By Ahava Leibtag published April 26, 2012

The DNA Code for Building Great Content

As content marketers, we are all looking for formulas that will make our content sing and stand out from the rest. Many of us are practiced at creating content, but can we be sure that it’s valuable and appreciated by our users?

There are certain basic steps successful content marketers follow to create content, as well as questions to answer before beginning any campaign:

  1. Branding/messaging: Who are you, and what do you represent and offer? What do you need to say? How can you provide value to your customers?
  2. User profiles or personas: Who are you trying to reach? What do they care about? Where and across what channels do they consume content?
  3. Define the campaign: What types of content are best for these users? How will you distribute it so there is a cohesive user experience across all components of the campaign?

Great content has basic building blocks

Just as successful professionals and companies share similar traits, so do great content marketing campaigns. In fact, upon comparison, I’ve found that they all have four important elements, which I describe as the Four Is:

  1. Inform: Before you tell customers about your product, you must let them know you’re out there. That’s the basics of content marketing, but content marketing campaigns have to go farther and reach more deeply to engage and keep customers coming back for more.Content Marketing Institute does this better than anyone. Through daily emails, engaging eBooks, and valuable white papers, its content creators churn and burn on important digital and marketing issues of the day. Even when the topic presented on a given day isn’t relevant to your job, or you haven’t needed to consider a challenge that’s being discussed, by joining the CMI community, you’re an informed customer. Remember, an educated consumer is our best customer.
  2. Instruct: It’s your job as the content marketer to explain your product to your customers. In as many ways as you can, see yourself as a teacher, patiently walking customers through each part of the buying cycle.Neiman Marcus understands that women are confused about fashion, so it sends out an email every Tuesday with the latest style tips. Of course, there are links to buy those items, but it makes me feel good to know that when I pick up that yellow blouse, I’m in the know about what fashionable people are buying and wearing.
  3. Inspire: Creating an emotional connection with customers is vital in today’s marketplace as competition flies at you from every direction. With so many good causes to be a part of, how can you truly inspire others?One blog I follow is called Lil’ Blue Boo. The blog chronicles the life of Ashley, a young mother who is fighting cancer but is still able to make gorgeous handmade children’s clothing — and shine her positive attitude onto the world. It’s a great example of how everyday struggles can inspire us; but, more importantly, it demonstrates how real stories hook us in, ignite our curiosity, and keep us returning day after day, week after week. Ashley may be ill, but she’s clear — you can get ideas, recipes, and tips from her, and you can also buy from her advertised vendors and from her clothing store. She’s running a business, and it’s mind-blowingly inspirational to share in her positive attitude and strong belief in the future.
  4. Initiate: In this great big world, where few of us even know all of our immediate neighbors by name, it’s important to make your customers feel part of a community.Gwyneth Paltrow does a great job of this (go ahead, roll your eyes) with her GOOP newsletter. She recently did two newsletters about getting ready for a photo shoot and preparing for the Oscars. By pulling you into her glamorous world, she makes you feel like she is one of your best girlfriends — which makes you more likely to open the next GOOP newsletter.

Get in front of people

Distribution is critical to a great content marketing campaign. If you defined your earlier three questions well, you’ll know what you need to about where, when and how your users consume your content. Make sure you create the right types and distribute across the right channels.

Success builds upon success

Once you’ve had a successful content marketing campaign, you’ll keep having them.  DNA keeps replicating: Make sure you inform, instruct, inspire, and initiate your customers and you’ll have chain after chain of great content marketing campaigns.

Want more content marketing inspiration? Download our ultimate eBook with 100 content marketing examples.

Author: Ahava Leibtag

Based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Ahava Leibtag is a Web content strategist and writer. She leads AHA Media Group, a Web and content consulting firm, and authors the blog Online it ALL Matters. She thinks 60 words is way too few to communicate why she’s interesting. You can connect with Ahava on Twitter at @ahaval.

Other posts by Ahava Leibtag

  • ruklap

    Sorry but this is pretty average and certainly nothing new – they just replaced the old steps (which come in many forms, for instance educate-demonstrate-sell-support) with words that start with the letter “i”. And it is nothing like DNA.

    • Ahava

      Hi Elisa,
      I’m sorry you don’t like it.  I think it’s important to try and visualize old ideas in new ways. The goal is to give people an easy way to remember how to create great content–and the 4 I’s worked for me.  

      In terms of the DNA–why not?  I think it’s a good metaphor for what we’re all trying to do–create building blocks that we can use over and over again.

  • tim toscano

    At first I thought oh no, another acronym to remember, but at least this one is easy.  At least compared to “AIDA.”  I think that stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action?

    • Ahava

      I think there’s probably a lot of terms that people can use. For me these were an easy way to remember and also really applied to what I think people should be striving for with a great content marketing mix.

  • http://www.flukiest.com/media?f_blog_id=600569 Mark_Ben

    The blog is very much informative and I really liked the Four I’s which you have written about. Especially the first one – Inform, is very much important that you tell the customer that you are there in the market to help them rather than informing about the product.