By Jack Miles, Northstar Research
Our sector – research and insights – is more competitive than ever. Great marketing of your insights agency has therefore never been more important. Written content – blog posts, articles and white papers – are often the focal point for much insights marketing activity.
Therefore, you need to be able to write effectively to market your insights agency and succeed in an increasingly competitive environment.
Blending my own experience as a researcher, insight marketer and editor, here is a list of key do’s and don’ts that will allow you to improve the written content you produce when marketing your insights agency.
Do…Read Before You Write
Reading relevant media in the insights and marketing industries should be a hygiene factor for all insights marketers. This is important as it will identify what your audience want to read about, where content gaps lie and allow you to make sure that your content is providing a unique perspective. Additionally, the best way to improve the quality of your written content is to read high quality content yourself. There are lots of excellent producers of marketing content – learn their tricks and apply them.
Do… Learn About Your Audience
Before you write anything, think about who your audience will be. This helps shape written content in two main ways. Firstly, it will help you decide if a publication is worth writing for – knowing a publication’s audience will help you understand if that audience will help meet your content marketing objectives. Secondly, knowing the audience will help you decide what content is most valuable to them. Are they advertisers who may want to read about your creative testing approach or clientside researchers who may want to read about methodological innovation?
Do…Put the Audience First
Insights marketing audiences read content for their own benefit – they want something out of everything they read. For insights marketers, this means you need to tell your audience the benefit they get from reading your content. With your titles, tell your audience why reading your content will benefit them – this will grab their attention. Once you’ve secured their attention, relate your content to their interests and problems and tell them how you can help meet their needs. Furthermore, present this content in a way that respects their busy lives – keep your pieces short and use subheadings and formatting to represent the skim reading culture we live in.
Don’t…Overcomplicate Your Content
It is easy to confuse the skim readers of the 21st century. Avoid doing this by not using jargon, acronyms and overly technical language. This is harder than it seems as marketing is a jargon heavy industry and research methodologies are filled with overly-academic terminology. Assume that your audience needs to read things in the simplest terms possible. To simplify is not to patronise – it is to add clarity. However, appropriate language is just part of the solution. Clear structure and formatting is also needed to help an audience navigate your content. Use spacing and bolding to make key points and avoid using large blocks of text to give the impression your content is easy to read.
Every insight marketer wants to inject their agency’s message into their content. But don’t do so at the expense of your audience’s enjoyment. Continual citing of your own work, agency name or an oversized call-to-action at the end of your content will put your readers off a) the current piece and b) reading your work in the future. Written content should focus on delivering benefits to an audience – whether it be in the form of tuition and new perspectives not a sales pitch.
Don’t…Overpromise to Your Audience
There is nothing more frustrating than investing time in reading content only to find it hasn’t delivered on the promises made in its title and opening paragraph. Avoid doing this by focussing on the body of your content first and then design a title that befits what you’ve delivered second not vice-versa. Also, avoid hyperbole in your titles and opening paragraphs as this may mean you can never deliver on what you’ve promised. Much like overmarketing, overpromising can dissuade readers from engaging with you on an ongoing basis. Furthermore, who is ever going to contact you to discuss a working relationship if you’re already breaking promises at the point of contact?
So, insight marketers, remember that the written word is a key tool in your increasingly competitive marketplace. DO use it carefully to deliver your audience benefits. DON’T abuse it and compromise your long-term relationship with your audience.