How-to content is, simply, about how to do something. Items of content of this type can be tremendously useful -- it’s their nature -- provided they tell the reader, viewer or listener how to do something that they actually want to do and are able to do.
Many how-to articles, like case studies, fail to effectively show thought leadership because they are about how to do what the firm does. Rather, a how-to should be about something your firm knows about and can credibly discuss, but which relates to something your market wants to be able to accomplish.
For example, consider the business of providing energy audits -- qualified professionals examine an industrial or other process to find out how it uses energy, with a view to finding examples of energy waste -- and towards fixing the deficiencies. This firm would be best off not preparing content about how to carry out an energy audit. Rather, the content should be about something tangential -- such as how to use the audit to convince financial backers to pay for capital improvements that will help improve energy efficiency.
A good how-to involves these points:
- Reasons why the audience would want to take the actions you’re recommending
- The steps involved if it’s a process, or success points if there’s no real process involved
- How to avoid problems and pitfalls
- The expected result
A how-to positions your firm as being a helpful organization that genuinely cares about supporting its clients in meeting their interests. A well-designed how-to demonstrates the values that your firm holds, and its character. It is an effective content type particularly for firms with many competitors doing similar work, and you need to differentiate your firm as holding your clients’ interests at heart.