Don’t Create Engaging Content…Discover It.

Previously, we discussed the multiple ways in which content can be re-purposed, or repackaged. After all, content—or more specifically—engaging information that educates and delivers value to the reader—can be delivered through many channels.

That’s all great if you have a storehouse of intellectual capital all ready to go. But what can you do if you don’t have any substantial content created? You have no white papers, no case studies, and no backlog of information-based newsletters.

You have no real Intellectual Property (or Canon) that your organization can truly call yours. What can you do next?

Referring back to the previous piece, let’s say that you wanted to create an informational white paper to use for a lead generation campaign. Your business is IT consulting, and you specialize in deploying and managing (or training clients to do so in-house) a new database protocol that enables companies to securely process and manage large volumes of transactions, either online or point-of-sale, at a fraction of the cost of current industry standards.

You want to publish a white paper on this topic, and offer it to qualified prospects at no charge, other than in exchange for their contact information.

Your first thought would likely be that this content needs to be created. We could be talking about a document anywhere from a dozen pages to fifty! “We’re not writers here,” you say. “We’re tech geeks.” The process of content creation sounds daunting. So it goes to the back burner, and stays there.

This is a shame. Because in reality, your content does not need to be created. It already exists…you just need to discover it.

Consider the great artist and sculptor Michelangelo, and one of his famous statements: “The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.”

Think about this. What Michelangelo is talking about here is not creation, but of discovery. If you have knowledge, experience, and solutions that have already delivered value to others, then your content masterpiece has already been created; it is simply locked away in the “marble” of your mind (and/or that of your people).

Consider these three elements:

  1. an IDEA, which includes the VALUE it delivers to the consumer,
  2. genuine KNOWLEDGE and EXPERIENCE on the topic or idea, and
  3. true PASSION about it.

If you and/or your team members have these three elements in place, then you most likely have what you need. You are ready to discover.

Here is how you can discover your own, engaging content, whether it’s for a white paper, a series of articles, a full length book, or any other form of Intellectual Property that you wish to use to grow your business.

Step One: Craft a Discussion Outline.

Outline whatever topics you wish to address. If you wanted to craft a white paper on a specific topic, solution or issue, you would need to sit down and put an outline together. If we were writing copy for a company’s launch of a new, rebuilt website, we would start with the proposed site outline. This outline might also be reworked into a series of interview questions.

Step Two: Following the Discussion Outline, Conduct a Documentary-Style Interview, on Video.

Interviews have long been a part of content creation and discovery. These days there is no excuse NOT to take a few extra steps to record on camera an engagement that needs to take place anyway. It should be set up professionally, with additional lighting if necessary (Even if the initial objective is not an edited video, you want to capture it as though it were.).

The setting is simple: the speaker (expert) is on camera, wearing a microphone, and looking at and speaking directly to the interviewer—and not the camera (this is “documentary style”). The interviewer, with the Discussion Outline as a guide, conducts an open, relaxed conversation with the subject. In most cases, it is best that the interviewer NOT be an expert in the subject area like the speaker, but has the capacity to understand, ask pointed follow-up questions, and thus convey what is said for the target audience (who are most often NOT experts).

The additional benefit of a non-expert is that he or she will likely bring a viewpoint that is relevant to the audience, but not obvious to the interviewee.

During the course of the on-camera conversation, the interviewee is also encouraged to make informative points, but also back those points up with stories and examples. But it is all done in a relaxed setting, with a spirit of teaching and advisory.

Step Three: Transcribe.

This is vitally important. It is typically an outsourced service, and you want the transcription to be as accurate as possible, although it need not be so literal that it includes pauses, or “ums” or other superfluous expressions that we all use when we speak.

When printed (yes, it will amount to many pages!), you hold in your hands that first rough draft of whatever it is you ultimately wish to create, be it a white paper, a series of articles, or the first chapter of your new book. Take your pick of any…or do them all.

Bonus: Not only do you have written content created, you have raw, high-quality VIDEO that can be edited into anything you wish.

Step Four: Rewrite & Repurpose.

Indeed, the spoken word and the written word are completely different animals. To take what one says in conversation and translate it into readable prose often requires thorough editing, and often a rewrite. But for those of us who wish to transform our ideas and passion into into a solid, first draft of true Intellectual Property, this process is powerful. It also takes any concern of plagiarism and copyright infringement completely off the table.

Remember, this process is not about creation—it is discovery of what you have already created over the course of your service. Your Intellectual Property is a true business asset that enhances not just the value you can bring to your prospects and clients, but adds to the value of your business itself. And unlike vehicles and technology, this asset is far less likely to depreciate.

Photo Credit: Marco Crupi Visual Artist via Compfight cc

About the Author Keith Luscher

Keith F. Luscher is a management consultant focusing on advanced prospecting, content marketing and IP development strategies. He is also author of the book Prospect & Flourish (the fourth edition of which is available) and is principal of SYP Media, LLC.

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