If you want writing that sells, you need to create relevant, compelling blogs, videos, and eBooks. Marketing writing is an essential skill for any small business.
But the great news is, it only looks complicated. With these few essential tools in your inbound marketing toolbox, you’ll be creating persuasive copy before you know it. Here’s how:
Determine Your Buyer Personas
What is a Buyer Persona?
Simply put, buyer personality is a fictional imagining of your ideal customer, based on actual customer information – things like online behavior, demographic data, education, buying habits, etc..
You can’t sell to someone if you don’t know who they are or what they need. That’s why knowing your brand’s buyer persona is, possibly, the most important step in creating marketing writing. When you understand your customer it’s easier to create copy for your marketing and appeal directly to their needs, such as:
- What is your ideal customer’s biggest problem or concern?
- What are their most pressing needs?
- What are they interested in?
- Where/ How will you talk to them: blogs, social media platforms (like Facebook or Twitter), or search engines?
How to Start Building Your Buyer Character
Your buyers’ character is essential for creating marketing writing. Start building your buyer character by looking at your existing customer base. Who buys your product or hires your services today? Start by compiling a list of essential data that includes information such as:
- Geographic location
You will probably end up with one data grouping – and that’s great, because each data cluster is a separate customer you can sell to! For each data cluster, give your character a name, a job title, approximate age, education level, and so on.
For example, I do a lot of business journalism, and one of my ideal ‘buyer’ characters is Kevin.
He’s a Chief Human Resources Officer. He holds advanced business degrees and has worked his way up to a position of respect and authority. He’s busy (no time for plumped up blog posts) but needs clear, actionable takeaways relevant to his business. He lives in a densely populated city and works in its financial business core.
His biggest problem is keeping his workforce engaged. Knowing this, I can create compelling marketing copy for his company with greater precision by asking myself these fundamental questions:
- What is the biggest problem on Kevin’s desk today?
- What information does he need to solve that problem?
- What’s happening in Kevin’s industry today? What’s trending?
- What is Kevin looking for online?
When you understand what’s behind a buyer’s decision to visit your site, you can maximize on that for great results.
Developing Your Buyer Character
Now that you have the basics down – what your customer’s most pressing need is – it’s time to begin considering all the ways your buyer does her online research before making a purchase.
- What types of information is your buyer consuming online?
- Is your customer influenced by trending or otherwise recommended articles?
- Do they read blogs?
- Are they YouTube or video watchers?
- Or do they get their info by listening to podcasts?
- How do they spend their time online?
- Is your ideal customer a regular on Facebook?
- Are they on Instagram before they get out of bed?
- Is social media their lifeline?
These questions will help you to get a defined image of your ideal buyer, who they are, and what they need.
Remember, the more detail you provide the easier it will be to create marketing writing for your ideal buyers, from reader to customer.
Audit Your Marketing Copy
If you’re like most Americans, the word audit can stir up anxiety for even the most seasoned professional, especially if you’ve ever experienced the inquiring eye of the IRS.
But when it comes to creating marketing writing, an audit can be your new best friend. It can help you identify weaknesses in your content plan. Once identified, you can replace them with more compelling pieces.
Content Audit How-To
Unlike the IRS, auditing your content is easier, and significantly more fun. Start by gathering any and all existing marketing copy you’ve created. If you’ve been writing for a while, stick to content created during the past twelve months, otherwise grab everything you’ve written since your launch: blogs, eBooks, videos, podcasts, infographics, and so on.
A spreadsheet can help you stay organized. Try assigning your marketing writing to one of the following spreadsheet headings or categories:
- Content Type: Blogs, eBooks, Videos, Infographics, etc.
- Content Covered: What is the main/ principal topic or subject
- Buyer Character: which one(s) of your buyer characters would read/ watch this
- Go Live Date: When did you post this?
Once you’ve organized your content take a look at what you have, with the following questions in mind:
- Do you consistently write about one subject?
- Are there key topics you’ve mentioned lightly in passing that should be a higher priority?
- Are you writing for all your buyer characters? Or just one?
A careful review will help you get a better overview of the message you’re currently putting out there for customers and better position you to tweak that marketing copy for maximum results.
Next, it’s time to look into your buying cycle and see the important impact your content is having on your inbound marketing process.
Without marketing writing, customers won’t know who you are, or why they need your products and services. Content starts by generating interest and awareness about your brand and guides readers through the process of conversion from lead to customer, typically following four general phases:
- Brand Awareness
- Brand Research
- Brand Comparison
- Decision + Purchase
Each of your buyer characters will navigate each of these four phases a little differently, and that means tying your marketing writing to each step of your buying cycle.
During this initial phase, potential customers are introduced to your products and services with the developing realization that you align with a need they are currently experiencing.
Blog content and social media posts are ideal communication methods for developing brand awareness.
After the initial introduction to your product or service during the brand awareness phase, prospective customers begin to seek out potential solutions to problems they are experiencing.
At this point in their conversion journey eBooks and reports help to build your authority, encouraging potential customers to continue learning about your brand.
This critical phase sees potential customers compare your product or service to others offering similar or related solutions to their current problem. Case studies and customer testimonials help your brand shine as prospects begin to whittle down their list of potential vendors.
Decision and Purchase
During this final phase providing a carefully detailed product or service information, such as analyst reports supporting your brand, will help you improve final stage conversion rates.
In the land of content that converts, your editorial calendar is king.
By this point, you probably have a pretty darn good understanding of who you’re writing for and what they need. And now that you do, it’s time to sew it all up and create your editorial calendar.
