The Tail is Wagging the Dog

and other cautionary tales of creating content based on nothing


  • 1. The Tail is Wagging the Dog &Other cautionary tales of creating content based on nothing
  • 2. I once knew a company that would decide – What they wanted to build for customers – How they wanted to talk about it – What they wanted to charge for it … Without research or regular feedback They’re dead now.
  • 3. Am I being a bit dramatic? Probably, but there’s a lot of truth to it, so give it a chance. I hear you saying,“What’s the problem with building what you want? Haven’t you ever heard of Steve Jobs? What about Henry Ford?” TRUTH: These are references to people’s stories that most don’t know the backstory on but get tossed out as examples and excuses for not doing any research before launching new products, marketing campaigns, and content. The truth is, Apple and Ford didn’t do it that way and neither should you.
  • 4. We create content for lots of channels, whether it’s for a campaign, product, or feature release, brand awareness, or our pet rock… Then we distribute the hell out of it. Typical Marketing
  • 5. So smartypants, what should we be doing?
  • 6. Developing content and solutions for a real, current problem. And yes, sometimes they don’t know what the real problem is, but we’ll get to that…
  • 7. How do you know what the problem is? 
 You let people tell you. Make a list of: – Who has a problem you can solve – what does this audience look like? – What questions they’re asking to solve their problem – Who & where they’re looking to for these answers This will help you figure out what content you should be creating. Let’s look at these in detail…
  • 8. Who has a problem you can solve and what does this audience look like? – If you’ve already got a product in market, use the features and messaging of your product to find forums, discussions, searches, and social media posts that are discussing your industry. – Once you’ve got a list of places down, start diving into who is talking about your industry. Are they managers, executives, young, old, middle class, college educated, from cities, from rural areas? Get a basic idea of who these people are. – What problems are they describing that your product could address?
  • 9. What questions are they asking about their problem? This is important because you need to know HOW they’re describing their problem before you can figure out how to message to them properly. – From each forum, site, search, and social post, copy down the specific questions and phrasing people are using to talk about their problems, needs, and wants. – Once you’ve got this list, circle or highlight words and phrases that seem to come up a lot. Are you tracking these in your keywords already? If not… Let’s think about adding them! – Now that you’ve got a few keywords and phrases, map some features of your product back to each one. Here’s where you can start creating relevant feature- related content.
  • 10. Who and where are they looking for answers? – With your previous list of problems and keywords, also note where the conversation originated: Reddit, LinkedIn, Amazon, etc. – Note any reviewers or discussion leaders that seem to come up frequently – Use this information to figure out the types of content your audience is consuming and where they discuss your industry, products, and services.
  • 11. – Track top keyword activity: Look at what content you already have that’s gaining popularity and what keywords it’s ranking for – you can use this information to create additional types of content with those same keywords. For example, if you have a blog that’s doing great for a specific keyword, consider a landing page, SlideShare, video, etc. – Discover new keywords that you aren’t using, (but should be): Look at your lists and add in the keywords and phrases that you’re not currently tracking. Try creating some content around those specific keywords and your corresponding features. – Figure out new content types: If you see that a lot of questions are being posted and answered in a specific format, such as: image, video, or presentation – consider updating some of your current content to new formats that match your audience’s desired content consumption. Now, give the people what they want Time to create products, marketing campaigns, and content around what people are already looking for, using the keywords they choose, and the phrases they use.
  • 12. Don’t get boring, stay relevant Use relevant keyword research to find trending topics and specific words and phrases. – Target the best keywords, regardless of search volume: While it’s natural to want to go after keywords that have high search volume, those are often noisy spaces with tons of competition – use your research to target specific phrases and topics instead of general keywords. It’s better to get 100 relevant visitors than 1,000 that will bounce or abandon your page. – Monitor conversions: Whether this is CTR, purchases, form fills, etc. you should monitor how each keyword and content type performs for conversions.
  • 13. Take on the role of smartypants Answer the questions people are asking. Caution: Becoming a smartypants takes time. – Get active on social media and in forums – Show up where people discuss your industry. Find the topics that are most relevant to your brand and offerings. Ask and answer questions to build your reputation and influence. – Don’t be a social media hog – Show your appreciation of other’s comments by clicking “like” or “upvote” and don’t forget to say “thank you” when appropriate – In other words, make your mother proud. Who knows.. You might get some inspiration for your own content or new product offerings based on the problems people are actually trying to solve.
  • 14. If you can’t play with the big dogs…. You won’t be the only one in the pack, find out who else is out there already answering the questions you want to answer. – Don’t get caught unaware: Before believing you’ve got a unique value proposition or messaging strategy – track your competition by content and keyword. – Find them before they find you: Use a competitor discovery tool to keep an eye out for new competitors and content in your space.
  • 15. Want to know more? Give us a shout. get started: plans and pricing: demo request: