Writing Content That Appeals To Your Audience Of Customers, Leads & Prospects
Learning how to write engaging content (whatever that means) by reading a few webpages may sound like an ambitious goal. It is. It will never replace practice and experience. I'm going to outline some basic principles to help you produce content that appeals to and interests your audience. Without wasting your time.
Content Is Targeted & Purposeful
All your content elements should be part of a content marketing campaign that has a specific goal. Think process. Think reliable, systematic, consistent marketing pipeline that requires a flow of content. If you only remember 1 thing from this page, please make it this:
"content writing is business writing for a purpose, it's not a free—form creative exercise"
The Goal may be to increase your website footprint by a certain number of pages. That could be accomplished through adding a blog component to the website and writing 1 blog post a week: there's 52 new pages in one year. But what to write about. If you're MrGasket.com, you have to decide if you're going to solve your customer's problems or talk about Gasket World. MrGasket.com decides to speak to their customer problems, bringing to the decision: benefits of longer-lasting gaskets, otr, extending the life of your products with high-quality gaskets, or, fewer equipment failures with precision made gaskets. It will depend on their positioning which then influences their branding and brand voice.
The content writing "101" is to:
* isolate a customer problem;
* write information about solving the problem, and;
* make it easy to read, watch or listen to.
Make It Easy
- Be clear.
- Say it differently, based on your unique perspective.
- Use your brand voice to make a useful point.
- Be helpful.
- Be thorough and include steps you think everyone already knows.
- Because not everyone does.
- Don't sell.
- Demonstrate your willingness to be a knowledgable, trusted information source.
- Be friendly.
- Don't talk down.
- Don't use jargon.
- Be positive (unlike the last 2 points)
- Do use examples and stories.
- Don't worry about saying too much or too little - whatever you say is fine.
- Remember, there are no rules...
- no teachers...
- no passing or failing grades...
- and no exams.
Some very basic planning before you begin writing will help you stay focused and get the job done. Back-plan from your goal to your audience's goal. In traditional marketing, before content marketing, the customer and the business we're often seen as adversaries. The customer wanted something for less than you were willing to sell: you wanted more money than they thought it was worth. And the control of the message was in the hand's of the business.
That's changed, hasn't it. Now you need to get found in search.
Be Findable Via Search
Content marketing is the fuel that gets you found on the web. It's simple really, business people and consumers are using the web to find solutions to their problems. You and your stuff solve problems. A natural fit you think. Except there's so much crap and clutter mucking up the web, you're not getting found. You're not appearing in search.
The primary reason businesses don't appear in search is because their websites don't have very much content, and the little content they do have is all about the business, not about the customer. Rarely about problem solving. Hardly ever about the value proposition. It's just feature after feature, "look at us, look at us: we're experts at making gaskets".
Content marketing is about making you and your stuff:
3) different, appealing and compelling;
4) so that people become leads whom are open to being closed :)
Content Elements Have A Function
Understand the purpose and job of the element you're producing. An email might have the sole purpose of reminding the recipient to read the ebook they downloaded 2 days ago. A PPC ad and landing page combination is likely written and designed to attract a specific target segment and persona using a highly specialized offer. Elements in different campaigns (lead generation vs. traffic) will have different jobs.
Your writing needs to address your audience in their terms, using their language, talking about their problems and how they have the power to fix their problem right in front of them. Your task is to enable your audience. The plan is to tell them in new and different ways exactly what they want to hear. And they don't want to hear about you, so don't make the mistake of talking about your wonderful problem-solving ability.
Sound odd to you? Don't see how it applies? Imagine your problem is not getting enough traffic to your website to collect names for Sales to talk to. For you B2C people, same problem except your online store volume is slipping and you need to spike traffic levels. Don't approach this from your need to increase traffic because your neediness will end up showing somehow and that's unattractive. Approach this from your target's point of view, their wants instead of your needs.
What does your customer want? Not need. What do they want? What problem do you solve for them? Mr. gasket manufacturer makes longer lasting gaskets. What his customers want is fewer returns and repairs due to crummy gaskets. Our online store FeelGoodShoes.com sells women's shoes, and what the average shopper wants is to feel sexy and attractive.
For Mr. Gasket, your content focus could be about how long-lasting gaskets mean longer-lasting widgets (that use gaskets). The focus of getting traffic might be accomplished by content that talks about customer satisfaction as a result of fewer repairs and complaints. For our women's shoes store, the focus might be on an exclusive designer interview on upcoming trends for the fall line-up, only available from FeelGoodShoes.com
Although your first instinct is to start telling people how wonderful you are, don't. Focus on writing helpful content and your audience will end up being thankful.
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