Content marketing is the marketing strategy du jour, but it’s hard to tell your business’ story honestly from the inside. What’s your most effective advice for entrepreneurs who want to write customer-facing copy that WORKS?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
1. Write Like You Talk
As advertising man Robert Collier said, your messages should “Enter the conversation already taking place in your prospect’s mind.” So, in order to write copy that works, you first need to know what’s on your prospect’s mind. Get out of your office, pick up your phone, and talk to your customers. Find out what messages resonate. Then, write as if you were talking to another person, 1-to-1.
– Pete Kennedy, Main Street ROI
2. Practice Makes Perfect
Writing with confidence takes time and, well, lots of writing. Start a personal blog, jot down thoughts in a journal, pen letters to friends– whatever it is, the more you write, the better you’ll get!
– Derek Flanzraich, Greatist
3. Find the WHY
Ask your current clients why they use your product/service. After they give you that why, ask them why that’s important to them. Keep going until you’re four levels deep. Once you hit this 4th level of WHY, you’ll have a true understanding of why your client uses your product. Use this why on all messaging, materials, and copy, because it will truly resonate with your potential clients.
– Jay Wu, Best Drug Rehabilitation
4. Define the Problem
Focus on the customer’s problem, and create copy that defines and explains his problem better than he can. If you can articulate his problem better, he will believe you understand and have the solution to his problem.
– Charles Gaudet, Predictable Profits
5. Give Customers Something They Can Use
The best way to write quality content is to come up with unique and actionable tips that your customers can actually use. If your readers know they can count on your advice as being correct, current, and relevant, they’ll remain faithful to your business. Far too many businesses and websites post information that’s either incorrect our outdated, and nothing can be more frustrating for a customer.
– Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
6. Tell Their Story (Not Yours)
When talking about copy, we always hear “show don’t tell” and “emphasize benefits not features.” But what does this really mean? Simple. Think about what your customers want — what is important to them — and then tell it to them straight. No customer wants to hear your story until they’re convinced that you understand, and care about, their own stories.
– David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services
7. Mix Up Your Medium
It is incredibly difficult to craft one blog or one page on a website that tells your full story. Instead of taking on that burden, instead communicate consistently and across different media with your customers. Your website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter stream and even videos of your office will provide customers with true insight into your business’s story.
– Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
8. Share What You’re Learning
I’ve found that sharing what I’m learning along the way — from clients, from other sources, and from my own life experience — is the best way to be authentic and effective. If I’m impressed by or interested in something, those who follow me by newsletter, blog, or social media probably will be too.
– Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E®
9. Become a Storyteller
You know how some people are just great storytellers, no matter what they’re saying? It’s all in the delivery. Don’t sell people, but tell a compelling story that will have them hooked, using the proper tone, creativity, and, certainly, elements of humor (without being a clown) in an informal manner.
– Nicolas Gremion, Foboko.com
10. Hire An Expert
Copywriting is a VERY intricate, psychological process.When reading sales copy on other pages, you don’t appreciate this fully. However, when you’re looking at optimization statistics, you get the point. Unless you’re a copywriting pro, you likely won’t get the most out of your conversions. Pony up a little cash and get some help. You’ll be glad you did.
11. Record Yourself
For one project I had a copywriter write down a bunch of questions for me to answer, and I recorded the answers and sent her the recording. Doing the recording in one shot allowed her to get to know me better, which is so important if you’re working with someone else on your business copy. It has to be 100% authentic to you.
– Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World
12. Test, Test, Test
As a guy who runs a marketplace for businesses to hire writers, I can tell you first hand that writing is like anything else — you won’t know what works until you test it out. Tools like Optimizely, Google Website Optimizer and Unbounce help you take the guessing out of what works and what does not. Have multiple iterations of copy ready for every page, and test to see what works/what resonates.
– Sunil Rajaraman, Scripted.com