Compelling Content Requires Pressure Testing Your Ideas

Feb 11, 2015

Hurry-hurry! You know the situation: the big industry conference is looming and your authors are getting their ideas together for the white paper you’ve committed to distribute there. You’ve got a writer lined up. You’ve booked a designer. The media team is starting the publicity engine.

There’s just one problem. While you’ve checked the box for this latest piece of strategic content, it falls far short of its desired impact. Sure, there’s content to fill the pages, but you’re concerned it’s a “me too” publication.

So now what? Best case: it’s been a waste of resources – time as well as money. Worst case: the paper may actually undermine your brand and market position. Your authors won’t look too sharp, either.

What to do? How about pressure testing ideas before they’re set in stone? This means using a writer who knows how to respectfully and thoughtfully challenge promoters of big ideas, with the goal of refining the thinking to produce truly compelling content.

Getting to the right content requires being up-front and asking the big questions. Why does the topic matter? Why do the authors want to publish on this topic now? Who’s the primary target reader? What exactly do they want the paper to achieve? How is their viewpoint different from others’?

Not every writer does this. Many writers can’t do this. Some reflexively defer to the author-experts; others don’t have facts at their fingertips with which to pressure test effectively, often because they haven’t done their homework.

Among the few writers who can ably pressure test, there is the risk that some will treat your authors as sources—not as owners of the ideas. These types can err on the side of too many forceful questions, missing the opportunity to actually further your viewpoints.

Pressure testing is, in fact, an art. It calls not only for high IQ—the ability to discuss complex ideas in detail with the some world’s brightest people—but for unusual EQ – to hear and sense things that will help give best expression to your big ideas. It’s collaboration among author, writer and marketer.

So, rush, rush! Line up those resources. Publish that paper. Check that box!

Do all those things but don’t forget to pressure test your ideas to get stellar strategic content.