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content marketing

The art of storytelling in copywriting

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When recently writing an article about how storyboarding can be a powerful tool in eLearning, it reminded me that storytelling can be hugely effective in copywriting in general.

According to Ronald Neef of zerys.com; “A successful content marketing copywriter has the ability to take a business, service or product description and turn it into a story that engages the readers in the action so that they become emotionally invested in the outcome.  If you’re able to do this, your writing will convert what would otherwise be vague recollections about information into memorable stories.”

Naturally it would be easy to advise that simply writing a gripping story will draw clients or customers to your business or product. However, while writing the next Harry Potter would make great fiction, it takes a little bit more focus to drive people towards a brand.

Define your audience

As a copywriter, you need to know who your content will be aimed at before you even start typing.

If you are writing on behalf of a client, ask if they have a customer profile. If they do, you should already have a broad idea in mind about the target audience you’ll be writing for.

The profile should give you an overview of what the customer will be searching for when they read your content. As a result, you can then tailor your story and the language you’d use to drive them towards your client’s website or product that will meet their needs.

Furthermore, a detailed profile can then help decide the best way for customers to find your content through channels they’re most likely to use, whether it may be online through social media, search engines, or print media with an article or press release.

Include key messages

Communicating key messages is a vital element in PR, and copywriting is no exception. Writing a great story can engage an audience, however it should be based around your client’s three or four key messages.

Debbie Wetherhead at prsay.com defines key messages as:

  • The takeaway, master narrative, elevator pitch; essence of what you want to communicate
  • What’s needed to engage people
  • Bite-sized summations that articulate: what you do, what you stand for, how you are different and what value you bring to stakeholders

Ultimately, your story should always come back to the key messages and be an example of how your client meets their criteria. Having key messages should also make your content consistent with the rest of your client’s media communications.

Storyboard

As with any story, you’ll need to structure it with a beginning, middle and an ending.

The beginning should set the scene. From a business perspective this could be a challenge or problem that a customer was experiencing, and how they came to your client for help.

The middle of the story will outline how your client acknowledged the problem and worked towards solving it. The end will, of course, be the happy ending for the customer where they see tangible benefits from using your client’s product or service.

Lorraine Thompson compares this narrative arc to the classic dramatic structure – the Hero’s journey. She says; “It allows your audience to project themselves—consciously or unconsciously—into the story, solve problems, relieve stress and return triumphant to family and community.”

Make your story believable

Real stories work better – readers will trust stories that are genuine and that they can relate to.

This is why some of the best stories for promoting a product or business are case studies; real examples of how a customer has been helped.

By seeing the personal story of how someone has been fulfilled by a product or service, other potential customers can see how they may be helped too. A case study can add warmth to written content, describing how customers felt and giving them a voice rather than simply listing profit margins and analytical data that a reader may forget.

When thinking about possible case studies to use, always remember your target audience. The best cases should be ones that potential customers can relate to within their own industry.

For further tips and advice about storytelling within copywriting, please feel free to give me a call on 07738077516 or email david@contentnortheast.co.uk.

The benefits of quality online content

By | Content marketing | No Comments

Over the last few years content marketing has really taken off.  Rather than simply aiming to get their name into a marketplace, businesses are using online content to build reputation and gain a rapport with customers that can change the way people think about a company or product.

According to Copyblogger, content marketing is: “Creating and sharing valuable content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.”

So what defines valuable content that can help you win clients?

Firstly, your content needs to be original. The best organic way to boost SEO (search engine optimisation) rankings and traffic to your website is to create relevant, non-duplicated content. There is the chance that Google may actively punish a site that simply re-publishes content from elsewhere, but – perhaps more importantly – why would a reader be guaranteed to visit your site when they can get the same thing from a hundred others?

Update your website or blog on a regular basis with new content. This will help Google see your site as more relevant as their bots will be always on the lookout for new pages and frequently updated sites will be indexed by them more often.

The more content added will also mean more keywords (terms people might search for) to be found by those looking for what you can offer. However, don’t be tempted to simply fill your site with unrelated content! Keywords are important, but the real skill is incorporating those into well-written content that will work within Google’s algorithm.

From a journalistic point of view, written content can be most effective when it is concise and tells the reader what they want to know quickly. People tend to scan websites, so articles and blog posts should be loaded in a ‘top heavy’ way with the most relevant information at the beginning. An informative, snappy headline is a great way to do this too, as it can hook readers in and is a great place to add keywords.

It might also sound obvious, but spelling, grammar and punctuation errors will drive readers and potential customers away from your website. People are unlikely to take your company seriously if your site reads badly, no matter how insightful or informative the content may be.

Finally, bespoke content targeted towards your chosen audience should attract more hits and ultimately more sales. Build a profile of your ideal customer, and try to put yourself in their situation. What would they be looking for? What search terms would they use?

With this in mind, you can write in terms they’ll understand and include keywords that could lead them to you. Crucially, you’ll also build a body of content that will build your reputation as an industry insider and a name to be trusted.

For further information about quality content and how we can create it for you, please feel free to get in touch at info@contentnortheast.co.uk, or follow us on Twitter.