The vital component that all successful content marketers need

What’s the secret to creating content that resonates with your customers? Mixing it up with a dollop of empathy.

The changing, competitive and often complex world of content marketing could use some simplification.

That’s why it was refreshing to be asked the following question: What one thing has been instrumental to your content marketing success?

My gut reaction, of course, is there isn’t just one thing. There are many, and they vary depending on the industry, products/services, audience, maturity of the company’s marketing, resources, time-frame and so on. I recently posted about an array digital marketing skills.

There is one element, though, that stands out: empathy.

If there has been one thing instrumental to my content marketing success, it’s making a daily effort to think from the audience’s perspective.

So often content marketers forgo asking basic questions about their audiences in favor of doing what’s cool, reacting to competitors or self-promoting. Always ask: What do my audience members care about? What are their pain points and goals?

Sure, I have things I want to say, but “me, me, me” is boring, boring, boring. Shifting from egocentric content planning to empathy takes time, but it’s essential.

In many cases I try to imagine the customer’s experience with the content, with support from data. I think about where the target audience might discover this information, and what topics, formats and devices they might use to consume it.

Of course I also imagine the kinds of messages that will resonate and inspire action. It’s about optimizing for the customer, not channels and tactics.

Here’s the thing about empathy in content marketing: Not everyone knows what he wants. There is a yin and yang relationship between customer empathy and brand leadership. It’s a powerful combination.

If balancing customer empathy with brand messaging is part of your content strategy, the content you plan, create and promote will become more meaningful and effective because it’s relevant not only to the customer, but also to your business objectives.

The bonus is when you create content with the readers’ needs in mind, they do what you want them to more often. Everybody wins-except your competition.

What contributes to your content and digital marketing success?

A version of this article originally appeared on the TopRank Online Marketing Blog.

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