Effective content is purposeful content. That means it exists for a reason. It has a specific job.

To make your content more effective, start by looking in the mirror. Are you playing the long game of building a brand? Or the short game of immediate revenue?

Either is fine, but each requires a different strategy. (It’s also OK to do both as long as you’re wearing the right hat for each strategy.)

If the content is part of your brand-building strategy, you are in the game of value delivery. Your content should create an emotional connection. Its purpose is to craft an audience experience. You need to put on your content writer hat for this.

Content for brand building is a value game. You should put on your content writer hat, not your copywriter hat, says @MarcAngelosNYC. #ContentBusiness #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

However, if you seek immediate revenue, you’re in the numbers game. Conversion. Optimization. Persuasion. You need to put on a copywriter hat for this.

So, the first task before you create content is to know the outcome you seek. Your end goal informs the type of content you should produce. 

Success in anything demands clarity of purpose. The content game is no different. In his groundbreaking book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey offers tremendous advice for the content entrepreneur: “Begin with the end in mind.”

In sales, you never tell a story without a point, and you never make a point without a story. Content is the same way.

Never tell a story without a point, and never make a point without a story, says @MarcAngelosNYC. #ContentEntrepreneur #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

If you are creating for an immediate revenue purpose, you need stories. If you are creating for a brand-building purpose, you need stories. But they are not the same stories!

Sales stories are built around money. They focus on the immediate financial benefits to your customer – cost savings, revenue growth, increased business drivers, etc. These stories usually involve a time factor, a fleeting opportunity. Scarcity. Urgency. Immediacy.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of the expiring invitation or limited offer. That’s a sales-focused story. They convert using forms of pressure and are central components of any sales-driven content.

Are you telling a brand-building content story?

Brand stories are built around relationships. These stories focus on a long-term emotional connection. They are based on shared values. They involve purpose. Mission. Friendship.

This approach does not focus on short-term transactions to move the needle. There is less push and more pull. This content manifests through wider ideals, such as community, empathy, and rapport. Over time, these stories can build into a lifetime of loyalty – long-term goals.

Sales-driven content is common in fields such as financial services, media, and real estate. The goal is to get people to buy now. 

As the leader of your content business, you get to determine if you want to publish sales-driven or brand-building-driven content (or both).

In the corporate world, it is company leadership that determines the content path. Changes in that leadership can lead to changes in their directive. Look at The Walt Disney Company. Former CEO Bob Iger focused Disney on the customer experience of the brand. Yet his replacement and current CEO Bob Chapek has focused on the sales story.

Anyone who’s been to a Disney park recently can spot the difference. Under Iger, its Fast Pass allowed guests to bypass the line for rides at the park – delivering a better customer experience (albeit for a price). Under Chapek, that pass has been replaced by the new Genie Plus pass. It, too, allows pass holders to bypass the lines for attractions. However, the most popular rides are no longer included and only available as an upcharge to Genie Pluss pass holders.

But the Disney lesson isn’t about amusement park rides and business.

Neither the Fast Pass nor the Genie Plus pass strategy is wrong. But each serves a different purpose. That’s the lesson for creators and content entrepreneurs. You are the leader of your content business and determine the goal when you create the content. But you must pick the story’s goal – short-term sales or long-term brand-building.

3 steps to tell the right story – brand-building content or immediate-sales content

How exactly do you do this? Here are three steps to create more effective business content:

Step 1: Be honest

Content creation isn’t just about being honest with your customers; it’s about being honest with yourself. 

Improve your understanding of your own business. What is your vision? What will (and won’t) help you achieve that? What are your goals? Then and only then can you begin to spot and create the stories that will be most effective in engaging your customers. (I use the word “customers” to refer to audiences who may not have made a purchase yet, as they are customers of your content.)

Content creation isn't just about being honest with your audience. It's about being honest with yourself, notes @MarcAngelosNYC. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Step 2: Define the experience

Develop an understanding of your customer content experience. What is it today? What do you want it to become? When you are deliberate in shaping the customers’ perceptions, you can fashion your stories more effectively.

Give serious thought to the anecdotes and yarns that your content delivers. Spend time on the wording of that delivery. The words and messaging should capture the essence of what you are building toward. 

Here is an open secret that most business leaders overlook: Words are weapons. If you don’t have the messaging mastery to maximize them, then find someone who can help you. 

Words are weapons. If you don't have the mastery to maximize them, find someone who can help, advises @MarcAngelosNYC. #CreatorEconomy Click To Tweet

Step 3: Craft the stories

When you are clear on where you are and where you want to go, it gets easy (well, easier) because the content’s purpose is known.

It now becomes simple to identify the stories that can achieve those goals – to use the words your customers use, to incorporate their relevant content into yours, to publish engaging content on social media, etc.

When you are clear on your content's purpose, it is easier to create the content, notes @MarcAngelosNYC. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Create stories that work for your customers and your brand

Everything you want for your business lies on the other side of the content you are not putting out. That doesn’t mean you’re not creating content. I’m sure you are. But if you’re not yet where you want your business to be, look at your content. The right content begins with the creator knowing what hat (sales or brand) they’re wearing. Then, content can become a stronger engine that drives your business forward.

About the author

Marc Angelos is founder and CEO of Anvictus Communication, a content marketing firm. After a three-decade sales career in Capital Markets, Marc launched a messaging strategy and content service, serving entrepreneurs and creators. Marc has published several hundred articles and videos on how to increase revenue through content. His work has been featured in Bloomberg, Traders Magazine, CNBC, Informa, The Tilt, TabbFORUM, Sidecar Global, GreenFig and many business podcasts. Marc@anvictus.com.