Content That Works, Part I - The Four Do’s of Content Writing

This week, the Voxpopme marketing team were delighted to attend the inaugural Insights Marketing Day in London. The UK version of GreenBook’s successful New York event promised better marketing for market researchers and delivered it with superbly-performed speaker slots.

It is difficult to choose the day’s standout session, but as a content writer it has to be ‘Make Yourself Useful - Content That Clients Look Forward to Reading’ by freelance writer and editor Robert Bain (formerly of MRS Magazine).

Robert’s witty presentation delved into the art of content writing for B2B organisations, offering eight simple tips to make content stand out. These tips were neatly served up as the four do’s, and four don’ts that every content writer should use as a writing guide. As indicated by the title, this post is part one of two, and will focus on the do's.

So, without further ado, here are Robert’s key points...

Point 1: Get off the fence

Robert placed a huge emphasis on the importance of having strong opinions. We must stand for something, even in the private world of market research. This does not have to be controversial and aim to upset the apple cart; we just can't afford to be bland. Otherwise, our content efforts will fade into obscurity - a harsh fate considering the emotional labour that writing requires.

The point was poignantly reiterated with a quote from comedian and journalist, David Mitchell, who recently stated, 'right is a bonus, interesting is a living'. There were commercial examples too, such as Sprint’s ‘Stop Buying Tech' campaign which resonates because, in Robert’s words, strikes a bold and uncompromising tone. Both of the examples above prove that to have an impact with our content, we must speak our minds and deliver with conviction. Only then will our writing intrigue and compel.

Point 2: Find your voice

In this section, Robert urged the audience to have faith in their voice and their ability to communicate with people. The reminder that stood out here was that to be truly original and deliver authentic content, we must leave the buzzwords in the boardroom.

This time, the point was illustrated with the commonality of jargon in the modern press release - everybody is currently ‘redefining’, and before that they were ‘game-changing’. Robert sympathised with the use of these words acknowledging that sometimes they are required. I know I am guilty as charged for using them from time to time, so here’s to originality and a jargon-free future.

Point 3: Make it Shorter

This point hit home. With a past life in public affairs, writing my initial drafts can sometimes resemble War and Peace - at least in length. Robert highlighted his point by explaining that the majority of content is too long. He even suggested that if we lop 25% off all content, the world would probably be a better place. One of the many examples used was how the average Youtube video is 4+ minutes in length - yet the average duration of the top 50 Youtube videos is just over 2 minutes.

So how do we make our content shorter? We must see editing as the distillation process for refining wordy writing. Robert asked us to imagine every word costing money, but the currency we are using is the reader’s attention. So, if we can say it in fewer words, let’s.  

Point 4: Play to your strengths

Robert’s opening gambit on this was ‘We are totally on top of this’. He implored us to show confidence and boldness in our field and commit to it.  If we make this leap of faith the rewards will shine through in our content. Robert highlighted this with another real life example, this time in the shape of research giants, Ipsos Mori whose public opinion research makes them the go-to experts when the news industry looks to cover public opinion. This is why they are invited onto new media to offer their two cents on Brexit or the latest election poll.

We all have something to bring to the table with an array of specialisms and services that are unique to us. Now is time to show them off.

If you found these tips useful, keep an eye out for the four don’ts of content writing next week. In the meantime, we'd love to hear your do's for content writing in the comments box below.

Also, don't forget to follow @iamrobertbain on Twitter, or visit to see his latest musings.



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