WHY (AND HOW) TO “SELL” YOUR CONTENT

silicon valley tech public relations firms content creation

By: Roger Biery

Competition for marketshare begins with competition for mindshare.  Decision-makers are inundated with “content” these days: memos, reports, emails, articles, white papers, blogs, e-zines (like this one) and more—all competing for precious little time.  And this is why it’s more important than ever to give these busy (and very important) people a compelling reason to read your content.

The “selling” of content begins with the title, which should accomplish two things: Catch the reader’s attention, and make the piece seem at least worth checking out.  A good title is also a “promise” to the reader: Here is what you will get and/or how you will benefit from reading this.

The selling continues with the abstract or introduction.  This is where the reader will make a critical decision about whether to read more, or move on to something else.  The abstract or opening paragraph should, therefore, begin to deliver on the promise made in the title.  For example, offer an intriguing perspective (as done in this Bulletin).  Provide a relevant but little-known fact or finding.  Summarize the key take-aways, and make them must-haves.

Then treat each new paragraph that follows as another opportunity to give the reader a reason to continue reading.  Keep it informative, preferably with actionable information.  Build a case by segueing from one good point to the next.  Periodically cite third-party references to maintain credibility.  (Research at the University of Cambridge, for example, revealed that people decide whether or not to start reading an article within 10 seconds, and will decide within another 20 seconds to continue reading—or not.)  Provide useful summaries in the form of bulleted lists or sidebars in longer pieces.  Done right, the reader will reach the conclusion.

Finally, because good selling requires “closing the deal,” conclude each piece with a call-to-action: the recommendation for what the reader should do next.  The call-to-action here is to look at your own marketing collateral to see how well it sells.  Are the titles intriguing?  Are the opening paragraphs compelling?  Does each successive paragraph continue to hold the reader’s interest?  If so, you are doing a good job selling your content—and your solution!

Roger Biery has been a Senior Technical Writer for GPR for over 20 years.  More information about his background and capabilities can be found at www.MarComPro.biz.  

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