For content to work, it all starts with purpose. Too many organizations fall prey to the idea that more is more, and end up creating buckets of content that go unused or miss the mark altogether. The way to avoid this common pitfall is to always assign and infuse a purpose into your content – for every asset in every content plan, every time.
While your brand or organization’s mission and messages should be unique, there are some common purpose threads you can follow in your content planning and execution. Before you invest in churning out content, ask yourself if the approach you’re taking and the assets you plan to create hit the five E’s of excellent content.
Sometimes your content needs to provide educational value to your audience. Perhaps it’s an instructional piece; perhaps it’s a how-to. When you’re creating this kind of content, you should keep the purpose theme of “educate” in mind, and ask questions of yourself or your content providers like, “What will the audience learn from this piece?” or “What questions are we answering for the audience with our content?” When you keep the focus on education as your purpose, ultimately your content will be clear and valuable to your consumers.
While similar to content meant to educate, your “enlighten” content should seek to get your audience considering a new idea or expanding their perspective or knowledge on a certain topic. Perhaps you’re even answering questions the customer didn’t know she had. Your “enlighten” content is rooted in thought leadership, and requires focus to ensure the message and purpose of the content is clear. When you’re creating this type of content, you should ask yourself or your team, “How can we help our customers improve their own business?” or “How can our insights bring new value to our audience?”
In some cases, you want to entertain your audience, and the implied call to action may be to laugh, smile, or shed a tear. This type of content works when you truly know your audience and what makes them tick – this content type is purely customer-centric. Avoid mixing purposes here – content that “tries too hard” with a thinly veiled product push or an off-brand attempt at creating something provocative could turn off your audience altogether, never mind fail to entertain them. When your goal is entertainment, be sure to ask, “How do we want our audience to feel?”
Empowering content may borrow from educational and enlightening content, and its purpose is to give your audience the power or confidence to take an action on their own. Empowering content demonstrates an understanding of the customer’s motivations and challenges, and offers actionable solutions. This may not involve your brand at all. Perhaps your content can help the customer solve a problem that they’re facing even before your offering would come into play. Perhaps your content’s purpose is to build the audience’s confidence to make a business or personal decision that’s tangential to your brand. When you want to create empowering content, make sure you and your team are asking, “Are we providing a solution to our audience’s challenge?”
Often, marketing teams are creating content that is meant to engage an audience in a specific way. This kind of content is meant to draw the audience into a conversation or relationship with your brand, and requires a deep knowledge of and respect for your audience every step of the way. When you’re creating “engage” content, you’re ultimately asking something of your audience – talk to us, connect with us, meet with us – in exchange for providing them with a valuable content experience. Ask yourself: “Are we inspiring our audience to connect with us in a meaningful way?” or “What action should our audience take after consuming this content?”The 5 E's of #contentmarketing excellence: educate, enlighten, entertain, empower, engage. Click To Tweet
A sophisticated content program likely has a variety of content types with varying yet clear purposes. Of course, to keep your audience interested and to ultimately inspire action, you’ll need to employ a variety of content in your plan.
If you feel that you or your team is creating content that lacks a clear purpose or if you’re churning out content in a mechanical check-a-box approach, stop and ask purpose-based questions to refine your program. And while you’re at it, do you have any other E’s of content excellence to add to the list?