50 shades of content

By: Sharon Tanton

Date: 14 August 2012

50 shades of content/Colourspectrumpalette{{}}Pushing the boundaries and coming up with new content that continues to surprise, intrigue and delight your audience can tie you in knots. So here, with apologies to a certain series of best sellers, are my 50 shades of content.

Content to teach

Potential clients come to your website to learn new things. Make it easy for them by creating:

1. Short bite-sized blogs of some of your most commonly asked questions

2. How to videos that take viewers through a complex process in straightforward steps

3. Podcasts of expert discussion

4. An infographic that makes a complex issue easy to understand

5. An e-book that summarises key points.


Content to provoke thought

Creating content that makes people think shows you are one to watch. Create:

6. Original research that demonstrates authority and a willingness to ask difficult questions

7. Visuals that turn conventional thinking upside down

8. Blogs that explode myths

9. Or blogs that use smart analogies

10. Podcasts that balance both sides of an argument.


Content to engage

The right content can start relationships. Here are some ways of using it to make the first move:

11. Interesting surveys — ask the question on everyone’s lips

12. Blogs that tackle the emotional side of an issue

13. Humour — blogs that make people smile

14. Short fun videos

15. Quick quizzes that offer an interesting reward — are you an introvert or an extrovert? Is your business social media savvy?


Content to be shared

Some types of content spread quicker than others. Here are some ideas for fast movers:

16. Topical blogs — be quick with your take on a current dilemma

17. High quality discussion paper that tackles a key industry issue

18. Video that makes a serious point with humour

19. Brilliant visuals with a strong message

20. Pictures of cats on pianos/wearing clothes (okay, maybe not that one.)


Content to get maximum exposure

If you want content that makes headlines then try one of these ideas:

21. Original research with a column inch-grabbing premise

22. Blogs with controversial themes and headlines

23. The best discussion paper anyone has ever created in your niche

24. Video of expert discussion — pull in names your clients will have heard of

25. Keynote speech that shows your ownership of your niche.


Content to lead

It’s far better to lead than follow. Show your leadership colours with:

26. Blogs that demonstrate your domination of the bigger picture, as well as your control over the details

27. White papers that tackle questions you know people want answers to, but don’t know where to turn to find them

28. Case studies that demonstrate leadership qualities

29. Video that breaks the rules — ditch conventional talking heads and try something new

30. A book – still the king of content.


Content to experiment with

Innovative companies embrace new ideas. Show your creativity of thought by investing in some content that breaks the mould:

31. Different video styles — can you say it with a cartoon, a film spoof, a music video?

32. Animate it

33. Rap it

34. Change your usual style — if you usually write 300-word blogs, try creating something more in-depth. If you like to write reams, aim for tweet length instead

35. Doodle it.


Content to reassure

Sometimes you need to show that you’re a safe pair of hands. Make sure your content mix contains some of the following:

36. A good selection of up-to-date case studies

37. Blog articles that hit the keywords potential clients will be using

38. Testimonials — video and/or written

39. Longer-form content that demonstrates depth of expertise

40. A social media profile that shows good communication skills.


Content to entertain

One of the main reasons we use the web is to be entertained. Of course, overall your content mix needs to demonstrate depth of expertise and experience, but that doesn’t mean it all has to be serious. Try:

41. Videos that use graphics with wit and style

42. Beautiful visuals that explain it creatively

43. Brilliant story-telling that pulls readers in

44. Clever animation

45. Blogs that make people laugh as well as think.


Content to sell

You are running a business. Be sure to have examples of the following in your library:

46. Blogs that get right to the heart of how you help

47. FAQs that demonstrate that you understand your clients’ concerns

48. Client stories to demonstrate your listening skills

49. “How to” product videos and guides

50. A social media feed that shows you talking easily to a range of happy clients and managing successful partnerships.


And, last but not least, think of variety. Like the book that we are shamelessly plundering, your content needs to cover a wide range of experiences. Don’t stick to the vanilla variety — break the rules for a richer and more fulfilling relationship with your content, and watch your marketing fly.

Sharon Tanton is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut, a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant and a Valuable Content associate.