For the time-poor among you (so basically, everyone), we’ve put together a slideshow, with some great tips for writing for the web. If you’re new to digital content, have a read and as always, if you need help, don’t hesitate to ask!
Whether you’re curating the best of the best or creating sassy, original and valuable content, content marketing is now a crucial part of any successful business. Sure, we’re peddling our own service here, but for good reason. Traditional advertising has transformed so significantly over the years that even advertising agencies have had to widen their own definitions of what is an ad. We know now that human beings connect to one another through storytelling. We are seduced by an emotive tale, sucked in by a controversial anecdote and sated by a juicy saga. We love the journey, and as it turns out, we want our service providers to take us on that journey before we are willing to part with our well-earned dollars.
What does content marketing even mean?
We are thrown so many buzzwords a business quarter, it can be a struggle to keep up. One minute you’re trying to prove your business cred by sprouting the latest word mash up, the next you are erasing any mention of the newly established pretention indicator from your communications. Those of you unfamiliar with the idea or practical realisation of content marketing might be wondering if this, too, is just a phase that is going to drain your bank with little or no return.
For those doubters out there, we hate (ok we kind of love) to burst your bubble, but this approach in some iteration or another is here to stay.
According to the Content Marketing Institute,
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Basically, it’s a way of taking your audience, clients, partners and customers on a journey through useful, insightful and engaging content.
I’ve been doing it old school for years, why change now?
You’ve followed the same tried and tested path for years. Why would you want to change your approach? Well, for starters, we the consumers, expect it. We don’t want promotions shoved in our face with nothing in return. We get bored when we realise we’ve been tricked or pushed into a sale. We want relationships and we want something from you in return. We want you to show us you’re invested in us. Content marketing is the way to show your investment, while simultaneously showing off your own skill and value in the market.
What will I get out of investing in content marketing?
When you show people you have something of value, they will invest in you. There are countless benefits to spending the time and money on creating and curating great content. We’ve plucked our top ten:
- Position your brand as an expert/authority in your field
- Increase your digital traffic
- Boost your reputation
- Help you reach a new and untapped audience
- Give you insights into your audience
- Reduce your costs (cheaper than any traditional methods)
- Improve brand awareness
- Often yields better results than traditional methods
- Widen your sales pipeline
- Develop genuine lasting relationships with your audience
- Leads to audience/customer/partner trust and loyalty
Where do I begin?
The key to content marketing is getting it right for your brand and industry. Following a blind path set out by the thousands of ‘experts’ can often be more harmful than anything else. There is a lot of shoddy content flowing through our inboxes every day. Don’t create for the sake of creating.
Work out what you want to say and find the best channel through which to tell that story. Is it a blog, a video, a gallery? Is someone already saying it better than you could
Work out who you want to tell the story to. Who is your audience? Are they current clients, customers, potential partners? Understand your audience and your story will flow from there.
Work out a way you can be consistent. Is your chosen approach sustainable? If not, why not? What can you change to ensure that it is?
Do you need help? You are the expert in your industry, but you may be unsure how to communicate that knowledge. If you don’t have dedicated content experts on staff, invest in content experts who will get to know you, your brand and your ultimate message.
Content marketing can be a scary concept if you’re starting from scratch, but when you invest in great content, engaging stories and valuable assets, you’ll no doubt connect with your audience.
We work with some of the most interesting professionals around Australia. Some are avid communicators, enthusiastic marketers and lovely storytellers. Some are clinical experts, with an awe-inspiring level of knowledge of their industry, who have no idea how to impart that knowledge. No matter who you are or what your piece of content is meant to achieve, we always, always, always implore you to prepare! Get to know your content before you create it. Below are the top ten questions we ask our clients at the beginning of every project. They’re a great way for you to get your head around your audience and your overall purpose – two things you need to create great content.
What is your service/product and what has changed?
We know you know who you are, but forcing yourself to put it into words will help guide you to be clear on your overall purpose.
How does this piece of content fit into your overall story?
