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The Secret Weapon of Content Marketers

Do you know what keeps most content from being great? Okay, let's take a step back from greatness for a moment. Do you know what you can do to greatly improve the chance of your content being read? Even though we're bombarded with advice on how to get noticed on the web and in print, most of what I see suffers from the same discouraging blight. I'm going to let you in on a secret weapon the best content marketers use every single day.

It's NOT about you
That's right. My unscientific observation says most business communications suck in the biggest way. Why? Because people are trying to attract your attention by broadcasting every bit of information they have about their organisation. When was the last time you wanted to talk to someone blasting you with their own news? Don't you like to be included? Isn't it more interesting to be part of the conversation? Of course it is.

It's about your audience
You've seen the best communicators move into stuffy "corporate" speak when they're writing for work, right? Think about how you speak to someone in person. Even in the most conservative business environment, your language addresses your audience whether it's one person or a group of people. You don't have to be boring or self-centred to come across as credible or professional. So why do it in your writing?

Here are great tips to keep your business outwardly focused:

Write for them
Change your language to use "you" and "your" instead of "we" and "our". This is the single biggest thing you can do to improve everything you write. Consider two ways to say the same thing:
"ACME solutions are focused on quality. We do everything possible to ensure we get it right."
"You can count on quality solutions from ACME. Your business is our first concern."
Once you get in the habit, it's hard to write any other way. Brian Massey has mastered the technique at his blog at The Conversion Scientist.

Ask questions
Nothing draws someone into your sphere quicker than asking a question. We all like to be consulted. If you eavesdrop on normal conversations, they're peppered with questions. Put questions in everything you write. For a great example, read the work of Paul Hassing at the myBRC Small Business Owner blog.

Write personally
It's really useful to think of a single person when developing your content. If you've developed a buyer persona, give it a name and write to that person. If not, write as if you're speaking directly to your best customer. It's much easier to speak one-on-one than to address a large crowd. The same is true for writing. Nearly every post on this blog has been written with one person in mind. You'll know you've got it right when people say, "I feel like you were speaking directly to me."

Talk about benefits, not features
Honestly, no one really cares about features. They don't. They care about how you're going to help them solve a problem. Go back to the classic marketing example of the power drill. Your client is really only interested in the hole left behind not the casing, the power supply, or the carrying case. When you bog down in features, you're talking about yourself again. Have a look at the ezytire `About Us' page for a wonderful example of blatantly explaining benefits.

Give your stuff away
One thing content marketers know for sure is people love free stuff. They remember who gave it to them. They come back for more. They tell all their friends. Putting a price tag on your content is about you. Giving stuff away is about them. Have a look at Joe Pulizzi's, Please Steal My Content video on YouTube.

What can you give away and still run a profitable business? It varies from business to business but some good examples are:

  • Blogging and guest blogging
  • Public speaking
  • White papers
  • Case studies
  • Newsletters
  • PowerPoint Presentations
  • Referrals
  • Recommendations

Getting people to read anything in an age of information overload is difficult. When you stay in broadcast mode, you're not going to capture the attention of the people you're most trying to reach. The secret weapon content marketers use every day is to put the spotlight on clients and prospects. Turning your focus outwards gives you more opportunity to get your message across and develop loyalty in your networks and customer base. Being generous with your information keeps them coming back. You're probably doing it every day in your personal life; why not make the leap in your business communications, too?

What`s your secret weapon?

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Image Credit: Studying by Sterlic, on Flickr