There’s something about threes and Cs in content marketing and writing.
The three Cs of content marketing are often trotted out as Creation, Curation and Conversation.
In content writing, the trinity becomes Clear, Concise and Compelling.
But how about Creativity, Compassion and Credibility?
Or Clauses, Colons and Commas?
There are three other Cs that combine to provide compelling content – content that someone is compelled to read and, hopefully, act on. There’s no ‘how to’ guide to making something compelling reading. It’s not in the writer’s gift. There are no tips and techniques that are going to make your content creative and compelling for everyone. What’s compelling to you, won’t be compelling to me. It’s only compelling if it coincides with something I am interested in, something I need or solves a pain I am suffering, at that time.
To be compelling, good content strikes a nerve. It ‘resonates’ if you like. That can only happen when the purpose and the key messages that you want to convey, strike a chord with the reader. So, you must look at your intent from the viewpoint of the reader. It goes without saying that context is everything. Content without context is just blurb. But adding context to content involves asking the questions the reader wants answers to, and then answering them. This way you can put together stories that people want to read. Stories about how other people have used your solution to answer their questions and solve their problems. Stories bring your content to life.
There’s a bit of detective work involved, possibly a bit of role play to understand the characters and their pain points. Some of this can take place within marketing teams, but these can sometimes be one stage removed from the customer. Involving salespeople, asking them for the questions they typically get asked is a great way to get inside the head of your customers. But it still involves secondary sources. Much better to get direct input. To get that bias-free insight, head to where people are directly discussing key topics, asking questions and getting answers.
A great place to get a head start is in the online communities where your target audience hangs out and asks questions. If you’re an IT company with your own user forum, you have a readymade source of questions for context, and potentially an inexhaustible source of content topics to write about. But don’t restrict your thinking to topics that are close to home. Think laterally and check out forums outside of your immediate sphere to understand the broader questions that might lead someone towards your solution.
If you’re in the business of unified communications, look at customer experience communities or call centre forums. If you’re involved in renewable energy, look at house building forums, or EV charging communities. Basically, find out what people are curious about and if your products or services help answer their questions or offer a solution, you’re on your way to creating compelling content.
A final C is cope. By this I don’t mean ‘just get on with it’. COPE is a useful mnemonic. Create Once Publish Everywhere.
Once you’ve struck a rich seam of content from the communities and your contextual discovery, you’ll find that a single piece of content can be repurposed across different media to reach different audiences. You could use a ‘hero’ article or a white paper as your base content, answering several questions in one format, and tease out elements to create sub-content pieces from each of the points made, maybe an opinion piece, an ebook, social posts or an infographic. You’ll get more reach from the same base content and spark more interest across a wider audience for much less effort than creating several new pieces from scratch each time.
Context. Communities. Cope. An alternative alliterative asset for creating compelling copy.