There’s a crumpled piece of paper on my desk. It’s a handwritten note my mentor authored about 25 years ago. He sent in response to a marketing brochure I had asked him to proof. I obviously had not hit the mark, so he scribbled this template for me to follow:
“Hello. I want to tell you something. It is about you or something you care about. It won’t take long and there is a prize at the end.”
Marketing and public relations tactics have advanced light years over these ensuing two decades, yet my mentor’s fundamental principle of effective content has stood the test of time.
Here are four simple content writing tips that apply across channels–from presentations to social media appeals.
Make me a promise.
Very early on, I need to believe that I’m going to get something of value from listening to you or reading your message. Is your TedTalk going to uncover secrets that I'm dying to learn? Will your latest blog post make me smarter? Tell me upfront and I’ll stay to the end.
Make me want to care.
I like stories. We all do. I much prefer you tell me a good story rather than facts and figures. Go ahead and place key information within the story, but put it in a context that I care about. Show some emotion. I’ll even buy into a bit of tension. It keeps me awake and engaged.
Get to the point, and make it a good one.
I may be listening, but I’m probably multi-tasking. This doesn’t mean you need to beat me over the head with a painfully obvious message. Quite the opposite. Tell me something fairly profound that will make me stop and pay attention.
Start and end with a clear theme.
Stray too far from your message and you'll lose more than your thought process. Stick to your main points in order to keep me engaged. End with a clear message and I'll be inspired to take action.