Every business that wants to use the web to build a closer relationship with its customers has to create compelling online content. Thus they are a publisher – that is now a well accepted truth. However, what many businesses are unclear about is exactly what publishing skills they need to learn. Here I have attempted to distil 15 years of magazine publishing experience into five simple principles that any business, be it a retailer, a provider of professional services or a manufacturer, should consider before they start to create online content:
1. Clarity on your proposition
All magazines (and other media) need to be clear what they stand for, and where their authority or expertise lies. As an online content creator, you need to find a distinct niche where you have a unique source of information or point of view. Don’t duplicate what can be found elsewhere. Once you know your proposition, stick to it.
2. Knowing your reader
This is about more than just broad market segmentation. You need to understand the learning or buying process that your reader is going through, and just what information, tools and reassurance they need at each stage. Break down in detail the information they are seeking, and where else they are getting it. Can you provide more useful, timely or relevant content?
3. Creating compelling content
The core journalistic skill is in crafting words that draw the target reader in, provide the information they are seeking, in an appropriate tone of voice, while reaffirming their good judgement. Sounds easy but it takes real talent and hard work. Just because content is free, doesn’t mean it can risk being poorly written. People’s time and attention is now a more precious resource than their cash.
4. Creating reasons to return
To build a relationship with your customers – or prospective customers – you need to give them a reason to keep coming back. One theory is that a prospect needs at least five contacts before they will buy from you. So you need to be able to anticipate their concerns and information needs, and manage to be both useful and entertaining on a repeated basis.
5. Listening and evolving
All great publications evolve as they get feedback from their readers. This process is accelerated online, and you will need to take the time to consider the feedback you receive and respond to it.
If your business has made a success of creating online content to build customer relationships, I’d be keen to hear what you’ve learnt. If you are considering how you might move into becoming an online publisher, then I may be able to help you build these skills within your own business. Find out more about my business, Penmaen Media, or contact me directly. Carolyn Morgan