communications tips, content marketing, content production, copywriting, editing, grammar, proofreading, storytelling, technical writing, writing for the web, writing tips

Spring Clean – dump these five common mistakes for sharper content

We actually went out one day last week without layers – spring is definitely on its way. Even if it’s taking its time. As we all whip out the cleaning products in an attempt to spring clean, we thought we’d pick our five top content pitfalls. These pitfalls are mistakes even we, seasoned writers, fall for. So, join us at Make it Peachy, and spring clean your content for greater impact today.

Squash the temptation to over decorate

I am a naturally effusive person. It is a character trait that has served me well in business and my personal life. I’m also a card-carrying logophile. There is nothing more exciting as a writer than finding the perfect string of words to convey your intent. As a consequence, I am always fighting my instincts to dress up my sentences with as many descriptors as I can dream up. Adjective here, adverb there, my default is to overdecorate.

While long expressive sentences have their place, try to avoid them. People are reading your content for information. Give them that information as directly and simply as you can. Sure, if you find a lovely turn of phrase, don’t be afraid to throw it in, but don’t give your readers extra work.

Avoid those unnecessary exclamation points

As the emergence of emoticons has illustrated, tone can be painful to convey. We’ve all been there. You open a work email from a colleague and they’ve answered every question and addressed every problem yet you walk away feeling totally offended. In a bid to avoid offending others, many of us have resorted to excessive punctuation. Not a great move in business.

Overusing the exclamation point may convey your enthusiasm, but it can also diminish your credibility. When you’re communicating with colleagues, clients or customers on a professional level, tone is crucial. Think about what you’re saying. Are there any obvious alternative connotations? Can you reword your content to make it simpler? Don’t assume a level of intimacy until it has been established.

Don’t leave your readers hanging

We’ve all been conditioned to think that the ultimate cliffhanger is the best seduction. Serial storytelling has sucked us all in at some point. The trouble is, when it comes to effective storytelling and content writing, leaving your audience on a cliffhanger is more likely to annoy them. There is a fine line between suspense and frustration and it’s generally better just to avoid it.

You don’t want your audience to want to skip ahead. You want them to relish everything you give them. Make sure every piece of information you give them is useful and valuable.

Get rid of your clickbait

For those unfamiliar with the term, clickbait is the manipulative tool some businesses adopt to seduce readers into clicking on their content. They pick a deeply sensational heading to ensure maximum click-through and then fail to deliver on authentic content. As appealing as those numbers may be, they are not accurate.

As we all become savvier digital readers, our patience wears thin when we feel short-changed. Don’t do that to your audience. By all means, be creative and controversial with your headings. However, if you want a satisfied audience, ensure that you walk the talk.

Stop trying too hard

We know the world is flooded with content, good and bad. We also know that the only way to reach your audience is to ensure your content adds value to the pool. Those two things can sometimes lead us to try too hard. You don’t have to be the funniest, most original or quirkiest every time. What you do need is authenticity.

You know your business and/or purpose. You know what value your information will add. If you find a unique way to communicate that, then fantastic. If you don’t, don’t despair. Create useful, real and honest content that people can genuinely connect with.

We all clutter our content with the above, and I am no exception. Rejuvenate your content this spring by weeding out these pitfalls and you’ll find your content blossoms.

business tips, communications tips, content marketing, content production, creativity, productivity, running a business, writing tips

Comic-Con – A lesson in business and communications

It’s that time of year again – where the once geekiest event of the calendar has become the go to celebrity event of the North American summer. Enter San Diego Comic-Con 2017. Stars from across the globe take a break from their vacations and summer projects to give the people an extraordinary experience.

In 1970, the convention was held in the basement of one of the dodgiest hotels in town. In 2017, the convention, and its sub-cons have descended upon the city, with somewhere in the vicinity of 200,000 visiting fans. That doesn’t come close to the number of enthusiastic followers around the world who have bought, booked and signed on for exclusive digital content.

How did such a humble event become so popular? What can we, as business owners learn from their ascent? As avid con nerds, the team at Make it Peachy have plucked the top five things we have learned about business and communications from San Diego Comic-Con.

We all just want to feel connected

One of the most salient messages of so many comic books and science fiction novels, films and TV shows is the notion of feeling included. Traditionally creators and fans of this style of entertainment have been outsiders; nerds searching for their own sense of belonging. Naturally, a lot of their content is designed around these same themes. Think X-men, or even Superman, the ultimate outsiders, desperate to feel included. The cool thing is that because Comic-Con created an event designed to make people feel included, more and more people have found their voice and place.

This is a great lesson for us. Create content, services, products with the intention of including, rather than excluding. When your audience feels connected, they will return to you and bring their friends.

If you build it, they will come

Comic-Con and its brother and sister events around the US are designed to connect their audiences to the latest, greatest and most interesting activities, products and events. They do their research and understand what their audience is looking for. With that research, they build more and more impressive events every year. They’ve created something that more and more people want to be a part of, and now cosplaying and mainstream blockbuster fans stand side by side in applause for an event well created.

Research. Understand. Create. Engage.

When you create a product, a piece of content or a service people genuinely want, they’ll come to you. But, as Joss Whedon said, “Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.”

Be confident without being cocky

Back in 1970, the founders of Comic-Con were wildly searching to nab some impressive industry types to add a little spark to the convention. According to Rolling Stone, they’d tracked down Sci Fi legend and Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury and were angling for him to attend. When Bradbury agreed, for the scary equivalent fee of US$30,000, the boys were stuck. Still, in its infancy and without a real purpose, they were in the unique position of establishing the convention as a not for profit – so without thought, that’s what they became. Bradbury came for free. They saw an opportunity and jumped, adapted and changed to get where they needed to.

It’s so important to be confident in your capability. If something seems out of your realm, don’t immediately close your mind to it – learn, adapt and work to expand your capability.

Embrace change

Comic-Con was built by a group of comic book dreamers, intent on creating an engaging experience for fans. What that involved as evolved a thousand times in the last 47 years and as a result, its popularity just keeps rising. One sad story told in the Rolling Stone article is that of founder Sheldon Dorf. Dorf was instrumental in networking and schmoozing the right people to get the convention off the ground. Many nod to him as the creator and ideas behind it all. But Dorf was also a jealous man, set in his ways and approach. As Comic-Con grew, Dorf isolated himself and refused to change. While the convention soared, Dorf licked his wounds and walked away.

We all need to remember that times, needs and ideas change. We know from the giant splash made by social media and digital communications that people change the way they communicate. As business owners, we need to be able to move with those needs. Just because the same old has worked until now, does NOT mean it will tomorrow.

The cyclical nature of trends – keeping up with the…who even knows who to keep up with anymore

The final lesson we are taking away from the success of Comic-Con is about awareness. Awareness of the ever changing, ridiculous and cyclical nature of trends. It’s important to understand what is trending and where. It’s important to understand what people are following and illustrating your knowledge of those things. But you know what else? Trends come and go. Comic-Con has built itself on the notion that fandom, whatever form it takes, is valid and cool in some way.

By all means, find a way to connect with your audience. Let your passion and your interests and your knowledge guide that. Authenticity matters more than manufactured trends.