We’d all like to think that our work is being read by hundreds, maybe thousands of prospects. And maybe it is. But keep in mind that it’s being read by just one person at a time.
Are you writing specifically for that one, very important individual? Are you keeping your content focused and targeted?
How to focus your work
Keep in mind the “marketing” part of content marketing. Your purpose here is to actually move your reader steadily toward a sale. Therefore, you need to use some of the same ideas used in advertising copy.
You need to understand features, benefits and the needs of your target audience.
To illustrate this, you and I are going to create the basis for a content marketing article using my wife, a childcare provider, as the reader and my dog, a fox terrier, as the product. Our client is a dog breeder that needs to sell some fox terriers.
Start by discovering the features and benefits of your product. You’ll need to think deeply about the benefits to each feature. You might even discover some features that don’t seem like benefits at first glance. For the fox terrier (feature – benefit):
- A small breed – it doesn’t take up much room and doesn’t knock over the furniture.
- A “family” dog – it becomes quite attached to the people in its household.
- Doesn’t eat a lot – you don’t spend a ton of money on upkeep.
- Easily trained – you can train it for specific purposes.
- Loves small children – any questions about that one?
- Protective – it will protect its “people” against any perceived attacker, no matter what size.
- Barks at everything – that’s not a benefit. It’s a detriment . . . or is it?
Now let’s look at our target reader, the in-home childcare provider. What are her concerns, needs and desires as it relates to her business?
- She wants to keep her clients’ children safe.
- She doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on technology she can’t understand.
- She wants an affordable, reliable solution that she can trust.
- She wants a solution that’s visible, but not invasive.
Note that in describing her needs, we didn’t mention a dog at all. That’s because we’re not focusing on the product, but the solution to her needs. That’s very important.
Playing the “Match” game
Now it’s time to match up the benefits of the product (the dog) with the needs of the client (my wife). If a benefit doesn’t fulfill a need, it’s a non-benefit and doesn’t need to be addressed.
Looking at our example, we see that every one of our reader’s challenges or needs is addressed by one or more of the feature/benefit pairs for the product. Except for the barking problem, right? But when you think about it, the barking is an alarm that a stranger is near and doesn’t need a battery backup during power outages. Believe me, I know!
It’s also good to look for bonus benefits, that is, benefits that address not only the current challenge, but other concerns as well.
Ready to write?
Not quite yet. I won’t go into detail as I’ve covered this in another article, but you need to build a profile of your reader. Understanding her demographics, psychographics and other details helps you tailor the writing specifically for her.
Why all of this helps you write more effectively
This may look complicated at first. It seems an awful lot like planning ad copy and for good reason. Remember that this is content marketing, not content. There’s a big difference.
Content is information. Content marketing is information with a purpose: to drive a sale. There are going to be subtle, but important differences in how you write the article. That’s why all of the preliminary work is necessary.
Content marketing is not just a recitation of facts. It explains how these facts solve the reader’s problem.
For example, write your headline to address a main concern of the reader and possibly use a secondary headline:
Keeping Your Children Safe is Important to You.
How this low-tech solution stands head and shoulders above “the big dogs.”
Then you follow up with an engaging lead that captivates your reader and draws them into the article. You can add quotes from clients that actually use the product. Using our example scenario:
Not every security system needs to be plugged in. The instinctively protective nature of the fox terrier makes this a favorite solution for many in-home child care providers. Mary, of Mary’s Childcare, has this to say about her terrier:
“Sugar Baby is very protective of the kids. Once my clients’ children are in the house, they’re Sugar’s kids. No one comes to the door without my knowing it. At first, even the parents need to get her permission to take them home. And once the kids are gone . . .”
In this lead and quote, we have identified our target audience and addressed a main concern right away.
As you write the rest your article, weave in the other useful features and benefits. You want the reader be engaged, to start saying “yes.” And when you’ve finished, they’ll certainly want to follow your call-to-action for the article.
It may not be a direct sale at this point, but it could be. More likely it will be an invitation to get more information or to subscribe to a blog or email course. Content marketing is an excellent lead generation tool.
And if it’s focused, compelling and engaging, your content marketing will ultimately drive the sale.
About the Author
Steve Maurer, Maurer Copywriting is a freelance copy and content writer in Fayetteville, Arkansas. His tagline at Maurer Copywriting , Professional Freelance Business Writing – Plain and Simple, explains both his target audience and his writing philosophy. You can meet him on LinkedIn or call him at 479-304-1086.