Content is Currency

Developing Powerful Content
for Web and Mobile

by Jon Wuebben - Founder and CEO of Content Launch

Respecting Your Audience – How to Avoid Cheap Tricks in Your Content

When working on any form of content – be it promoting a new line of mascara, or televisions – remember this: your audience is probably smarter than you initially give them credit for. We now live in a world which is full of advertising – TV, magazines, billboards, bus stops, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. It’s everywhere we go. We’re so bombarded with it that people are becoming more and more sensitive to gimmicks and cheap tricks. Customers are developing more discerning eyes and ears, and can effectively see through advertising which is trying to blind them with heaps of style while lacking in the substance department. Because of the sheer amount of content out there, many of us tune out the majority of it. As content writers, to have any chance of being heard, we need to keep this in mind, and make sure not to write copy which is patronizing to our reader’s intelligence.

Selling a Lifestyle

For quite some time now, advertising has used the promotion of a particular lifestyle to sell their product. You’ll often see car ads which say very little about the actual vehicle, but a lot about the type of person who’ll want to drive it leading some to take out instant decision payday loans.  That lifestyle might be adventurous, family-orientated or fashionable. This approach is used in advertising across the board. While a little of this can add a sense of passion to your product, and can give your audience something they can relate to, too much of it can leave your audience feeling manipulated. Most people will see through the ideals, knowing that a new car won’t really make their family more bonded, or their potential girlfriends better looking. People want to know the essence, or soul, of your business or product, but they don’t want to be hit round the head with it.

Being Realistic Doesn’t Mean Lowering Your Standards

There’s nothing wrong with being down-to-earth and telling it like it is. Somewhere along the way we forgot the art of simplicity, and instead favored more outlandish language and psychological tactics, filling our content with indecipherable jargon to try and sound like experts. But we don’t need to do this.

Selling your service or product using plain English makes you sound stronger, not weaker. If your product is top quality, you don’t need fancy gimmicks. If you can present it clearly and simply, your audience will see the value of what you’re selling. The only time this more humble approach may be a problem is when your product is sub-standard, in which case you should spend more time improving it before thinking about how to sell it.

Don’t Push Too Hard

With so much content out there, it might seem like we have to shout evermore loudly to be heard. But the real trick is to speak more personally to your audience, rather than with increased volume.

Imagine you’re trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak any English. Raising your voice and speaking more slowly won’t necessarily help them understand what you’re trying to say. If anything they’ll probably end up feeling patronized and they’ll start to think you’re an arrogant fool. Not only will they think you a fool, but they might then imagine that your foolishness is a character trait of your nationality. However, if you can use your imagination, think intuitively and make them smile, communication becomes much easier, even with a language barrier. If you can connect, they’ll want to listen to you.

The same is true for content. Pushy advertising puts people’s defenses up and they switch off. The worst case scenario is that they not only switch off listening to one of your products, but to your business or brand as a whole.

Write With a Clear Mind

Knowing what you want to say, and who you want to say it to, will help enormously. It’s tempting to try and write content which will be appealing to everyone, but this can lead us into the style-over-substance trap. We’re so eager to interest everyone that we forget what our product is really about, and forget the people we should be focusing on.

The truth is it’s impossible to please all the people all the time. That’s a not a failing, it’s an inevitable fact, and the time you take initially to think about who you’re writing for will benefit you in the future. Customers who feel that their intelligence is being respected will be more willing to listen.

When reviewing your content, ask yourself these three questions: Is it simple? Will those who need this product feel excited by it? And does it sound human?

This post came courtesy of Lucy Faraday, a full-time professional writer and researcher for over five years.


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