Whether you’re looking for greater brand recognition, sales leads or increased website traffic, the content you create must grab attention and solve a need. The next time you’re evaluating your content marketing plan, run your content through the following 5-point checklist to see if it hits the mark:

1. Is it relevant?

Don’t tout generic content that doesn’t go anywhere. Provide information that is useful to your audience. At the same time, keep it in line with your business objectives and brand mission. If you’re a fitness company, you don’t want to publish tips for driving safety. Rather, your audience will look to you for healthy eating tips, summer recipes or conditioning exercises.

2. It it promotional?

A good content strategy drops the sales persona and speaks from the heart. Use the 80/20 rule when it comes to content that is a direct promotion of your products or services (20 percent “you”, 80 percent “them”). A back to school coupon might be OK, but daily reminders that you offer accounting and tax auditing services is not.

3. Does it provide a solution?

Evaluate your customers’ pain points and close the gap. Your content should ultimately answer a question or provide a solution to your audience. This does not mean a plug for your business. Think about the overall information your customers seek and provide that. This is an important part of building trust and showing your expertise in your industry or subject matter.

4. Is it authentic?

If you’re using sales speak in your content marketing strategy knock it off. We all see right through the sales pitch. Be authentic and show personality through your content. Use natural, conversational tones and ask questions to show that you are interested in feedback and what your customers also have to say.

5. Is it visual?

A picture is worth a thousand words–or the difference between whether or not your content is read. Utilize visual strategies in your content to evoke emotion, demonstrate products, show real people, provide humor, etc. All blog posts, social media updates, websites, e-newsletters should include visuals that support your content. Many times that visual is the piece that pulls your audience in.

Take into consideration all of the above and you’ll be on your way to creating great content that engages your audience and serves a purpose for their direct need. Content marketing is about building relationships and trust; it takes time but can be hugely effective if done with thought and purpose.

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