Meet The Creator - Lilani Goonesena

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Lilani is an SEO copywriter, web designer and marketing strategist with over 20 years' experience across federal and international governments, business, NGOs, consultancies and freelance. Based in Canberra, she loves working with food, agriculture, government, development and not-for-profit organisations. Lilani delivers smart and snappy website content, blog posts, case studies, articles, press releases, LinkedIn profiles, as well as marketing strategies and custom SEO research reports. We recently asked her some questions about her approach to content creation.

What is it you enjoy about creating content?

I like the challenge of breaking down an often complex or industry-specific concept into something that anyone can understand and find interesting. I used to answer all the letters that kids wrote to the Prime Minister (a real job!) and I reckon that if I can explain government policy to a 7-year old, then I've found my calling.

Tell us about your journey to become a content creator

I started in graphic design and production in magazine publishing in Sydney before moving to Canberra to become pen pals with Australia's youth at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. A few years later, armed with a Masters of Sustainability and an optimistic sense of adventure, I headed off to Hanoi, Vietnam, to advise on communications and climate change for the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture, and a local environmental consultancy. From there to the opposite side of the world, Chile, where I started feature writing and food and travel blogging. Back to Canberra and I worked as a freelance food and wine writer and blogger, before taking off again to Laos with my own copywriting and web design business. There, I wrote a very popular food blog, Eat Drink Laos. I worked with the Australian Embassy and not-for-profit organisations on copywriting, social media management, strategy, web design and event management. Finally, I returned to Canberra last year where I deliver great communications to small business, government and not-for-profits.

What is the piece of content you are most proud of?

There are a few special ones. I developed the first communications planning strategy for the Australian Embassy in Laos which allowed me to be very creative. Also a couple of feature articles; one a branded content article for BBC Travel on a new 5-star hotel in Luang Prabang, Laos, and the other an opinion piece for SBS Comment & Analysis on refugees in Australia; it had over Facebook 10k shares. I'm also very proud of my Eat Drink Laos blog which consistently received over 20k unique visitors every year.

What value does content bring to a client's marketing strategy?

There are several benefits of content – it demonstrates the client's knowledge and expertise around the subject matter; it keeps the client in front of its target audience; it can be repurposed across multiple channels and (if it's evergreen, ie, not dated), then it can be used indefinitely. Plus, fresh and helpful content is great for SEO, it uses keywords, answers common questions and build long-term brand awareness.

What's your approach in bringing a client's story to life through brand journalism?

I prefer to take an indirect approach to brand integration, whereby either the client is one of several businesses mentioned in a piece; or it's not mentioned at all. The latter is good when writing about a unique selling point of the client or using a known aspect of their branding because people can already identify them with that. I also like to use the client's attributes, tone and vision as descriptors, rather than stating them by name; it paints a bigger picture and they come across as real and approachable.

How do you determine the tone, voice and style is right for a piece of content?

It's best if I can speak to the client beforehand and we can discuss tone of voice and the descriptors they'd like to be associated with. I also look at their target audience and the industry.

What is the most useful thing a marketer can provide you in the brief that allows you to understand their brand?

Two things – First, what do they want to achieve with this content, eg do they want people to call them, buy this new product, check out their new campaign, etc. It's not enough to want to “go viral”; there needs to be a specific outcome that's in line with their overall strategy. Second, who is their ideal client, and not just “female 34-45”, I mean the avatar. Who is this woman, where does she live, what does she like doing, what is she worried about? The more you drill down into the details, the more you can create really targeted and compelling content. It won't engage everyone but it will engage the target audience and that's who counts.

What makes successful content?

If you have a specific outcome for each piece of content, it's fairly easy to measure success. Did you receive more calls, subscribers, hashtags on your new product? Often demonstrating personality and individual opinion in content is a good way to get social shares and comments but ultimately, if you feel that it contributes to your bigger picture, then you can tick the success box. You can find Lilani and her creative portfolio on the Fabulate platform, by clicking and viewing her profile here.