10 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Content Right Now

Website, success story, blog, press release, or brochure, these 10 steps will immediately jazz up your content and help draw in prospects:

  1. Write like you talk. Marketing copy is not a vocabulary test, and no real human being ever talks about “proactively conceptualizing the forward momentum of innovative technological advances.” Write like a real human being.
  2. Start anywhere in any marketing document, count 18 words, and if you don’t find a period or colon–re-write. Your sentences are too long. The average length of a readable sentence is 18 words.
  3. Stop using “ing” constructions in your marketing content, as in “we are capable of manufacturing” or “we are planning to develop.” Go for the snappier “we manufacture” and “we plan to develop.”
  4. Be kind to your customers. Just like you, your customers are bored by a monologue. They come to you with a specific problem, they want it fixed, and they want to know how you plan to fix it.
  5. Show, don’t tell. Use photos (real life if you can), illustrations, videos, and graphics to engage your customers quickly. Testimonials, case studies, certifications, and awards say more about your abilities than pages of bragging (see #3).
  6. Avoid jargon and acronyms in your marketing content. Even if all your customers know all the acronym in your field (a big “if”), why should they have to puzzle out what you mean?
  7. Count the number of 4- and 5- syllable words in a paragraph, and if you find more than two–rewrite. No matter how technical your information or how educated your customers, no one wants to plow through strings of multi-syllable words (see #1).
  8. Proofread. Don’t rely on your spell checker, which can’t tell the difference between fiance and finance or manager and manger. And never, ever rely on your grammar checker, which is guaranteed to be consistently wrong.
  9. Keep the adjectives to a minimum. Instead, provide details that help differentiate you from the competition. What makes your facility state-of-the-art? What makes your service exceptional? Who says you are the best in the county?
  10. Be specific. Delivery in 24 hours is much more impressive than “fast delivery” and “precision to 0.0004%” is much more impressive than “ultra-precise.”

When you need marketing content that is clear, accurate, concise, and passionate, contact Sharon Bailly at TWP Marketing & Technical Communications. Need the proof behind those adjectives? Read the recommendations on LinkedIn.

Writing Marketing Content: When to Stop

Today’s trend in websites and other marketing content is to pare words down and make quick connections with customers and their problems. That’s a trend I welcome and support. How do you know when you are writing too much marketing content and need to stop?

  1. If you find yourself writing list after list
  2. If you repeat the same information (other than contact information) on several pages
  3. If you read the content aloud and get tired of speaking
  4. If adjectives take up more than 10% of the content
  5. If acronyms take up more than 10% of the content
  6. If you could distill everything to a few tweets–but you haven’t done that
  7. If you can’t figure out where to add subheadings or how to name pages on the navigation bar (an indication that the content is confusing)
  8. If you can’t remember where or if you wrote something important to your business
  9. If you haven’t looked for opportunities to explain content visually, with tables, graphs, photographs, and videos or with downloads.

Most business owners over-write from fear; they’ve heard that customers have short attention spans so they try to cram as many words as they can into that first minute when customers find the website. Unfortunately, customers are more likely to leave a website if they have to search through a mountain of words for the one diamond of information they are seeking.

Another motivation for writing too much is confusion over the business’ strengths and primary focus. If a business is defined too broadly (“we fix cars, weave textiles, and write operas”), then naturally the website content will be confused and unfocused.

Finally, some business owners believe that customers cannot possibly understand their business unless it is described in minute detail. Most customers have one primary interest: finding someone to solve their problem. If you approach your website from a problem/solution viewpoint, you will naturally tighten up the language.

Clear, concise, and customer-focused are the gold standards for marketing content. If you need help with any one or all three, please contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications. Writing is what I do and I know exactly when to stop.

 

Working with a Freelance Writer

As a freelance writer of website content, blogs, newsletters, success stories, user manuals and other technical and marketing content, I find that the people who hire me are generally too nice for their own good. We freelance writers are tough. Here are a few facts you may not be aware of:

1. Freelance writers live on promises. They’re delighted to let you wait two or three months before paying them. In fact, if you think you might have additional work for a writer “sometime,” you might as well hold onto the check until sometime arrives.

