20 content habits to drop Monday July 3, 2017

A core copywriting truth is that staying visible means staying valued. But there are many routes to fading fast in the quick moving marketing landscape we’re all part of now. Like your content to be noticed? Avoid these 20 errors…

1. Stick with what you’ve got

I’ve seen this many times. Companies work hard to apply a copywriting approach to their marketing. Then they leave it…for months, even years. For a great way to fade from view, just keep re-using the same old content and copywriting approach.

2. Ignore your market

We’re all busy. It’s all too easy to let market changes pass you by when you’re striving to make your business grow. But losing sight of what’s happening in your industry could cost you serious profile.

3. Overlook new copywriting advances

These are very interesting times for copywriting. Not only are new marketing channels emerging, but the way people respond to content is evolving to match. Now is definitely not the time to dismiss new and more flexible ways to reach your audience.

4. Let one aspect of your business decide your copywriting strategy

A focused copywriting approach can do much more for your business than you might think. Yet many companies out there are still only addressing their content around one aspect of their business – drawing in leads through their website or connecting with dormant clients via email marketing, for example. Looking to fade out? Keep your content limited to just one aspect of your business.

5. Use the same old message

It’s great to find a message that works for you, one that combines all that’s great about your company and how you can help your prospects. But it’s never a good idea to get too comfortable with it. Marketing and markets are changing all the time. If you want to get left behind, stick with what’s familiar and never question it.

6. Keep your content generic

Prefer to disappear into the background? Take the view that your content just needs to be well written. Nothing else. Leave personality, expertise and your company’s special qualities out of your copywriting approach. Don’t worry about being memorable and distinctive in your marketplace. Just use bland content that makes you sound the same as everyone else.

7. Cold shoulder new opportunities

As I said earlier, we’re all busy people. But hanging on to what you’ve always done is a really good way to become invisible. Don’t need your marketing to get noticed? Easy. Just stand back from new ways to use content to capture attention.

8. See content as an optional extra

With the power of content conversations and conversion on the rise, it’s surprising how many companies still choose to fade away. This is because they somehow see content as something extra that they can be tack onto their overall business approach at a later date. Keep your copywriting approach at the core of your company strategy to stay visible.

9. Rely on stock phrases

This one links back to point 6, but I’m happy to repeat an important point. Using stock phrases is often what’s most familiar and easy for a business and that’s understandable. But those common words and clich├ęs can help to blur your business presence on the web and elsewhere.

10. Constantly change your mind about what works

Now, I know I said it was important not to cold shoulder new opportunities. But that needs to be balanced with building a plan. It’s great to test out an approach to see if it actually supports your marketing plan, for example a new style of newsletter content or a more creative blog approach. But don’t neglect to set clear boundaries for this and to build it into a coherent plan. Consistency is a powerful quality in the battle to get noticed.

11. React and adapt to one marketing channel, but not the others

It happens all the time. A company excitedly leaps ahead with one marketing channel, for example a new brochure. But funnily enough, the rest of their content still shares the old message. Going back to my previous point, when you’re looking at refreshing one aspect of your content, be sure to assess what might need to change with the rest.

12. Let in-house jargon rule

Jargon doesn’t win new business. Expertise does. So why do so many businesses still rely on industry-speak when they’re trying to reach their customers? Of course, some jargon has to be used sometimes, but there are ways to do this without shutting out the very people you’d like to draw in.

13. Keep it all about you

Love to merge into the background? Ironically, shouting loudly all about ‘you you you’ can have that exact effect. Whether it’s your website home page or your brand new brochure, content that’s all about you ignores an essential opportunity – your chance to pinpoint the problem your prospect would like you to resolve.

14. Don’t look back

Things move fast. It’s tempting to get your content in place just once and leave it there. But as we’ve already seen, the way we reach people is changing every day. To start to fade fast, simply stop looking back at your content and don’t bother thinking about how your ideal audience responds to it.

15. Do it piecemeal

It’s natural to want to address problems as they come up, whether it’s an outdated Contact Us web page or a tired exhibition brochure. But when you deal only with the immediate problem, you overlook the opportunity to refresh your whole approach. It’s also likely to end up costing you more time and effort in the long run. Are you comfortable with a copywriting process with more fade than flavour? Simply change things piecemeal without keeping a perspective on your complete strategy.

16. Ignore the commercial value of content

In case you missed it, there’s a content revolution going on….content marketing, agile marketing, personalised marketing…leading companies have cottoned onto the power of content to build relationships and business in a big way. Happy to be left behind? Underestimate the commercial power of your own content.

17. Separate your content cycle from your sales process

People are still sometimes surprised when I put content and sales strategy in the same sentence. Even though they know copywriting can help drive sales and build audiences, they still don’t always recognise how content can support and inform their salespeople. Keep these two in separate boxes if you want to limit the potential of versatile, targeted content to reach the right people at the right time.

18. Speak the same way to everyone

Not many companies have one particular type of customer. Not many companies have customers who all buy into their product or service at the same stage and with the same motivation. So why do so many companies still use the very same tone of voice and copywriting approach for all the different people they want to reach? OK with being ignored by some of your ideal prospects? Simply speak the same way to all of them, regardless of their particular pains.

19. Make it impersonal

Sadly, content is still sometimes seen as just a way to fill the gaps. Yet those same 400 or 1000 words are an opportunity to get into the heads of the people that matter. Linked to my point above, it’s easy to fade to grey if you see your audience as one faceless mass which only requires a single generic message.

20. Ignore the conversation

Conversation is a very powerful thing. But the vital thing in all good conversation, as one of my friends always liked to say, is not to transmit, but to receive. So, a great route to getting ignored is to forget to listen. That way you can ignore what’s happening with your potential clients and create content that answers your questions, not theirs.

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

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