Great advice, Henneke. I agree that it’s best to avoid using any unnecessary adjectives. When I’m writing about a mediocre topic, I’m often tempted to add a bit more emotive vocabulary to make things sound ‘interesting’. However, as you say, what’s really important in copywriting is knowing what readers want, and making sure they understand how they will benefit from whatever you’re writing about.
Customize your resume and cover letter. If you decide to go a more traditional route and apply for a permanent content writing position at a writing based agency or organization, you will need to customize your resume and cover letter to fit the position. This will show your employer that you noted the skills outlined in the job posting and that you can fulfill the expectations of the position.
When tax season rolls around and people are Googling answers to their tax preparation questions, they stumble upon your blog posts, and realize you offer tax preparation services. Some of them keep doing their own tax preparation, but perhaps keep you in mind for next year; others throw their hands up in the air, decide to rid themselves of tax preparation headaches for good, and hire you -- because you're clearly way more qualified to do this than they are.
“Is it just us, or do some people talk about gay dating like it’s an elaborate magic trick? Even unexperienced gay or queer persons may approach the idea of dating with the kind of abject fear one feels when opening the instructions for a new piece of IKEA furniture. ‘Am I doing this right?’ they may ask themselves, months, years and even decades into their dating careers.”
However, I took at look at the abstract of the study on the Devil’s Advocate. It was interesting to note that they found that objections only increased the persuasiveness of the message if people knew the objections were not authentic. In other words if they knew a person was giving a dissenting view in order to play Devil’s Advocate and not dissenting because they really disagreed.
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.
Premium or gated assets are typically longer form, and/or more time-intensive pieces that don't exist on a blog. They might be used to generate leads or contacts, or for brand-building purposes. These are typically created by the dedicated long-form content creator if your team is large enough to have one, but sometimes bloggers get involved too, as blog posts are good testing grounds for what performs well and is thus worth investing in.
Podcasts. Michael Hyatt, author of the best-selling book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, practices what he preaches. His “This is Your Life” podcast is downloaded 250,000 times each month. As Hyatt elaborates on his blog post 4 Reasons You Should Consider Launching Your Own Podcast, “A podcast gives you visibility in a completely different world—primarily iTunes. I have had scores of new people say they had never heard of me until they stumbled onto me in iTunes.” Hyatt gives valuable information and advice in his podcast--all for free. But that podcast leads to more sales of his books, signups for his courses, and requests for him as a speaker.
The reason is that each form of writing has its own style. News is delivered AP style, in short, informational paragraphs with the meat of the story at the top. Blogging is personable, friendly and often opinionated. Ad copy is short and persuasive. White papers are long; they describe a problem and provide the solution. But, regardless, each and every category is content, and each style writers master makes them more valuable and in demand.
Content marketing requires manpower, so the first step is figuring out who is going to head up the program. There's no one-size-fits-all for team structure -- it depends largely on the size of your company, your marketing team, and your budget. But if we assume that those three things are interlinked, as they often are, I can provide you with some frameworks based off of other content marketing-focused companies' structures. These should help you hire the right people, and have them "sitting" in the right spot in your organization.
Businesses focused on expanding their reach to more customers will want to pay attention to the increase in the volume of visitors, as well as the quality of those interactions. Traditional measures of volume include the number of visitors to a page and number of emails collected, while time spent on page and click-through to other pages/ photos are good indicators for engagement.
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.
Ad copy is a very specific type of content. It is designed to get the reader to respond or take action. In a standard sales setting, salespeople spend several minutes to several hours answering prospective customers' questions and addressing their concerns. Without this interaction, many of the customer’s objections would go unanswered. If a customer has unanswered objections, they will not buy the product or service.
We have the team. We have the technology. Now we have to actually start "doing" the content marketing. In this blog post, we can't cover every manner of sin when it comes to creating content, but we can go over 1) the types of content assets a content marketing team could be creating to demonstrate the breadth of the opportunities available to the content marketing team, and 2) who should be involved in creating those assets.
Lack of creative license. Though you may think content writing will give you a chance to showcase your creativity and rousing ability with words, in fact, most content writing is seen as a way to sell a product or simply inform a reader of the facts. In a content writer role, you will likely be writing about dry or dull topics, though you may get a chance to also write copy for more engaging projects on occasion. Your employer will dictate the topics you write about, and you will need to learn to be flexible and engaged on even the most obscure or boring subjects, regardless of your personal preference.
You create a few sample infographics and share them on social media so people see what the tool is capable of doing, and between that and the traffic coming from organic search, you start to get a few hundred people using it every month. A few of them like it so much they provide their name and email address so they can continue using it. Now that you have their contact information, you're able to identify some people that would be a good customer fit and keep in touch with them, nurturing them into customers.
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.
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With the pace of social media and the frequency of blogging, not to mention that many of your content assets will be used across multiple campaigns and teams, a lightweight project management tool is critical. I recommend using a free software called Trello, which helps you organize your content, set deadlines, attach files, and collaborate with multiple teammates. Another great tool for keeping content projects organized from planning to publishing is Zerys -- a content marketing tool with a built-in marketplace of professional writers.
At my own company we’ve used content marketing to grow more than 1,000% over the past year. Potential clients find our content, find value in it, and by the time they contact us they’re already convinced they want to work with us. We don’t have to engage in any high pressure sales tactics, it’s merely a matter of working out details, signing an agreement, and getting started. The trust that usually needs to be built up during an extensive sales cycle has already been created before we know the potential client exists.
Thanks for sharing this, Henneke. We’ve been making a big push lately to cut out the “fluff” in our copy, and the results have been outstanding. Will have to give some more of these tips a try — especially with our testimonials! I think most folks are hard-wired to give you the glowing testimonial, because they think it’s what will help you the most, and the linked story about asking the right questions is awesome.
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.