“You wanted to name him Salt”: creating content that connects

"Copywriting is an art. Invest in your editors. Emotional incidentals make for great writing." These and other gems from The Content Marketing Show...

By: Clare Howdle,   4 minutes

content marketing content that shines

While Feeding in London this Friday, the sun was truly shining. Of course, it was literally shining in Russell Square (which made for a nice lunch break), but inside the Institute of Education too, it felt like bright rays were beaming down. Because we were at a conference where words, storytelling and compelling copy were being celebrated.

The Content Marketing Show was a day-long event, which saw delegates and speakers gather to talk about the newly-named (yet age-old) art of getting a message across through high quality brand-generated content. It may have started way back in 1900 with the first Michelin Guide, but content marketing has had a new lease of life of late, as brands rediscover how it can provide consumers with the sort of informative, entertaining and engaging content that builds loyalty – particularly in today’s digital, sharing, tweeting world.

The emphasis of the day was most certainly on creating material that was eminently shareable, would deliver conversions and could be analysed. There was also a (slightly unnerving focus) on Big Data and drilling down to the detail of demographic behaviour to dictate what content you create and when.

The discussions around strategic, objective-focused content, editorial planning, multi-platform dissemination, added value, researching your audience and measuring success were engaging, but it was soundbites like ‘copywriting is an art’, ‘connect with your consumer through stories’ and ‘invest in great editors, it’s worth it’, that almost had me hooting with glee.

Indeed, in amongst all the tech chat a simple truth filtered through – that to have great content you need great writers (working to a great strategy) and that without impactful stories your content won’t sing – no matter what the media.

Matt Roberts from Linkdex with his innovative SMARTER content measuring mechanism, Laura Edwards from Nitter Natter with her focus on ensuring you create content worth sharing and Tony Samios from Caliber on the importance of storytelling were particularly inspiring, as was Ben Redford from Mint Digital – who’s desire to connect the digital world with the physical one through ‘things and stuff‘ led  to innovations like the nostalgically intoxicating Instagram 35mm mini projector, Projecteo.

It was a jam-packed day and I left with a head buzzing with ideas and white spots dancing in front of my eyes. Though I couldn’t tell if that was the from the bright light outside, or the bright sparks in.

Here’s to quality content, whatever the media, and to well crafted words. Because they really do rule. And it feels like the industry is beginning to recognise it again. Bring it on.

The best bits (in my eyes) from The Content Marketing Show:

Make me care, please
Creating content that is shareable is easy. No-one shares average so make it exceptional, original and engaging – whether that’s informative or entertaining – and your users will be the rest.

It’s the emotive incidentals that make a great story.
Tony Samios showed us the Google Chrome advert where a Dad is emailing messages to his daughter as she grows up. At one point he attaches a photo and types “You’re a big sister!”, followed by “You wanted to name him Salt”. It was that line that gave me goosebumps. It felt emotional, authentic and real. Those six words are everything that is great about copywriting. A story in a sentence that can give readers shivers. We all need more of that.

Give content time to build authority
Quality content doesn’t convert over night. You have to allow your readers the time to ruminate, to believe in you and what you’ve got to tell them, to see you as an expert with something interesting to say. You need to show them you are their kind of person because you are giving them the valuable content they want, when they want it. This means when they come to buy they’ll remember and gravitate towards you. By raising awareness (with blogs, videos and news) you can nudge them towards considering you and your expertise on their own terms (newsletters, white papers and webinars) before they commit to purchase (after reading case studies, reviews and product details).

Get your team involved
From sales and IT to research and HR, you have a raft of interesting, knowledgable people in your company who probably have stories to tell. Encourage them to get involved in creating your content. Just make sure you have a great editor or editorial team in place to keep the quality high and the final material engaging.

Research your audience…
Make sure what you are creating is relevant to your target demographic. What are they already reading and sharing? How have they engaged with your content in the past? What do you know about them and their behaviour? If you’re targeting young, digitally active urbanites your content will need to be different in focus and style to what you’d create to connect with senior healthcare professionals, even if your product and brand is the same.

But don’t go too far
Big data is important but it isn’t everything. There is still a lot to be said for instinct, creativity, inventiveness and spontaneity. You can create content that is relevant, researched and informed, but don’t let data restrict you. Continue to think outside the box and try things out – so long as it’s on brand and on message, innovative thinking works. And can create great content. As Mint Digital’s Projecteo proves.

Don’t get too topical
You’ll be lost in a sea of topical content. Valentines Day, Christmas, getting ready for summer – there’s a glut of seasonal, time-relevant content out there and you need to stand out. Find your own unique hook that’s relevant to your audience and stick to it.

Reuse your content to make it work harder
Take an event talk for example. It could be the start of something big. From doing an event talk you could write a set of blog posts, run a live tweet Q&A, create a series of pertinent take aways from the talk, have an exclusive post talk interview, or even form a white paper interrogating the talk subject to share with your users. Content can be broken down and built up to give you maximum value across all sorts of platforms. Make sure you get the most out of it.

Always put your customers first
Think about what they want to hear and read, how they’ll react to your content and how you want them to act as a result. SEO is important, but customers are your ultimate focus.

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