Creating content for the Spearhead Sales and Marketing website is an important part of our branding, sales, and marketing strategy. We like to share our thoughts on automation, content, social media, digital, and many other topics with potential and current clients. We also think that creating content for your service or product business is vital to your success. So, how do you go about it? How do you write content that is trustworthy, useful, candid, and understandable?
Write like a journalist.
I Didn’t go to J-School!
How do journalists write? When they begin to write a story, they adhere to the tried-and-true method of focusing on the five Ws and an H. Who, What, Where, Why, When, and How. So, as you research a topic or interview an expert (internally or externally) remember to ask questions in this manner to ensure you get to the heart of the subject and don’t leave out relevant facts.
For example, if you’re writing a post about pipe fittings and you’re interviewing a plumber, here are some questions you could pose using the five Ws and an H:
- Who should I call if I have questions about my water pipe fittings?
- What tools do I need to properly install pipe fittings?
- Where is the best place to install a shut-off valve on the pipe fittings?
- Why is it important to use brass pipe fittings instead of other materials?
- When should you check exposed pipe fittings?
- How do you make sure pipe fittings don’t leak?
The answers should give you a well-rounded view of pipe fittings, their maintenance, operation, and proper use.
Considering the important work of journalists, their credibility must be unquestioned. As a marketer (business owner, manager, etc.), your credibility must be unquestioned as well. If your site visitors don’t believe your product or service claims, you’ve lost – at a minimum – one customer, but potentially their friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, social followers, and many others. Do proper research on your topic and make sure you use credible sources!
That proper source will hopefully provide the level of clarity you need for the content. If the reader can’t understand it, then it doesn’t do either of us any good. Often, a news story may be complex and have many different layers. The journalist brings a level of clarity to the story – just like you should with your product and service offerings, company news, or blog posts.
It’s About Them
Simply put, if you don’t have any customers, you don’t have a business, right? If no one is reading your content or visiting your site, what’s the point? So, if your audience/customer is all important, shouldn’t your content be focused like a laser on their needs, wants, pain points, and interests? Journalists write stories that appeal to their readers (duh, right?), so your content should also appeal to your customers. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them.
Tied directly to writing content that appeals to your audience is using the proper voice. The only way you can use the proper voice is by understanding your audience. How do you understand your audience? Research them. You can use tools like SEMRush or Google Analytics to monitor site visitors’ behavior and make judgments on what they like and don’t like. When you understand what type of audience you have, then you can write with the proper voice.
If you’re curious about writing voice, Mignon Fogarty (aka, “Grammar Girl”), had this to say about it: “A [writer’s] voice helps you make every word count, establishes consistency across your website or body of work, and most importantly helps you grab your readers’ attention and establish a relationship with them.”
Journalists are storytellers. Do you know who else is dedicated to storytelling? Large corporations like Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company, and Dell. They are selling products, but mainly they are selling a way of life that appeals to their audiences. They sell that way of life through stories. Your product or service should aim to make the same connection. If you’re looking to sell, make sure you tell (a story).
Pretty much everyone works under some sort of deadline. Well, journalists are the kings (and queens) of deadlines. Daily reporters have daily deadlines for many different stories. Most content creators work under similar pressures. Deadlines don’t exist for the sake of it though. They hold an important place in ensuring that content is created on a schedule that has the most impact. You don’t want to be working a blog post about a holiday sale after you’ve missed the holiday, do you? Hey, you know what would prevent that? A…
Regardless of your industry, a content calendar is a game changer and life saver. They’ve always been in use in traditional media environments with journalists and editorial staff. But now more creative development companies are embracing the need for a robust content calendar. Of course, we use one to make sure our content is relevant and ready. There are many examples of content calendars that you can use; ONTRAPORT has some tips on creating an editorial (content) calendar here.
Another journalism skill is learning how to create and use a robust editorial process. Ron Lieback, a former journalist, and founder of ContentMender, uses the following editorial steps for blog writing, using various editors for each step:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) staff provides keyword research
- Content strategist provides overall main points and optimized subtopics based on working with SEO
- SEO provides guidelines with target keyword/related keywords/average length/etc.
- Writing process
- First editing process
- SEO enhancement and second editing process
- Final on-page SEO/editing process
You don’t have to follow all of these steps, but you need to make sure you have some sort of process in place when creating your own content. It’s really easy to get sidetracked and lose…
…when you have a lot of information to wade through for your blog post (or other content). Journalists have to stay focused and work smart when juggling researching, interviewing, writing, editing, and submitting their work – and you have to do the same. You and your team need the ability to stay uber-focused on creating the highest quality content you can for your customers.
Journalism has had an up and down reputation throughout our history, but there is no denying the basic skills journalists learn are 100% applicable to businesses that create their own content. Spearhead applies these skills in what we do for our clients with great results.
Contact us today to experience how Spearhead Sales and Marketing brings maximum, sustainable impact to businesses that are dedicated to optimized sales and growth.
We focus on tailored programs in both the traditional and digital spaces that maximize relationship building, lead generation, innovative marketing technology tools, sales partnerships, digital services, and strategic planning and development to build your customer base and close sales. Spearhead will be your agency of record for record-breaking performance!