Do you have a content strategy? Is this content to stand alone? Where and when will you publish or share this content? This can help to identify where you may have strategic gaps and inspire you to bed things down.
What is your purpose? Inform? Compel? Change views?
Know and understand from the outset what you want from your content. If it’s just to inform, why have you chosen the platform you have. If it’s to compel action, what is that action and how will the platform you’ve chosen help this along?
Who is your audience/potential audience?
Get to know your audience as well as you can. Who are they? What drives them? How will your content add value to them?
Does your audience have an intimate understanding of who you are and your offering?
For those in a business or technical environment, this question is key. How much does your audience know about your offering? What is their technical knowledge and capability? Knowing this will help you pitch your language at the right level.
What does your audience currently think of your business and what do you want them to think?
Knowing where your audience stands and comparing it to where you want them to stand is a great way to give your purpose context.
What are three things you want your audience to take away? Call to action
Summarising your content down to three points will help you define and refine your purpose and get clarity on your call to action.
What is the tone of your content? Friendly? Casual? Technical? Formal?
Does your brand have a style guide? If not, do you know the kind of tone you want? It’s important to find that tone before you begin because it will inform how you communicate your message.
If you could describe your offering in three words what would they be?
This is another great way to help you refine your message.
What has been successful/a disaster in the past and how does this content reflect that?
It’s incredibly valuable to understand your past successes and failures in communication. What content has resonated with your audience and why? How are you adapting your current content to continue this relationship?
Answering these questions can help give your content structure, shape and purpose. When you combine this with great storytelling, you can develop compelling content.
I had one of those moments this week that made me want to Michelle Obama all over the nasties. I’m choosing to go high today and tomorrow. Much like some other bullies that crave the limelight, I’m not even going to give them the satisfaction of knowing it was them.
Inspired by my low blow (which incidentally had nothing to do with writing), I’m going to build some people up that I think are doing some awesome work. I’m not going to stop there. Instead of shame the people who’ve done me wrong, I have decided to create a monthly post devoted to building people up. Instead of tearing people down – let’s take the time to acknowledge people do something well.
Welcome to the first instalment of the Make it Peachy, Top Ten Awesome Humans of the Month. This month, I’m starting with what I know. Writers and writing blogs. These are the bloggers that in my mind are generous with their advice, informative with their content and encouraging to all those out there struggling to make a living in this industry.
As we are all aware, the internet is flooded with content. Rifling through the clever marketers to find the useful content is a job in itself. As writers, we are always struggling with the challenge of creating genuinely helpful and engaging content, and pandering to what we think our audiences are looking for. Write To Done is one of my favourite places for tangible and useful writing tips.
Their contributors are generally established bloggers and experienced writers, so the advice is well thought out and as they put it ‘insanely useful’. Whether you are a creative writer, struggling to find your voice or a content editor searching for content marketing tips, these guys have it all.
The thing I love about Thought Catalog, is its unflinching enthusiasm for writing and writers. Thought Catalog is an online magazine, designed specifically for creating a platform for young and emerging writers. They want you to contribute and they want you to be good.
The reason I love them is not necessarily because I love every article (although they are usually engaging and entertaining), but because of their mission. Thought Catalog exists entirely to encourage creativity in others and that ought to be applauded.
Jeff Goins seems to top every top list for writers’ blogs I’ve found. He’s a successful author and is using his blog to share his experience and advice. Again, his focus is on building others up, rather than climbing over the fallen below him to reach the top. He fosters creativity with his range of blog posts, webinars and podcasts, with palpable tips that anyone, entering this or any other creative field can embrace.
The Write life is such a great resource. Whether you’re a freelancer, aspiring author, content marketer or a combination of all three, this is a site that has some brilliant articles. In fact, for those looking for the web’s most useful writing websites, you can’t look past the Write Life’s 100 best websites for writers in 2017. Their content is always being updated so you know the content you find will be current and valuable.
