MARKETING

How the Pros Create Great Content

Is your content not hitting the mark? Here, Inc.com columnists share their tricks for writing content that's compelling.
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Marketing programs are absolutely content dependent. But so much of the writing today is flat and boring. A lot of content is written for the purpose of search-engine optimization (SEO) instead of engaging the reader. This approach may get hits, but the traffic is meaningless if it doesn't inspire anyone.

When I write columns, I always remember that I have responsibilities to you, the reader. The first is to inform. I know you want value when you take time to read a column. My second task is to entertain. The material needs to make you want to read on. And even though it doesn't all have to be like a standup comedy routine, it should never be dull and boring.

The key is to always remember that any content is primarily for the benefit of the reader.

Here are more content boosting tips from my Inc. colleagues.

1. Interview others.

Instead of just relying on what exists within my own experience about a topic, I interview others to get their thoughts and approaches. The process of talking through the topic with someone else adds depth and often uncovers areas I hadn't considered on my own. I then include supporting stories from my interviewees. These stories help to round out the content, and every supporting example isn't just from my perspective.

The added bonus: When I publish the content, those whom I interviewed will share it for me because I mentioned them and their story. It's a great technique for increasing your content's reach. Eric Holtzclaw--Lean Forward

Want to read more from Eric? Click here.

2. Have a point.

I've written many columns for Inc. Some were great. I'd like to think most were at least pretty good. However, we all fail sometimes, and as I look back, I think I can pick out the column that marks my least successful effort--one in which I made an error I've tried hard not to repeat. (Click here to read it.) In retrospect, it lacks focus. I started writing about one thing, shifted to another, and didn't realize what I'd done until it was too late. Thus, I broke the most important rule of column writing, storytelling, and content generation, as articulated best by actor/comedian Steve Martin in the 1987 movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: "When you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea--have a point! It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!" Bill Murphy Jr.--DC Bill

Want to read more from Bill? Click here.

3. Make it about them.

If the members of your audience can't immediately identify with your content, you're likely to lose them at "hello." Grab their attention with a compelling question or story that hits home. Then let your content unravel in a way that makes them feel like you are writing or speaking just to them. To achieve this, avoid addressing the masses; write to an audience you know well. Make it personal for the audience and you'll have a following for life! Marla Tabaka--The Successful Soloist

Want to read more from Marla? Click here.

4. Use the stats.

I have found that readers love statistics, counterintuitive results, and real-life stories, so I try hard to ensure that I get at least two out of three of these items in all of my content, whether it's a book, a magazine article, or an online column or blog post. There is an endless supply of business statistics (proving most any point you want to make), research and studies (many with surprising results), and interesting real-life stories (of business success and failure), all available within seconds by doing a simple Google search. Try novel combinations of search terms to get the really interesting stuff, and keep digging until you find what you're looking for. Peter Economy--The Management Guy

Want to read more from Peter? Click here.

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Last updated: Feb 12, 2014

KEVIN DAUM | Columnist

An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies and the executive producer of Amilya! on 77WABC New York.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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