How to create award-winning content

Now, let’s be honest: we all imagined ourselves standing overwhelmed on stage, receiving the award for our content strategy or campaign, and completely losing our grip like Sally Field winning the Oscar in 1985.

As content marketers, we love competing. We love the rush that comes with facing a certain challenge, we love the victorious feeling of breaking through an obstacle that seemed unsolvable, and we love utilising our creativity to tell captivating stories that matter.

In fact, the only thing we love more than competing is winning.

But, how do you actually get there? What does it take to create award-winning content?

The Newton apple moments of creativity

Creativity and inspiration are tricky and unpredictable things. This is why the best ideas for award-winning content may come to your mind when they are least expected.

For instance, they can pop into your mind when you are in the shower, when your thoughts clear up during your morning run, or when your friend is talking something completely uninteresting over a beer. Maybe someone in the office says something stupid that unsuspectedly becomes a seed of a brilliant idea.

We at Best Response Media have a specific view of the process of coming up with award -winning content.

Having Newton apple moments is nice, but there is also a lot of hard work behind creativity. Innovations are not always born from sudden epiphanies, but instead they take time to evolve. Great ideas might be lurking in the back of your mind without you even knowing it as they are the result of honest, professional commitment and our accumulative experience. Every discussion we have, every time our viewpoint gets challenged – it’s actually an opportunity for a click to happen and to find a great content idea.

Setting your goals

When crafting exceptional content, it’s good to have your eyes on the prize, but it’s also good to have your feet on the ground.

In order for any content to have an impact, you need to define goals that are down-to-earth. These include:

  • Getting links from root domains

Having a solid and versatile backlink portfolio is important for SEO. Once your content is published, you need to create more visibility and more authority for it. This is achieved through acquiring links from root domains.

  • Increasing organic traffic (i.e. driving quality non-paid sessions)

Even before creating your award-winning content, you should think about whether or not there is an actual need for this type of content, i.e. does your content provide a relevant and needed answer to a real question that’s of interest to your target audience.

  • Developing press coverage

In order to get your content noticed, you need a sensible PR strategy. Reach out to media that will help you get the necessary traction and drive more eyeballs to your content. Of course, you should only take in mind websites and publishers whose readers are of relevant profile that fits your defined persona.

  • Generate leads from your blog

Generating leads from your blog post, can’t happen instantly. You really need to understand your audience and what they really value and what their pain points are.  Databox asked 23 marketing pros what’s the lead-to-visit conversion rate on their blog, and almost 25% confirmed our expectations when they answered between 1-2% – see the graph below:

Understanding the brand values

In order to develop award-winning content, you need to understand the brand you are working for. You need to know this brand’s values, the essence of their products or services, their target group and overall vision.

What do they stand for? How do they maintain their brand image? In what direction would they like to continue growing?

Content is what intersects through every single one of these questions. Through content, brands can clearly communicate with their audience and they can find a common ground with them. That’s the true value of content marketing.

Make sure you agree upon the brand’s unique selling point and use it as a cornerstone upon which you will build extraordinary stories.     

Get to know your audience

How well do you know the audience you are planning to reach?

Today, we may be more digital than ever, but every single day digital giants try to make their approach more human. They work hard to acknowledge their customers as human beings – opposed to walking wallets. Favouring great relationships with customers over profit is essentially the key to success. Money comes naturally when you set your priorities straight.

In order to create valuable award-winning content, you have to pinpoint what your audience cares about and what bugs them. You are supposed to create content that is problem-solving, actionable and purposeful. It could also be awe-inspiring, something that teases their curiosity. If you try hard and walk in the shoes of your audience, you can brainstorm topics that will truly be a bullseye in terms of relevancy and quality.

Search search search research

Searching for the perfect topic is just one part of the creative process. Once you decide on it, a whole bunch of research takes place.

As you probably presumed, in terms of research – Google is your ultimate best buddy. There are also a lot of tools out there that can help you search for the most popular content pieces across the web, such as BuzzSumo or Ahrefs.

We’re not suggesting you should go ahead and steal other people’s ideas. What we are recommending is getting your creative juices flowing. Creative brainstorming is complex and you need to try and trigger semantic associations by exposing yourself to those types of content that fall into the same category as the one you plan on producing. In addition, researching is a great way to validate your idea and benchmark it against what’s already out there.

But, there is also another important thing…

Think about the egos

Reality check: just because you like a certain idea and would love to execute it, does not mean your audience will appreciate the effort. You have to put yourself outside of the picture and focus on those who you are producing the content for.

So, when you go through your idea, think about two main things:

  • Why would anyone in your target audience be interested in your content? Is it funny, intriguing?
  • Why would the media you are pitching it to be interested?

You have to think about what’s in it for them and what value do they get from your content. With time, you will develop a pretty good sense of what ideas work and what simply don’t, and you’ll need significantly less time for evaluating them.

Can we do that? How can we do that?

In order to produce award-winning content, you have to have a strong team to carry out the process. The key to a well functioning team lies in open communication and clearly defined roles. Small to medium sized teams seem to create the best results.

Asking questions is always encouraged in healthy teams, and so is going an extra mile to explore if something that was never done before could be executed.

Different sectors – designers, developers and marketers, need to work together and show a will to both learn and teach. For instance, if the creative director comes up with an idea for a design that cannot be functional within the limited budget, it has to be revised with unanimous effort.

Outreach it

There are two key ingredients to a successful outreach:

  • Great, original and high-quality content
  • An established relationship with the person your reaching out to

If you’re trying to sell something, it better be good. In order to even get considered by a certain media or publisher, you need to make contact with them prior to sending them your email in which you are asking for exposure.

This is why smart content marketers work on networking online continuously. Connect with relevant reporters on Twitter. Start a conversation with them without any hidden agenda. Endorse them on social networks. Engage in discussions on Linkedin and try positioning yourself as a thought leader. Do everything you can to put yourself on their radar before you ask them for press coverage or pitch them your guest post.

Look at our Lochcarron map! That’s award winning content

As you can see, creating award-winning content is no easy task. But we have done all that for Lochcarron.

Working closely with Lochcarron, we have managed to fully understand their ultimate goal: to bring customers closer to their brand and deepen the relationship with them. We knew there’s no better way to do exactly that than by providing some insights about the history behind the brand.

Creating a colourful, interactive map that offered original information on Scotland’s rich history of clans, was the right decision. It brought joy to visitors, fuelled their curiosity and triggered their interest for important, yet too often marginalised micro narratives from the past that make us essentially human.

With a team of great creative experts who work together as a well-oiled machine, Best Response Media has won an award for the ‘Best Use of Organic Search (SEO)’ at the the DADI Awards. But, more importantly, we have made the Internet a bit brighter and richer with a publicly accessible project with educational value that’s surely going to attract visitors for a long, long time.

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