Greetings, and welcome to the second installment in my series about the merits of ghost writing. In Substantiating the Ghost (Writer): Part 1, I went over important qualities for your content writing service to have if it’s to properly represent you in print, and I put a lot of focus on getting a company’s “voice” right. Every company needs to be represented uniquely in print, and doing so successfully is a hallmark of a seasoned content writer.
However, while getting on social media is an important part of content writing, it’s not all of it. A lot of exterior research needs to go on in order for your company’s “voice” to not only sound good, but have the knowledge and information needed in order to not only write good content, but get that content to convert. How’s it done? Read on.
Research This: It’s Important
Research is the cornerstone of all writing, whether you’re going for a dissertation or a drip marketing email. Research is what separates the chaff from the champions – and believe you me, I’m always looking to be at the top of the content writing game. Here’s an inner look at the writer’s mind when the writer is looking to haunt your business.
While this example is outside of the realm of content marketing, Philip Neil writes a beautiful piece with Research, Writing, and Getting a Life. He says that all good research for writing is like detective work – and truer words were never spoken.
Even though I’m hindered by my ability to talk about specific clients due to NDA contracts (a bond that is holy and not to be broken), I’d like to speak a little bit about research I’ve done for a client in the automotive industry.
Now, I’m not a mechanic, and I don’t have much of a natural affinity for cars. However, when it comes to providing on-point content that converts for a client, I’m ready to roll on all eight cylinders.
The good news is that there’s plenty of literature out there about the beauty of cars, even for those who don’t know the difference between a chassis and a carburetor. (Note: I now know the difference between a chassis and a carburetor. See? Research does wonders!)
To give you an example, these were the references I consulted when building conversion based content for my client:
I have to admit that the research is sometimes my favorite part of the process. It’s enjoyable to learn about new things – both the client’s particular business and the industry as a whole.
If you’ll notice, however, there’s nothing specific about these resources. That is, assuming that my client sells oil dipsticks, it’s not as if I’m going to get a lot of hard information about that particular car component in Motor Trend.
The research done on major publications in the industry is what helps me wrap my mind appropriately around the client’s copy. Sure, I could sit down and write 200 words about dipsticks, but that’s not going to get the client to convert. In order for content marketing to work its magic, the writer doesn’t just sell a product – the writer sells the expertise of the company involved. I wouldn’t want to write product specs for a dipstick – I want to make the dipstick company an authority on all matters car-related.
Expanding the scope of my writing through research also allows me to write about a variety of things. A blog that solely revolves around dipsticks is going to have a limited audience. But a blog that can talk about everything from pricing announcements on the Mitsubishi EV to the Aston Martin Cygnet launch is going to appeal to a broader swath of people. The research is necessary, even though you may not see it directly in the writing – understanding the bones of the business is essential to representing it.
This, in essence, is the heart of content marketing. Not only does the writer have to understand how to write, they also have to have the ability and the desire to dig deep. A ghost writer isn’t a ghostwriter until they understand the industry enough to disappear in it, and understanding a dipstick isn’t the same as understanding a car.
In short, don’t be a dipstick. Sell them – with the power of content.