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Three Questions All Content Must Answer

Content marketing only works when your audience pays attention. To get eyes on your content—and keep readers engaged—you must answer three questions:

1. What’s My Hook?

How will you grab the audience’s attention? The obvious answer is to write a great headline. The less-obvious answer is to start with a great headline.

Here’s what I mean: Start by boiling down everything you want to say into a singular, compelling idea. Focus on this idea as the through-line for your content, and avoid unrelated topics. This way you can create a coherent story that keeps your audience interested from beginning to end.

If you wait to find the hook until your piece is done, it might be too late. If your content doesn’t start with a unifying theme, you are likely to end up with a collection of disconnected ideas. Organizing these ideas into a story arc is hard enough. How will you find the big idea that makes your piece a must-read?

So how do you come up with a headline in the first place? Try thinking from the audience’s perspective. What are their biggest pain points? One of the best things to do here is look at search trends. Anything your audience would type into the search bar makes a great headline.

2. Why Is My Topic Timely?

Writing about a popular topic is good, but writing about a trending topic is better. It’s easier to stand out from the crowd when you are one of the first to address a topic.

So look for ideas that are causing a stir. Are there new threats to your industry? Unexpected business developments or disruptive technologies?

Don’t be afraid to address the controversies. Even if you can’t pick a side, acknowledging the conflict will get your audience’s attention—and earn their respect for addressing the hard issues.

3. How Is My Content Different?

Truly great content offers a fresh, unique perspective. Remember, nobody wants to read things they already know.

What can you say that is new and different? Can you surprise your audience with a viewpoint they had not considered? Can you challenge industry norms and long-held assumptions?

This is particularly important when it comes to proposing actions. What should your audience do differently than they have done before, and why?

While all these questions are fairly simple, they are critically important. I like to think of them as a preflight checklist. Make sure you’re addressing these questions every time you start a new piece of content. And look for ways to involve others in answering these questions. An outside perspective can ensure that what seems interesting to you is also interesting to others.

Kenton Williston

Kenton Williston

Director of Content at Integrated Marketing Partners
Personal Credo: Storytelling is the heart of all great content.
Kenton Williston

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