In a recent post I talked about how a planned approach can help maintain the flow of good quality articles and posts. But what about when you sit down to put pen to paper-or should that be fingers to keyboard these days? Your plan has got you to beginning to write your article but wouldn’t it be great if there was a framework you could apply to writing good quality content? Well, there is! In fact, there are several. Here are some ideas to help you structure your creativity.
Tell a story
Think from the point of view of your reader. Engage with them and make your story interesting Ensure you are saying something your reader will want to read rather than just something you want to say.
Beginning, Middle, End
Again this may seem obvious but it is amazing how often people forget this basic structure. By leading your readers through your content in a logical way, it is easier for them to follow your train of thought. My advice is to simply write notes in the first place. Words, ideas, bullet-points; anything you can think of about your subject, then start to lay them in a logical order that introduces your topic and develops your message while giving the information readers will want to see, then leading to a natural conclusion and sign-off.
Just because you know something doesn’t mean everyone does
Another common error is assuming that just because you know something your readers will too. Be careful not to use jargon and acronyms unless you are confident that everyone will know what you are talking about. Read through your work and make sure it has flow. Ideally, get someone else to read it too and ask for honest feedback. Constructive criticism can be immensely useful.
Let’s Get Marketing
Don’t forget though, you aren’t just story-telling to be entertaining. Your content should be promoting your business and encouraging readers to engage with you and ultimately do business with you. The ideas I introduce above are certainly useful but adding a promotional/business angle is the way to help your content to become commercially effective. There is a long-established model for writing marketing content which, I believe, has as much relevance today as it did decades ago. There are numerous variations on the theme but the most common is: AIDA
Attention – Interest – Desire – Action
Although AIDA is perhaps the most widespread, personally, I favour a variation which moves from an operatic theme to family assistance: AID PA
Attention – Interest – Desire – Proof – Action
The words define clear elements for your content. Let’s take each in turn.
You probably have no more than a headline (and maybe a sentence) to grab your reader’s attention. Within the first glance, they need to see that what you are writing about is something they want to read. However you start, don’t forget to write for your audience. Even your style of words can affect whether you get people’s attention.
OK, you have got past first base and have the attention of your reader. This is where your content needs to deliver, building from the initial connection to develop real engagement by building a picture of how your business can deliver real value and benefit. This benefit can be quite subtle so long as it is clear, the important thing is that your reader’s engagement is growing. They want/need to know more…
The switch from interest to need is the point where your reader make a commitment to you, they now recognise they can be better-off with your ideas/propositions, but there can be a problem….what if you can’t do what you say you can do?
This is where the P-Proof comes in. These days, we are bombarded by tales of scams and dishonesty, fraud and disappointment. People are (not surprisingly) wary of someone who appears to offer a great proposition but who doesn’t back up their promises with any proof. Customer testimonials, endorsements, case studies, technical reports etc. are all great ways of reinforcing your message with third-party evidence. Even if you stick with the AIDA model, don’t be surprised if you are asked for proof down the line!
I said it before but it is worth repeating, you are in business and want people to engage with you. Make it easy for them to take the next step by telling them what the next step is! Depending on what you are expecting, it may well be enough to give your contact details and invite interested readers to get in touch. At the other end of the scale, you can build urgency through ‘Limited-Time-Offers’ or ‘While-Stocks-Last’. It really does depend on your audience. Finally, don’t forget that marketing is a process, not an event. While AIDPA was (and is) a classic model for writing marketing letters and other one-hit methods, marketing these days is about engagement, relationships and customer choice. If you come on too heavy, too quickly you are as likely to lose an opportunity as to gain one. Hopefully, I have given you some ideas to help you develop your own structured content creation but if you would like some help, do get in touch.