Content is King

Eric Stewart - Eric Stewart Copywriter

I want to bring some balance into the message/media mix. I would also like to offer some words of advice for start-up enterprises based on my own business experience.

Social media has transformed the way that we communicate, as individuals sharing with friends and as businesses building a customer base through trust and recommendation. Little wonder that so much blog space is filled with ‘route to market’ advice. But, hang on a minute, what is it that we are sending on the chosen route? Content of course.

Communications Technology and Data Management are specialist fields that have changed forever the way that advertising agencies and their related services work. An over-emphasis on media channels however can confuse and overshadow the keystone of your marketing activities - content of course.

There are only two things that we can see on a website, facebook page, brochure or tablet of stone: words and images. It’s the content that sells, not the delivery system.

Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s vital that we get our messages to our target audience through channels which will maximise the ROI. We content creators must shape our copy style and structure to suit the intended platform. An integrated approach twixt message and media is clearly essential, but, putting media before message is like sourcing transport before the goods are ordered.

Whatever your business, whether you offer products or services, think hard about your target customers and your competitors. What sets you apart and will make you the chosen one? Define your USP and you have found your core message. This is particularly true for start-up enterprises. You need to sell yourself from the get-go. Don’t let anyone persuade you that advertising is a waste of money. Only bad advertising is. Good content is your best salesman and he should always return more than he costs.

You’re an expert in your business but don’t hesitate to talk to experts who know how and where to sell your offer. Beware of advice that confuses and jargon that is used for cool effect. And beware the myth-makers…

Myth 1: “Advertising is dead.” Good advice from those who believe Elvis is alive.

Myth 2: “The medium is the message.” Wrong – no message, no medium. But this from Marshall McLuhan who famously was paid a handsome fee by General Motors only to tell them that automobiles were a thing of the past.

Myth 3: “Marketing creates brands.” Truth – customer experience creates brands.

If you are a start-up business wanting to get your story read, (and why would you not?) my advice is to make sure it’s worth reading. Stating the obvious, yes, but attention spans are short in the digital age. You need content that says exactly what you do, (so many fail to do this with absolute clarity) and tells your reader what’s in it for them. Your target customers are not interested in you, only in what you can do for them!

Never talk down to your audience. As advertising guru David Ogilvy said, “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.” Using the right tone of voice to address your target customers and to be relevant to the chosen medium is critical.

When your prospects become customers do everything and more to keep them. If content is King in the marketing realm, customer service is Queen. You have done the hard work to win a customer - don’t lose her through shoddy after-sales service. Positive word-of-mouth is good news but in an age of universal critics the reverse can do untold damage. Negative comments on sites like TripAdvisor demonstrate this point perfectly.

Writing styles and language usage are continually being re-shaped in the rapidly changing world of communications. Social media and website structure can impose tight disciplines on the copywriter. Without discipline however, copy can lose focus, and the reader’s attention. Effective content is concise and targeted. Above all it involves the reader emotionally and calls him to action.

From a very different genre, Ernest Hemingway showed us in his shortest of short stories how much could be said with minimal content: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Six brief words that conjure up a wealth of imagery in the reader’s mind.

Finally, when you’ve said what you want to say, stop! .

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