Sunday, July 1, 2012

How To Make Content Creation Easier

There's no longer any doubt that compelling, buyer-focused content is essential to B2B marketing success. But, creating good content resources (white papers, e-books, webinars, etc.) is not an easy job, especially if you don't have much content development experience. One way to make content development easier is to use a proven process every time you need to create a new content asset. After nearly two decades of creating content, I've come up with a process that works for me, and I follow that process in every content development project.

Writing a white paper or an e-book, or preparing materials for a webinar is always easier if you follow Stephen Covey's famous advice to "begin with the end in mind." This means that it's important to make some basic decisions about the content asset you're creating early in the development process.

The starting point, of course, is to define the general topic that the asset will address, determine what format will be used for the asset (a white paper, e-book, etc.), and specify the approximate length of the asset (in words, pages, minutes, etc.). However, it's important to go beyond these basic attributes. There are three specific questions that I always want to answer early in any content development project.
  • What are the primary objectives for the content asset, both for the "consumer" and for the content provider?
  • Who is the primary target audience for the asset? What are the characteristics of the "ideal" reader/viewer/listener?
  • What are the major themes that will appear in the asset? What will the main points of the "storyline" be?
The answers to these questions provide two important benefits. First, by making these decisions early in the project, you will simplify the content creation process. For example, understanding who the primary target audience is for a content asset shapes how I will write about a topic. That understanding makes it relatively easy for me to identify what aspects of a topic should be emphasized. These answers also help ensure that the final version of the asset will stay true to your objectives and perform as intended. In essence, they provide a mechanism for benchmarking your work.

To make sure that I've answered these questions and to give me a reference to use throughout the content creation process, I use a tool called a Content Resource Brief. This one-page document is designed to capture the intended objectives, target audience, and major themes for a new content asset. The version that I use for most content development projects is shown below.

If you'd like a PDF of this tool, please send me an e-mail at ddodd(at)pointbalance(dot)com.

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