The Power of Words
Winston Churchill famously said:
“The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
These words, like so many other of Winston Churchill’s wartime speeches, were carefully crafted to stir up emotion and galvanise the British resolve during the dark days of World War 2. Almost 80 years later they still have a huge power and resonance over anyone who hears them.
Churchill had long understood the power of words, writing at the age of 22 he said: "Of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory. He who enjoys it wields a power more durable than that of a great king."
It might surprise you to know that Churchill was not naturally a gifted public speaker. His speeches were not off-the-cuff, he spent a lot of time preparing and practising as well. Most of us don’t have to write speeches that will be broadcast to a nation, thank goodness. But all of us do write as part of our everyday business and when we write or speak we are listened to and the words we use have the power to help us grow our business or lose us customers.
At B Engaging, we create content for our clients that helps them engage with their customers and potential customers and presents them as experts and authorities in their field.
Content marketing is more than just a buzzword; it should be a key part of your marketing arsenal. Traditional marketing, like tv adverts and magazine ads, no longer work as effectively as they once did. Customers now interact with businesses very differently using digital platforms. We are a society completely driven by digital technology where communication is instant and we are overloaded by content. In fact we are so overloaded that the term ‘content shock’ is now a very real phenomenon. Every 60 seconds Google receives over 4 million search queries and there’s over 72 hours of YouTube video uploaded – that’s every minute of every day.
So how can you as a business get your voice heard above all of the noise and get your target audience to engage with you? Well, it goes back to an age old concept – using carefully crafted, considered words that when put together have a real power over their audience.
Here’s a whistle stop tour of the 8 reasons good writing is invaluable in your marketing.
1. Know What You Want To Say
Most people can write, few can do it well, fewer still can write good marketing copy. Effective copywriting requires a marketing slant, a way to make your product or service stand out amongst all the other thousands of marketing messages your target audience see every day. Great marketing content needs to highlight the crucial aspects of a product without being over-salesy
and it needs to do it quickly! You have a mere 6-7 seconds to grab someone’s attention on social media. When you are thinking about what your key messages should be there are some golden rules I always apply. They are: make it personal (it’s a well worn phrase but it remains true – people buy from people. The service you provide must never be your USP, how you make that customer feel, that’s your USP); Make it matter (Look at who your target audience is and what matters to them and make it matter to you too. That way they will be able to empathise with your brand.); Make it relevant (Always try and see your marketplace from your customer's perspective); and finally; Make it specific (think about what your audience wants and not what they need – benefits not features, sizzle not sausage).
2. Know How to Say It
Most people will not work too hard to find the golden nuggets of information amongst a whole load of waffle. Why should they? When creating great written content break down your key messages into scannable copy. Marketers also realize the best way to break down the features and benefits of their products is to produce scannable copy. This means writing short paragraphs, short sentences and only three to seven main points in each post.
It’s pretty obvious but avoid jargon. Even in content produced for a technical audience. We are all humans and we all want to be entertained. You can still sound authoritative and knowledgable without shoving in a truck load of jargon or acronyms. In fact, you’ll sound more so because you wont come across as trying too hard.
Don’t use subjective language. Phrases such as ‘We are the best…’ or ‘Solid Track Record’ have little to no meaning to your reader. It’s lazy writing.
Avoid clichés and an unnecessary amount of words. So, ‘think outside the box’ and, first and foremost make sure each and every word counts… see what I did there?
You are not Tolstoy and you are not writing War & Peace! Compress what you have to say into short, easy chunks. Using bulleted lists is an easy way to convey lots of information without a lot of clutter. They are easy to read and readers are naturally drawn to them.
4. Indulge in the art of conversation
Marketing professionals understand the importance of mirroring the tone of the people they engage with and tailoring their language to suit that audience. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to understand your target audience, so that you can speak to them in a way that engages with them. Think of the way in which you might speak to a toddler, a teenager, another adult. Don’t be a content snob! People love a list (which is why I’m giving you my top 8 reasons why good writing matters!), or a quiz and memes are endlessly shareable! Writing in a similar way to how people talk is crucial - even if the copy is filled with fragmented sentences.
5. Create a Sense of Urgency
You must always ask for business. Share great, educational content yes, definitely. Position yourself as a market leader, world authority, proven expert by all means yes, but once you’ve done that leave the reader with a clear direction to contact you or order the product. It might seem trite but there’s a reason why you see “contact us today to order” in bold or bright red type: there is no mistaking what to do next.
6. ‘What’s in it for me?’
You write to be read, you speak to be heard. The reader or viewer should always be your focus. Put yourselves in their shoes and think about what it is they want to hear.
7. Grammatically speaking
I am by no means the grammar police but I don’t believe you can create content that expresses ideas and opinions in a clear and engaging way without using grammar.
Rolled into this is the importance of reading back something you’ve written to check it before hitting ‘send’ or ‘post’. It’s a little thing but it makes a massive difference.
So, to conclude, you don’t have to be Shakespeare but good content is definitely worth investing in. Produce content that people want to read, watch or listen to and you are engaging with your audience in a meaningful way. A way that will endear them towards you and induce empathy with your brand. As one Senior Analyst put it:
‘Traditional marketing is telling them you are a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world that you are one.’