Yes, but what IS valuable content?

Sharon Tanton and Sonja Jefferson


What is valuable content?

This question was put to us by a new client, and it’s pulled us up in our tracks. After writing the book, and talking and blogging about creating valuable content for years, we thought we’d nailed the answer to that one.

It’s made us realise the value of being really clear about the basics. (Is there anything you’re taking for granted or not making crystal clear about what you do?) The question also highlighted a key stumbling block that makes people hesitate about investing in content marketing:

“What content should I be producing, and how do I produce it?”

Continuing the conversation clarified the question further. While our client was very comfortable with the theoretical benefits of using content marketing and was keen to start, what he really wanted to know was:

“What’s going to be valuable content for me? How will I know that I’m investing in the content that will be valuable for my clients and valuable for my business?”

To help, we’ve put together a checklist of what is, and what is not, valuable content.

Valuable content is…

  • Relevant to your niche audience
  • Written with a real person/people in mind
  • Answers a genuine question – it’s what people are looking for
  • In line with your business goals
  • Well designed
  • Findable
  • Shareable
  • Unputdownable – this is fantastic!
  • Created in a spirit of generosity – people first, and profit will follow

Valuable content is not….

  • Vague – no sense of who this is aimed at
  • Written without a grasp of the person who will be reading it
  • Inward looking – doesn’t answer a real question – the ‘so what’ factor?
  • Not aligned with your business aims
  • Looks shabby, hard to read/watch/listen to
  • No one can find it
  • Hard to share
  • Unpickupable – I can’t be bothered to look at this!
  • Created with a cynical mindset – profit before people

So, that’s what is, and what is not valuable content. But does it actually answer our client’s question, ‘what will be valuable to me?’ Not precisely, and our client is after precision. He wants to know exactly what pieces of content he should be creating.

We can’t answer that question yet, but we’re on our way to finding out. Valuable content can’t be created in a vacuum (you can see from the list of valuable conditions that you need a real understanding of who it is you’re talking to, what the actual people you want to communicate with are searching for.)

Before we’ve got under the skin of your business, we can’t tell you what will be valuable content for you. There’s no definitive right answer to that question, no sure-fire winning title that will guarantee your content flies round the web and wins you hundreds of leads. It doesn’t work that way. To give your content the very best chance of success, you need to listen before you start talking.

“To give your content the very best chance of success, you need to listen before you start talking.”

How to work out what’s valuable for you

Here’s how this process will work for our new client.

  1. Think about you. We’re getting them to think hard about their knowledge and expertise. What’s their philosophy and approach to what they do? If they had to write a book for their clients what would it be?
  2. Think about them. At the same time we’re talking to a handpicked selection of their clients – to discover what their clients really want to know about and so what aspects of our new client’s expertise it will be most useful to share. The job is to work out which conversations it will be most valuable for our client to host.

You can do this too.

Creating valuable content is about the alignment of the goals and knowledge of the business with providing answers to genuine challenges you can help solve. Find that sweet spot and you have a springboard to make your content valuable.

  • What is it you want to be found for?
  • What is it that your potential clients are looking for?
  • Where can you help most?

Seek out the space where those intersect and that’s where you’ll find your subject matter.

We hope that helps.

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