Essential Elements of Compelling Content

 

Copy of Copy of Making the most of your content

There’s content that gets less engagement than a stale slice of bread. And then there’s content that attracts prospects as effectively as a field of puppies.

Let’s take a closer look at the copywriting mistakes that can negatively impact your business. Keep reading to learn how to write words that aren’t just shiny, they’re luminous.

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Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Mistake One

Sometimes we write content that’s indulgent.

We use fancy and complex phrases that parade our knowledge without explaining it. You wrote what you wanted to write, not what your readers wanted to read.

They aren’t looking to discover the next Oscar Wilde. They’re hungry for knowledge.

As tempting as it can be, writing for ourselves is alienating and leaves readers with nothing to take away.

The Remedy

Writing for the reader starts with understanding them. You need to build your buyer personas using audience research to create highly-targeted content. A persona could look like this:

Name: Brenda

Job title: Managing Director

Age: 56

Main personality traits: Brenda is very logical and likes to see solid facts 

Main problems encountered: She has a lot of big responsibilities but time is being wasted on small tasks

Goals: She wants to free up more time for family events

With buyer personas in hand, you can learn which tone is right for your audience.

For example, Brenda appreciates content that cuts to the chase and is driven by powerful statistics. A matter-of-fact tone that leads with authority will put a smile on Brenda’s face and get her interested in your business.

Mistake Two

Sometimes we use too much jargon.

“Climb the stairway to success with our innovative solutions” – Said someone, somewhere

Great! But what does that mean?

We leave the reader guessing. They don’t get the information they’re looking for.

They think: So what? The result is a dissatisfied reader who won’t come back for more.

The Remedy

Jargon is a complex beast. Understanding what’s jargon and what isn’t can be tricky. Stick to this rule to make things simpler:

  • Avoid using words that end in -ise, -ism and -istic

Phrases like ‘pain points’ and ‘content is king’ are also overused and can make for a boring read. 

Instead, show how your business works using real examples. Tell your readers exactly what your product or service does rather than just saying ‘solution’.

And think about your perspective. How can you make your content fresh with your unique way of seeing the world? By putting your own spin on things, you can present old information in new and exciting ways.

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Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Mistake Three

Sometimes we use complicated words and difficult to understand phrases.

Everything. Takes. A. Long. Time. To. Read.

And when we don’t simplify terminology nor do we explain what we mean, the reader is left thinking: This is too smart for me.

We create negative reader experiences that fail to teach anything. When a competitor is writing clearer and more educational articles, we lose customers to them.

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The Remedy

Ann Handley is a treasure to the copywriting world. Her book Everybody Writes (which no writer has ever regretted purchasing) preaches that “good writing is simple, but not simplistic.”

It’s less puzzling than it sounds.

“Assume the reader knows nothing. But don’t assume the reader is stupid.”

Break down complex concepts so they’re easy to understand:

  • Use subheadings
  • Explain terminology
  • Shorten your sentences
  • Shed word bloat: “It’s important that…” or “In other words”

Spot overly complicated sentences by reading them aloud. You could also use the Hemingway app which scores your content for readability.

Finally, ask yourself: Are you making sense? Would a reader who knows little about the subject understand? Your explanations should be easily digestible saving the reader’s time and energy.

Mistake Four

Sometimes we write content that’s patronising.

We repeat shallow topics because it’s easier than diving deeper. In the process, we belittle readers by reciting what they already know, underestimating their intelligence.

Content that undermines is:

  • Too simplistic – it states the obvious
  • Too repetitive – readers never learn anything new
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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The Remedy

We’re at risk of writing ‘been there done that’ content when the idea bank is lacking.

The good news: there are plenty of ways to curate original content.

First off, look at your buyer personas. Is there a problem regularly experienced by buyers that you haven’t addressed? Write about it.

Or maybe you’ve recently read an article and you didn’t agree with. Create an opinion piece from your unique point of view.

Buzzsumo is a great paid tool that highlights trending topics. Obviously, copying topics defeats the point. But there’s no rule stopping you from putting your own spin on relevant subjects.

Can’t be bothered to read the above? Let me summarise in 49 words:

Do you want to be a ludicrously good writer? To create content that builds your influence and turns prospects into customers you need to:

  1. Write for your audience, not for yourself
  2. Kiss jargon goodbye
  3. Simplify explanations focusing on word choice and sentence structure
  4. Discuss original topics, not second-hand thoughts

The Next Step …

… is getting more eyes on your content. Learn how by reading my guide on making the most of your content.

 

The Art of Writing Like a Person

Making the most of your content

Write with your voice to sound like a person.”

If you’ve ever written content for your business or asked for advice on nailing your copy, you have probably heard this before.

But the truth is that putting your personality onto paper isn’t a priority when you have ten other really important things to focus on:

  1. Is your writing grammatically correct?
  2. Are you writing to your target audience?
  3. Is your content easy to read?
  4. Do your explanations make sense?
  5. Are you empathising with your customers and their pains?
  6. Have you done enough research on the subject?
  7. Does the structure flow?
  8. Have you backed up your opinions with reliable facts?
  9. Does your content support your business’s values?
  10. Did you save? (Okay, nine things if you’re using Google docs or WordPress)

Let’s say you added ‘Does my writing sound like me?’ to that list. Where would that rank in your priorities during a writing session? Top 5? Probably not.

Here’s why: writing like a person isn’t an essential component. Whether you’re writing content for your website, an article, or a social media post, addressing your target audience, getting your grammar and spelling right, and providing accurate information is what’ll help you sleep easier at night.

Everything else is just background noise when writing isn’t your jam.

Even so, deep down you know that writing like a person is the button to press for engagement. But a lack of time and, by default, decreased motivation is stopping you from taking your content one step further.