For writers struggling with writers’ block or confidence, this is a fantastic website. They have daily writing exercises to keep your talent trained as well as training and tutorials for those wanting to work on their craft. They have some super useful advice around editing and writing tools and can walk you through the scary prospect of building an audience on social media platforms like twitter.
Helmed by Bryan Hutchinson, Positive Writer is exactly as it sounds. It’s a wonderfully optimistic blog that is designed to build confidence and positivity in the doubtful minds of aspiring writers. This guy has chosen to create a site specifically designed to make you feel good about yourself and your craft. Awesome!
Like Jeff Goins, he is a successful author and it’s heartening to see someone wishing success on others. Sure, he is building his brand at the same time. But you know what? We all are. At least he is doing it in a way that lifts people up with him.
This is a forum for writers and editors to give back. Using their experience, contributors are invited to share their stories, and advice for those creeping up behind them. In fact, contributors are rewarded with a bio page when they submit more than one article to the website. For writers who just have no idea where to start, Every Writer is fantastic. They even have the largest free searchable book publisher listing online.
Copy Blogger (Rainmaker Digital)
These guys are the content marketing gurus. Grown from a sole blogger, this site walks the talk. They have built their audience organically through engaging content and useful tips. But rather than keeping those marketing secrets to themselves, the team at the now named Rainmaker Digital want to share, educate and train others to benefit from their industry knowledge. Like all our picks, they genuinely want you to succeed as much as they have.
Writers Helping Writers is designed for the writer by the writer. Their focus is around fostering emerging talent and helping them hone their skills and find a way into the industry. It is run by passionate writers who, themselves were once struggling to find their place and now gratefully want to show others the path they took. While their focus is for writers aiming to become published authors, the resources they offer are super useful for anyone interested in content producing.
My final pick marks number 10 of so many wonderful blogs, websites and online resources for writers. Daily Writing Tips is a great place to find tips, prompts and exercises. The difference between these guys and the above is that Daily Writing Tips are designed to help everyone, including those, not familiar or comfortable with writing. Their advice is solid and their intention altruistic.
This is just a drop in the ocean when it comes to amazing writers’ content online. There are so many wonderfully talented writers and writing trainers around the world, offering extraordinary content and I plan to start a list, so please let me know any bloggers or websites you think are useful for writers.
The thing is – there are some incredibly sad, stressful and terrifying things happening in this world. I refuse to let those things/people win. Once a month I am going to list my favourite people/resources in the fields I am exposed to. Let’s unite and build each other up.
Australia has thrown itself into the pit of confusion with its latest election. The AEC are slowly determining who’s going to take charge of this fine country, while we all sit helplessly, twiddling our thumbs. Many Australians are disenfranchised, uninspired and unsure where to look to for great leadership. Don’t let your brand fall the way of our major parties. Understand your brand and communicate it with clarity and leadership. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better writer and communicator overall.
Know your message
We can all get caught up in what everyone else is saying and confuse our own message as a result. Much like some of the campaigns rolling around our screens and radios, marketers are seduced by the idea of pulling others down in order to big themselves up. This just pulls everyone into the gutter. It doesn’t matter what the other guy is doing. What do you have to offer? How is it unique or valuable? What do you want your clients, audience or readers to know about you? Answer these questions and you are off to a much stronger start.
Know your style
If your organisation has a communications and/or marketing team, you will likely already have a style guide. If you do not, I urge you to work with your team to create one. A style guide will inform your tone, your approach and your word choices. It can help even the most nervous of writers find the right path. If you don’t have a team to help design a style guide, I recommend you consider working with a consultant, such as Make it Peachy to design one for you.
Design a strategy ahead of time
As we know, there are so many different channels you can communicate through these days and it can be incredibly overwhelming. Sometimes you can get so caught up in the newest trends that you miss the chance to promote your service and product in the most effective way. Understand how the different platforms work, and design a communications strategy that is easy to follow. The Hub created a fantastic infographic outlining 25 great content marketing platforms for your brand. Don’t waste your time throwing your content in every direction, hoping for something to stick. Identify the platforms that best reach your audience and create a content adhesive that sticks every time.
