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Guidelines on Limiting Promotion in Content…and Other Tips

When it comes to their marketing materials, most companies know how to pay tribute to themselves. Their warm-up copy is full of platitudes. Then somewhere in the fifth paragraph of the copy, the reader-in-need gets to the ‘help’ — the reason they are reading in the first place.

This kind of company back-slapping is the wrong approach, of course.

The thrust of the written word in business-to-business communication should be to solve a problem for somebody. When you solve a problem, this builds sales leads. So keep your company in the background at the start.

This is the core value of branded content: Me, second.

Sure You Know This, But…

Many copywriters know this. The issue is how, as the content provider, you stay involved in the editing process all the way until the article, case study, white paper, pamphlet or blog appears on the web site or in print.

Here is one remedy: Turn in your work early. If your deadline is the 30th, deliver it on the 16th. The marketing people you are working for have a lot going on, so make it easy on them by giving them some breathing room. Stay open 24/7 for the editor who is working until 7.

What you want is a chance to review the copy before it sees the light of the page. The more time you have to present an argument against some ill-conceived editing by your client, the better chance you’ll have to make a point that the idea of the piece is to “help,” not to “promote.”

And clean up your copy. You are a writer, but you also need to be a copy editor. The words have to sing and make a pitch to generate a lead, but make sure the typos are eliminated and the grammar is fit for a strict English teacher. For example, I saw this today on a website talking about “branded content”:

Your former editorial colleagues don’t understand you’re new role.

As a professional writer, you are not supposed to make these errors.

Don’t Forget the Title

Here is another way to stay involved with the copy until it reaches the audience: Brainstorm with the editor about the title. The headline, of course, is read way more than the actual body of the copy.

So before you submit content to a client — whether it’s a case study, blog, article, white paper, video script, etc. — write a title yourself. If you want the reader to see the usefulness in your copy, provide the headline to give them a head start on your message.

Remember, your content is trying to make a connection between your client and potential customers who are seeking help. The best way to help a customer is to help your client with the process, and that includes proofreading copy and crafting a headline that prompts a reader to scroll down a page.

 Authored by Ray Glier
Ray Glier has been a freelance journalist in Atlanta for 24 years and part of the newspaper industry for 42 years. While he has been reporting for millions of readers (NY Times, Washington Post, USA TODAY, Gannett) for decades, he has recently started labeling his reporting “Content Marketing.” Please visit www.rayglier.com