Avoid the Trap of Generic Content by Listening to the Greats
Generic, generic, generic.
Is there anything more frustrating for marketers than articles and content that all dole out platitudes and lame marketing advice lacking any sort of real insight?
Maybe it’s a writer trying to boost web traffic or add keywords for better search results. Maybe it’s a business feeling pressured to update their blog, send out a newsletter or develop something for social.
The fact remains: when trolling the internet for marketing tips we inevitably run into a piece and immediately get the feeling that the author is writing content to put something out. Despite how frustrating we know this is, as content creators, we all sometimes fall into the same lazy, predictable pattern.
So how do we avoid this?
Here are 5 tips from famous writers for better content.
- Write when you have something to say
Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” -Plato
One of the hallmarks of bad content creation is a perceptible lack of inspiration. It’s important that you ask yourself “Why am I writing this?”. If the answer is “I’m writing this solely because our marketing blog hasn’t been updated in a week and the head of marketing is breathing down my neck,” you should carefully consider your subject.
- Don’t Wait to be Inspired
You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London
Tip 1 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write under pressure. If you need to write to keep your job, you need to write well and write often.
What’s important is to avoid being reactive in your content creation—there’s a major difference between conceptualizing then executing under pressure and reacting to pressure by writing a meaningless article to get content out the door.
While the zeitgeist of inspiration is a fickle thing, there are ways to court it (or at least get the ball rolling towards creation). Here’s a great list of 30 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Write.
The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write: a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” -Samuel Johnson
Researching your subject is perhaps the most important thing a writer can do when it comes to meaningful content. It not only gives you a base to write from, but it establishes your credibility as someone who has thoughtfully sought out the best qualifiers to support their piece.
In marketing this is hugely important for one simple reason: as much as readers are looking for advice and insight, they’re also looking for red flags that say “don’t waste your time with this, it isn’t credible.”
In the world of effective content creation, it’s paramount you offer informed, qualified insight and establish your credibility. Basing your writing in adequate research is the very best way to do this.
- Be a Thought Leader
Thought leadership is when a leader’s thoughts are used by leaders to lead others.” -Onyi Anyado
So what do you do with that credibility you’ve established through your research?
You use it to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
The best possible way any business can position themselves is as an industry thought leader. It means consumers will trust you and other businesses and business publications will respect you. This can be a huge boost for your own business— it means that your content has the potential to be more widely circulated as source material appearing as research and outside insight.
Having your thoughts circulated by a publication like Forbes or being asked to write as a guest contributor in AdWeek, for example, will do great things for your public image as a thought leader, resulting in great publicity for your business.
- Offer Useful Examples
Show the readers everything, tell them nothing.” -Ernest Hemingway
I don’t think there’s a more readily repeated mantra among writers than “show, don’t tell” and that’s for good reason. While this is mostly related to better descriptive writing for narratives, we can appropriate the idea a little bit and apply it to the unique situation of the marketing content creator.
First and foremost, solid demonstrative examples can help to economize your writing while clarifying a complex concept.
When it comes to marketing content, it’s important to demonstrate how the techniques you’re discussing work. This helps people frame your solution to their own challenges. Don’t simply tell people that doing “X” will increase ROI by 15%, show them how!
Going back to tip 3, you should also find studies to support your claims and apply them, whether that’s quoting the study directly in your piece or inserting links to pertinent information supporting your claim.
Including demonstrative examples is not only an ideal way to continue building your credibility, it’s an opportunity to relate to your audience while complex concepts simultaneously.
While most of these ideas are applied to more traditional forms of writing, great writers must consistently look outside their own genres to grow. That idea certainly applies to great content writers as well.
Do you have great content you’re looking to take to the next level? Contact us to see how our software, digital marketing, and direct marketing execution team can work for you.
About Hayden Sammak
Hayden has been a key contributor to the Stratabytes blog since 2016. A college student at Temple University, he brings powerful insights to the millennial generation’s reaction to current events, as well as marketing, social media and advertising trends. When he’s not providing Tips & Tricks to our blog readers, Hayden enjoys cooking and spends much of his free time reading. He is also an avid fly-fisherman and all-around outdoor enthusiast. He is currently pursuing his undergrad degree in English.