Do your research
What is engaging your industry right now? What are they talking about? What are they debating? Do your research and understand where your industry stands. Where do your audience and clients stand? What are they interested in? How can you show that you offer this? If there is something newsworthy you want to comment on, make absolutely certain you have done your research. Making the time to do your research will keep you abreast of any developments in your industry and help you illustrate your knowledge to your clients.
Strip away the industry jargon
Whether you are designing a presentation, writing an email or creating original marketing content, remember to get rid of that jargon. I wrote a stand-alone blog on stripping away your jargon. As you know, you are the expert in your field, no one else is. The best way to engage people is to make your content as easy to consume as possible. Get rid of your technical lingo and shorten those sentences. Using jargon only serves to alienate people. You can show your expertise with far greater ease when you can explain your point using Plain English.
Don’t forget about your copy
Images and videos are fantastic ways to engage and seduce your readers. People love great videos, emotive pictures, and informative infographics. Make sure you use them where you can. They are a great way to grab your audience. In fact, while researching for this blog, I came across this amusing little video of a professor’s explanation of marketing.
However, ensure you back that up with some quality copy. Your choice of words explains your message and demonstrates your knowledge. Don’t flood your content with images and videos if you can’t back them up with engaging copy.
Educate yourself and your team
You may be the expert. You may have an extraordinary team and some socially progressive, financially sensible policies. The trouble is, if you don’t know how to get that across, you could end up with a hung parliament, or worse, not enough of the market share to actually affect change. If you don’t have the writing or presentation skills you need, don’t wing it – learn. There are thousands of courses around the country that offer up to date advice, tips and tools for you to become a better communicator. If you are looking for writing training, Make it Peachy offers a range of courses and I can even design a personalised course for your team.
If in doubt, ask for help
If you aren’t confident that you can create engaging content, don’t do it. Talk to your communications and/or marketing team. If you don’t have one, engage a consultant. The only thing worse than not creating any content is creating terrible content. Don’t assume your clients will know you’re passionate and inspiring. Show them that you are.
You are the expert. You have oodles of experience. You know your product. You’re passionate about your product.
The problem is you just don’t seem to be able to translate that passion into engaging content. Why?
There are many reasons you might be missing the post. Today, we are going to talk about jargon. That dreaded terminology that took you months, if not years to pick up is likely turning your content to gobbledegook. It’s time to unlearn those words, and simplify, simplify, simplify!
Here are some tips for keeping your content clear, engaging and authoritative. Write down what you know and then give it a little bit of love.
Just remember – it’s all in the KISs
Keep It Short
You want to find the most efficient way to relay your point. Why use 15 words when four will suffice?
All you are doing is alienating and likely boring your audience.
Your copy overall does not need to be long to be effective. Neither do your sentences. By shedding the excess, you will likely cut a lot of the jargon by default.
Keep It Simple
Your field is likely full of complicated definitions and terms that make communicating within the industry easier. You must remember that no one else understands your jargon. If you want to illustrate your point, strip away the technical words. Assume your audience does not have a glossary of your terms. Be as clear as you can without patronising your reader.
Your thesaurus can absolutely be your friend. Just try not to overdo it, like Friend Joey Tribbiani once did.
Keep It Straightforward
Get to the point. Unless you are writing for writing’s sake (which by the way is a perfectly admirable thing to do), there is no need to beat around the bush. Tell it how it is.
Sometimes it can be hard to remember that using your jargon is not, in fact, the most straightforward way to explain something. Sure, if you are speaking to people within your industry that may be so. Clients, partners and other stakeholders won’t understand.
It can be helpful to break down your content into bullet points or headings. This can often highlight for you what your most important points are.
Keep It Stylish
Create a brand style guide. Work with your marketing resources to identify how you want to represent your brand to the public.
