I’ve met lots of business owners who are just getting into content marketing - they’ve decided to start a blog, fire off an email newsletter, use social media to gain new business etc.

“I could write about my journey and how I started mybusiness,” they say, their eyes bright with enthusiasm, “Or a day in the life of someone working in my industry.”

Understandably, these are topics they feel passionately about. But be honest - would you really take the time to read stuff like this, unless it was written by someone like Richard Branson?

The truth is we’re bombarded with so many blog posts, emails, articles and other written information that we’re never going to be able to get through it all. So naturally we select the ones that are going to benefit us in some way.

No matter how optimistic you are about human beings as a species, the truth is that most of the time we’re thinking, “What’s in it for me?”

Adding value

That’s why it’s vital to get insight your target audience’s heads and figure out what they want. In general, it will probably be one of the following things:

KNOWLEDGE - like industry trends that will give them something to say at their next board meeting.

SOLUTIONS - to their problems, like time-saving tips when they’re struggling to meet deadlines.

HELP - to achieve their goals, like a sure-fire exercise guide that will make dropping a dress size easy.

FUN - like a tongue-in-cheek list* of ways to get out of a team-building exercise. (*Buzzfeed is great at this and they made $167 million last year, so there must be something in it.)

Whatever it is that your audience wants or needs should be the starting point for the content you create.

Once you’ve gained a loyal following of warm contacts by giving them plenty of what they want, they’ll be much more receptive to you asking for something in return.

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The reason why business owners often get content marketing wrong is that they assume it’s about making sales. Read our post ‘What’s the point of your blog?’ to discover how to set achievable goals so you don’t get discouraged.

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