the content game or you’re just getting started, these tips will help you get closer to the content that wins clicks. Why? Because great content really is king. Just don’t say it — that’s old news.

Maggie Harney

Author Maggie Harney

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