Three Shorthand Rules for Creating Better Content
tldrThere’s no such thing as objectively good content. But here are three rules that help me decide what is good - making your content CEO-Forward worthy, writing for a dinner party of experts, and having SOMETHING Ungoogleable in it.
It’s becoming progressively easier to create content.
So, obviously, there’s a whole lot more bad content being created.
Enough that even Google is losing the spam arms race to AI.
Humans are to blame too. Chances are you’re to blame occasionally. Hell, I know I am.
Cue metaphysical tailspin wondering if this article is bad content.
In the age of the Great Attention Race, marketers are typing away like a pack of frenetic monkeys on speed and unlimited triple-espresso shots banging out newsletters, SEO articles, and LinkedIn posts that all fade into the ether.And no one knows what's good or isn't good.
10,000 words does not a great article make. It’s also not about the number of data points or about the influencers you’re quoting. Good content isn’t objective (for what it’s worth, I, ever the unsophisticated brute, thought Catcher in the Rye was decidedly meh).
But I do have a couple of quick heuristics to use as filters that help determine if a piece of content is marvelous or meh:
- The CEO Forward
- The Dinner Table
- Making It Ungoogleable
Let’s get into it.
1: The CEO Forward
Imagine your CEO, or someone else you respect in your company - probably someone with a nice Zoom background that isn’t even virtual. Now imagine her finishing a call with an incredible prospect, the VP of Something Serious at a major prospect. The prospect is interested in a specific niche that your company focuses on that other companies don’t.
So your CEO offers to send them more information.
She gets off the call and pings you.
“Hey, marketing person, please shoot me over an article about Whatever This Topic Is.”
Now picture your content.
Would you be embarrassed to give it to your CEO to forward?
If so, congratulations, you’re probably hiding meh content behind the anonymity of SEO and inbound traffic.
Good content will meet a higher standard. You’ll stand behind it. And you’ll stand behind your CEO when she stands behind it.
2. The Dinner Table
The second filter I like to think about involves an imaginary dinner party. Just the kind I get invited to.
The internet has exploded with micro audiences. Imagine a dinner table full of your target audience, say chief security officers at mid-sized tech firms or Chief Consuls at Evil MegaCorps.
Great content for this audience would align with what they would talk about at their mind-numbingly boring dinner parties after industry events.
Let’s say you’re marketing a new filter for vacuum cleaners, you lucky dog, you.
If your dinner guests are a mix of people with only some general involvement in the vacuum cleaner suck, you’ll keep the conversation shallow. Lowest common denominator and all.
On the other hand, if your dinner table is filled with filtration experts (is that a thing?) from top tier vacuum cleaner companies, talking about Roomba’s impact on the upright vacuum market won’t get you anything besides a dismissive shrug.
Instead, You’ll need to talk filter density, HEPA evolution, and military-grade gas masks filters.Meet them at their level.
3 Making It Ungoogleable
With so much crap out there, content is all about providing value. Enough so that the reader mutters to themselves:
This is amazing. What else do they have?
You’re probably not a reporter, so you’re unlikely to break news that will truly make you the belle of the ball. But one thing you can shoot for is providing something that a cursory Google search won’t give them .
Make sure that your post includes something unique - information or insights - that they (or Siri) couldn’t find themselves. Obviously, one of my favorite ways of doing that is with content that taps awesome data but you knew that already.
Regurgitating information from other posts or letting ChatGPT chat about whatever it has in it’s GPT provides as much value…as the effort you put in.
I’m sure there are some incredible posts out there that don’t do this. And I’m sure there are some crappy ones that do. But I have found these questions to help me in the past. Hope they help you too! And if they don’t, maybe you’re not the best first for my dinner party?
You should come. There’s pizza.
🍕 🍕 🍕