The other day I was thinking about content strategy.
You know, how to innovate and come up with new frameworks around content.
And then I found this headline on the Medium’s recommendations: “3 Content Strategies to Use in 2022”.
Wow, Medium is really a psychic medium, I thought.
So I clicked the promising headline and…. oh disappointment.
The strategies were so bad and I can’t even recall them.
Good thing I just skimmed the article and quickly realized it wasn’t worth my time.
And you know what? Most people do that.
The average person spends 37 seconds reading a blog post. Some people less than 2 seconds.
So, that got me thinking about what makes people actually want to read a whole article.
Perhaps it’s the captivating voice of the author, or the relevance of the topic, or that the article is part of a school assignment. Who knows?
Marketing gurus would say, “It all comes down to value! Are you providing value?”
Well, yeah, I suppose. But what does that even mean?
Value is relative. What’s valuable for you may not be important to me.
What we need is to work with the FBI.
No, not the Feds. The FBI framework.
F ind your ideal reader
B efore writing, test
I nclude your readers’ voices
Check it out…
1. Find your ideal reader (niche)
The reviews for my first novel are hilarious. From “this is the best book on Amazon” to “this is a piece of literary trash,” there are reviewers on opposite sides of the spectrum.
You can’t make everybody happy, especially when you are writing thought leadership content. You’ll attract some readers and will repel others.
Unfortunately, the wrong readers sometimes stumble upon your content and trash it out in public, not realizing that simply the content wasn’t written for them.
If you try to please everybody, your content will most certainly flop. So start by answering these 5 questions:
1. Who’s my perfect reader?
2. What is he/she dying to know that I can answer?
3. Will this topic position me as the go-to expert in my niche?
4. Can I offer a unique angle or Point of View to the topic?
5. Do I have a call to action for my readers at the end of each article or post?
Once you find your niche, test…
2. Before writing, test your ideas with your niche
If you have a community or a mastermind group, bounce your ideas off with your peers and get feedback.
If you have a social media following, ask questions to them, gather some signals of what would interest them. For example, let’s say you are trying to decide which of your different passions or interests to write about.
Create a poll or simply write a post asking a question like this: “I’m thinking about doing a live event on one of the following three topics. Which one would you be most likely to attend?” Then list the three topics you are working on and gather the data. If you get a good response for one of the topics, then go ahead and do the event so you can gather even more info.
If you have an email list or newsletter, you can also ask them the same question.
Gauge interest in your topic and point of view before writing.
There’s nothing worse that finding out you wrote content nobody wanted to read after it’s published. Especially for long form content and books.
3. Include the voice of your readers
People love to read about themselves or see their names mentioned in a book or article. Usually authors quote other authors or experts in a field. But what if you include the stories and thoughts or your readers in your content?
Interview folks in your niche community and use the best quotes in your content.
Gather anecdotes and examples from your target readers and not just from celebrities.
You can even quote the comments people leave on your social media posts (either anonymously or with their names if you want to get their permission).
Then, when you publish, tag them and let them know they are mentioned in your post, blog, or book. They will surely read it and spread the word.
Applying the FBI Framework
Start by asking yourself:
- Do you know your readers well? Do you know what problems they are trying to solve?
- What is their present situation and what is the imagined prize that they want to get to?
- How do you move them from the present situation to the prize in a really elegant way?
Now, write down a short story (a page) where your ideal reader is the main character. He/she is the hero and has a problem or challenge. And you are the guide who comes to help. Describe how you help them and close with a happy ending.
There’s some thought leadership content that tells you why the world is the way it is, or goes deep into economic theories with advanced mathematical formulas.
Those pieces are great and they have their place, but they’re not practical.
In the business world, the best content has practical applications. And if you ask people, they would rather read something practical than theoretical.
How do you make it practical? Easy, answer the how-to question. Lay out the step-by-step process people need to implement to get the results you are promising.
Even complex topics can be broken down into simple, actionable steps.
So unless your niche is composed of theoretical physicists, aim for useful content that people can apply right away.
That’s how you should write.