Educational content creation allows you to add value without overselling
Sarah came to me because she had a problem. She had a successful business that was past its infancy and ready for a strong growth phase. She had a small, but dedicated team behind her. And she had a lot of ideas for creating content within her business and industry. In fact, she had a lot of great ideas.
But Sarah struggled to get them off the ground. It wasn’t due to a lack of time, or a lack of commitment (struggles many of my clients, and even I, have had from time to time). Sarah’s biggest difficulty was a fear of being too ‘noisy.’ She worried that her content would just add to the clamour of marketing and selling that’s bombarding consumers today.
This is where creating educational content becomes vital.
What is educational content?
Educational content is content that aims to teach or inform your audience. It’s content that offers value by giving your readers fresh knowledge, new insights and guidance that responds to a need they have. It is valuable to the reader. Not promotional to you. It’s about giving, not selling.
A great example of educational content is Barclays Code Playground. Barclays is a multinational investment bank and financial services company. But Barclays Code Playground was a site dedicated to teaching kids how to code. And that’s exactly what it did. It engaged and entertained consumers (in this case, consumers’ children) while teaching them something valuable. It was an award-winning success and a fantastic marketing tool to boot.
Of course, most of us aren’t going to be able to set up coding camp for kids! But we can offer instructional videos, ‘How To’ articles and tutorials for things within our realm of expertise. That is educational content.
Why is educational content important?
Nelson Mandela famously said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world’. Google agrees. With 1.2 trillion searches being performed every year, it’s clear we’re all still seeking answers about one thing or another.
Providing valuable, targeted answers to your readers’ problems is essential to establishing authority and inspiring loyalty to your brand. In fact, 77% of content marketers use educational content for one important reason – it works.
Educational content moves the focus to your reader, and away from you. If you’re not providing value to your audience, you’re just selling, and that can get pretty old pretty fast. No one wants spam. But everyone wants information.
How to create educational content
Creating educational content is just like creating other types of content except the focus is on responding to your audience’s needs, rather than pushing your own agenda. Pretend you’re a teacher entering a room. No one wants to know about you straight away. They want to know what they are going to get out of the class. What are they going to learn?
Once they know and trust you (and your brand), they’re ready to engage with you on a more personal level (become a customer). In other words, your educational content is what attracts your target audience to your site and helps convert them into loyal customers.
Determine pain points
Start by considering the pain points of your audience. What is it that they say are their problems, challenges and fears? What keeps them awake at night? If you don’t already know, you could conduct in-depth, qualitative research to find out, or just simply reach out to your network and ask if anyone would be available to interview them for a few minutes.
I was once trying to find out the specific issues that early career female lawyers were having for a series of workshops I was putting together. To ensure I had the pain points correct, I asked around my networks to find a lawyer within my demographic. She was happy for me to interview her but I needed to pay her for her time.
It was hands down the best $400 I’ve ever spent. The insights and details she gave me were invaluable to the program I created. Qualitative research focusses on detailed, individualised responses to open-ended questions and helps you discover both the problem and the underlying causes of the problem.) You don’t always have to go this far. Sometimes a simple Google search will help you work out what your audience’s challenges are and can provide some really valuable insight and ensure you’re on the right frequency.
Craft a solution
Once you’ve determined the need, offer a solution. If you want to stand out from the crowd, and be heard despite the digital noise, you need to distinguish yourself as a leading educational voice in your industry.
For example, if you’re an accounting firm, create an online video tutorial about using Xero. If you’re a business coach, write articles about business automation and processes – what works, and what doesn’t. And if you’ve got an Australian fashion line, create style guides showing what is on trend for the season. Whatever it is within your niche, make sure it responds to your readers’ problems.
If not, you have a crusade on your hands. And while you might be passionate about it, if customers see it as a ‘nice to have’ versus a ‘need to have,’ you will be ignored.
Steps from here:
Educational content is the way forward if, like Sarah, you’re worried about adding to the digital ‘noise’ in the world. Truly valuable content entices potential leads to your door by giving people information, guidance and insights. It’s not spammy. It’s not noisy. And it’s not sales-y. It’s about knowing your potential customer and being generous enough to care and give them what they need.
There are three simple steps to take from here to start to create educational content for your audience:
- Identify who you know. What problems do they have?
- Out of the problems, which ones can you solve?
- Which ones would they pay for you to solve?
Identify the answers to these three questions and you’re on your way.
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.