By doing so you’ll not only never stare at a blank page and wonder ‘what do I write?’ but you’ll know that every piece of writing you create is another step forward in an inbound marketing plan that converts potential prospects into repeat customers.
Ideally, you should be able to review 12 weeks of posts at a time easily. I love spreadsheets. I know, geek, right? We all have our favorite technologies, so be sure to use the format that works best with your creativity.
If you’re not into spreadsheets, Google Calendar or MS Project are also excellent editorial calendar tools. A friend and fellow inbound marketer swears by a whiteboard on his office wall that he continually updates. Which method is the best?
It’s simple: whichever one you’ll use! So choose a favorite and let’s get started.
I’m a big fan of starting at the finish line. In other words, I like to look at where I want to be in three, six, or twelve months and work backward to develop a plan that will help me get there. Some finish line targets you might consider include:
- Daily, weekly, or monthly website traffic
- Number of leads generated monthly
- Number of actual customers generated monthly
- Percentage of increase from month to month
These questions are just guidelines to help you get started. This is your business – build your targets to meet your goals. Success is having the company you want, not the company somebody else thinks you should have!
Go back over your audit information and consider how many and what types of marketing copy you’ll need to meet the goals you have just outlined.
Check your calendar against key industry dates. Is February a big month for your niche? Does winter mean a veritable shut-down? Is summer your busy season? When filling your editorial calendar with tasks, keep select dates in mind.
For example, if you sell pumpkin spice pie kits, putting extra emphasis on the months leading up to Halloween with a new blog, video, and social media posts makes sense. Once November comes around, increasing frequency and the variety of content is a good plan. YOu may also want to add paid advertising to the mix.
For each piece of content, assign a format (i.e. blog content, social media post, eBook, etc.) and a buyer character. Don’t overlook how long each piece will take you to create.
If blog posts take three days to write and two days to edit and publish, one a week is great. But if you enjoy taking a week to draft your blogs then consider updating your site every ten days, instead of once weekly.
Mix up your buyer characters and content type to ensure a comprehensive assortment and coverage for all areas. The goal is to have a fully rounded calendar that contains a variety of topics, content formats, and buyer characters.
Finally, make a list of SEO keywords and the desired call to action (CTA) for each blog post for each buying cycle phase
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
We all know that the three Rs are important for the future of our environment, but did you know they are also relevant to your inbound marketing plan?
While you will need to publish new content on a regular basis, marketing writing doesn’t necessarily need to be original.
If you posted a video about ways to get the most out of your credit card points, you can reduce the amount of time you need to create a blog post by recycling the idea.
Take the base idea “credit card points” and reuse the video content by writing a blog post based on the information you used in your video. Voila, two pieces of content from the same information!
Filling Up Your Editorial Calendar
Now that you’ve done all the necessary research and background work on your editorial calendar it’s time to decide what specific subjects you’ll actually write about.
Sure, you know what topics you want to discuss and what character you want to write for, but you still need to come up with a unique article, blog, social media, or video segment idea and a great attention-grabbing headline, too.
Where to Get Ideas for Marketing Writing
To succeed in your industry, you need to know your industry. Set up alerts, RSS feeds, and sign up for industry newsletters to stay up to date on industry trends and issues. Spending fifteen minutes each morning on these updates will give you insight and great, relevant issues to write about.
For example, if you’re selling jewelry online that features a fish design and there’s a new Disney fish movie coming out, you can use news of that upcoming movie release as a tie in to talk about your latest product line.
Hashtags and Other Social Media Chatter
Social media is ideal for getting real-time information about what’s actually happening in your industry. Pay careful attention to what your industry is saying and soon you’ll have more great, highly shareable subject ideas for marketing copy than you know what to do with.
Look at current hot topics in your industry. Is there a new hashtag trending? Can you write a blog, post a video, or create a short eBook on this subject? By doing so, you’ll maximize on an industry trend and draw unique visitors to your brand.
Another great tool for creating marketing writing is building a resource file on your computer, phone, and tablet and save great memes, photos, captions, notes, and ideas. Then, when you sit down to begin creating content, review your resource files for excellent additions to your blog, video, or eBook!
Your Annual or Semi-Annual Top Ten List
A wonderful way to leverage existing content to attract new visitors is by creating an annual, or semi-annual ‘top ten’ list.
Christmas is a very good time to assemble a list of your favorites or other ‘top ten’ items from the previous year – that would make an ideal holiday gift.
Have specific blog posts that attracted the lion’s share of readers each month? Pop them into an offline format, with an additional one or two blogs and you’ve got a great eBook to promote your brand.
Evergreen content – articles and content that are enjoyable and relatable any time of the year – can suddenly become very viral. Maintain an up-to-date record of all your evergreen content and keep an eye out for trending issues.
Often you’ll find ways to promote existing content to new audiences because of newsy and time-sensitive stories that trend. A quick check of Twitter will give you a snapshot overview of topics worth tweeting about.
A Final Word about Marketing Writing
By following these tips and trips, you’ll create great marketing copy for your business that will translate into success for your inbound marketing success.
But, it won’t happen overnight.
Because of the ‘always on’ approach to the internet that has permeated almost every aspect of our lives, it can be tempting to walk away from something online if it doesn’t generate results right away.
Don’t give in to that temptation.
Before you start, commit to giving yourself a year – yes, a full twelve months – to create compelling content for your brand.
Authority isn’t built overnight and neither is success. You need a solid, stable foundation from which to soar – and great marketing writing is the foundation you need for your online success.