Sound familiar? Then here’s a happy tune: we can solve this easily.

It’s a simple strategy …

Spend less time thinking about this conundrum when writing your first draft.

Because if this is a real anxiety for you that’s clouding your thoughts, you’re wasting time during the first stage of writing your content.

Fitting in your little quirks and nuances that make you so wonderfully unique and engaging: this is the last thing you have to do.

And the best part? Once those ten points have been checked off your list, injecting your personality into your content is going to be much easier and faster to do when it’s the only thing you have to think about.

If you’re still figuring out how to translate you into words, here’s a neat trick:

Say what you want to write out loud.

Ask yourself: Did it sound like something you would say? Answer no, and go back to the drawing board until you feel content with your copy.

Succeed, and your content won’t read like a textbook. It will be an authentic experience that pulls your readers into your story through your voice.

As Maya Angelou once said: “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.”

Trusting Someone Else to Tell Your Story

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“A brand is a voice, and a product is a souvenir.” – Lisa Gansky

Getting your business to be hot news is one thing. But to persuade people to buy your products or services, you need a voice. A story that people can connect with.

Dietrich Mateschitz, Redbull’s founder, turned a product that was once sold to Thai labourers as a night-shift pick-me-up into a billion-dollar brand.

That success wasn’t born from a mixture of chemicals, caffeine and carbonated water. It was from a marketing campaign that linked an energy drink to compelling stories.

Full-throttle stories about courageous people doing incredible things. Stores that are real and human, and because of this, have the power to inspire.

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Today, a Redbull drink isn’t a just product. It’s a prize to be gained because of the brand it’s associated with.

Building a Brand Powered By Your Story

Your brand might not be visible yet. Your website is in development, and you don’t have any content in the public eye.

The problem is, writing about yourself and your business isn’t easy. You’re not sure how to put your story into words, or how to write for your audience while also talking about yourself.

Perhaps you do have content. But what you have doesn’t light any fires in you; the process didn’t come naturally, and you don’t think it tells your story in a way that’s compelling, authentic, or memorable.

You know that the solution is getting someone else to put your story into words. But how can you trust someone you don’t really know with such an important task?

Finding Your Soul-Writer

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Before you look for a copywriter, (if you haven’t already) you need to establish your brand proposition. Will it be tongue-in-cheek or corporate? Or a mixture of tones?

When you meet your clients, you want them to be able to make a connection between who you are and the product or service you sell.

If they can’t find one, your brand won’t feel authentic. Why is this important?

As bestselling Author and Executive coach, Suzi Pomerantz, puts it:

An authentic relationship matters more than an emotional connection in creating customer satisfaction. Marketing strategies that are most effective have, at their foundation, a commitment to creating a genuine human connection.”   

The next thing you might be expecting to hear is that you should find a copywriter who mirrors your tone in their own writing (like the content on their website).

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There’s no reason why this can’t be the driving force behind your choice.

Especially if you find a copywriter who specialises in your industry; you have more reasons to trust someone who’s knowledgeable about what you do from the get-go.

But really, a similar tone isn’t the be all and end all. A skilled copywriter doesn’t stick to one particular tone. They might have a preference, but they should have the ability to change and adapt to a client’s persona.

What’s important is that you enjoy reading what the copywriter in question writes. It’s entertaining, it’s memorable, and it takes you on a journey that feels satisfying.

So really, finding your soul-writer has a lot less to do with sharing common ground, and more to do with that special spark between you and their content. 

When You Also Need Concrete Back-Up

If you’ve been recommended a copywriter from someone you trust, that will help you cement over your uncertainties.

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No recommendation? No problem. Testimonials are a great way to gauge the skill of a copywriter. Contacting the author of the testimonial is an even better way to verify if they’re the real deal.

And if there aren’t any testimonials, you still have options. Conduct your research through their website, their blog posts, and any snippets of online communication such as their social media activity.

Your final failsafe is your gut. Because no matter how good something looks, if it doesn’t feel right … abandon ship.

Passing The Torch …

… shouldn’t make you nervous. By the time you’ve hired a copywriter and they have started writing your content, you should have:

  1. Received a proposal

Best practise in most business transactions, a copywriter’s proposal should acknowledge your aims, your business proposition, a detailed overview of the project in question, a quote (how much do copywriters charge? Find out here) and any other necessary details you require.

  1. Had a comprehensive briefing session

After you’ve given written approval for the project to commence and paid your first invoice (if this is requested in installments) the next step is briefing.

This usually comprises of a one-to-two-hour session where your copywriter will start a conversation with you that ends in their complete understanding of your tone, your inspirations and aspirations, and your ideal end product.

  1. Seen your conceptual copy

What’s Conceptual Copy? It’s a fancy way of your copywriter saying, Here’s a snippet of your copy that I need you to check to make sure I have your tone down to a T.

It’s my favourite step in a new partnership between copywriter and client. It’s our opportunity to hash out the details, discuss what’s wrong and what’s right for further direction, and to get you really excited about your content.

And the best part? You start to relax.

You’ve done the hard bit (you found a copywriter you like), a plan has been set in motion (the structure and nature of your content has been established), and you know you made the right choice (because your conceptual copy points directly towards the content you want).

And if one of those components is missing?

You’re allowed to feel nervous. If there’s no proposal or no briefing session, walk away. If there’s no conceptual copy, ask for it.

Trust is Letting Go …

… when you have everything you need to let go. If you do, got for it; let someone else take care of your content so you can concentrate on moving your business forward.

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Your prize will be words that set the bar for all of your other marketing, build your brand awareness, raise the possibility of landing passionate subscribers and bolster lead conversion.

Words that are a crystal clear reflection of you, your story, and all that you have to offer.