To keep customers interested in your product or service, it’s no longer a question of whether you should have content. Instead, it’s about what type of content to use. Branded Content Strategy Consultant Melanie Deziel shared her insights at this year’s Content Marketing Conference session, “Being Needed, Not Needy: How to Create Truly Valuable Content.”
About 74 percent of consumers trust business content that falls inside their area of expertise. To have value to readers, effective content must be Relevant, Authoritative, and Trustworthy. Make your words about something that your customers need and they’ll crave what you have to say.
Hierarchy of Needs
Meet Marsha. Her greatest desire is to live creatively and spontaneously. Except she doesn’t realize that yet. She thinks she wants the comfort of someone to love and family. But she’s taking no steps toward getting that either. Because she’s homeless and spends most of her time looking for food, water and shelter.
Marsha’s priorities represent the Hierarchy of Needs, which also applies to all of us. You won’t go for a higher-level need, such as creativity and spontaneity, unless a lower-level need, such as love and belonging, or, below that, food and shelter, are met. All told, everyone has five needs, according to Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist who pioneered the concept. Topics that address these needs are the ones that your audience devours.
- The physiological covers what we need to physically survive: air, food, water, shelter, and sleep. Suggestions for this category includes recipes, better ways to sleep, finding a better home, or looking for the best coffee flavors.
- Safety is about protecting yourself and your family, preserving resources, avoiding danger, and becoming healthier. Content examples include fitness and exercise, increasing your life expectancy, finding the right insurance, or preventing accidents. You may be concerned about potential liability issues when writing about safety. If your content does not guarantee results or make promises, then your company remains shielded against any legal or ethical accountability.
- Belonging includes social needs like love, friendship, family, and sexual intimacy. These topics are often the ones we enjoy reading about the most because they deal with the human relationships we can all identify with. They include information about becoming more romantic, throwing parties, planning weddings, breaking up, sexual techniques, and family activities.
- Esteem is about how you feel about yourself, gaining respect, self-improvement, and accomplishing goals. It covers beauty techniques, what clothes to wear to a party, empowering yourself to achieve goals, and how to approach job interviews with confidence.
- Self-actualization represents our highest aspirations in creativity, morality, freedom from prejudice, growth, fulfillment, and spontaneity. Content here can discuss the major issues of life, such as whether we’re alone in the universe, there’s life after death, or we are truly free. But it can also deal with more down-to-earth matters such as city travel guides (spontaneity) or tips for women on balancing family and the office (fulfillment).
Your product or service most likely meets one of these needs already. For example, food product sales address the physiological needs of level 1 while a book on developing the confidence for dating under level 4. Making your content meet the same needs as your offerings increases the credibility of what you have to say.
The more of these needs that you can address in your content, then the more you can appeal to a wider range of people. Trying to fit all these categories into one blog post may be a bit much but many titles naturally address two or more needs at the same time. Here are some examples:
- Recipes for Romantic Meals (physiological and belonging)
- Teaching Your Kids About Prejudice (belonging and self-actualization)
- Finding The Best Homeowners Insurance (physiological and safety)
- The Best Wines to Try When You Visit Paris (physiological and spontaneity)
- Creative Ways for Working Women to Spend More Time with The Family (creativity, esteem, and belonging)
Finding Your Authority Area
To become a content provider that your audience believe in, remember that 74 percent of consumers trust content that falls within their expertise. So you must first determine what your area of authority is through the PRE strategy:
- Product or service that you’re selling.
- Role that your product serves in the lives of your audience.
- Emotions and thoughts that you can make them feel.
You can then create content that fits any of the PRE categories to meet your audience needs, such as in the following
- Product: Cider. How is it made, where do the apples grow, how to visit a family farm where apples are grown, testing the soil for apple trees.
- Role: A tasty drink that refreshes and improves health. Cider recipes, alcoholic beverages that use cider, best food and drink for a Halloween party, drinks that kids love, healthy alternatives to alcohol.
- Emotions: Happiness, celebration, thirst satisfaction. Celebrate fall football with cider, yes you can drink and drive with cider, ring in the New Year with sparkling apple cider.