Finding authoritative content marketing research can take up a lot of time. Here are five steps to make the process simple and quick so you don’t lose time.
Emma, a member of one of my online forums reached out to me recently. She’s a leadership expert who focuses on wellbeing and was stuck trying to find out some information to support one of her core premises. In fact, she was struggling to find the words for her research – she simply didn’t know what to look for. She had spent hours going around in circles.
I spoke with Emma about what she was trying to achieve. She said she wanted to find some information that could help people understand the importance of values and their impact on wellbeing. So I then asked, ‘Why do you think values are important?’ She responded, ‘People have challenges that affect wellbeing. Often it’s because they aren’t being their true selves but are simply doing what others tell them’.
This was finally the answer that led us to really understand what it was she was looking for. And it was at this point that I was able to jump onto my computer and find the research to support her beliefs about wellbeing and values.
Emma’s situation is not unusual. It’s incredibly easy to lose valuable time researching if you don’t know what you’re looking for or how to find it.
But research doesn’t have to be overwhelming, difficult or time-consuming. Here are five steps to help you find authoritative content marketing research quickly.
5 Steps to Authoritative Content Marketing Research
Step 1: Understand what you are really trying to say
As with Emma, the first step is asking yourself what you are really trying to say. This is not always as easy as you might think. Often you have to drill down through an idea or a set of ideas to really find the heart of the problem that you want to address. With Emma, that came down to the main theme of, ‘how do personality traits affect values?’
Step 2: Search for a respected publication
Once you understand what you are looking for, run a Google search with those keywords. Your goal is to find a trusted, respected publication that has written about your subject. This publication acts as a translator between the layperson (you and me!) and the heavy-duty research that backs up the subject.
In the example with Emma, after running the Google search I found an article on Psychology Today which talked about how personality traits influenced values and wellbeing. This publication is well-known, authoritative and trusted. They cite their research well and, most importantly, explain and apply its meaning well.
Step 3: Finding the research references
Once you’ve found the trusted publication that talks about your issue, find its research citations. If they’ve cited the research in their own article (and be careful of trusting publications that don’t!), click on the links to the research. Go directly to the source and use that to support your own articles.
Step 4: Get help
If you have been through steps one and two above and you are still struggling to find the research that you need, get help. Post a question on Upwork or Quora. Talk to your industry groups on Facebook. Or go to the source – if it’s a question about Yoast, go directly to WordPress, for example. Better yet, reach out to an expert for an opinion and a quote.
In Emma’s case, if we hadn’t been able to find the research we needed, we also could have reached out to a psychologist and asked for a quote on the subject to back up her own opinion.
Step 5: Create your own research
Sometimes thought leaders can struggle to support their own innovative ideas. Because you’re a thought leader, and your ideas are at the forefront of your industry, the research may not actually exist.
In this situation create your own research. Make a questionnaire or survey your audience. Get some data to prove your thesis one way or another. Even a relatively small data set gives you a certain level of social proof and builds your authority and credibility.
Why is research important
Aristotle taught that there are three key steps to a communications strategy (or persuasive proof):
- Ethos (or ethical appeal) means to convince an audience of the author’s credibility or character.
- Pathos (or emotional appeal) means to persuade an audience by appealing to their emotions.
- Logos (or logical appeal) means to convince an audience by use of logic or reason.
Logos is your supporting research, and it’s a vital step in your persuasive communications with your audience. Having strong supporting research is like putting steel beams into your building. Just like steel beams support your home, great research supports your article’s thesis or your brand beliefs. It grounds everything and gives you a strong foundation. Research tells us why it matters and validates your belief, so people can see that it isn’t just lip service, but something that is true and valuable.
‘Accuracy builds credibility.’ – Jim Rohn
As Tanveer Naseer, an internationally-acclaimed keynote and TEDx speaker, award-winning leadership writer, author and CEO, and recognised by Inc. Magazine as one of the ‘Top 100 Leadership and Management Experts’, says, ‘Credibility is the foundation of leadership’. It’s vital to supporting your points of view.
At the same time, you don’t want to waste too much time trying to find the right research. But if you use these steps to guide you and reach out for some help when you need it, you’ll find your content marketing research becomes simple and quick, saving you valuable time and energy while building your authority and credibility.
Love to hear your thoughts…
Jane Anderson is a strategic communications expert, speaker and the author of seven books including the upcoming Catalyst Content. With over 20 years of experience helping people to communicate confidently, she is obsessed with authentic influence and human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. She delivers Content Creation Bootcamps (Virtual and Face to Face), Coaching and Keynotes. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.