Nearly all of the content you produce will lead to colossal failure. You will spend money without much ROI and honestly, if you could break even on 50% of your content and snag a few wins here and there to make up for the losers, you’d be doing quite well.

But, you probably won’t.

Unless you already have a massive audience, the chance of any single piece leading to huge conversions is dismally low.

The thing is, most aren’t ready to deal with this reality. They begin a content campaign by hastily packaging a weekly blog post or email newsletter, curating some content on Facebook and Twitter, and maybe even using Vine or YouTube to give their business a personal appeal. You work hard for weeks while nobody pays any attention. Weeks quickly stretch into months, and then at the end of that first year you’re ready to tell anyone that will listen just how awful an idea content is.

There’s a Better Way

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photo credit: Levato / Pinterest

Those that have success with content do so because they research, plan and execute content that not only fits their audience, but content that people want to read and share with others. This content is so good that major publications can’t wait to cite or syndicate it.

The difference between the average business using content, and those that actually realize its power is simple. The businesses that do content well aren’t throwing things against a wall and hoping they’ll stick.

Here’s how they do it.

Identify Pain Points Within Your Segment

The best place to start your content journey is to help others. If you can identify a real need, answer a question, or just provide resources people are already looking for through smart curation, you’re several steps ahead of those that are writing weekly blog posts for a non-existent audience.

Content guide

Embrace a mixed media approach, and dive into multiple means of publication. Video, podcasts, interviews, blog posts, or even short Slideshare publications are all great means to distribute content, but depending on your purpose or audience, there’s almost always a clear winner. When in doubt, start where you think the biggest wins are, and you can always repackage content and put it out elsewhere later.

Find What Works for Others – Use It

I’m not saying to steal content, I’m saying to steal ideas for content.

Find the companies that excel at the form of content you intend to produce. Make a list of their big winners and their big losers. Why were their wins so successful? Why did their non-performers tank? Now you have an inspiration list to work from all while avoiding the same mistakes they made. Congrats, you’ve just saved yourself countless hours and thousands of dollars by avoiding the same mistakes.

Beef- it's what you want - sign
photo credit: Rick / Flickr

Track, Test and Implement

“Even with excellent strategy and execution, not all of your content pieces will be successes. In fact, you might only have a few, but those few pieces that take off will more than make up for those that never get airborne,” says Danny DeMichele, CEO of Elevated.com.

Take the time to learn what your audience wants, and give them more of it.

You don’t need expensive tools, either. A quick survey of your last Facebook posts, or analytics from Google or Twitter will tell you all you need to know about what’s desirable, and what’s better left on the cutting room floor.

Spend the Time and/or Money to Ensure Quality

Not everyone is a writer. Not every writer can write 140 character content for Twitter. The same can be said across the board from web design to video production. Find the best person within your budget for the job, and spend the money in order to ensure a high level of quality.

Cheap content of any form (written, video, etc.) isn’t worth producing. It offers almost no real benefits and it cheapens your brand as a whole. Avoid it at all costs.

At the end of the day, it comes down to producing the best quality content that you’re relatively sure people want to see. Guessing isn’t a part of the equation. Find what works and use it to your advantage while testing and tweaking your strategy to improve as you go. Good luck.