4 questions to guide your content creation

Without being able to time travel, how can PR pros know the right time to publish material for their niche? Here are some questions to direct your efforts.

It’s important to create stuff people want to see.

With thousands of organizations competing for the same eyeballs and dollars, many retailers will attest that they “just need content” to be competitive—content for their e-commerce site, their newsletter, their marketing efforts and more. Every industry must find the right way to reach its right audience at the right time, but for industries like retail whose seasonal drives can make or break the bottom line, the need for relevant content is even more crucial.

The question is: In this rush to develop and pump out content, are we missing its purpose?

Content can mean different things to different retailers, but a good way to think about it from a sales/marketing function could be called the “Back to the Future” Dilemma: How can you ensure your content is in front of people at the exact moment they are making a decision. Just like protagonist Marty McFly, who must get through to his parents at the exact perfect moment, you want to catch your consumer when they are open to suggestions.

Before embarking on any content campaign (or engaging an agency on your behalf), consider these 4 questions:

1. What type(s) of content will resonate with your customers?

Infographics, whitepapers and listicles are all potential winners for your brand, but aesthetics aside, also consider the sales implications of the content. Longer pieces of material are usually best for bigger decisions associated with research (i.e. home remodeling, car purchases, etc.), while shorter bursts of timely material can generate inspiration for sales immediacy (i.e. style trends, seasonal prep, etc.).

Always remember who comprises your audience. A parent considering purchasing toys might want updates on child safety precautions instead of a prospectus on supply chain logistics.

2. How do you want your content to work for you?

A common mistake is just to churn out material without consulting different players in your company, and it’s important that sales and marketing are aligned from the beginning to ensure an efficient impact.

Be sure to identify what success looks like ahead of time. Too often marketers are left scrambling to explain the purpose of their content campaign after it has been published. Take time to outline your business objectives, researching current engagement trends and assigning sales goals to obscure concepts like “awareness.”

3. Are you looking for “big and arresting” or “consistent and informative”?

Before producing anything, have an honest conversation about how much you want to spend. If you’re a new brand competing against an established retailer, it might be worth creating a bigger, budget-busting moment that will turn heads. If you know you’re going to get outspent by your competitor, maybe a more cost-effective email marketing drip campaign is a safer bet. You should not sacrifice quality for quantity, but truly dynamic content will require an investment.

4. Who do you want developing your content?

Understanding your voice is important, and it’s crucial that you can find a team that can create effective, elastic content that can fit different sales seasons. It doesn’t do you any good to have an expensive, glossy print magazine if the niche it speaks to is too small. The team (or agency) handling your content needs to not only understand how content works for one-time sales, but how it can be repurposed, chopped-up and used again.

The final word is engagement. It’s important that each piece of content has the potential to prompt some feedback from your target audience, so ending with a question is a good way to see if your material is resonating.

What kinds of questions do you pose, PR Daily readers?

Sean Carney is responsible for long-form writing at Brownstein Group, including marketing materials, speechwriting, and executive thought leadership.

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Topics: PR

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