I was asked to rewrite an email last week for a direct marketing campaign. The client had written the copy but were frustrated with the tone. They weren’t sure why but were pretty sure it wouldn’t hit the mark with their customers.
Curious, I took a peek at the copy and saw the problem. The email sounded like an advert.
And you know who likes to read adverts? Not that many people. Now, it’s a natural inclination to copy other advertising styles when you create your own marketing content, but instead, it’s a much better idea to have a flick through the following:
1. Popular Fiction
Want to write content that gets people’s attention? Look to popular fiction. Go and buy Stephen King’s On Writing and learn from the gentleman who has sold millions of books.
With almost $250 million spent on the top 300 comic books each month, the comic book industry has plenty of examples of content people love to read. Head to your local comic book store and ask for a recommendation on a comic or graphic novel. Don’t dismiss this type of writing as kid’s stuff, many comics can contain characters and story lines just as gripping as a ‘proper novel.’ You never know, you might just pick up a few storytelling tips or illustration ideas for your next blog post.
3. Magazines and Newspaper
Headlines that make you open up the front cover, engaging images and stories that grip you in the supermarket queue. The magazine industry has a lot of lessons to teach content marketers. From general-interest best sellers to long-running niche publications, magazines have to keep customers coming back as well as constantly attract new readers. Copy a magazine style and you’ll be on your way to creating content that is easy to read, enjoyable and addictive.
4. Personal Emails
Faced with your inbox, there’s an email from your internet company and one from your friend you had drinks with on Friday. Which one do you open first? There’s a reason we like personal emails. They’re specifically about us, they’re from someone who cares. They might tell us something we didn’t know or contain gossip… and they ‘feel’ good to receive. Study the emails you get from your own friends, you might find traits you can copy in your content marketing.
5. Popular blogs
Some blogs are smash hits with people. But why? Well, the best way to start to understand this is to identify some industry leaders and then spend time reading their content. See the comments people leave, notice how often they post and what their headlines look like. What topics do they cover? How do they tackle a subject? Do they sell from the blog? If so, how do they do it? Ask yourself lots of questions about how they’re creating their content and then take notes.
Don’t just assimilate… imitate then innovate!
When I was studying screenwriting, industry figures would come and talk to us about how often they saw screenwriters apply to work on TV shows while saying they didn’t watch any TV. For most it was an automatic rejection, it was just so rare that someone would be able to write for a medium they didn’t actively consume.
And the same goes for your content marketing. If you start reading and consuming some of the above examples, soon you’ll be able to:
- Recognise the trends of popular content
- Replicate those trends
- Put your own unique spin on things
And at the very least, you should have a pretty fun time doing your homework on this one! 🙂