I have a confession to make. I’m not a Maître Fromager; my rock climbing experience is limited to a few trips to Climb Nashville; and, I’ve never paid $150 for a pair of heels, much less worn them. However, these are just a few of the subjects I’ve had to “write about with authority” over the last week. It’s not odd; it’s just another day of copywriting for industry.
Now, you may be thinking, Ben, how do you write 350 words about feta when you don’t even have any cheese in the refrigerator? The answer is 90% research…
In copywriting for industry, research is primary. Good writing is important, sure. And, yes, you want to make sure your language is convincing. However, if you lack the proper research tools, your career as a copywriter isn’t going to last very long. Research may start with a good understanding of Google, but it goes much deeper.
I see a copywriter’s research duties extending into three primary fields.
The client you write for
The first thing I do when I sit down to write for a new client is to learn everything I can about that company. Who are they? Where do they come from? What do they say about themselves? What do other people say about them? All of these questions (and so many more) are the critical starting points in copywriting for industry. After all, the people in the industry probably know a lot of these answers. If I expect to be able to write for those people, I have to learn the answers, too!
Secondly, I research the product or service as a whole. If you sell battleships, then battleships will consume my next hour. I’m not just researching your battleships either; I’m learning about what the competition is making, the history of the industry, the future of the industry, etc. I have to make sure I get the big picture before I can start writing about your niche.
Which, of course, begs the question, “What is the competition doing?” I can’t be expected to write effectively for your industry if I’m not observing the content marketing strategies of your competition. Before I begin to actually write for your industry, you can be sure I’ve read your competitor’s blogs, I’ve flipped through their Facebook timeline, and I’ve observed how they interact on Twitter.
Content marketing services shouldn’t try to replicate your competitor’s efforts, but it helps to observe what strategies work, and what strategies are ineffective. Also, if you’re serious about learning some good research skills, I highly recommend this post by Ryan Holiday about how he researched for three New York Times bestselling authors.
Good content marketing services should have several goals to help you get conversions. One of the goals we consider to be most important is building your authority. If I want to truly help your blog stand out in your industry, I’m not going to go to Wikipedia for all of my research. If it can be found on Wikipedia, then chances are good that your competitor’s have already exploited the research.
We have a general rule of thumb for the CEM blog: if the content found in your post can be found in the first five Google search results, it’s probably not very good content. This mentality is important to consider in all content writing. If I’m writing about rock climbing, and you could just as easily Google the subject and find everything (and more) in the first five results than what’s contained in the content I wrote, then my post probably isn’t any good. Instead of being effective, it’s likely that the blog post is just adding to the noise of the Internet.
My favorite way to “build authority” is by adding in some information that shows serious research. For example, I may not know much about that $150 pair of heels, but I can tell that they’re inspired by espadrilles. Furthermore, I have the ability to research espadrilles, how espadrilles are traditionally made, what material they’re made from, etc. With a little bit of research I can put together a few intelligent sentences that will (1) teach just about any reader something they didn’t know before, and (2) entertain. And, of course, you sound like you’re writing with authority.
Remember when I said that copywriting for industry is 90% research? Well, here comes the other 10%. Editing and smart SEO techniques make all the difference between average content marketing services and extraordinary content marketing services. Fortunately, we have an outstanding team here at Content Equals Money.
Good editors ensure that content is polished and accurate. After all, when copywriting for industry, readers can see through writing that has amateur mistakes. All it takes is one ‘duh!’ moment from a copywriter to ruin your company blog’s reputation. Our great editors make sure that all of our industry-specific content is accurate. Otherwise, one slip up, and your audience would know without a doubt that you aren’t writing your content, but some air headed content writer is.
Secondly, our SEO team makes sure that your content is effective in search engines. While quality writing is always most important, it’s all for naught if the SEO strategy is completely off base. If I didn’t hit the right keywords to reach your audience, the good folks over in SEO will help me tweak things until your blog post is perfect!
One Last (But Important!) Component
Research, authority, editing, and SEO are all important parts of copywriting for industry. But, if your blog doesn’t link out to other reputable, industry-specific blogs then the message is probably going to be lost on your audience. How many blogs have you landed on, but then quickly navigated away from because they failed to link to any other relevant content?
If an industry blog acts as a completely independent “island” on the internet, it throws up some red flags for readers. It could be the red flag that causes your audience to jump ship, and get their content from other sources. If you want a really detailed understanding of how important industry specific links, mentions, and shares are for your blog, then check out Philip Petrescu’s post on SEOmoz.
I may not have known much about bankruptcy, beverage syrups, or real estate in northern Alabama when I first started out. But, with the right research approaches (and plenty of practice), copywriting for industry has become an easy task. If you think you have a particularly challenging niche within your industry, then I’d love to give it a shot!
What questions do you have about copywriting for industry? Are there any specific research skills you’ve had to learn along the way?