We’ve written plenty about the difficulty firms often have with the content creation process, but another sticking point for many organizations is deciding what topics to cover – what should the subject matter focus be?

Plenty of content strategists will tell you that you already have plenty of material – you just don’t know it. They’ll suggest that you repurpose articles you’ve written through the years, presentations you’ve given and even advertisements you’ve created.

But most of this stuff falls well short of being High-Value Content—content that your audience finds so worthwhile that they link to it, share it socially and talk about it over beers. High-value content is about the audience; it isn’t about you. It’s also what Google’s search algorithms are looking for; high-value, share-worthy content is more likely to get you noticed out there on the Great Big Internet.

But, as you know, marketing departments have always been all about promotion. Let’s face it – we’ve all been a little obnoxious with some of those promotional marketing ideas through the years. Most organizations have been doing this forever. They’ve focused on news releases and advertising that talks about the organization – milestones, client wins, etc. Yes, there is some value to this typically transactional news because it demonstrates business momentum, but it really isn’t all that interesting to your clients and prospects.

It matters because, in the era of modern digital marketing, you won’t get a prospect’s attention by talking about yourself. Instead, you need to deliver them something of value; you need to give away some of your best thinking in order to build trust that is necessary for conducting business today.

Create  Content that Drives the Conversation Forward

For this reason, we believe it’s essential to create content that is focused on your audience—content that speaks to their problems or reflects news and trends in your industry. It’s content that will drive the conversation forward in your particular space.

There are plenty of ways to deliver this message: whitepapers and eBooks, blog posts, infographics, videos, reports, podcasts.

But whether something is a compelling and visually interesting infographic or a whitepaper is just packaging. This packaging matters, but substance matters, too. You can’t get lost in the delivery of the content if you’re not sure what the content is yet.

Having a firm foundation before launching a content strategy is critical. Be sure to create persona profiles for your audience and agree on an editorial brief before you start. The editorial brief should, among other things, solidify the subject matter you’re going to explore in your content creation efforts; without this roadmap, you’ll never get where you’re going.