When the time comes to invest in a new website, brochure or other marketing collateral, an important but often dreaded first step is to write marketing content.
Many thousands of words have or will be written about your business and the things it provides to people. Those words are out there, in the wild. In print, online, in marketing tweets and on promotional product videos on YouTube.
Over time, businesses grow and evolve, markets and customer demands change over time. It’s a big challenge to keep these words up-to-date and relevant as your products develop and there is a need for new marketing campaigns.
Business growth depends on reaching target audiences and convincing them that you have what they need. Effective content delivers the right message about a business and it’s products or services to the right people in the right places at the right time. It accurately describes what you’re selling and gets people excited about it, enough to make a commitment of some kind – financial or emotional.
“So how can I create great marketing content without the big budget or time investment?”, I hear you ask!
By combining a structured step-by-step process with the passion you have for the products or services you work with every day.
Every business owner or manager can generate great marketing material by following the right process and harnessing the passion and commitment they have within them for that business and what it sells.
Think about the message you want to get through to potential customers about the benefits of your product or service. Why should they buy? What makes you believe in it?
“Okay, I’m ready. But how many weeks will this take?”.
You will certainly need to set aside some time to focus on writing but, depending on how much content you need, we’re talking a few days rather than a few weeks.
Naturally, the more time you can dedicate to this, the greater the impact your marketing material will have!
Keeping your target audience in mind when writing content will bring you a lot more success than writing in general terms to a wide, non-specific audience. It reduces the ‘hit and miss’ effect of, for example, simply listing the features of a product or service and providing vague benefits similar to what your competition might also use.
You can quickly create ‘personas’ to help build a picture of your audience. These are an approximation of your typical potential customer which profiles their interests, habits, likes, dislikes and so on, building a picture of a person who isn’t real but certainly is realistic. This really helps when thinking about who you are pitching your product or service to.
Longer personas often include a full list of likes, dislikes, goals, hobbies and so on. Keeping a person in mind when writing rather that ‘the audience’ will keep you focused on clarity and quality.
Also, any feedback from customers is like gold dust, especially if there’s a consistent theme running through what multiple people are saying – good or bad. This helps to build an accurate profile of your main customer base and what they are interested in.
You may have heard of ‘pain points’ when talking about how to market to people. These are the main issues that people seem to have that your product or service can potentially help with.
For example, software development teams typically have pain points that include a reliance on multiple, disparate tools for communication, a need to have so many meetings that productivity suffers, work-related stress and so on. That doesn’t sound like much fun! But that’s where a product with the solution could come in.
So think about what your customers commonly have issues with and write everything with these pain points in mind. Your content will instantly be easier to relate to and even more convincing!
So you can see that by knowing more about the potential customer and their issues, you can write up solutions for each pain point that will help form a personal connection with what you’re offering. When it comes to customers, this will play a key part in turning ‘potential’ into ‘paying’.
Using our software development teams example from earlier, we could pitch an online task management tool that allows teams to break up their projects into smaller tasks that they can easily prioritise and discuss. We would write our benefits as solutions to each pain point, “Feel in control of your work again, reduce stress”, “Spend less time in meetings and more time working on tasks that are critical to meeting your deadline” and so on.
This kind of content should sit above (both in importance and hierarchy on a page) the general information that you will need to write about your product or service, including a list of features that accurately describe what is being offered. You know and believe in what you’re selling so this is the easy part!
However, they won’t just take your word for it! Providing proof that your current customers are satisfied will go a long way to convincing potential customers that they could also benefit from what you sell. Getting some testimonials from your customers, even the form of short tweets or comments, is essential. It’s potentially the most effective bit of marketing content you can utilise (anywhere). This is the core of what’s called ‘social proof’; strong evidence that your current customers are happy.
@zenelements Thanks to Zen Elements for creating a great site for us and our varied audiences. Already thinking about our next project!
— NCS The Challenge (@NCSTheChallenge) September 3, 2015
Other kinds of social proof include the number of customers you currently have, positive statistics about your products or services (“5/5 star rating on Amazon”) and any signs of popularity on social media (“1340 Likes on Facebook”).
Putting your message into context and writing for the medium will make it more effective.
For example, an advert in a magazine where someone might be seeing your brand and product for the first time will require a different approach than a re-marketing advert online, where you are reminding them of the benefits your product will bring.
Of course, a brochure or website will need another approach entirely. Instead of a succinct and attention-grabbing headline and message, focused on getting the click or website visit, you’ll need to keep in mind that the audience will want more information (but still have a short attention span).
One good technique for delivering more information is to split up longer areas of content. For example separating a page speaking about your business into two or three paragraphs, divided into sections that are separated by headlines – much like this article!
Just like the ‘where’, the ‘when’ is about putting your content marketing into context. When will your audience be viewing the content you have created and will it be at a time when they are in a position to commit?
The time of when you hit ‘send’ on a marketing email campaign has a huge impact on it’s success. Your UK-based audience might be more receptive to your product or service early in the morning on a Friday or an evening on the weekend might prove to be more effective.
For example, when marketing from business to business, Thursdays between 11am and 2pm are renowned to be the optimum time for sending an email. Any other day or time is likely to find the recipient too focused on work!
This will have some influence on what you will write, for example a coffee shop can send out a promotional Tweet or Facebook post for early risers in need of their product!
When you have answered these questions (Who, What, Why, Where and When), your content will come naturally! Don’t focus on spelling or grammar immediately – just write/type as it comes to you.
Use paper and a pen, use a laptop, use a tablet, use a napkin – it doesn’t matter. The aim is to get the key messages, benefits and selling points out of your brain and into a place where they can be refined.
The final, and most often overlooked step, is to ensure that your draft content marketing material is read by a colleague or professional copywriter. This is important to reduce mistakes and help ensure the effectiveness of your content.
The end result of all this hard work is that should see your marketing materials make a big, measurable impact on your business. Wishing you good luck and happy writing!