If you want to stay up to date in today’s ever-changing digital world, you need to adjust your marketing strategy. Less than 5 years ago, most people had no idea about this new type of marketing.
What is it?
Content marketing is all about the creation and sharing and creating online material (think videos, blog posts, and social media posts).
The goal is to stimulate interest in your product or service without, and here’s the catch, explicitly promoting anything.
People are sceptics and are bombarded with advertising everywhere, we have become numb to advertising gimmicks where brands “pretend to care” about us.
Rules, tips, and tricks
Don’t worry, we don’t like rules either, but you still need to know them. Remember: to break the rules, you must first master them.
You don’t explicitly promote your organisation, service, or product to your reader. You want to come across as a helpful and knowledgeable source, not a product pusher. You can write about the reasons someone would need a product or service, but never mention the service explicitly or say something like “this is why our product is the best.”
For example, the moment you promote your brand or product in a blog article titled: “5 Ways To Lose Fat Quickly” and all 5 ways listed only talks about benefits of your product or requires the reader to buy your product, you’ve lost the interest of the reader and, most likely, their trust.
Don’t include a call to action (CTA) in your article
Remember, you want to come across as a friendly face, a knowledgeable acquaintance in this world of tricky ads.
Be a friend: We ask advice from friends because we know they’ll suggest the best solution and give the best advice without trying to convince you to choose the option that benefits themselves.
Don’t forget that you’re writing for humans, even if it is B2B marketing, it’s still a human reading it.
Short and sweet
Try to keep most of your articles between 300 – 500 words (this will depend on your topic and the industry you’re writing for – in this article, we’re breaking rule numero uno). Some articles or topics need a bit more beef than others. Don’t try to cramp a “Top 50” list into 300 words, that’s just silly and don’t try to stretch a “10 Reasons Why” article to 800 words.
When in doubt, always remember: form follows function.
If things get a bit dry, or you just feel like someone should have a giggle or humorous snort, add a little humour to your article. But never let your humour overshadow your content.
Make it scannable
In this fast-paced world of instant gratification, little patience, and a general dislike of reading, format your content so that a reader can determine whether the content is relevant to them or not within 30 seconds of viewing the post. So break up your content into bite-sized sections.
How do you do this?
- Use subheadings
- Use bulleted or numbered lists
- Use tables if it will suit your content best
- Use infographics or other imagery if possible to enhance your content
Dumb things down
Good articles happen when you did good research and presented it in a way that even someone who has no idea about the topic or industry will understand what you’re writing about and feel as if they learned something. A good rule of thumb is to pretend you’re writing to the average guy on the street (or your grandmother, if you’re writing about technology).
They’re not called do-words or action-words for nothing! Don’t underestimate the effect of a minor change in the tense of the verb. Here are our tips:
Don’t use gerunds (the continuous forms of verbs.) So, for example, try to write your sentence so that you can use “read” instead of “reading.”
Try to use the active voice instead of the passive voice.
Be conversational in your writing. Write as if you are talking directly to someone. For content writers who just came out of university, this jump from “academic writing” to, well, fun writing can be challenging at first, so pretend as if you’re talking to a friend (but don’t go and use slang, unless that’s the tone of voice you’re going for of course).
General language rules
Relating to the “get personal” tip, you need to be informal in your writing. So don’t use too many adverbs and adjectives and always try to go for the more common way to say something.
(Let’s look at that last sentence for an example: We used “So don’t use too many adverbs and adjectives and always try to go for the more common way to say something” a more formal way would be to say “So do not use too many adverbs and adjectives and always opt for the more common way to say something.”)
Once again, how informal you write depends on the industry you’re writing for.
The easiest way of being less formal? Use contractions!
Know your language style
Most publications have a style guide – a set of standards for writing and formatting. Whether you’re a team or an individual, you have to decide on the following when writing content – be sure to repeat the process with every client or blog you’re writing for. Decide on the following:
- Will you use UK English or American English
- Will you use the Oxford comma
- How you’ll write “call to action” (CTA, Call-to-action, or just: call to action)
- How will your titles be formatted (sentence case vs title case)
Adjust to your client
Let’s get this straight. The client isn’t always right. You’re the expert at what you do and your client hired you because “they don’t know what they’re doing,” yet they still have comments about how you do your work. This leaves many of us wondering how to combine what the client wants with what we know is right (because bad articles affect your portfolio)! Some common client-isms are:
“It needs to be more formal”
You can explain the basics to them until you’re blue in the face, they still won’t care.
How to solve it:
Drop the contractions. Yes, we know we said to use contractions, but sometimes you need to bend the rules to keep the client happy.
American “English” vs UK English
Most countries use some adapted form of UK English, yet for some reason, most laymen believe that American English is the way to go.
How to solve it:
Explain the difference between American English and UK English to them, be sure to tell them that using the incorrect language style will make them look like amateurs.
Arguing about a word
We’ve had cases where past clients argued about the spelling and even the existence of a word.
How to solve it:
Tell them you looked it up in the dictionary and if you’re really annoyed and a bit passive aggressive, send them a photo, screenshot or even a link to show the spelling or existence (or non-existence) of a word. An added bonus is that the client will quickly learn that you, not them, are the expert and chances are they won’t argue with you again.
So, to recap, be genuine and keep your integrity, be friendly, don’t be a product pusher, and make sure your language is immaculate.