It makes sense that you need an interesting product to create interesting content. But did you know that one of the greatest content marketing campaigns ever was for rubber tires?
Michelin Tires was founded in France in 1889. Back then, there were only around 3,000 cars on the road in all of France. To promote their tire business, the Michelin brothers decided to launch a content marketing campaign. It’s one that’s still going strong today, and if you ask me, it was a stroke of marketing genius.
So, what kind of content could be interesting enough to promote car tires?
Being French, the founding brothers of Michelin loved fine dining. So to promote their business, they developed their famous Michelin Guide. This booklet lists and reviews restaurants and awards stars to the best ones. They printed and distributed ten times more guides than there were drivers on the road. This promoted the practice of driving and helped them sell more tires.
Initially, the guide provided driving directions on how to get to the best restaurants. And it provided tips on how to change a tire incase you got a flat. Eventually, reviews of the best restaurants were added so car owners would know where they show off their impressive horseless carriage.
Likewise, in your own business, it’s important to have a marketing strategy driving your content. In my opinion, the Michelin Guide is a great example of how to do it right. Their guide has become so popular, there’s is often a media frenzy whenever an update is published to find out who has won or lost a star. Read more.
Planning vs. Writing: What's the Difference?
Have you ever been asked to write a piece of content or copy, but you didn’t know how to begin? You’re not alone. The truth is, the success of a piece of writing starts with a plan.
A plan for creating marketing materials, known as aCreative Brief, is the natural output of a well developed positioning strategy and messaging framework. Without a plan, your writing will probably not achieve your hoped for result. Once a Creative Brief is developed, the writing process can begin. Here are the seven steps to content development done right.
Create the plan (Creative Brief)
Create a plan for gathering the research
Gather the research
Structure the content
Assemble the research
Revise based on goals and audience needs
1. Project Information
If you read a piece of content and get value from it, you’ll want to read more. So, your content must be of high quality to make the right impact. And this means having a plan.
A Creative Brief (of Content Brief) is a short document that directs and informs the development and usage of your content. There must be clear instructions on what is to be created. You cannot leave anything up to chance. A written brief explains where, who, how and why behind your content. Since good content takes time to produce, it’s important to plan it in advance by creating a Content Calendar.
2. Research plan
There are two basic ingredients in a piece of written content. There’s (1) the information and (2) the putting together of the information – the writing. No writer simply sits down and starts writing. First comes the research. Some of the strongest B2B content and copy is data driven storytelling based on credible research.
The first step is to figure out what research you need. What data? With marketing writing, the primary focus is often the target audience. What do they want? What keeps them awake at night? What motivates them? What data and information will engage them?
3. Research gathering
Gathering research for a blog may be a matter of reviewing similar blogs then using the same sources. But this can also lead to stale unoriginal content.
Paid research in the form of statistics, graphs and other exhibits will get better results. Another form of effective research is expert interviews. Interviewing lets a writer instantly plug into expert knowledge from anyone relevant to your content. This could be your CEO, Product Manager, Salesperson, one of your customers or an industry expert.
The hidden structure of content is what gives it its power. Each type of content has a unique structure that serves its purpose. Email campaigns and video scripts are structured for promotion. The goal of a White Paper is to prove an argument for using a new type of product.
eBooks often describe a step-by-step process or how-to information for mid-funnel prospects. And a case study is structured for storytelling and persuasion.
The process of writing is nothing like how most people perceive it to be. It’s more like an assembly job – like you’re building a house. You start with a Content Brief and the research to form a blueprint. Then the outline gives it a structure.
The headline is like an address that tells the reader they are in the right place. The introduction and summary are like the entrance and exit to the content. The paragraphs and sentences are the floors and the walls that provide direction.
Once written, your content is still not complete. The writing is now at a draft stage. It’s at the next stage where the real magic happens.
The goal at the revision stage is to shape the content so it perfectly aligns your goals with your audience’s motivations for reading it. This requires a deep understanding of your chosen audience.
The process of revising content involves re-reading it multiple times while empathizing with your audience. This hinges on the information provided about the target audience in the Content Brief. This stage alone could be 30% or more of the work.
It can take weeks or more to reflect on what has been written and make adjustments. This is why a content calendar is necessary. Professional magazines editors sometimes plan their content eight weeks in advance.
Proofreading the content is the final step. The proofreader doesn’t need to worry about the meaning of the copy or its impact on the target audience. The proofreading process eliminates distracting grammar issues, spelling mistakes, or sentence structure.
There’s a lot more to writing than just writing. 80% of the work is something other than the writing itself. B2B content needs strong credible research to be effective. If you want to create B2B content that has impact, then the entire process must begin with a Creative Brief.
Here again, are the seven checkpoints for achieving results-driven Trailblazer quality copy.
Develop Creative Brief
Identify research sources
Your content is where the rubber hits the road for your marketing. Check my writing portfolio for examples of my best work. Also, check out my book on Amazon – The B2B Marketer’s Journey. It will put you in a competitive mindset for achieving marketing results.
The possibilities are endless for creating inspiring, results-producing content. They are limited only by your imagination, and you can always do better.
There is no such thing as the perfect meal; one can always do better.
About Trailblazer Writing
Trailblazer Writing helps you create your own unique marketing success formula (your version of the Michelin Guide). This may include coaching for your marketing team. Or, Marketing Consulting for CEOs including support with Content Writing, Podcasting, Public Relations, and Social Media Marketing Management.