4 Questions Brands Should Ask Themselves Before Making Content, Starting With, 'What Problem Am I Trying to Solve?'

Should you even make content at all?
4 Questions Brands Should Ask Themselves Before Making Content, Starting With, 'What Problem Am I Trying to Solve?'
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Founder of Pen Name Consulting
4 min read

This story appears in the July 2021 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Q: So many brands have become content producers. Do I need to launch a podcast or a blog, too? — Aziz, Toronto

Entrepreneurs feel a pressure to be everywhere, grabbing everyone’s attention. You may think it’s the difference between growth and decline. But that’s not true. How you make an impression on someone is just as important — and arguably more significant — than simply getting on their radar.

I learned this early in my career, before I entered business, when I began as an aspiring journalist. People told me I needed “more clips,” which meant I needed more proof of my work. I hustled, taking every writing opportunity I could find regardless of quality. But I kept getting rejected for full-time jobs. It was frustrating and confusing, until one potential employer finally explained his disinterest: “You’re only as strong as your weakest clip,” he said.

In other words, people were aware of what I was doing — but what I created didn’t make them excited about working with me. The same liability exists in business, and it’s why you must be careful about the podcasts and blogs you create.

Related: How to Know If You're Producing Quality Content

Content creates awareness and can be a powerful way to grow a business. But it comes with risks, too. First, it can be a lot of work for very little return. And second, if the work doesn’t add value, you just created a bad first impression. So how do you decide if content is right for you? Here are four questions to consider.

1: What problem are you trying to solve?

Awareness should serve a purpose, and if you’re looking to grow or amplify your story, content is only one tool to do that. Consider what else you have planned; maybe you’re currently investing in more paid media, a sales team, or other marketing ideas. If you have a lot in the pipeline, you may not need content right now.

2: Do you have the time or resources?

Blogs and podcasts are opportunities — ­but if you’re unable to invest in their success with the right talent and production value, then you’re better off without them. Assess the amount of time and money it will take to do them well, and stack that against what else might be sacrificed.

Related: 3 Key Elements Your Content Needs to Break Out From the Crowd

3: Do you have the skill to succeed?

Podcasts and blogs look easy to make, but that’s exactly why you need to be deliberate with what you create. The low barrier to entry means that both of these spaces are very crowded, and dominated by people who have been practicing and refining their craft for years. Content isn’t just about competing with other businesses; it’s competing with other creators for people’s time. That means you must have something to say — and a way to say it that people will prioritize.

If that feels daunting, then good. It means you’re thinking about the competition in the right way, and it will force you to create something special.

4Do you know what’s missing from your story?

Every good business has something that distinguishes it from the competition — but not every business knows how to bring that story, value, or purpose to life. Amazing content lives at the intersection of what I think of as three E’s: education, entertainment, and emotion. That’s not to say every piece of content requires all three, but that’s the formula for greatest payoff for yourself and your audience.

Related: You Own a Business, But Got a Golden Offer to Work for Someone Else. What Do You Do?

No one needs to create a blog or a podcast, but everyone does need to control their narrative. The better you do it, the more powerfully you can transform your traditional business into something that meets people where they are. Maybe that’s with content…but maybe it’s not! Let your resources and needs drive your decision.

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