Any savvy marketer (that means you!) knows that content is a critical piece of the marketing pie. It’s your best opportunity to communicate with buyers and position yourself as an expert they can trust during different points in the buying cycle.
But how do you create content that is truly helpful? You can start by following these ten tips:
- Know your audience/buyer personas. Most software companies sell multiple products, often targeted at different audiences. Take the time to define those audiences. What is your average buyer’s age, position, level of education, and job title? What kind of problems do they face on a daily basis? Knowing these answers will help you speak to them in a language they understand and want to read.
- Do your research. Don’t ever assume your buyers aren’t smart. If you publish watered-down content that consists mainly of things they already know, they’re not going to read it. Research should be where most of your time goes when writing a helpful piece of content. Is it possible that you have enough knowledge in your head to forgo this step? Occasionally. But for the most part, research is critical.
- Create an outline. When you sit down to write, you probably have your thoughts somewhat together, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the outline. You have so much expertise that it’s easy to get sidetracked with other great information. An outline, even a very basic one, will keep you on point.
- Have a great title. Titles should do three things: catch your audience’s attention, tell them what they’re about to read, and use relevant keywords for SEO. If any of these are missing, your title is weak. An attention grabbing title doesn’t have to be ridiculously creative. It just needs to speak to the reader, perhaps by touching upon a pain point they’re having.
- Use simple words to convey complex thoughts. As I mentioned, your audience is smart. Don’t waste their time or (worse) insult them by telling them things they already know. Put a lot of thought into what you’re writing, and then write like you’d write a note to your mom. That means, be conversational and use words you’d actually use in real life. A good way to check if you’ve succeeded is by using the Flesch-Kincaid readability checker included with Microsoft Word.
- Watch out for jargon. Forbes has compiled an excellent list of the most annoying business jargon. If you’re using terms like “core competency” and “high-performing,” don’t.
- Limit the length of your content. Most of your writings should be around 500 words. Some will be shorter (but not fewer than 300) and some could be much longer (over 1,000), but 500 seems to be a good target because you can tell a story without boring your readers or taking too much of their time.
- Make your articles and blog posts scan-able. Coppyblogger talks a lot about the fact that most people won’t read your entire blog post, but will scan it instead. Make your content scan-able by using bullet points and bolding key points. If a reader only looked at those things, they should be able to get the gist of what you’re trying to get across.
- Have great editors. You can be the best writer in the world and still need an editor. They will find everything from grammatical errors to flaws in your logic. Find someone you trust… generally someone detail oriented… to read through your work.
- Know when to stop editing. As the great Diane Tafilaj (that’s my mom) once said at 2 a.m. while I reworked an English paper for the 14th time: “sometimes you just need to get it done.” There’s no such thing as perfect when it comes to writing. You can edit something to death and still not be 100% satisfied. Know when to stop and just “turn it in.”
If you’re still reading, here’s a bonus tip for making it this far: sharing is caring. What’s the point of doing all this work if nobody reads it? Share your content on your blog and social media networks; send it via email to people who might find it interesting, and send it to other bloggers or journalists. You have so many important things to say. Don’t let them go to waste.
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