Quality and white space: How to develop the right content

Most of us exist in a culture with a 24-hour news cycle that reaches us more frequently than ever before. Information greets us in the office elevator, triggers smartphone notifications, keeps us company on our commutes, and piles up in our inboxes all day. And it’s not just the news—at any given time of day, our social feeds and inboxes are full of content and offers from various companies. According to Harvard’s Nieman Foundation, the demand for content and constant need to process, create, and disseminate information is causing burnout among journalists. This new research suggests that our media-focused culture is unsustainable in the long term.

What does this mean for B2B companies?

The amount of content in the marketplace has made it more difficult for companies to cut through the clutter and reach overwhelmed readers. So how can organizations with a distinctive point of view get their message out there?

Resisting the impulse to jump in and developing a strategy rooted in proper research and planning can save business writing from getting lost in the shuffle and create a more loyal readership that looks to a given organization for their thoughts on a topic. One of the most important parts of that research, in today’s saturated content marketplace, is a competitor analysis that helps identify the white space. The concept of white space isn’t new, but it’s becoming increasingly important as companies rush to publish to keep up with what they suspect is the demand. For example, content that provides a new take on a tired conversation or successfully counterargues with a popular opinion will grab more attention than a thorough rehash of a familiar idea.

It’s wise to see what perspectives already exist in the marketplace and whether they bring something new or counterintuitive to the table. Often a topic gets a good amount of play from other B2B firms, but the storylines and examples are similar. Think again of the news ecosystem: once the facts of a big news event have been reported, the stories that grab our attention in the days and months that follow are the ones that go deep on a detail or find a thread that nobody noticed before. This is often why reporters stick around a scene to color in a story with eyewitness accounts, personal stories, and narrative details. Sometimes those details take longer, but they can bring fresh perspective to a given topic and stand out from the pack.

On more than one occasion, we’ve reviewed work that’s very well researched but lacks in presentation or a confident conclusion. If an organization is investing in rigorous research, the work deserves a well-written, insightful result that reflects the effort and intensity of the research project.

Doing the research necessary to identify white space is an in-depth exercise that requires a critical eye, but it’s worth it. Content is most successful when created thoroughly and carefully, a process that requires time and focus. Adjusting any content-creation process to include this step will enrich the final product: a stronger, more carefully crafted perspective from a team that’s confident in its necessity and place in the conversation.

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