The right thing to say...
“Best in quality!” - We’ve all heard this enough times to be nauseous. If you can’t articulate who you are and why you matter (and without being boring and vague), it’s time to inject some content strategy.
What we want is compelling copy that grabs attention and clearly communicates your advantages or message. Too often we start writing without clearly knowing where we’re going, so start with some good questions:
- What are the identifiable advantages to your product and service?
- How do customers choose and what’s their next best option?
- What tools to they people use to shop?
- Is their information that truly matters to your customers?
These are just some of the questions that build a foundation for excellent content. It sometimes takes a lot of time to build this understanding, and it often requires research and interviews. Still, if you want to stand out in your messaging, you have to take these editorial steps and build a proper content strategy.
Building Great Editorial
- Persona Development
- Points of Differentiation
- Vision and Mission Statements
I help companies identify and compose very powerful messages. My experience in marketing has taken me through dozens of new and established companies, and most still hadn’t clearly established these points.
So don’t feel bad. I work with existing marketing and communications teams if they exist, or directly with ownership to understand your business. With this knowledge, we can develop a solid editorial strategy to support various business initiatives.
When does this really matter?
- HR and Recruitment
- Promotional Campaigns
- Bids and Sales Material
An editorial strategy really comes into play when you have a specific angle your attacking. Hiring blitzes, new products and sales programs are all situations where a finely tuned content plan will pay dividends.
I've worked with dozens of Edmonton companies to build editorial strategies to help bolster corporate initiatives. It really comes down to writing great stories and statements that interest you audience.
I’m a nut for cooking shows. I’m not talking about drama-ridden, spoon-throwing reality shows, but the ones with absolute masters of culinary experience. Maybe it’s because I can draw so many parallels between great cooking and great writing.
I recently binged on Chef’s Table on Netflix (highly recommended) and revelled in the story behind each master. As I did, specific things stood out as metaphors for exceptional writing.
“We don’t want to sound like just another boring service provider." A small electrical company told me when discussing their website content. "We want to come across unique and appealing to homeowners, not just more corporate talk.”
My first thought was, ‘Are you just another boring service provider?’ I can understand a desire to stand out, but what would I want from an electrician? I want professionalism, collaboration and the ability to get the job done. If you pass that test, perhaps I’ll call for a quote. What’s really important to me is that what you say in your marketing matches what you deliver.
"It needs to be social at times and viral."
That sentence was one of biggest turning points in my career. Young, doe-eyed entrepreneur and slick marketing dude faced with the same jargon I slung for years. It was a proposal filled with buzzwords. The customer was asking for something they couldn’t define to fill expectations they couldn’t articulate. Nightmare.
I was reading some article on our love for garage sales. The quaint backyards and double bays opened with all the personals a lifetime has gathered, ready for bargains.
What is really appealing to people is that you’re buying more than just second hand treasure (or junk), you’re buying stories. A family cared for this furniture, children grew up and made memories with those toys and these tools lasted a generation and will continue to serve.
The beauty of archetypes is that we all know what they are, even if we can’t consciously place them. Symbols have always been powerful marketing tools because they carry a certain emotional weight, and provide shortcuts to meaning. There’s a symbolic connection with the image of a magician or ruler that transcends borders and cultures, and those are the roots of archetypes.
I go back and forward on the value of personas. Sometimes they are super-critical to your marketing approach, sometimes it becomes a factor of analysis paralysis. Considerable time has been wasted trying to create the perfect persona, so I try to simplify my characters more into habits than details. If you’re doing product development, sure, go nuts with your finer elements, but for marketing, we’re trying to intercept people.
When I used to tell people I did content marketing, nobody really understood what that meant. Even when talking with agencies and successful companies, most people think of content as writing, and people think of marketing as advertising.
“So you must write ads then?”
Content marketing is still so new to people that it shouldn’t surprise me how undefined it is. I’ve seen a few good definitions that relate to story telling and creation, but it you have to break it down into describing each part.
“Tell me how you provide value.”
“I’m not sure. What do you mean by value?”
“Why do you matter to companies? Tell me about one of your customers, and why they work with you.”
Marketing, and in particular content writing, always seems like an unpredictable path. Customer’s change their minds, people go on holidays, unexpected additions creep in; and before you know it you’re a month past due and people are screaming.
It’s not like you’re slacking off, so why are people so upset?
I don’t think it’s a revelation to most people that sponsored content exists. We’ve seen it in media, games and promotions for generations. So what’s different now? Now we’re seeing sponsored content inserting itself into mainstream journalism with any skepticism being met with shrugging shoulders.