Content That Works, Part 2 - The Four Don’ts of Content Writing

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Robert Bain’s presentation on crafting compelling content at Insights Marketing Day. The session highlighted a range of do’s and don’ts for content writing for the market researchers and marketers in attendance.

This post is part two of my write-up of Robert's session, and introduces you to his don’ts of content writing. You can check out the do’s here, but for those more interested in avoiding the don’ts, check out our take on Robert’s four key points below:

1. Don't get sucked in by your own hype

Robert illustrated this point with his ‘children hypothesis’. After hearing how all his friends happened to be the parents of child prodigies, he was sceptical that they might be ever-so-slightly biased. Yet, after recently becoming a parent, Robert now knows that his child is the real prodigy and is the most beautiful, intelligent baby who is advanced beyond his years. His sarcasm was not wasted on the audience.

The point is that companies get stuck in this mode and believe their business is uniquely brilliant - much like their own children. Robert stressed that this belief is a great starting point for any business, but also provides a valid argument for taking an outsider’s viewpoint. He advises that we ask valued contacts what content they find useful and engaging,  because only then will we truly know what our audience actually wants to read.

2. Don't just say it, prove it

Don't just tell people you're the best, show it. Following on from point one, Robert issued a word of warning to attendees to back-up the promises we make.

Hey - we’re all guilty of telling our audiences how wonderful we are (see point one). After all, we have products and services that we’re proud of and care about, so inevitably we sing our own praises. However, we must back this up across every customer touch point - from client services to the content we write.

Where content is concerned, Robert was keen to stress the power of getting into crunchy, meaty topics and avoiding industry censorship. This way we can avoid flowery, self-serving content and get right into the subjects that people will talk about and socialise.

3. Don't bury it

Don't just post and leave it, it's time to get that content out there. This point really resonated with me. The content we craft takes time, we deliberate over every word, editing and re-editing. Robert reminds us that this level of effort must also go into the promotion of that content.

He mentioned the usual platforms for promotion including blogs, newsletters and social media, but the most important note on this was to make shareable content. If we make content that people want to share then it won’t wither on the vine. It will be discussed and disseminated by social influencers and garner the attention that all our hard work warrants.

4. Don't get too attached to your messages

Here, Robert highlighted that a message is only a message if it is received by someone. We can be too quick to try and force our choice of wording down our audience’s throat. Yet unless they choose to hear it - and interpret it in the way we intend - then it could be wasted effort.

He stressed that we shouldn't over complicate and I agree. My personal take is that we should all offer a variety of messaging to cater to different tastes anyway. This will avoid the banality of re-hashed articles that already exist and deliver real value to readers.

Robert was kind enough to leave us with a little homework for the train journey home. A simple process of writing ten irresistible headlines for our own audiences and then building out a content plan from there. Think about what your readers want to see, and try it for yourself. We did it, so, keep your eyes peeled for our next ten posts - hopefully the content hits the right notes. If not, let us know what you’d like to see us write about in the comments section below.

To access part one of this article, just hit the following link: The 4 Do’s of Content Writing.


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