Words to explain, convince, persuade, influence, reassure…
Long before ‘content’ and ‘content marketing’ became buzz-words, copywriters were producing persuasive, compelling text. The skills used are still those needed to attract, inform, entertain and persuade today.
Writing for print
Print media is still alive and kicking. Press advertising, brochures, direct mail and press-releases – vital components of every marketing programme. Print still helps generate billions of pounds and dollars worldwide, all thanks to skilled copywriters.
When you’re investing hard-earned cash in putting ink on paper, the words you put down must work hard, and must deliver.
Writing web content
Despite all the amazing advances, the web is still a text-based medium. All the searches we do, on Google or wherever are based upon words. Even search has evolved, to be more driven by context and meaning. SEO is closely meshed with quality content.
Driving thousands of visitors to a site doesn’t help if the content on arrival is dull and lack-lustre.
Good web content follows the same principles of all content copywriting.
- Who are you talking to? – know and understand your audience, their needs, desires and emotions.
- What do you want to say to them? – the message is more than simply the ‘what‘, but also the ‘how‘. If you really understand the ‘Who‘, above, that will drive the message and inspire the voice of the writing.
- What action would you like them to take? – the objective of the piece. Having ready the carefully crafted copy, you expect the reader to take some action – the objective – make contact, buy, subscribe, learn more, donate. There should be a call to action, either explicit or implicit.
- What impression do you want leave? – the reader of your content may not be in a position to take action right now. Conditions may not be right. So how do you want them to feel about you, the company, the product and the brand? Building emotional capital with readers can set the stage for future positive action and the opportunity to build advocacy.
Although the same principles may apply to print media and online media, there are special considerations when creating content for social media or the web.
People read differently online. They scan content for points of interest rather than reading from top to bottom. Paragraphs and sentences must be structured for such easy scanning. Headings and subheadings need to be explicit and intriguing.
Check out the work UX expert Jakob Nielsen. Jakob’s Law of Internet User Experience
Brevity is key. This is a skill writers trained in journalism or advertising should have in spades. The ability to pack and interesting and engaging story into a small, given number of words, is content gold.
Beyond sales content
Good writing extends far beyond sales and promotional material. It’s important for more than the printed word or text on websites or social media.
- Video is a driving force in online and broadcast media. Great scripts, whether prepared by professional scriptwriters or the presenters themselves ensure that messages are delivered concisely and effectively.
- Speaker support. For presenters, keynote speakers and instructors, the skills of content writers are vital. They ensure that correct emphasis is given to the key points, and that audiences are engaged and entertained.
- Information. There is a significant difference between simply providing bland information in online or offline documents, and working to making certain it’s understood.
- Training and instruction. The difference between boring courses, lessons, and webinars, and engaging, memorable experiences, lies in the content.
- Graphics. ‘Death by Powerpoint‘, is a cliché. In truth there is only death by poor content. Economical use of the right words is the answer. Infographics are great way to convey information online, but are only as good as the underlying content.
Words matter – and we never forget to write.
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