by John Eberhard
If you have a web site, a blog, a newsletter, or any printed promotional materials for your business, you need to be able to write good, relevant content. This is also called “copy,” or the text in your promotional materials.
Not everybody is a good writer, and if you have tried and tried and haven’t been able to write good material, then hire a professional copywriter. But if you are involved in writing for any of your promotional efforts, here are some tips to help you.
First of all I want to divide copywriting into two categories. First there is the openly promotional material you write to get someone interested in buying your products or services. This includes most or all of your web site, promotional emails, and any printed promotional materials such as brochures and direct mail. Second there is writing informational material such as articles for use on blogs, newsletters, article syndication, or writing free reports or white papers.
This article will cover more writing for informational material. This is where you are not overtly promoting for people to buy your products or services. Instead you are offering information that the reader will find helpful. I wrote an article about this last October; “Becoming a Trusted Information Source.” The idea is that you put out material that is helpful to people, and by becoming a trusted source of information, you become more trusted in general and people are then more willing to and interested in doing business with you.
Although I think this strategy is not necessarily for everyone, it can be a powerful way of generating trust with the consumer today. And especially on the Internet, where someone has not heard of you or your company before, it is vital to develop that trust before the prospect will be willing to buy from you.
One of the things I do with my writing is consider what problems the prospect may be experiencing, and write about how to solve those problems. In my case I write an article once a week. Sometimes it is hard to come up with a new topic every week, but I find that interacting with clients and prospects during the week, usually gives me ideas for article topics.
If a client or prospect problem gives me an idea for an article, I will write that down, so that on Tuesday I have a topic ready to write about.
In my field of Internet marketing there is a new technological development about every 30 seconds. Although you may not be in a highly technological field like mine, there are always new developments in your field. So the question is, should you write about the new, bleeding edge stuff?
I approach the brand new stuff somewhat warily. I see some writers in my field that are always writing about the brand new technology, even if it is untested and speculative. I tend to find such articles somewhere between mildly interesting and extremely boring. So I stay away from that.
Instead, I try to write about things that I know actually work and that people can use, not just the latest gadgets. One of my friends routinely criticizes me for not picking up on the new stuff fast enough, but my readers seem to really appreciate that the information in my articles is actually useful. The key to me is, do I know from personal experience that this new technology or solution actually works? If so I will write about it.
You have to select a general tone for your articles and pretty much stick with that. I use a down to earth, informal style, with a little humor thrown in now and then. You have to select a style or tone that is right for your business and your industry, and that reflects your personality. For some businesses, like say legal or insurance, a more formal style might be better, but don’t make it so stuffy that no one wants to read it. For some really serious subjects (like handling debt for instance), a more humorous approach can diffuse some of the tension of the topic.
If you’re in doubt about the correct tone to take with your writing, check out the articles or newsletters of competitors in your industry, and select the approach that is right for you.
A strategy of writing and disseminating informational material can be very effective today in making you or your company a trusted entity, i.e. safe to buy from. And the more you write, the easier it will get.