It’s that, for most of us, the idea of selling something is already unnerving. Who wants to come across as a slimy salesperson? Plus, with writing, there’s a delay between copy being created and the other person reading it. You’re vulnerable without the luxury of self-correcting based on that person’s body language. You have to release your words into the ether and hope that someone receives it and acts upon it.

Notice how the second sentence is somehow less exciting (even though it contains a killer lion?) That;s because the active voice emphasizes the action with “the lion attacked.” In the passive voice, the village is the subject. The agent (the lion that performed the action) is only mentioned afterwards using the prepositional phrase “by the lion.” It’s almost an afterthought.

Usually, businesses don't completely cease all other marketing activities and switch to content marketing cold turkey. In fact, most veteran content marketing programs typically incorporate other marketing techniques to complement their content initiatives. But the impetus for most of the companies I've worked with to initiate a content marketing program has been the need for a more cost-effective, predictable, and scalable source of traffic and leads than what they've been receiving from their current marketing programs.


On March 6, 2012, Dollar Shave Club launched their online video campaign. In the first 48 hours of their video debuting on YouTube they had over 12,000 people signing up for the service. The video cost just $4500 to make and as of November 2015 has had more than 21 million views. The video was considered as one of the best viral marketing campaigns of 2012 and won "Best Out-of-Nowhere Video Campaign" at the 2012 AdAge Viral Video Awards.
The key word here is “valuable.” It’s what changes this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. So was VW’s 2014 “Game Day” commercial, which has been viewed on YouTube almost 18 million times as of the writing of this post, an ad, or content marketing? The answer is it’s both, depending on how it’s received by each individual who is exposed to it. The same will apply to any piece of content marketing you create, depending on whether the recipient received value from it or not. Of course the goal is to provide as much value from your content marketing to as much of your target audience as possible. At this point, despite this definition and explanation, you’re probably still wondering what exactly content marketing is. We can get more clarity by considering a few examples.
Content writers may need a bachelor's degree or higher. Many employers hire writers with degrees in English, journalism, communications, or creative writing. Depending on the subject matter, content writers might need a degree in a particular field. For example, a content writer creating content for an online math course might need a degree in math in addition to demonstrating solid writing skills.
Like Harry's, RXBAR is another company that has reaped the rewards of simple and concise copy. Previously, protein bars have been complex. Half of the ingredients you read on the back of them can't be pronounced. RXBAR decided to create a bar that was just that... a protein bar. They kept it simple and created killer copywriting to further highly this simplicity. How about that ending line? "No B.S."
Content writers may need a bachelor's degree or higher. Many employers hire writers with degrees in English, journalism, communications, or creative writing. Depending on the subject matter, content writers might need a degree in a particular field. For example, a content writer creating content for an online math course might need a degree in math in addition to demonstrating solid writing skills.
They also have to deploy these skills in a variety of different scenarios, readily shifting between many different content types. They must meld their own abilities and style, your brand’s voice, the demands of the specific type of content written, the desires of the audience and the technical SEO requirements needed for search engine algorithms. All of this must be done simultaneously and with relative ease.
In my book, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, I teach small and mid-size business owners who can't afford to hire professional copywriters how to write effective copy that will bring the results from their marketing efforts that they want and need. However, just as there are steps you must take to write great copy, there are also mistakes you can make that can destroy your marketing messages and reduce your ROI to a fraction of what it could have been. Whatever you do, don't believe the five myths described below.

Take a content writing class online. Some professional content writers argue that academic programs may be too basic or general for individuals who already have some writing experience or an existing English degree. If you feel you are already a skillful writer, you will likely need technical writing skills that you can gain through a content writing class online.[7]
No, that's not a good idea. Different audiences will respond to different messages depending on their demographics, behaviors, experiences and so on. For example, if you're writing copy for a direct-mail piece that will be sent to prior customers, your messages should be very different from those that would appear in a mailing to prospects. One audience is already very familiar with your products and services, while the other has no prior experience to draw from. Clearly, the messages to both audiences must be different to achieve the maximum response rates possible.
No, that's not a good idea. Different audiences will respond to different messages depending on their demographics, behaviors, experiences and so on. For example, if you're writing copy for a direct-mail piece that will be sent to prior customers, your messages should be very different from those that would appear in a mailing to prospects. One audience is already very familiar with your products and services, while the other has no prior experience to draw from. Clearly, the messages to both audiences must be different to achieve the maximum response rates possible.
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