3 principles that matter more than content trends in 2017 Sunday January 1, 2017

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Happy 2017! Now, I know it’s traditional at this time of year to look at the trends which might shape the near future. Exploring the developments that could affect the prospects for content and copywriting is certainly something I’ve done before, from looking at my wishes for the year ahead to considering what might change for business copywriting in the new year.

Misleading messages?

Opinion on the latest trends is everywhere right now. While it can give an insight into just what might happen over the next 12 months, I do think it can be misleading. The message from all those trends articles seems to be that we should be leaping onto the latest bandwagon and embracing the changes without further ado.

Yes, marketing never stops and yes, we all need to keep adapting. But becoming hung up on the trends can get in the way of applying some essential principles in copywriting and marketing.

What’s going to be big in 2017?

Of course, there are some very interesting things to look out for this year. Like the potential for “dark social” to help marketers grow their audiences and the anticipated rise of optimisation for user intent in SEO. People are also talking about “conversational experiences” via chatbots and how they’re anticipated to be the next big thing. So, yes, there are plenty of reasons to get excited about content and copywriting in the year 2017. But let’s take a step back first…

Vital principles

Before we “follow the trend”, as so many of those trends articles exhort us to do, shouldn’t we first be sure that our content and copywriting strategy follows some vital principles? These are:

1. Be unique

Why? Not simply because your business is a “special snowflake”, but because being unique is a commercial advantage. Uncovering and strengthening your own voice can help you appeal more quickly to the right people. Be generic and fade in with countless others. Be unique and be remembered. So, before you follow the latest trends, make sure that your content and copywriting approach follows this tenet. Your business is unique. Shouldn’t your content be too?

2. Be relevant

You can’t be relevant to everyone out there. That way blandness lies. So, decide who it is your content is actually for first. Think about those people in detail. What matters to them? What interests them? How do they talk about your industry? Then ensure every word you write about your business matches that. Chasing after the newest and hottest change in the market is no good if the content you’re creating is generic.

3. Be precise

Those year-ahead trends articles are very tempting, with their seductive calls to leap on the latest bandwagon. But having content that’s precise comes first. When I say precise, I mean content in which every word is dedicated to communicating what your business is about and why it’s the right one to help your audience. You can achieve this by constantly asking yourself why you’re saying it and why you’re saying it in that particular way. That will help ensure that your content is on point and dedicated to making things happen – not just simply filling a space, as so much content ends up doing.

Some things are always true

Standing at the start of another year is a reminder that time moves on and that life – and marketing – keep on changing. But some things stay the same. One of them is that content has the power to inspire response, shape opinion and create business relationships – when it’s done effectively. Here’s wishing you a happy and fulfilling 2017!

By Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, Nottingham, January 2017

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