Clarity’s Ten Steps for Creating Compelling Content
March 15, 2023
We are truly in the Golden Age of content. Yet today’s ubiquity of content types, styles, and channels poses a challenge for many organizations. How can their content rise above the noise so that it resonates with its intended audience?
We employ a tried-and-true formula for creating content that inspires, educates, and communicates a clear message. It’s how we develop rich interactive experiences, build engaging digital solutions for teaching and learning, and create professional learning and marketing materials that make a real difference everywhere that learning happens.
1. Define the Goal
Every project—no matter the size, scale, or scope—must begin with a simple question: What is the point? What is it trying to accomplish? We dig in to understand what needs to be communicated and why. What are the specific objectives? What will the learner gain from the content? Once these details are known, we move on to the next, important step with a clear goal in mind.
2. Clarify Audience
To ensure a successful project, we hone in on the intended audience. Oftentimes this requires referring to our library of personas: profiles that establish the specific challenges, circumstances, and motivations of the audience, including at what stage they are as learners. Personas help prioritize the problems to solve and questions to answer, for a specific audience.
3. Establish Form
Next, we establish what form the content should take. Is it a comprehensive interactive learning experience with assessments and learning objectives? Is it a live webinar led by a subject-matter expert with opportunities for audience interaction? Is it a visually intriguing PDF with key points that are easy to absorb? Is it a blog post, case study, white paper, how-to guide, or infographic? Based on the goals of the content, we consider the options and decide the form best suited to achieve the desired outcomes.
Now we know what we are communicating, who we are communicating with, and how we are going to communicate it! Research begins with our extensive in-house expertise, drawing on their unique skills and knowledge. To deepen our understanding of the topic, we often interview subject experts and practitioners in the field and search databases of academic research journals.
Next, we sift through our research to identify the most salient points with supporting concepts and data. This provides a comprehensive map of what the content is going to address. The goal is to formulate the most logical progression of ideas while ensuring the proposed content aligns with the project’s desired outcomes.
What is the shortest distance between a client’s objectives and a learner’s needs and interests? This is the task of good content: to be the bridge spanning these two perspectives.
6. Seek Client Input
Clients are our trusted partners in the content creation journey. We ask stakeholders to review the outline and discuss any suggested changes or concerns. We undertake work sessions with clients to ensure that the content best reflects their expectations.
When writing, we tailor the tone, voice, and style of the content to match the audience and use case. We utilize our own extensive in-house style guide along with any client branding guidelines to ensure that our content is sharp, efficient, and focused. For compelling content, we fold in relevant data points and real-world examples so the learner can better understand how the content is relevant to them. We also employ proven storytelling techniques to ensure that we capture and maintain the learner’s attention. Are we taking the learner on a satisfying journey, one where they will feel enriched by the experience?
8. Peer Review
Our best work results from using an internal peer review process. Well before the client ever sees the final product, we gather insights from our peers. First, we have a colleague on the project do a developmental edit, to address any “big picture” issues such as logic gaps, structural problems, poor pacing, and inconsistencies. Next, a peer unfamiliar with the project is tasked with a copy edit, to tighten sentences, correct any grammar or spelling issues, and ensure that the content is as “clean and concise” as possible. In some cases, we will also collect feedback on early drafts from practitioners in the field—especially when creating instructional lessons—to make certain that it is relevant and useful in the classroom.
9. Be Inclusive
This approach permeates much of what we do, but is especially important as a checkpoint before we begin production. Is the content culturally relevant and inclusive? Does it encompass a diversity of personal experiences or contexts? Is the content accessible? Is the output format optimized to ensure quality and legibility? Addressing inclusivity ensures that the content can be utilized by all learners, regardless of ability, background, and circumstance.
Lastly, we are off to production! Images are vital to draw the audience deep inside of the experience, and must be relevant to the content to inform beyond merely providing a visual break. Videos, animations, and interactive content to check for understanding or offer opportunities for reflection are also proven ways of boosting engagement, especially when conveying new or complex concepts.
Our Creative Services team collaborates to find the most compelling and effective layout and flow of the content, media, and interactive assets. Once assembled, everything undergoes a final quality assurance (QA) review before delivery.
The Power of Strong Content
Compelling content makes the best use of a learner’s time. It engages audiences, it differentiates a client's offerings, it educates, and can even enlighten. Well-crafted content also gives learners a clear path moving forward—a call to action—that tells them what’s next. Above all, content must be relevant to the interests of the audience and relayed with authenticity, and a clear and consistent voice that gently encourages the learner onward.
For nearly 30 years, we have been creating content for a wide range of clients. Our team has extensive knowledge of educational best practice, digital pedagogy, and professional learning to help you reach your audience. Contact us today to learn more about the kinds of content we can create for you.