Writing Content: Three Things You Need to Know

I was talking to a small gathering of marketers the other morning and I got carried away and started ranting about poorly written content (I’m known to do that, probably too often). What I said was that even though there are thousands of great blog posts and articles providing good advice on marketing communications, I still see far too many marketers ignoring that advice. So, I thought that if I kept my advice (which isn’t original) short, maybe someone will listen.

  • Whenever you write, be sure you have the right answers to the following questions.
  • Does your audience believe your content is addressed to a need of theirs?
  • On reading the first paragraph or two of your content, does your audience know whether or not they should continue to read?

What do you want your audience to do when they’ve read your content?

I can’t say it too often – you have to write about something your audience cares about. You have to give them value, with your words, or they’ll stop reading right away. No “Our company is the greatest because…” or “Our company did this or that…”. Good for you – but why is it good for me as the reader. If I don’t feel that I’m going to get value in the first sentence or two, you’ve lost me as an audience.

What is your content going to be about? Is it going to offer a solution? Is it going to entertain me? Is it going to offer me advice or tips on how to do something? You need to make sure the reader quickly knows what’s coming in the content, and then produce what you’ve promised. That way you match your audience’s immediate need (solution, entertainment, advice, etc.) with your content and your audience is far more likely to get value from the content.

So your audience has read your content. Now what? You need to provide some sort of guide to action, or why did you bother with the content in the first place?. It can be anything – links to more information, phone number to call, a way to respond, events to sign up for … whatever. Get your audience to act.

So, do you agree or not?

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  • http://twitter.com/hfrancke Hendrik-Jan Francke

    So true! You need to write about something your audience cares about. I call it compelling content. And when first starting, it can be hard to identify what is compelling content. So start with a variety of topics, see how people respond, not just in their comments, but with analytics.

    You make a great comment about the first paragraph, “does your audience know whether or not they should continue to read”? Every heading and subhead should be written to help the user decide if they want to keep reading. Users seldom want to read the complete article. We believe almost every paragraph should have a heading. Paragraphs should be short. Use lists. I believe content should be ‘chunkified’.