Content Marketing Step 2: Developing Content
Updated: Oct 15, 2021
If you’re on this part of our guide to content marketing, we’ll assume a few things:
First, that you’ve already determined your goals for content marketing.
Second, that you’ve already settled on the content marketing formats or platforms you want to use to achieve those goals.
Third, that you actually get the difference between content marketing and traditional publicity tactics (like ads) by now.
If you don’t have any of these squared away yet, we recommend going to our first article in this series before you continue reading this one.
Otherwise, you can get started with this stage of the content marketing process, which is about developing content.
Where to Begin with Content Development
Contrary to what some may expect, developing content doesn’t start with the actual content ideation.
Instead, it starts with clarification of the intended audience for that content.
You need to know for whom you’re developing material before you actually develop it.
Consider this: would you develop the same type of content for a 10-year-old as you would for a 30-year-old?
In fact, this holds true even if you’re talking about developing advertising material instead of content marketing.
Even if you’re trying to promote the same product to both—let’s say a nice ink pen—you’d probably frame it in a different way for the 10-year-old from the way you’d frame it for the 30-year-old.
That’s why it pays to describe your audience first.
Describing Your Audience
It’s not very difficult to get started with this.
This is where it would help to review another of our previous articles—the one on how to drive traffic in our Marketing Flow series.
We strongly suggest consulting that article for more details, but the gist of it is that you have to identify the ideal reader or consumer for your content.
To that end, you can create something called a “marketing persona”. This is an archetype of your ideal audience member.
It’s not a real person but an agglomeration of real people’s traits that are often present in your target audience.
Here’s an example: a 26-year-old named Spencer Tan who just started his first job, likes watching videos on YouTube and commenting on his friend’s stories on Instagram, plays a lot of console games, and often attends tech conventions.
This Spencer Tan isn’t real. He’s just a generalisation of your real target audience.
He’s a fictional marketing persona who serves as a quick reference for your target audience.
That helps you refine your content development to suit your actual audience’s tastes and interests!
Scoping the Field
Now, assuming you already know which content types you want to create, it’s important to check out what’s already out there.
You have to distinguish yourself from the competition, after all. Repeating what they’ve already done isn’t the way to do that.
Let’s take an example. Say you’ve decided that one of your content marketing types will be a blog.
You should take a look at the blogs in the same space you want to occupy, then.
Check out what blogs already exist in your industry or the ones that get a lot of attention from your target readers.
You can even do keyword research first. In fact, this is often good practice if you’re developing content for the Web.
Keyword Research and Finding the Competition
There’s nothing scary about keyword research.
This just means finding out what keywords your target audience often searches for online and identifying the ones you can use to create content later.
There are a lot of tools you can use for this. Here are a few great options we ourselves have used:
Google Trends - Lets you take a look at the popularity of certain keywords or search terms at the moment.
Ahrefs - This is particularly helpful if you want to research keywords by checking out which ones your opponents are targeting.
SEMrush - The keyword tool here limits you to only 10 keyword searches per day if you’re using the free version, but it gives you a wealth of data on those!
Let’s say you’re a tech company and you use these tools to find out that your target audience often Googles “tech memes”, for instance.
That already gives you a wealth of ideas for content subtopics based on it, like these:
Blogs with roundups of the top tech memes
A blog with explanations and the histories of various tech memes
Video blogs showing visual tech memes
And so on. But you don’t even have to come up with ideas by yourself.
You can also look for other blogs that often show up in Google’s search results for search queries like “tech memes” or “tech memes blogs”.
Those would be your competitors and you can study what they’re doing.
You can learn content strategies from them based on how they produce content for that topic or keyword.
You can also try to find weaknesses in their blogs by looking for what they could do better, what they fail to cover, and more.
You can also look for gaps. What aren’t competitors doing yet?
That can help you develop entirely novel content to carve out a niche for your brand in your industry.
Lateral Thinking in Content Development
Lateral solutions in content development aren’t the easiest ones to come up with.
But we have to mention them here because they’re among the most rewarding ones when they go right.
An example of lateral thinking here is the one Andre and Edouard Michelin took when they were trying to get their tyre business to take off.
There were so few cars in France at the time they set up their business that they knew they had to do more than just promote their brand.
They had to come up with a way to also promote the idea of owning or using an automobile in the country!
Their solution? The Michelin Guide, which we all know today as one of the most prestigious guides to restaurants worldwide.
It not only made the Michelin brand world-famous but also encouraged the French to travel more in order to sample the delights of their country’s restaurants.
More travel meant more cars. We’re sure you can see the genius of the guide.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should feel pressured to come up with out-of-the-box ways to do content marketing each time.
If all you can manage for now is a blog, a newsletter, or stories on Facebook or Instagram, that’s fine.
The idea is to just to keep your eyes (and mind) open to novel ideas.
You may well hit on your own version of the Michelin Guide yourself that way!
The Basic Rules of Content Development
All right, so now you more or less know what direction to take with your content.
It’s time to go over some basic rules for the best results.
Do Your Research
First, your content should be based on good, solid research.
Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction content, this holds true.
You need to make sure that whatever you’re writing holds up in certain ways.
If you’re writing a newsletter that informs your audience about the latest trends in manufacturing, for instance, you don’t want to make claims that aren’t supported by evidence.
If you’re creating a cartoon for children that features toys in it, do some surveys first on what those children actually find interesting—and possibly what their parents would permit them to watch.
So don’t skimp on the research when you’re developing material for it.
It can be tempting, but just don’t do it.
You’re not doing direct promotion here. The moment you start to sound like you’re selling things, you’ll very likely damage the efficacy of your content marketing.
You can talk about your products or services on occasion, but not too often.
And certainly not in a way that even remotely reminds people of an advertisement.
This is particularly important when you’re just getting started.
You still have to establish your trustworthiness and reliability as a source of content they want or can appreciate, after all.
Only after you’ve done that can you even begin to mention your products and services, and even then only in a way that doesn’t outright try to sell them.
Save that sort of content for your ads.
Where Possible, Add Visuals
This is a moot point if the content types you’ve chosen are inherently visual, of course.
But if you’re producing things like blogs or newsletters, visuals can be easy to overlook.
They’re vital, though. That’s because images and videos are the preferred content types for most people.
As such, try to ensure your content comes with visuals whenever possible.
Once you’ve produced your content, it’s time for it to go live, of course.
Content publication has its own rules and best practices, though.
There are considerations like when to publish, how to promote content you’re putting out, how to amplify content’s reach, and more.
We’ll cover that in our next article for this series. For now, just remember that you can always reach out to us if you want help with your own brand’s content marketing.
We can discuss your options based on your brand and goals, so don’t hesitate to drop us a line for assistance!