2. Freelance writers have only have one client–you. They thrive on shifting deadlines; the time set aside for you will always be there, regardless of whether you move the deadline further way–or weeks closer.

3. Freelance writers love group reviews. There’s nothing like a committee for developing one unified, clear, logical vision of what your content should look and sound like. Everyone agrees with everyone else and no one ever edits anyone else’s ideas. As for delays while each group member takes a three-month vacation–never happens.

4. Freelance writers include anyone with a liberal arts degree: actors, poets, painters, musicians–well, maybe not poets; they get a little emotional. No need to worry about a writer’s primary language. Hey, if someone recognizes the alphabet, they’re a writer.

I hope that clears up a few myths about freelance marketing and technical writers. But if you need an experienced and flexible writer to help you over the rough places, please contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications.

Marketing Audit: Reaching the Right Customers in the Right Way

In a constantly changing marketplace, marketing content can easily get out of synch with reality: your products and services, customers, mission and reach may be quite different now than 10, 5 or even 2 years ago.

When I first started my sole proprietorship in New Hampshire, I thought I would be writing user manuals full time for software development companies. I still write user manuals, but now my main business is marketing writing. My marketplace has also expanded to both technical and nontechnical companies, including a manufacturer in Texas, a university in Massachusetts, a resume writer in Atlanta and a management consultant in New Hampshire.

Has your business also shifted? The only way to be sure you’re reaching the right customers in the right way is to conduct a marketing communications audit.

I recently conducted such an audit for a company considering an upgrade to their website. Among other problems I found inconsistent information on the website pages and related downloads; grammatical and spelling errors, clearly introduced when someone made quick fixes; listings for products that no longer exist; and links to Facebook and Twitter accounts that had been abandoned long ago. On one page, three identical links called up three entirely different pages.

Problems like these with marketing content, whether website, brochure, success story, blog or newsletter, arise naturally as a company tries to keep pace with changes to their customers, products and services. In a marketing communications audit, I examine your marketing content, page by page, with a fresh eye for inconsistencies and opportunities (what could you be saying that you haven’t said?). Then I produce a report that details problems and oversights and what you can do to make sure your customers receive a correct, consistent, clear and compelling marketing message.

If you haven’t examined your marketing content in a long while, a marketing communications audit is a cost-effective way to make sure your message connects with the right customers in the right way. Contact me today for more information.

The Endless Project: Why Content Never Gets Written

Over and over I’ve heard complaints from website and print designers that they cannot finish a customer’s project because they are waiting on content. Content is very often the stumbling point for a customer for several reasons. See if you recognize your situation in this list:

  • The content is being written by committee–and the committee can’t agree. There are thousands of ways to write good copy; thousands of ways to write this very sentence; and committees will argue until doomsday over a single comma.
  • Everyone expects the content to magically appear. They mistakenly believe that the designer will supply the content or that simply sitting at a computer will turn a business owner into a professional copywriter.
  • Other activities take priority. The content is sitting on a desk and someone will get to it sooner or later.

Your marketing collateral can’t start working for you until it is out in the marketplace. If your website, brochure, newsletter, blog or success story is bogged down by copywriting issues, contact TWP Marketing and Technical Communications. We’ll write marketing content for you that makes you proud!

Add Wow to Your Marketing Message, Part 1: Verb Magic

What a wealth of verb choices English gives us! Start with a sentence like this: “ABC Corporation is the world’s finest manufacturer of industrial robots.” With a little verb magic, it changes into: “ABC Corporation manufactures the world’s finest industrial robots.”

Or start with this: “ABC Corporation has the capability of designing your dream house.” Presto change-o, you have: “ABC Corporation will design your dream house.”

In both cases, the magic verb wand turned a weak noun form into a strong verb: manufacturer versus manufacture; designing versus design.

Stronger verbs also create tighter sentences, for faster delivery of your marketing message.

Search your marketing content for verbs disguised as nouns. Add wow to your message by transforming mumbling nouns into clear-speaking verbs.

Or contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications. Magic is our specialty.