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A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Captivating Content

By Alyssa Patzius

Creating captivating content takes big ideas. Think out of the box to get that light bulb to go off in your head.

This post was created as a two-part series. Check out Part 1: Your Content Is Boring — Here’s How to Save It.

Creating share-worthy brand content isn’t easy. The tone must be spot-on, and it should encourage the audience to accept the brand as a credible, knowledgeable source.

Great writing alone won’t make your content stand out. The concept must be interesting to truly captivate an audience and shape the conversation. twitter_blue

In this socially driven world, you need to relate to your customer base before they’ll consider reading or sharing your content. Exceptional brand content entertains, educates, and even delights customers while representing its brand authentically. 

Educating your audience is just one step to becoming an influential industry leader. Map out the rest of your journey with this guide.

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches is a perfect example that meets all the criteria for exceptional content. It’s heartwarming and inspiring, and it portrays the brand as forward-thinking and genuine. Its complementary #WeAreBeautiful campaign helped spark a conversation around individual beauty and the brand. 

Creating quality content involves strategic long-term planning to inspire an audience, but every piece of powerful content starts with a great idea. twitter_blue

Where to Find Inspiration 

Developing content that will engage your audience takes time, and it begins the moment you dream up a topic.

The ideation process for article topics looks different for everyone, but at Influence & Co., we have three key methods for finding inspiration:

  • Brainstorming with other creative people is a great way to uncover unique ideas, especially if you go into the brainstorming session with a basic topic you want to expand upon or approach from a fresh angle.
  • Reading what’s popular in credible publications within your industry (or general audience publications) allows you to expand upon that topic or find a timely spin.
  • Letting life inspire you will open your mind to new ideas. Ideas can stem from movies, frustrations, the news, and so much more. Living in content — films, novels, articles, online videos, etc. — teaches you to recognize quality topics based on what you enjoy, what you skip over, or what you find inspiring.

How to Move From Inspiration to a Solid Article Topic

Before any bright idea at Influence & Co. can become a full article, our account strategists must flesh out the topic for the client and choose a publication that aligns with his audience and strategy. Then, the account strategist presents the idea at a pitch meeting. These meetings include four people who provide specific insight on the topic based on their areas of expertise:

  • The director of publications: She maintains relationships with hundreds of editors and knows what each publication is looking for, such as tone, word count, and whether a topic will be appropriate for the publication’s audience. She is in the conversation to ensure that the publication is a perfect fit for the topic.
  • A member of the editorial team: One of our editors can look at a topic and see which components are missing, which details the writer will need to know to understand the direction, and whether the angle will be interesting to the intended audience. She is in the conversation to ensure that the topic has long enough legs to become an entire article.
  • The vice president of content: She has grown our publication department from the ground up and has developed an instinct for identifying successful ideas.
  • The vice president of account strategy: I help guide the account strategist to ensure that the topic makes sense for the client’s brand and that the topic will resonate with his intended audience. Plus, I get really excited about mind-blowing topics.

3 Tips for Developing Your Topic

Fully developing a topic is critical because it lays the foundation for your entire article. twitter_blue Imagine what would happen if you tried to cook a gourmet dinner without checking to see if you had all the ingredients. It might turn out OK, but leaving out one ingredient could completely change the flavor or texture. If you don’t have a content team to pitch to, follow these three tips to develop a great topic:

  • Don’t rush the process. Our account strategists have pages and pages of running ideas that aren’t ready for our formal review process. They’re constantly adding to their ideas with more questions, relevant research, or timely examples that add value. Meatier topics have sourced research, multiple examples, and a timely hook. That kind of development doesn’t just happen overnight.
  • Encourage people to find holes in your idea. You can bet readers will tear apart your idea, but there’s nothing you can do about it at that point. Collaboration will add to your topic and provide multiple perspectives, so get input while there’s still time to make adjustments.
  • Keep the publication in mind as you develop your topic. Articles are like résumés — the customized ones always stand out. Similarly, each publication has specific preferences and requirements. You don’t want to “shop around” for different publications to pitch your article. Start with one that makes sense for your content strategy, and take the time to write the best piece for that specific audience.

While each article is an integral part of your content marketing strategy, you can’t overlook the big picture. Content marketing is not about crafting one fabulous article; you need to consistently produce valuable, compelling content before you’ll see results. twitter_blue

If a topic comes naturally to you and coincides with your strategy, it may seem like a great idea to open your computer and get to work. However, make sure you fully develop a topic before sitting down to write. Your articles will be tighter and easier to write, and developing thought-provoking topics will become a regular occurrence. That’s how you move from one good article to a consistently successful content marketing strategy and a memorable brand.

Download your free guide to tackling content marketing like a pro!

Posted on July 22, 2014

About Alyssa Patzius

My goal is to create an amazing experience for our clients from their very first interaction with our brand. My happy place is anywhere with good wine and cheese.

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