Make the words do the work: written content marketing

Make the words do the work: written content marketing

For a lot of marketers, there’s something about the written word that causes them trouble.

Produce a podcast? No problem. Whip up a quick TikTok? On it. But write up a short description of your company’s primary value to its customers… well, that’s where things can get tricky.

We’ve all got ideas to share and stories to tell, but it’s with words that we tell them. Like it or not, clear writing isn’t just an indication of clear thinking—it causes it. When we’re forced to clearly articulate what it is we actually mean, we’re forced to determine what it is we do actually mean.

As a French poet once said, “It’s not with ideas that one makes verse. It’s with words.”

To make sure I’m writing the right content at the right time in the right place, I like to break written content marketing into three categories: content that is From You, content that is For You, and content that is About You.

From You

This is the written content you completely own and control. It’s your blog on your website and your case studies and testimonials. It’s your weekly newsletter and the copy on your homepage. If you control the writing, the publishing, and the platform on which it’s published (such as your website, your email list, or your RSS feed), it’s content that’s From You.

Content that’s from you should focus on your best customers or your most likely prospects. Build a stronger and stronger relationship with your audience, the ones who read everything you write, by focusing on your highest-value ideas, promotions, or products. Not the highest value to you necessarily, but to them. Give your very best work to your very best customers, regularly and consistently.

This will likely be your primary driver of organic search traffic, so focus, focus, focus. Don’t try to create content that lightly appeals to everyone. Create written content that’s intensely interesting to your best prospects. That’s what will get them to click, to read, and to buy.

For You

Then there is content that is For You, but published on someone else’s platform. That’s your social media content on LinkedIn and Twitter, or your posts on Medium. Or your weekly column in a magazine, someone else’s website, or in a trade association newsletter.

Ultimately, you’re hoping some number of people will be attracted to your particular approach, service offering, products, or process as you describe it in your written content. And you’re hoping those people will seek out more information about you, your company, or what it is you sell.

When the content is For You but on another’s platform, your goal is to produce excellent, high-quality content that sets itself apart from everything else contained within that platform.

You’re not trying to be the “best.” Everyone already thinks they know who the best is. Instead, you want to produce content that’s meaningfully different in a way that only you can, because of your unique interests, skills, and experiences, so that your audience will be intrigued enough to check out some of the content that’s From You once they click over to your website or search for your brand on Google.

About You

Finally, there’s written content out there that’s About You that you’ll want to give some extra attention. Think about every place your business shows up in a directory listing (such as trade associations, lists of specialized businesses, local business groups, industry forums, etc.). If someone who needs what you sell reads your directory listing, alongside your competitors, does it give them real reasons to choose you over another?

Always focus on your positives, not another’s negatives (don’t even mention the competition). But don’t simply list your business, promote it. Tell people what you do, why you do it, and what sets you apart in your industry or field.

If you only have one sentence to work with, don’t bother people with details about the specifics of your product or service. They already know what you do because they’re reading an industry directory listing.

Tell them what you do differently from all the rest.

And if you focus on local customers, you’ll also want to give extra attention to local SEO, including your Google My Business listing. Don’t just describe the type of business you are, describe what sets you apart.

Make the words work for you

As I always say, every decision is a marketing decision. Everything you do, say, or write either reinforces your marketing position and what makes you special and unique, or it makes you blend in and disappear within the crowd of your industry and competition.

Use your written words to clearly articulate the extra value your specific decisions and trade-offs provide to your best customers. Write it down. Finesse and edit it. And send it to your ideal customers from the places you own, on the platforms you don’t, and in the directories you’re part of.

Joel Kelly helps business owners build their brand based on their unique values—combining personalized strategy that works for you with the joyful structure you’ll need to do the work. You can read more of his writing in his weekly newsletter, The Strategy You Want.