Kick-Ass Content: 6 Tips for Creating Killer Reports

April 3, 2012

Last week I began my kick-ass content marketing strategy series by describing the five elements of a great case study. This week, I’m tackling reports.

Reports are among the most valuable marketing tools a company can produce. Create good ones, and your customers and prospects will seek them out for the information and insights they provide. In the process, you’ll benefit by establishing yourself as a thought leader, enhancing your brand, and creating a new touch point for interacting with customers and prospects.

Of course, good writing alone doesn’t make for successful reports. You need a strategic approach to creating them, and should keep the following points in mind:

1. Your Topic Will Make or Break You

Unless you’ve got a great topic, you’re wasting your time producing a report. Before investing the resources, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will the topic resonate with your customers and prospects, and provide them information they need?
  • Is the topic timely and thought provoking, or just a rehash of what’s already in the marketplace?
  • Does your company have the knowledge and expertise to create a compelling report about the topic?
  • How does creating a report on this particular topic support your organization’s overall goals?

2. You’re Only as Good as Your Sources

If your report is going to be shared externally, it needs to be able to stand up to public scrutiny, making your choice of sources critical. Whether you’re relying on in-house subject matter expertise, or primary research or secondary research, it’s critical to ensure that you’ve carefully vetted your sources and are only relying on the very best ones. Your credibility hinges on this  –– choose poorly and your report might come across like a high school term paper.

3. Engage Key Stakeholders

Getting a great report off the ground takes more than just the marketing team. You should work with business partners throughout your organization, engaging them as subject matter experts and advocates, so that they are on board with the project and have some skin in the game. Doing so will help raise the profile of the report within your company, making it a higher priority for others whose help you may need to get it finished.

4. Write for a Broad Audience

Your readers shouldn’t need a Ph.D. to understand your report. Use clear, concise, and jargon-free language when writing and take the time to educate your readers along the way by explaining key terms and concepts. You’re not dumbing down your report, you’re maximizing its appeal so that more people will read and use it.

5. Make it Visually Appealing

As you’re working on your draft, keep in mind that no one wants to read page after page of dense text. Break your reports up with charts and tables, call out boxes, images, or pulled quotes. It sounds like a simple tip, but it really goes a long way toward making your content more engaging and memorable.

6. Remember, It’s Not All About You

Reports are a valuable marketing tool, but that doesn’t mean they’re a place to sing your own praises or tout your expertise. If you’ve created a solid report, it will speak for itself and do far more to enhance your brand than reminding others how great you think you are.

Check out the other posts in this series, including guides to creating kick-ass business blogs, press releases, speeches, eBooks, and a content marketing style guide.


Content Marketing Director

<strong>Kevin Cain</strong> is the Content Marketing Director for <a href="">BlueChip Communication</a>, Australia's leading financial services communication firm. Before joining BlueChip, Kevin was the Director of Content Strategy for OpenView.