TAL .016: 12 Principles for Creating High-Quality Content

The Arete Letter

Decision-making frameworks. Content by committee. SMEs. Find out how to improve your content creation process.

This letter covers 12 principles you can use to consistently create high-quality or ‘kernel’ content.

You’re reading an issue of the Arete Letter.

Sign up to get one highly tactical marketing recommendation delivered to your inbox every week.

Read past issues here

1. The Problem

All marketers know that creating high-quality content is hard.

One factor: everyone has a different definition of ‘high-quality’.

(I talked about a solution for this, the kernel–chaff rubric, in a recent blog post and in edition 12 of The Arete Letter.)

kernel-chaff rubric

But, even for teams aligned around a consistent vision of quality, consistently producing good content can still be hard.

2. The Solution

If you and your team are struggling, these 12 principles should help you address most causes of low-quality or ‘chaff’ content.

  1. Use the kernel–chaff rubric.
  2. Hire technicians who know what they’re doing.
  3. Hire editors and strategists who know what they’re doing.
  4. Give your team the budget and time that they need to do good work.
  5. Give them access to subject matter experts, high-quality customer research, and well-developed brand infrastructure.
  6. Start by thinking about how you can add value for your ICP in a way that supports marketing outcomes. If you’re starting with tactics or channels, you’re doing it wrong.
  7. Don’t have a committee of stakeholders weighing in on content creation. Consensus creates mediocrity. Use a decision-making framework like DACI or DARE.
  8. Have a content strategy. If you’re committing random acts of content, expect positive outcomes to be equally random.
    Don’t be timid. If you’re not trying new things with your content, it’s going to be harder to stand out.
  9. Have a decent measurement system in place that tracks both leading and lagging indicators for channels. If you don’t measure performance, you can’t improve.
  10. Create processes for content production. The more mature your systems are, the more easily you can optimise them for efficiency.
  11. Give your content time to work. Most distribution channels don’t deliver instant results – they require an accretion of kernel content to make a tangible impact.

3. Implementation

Because the 12 principles I listed are so comprehensive (and complex), I’m deviating from our normal step-by-step implementation format.

Instead, I’ll be covering principles 2 to 11 in the coming weeks: a separate edition of The Arete Letter for each principle.

To get started with the first principle – “Use the kernel–chaff framework.” – read the blog post I mentioned earlier.

The part that’s most useful for implementation is here.

By Duncan Croker

Duncan is a copywriter with a background in editing and storytelling. He loves collaborating with brands big and small, and thrives on the challenges of hard marketing.