Take the Guesswork Out of Content Creation

By Sandra Jean-Louis August 18, 2014

There’s no doubt about it, we’re in a content race. And compared to B2C businesses—the original content pushers—B2B organizations are struggling to keep up. In particular, technology companies are realizing the need to stand out in a commoditized industry where churning out high-quality content is a daily challenge.

While the quantity of content a marketer produces can boost traffic, they sometimes forget that quality is equally important. And in an environment where prospects are bombarded with messages, they also need to hit the mark with every piece of content they create.

This is no easy task. B2B companies still cite the top three content marketing challenges as lack of time (69 percent), producing enough content (55 percent) and producing the kind of content that engages (47 percent), according to research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

With so much time and resources needed to meet the demand, can technology marketers reduce their content-generation time and still maintain their market position?

Enter the content standards guide, a stylebook that ensures consistency across your content. Whether you’re launching new products, redesigning web pages, promoting your proprietary solution or revamping your newsletter, a content standards guide is a key element to producing high-quality and relevant content faster.

Its benefits are twofold:

  1. As a reference guide for internal and external writers, it helps keep your messaging, tone and voice consistent across all media. When these elements are aligned, marketers can produce content faster because they know exactly how to address their audience. With clear standards, they eliminate doubt and create content with greater efficiency.

  2. A content standards guide encourages leakage at the top of the funnel. Why is this a good thing? Speaking in a consistent tone and with consistent keywords and terminology helps eliminate unsuitable prospects from your funnel and retain those who are a perfect fit. It leaves no room for misinterpretation of who you are as an organization, what you do and for whom. When you speak to prospects in a consistent manner, you constantly restate your value proposition and retain your market position.

A content standards guide is a living, breathing document that is updated as your business changes. Its benefits go well beyond time savings and positioning support. A well-defined guide can:

  • Protect your brand and messaging
  • Bring consistency to blog posts, articles, case studies, white papers and all marketing collateral
  • Cut onboarding time for new employees, including writers or marketing staff                             
  • Set standards internally for delivering consistent messaging to prospects and customers
  • Set your organization apart in a commoditized link-building world

A content standards guide is more than a repository of standard verbiage and mission statements. It’s how you present your content to the world. It encapsulates what you stand for in a readable, friendly and non-corporate-speak format.

Create Your Guide

It takes some effort, but you can capture the essence of your organization in a single document.

You’ll want to start by assigning a writer who can steer, manage and track the project—then set a timeline and stick to your deadline.

Next, bring sales, marketing, customer service, PR and your web team into the discussion. Anyone who actively deals with customers can offer valuable insight. Get them involved and enthusiastic about the process by bringing everyone together—either in one big session or a series of smaller ones—to cover the following:

  • Outline what you do, for whom and how.
  • Describe the personality or brand of your company.
  • Define your unique selling proposition (USP) or value proposition.
  • Describe your buyer personas, demographics and firmographics. What are their concerns, needs and interests? What keeps them up at night, and how do your solutions help them?
  • Who’s the competition? List your top two to four major competitors and how they excel.
  • What do you do better than the competition?
  • Include any brand conventions currently in use and standard translations for your tagline, brand names, category names, etc.
  • Include search-engine optimization (SEO) guidelines: What keywords does your target audience use to find you?

Many businesses fail to integrate their value proposition into their content. This means they miss countless opportunities to connect and engage prospects. Tying your proposition and buyer personas into your guide will help its users stay focused as they craft new messages. And with all the elements listed in one document, it will streamline overall efforts and produce laser-focused content that speaks directly to your ideal prospect.

You can also create standards for landing pages, services pages, product pages and blog posts. And don’t forget to jazz things up with slides, screenshots and hyperlinks to help illustrate a point.

Once you’ve finalized your guide, distribute it throughout the entire organization and start planting the seeds to better, faster content.


Apply Your New Guide

Start with your website and look for SEO revision opportunities. Describe the purpose of your website: Is it to capture leads via a sign-up offer? To get prospects to call your toll-free hotline? To get them to directly contact a sales executive?

Are your calls to action in the same vein? Do your products or solutions use consistent naming conventions across the site? Do you call someone a sales executive on your home page and a sales rep three clicks later?

Once you’ve revised your website, start applying the standards to new content, social media posts, newsletters and marketing collateral. Over time, your fresh, consistent messages will attract search engines and improve your content performance.

By keeping standards and aligning your messages, you’ll substantially decrease the amount of time it takes to create high-quality and relevant content. What’s more, your content will rise above that of your competitors, as it will appeal to your prospects’ interests and help keep your organization top of mind.

A content standards guide is your arsenal for better, faster and focused content generation. And the more focused you are, the more revenue you’ll drive.

Sandra Jean-Louis

Sandra Jean-Louis

Sandra Jean-Louis is a B2B and Certified SEO Copywriter at Word Central. She’s a seasoned online marketer who helps information technology, software and professional service firms generate more leads and sales with targeted content and marketing copy. Connect with Sandra on LinkedIn or contact her at Sandra@WordCentral.ca.

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