Marketing makes things have a value - often perceived and generally irrational.
It's about persuading people that the things you do, make and sell, really are worth their money, time and thought. Simple, huh?
The reality of producing content which connects with your customers, let alone convinces them that you can meet their needs, is often the biggest stumbling block for marketing people. So, let's get those creative juices flowing, with a few tried and tested ideas for effective content writing.
1. Make your copy answer ‘what's in it for me?’ (me, being your ideal customer)
We know that content has to deliver value, but ultimately it's your customer who decides whether your offering is valuable or not. It's no longer about you, it's about them.
2. Give people a reason to choose you
In other words, make me care and do it fast. Content alone is not the magic bullet. Answer questions, solve problems, make them feel cool about themselves and their decision to buy from you - anything that helps justify the spend. These days we suffer from unlimited choice. Make sure you've earned attention.
3. Answer your readers objections upfront
Sales training is all about objection handling. Take away the reasons a customer might say no and they'll ultimately say yes. If only it were that simple and yet, there is a logic here. If you were to visit your website for the first time, would it be clear what you're offering, how it would help and how much better your world would be once you'd parted with your cash? No? Then change it.
4. Take away the risk, by including testimonials, referrals and other social proof
Humans are pack animals. We like the safety of the herd and even if the recommendation is from Mrs X in an unknown town, companies like Amazon and Ebay have taught us that feedback from strangers is generally more trustworthy than company spin. In a world of scams, peace of mind is often needed to take the last step.
5. Add authenticity, by telling a true story well
Customers want entertainment, inspiration, education, anything but information. Forget about listing product features and instead help your customers to care about your offering by making them feel something about your brand. Tell them why you started your business, what your ethics are, what's your mission? Be real.
6. Help readers justify the purchase to themselves
In a world of hyper aware customers, you need to expect that most of the selling is done ahead of ever hitting your landing page. Respect the fact that your customers have done their homework. Show them that you know you're not the only solution, by building a strong case for your brand over alternatives and they'll respond to your honesty.
7. Show empathy. Show you understand their pain and how to ease it
To boost your communications you need to be a peer, a good listener, an instant fixer or whatever your customer expects your brand to be. Craft your copy accordingly. Companies can no longer be faceless corporations. We want them to have feelings and personalities and even the dullest companies are out there shaping perceptions (just look at Glaxosmithkline on Pinterest)
8. Build on truths
Start with established facts or widely held beliefs and show how you improve or resolve or eliminate these situations e.g. You know that frustrating moment when you're late for a meeting and realise you've lost your keys - never again with product X ... We all know the benefits of recycling, but do you know how much you can save by using Y ...
9. Build a community with content that establishes your knowledge and expertise
There's an unwritten 80/20 rule in social media - showcase others, share third party links, collate the best articles for your readers and every once in a while talk about yourself. Asking users to submit photographs, answer questions, take part in quizzes and the like, is a sure way to generate content and engage with those who are most likely to talk about and buy your product.
10. Paint a picture of their world after they've bought from you
The best public speakers share a big vision with their listeners. They encourage their audience to go on a journey, helping them to see the benefits in terms of what matters to them. Visualising what might be and sharing an experience, makes customers feel part of something beyond their everyday life. The thrill of shopping is mostly emotional. Help your customers to see a new reality, (with your product) and watch them reach for their wallets.
11. Outline the problems you help your reader avoid
Apathy is an often overlooked competitor. Most of us don't actually need what we're being sold. It's up to companies to create reasons to buy and a big motivator to risk averse humans is the ability to address problems even before they occur. Why else would the insurance industry still exist?
12. List out three things they need to know in order to say yes
Imagine you were selling your product to your neighbour. What questions would they ask? What would they need to hear, see, experience in order to buy. The buyers journey is often invisible from inside the company, but asking potential users, either in person or online, provides insights that can make a real difference to your success.
13. Make your point in as many different ways as you can - statistics, images, case studies, links to other articles etc. Reiteration makes your case stronger
To get eyeballs, you need to be personal and relevant, but unless your marketing is one to one, it's hard to decide what personal and relevant looks like. Marketing in facts, figures and pictures, gives you the best chance to resonate with your audience and makes each piece of content work harder. Create once then repurpose - your audience will thank you.
Writing for the needs of people first, forces you to simplify your ideas, remember
- what do you want readers to do?
- why should they do it?
- how should they do it?
- why should they make the decision right now?
Then all you have to worry about is optimising for search engines, but that's a whole other blog post.