When I prepare for a presentation on digital business and content marketing, I think a lot about what I want the audience to take away.
Of course, there’s always the First Rule of Copyblogger, which I preach to anyone who will listen. But telling people “don’t publish content that sucks” tends to need a little more explanation if it’s going to be helpful.
What would give content marketing newbies the right foundation? And how can I help content marketing veterans who aren’t finding the success they want? Is there a framework they can use that would start them off on the right foot?
What makes some content marketing succeed, while other efforts fail?
Like any framework, this one can be stated simply. Actually executing it is going to be more complicated. But if you use it, you’ll avoid the pitfalls that bring down most content marketing.
The framework: Education + Personality = Effective Content
1. Effective content educates
Over the years, you’ve heard us say: Don’t sell, teach.
Content that sells (whether you’re in the premium content business or you use content to sell another product or service) is content that makes itself useful.
Effective content teaches your audience something they want to know more about.
It might be fitness tips, parenting skills, or career advice. But it answers pressing questions and makes your readers’ lives better in some key way.
2. Effective content has personality
Aim to create a content-driven website that has personality, that’s reader-friendly, and that’s written to both educate and entertain.
Bringing a consistent voice and personality to your content is a lot of work — but it’s also highly rewarding, both personally and professionally.
3. Effective content has a great headline
We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep saying it until we turn the lights off for good:
If you’re going to put in the work to create strong content that educates in a reader-friendly way, please don’t bury it with a lousy headline.
Great headlines make it easy for readers to share your content. They attract more links, social media sharing, readers, and customers.
Take the time to learn how to write better headlines. It really does pay off.
4. Effective content keeps SEO in mind
Creating content that’s both educational and reader-friendly has SEO benefits. It’s exactly the content search engines wants to serve.
Just remember, effective content works for human readers first and search engines second. If balancing those two still seems mysterious to you, take a look at our free SEO Copywriting ebook.
5. Effective content puts the reader first
All of the “rules” of great content marketing come from one rule: put your audience first.
It’s not about how much money you need to make with this launch, where you want to rank in search engines, or what your cat had for breakfast this morning.
It’s about your audience — the readers, prospects, and customers — not you.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t have goals for your business and your content. But when you create content that both benefits your readers and makes them feel good, you’ll find that your marketing goals become a lot more achievable.
Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on March 23, 2011.