Why your demand for quality harms your content marketing and how you can do it better
Publishing new articles regularly (emphasis on publishing, don’t write) feels idle and my backlog keeps growing; the perceived “mountain of work” as well. As if I didn’t have enough of that apart from my blog… When did a hobby become work?
As a result, the publication frequency (observation) and some indicators are stagnating or tending downwards (evaluation).
As a result, there is less resonance and I get less feedback on my work; because where there is nothing, nobody can talk about it. But just the exchange and the safe Feeling that my work supports others in their work (or their hobby) is a big part of motivation (more on that here).
Value over Quality: Focus on the added value for the target group
Our answer to the question of how long texts have to be is in most cases: So long as necessary, as short as possible.
For readers, it is completely irrelevant how long or extensive an article is (similar to podcasts, videos, presentations, etc.). The information content and the information density are important. The easier it is for consumers to find important information, the better. Every word, every sentence, and every image that does not add value is superfluous.
A simple way, to ensure this user focus is the use of User Stories. Job Stories.
Create content based on user stories
You may know user stories from agile methods like SCRUM.
As someone who writes for the web, I want to learn what content design is, and how to start doing it so that I can communicate in the most user-centered and efficient way for my audience.
The approach is good and definitely better than without as it complements the user perspective. But there is legitimate criticism:
- When a task is formulated in this format, there is often no space to post them to ask “why”. User stories may be too concrete in a specific solution, but we don’t know if that’s the best one.
- User Stories may be too specific to address an overall audience. This means that one solution (or action, to stick with the terminology) may work for one part of the target group, but not so much for another. And suddenly we need quite a lot of user stories.
User Stories help to work user-centrically, but have some weaknesses.
Content-based on Job Stories
The alternative is to use so-called Job Stories on the situation, the motivation, and the goal as well as the intended result.
Job stories, as used in the jobs-to-be-done method, can be applied to a wider audience because they are persona-unspecific.
Job Stories are great because they force us to think about the context instead of immediately sketching out solutions. This paves the way for creative or at least alternative solutions, and it doesn’t really matter who the user is (meaning they’re not Persona specific) because they all want to do the same job.
Publish early, optimize more often and learn faster
We can transfer the idea of a “Minimum Viable Product” (short: MVP) from the Lean Startup method very well to content: Starting with the question, of why we actually want to publish content, let’s focus on the actual goal. We often hear something like “We want to rank #1 in Google search results” – but for what reason? What’s in it for us? “We generate more organic traffic to our website” – okay, but why? “To make users aware of our products” – aha! We can stop here for now.
User. Products. Attention. That’s what it’s all about.
Google rankings don’t really have anything to do with the actual goal.
And now it’s hopefully clear: There isn’t just one way to achieve this goal. It doesn’t necessarily need an extensive, picture-decorated guide that takes five days to produce (or even more).
The “We’re not done yet!” thought is the death of any content idea, no matter how good.
Instead of defining a minimum length of 3,000+ words for a new blog article, wanting to integrate 43 keywords and search phrases, or creating 12 images directly for them, we start with the “smallest for users: inside valuable” form. This can be a simple, short text that answers questions. Or an infographic that clearly visualizes the information you are looking for. Or just a tweet or a LinkedIn survey to find out whether there is any interest in “our” topic …
We learn what works and what doesn’t. We can test content using different assets (creatives, texts, ad formats), targeting options, and distribution channels and measure exactly where the resonance is strongest.
We can build on that.
Nothing is worse than letting good ideas wither away because we are too vain, to share them “barefaced” with the public.
Over the course of time, for example, a table of contents with jump marks and the associated structure of the text with subheadings were added. Both only became “necessary” due to the extended scope.
Customer-centric and iterative – this is how successful content is created
No keyword research, no WDF*IDF analysis, and also no competition analysis.
I just wrote and published this post. Okay, I created the image with the content optimization example, especially for this article, but it didn’t take me much time to make with Google Presentations. It was more important to me to get the message out as quickly as possible: Don’t let your content die in beauty, but be brave and simply publish it in the “unfinished” state. Consumers will not necessarily rate this negatively – how should they know what kind of awesome shit you had actually planned?
The decisive factor is that your content represents added value.
And you don’t make this decision.
For example, after the publication of this article, I received the following message:
Hello Robert, I’m reading your article “Why your demands for quality harm your content marketing and how you can do it better” in your blog. You hit my point exactly. I or we are stuck in the loop of perfection and don’t publish. 🙁 You break down walls of thought, beliefs, and rigid behavior patterns. Thank you very much!
You also call to get in touch if you want to learn more about users and & job stories. I know user stories from Scrum. How But it’s the first time I’ve heard that she can help with the creation of content. If you’d like to delve deeper into the topic, I’d be happy.
For me, this is confirmation on several points:
The topic is relevant, it touches a nerve of our time.
This form of content starts conversations – and who knows, maybe “business”.
Such feedback allows me to validate other (content) ideas before I invest time or money in what they invest.
This is how value creation works!
So: work user-centric, focus on the smallest possible added value (for your users, but of course also for you and your business), and take the shortest way to deliver it.