What fuels Google; sparks conversation at trade shows, fairs and livestock shows; brings viewers back to your website; is shared on social media and can even start the sales process? The answer is high quality writing. Although content can take a variety of forms, including video, infographics and more, today we’re going to focus on the writing side of content creation.
To do article writing well is much more complicated than it seems, especially when you’re generating content geared toward farmers and rural lifestyle aficionados. It may seem straightforward to create and publish writing, but there is a lot more that happens behind the scenes in order for that content to successfully perform in marketing. That content has to be found by the right audience, spur meaningful conversations amongst those you are trying to reach and compel them to act on what they have read.
Let’s Get Some Perspective
The average U.S. citizen reads at a seventh or eighth grade level, so content should be compelling, but still easy to read and understand. Two great examples of easy-to-read content are Reader’s Digest and Time magazine.
Every page you create has a purpose—you want something to result from your content creation efforts. Readers have a short attention span, so flowery, fluffy content is more likely to drive readers away than direct them to your call to action. Agricultural audiences are even more turned off by puff pieces—they pride themselves on being able to spot spin from a mile away.
Content clarity is of the utmost importance in a time when short attention spans give your readers a low tolerance for confusing prose. Even the government, long known for its complicated language, has taken steps to make content more readable with the signing of the Plain Language Act in 2010. This means you need to ensure that your writing is easy to understand while still sharing your key messages.
A survey of 550 businesspeople by a Harvard Business Review contributor in 2016 found that 81 percent said that poorly written content wasted too much of their time. Farmers and livestock producers are much busier than typical audiences, so their attention is of the utmost value. So how do you produce content that compels a farmer to make sure your publication is the one he or she picks up when they have a few minutes to spare? Here are some tips:
- Limit long sentences and passive voice to less than five percent of the total content.
- Use active voice, especially when tackling technical subjects.
- Content should align with your company’s/organization’s strategic goals.
Organize Your Writing Process
Be sure to thoroughly think through your content contributor model. If you are not familiar with that term, it basically means who is going to provide your content. There are several options when it comes to content creation:
- Internal subject matter experts—Especially helpful if content requires a high level of technical knowledge or specialized expertise.
- External contributors—Helpful in situations where your company has a strong audience that would appreciate hearing from known industry thought leaders to provide content on a guest basis. You can also consider user-generated content, if you have any particularly outstanding fans/followers. Many of those involved in agriculture are very active on social media, so you can find excellent external content contributors through that channel.
Find Your Niche
If you want your content to rise above the rest of the noise in the agriculture and rural lifestyle industry, find a content niche or content tilt that your company/organization covers better than anyone else. Not sure where to start in finding your content niche? Here are some questions to consider:
- Can your company truly own the conversation on this specific topic in the agriculture and rural lifestyle industry? Does your company or association know more about swine production than anyone else? Capitalize on what makes your company unique.
- Can your audience already get content like this somewhere else? If a blog on ranch life already exists, how are you going to make yours different?
- Does your organization have the right technical expertise and production capabilities to regularly generate valuable content? Content creation is like caring for an animal—it must be fed and maintained on a regular basis. As soon as you begin to neglect that responsibility, it will only reflect poorly on you.
One example of an agricultural brand covering their niche very well is John Deere’s Green Magazine. This monthly publication is geared toward John Deere enthusiasts and current/potential customers. Their editorial covers topics like tractor restoration, tips on fine-tuning your tractor and more.
Brainstorming Compelling Content Ideas
Powerful content is only as good as the raw ideas it starts from. Creative ideation is the process you use to identify which topics best reflect your brand’s identity in a targeted, intentional way. There are a couple of ways to go about creating a list of ideas to tackle:
- The easiest way to find out what subjects your target audience needs information about is to conduct keyword research. This will also help you confirm if you have indeed found a niche where your content can help your brand gain a competitive advantage. If your search discovers relevant questions, but answers are not readily available, then you have found a topic that is worth addressing in your content creation process. This is relatively easy to do in the agriculture industry, as it tends to be very segmented and niche-oriented already.
- Team brainstorming sessions are a great way to get the creativity flowing. You can incorporate word games or improvisation techniques into the session to make it really engaging and get even better ideas.
Turning ideas into great content requires talent, vision and excellent craftsmanship. An easy way to ensure outstanding technical accuracy is to utilize the spelling and grammar checker on your word processor and then enlist the help of someone else to proofread your content. Typos, grammatical errors, formatting snafus or factual inaccuracies can cost you the trust and respect of your audience.
Content development is just one area of public relations that the Paulsen team excels in. Let us help you out with creating memorable and valuable content that keeps your audience coming back for more.