content-target

How to Use a Content Target to Fight Writer’s Block & Produce Better Content

No wordsmith is a stranger to writer’s block. The onset can be even more common when writing on assignment on a new topic. Using my “content target” concept may help.

The content target is a tool I developed to help inbound marketers understand the topics that are the most interesting to their readers. I developed it after struggling to get business-to-business marketers to stop writing only about their products, and start writing about what their prospective customers really care about. I had tried everything from gentle admonition to coaching, but nothing stuck. I decided I needed a picture to illustrate what was apparently so elusive. Hence the target visual.

content-target

 

The circles on the target represent areas of customer interest, and their relative size is important. The Job Skills ring is larger than the Product Knowledge ring because job skills are more important – or more interesting – to a worker than details on any particular product he or she might use. An accountant, for example, needs to know much more than how to use Microsoft Excel to be a good accountant. Likewise, if that accountant wants to make partner some day, he or she needs to think about the skills or certifications needed for Career Advancement. Continuing out to the Industry Knowledge and General Curiosity rings, the size increases with people’s range of interests.

Think about the target analogy in two ways. First, compared to a target that’s only about your product – a single, small circle at the bullseye – the overall content target is larger and easier to hit because there are more things for you to write about and a larger potential audience. (For those who know darts, think of it more like Cricket, where the whole board is in play.)

A few topic ideas to help you “hit the board” and interest your buyer:

  • Industry Knowledge—Almost everyone is interested in their industry. Content at this level is easy to come by. I like to invite an industry expert to write a guest post. Or you might present budget or spending data for an industry by sponsoring a study and then writing about the results.
  • Career Advancement—Think about your buyers and what would help them advance their careers. Are there certifications you could help them prepare for by offering a study guide? Or maybe you could conduct a salary survey, identifying skills that lead to higher pay. Perhaps you might provide high-value content about changes in laws or regulations that lawyers or accountants could use to build their practice. The possibilities are endless, and this content performs really well. My current company just published a salary survey for one of our key buyers and it worked really well.
  • Job Skills—Start writing content that helps readers do their jobs better. Instead of “How-to-use-my-product,” write “How-to-accomplish-this-task” blog posts. You can continue to use your product as an example, as long as the content remains valuable to readers without having to buy it. Here is a good example of a job skills blog from Salesforce.

You will note that I left out the outermost ring – General Curiosity. I’m not against writing on general topics, and I consume much of it myself. I just think that for marketing purposes, the range of topics is too wide and varied to be effective in promoting a sale. You can, of course, get the occasional win by turning something about a company or product into a general interest story. I just think it’s harder to get a hit and hard to connect to a sale.

Now, coming back to the bullseye. Think of hitting it as the sale. If someone is interested in knowing more about how to use your product, they are probably a good lead. The idea behind the content target is that you write content that is of broad interest, like career advancement for paralegals. Then you follow up with a piece about, say, about the legal discovery process used for evidence collection – a common task. With all those pieces in your blog, attracting readers, then it’s time to write about your legal discovery software and how it can be used to make the job of a paralegal easier and give them more time to focus on skills that will help them advance. So you are progressively moving them toward the bullseye with your content.

Hope the content target helps you with your next assignment. Have other ideas? Send them my way.

Follow Tim on Twitter, or contact him.

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