5 Shortcuts to Engaging Content
Your marketing duties can really kick your butt.
You're expected to have great articles magically appear regularly in your blog, your website, brochures...yada, yada, yada.
You also need more leads, higher brand awareness and some thought leadership.
And you can walk on water too.
You’re on your own with that water walking, but we know a few side roads that will save you time in creating engaging content, and that in turn will lead you to the leads and other things. We’ve also included some actions to get you out of the starting gate immediately:
1. What is the deadliest enemy of reading?
Acronyms and ill-defined words. Despite what the experts say, they are boulders in your path to understanding.
And they turn into pebbles by simply defining the nomenclature and slang of the subject at hand. Likewise, never use acronyms or words that your audience may not understand. You may know the definition, but don’t assume your reader will. Wise people never assume.
Action: For starters, grab a good dictionary and look up these words:
Keep that dictionary handy to define all those terms you come across in your research. Of course, you can always cut to the chase with an online array of dictionaries such as OneLook and an acronym finder.
2. How to be a mind reader
Survey your audience. This may seem like the longest shortcut ever but it will save you endless hours in the future.
That’s because you will be bypassing the marketing bone yard, cluttered with those who “already know” or those who would rather roll the dice to determine what drives their audience.
Too bad, because your audience will tell you what they need and want. What keeps them up at night? What are their worries? Their dreams?
Who cares what you think!
It only matters what they think is real. Not you or the execs or the investors; them. And surveys will tell you that in detail. That may collide with what you think they want, or it may be a perfect alignment.
At any rate, a properly done survey puts you smack dab in their mind. They are crying “here is how you sell me.” So, you simply discover what is real to your audience and then repeat it back to them in your articles.
There are two immediate time-saving benefits from that: First of all, their responses will spark ideas for content and secondly, your content from that will be extremely engaging because it will be extremely real to them. You eliminate endless hours of guesswork.
Action 1: Contact ten customers. Ask for their help. Then ask them what kinds of things they would like to see in a newsletter. What subjects are really important to them. What do they expect from a company. Ask them what you really want to know.
Action 2: Pull out your goals and purposes and your current promotion and compare all that to your responses. Note what matches and what doesn’t.
Action 3: Take your ideas that align with their goals and purposes (and yours) and write your articles with your audience’s viewpoint.
3. How to surf quickly—without a board
These websites are collections of other websites and data so you don't have to spend the day riding all those Internet waves.
Alltop is a digital playground listing tons of blogs. You can find the most popular topics, an alphabetical and subject listing of categories and more. Keywords have been picked by humans so they are more real for you. Go play.
Open Directory Project. Open-content directory of World Wide Web links.
National Archives. Holds the records of the U.S Government.
Library of Congress. The national U.S. library.
Search Engine Colossus. 2,500 + search engines.
Copernic. This search engine software costs money (we are not compensated) but it will pull up a lot of sources.
4. Will edit for food
Find a trusted source and buy them lunch as they read your rough draft. Everything is fair game: grammar, punctuation, non sequiturs, so be willing to take a punch or two. But a fresh eye not in love with the piece will make short work of the project.
Action 1: Give your trusted source an old article that you wouldn’t mind having ripped to shreds.
And while they are shredding, you have another job for them. They can help you determine if your article impacts. After all, if your concepts and information don’t arrive in your audience’s mind, you will just have some stimulating conversations with yourself.
If you do impact, they will consider you to be very real. That makes you valuable to them and that equals thought leadership.
Action 2: Have your editor read a section of the article and then ask them “what does that mean to you?” In other words, does it communicate? Without communication, life is just a concept.
Rinse and repeat with a few more friends and you’re all set.
5. Do you live with your audience?
Instead of driving all over town looking for prospects, get on the freeway and head for Linked In; you’ll have a short commute. Most businesses already know that. If you are one of the six percent that don’t, get a profile and put your best digital foot forward.
Easily done, because Linked In is one big global chamber of commerce mixer, it will shorten any business courtship while providing a wealth of leads.
On the other hand, Facebook and its kin are worldwide nightclubs. You go there to see and be seen. Sure, if that works for you, don’t abandon it. But we’re after efficiency here.
How to find the shortcut key
There is a way to speed up the actual writing process: just do it. Write the way you drive—or should be. You wouldn’t get out of the car every 100 feet to make sure it is still in good shape. It is.
It’s also pointless to keep inspecting every word as it’s plunked down on the page. You’re better than that.
Just get some great content ideas and start hitting the keys. Once you get the concept down on the page, go back and fill in the details.
The real reason for shortcuts
All in all, you will get more done in less time. Being more efficient at what you must do enables you to have more time for your passions. The stuff that drives you to do the impossible.
That’s best done by starting with one bite-size shortcut. Then take on another, then another.
Who knows what you will take on next.
About the author
Paul Economen is a journalist, copy writer and a published author of business articles. He specializes in customer case studies and white papers.Find out more about him at his Linked In profile.