I have a cube on my desk that reads "the purpose of life is a life of purpose," which to me translates as "we should be doing everything toward a greater good."

I have always been a fan of Steven Covey and his phrase "begin with the end in mind." It has always had an impact on me; to me it is code for "do the research to determine what you want, envision what that looks like, and then act the part." In the entertainment world, the phrase used is "act as if..."—as if you have already met your goal.

If your goal is to be a well-respected marketer, act with the traits of a well-respected marketer. But don't just act—live, breathe, and commit to what you want.

How does all that apply to content creation?

We are in the age of information overload, with a plethora of blogs for every topic imaginable. We just do not have the time to read everything. Because our time is at a premium, we need to prioritize what brings us the greatest enjoyment with the least effort. And we always need to be maximizing value: We read content to learn, after all, at least in business.

I have a test I use—I call it the five-second test—to measure whether a blog post, print article, or other content is worth my time. If within five seconds of glancing at it I can tell it's worth my time, I read on; if I can't, I pass. I've been passing on a lot lately.

For example, if you are writing about "Five Ways to Develop a Content Strategy" and one of the ways you have listed is "develop a plan," do you just write "develop a plan" and leave it at that? How about the whys? The hows? I kid you not, but in the previous two weeks I must have read a dozen articles in which the writer just stopped at "develop a plan."

I propose we start thinking about the purpose of our content before we write it. Why?

  • First, according to B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends study, 91% of North American B2B marketers are using content marketing, and on average 33% of marketing budgets are being dedicated to content marketing; that's because B2B marketers know that content marketing is the most important tool for generating leads.
  • Second, we are all in the business of building trust (which is why people buy from us), and to build trust we need to provide value, and to provide value we need to laser-focus on what our audience wants.

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image of Sue Duris

Sue Duris is president of M4 Communications Inc., a Palo Alto, CA-based marketing strategy and communications firmthat helps technology, entertainment and nonprofit organizations build and extend their brands. Reach her via sduris@m4comm.com.

Twitter: @M4_Comm
LinkedIn: Sue Duris