Blogging, social media updates, newsletter, articles! You know the drill – it’s content, content and more content as you try to attract customers, show them who you are, and, ultimately, give them a reason to care about your business. The success of your business is often tied to your ability to craft a compelling message and deliver it in a way that inspires customers to act. It doesn’t matter if you fancy yourself a writer or not – in today’s market, you have to be.
If you’ve ever felt like you’re just spinning your content wheels or you’re looking up to tighten what’s already working, below are seven writing rules to help you do just that.
1. Tell stories
Take a look at the marketing channels that are seeing the biggest play right now – Twitter, Facebook, your blog. You’ll notice they all have something in common. They require that you earn someone’s attention by telling them a story they want to hear. As marketers, we must be able to deliver a message that not only captures our audience, but that makes them take a desired action. That’s our goal. And that requires storytelling.
If you want to improve your writing, stop lecturing to people and to start telling them stories. Stories that explain how your products can serve a consumer’s need, but which do so in a way that also exposes your brand a little and shows customers what’s behind the surface. Because there are a lot of products out there that will make my clothes cleaner. I want to know what’s relatable about yours. I need a reason to care about you. Stories deliver that.
2. Don’t hide
It’s time to cut the marketing speak and the ten dollar-words that fill space but say nothing. Stop hiding! Show people what you’re passionate about and let them see you getting all riled up about it. Take stands that will mean something to your customers. Maybe you’ll lose some in the process, but you’ll also attract the people who fall on the same side of the fence. People who won’t just be customers of your business, but who will be engaged fans who will spread your word. That’s the audience you want. And you’ll only find it when you stop hiding behind messages that don’t say anything and start letting people see who you are, your core values, and the lines you absolutely won’t cross in your business.
If the idea of writing another blog post makes you want to hurt yourself – your customers probably feel the same way about reading one. So don’t write a post.
Make a video.
Create an infographic.
Hold a contest.
Start a poll.
Invite some new voices to your blog.
Host a Twitter chat.
Improve your writing by experimenting with new mediums instead of getting caught in the same pattern of content. The more you can try new things, the more energy and life you bring to you content.
4. Master headlines
A good headline generates interest, sets up your promise/benefit, and sparks emotion beforebefore the reader ever lands on your page. I don’t pretend to be a headline master, but the folks at Copyblogger are. Read their blog and learn from the best.
5. Use power words
Another lesson I’ve learned from the folks at Copyblogger – the importance of using trigger words in your writing. There are certain words that elicit an immediate response from when people when they read them – words like suck, fail, overcome, seize – learn how to use them. Selecting the right words for your message can heighten the impact that message has and help it spread to wider audiences. If your words aren’t getting the message across, use trigger words to spice it up.
6. Write for one reader
You’re writing for your entire audience. You’re creating a message that you believe they’ll all relate to or that will help solve a need they all face. But think of how you feel when someone sends you a generic email or when they speak to you as part of a group – it turns you off a little bit, right? It makes it easier for you to ignore the message when you know you’re just one recipient of many.
When you’re crafting any piece of content, write it as if you’re writing to one reader. Talk to them like it’s the two of you in a room. Address them. It’s a simple change of focus when you’re writing, but you’d be surprised how dramatically it will change your words and help you captivate your audience.
7. Have a benefit
The goal of your content is to provide a benefit to the reader. Know what your benefit is and make explaining it your sole purpose for that piece of content. It’s easy to get off track or to waste time being clever or inserting jokes (I am all too guilty of this!), but your audience doesn’t care about how funny you think you are. They care about solving their problem, learning a new tactic, or getting information on a certain topic. If your goal to make them happy, not the other way around. Know your benefit, obsess over it, and over-provide.
By Lisa Barone