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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Use Content to Answer Not Lecture

Written By: Mark E. Goodman | No Comments

As content creators, the first question we often ask is, “What do we want to say?” This is the wrong question.

Instead, think about asking, “What do they want to hear?” and “How do they want to hear it?”

For example, I was recently working on a newsletter for a client. I sent the draft to my client to review and it came back twice as long. When I asked why, I was told, “That’s what they need to know.”

Here are a few suggestions for creating content. To paraphrase an old adage, the medium suggests the message. Different types of communications require different types of content.

Newsletter

A newsletter reader has certain expectations for type and length of content. It should be short and not too long. There should be links if a reader wants to learn more. Bold type and visual references to help lead the reader to the next step.

Also, consider that someone may be reading on a tablet or smartphone, so it should be formatted for easy reading on any device.

Video

When it comes to video, you have a multitude of choices. Want to seem engaging and down to earth?  Think about doing the “in your face” smartphone video.

But what does your viewer expect? Nothing too long. Something to the point, and not self-indulgent.

Err from this path, and you are likely to be tuned out.

Will you be making your own videos? Make sure you are comfortable being a performer. Also, watch your video and audio. The number one problem with internet video is bad audio. People will put up with shaky video, but they’ll stop watching if the audio is bad.

Need a more sophisticated video? Allocate some resources to make it slick.

Think about the venue, set, and setting. Will you be using in on social media?  A 30- or 60-second version works best.

On YouTube or your website, you can go a bit longer.

Don’t scrimp! Remember, first impressions are often lasting. Even smartphone videos can look professional.

Website

What is your visitor looking for on your website? How does content fit into your selling process?

I was working with a medical professional to create content. The content’s goal was to get the prospect to call. The professional asked if he should publish expert content that answered all the questions patients have.

He was trying to beat the search engines at their game. This was going to require over 100 pages! And nobody was going to read that…

We decided not to provide “what is” answers, but to create “do you” content. The idea here is that the viewer has a need and the practice provides the service needed. Example: Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep through the night?

Once “do you” was confirmed, it was suggested that the prospect call for assistance specific to their individual situation.

Think about your content creation as a series of events or layers. In a newsletter, your goal is to provide awareness or education. Each piece has a link that suggests information or action. Ask yourself, “How is this piece of content fitting into my sales process? What is the next logical step for the content consumer to take?”

When it comes to videos, make sure you put links on your video and in the descriptions. Videos also are great to embed in your newsletter, emails, or web pages.

On your website, consider making the contact process easy and seamless from any page. Making a visitor click on another link to fill out a form or get a phone number can lose them.

Consider having the desired content available when and where it is needed. Someone looking for a product or service only wants the information they are interested in. Other information will frustrate them – or will be tuned out as noise.

Like a sales conversation, think about the questions you will be asked during the sales process. Have the answers in an easy-to-access format for the visitor/viewer. Suggest some logical paths to learn more. You can offer an opportunity to contact you or schedule a convenient appointment via a link.  But, in the end, your viewer controls the conversation.

Lastly, remember that simple tools like analytics and insights can inform you about your visitors’ interests. Determine what links readers clicked on. Those are topics they are interested in.

On the internet, it’s easy to click away.  So, as a content provider, listen, suggest, respond and be available. The more sales conversations you have, the more your business will grow.

Article written by
Mark Goodman is the President & CEO of e-Conversation Solutions. He is also past workshop chair at SCORE Chicago. Prior to founding e-Conversation, Mark held numerous positions as a technology executive, including Director of Business Development at Motorola, where he was the first business manager in the cell phone group. In addition to Motorola, Mark was an executive for a Silicon Valley company and a film buyer for General Cinema Theatres. Mark holds an MBA from Boston University and an MA in radio/TV/film from Northwestern University.