Four most common mistakes made by writers of marketing material (AKA “content”)

Posted: April 5, 2013 in content creation
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Keep It Simple Blue Paper Clips


This post first appeared in The Write Stuff, the blog of Write AngleSilicon Valley’s premiere creators and writers of technology content for the I.T. industry.

1. Focusing on selling, not telling. The brands that do kick-ass marketing always describe how they help the buyer reach a goal. The emphasis is on the buyer and their problem(s).

2. Complicating the message.  One of those brands referenced above, Apple, has a a one-sentence description — or vision — for every product it brings to market. Incredibly, every single piece of written content, in all marketing material, revolves around this one, simple sentence.  Study after study shows that people think in “chunks” and remember no more than three (or four, max) characteristics of anything.  That’s why the best content contains no more than three, core leave-behinds.  Your website visitors are busier and more distracted than ever. Make it easy for them.  Think about the most effective content you’ve read.  Chances are, the writer kept it pretty simple.  It’s why you remember it.  Simplicity is, indeed, the ultimate sophistication.

3. Failing to stay on message. Begin with a clear expression — the single sentence — of what your content must convey.  Then think of it in three parts and sketch an outline of the “sum” of the parts: What? So what? And now what?  In other words, consistent with the core sentence, describe the problem being experienced by the customer/reader, (2) all the dimensions of why this is a significant issue at this moment and (3) what needs to happen for resolution of the issue (solution to the problem).

4.  Ignoring (boring) the reader. If you’re not energized to the point of passion about your subject matter, don’t expect your reader to take up the slack.   Look at what you’re writing through the reader’s eyes. To what would you favorably respond?  Studies show that readers favor a graphic presentation of complex data, thus the popularity and more frequent use of infographics. What would make you keep reading? In your experience, which styles of content convey the most information most forcefully and memorably? Most important, what would make you want to learn  more about what the vendor has for solutions?

What does your team do to optimize the readability and simplicity of your written content — including those white papers?

 When Stan DeVaughn is not ranting on this site, you can read him and his comrade-in-communications, Peter Davé, on The Write Stuff.
  1. Bill Delaney says:

    I think Dennis Rodman and his marketing team would also suggest spell checking!

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