The written word is my favorite type of content. I believe that writing is the only tool that can capture the totality of a situation. Great written content is meaty, full of life, and ultimately it provides some value to the reader. Today, I am talking about writing for content marketing, which is also known as copywriting.
In marketing, we see a lot of buzzwords and a lot of business jargon. I love this stuff, because it’s funny, totally over the top, and utter garbage. Take this one for example: “We offer cost-effective, end-to-end solutions that meet the demanding objectives of today’s marketplace.” The company that uses this marketing slogan is also probably named ACME Industries or The Marketing Firm.
Bottom line, poorly crafted copywriting is bad for you, it’s bad for content marketing, and the worst thing of all, it’s bad for your customers. It’s the equivalent of diet soda. Hyped up with fizz, containing no real substance, and completely unsatisfying.
So how do you write in a way that will get noticed? There are four P’s that the Total BS Media team lives by, and they are:
- Point of View
- Unpretentious (ok, that one technically starts with a U, but at least you’re paying attention).
Social media has created a world of fast and furious communication. Tweets are capped at 140 characters, Facebook posts are a series of symbols and abbreviations, and now you only have to swipe left or right when you want to spend some quality alone time with a complete stranger. While certain social platforms allow this type of rapid reduction of punctuation, it’s not a good idea to make it a habit.
If you are uncomfortable putting a period where a semicolon should go or vice versa, there are plenty of resources out there that will help you wield a comma with more confidence.
Total BS Media Copywriting Resources:
- Good ole’ Merriam-Webster. If you have any hesitation about the spelling or context of a word, then Webster should be your first stop.
- Grammar Girl Podcast
- Any commentary from the Comma Queen herself, Mary Norris.
Writing with a focus on personality is the antithesis of writing for SEO. The web has warped us to crank out paragraphs filled with buzzwords, jargon, keywords, and lifeless expressions. When you write for SEO you write to consume the page. When you write with personality, you write to consume the thoughts and actions of a person. This is where the difference lies. SEO appeals to the Almighty Google-bot and personality appeals to the person. Hint – person is the root word of personality, so you have no excuse to forget this one.
Let’s revisit the junk sentence from above. The first one is for the bots and the second one for the humans.
- “We offer cost-effective, end-to-end solutions that meet the demanding objectives of today’s marketplace.”
- We are a Bozeman, Montana based creative agency that handles copywriting, design, video production, and the occasional herding of cats. “
One could argue that they are the same damn thing, but the latter tells you who we are, what we do, and gives you a glimpse into our sense of humor.
We love cats.
- Point of View
The interweb is a great place to drum up ideas for content, but if you are simply regurgitating what other people write, then put the pen down and just stop. Stop because it’s already been done. If you can’t write with a point of view, retire the content until you have one. Prospects and customers are looking for authorities and want people that can provide them with a fresh, unique point of view. Your point of view is what lets you stand on your own, so step out of the shadow of others and write from your own POV. It can be a scary proposition that puts you directly in the spotlight, but when you speak the truth, you attract prospects and customers that are best aligned with your brand. Birds of a feather flock together, so rally up the troops in a V formation, talk about what you stand for and lead them to warmer weather.
When your copywriting excludes people with hyperbole, you might be an asshole.
Big fancy buzzwords can produce false confidence in an attempt to look like you are smarter or better at something. When, in reality, all people want is something they can latch on to. If you use words that only the upper echelon utter, then you are missing a huge majority of the population. So, unless you sell obnoxious oversized purses to cart around your poodle on 5th Avenue, stick to plain and simple English.
There is a flip side to this—don’t dumb down things so much that you lose the value and nuances of your products or services. Just make a conscious effort to use plain English with some of the fancy stuff.
Let’s pick on the legal profession for a minute, because there is serious irony to most legal websites. They use big fancy terms to describe their services when at the end of the day most of them represent the general population. If you needed to turn to legal advice, which firm would you go with?
- We are the preeminent resource for those dealing with the severity of legal repercussions. We focus on appellate advocacy and have a team of reconstructionalists that guarantee mediation techniques to restore your community standing.
Yikes – that came from a website. We aren’t going to site them by name because we don’t want to draw interest from any of their reconstructionalists.
- We are a team of smart, compassionate lawyers who will give your case the attention and time it deserves. Our team is focused on creating positive outcomes that restore your good name.
There is a right way to write
I have a two-year-old nephew (shout out to Weston, and props for this first opportunity to get Weston some SEO cred), and he is just learning to talk. He can string a small sentence together, usually becoming more undecipherable as he hits the last few words. Or sometimes, he just points and melts down in epic proportion and his mother patiently says, “Weston, use your words.”
This blog is our way of patiently telling you to use your words. Don’t point and shout. Instead, compile a series of letters that have correct punctuation, ample personality, and a clear point of view, all without pretentious fluff.
Words are powerful, and when you put time and effort into your writing, prospects and customers will put time and effort into reading it.