Whether it is offline or online content, most companies fail to make a distinction between the different types of content they publish. Often a failure to do this makes it harder to communicate with readers and satisfy their needs.
On occasions, each type will over-lap, but to begin with it helps to make the distinction between:
1. Transactional Copy – that makes readers want to buy
As a marketer, this is the most important type. If you have a product or service to sell be upfront about the fact that you want to sell it! Too many companies present what they offer as information – in the hope that someone will buy.
Customers who are in a buying frame of mind want to be sold to. The easier you can make it for them the more likely they will be to buy. This means being crystal clear on:
- Your offer
- Your price
- Your benefits
- Your credibility
- Your guarantee
You also need to give very clear instruction on what you want them do. If they need to fill in a form, tell them. Just do not assume they will do what you want.
Often, the more intellectual a product or service, the more resistant the company is to use sales language to sell. It is a very British trait, somehow linked to the idea that selling is vulgar and what 'sales-people' do.
If you are in that camp, you need to get over it. In this economic downturn getting good at writing copy that sells is gong to be the most important type of content you publish.
2. Information – that educates the reader
We are all dependent on information. Your readers want information that:
- Educates them about your product or service
- Is concise in the way that it is written and presented
- Is from a reputable source so that it can be relied upon
- Can be accessed quickly and easily.
When readers are in 'information only' mode they do not want to be sold to. It's important to make that distinction so that you deliver only what is relevant.
With printed material, the content carries a physical sense of authority and professionalism. When online, the expectation is slightly different. Your reader either wants to be informed immediately or to discover the reputable source. This is why it is sometimes more cost effective to offer specialist content via a free report in .pdf format or a separate HTML page.
3. News – that is instantly memorable
The decline in newspaper circulation does not mean that you do not want to be informed. Instead, online media means that you can mix and match the way you receive news. If you are happy to receive it in a very granular form, then the smaller the granule the more likely you are to digest other bits.
The BBC News Channel is probably the best example of this. It's brilliant at giving you the facts but giving you the option to go for more detail.
In contrast, most businesses tend to use News as a way of boring the reader about a recent achievement. They go into far too much detail when the focus should be on 'selling' just one or two memorable facts.
4. Lifestyle – that touches the emotions
This type of content is about brand and image. It's designed to appeal at an emotional level so that what is published creates a sense of desire. High street retailers are obvious examples here.
There is minimal copy because the content is image led. Here, the psychology of color comes into stronger play than the use of words. Look at any expensive / upmarket product and often you will see a design that uses a mix of red, black and gold. These are aspirational colors associated with wealth, mystery and luxury.
Lifestyle content is obviously expensive to produce so it needs to be thought of as part of long-term brand value.
Your objective is to be clear about the type of content you are working with and who the target reader is in order to have a 'message to market' match.