Be Friendly, But Don’t Write to Your Peers


In my blog for yesterday, I went over what the term “positioning” means in terms of business and how it affects great copywriting.  For those who can’t be bothered to click the link, the short-short version is this: positioning is what a business does in order to be found by prospective clients.  Essentially, where content marketing is concerned, it’s all about positioning your business with the right keywords and then bolstering that use of keywords with actual knowledge.

Today, I’m going to speak more about something that might sound like splitting hairs but is actually 100% vital to writing effective copy that converts – displaying your knowledge in the right way.

There is tons of information on the internet when it comes to writing persuasive and effective copy.  However, there is next to nothing that really talks about the art of funneling your information in the right way.  Where blogging for business is concerned, one of the biggest mistakes that people who are just getting started off in content marketing make is writing to peers, rather than clients.

But Why Wouldn’t I Want to Write to My Friends?

Well, you do.  You want to write to your clients in a way that makes them feel comfortable and informed about your product or services.  No doubt whether you’re in the business of widgets or shoes or writing or dump trucks, you know a lot about your particular market.  If you own a business that sells dump trucks, you probably know a truckload more about that subject than the average person.

And by “average person,” I mean “potential client.”  After all, if the client was equal to you in knowledge and felicity in the industry, it’s likely that they wouldn’t need to go through your business to get things done.  They’d do it themselves.

Many writers who have a lot of knowledge about a certain subject or industry make the mistake of assuming that everybody is at the same level when planning their content marketing.  Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that anybody dumb down their copy – readers won’t like it if you treat them like they’re idiots, either – but remember that you’re educating when you use content marketing.  And you’re likely educating a group of individuals who know less about the subject at hand than you do.

This is not a bad thing!  Again, if every client in the world knew just as much about your business as you do, the entire point of content marketing would be defunct.  And the transfer of information is what makes content marketing so effective at its heart – it has been estimated that 89% of all consumers do research on the internet before purchasing products and services.  You want to be the resource that consumers hit upon when they’re doing research in your particular industry.  This is also why there’s such a fine (and yet important!) divide between “sales copy” and “content marketing.”  Sales copy is certainly a part of content marketing, but so is genuinely informative content that has no sales pitch at the end and simply seeks to inform.  It’s the “all squares are rectangles, and yet not all rectangles are squares” deal.

A good way to test whether or not your content is comprehensible is to sit down, blog, and then pass it off to a friend or family member who isn’t in the industry.  Ask them what they get out of the piece, and if they understand all parts of it.  Remember that your potential client is coming to you for information.  They may understand some of the bits and bolts of the industry; they may understand nothing.

Here’s the Challenge

The challenge with content marketing is being able to produce writing that informs all, and yet talks down to none.  Listen to the feedback.  Explain or elaborate more on certain points.  If you find that a certain section of your blog would require 200 more words to explain so that the layman understands your point – well, it might be worth breaking up that blog into two separate blogs for maximum impact.

Don’t fall into the trap of writing to your peers.  If I’m reading a blog about astrophysics by an astrophysicist that is aimed toward other astrophysicists – well, I’m likely not going to stay long on that page since I’m obviously not part of the target audience and I’m not going to understand the conversation.  They might be talking about the most interesting stuff in the world (or the universe, really), but I’m not a peer.

Not to say that every piece of writing on the internet has to be geared toward customers, but we’re talking about blogging for business.  You want your blog to be accessible to all who come across it, not just your peers.  If the astrophysicist is trying to promote a product to the general public, he’s going to have to frame astrophysics in a way that is consumable to all – otherwise nobody is going to understand what he’s trying to sell.

If you blog for business, you write for all.  What do you do to ensure that your product or service is marketed in a way that is consumable to all levels of site visitors?

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Laura

Laura Hancock is a co-owner of ContentEqualsMoney.com. She has also been a long time writer for us. She writes with a passion for accuracy and flow. While her administrative duties have grown, she is a still a big piece of our content writing services team! Currently pursuing a certification in Technical Writing at the University of Washington. She lives in Seattle. +Laura Hancock

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