Have you ever seen a piece of content with lots of views, comments, and shares…
…and wondered why?
You thought, “That’s poorly made! Why all the attention?”
Actually, that’s putting it mildly. What you really thought was probably, “I could make something ten times better with my hands tied behind my back… while sitting on a hedgehog.”
And yet, thousands of people consider this content remarkable. What gives? And more importantly, how can you do the same?
There are many theories about what makes a piece of content really great, but we subscribe to one simple rule:
As in, if something is deeply relevant to a particular audience, helping them alleviate a very specific pain, it will succeed. Yes, even if it’s mediocre or outright poorly done!
Make your content more specific and more relevant to the people you want to have as customers, and someday other random readers will ask themselves, “Why is this so popular?”
Today, we’ll show you how to use the rule of specificity to hack your content creation process and come up with something truly remarkable – in four simple steps.
Step One. Choosing a hard-hitting topic your audience will love
When it comes to creating high-quality content, your #1 objective is to formulate a specific, relevant topic for every piece. Nail this part, and you’ll have a piece of content that performs well – even if you mess up every other step!
There are three ways to come up with a strong topic that fulfills our specificity requirement. One of them is all about you. The other is about your audience. Let’s start with the latter:
1. Narrow your topic down to a specific problem, or a common question
Do you get asked the same thing over and over again: in emails, comments, and social media posts by your readers? Do people come to you for advice about a particular problem they face?
For most entrepreneurs aspiring to step up their content creation efforts, picking a great topic can be as simple as pausing and listening for a moment.
There is no better source of engaging content topics than your audience. So if they are telling you what they want to read, you should take the hint and start fulfilling those requests!
2. Put your unique spin on a boring topic
This may sound like an empty motivational platitude, but it’s true:
You are the only person in the world with your exact combination of skills, experiences, and viewpoints. You can use this to your advantage by taking an ordinary, done-to-death topic for a piece of content and asking yourself, “What’s the perspective only I can offer?”
For example, let’s say that you teach public speaking skills to founders. And you just so happened to work as a circus announcer for several years. Now, you could come up with a generic “5 Tips for Public Speaking Success” article idea…
…or you could infuse this topic with your personal experience, changing it to “5 Public Speaking Lessons From a Circus Ringmaster.” Who wouldn’t be curious to read that? We have just come up with this example to illustrate how this approach might work – but we hope you get the idea!
Tip: What if you don’t have any special experiences or skills that could inform your content topics (for the record, we doubt it)? In that case, try and explore the possible intersections between what you want to write – and things that fascinate you. For example:
Let’s say you write about home loans to promote your brand, and you also love psychology. Combine these two interests and look at the psychology of debt! Write about the mindset that makes people fail to pay off their mortgage – and the winning mental frameworks your audience can develop to succeed.
Step Two. Creating a detailed, compelling structure
Now, let’s apply our specificity rule to the structure of your content. The better you can outline and flesh out the “skeleton” of your future piece (pun intended), the less trouble you will have during the actual creative process.
We could tell you to build your content structure from scratch, doing extensive research and crafting a detailed outline in the process… but we won’t.
It takes too much time, and it’s unnecessary.
Here’s a much better approach:
- Find a similar piece of content that has a lot of views, shares, and comments.
- Piggyback on that structure – and while you’re at it, try to improve on it.
You can use many different kinds of content as your “structure fodder,” including:
- Books on Amazon – just take a peek at the table of contents, and there’s your proven structure!
- Online courses on platforms like Udemy and Skillshare – they are designed for breaking down complex ideas and teaching people new skills.
- Popular content similar to yours (blog posts, videos, etc.) – it’s already proven to work!
In the process, you will want to skim through any reviews and comments available, taking notes of things people liked or disliked, information they felt was missing, and other useful insights.
Finally, use what you’ve learned to trim, expand, and change the already-solid content structure you’re using as the foundation… and you will create the perfect blueprint for an excellent piece of content. The kind of piece you’ll have an easy time making, and your readers will gain a ton of value from.
