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Content marketing tips to get the conversation started


If the key to engaging consumers is building a connection, there is power in the art of conversation. When it comes to the written word, content is really a conversation with your readers, designed to build engagement and trust in your brand. And just as if you were having a face-to-face discussion with your customers, written content should leave the reader feeling warmth and attachment towards your brand and not as though they are being

preached to or lectured to.


Which begs the question, how can content build a brand presence that resonates with readers? That leaves them feeling connected and wanting more? Look no further, as I have some top tips below!


It’s all about ’you’

There can be few ways more powerful to connect with your readers than to make them feel the content is talking directly to them. Cue the use of the word ‘you’! Using the ‘second person' creates an immediate connection between you and your audience. They immediately feel part of the story and that the message is tailored to them directly.


Advertisers have been tapping into the power of ‘you’ for years. Think L’Oreal’s slogan, ’Because you’re worth it’, or Cadbury’s Creme Egg's tagline, ‘How do you eat yours?’ O2's website leads with ‘Get the phone you want for less.’ The second-person narrative makes readers feel included and a priority. And if the truth be told, we all like to feel as though we matter.


Ask engaging, open-ended questions


What would be your Desert Island Discs choices?


I’ll give you a second.


At this point you may be mentally shuffling through your Spotify playlists or trying to recall the best gig you have been to.


Whatever your thought process, I grabbed your attention just by asking a simple question that you saw long after I wrote it. Questions are powerful. Questions engage your readers. They hijack their attention. And if the question posed piques interest and is relevant, bingo - your reader is drawn in and mission accomplished!


Sentences - short in length, big on impact


Short sentences pack a punch.


As author and writing consultant Rudolf Flesch explained: “The longer the sentence, the more ideas your mind has to hold in suspense until its final decision on what all the words mean together … That means more mental work for the reader. So the longer a sentence, the harder it is to read.’


In short: Readers process short sentences more easily. And this time-scarce, distraction-rich world, any technique to create impact - and quickly- is gold.


But one caveat. Only using short sentences can feel too predictable and unnatural. You risk disrupting the flow of the conversation and losing your reader’s interest. So don't be afraid to mix it up as you would in a spoken conversation.


Focus on ‘straightforward but interesting’ words.


Complex words are hard work. They distract. They run the risk of the point of the article getting lost as the reader tries to decode what is being said. Don’t make your reader work. In fact, research goes so far as to say that readers interpret the use of more complex words as a sign of the writer's lower intelligence. Really? Yes, really. I know. Harsh, isn't it?


And as for interesting? Don’t be afraid to spice up your content with easily understood but quirky words. Think along the lines of 'ouch’, ‘flummoxed’ or ‘kerfuffle’. Used sparingly, they add depth to your writing, and provide a welcome break from the bland, vanilla text of many corporate publications.


Tear up the Grammar Rulebook.

Whatever you were told at school, when it comes to writing text, you can start a sentence with ‘but’ or even ‘and'. They almost always sound more relaxed and less stuffy than their more formal cousins, ’however’ or ‘additionally.’ Your tone will sound much more conversational, and the text will flow more naturally.


Using jargon

The decision to use jargon will very much depend on your audience. When speaking to industry peers, it will make your audience feel connected and included, as well as instill trust in you as the writer. But when used with the uninitiated, jargon runs the risk of alienating your readers, screaming ‘you’re not part of our club, you don’t belong here.’


So, if unsure, remember no one has ever complained that text was too easy to understand. It’s better to be inclusive and clear in your messaging than lose readers and interest by bamboozling them with jargon and acronyms that leave them feeling as though you are talking above them, not to them.


Keep paragraphs short and sharp

Whatever pearls of wisdom your text contains, or life-changing content you have to share with your audience, long blocks of copy can prove overwhelming for your reader. It’s like embarking on a conversation knowing you will be talked at for the next 15 minutes. Your reader can’t catch a breath to digest each point and you lose them before even starting.


The answer? Prioritize short paragraphs. Add sub-headings to help guide your reader through the conversation. Pepper the subheadings with keywords and you will boost your SEO too.


Don't shy away from contractions.

Contractions are part of our day-to-day conversation. ‘I’ll’, ‘won’t’, and ‘can't’ are everywhere. Using them sounds natural, warm and engaging. When you find opportunities to use them, pounce on them.


Let your personality shine

Readers don't want to feel like they are connecting with a robot, a machine, or a textbook. They want to feel the human element in the content they consume, which shows life, emotion and personality. Avoid falling into the 'Blah blah, blah' content abyss and bring your text to life with words that reflect the voice of your brand, and let your brand personality shine.

Think Dove beauty brands. Their campaign for real beauty, launched in 2004, was designed to build self-confidence in women and children, an ethos that permeates all of their communications. See the below from the ‘About Us’ section of their website. Their choice of language focuses on care, self-esteem, and inclusivity.

We care about all women, female-identifying and non-binary people. We want to redefine beauty standards and help everyone experience beauty and body image positively. We care about the future generation: helping girls build positive self-esteem through the Dove Self-Esteem Project, ensuring the world they enter is removed of toxic beauty standards. We care about how we make our products and what goes into them, about the impact we have on our planet and how we can strive for a better, more sustainable way of being.


If you would like a conversation about your content requirements, and how I can support your marketing with copy designed to entice, engage and convert , I would love to hear from you!

Call me on 07951 538838 or email me at michelle@wordswithimpact.co.uk


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