Saturday, December 20, 2008

Good content -- 4 Laws

Over the next couple posts I am going to describe the 4 laws of good content. I originally published this information over 5 years ago. As with many things online it's as relevant today as it ever was.

Your content must first and foremost adhere to The 4 Laws of Good Content. For our purposes in this article, your content is defined as the information that you provide to your community members, prospects and customers. In the final analysis it must be:

Law #1 -- Relevant
If the information that you are providing to someone who has taken the time to seek you out is not meaningful to them, or more importantly does not address their need(s), they will leave. The oft-quoted figure is 8 seconds. You have 8 seconds to capture someone’s attention and interest or they’re gone, never to return! Pretty harsh for sure, but that’s life on the Internet! Frankly, your lucky if you get 8 seconds. People (your potential customers) recognize full well that there is an endless supply of information out there, waiting for them to find it.

This aspect of good content has most to do with effectively targeting your prospects and customers. It’s very important that when you set out to do business on the Internet, you do so with a very clear picture of who your “ideal” customers are. Miss this point, develop a muddled focus on your web site, in your ezine or other e-communications, and your potential for doing business successfully on the Internet is pretty close to “0.”

Worse yet is the situation where web surfers end up at a site that appears to have no bearing whatsoever on what they were searching for originally. This type of online duping goes on all the time and has become a serious annoyance. Don’t even consider doing such a thing in an effort to get more web traffic!

Law #2 – Current
Your information may very well be what your prospects and customers are looking for. However, if it’s outdated it’s as good as yesterday’s news! No one wants to read a newspaper from several days or weeks ago. In their quest for information, your prospects are looking for cutting edge data that will answer their questions and solve their problems. This certainly puts the burden of responsibility squarely on your shoulders.

This point speaks to a basic misconception that exists with many small business people about the Internet. The misconception is that somehow Internet Marketing requires less effort than traditional marketing. To this I respond with what I tell everyone who thinks there is some get-rich-quick formula that they haven't yet discovered online: “You get back what you put out!” This is a simple truth that applies to everything in life including Internet Marketing. Another way to put this is “You get what you pay for.”

Fear not! Information is what the Internet is all about. There is literally an unlimited supply of information available online that you can provide to your interested eyeballs (prospects and customers). This will probably require you to change your view about using OPI -- Other Peoples Information, and generally force you to take a less parochial view of the manner in which you service your customers' need for information.

The upshot of this part of the discussion is that in gaining access to “good” content online, you will be presented with the opportunity to think more broadly about your business model. Actually, forced to think more broadly accurately describes the situation that you face. Again I say, fear not! This is opportunity knocking! Openly sharing information is one of the foundational principles that Social Media is based on.