Prior to becoming a copywriter, I had spent over 20 years of my life working in advertising, sales and marketing. But it wasn’t until a recession motivated me to start my own website development company, that I discovered the true value of content.
My website services included building a customer’s website and adding the design. To complete the project, my clients needed to provide me with their copy. Yet they rarely had much to provide.
To expand my skills at the time, I took an SEO course from a firm that had conducted an experiment to test whether design or copy had a greater impact on sales. The results were shocking.
When they removed all the design and images from the site leaving only the words, their sales dropped by only 15%. But when then they removed the words leaving only the design, their sales dropped 100%. That’s the moment I understood the importance of the writing. It’s the logic of hte words that drive sales.
Today, the attitude persists that copy is of secondary importance to the design. Yet the purpose of the design is to support the copy and the message. I developed my seven quality checkpoints for creating copy that gets results.
7 Quality Checkpoints for Creating Great Content
So, what is the definition of good quality content. I believe there are seven essential quality checkpoints for creating engaging valuable content.
Gather project information
Create research plan
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 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 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.
Create irresistible Content
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 Content 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. Good luck!