The Best Content Begins With Why

By Dan Wallace  |  June 3, 2013

Sticky note labeled "Why?"

What’s the secret to creating great content? Idea Food’s Dan Wallace believes he’s found the answer. Below, Wallace shares the three critical questions content creators need to keep in mind.

The online content bandwagon is heaving with new riders these days. Most are working to climb to the top of Google search by asking the question: What are we going to say?

Conversely, leaders with a long-term view are asking these questions:

1. Why are we saying anything at all and why would anyone care?

2.  How will we reach stakeholders who care about what we care about?

And finally:

3. What are we going to say?

There are more than 10 billion web pages online, with millions more added daily. To cope with all this commotion people are increasingly using filters such as LinkedIn News, Reddit, Zite and Flipboard to separate the signal from the noise. The only way to be featured on these filtration sites and rank high on Google search is to provide content that is relevant, useful and shared.

The challenge is that creating relevant and useful content is difficult. It requires empathy, insight, creativity, discernment and excellent communication skills. Coming up with “original content” is an even higher bar. Fortunately, you do not have to be original.

Fact is, this message is a mash-up. I learned about “Why > How > What” from my friend Jeff Brown, who learned this concept through strategy work with Steve Jobs. The concept has recently been popularized by Simon Sinek through this TED talk. Subsequently, I wrote an Amazon review of Simon’s book. Amazon book reviews are a key part of my content strategy.

You may think that all of this sounds difficult and confusing — and it is at first. Opting-out is one option, of course, but not a good one. All roads lead to the Internet these days, and shopping often starts online. Not showing up on the Internet and having nothing to say means your brand really does not exist.

The best way to cut through the clutter and get noticed is to begin with why.

Then how

Then what.

Read next: Content Marketing vs. Advertising: What’s the Difference, Again?

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