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Getting Your Content Marketing Right
10/05/2018

Written by Freelance Copywriter (Orchard Reference = o80174)

Compared to traditional advertising, content marketing is still in its infancy.

It might be widely practiced, but that doesn’t mean all businesses and agencies know how to get it right. Especially when it comes to content writing. 

As a copywriter of…*cough*… a few years, I’ve seen colleagues and clients—people who have absolutely no desire to write — forced to ‘do their bit’ for the company blog. While using people within your business might seem like an easy way to tick the ‘content marketing’ box, taking non-writers away from their day jobs to sweat over a blank page is usually counterproductive. It can also leave you with content which, at best, does very little for your brand and, at worst, damage it.

But even if you do get the pros in, it can be hard to know if they’re writing content the way it should be written. How do you know good content from bad? If it’s doing what it should for your brand? Well, these three simple pointers will help you decide, as well as provide the support your writers (yes, proper writers) need to deliver the goods.  

Content should teach, not preach 
Unlike traditional advertising that typically sells, promotes, and preaches, content is about educating, helping and informing. This is where you get to demonstrate your company’s expertise by solving people’s problems rather than hitting them hard with a sales pitch. Blog posts, for example, are great for giving quick, easy-to-digest advice, while also showcasing your expert knowledge—all without the need for jazz hands. 

But it doesn’t mean your content writers should be chained to their desks until they become bona fide experts in all things related to your brand. They might be experts with words, but it’s up to the brand and marketing experts (that’s you) to give them a steer with the subject matter.

This is particularly important when it comes to expert voice and thought leadership pieces. After all, authenticity underlies good content marketing. So while your writers can skilfully craft the message, the meaty facts and stats should come from the real experts—it’s the stuff that gives your writer a licence to write with authority. Add a by-line and bio, and voila—you have an authentic piece of content that teaches your audience, raises the profile of your expert, and bolsters the credibility of your brand in the process. 

Ultimately, the more you communicate like this and resist the urge to preach about your business, the more your audience will trust in your brand. And while nurturing this sort of brand loyalty might not get the tills ringing overnight, you’ll be top of mind when your customers are ready to make that end purchase.

Content should fix, rather than flaunt
As mentioned, content marketing is about solving problems and it’s become big business for good reason. Since the beginning of time, we’ve been seeking answers to questions, and solutions to problems. As Google, Alexa, and Siri have shown, there’s money in helping people. 

It’s no surprise then that businesses of all sizes have jumped on the content bandwagon. Through content, your brand can reach out to people with useful advice to help improve their life in some way, shape or form. It’s the reason virtually every business with a website now has a blog (or ‘latest news’ section). 

But be careful. Like in advertising, relevance comes from insight. It’s not enough to base content on what you or your writer want to talk about. You have to get to know your audience and their problems to see what they really want and need. Something a little (or a lot) of research can help you do. 

Using your own experience dealing with customers, talking to your customer service team, running polls or surveys, and analysing user data from your website—it all helps to reveal what makes people jump for joy or assume the foetal position under their desk. Making this information available to your writers will allow them to create meaningful content that not only resonates with your audience, but solves their problems. 

In the process, potential customers will see that your brand is helping them and adding value to their life. All good stuff which goes a long way to cultivating faith in your business and all it has to offer.

Content should be consistent, rather than crushing 
Back in the mid-80s, people would have seen about 2,000 ads as they went about their day—on television, in print, on billboards and buses and anywhere else space could be bought. By 2014, it was more like 5,000. And today, well, it’s far more than most of us care to count. From pop-up ads and digital billboards to TV, radio and print ads, advertising is impossible to avoid. Which, ironically, can make it all too easy to ignore.

Content marketers could learn a thing or two from this. Such as resisting the temptation to bury your writers and audience under a crushing weight of churned out content via multiple channels which will inevitably be ignored. Instead, get your writers to focus on a well-polished gem or two on a regular, but not-too-frequent, basis. It will give your audience something to look forward to rather than learn to avoid. 

Striking this balance will also ensure the quality of your output. I’ve seen far too many businesses and agencies set the bar way too high early on, only to throw the towel in by week three of the content calendar. Remember, you’ve not only got to give your writers time to write (and write well), but also give your experts time to pull together the all-important info they need to provide. Which isn’t always easy.

Your website and your audience both need fresh, regular content. But without a doubt, there’s a fine line between crushing them with blog posts, ebooks, and spammy emails, and ending up with digital tumbleweeds blowing through your blog page because nobody has had time to write anything. So if you are enlisting the help of people within your business or agency, start by checking people’s capacity for researching and writing content. Maybe give it a test run over a few weeks, and see how much you can create without running into any problems or causing fights in the office. 

So…
Content marketing can be tricky to nail, but making sure the writing is right can make all the difference. Done well, you’ll have a steady flow of meaningful content that resonates with your audience and builds brand loyalty. But that means giving your writers the support they need along the way. Or maybe even giving your colleagues a break by hiring a dedicated writer to write. Either way, they’ll all love you for it.  

This piece was written by one of our talented copywriters, who is available for freelance bookings. Contact lucy@orchard.co.uk if you are interested in this candidate.  

Looking for a copywriter? Want more advice? Get in touch!  

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