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Why good content doesn’t come cheap, and what
you should be doing right

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If you, like most brand owners, are considering doing something around ‘content’ or already into it, there’s a sea of providers out there vying for your attention and money. With nearly everyone in the PR and communications business pushing for content services, you can get work done at unbelievably low rates. Sounds great, right?

Well, we can’t blame you. Cost pressures are a reality in the hyper-competitive world we live in today, and running a business can be pretty tough.

There is a school of thought – and a very prevalent one, sadly – that perpetuates the myth that more is better, and puts quantity over quality when it comes to content services. Sure, you can get dozens of freelancers and content farms willing to do it for you cheap. But then like most other great deals, there’s always a catch.

Writing, if you really think about it, needs time and effort. This time and effort cannot be wished away. Simply churning out content to get more views is a short-sighted approach to the power of words, and what they can do for your brand.

The math, too, is pretty simple. Cheap rates can only mean that your service provider is managing with low cost resources, aka the writers. More often than not, these are folks with little experience under their belt, who are barely trained in understanding client briefs and doing authentic research to translate their requirements into sharp, engaging and effective copy.

Obviously, the lack of these essentials can only mean that words are pushed out at a hurried pace, because a faster turnaround is the primary goal of what are often referred to as content ‘factories’ or ‘farms.’ What you will likely get then is endless rounds of feedback, revisions and an ultimately longer gestation for the piece that conform to your requirements, or perhaps not at all.

Before you fall for the lure of such wonderful ‘deals’, it would do a world of good to pause and consider this.

Who exactly are you trusting with your most precious asset – your brand? Are they who they claim to be? Does their pool of writers come with relevant experience, acumen and skills needed to make your content shine in a time of communication overkill? Do they understand and appreciate your concerns, issues and business objectives reasonably well? If not, run away fast from the promise of more for less. You’ll be spending more time making things right than you probably bargained for. Most importantly, keep in mind that poor quality content could actually harm your brand, and bring reputational risk. That is a big price to pay for a cheap service.

Instead, take some time to find and settle on the right content partner. Start by asking about the writers who will be working for your brand. If your requirement is serious business or technical stuff, then someone who writes on fashion or travel, no matter how witty and engaging that writing is, will clearly be a poor fit for the job. When it comes to business topics, your best bet will be someone who understands the domain, or at least has the ability to research and make meaning of the subject and write on target.

Remember, experienced writers come at a price. That price is a reflection of their years of experience, honing their craft, conducting research from authentic sources, and smartly putting words to work. In some cases, they even get the job done fast, only because they know what to do and how to go about it with efficiency.

There are a few more things that can get you good value for your content marketing bucks:
  •  Set standards: Once you have some experience working with content, no one can envision your marketing goals and how content should fit in, better. For your message to stand out, content must deliver exceptionally well, and in line with what you want to achieve.
  •  Think it through: Devise a content strategy, or at least start thinking about one. Without a clear direction about what you wish to achieve with your newly minted content, you’re far less likely to get useful results. A good partner will help you fine tune your content plans, offer constructive advice and make it a reality. Also this isn’t cast in stone – regularly revisiting your content strategy along with your service provider will make the partnership more powerful and effective.
  •  Make it a priority: This one is perhaps the most basic and most neglected area. If you are into content for the sake of it, you’ll get very little out of it. Period. Unless you get deeply involved to make your content stream a key part of the brand’s communication strategy, and get people to prioritise it, you will be wasting money and time.

Content can be a powerful tool to bring greater credibility, engagement and trust to your business. Treat it the way you would any other means of communication, only more seriously – from finding a content partner that aligns with your requirements to giving it the importance it deserves in your strategic plans. Only then can you expect it to add value to your business bottom line.

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