Speaking of which…
Step Three. Maximizing the value of your core content
The goal of remarkable content is to help the reader get better at one specific thing. By the time they are done reading, they should experience a transformation: maybe their knowledge will increase, maybe they’ll pick up a new skill… or maybe their mood will improve!
And that’s why we have devoted so much attention to choosing a good topic and structure. Once these two boxes are ticked off, Step Three becomes a breeze! Simply deliver on your promise of a transformation by filling out your structure with specific, detailed information.
Sounds so simple in theory, doesn’t it? In practice, it tends to get messier than a teenager’s bedroom – so we’ll give you a few guidelines on how to ensure your content is as valuable as possible.
1. Resist the temptation to give your readers everything you know on the topic…
When putting together a fantastically valuable piece of content, you might want to include as much information as possible, so your readers know everything they could possibly want to know on the subject.
Your content should give them a beeline to the solution. Adding anything extra will overwhelm your readers and hurt their chances to put your advice to good use.
For example: let’s say you’re creating a helpful guide on how to get leads to sign up for a free marketing consultation. Any advice you can provide to your audience that gets them towards that result is important and worth including. But any “helpful” additional info you include that describes what happens afterwards should be cut – no matter how useful you think it might be.
2. …but spare no details on the essential, actionable advice they need to know
Now that you’ve isolated the essential advice you will share with your readers, it’s time to get extremely detailed and methodical.
Your goal should be to answer any and all questions or objections people might have as they consume your content. So that, even if they were to search the internet for more information, your content would still be the best resource on the topic.
- If at any point they are wondering, “What do I say?” – give them a word-for-word script.
- If you tell them to do something, and they wonder how – explain the process step by step.
- If they might run into problems, or make mistakes, don’t be silent – warn them and give on advice on how to avoid those.
3. Where appropriate, share your personal experiences and insights
Finally, you will want to do more than just dispense advice and hope it sticks. To maximize the chances that people will remember what you taught them, you can share stories and examples from your personal life.
We recommend this approach especially if you completed Step One by choosing a topic that relates directly to your unique expertise. “Storifying” something is one of the best ways to ensure people remember what you have to say.
Even if you find that you lack a story from your own life to reinforce your advice, you can still do it. Use stories of your family, your friends, or your customers – just keep them confidential. Even using something as tenuous as historical anecdotes works better than simply saying, “Do X, Y, and Z” – so use it when you can.
Step Four. Drawing a direct line from content to revenue
A case study that lands you a $25,000 client. A video that generates over $1 million in revenue. We have all heard of blockbuster content that attracts paying customers – but how do you engineer such a “smash hit” in your business?
The good news is, you have already done most of the heavy lifting by creating the content your audience wants to read, and making it as valuable as possible. Now you just need to make it stepping stone to bigger and better things.
You can accomplish it in a few ways:
- Finish with a specific call to action. “Don’t close the loop” should be the foundational rule of marketing. When your readers finish an awesome piece of content all excited and hungry for more, ask them to do something. To take the next step. Invite them to leave a comment, or subscribe to your email list, or check out some more content on a related topic. That way, you will maximize the odds that they stick around and eventually buy.
- Create a content upgrade. Unlike a regular lead magnet, a content upgrade will offer your audience more content on the same topic they have just finished reading about (or watching, or listening). It’s a great way to feed new leads into your marketing funnels, and one of the most powerful list-building strategies available in digital marketing.
- Promote a paid product or service. If you put out all the stops and engineer a truly awesome piece of content, chances are that some readers will clamor for more. You can direct them to a free consultation, a sales page, or a product page. The conversion rates won’t be fantastic, of course, and that’s fine – the important thing is that you will have a constant stream of qualified leads generated by amazing, evergreen content!
When you look at content creation through the lens of specificity, it becomes a lot clearer how you can engineer strategic, high-performing content that doesn’t feel generic, resort to clickbait, or attracts the wrong audience.
We hope that these insights will help you look at your content marketing efforts differently, and produce more awesome blog posts, videos, presentations, or anything else you put your mind to – consistently! Enjoy!