Know your tone ahead of time. This can be a really simple way to avoid using jargon. If you have planned your style ahead of time, you might also have identified a handful of key phrases that relay your brand clearly. Using these instead of industry jargon will be far more effective.
Keep it Succinct
You want to make your content clean, clear and sharp. Don’t be precious with your words. There is a lot of literature about how to declutter your life or your house. The Japanese KonMarie method tells us to keep only those things that spark joy. When it comes to your writing, ask yourself, “does this sentence support my point?”
- Remove anything that doesn’t serve your purpose.
- Avoid the passive voice; it’s clunky and unclear.
- Use strong purposeful words. The more direct your words are the fewer you’ll need to use.
- Don’t be redundant.
When it comes down to it, using jargon in your copy is the easiest way to lose your audience. Non-industry readers won’t understand and they will check out. It is so much harder to win back an audience member than to just keep them interested.
So when you’ve written your first draft – KISs your jargon goodbye.
Creating engaging, enticing and relevant content can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to start. Well, I am going to share a little secret with you. You, too, can create newsworthy copy, that people want to read.
Those of us who trained in the art of writing were all given a cheat sheet; constantly there to remind us what is news. Let’s take a look at the seven pillars of newsworthiness and how you can make your digital copy newsworthy too.
Even when you are creating marketing material for your clients and potential clients, these pillars will ensure your content is on point.
Timeliness – When did it happen?
In a generation of instant gratification; we want what we want and we want it now! When you create your content, bear this in mind at all times.
Is there a NEW campaign? A NEW product? A NEW Service? Is there a way you can make it NEW? If you publish new content on a regular basis you can guarantee that you always have timely news to offer your readers.
Proximity – Where did it happen?
People are generally interested in news that is local. People are often emotionally absorbed by events that are close to them. The tragedy in their local town is a greater tragedy; the local celebration is all the more exciting.
How can you make your content ‘local’? Focus and direct your material to localized groups. Change your content to appeal to each group at a personal level.
One of the many extraordinary things about living in the digital age is that proximity is constantly evolving. As our connection with the rest of the world is consistently strengthened, so too is our ability to reach a wider ‘local’ audience.
By personalising your content to meet the needs or interests of your intended audience your news is in closer proximity to them.
Rarity – How unique is it?
This is a particularly significant point when dealing with digital content. The web is absolutely saturated with content marketing, brand news and ‘exciting new offerings’. The only way to stand out is to find a way to make your content unique.
Why is your product different from the next? What makes you or your service special? Exclusivity is terribly appealing to people, they want to know that they’ve got something that other people don’t.
Prominence – Who’s involved with it?
So many of us are seduced by fame. Whether it is the latest celebrity endorsing the latest product or an industry authority promoting a theoretical approach, others influence us.
Gaining respect in your field is a very important part of adding validity to your work. People want to hear from industry trailblazers who are taking risks and know what’s going on. Join the conversation. Follow the right people. Align your service or product with someone or something that already has the name, respect and prominence.
Impact – How does it affect me, and others I respect?
News is interesting because it changes something. Perhaps it changes the environmental landscape, or the financial landscape or even the entertainment landscape. Someone or something is always affected.
Before creating your content, think about how your content will impact your customers, your industry or the world. Each piece of content you publish should illustrate this change. If it does not – you really need to question whether the material has the desired impact.
Novelty – Why is it interesting?
You can make any piece of writing just a little more engaging by linking it back to something extraordinary. Maybe there’s a holiday coming up, like Black Friday or Christmas, or even an event that is unique to your company. Coming up with a unique approach is key to great news and great marketing.
If you’re trying to push your brand or service, think about how you can link your material to something cool, random or relevant.
Human Interest – How do I feel about it?
Turn your marketing material into a story about people. Not for profit organisations are notoriously good at creating emotive and heart wrenching stories to entice their donors.
Why not take a page out of their book? Tell a story; how did your product or service help Jo Next Door to realize her dream. Pull on the heartstrings and give your audience some human interest.