A client question we get when launching a new content marketing program is, “How are you going to write for us? You’re new to our industry.”
It’s a legitimate question to ask. They’re wondering if a copywriter who doesn’t work in their industry can really write complicated content and explain technical topics.
Doubting an advertising agency’s ability to represent the expertise of your company is understandable. However, when it’s done right, you’ll end up with relevant, highly-targeted content marketing campaigns that help you reach your business goals.
Here’s a look at how Element’s content marketing team takes on the challenge.
Start with Strategy
Strategy is at the core of our content marketing programs, and a major part of that is diving in and learning everything we can about your business, your industry, your competitors, and most importantly, your audience. That’s what provides us with the foundational knowledge we need to start writing content and coming up with ideas for marketing efforts that make the most sense.
We don’t rush into things. We take time to analyze your market, and we learn about which fears and motivations drive the people you want to reach through persona development and an in-depth understanding of their path to purchase or buyer’s journey. As we meet with clients to review our strategy, we gain a solid understanding of their business model, their marketing needs, and all the ways content can drive results.
Create Evergreen Content
Like the perfect little black dress or a crisp white button-down shirt, some content never goes out of style. Evergreen content is what we call material that is always meaningful to your target audience. It’s not seasonal. It’s not focused on current events. It’s not about fast-passing trends.
In many cases, evergreen content tends to be more basic. These articles, videos, e-books, and graphics focus on things that someone who’s unfamiliar with your company needs to know in order to make an informed decision. Educational content often targets consumers at the beginning of the buyer’s journey while they’re doing research and deciding which company’s products and services are right for them.
Creating evergreen content has added value for marketing writers. It allows us to continue building on our base of knowledge about your industry and helps improve our understanding of your audience’s path to purchase.
So, starting with “Your Industry 101” is a smart approach because it builds the foundation of basic topics your audiences need while simultaneously giving writers the knowledge required to communicate about your industry successfully.
The Journalistic Approach
Content marketing is not journalism. It isn’t necessarily meant to be unbiased and balanced, although neither is much news coverage.
The trick to effective content marketing is finding a balance between persuasive writing and giving the audience something valuable, helpful, or entertaining. Yes, the goal is to generate new business, convert a customer, and make a sale, but get too pushy too early or too often and you’ll turn the reader off.
However, we still approach writing the content in the same way a reporter does. That’s what has led to the rise of brand journalism.
Research and strategy don’t end once a content marketing program begins. Our team dives into reading material from authoritative sources before our fingers even hit the keyboard. Clients often help by pointing us toward reliable resources and industry studies, which let us fact-check our writing. And, before you’ll ever see a draft of an article, it will be proofed and copy-edited internally.
Our content marketing teams operate in a similar way to newsrooms, collaborating to discuss ideas and strategies for upcoming months. We stay on top of seasonal trends, industry news, and updates from within your company to ensure we’re always creating relevant content that resonates with your target audience.
And, just like journalists … we have deadlines.
Make Your Experts Accessible
Within your organization, there are probably certain people who know more about specific topics than others. We call these people subject matter experts (SMEs), and they’re one of the most valuable components of good content marketing.
Taking a journalistic approach to content creation involves conducting interviews. Reporters aren’t necessarily experts on the topics in every story they write. Instead, they rely on the knowledge of the people they interview to help them put together a good story. We will interview people from within your company and use direct quotations in the owned content on your blog. This helps display your employees’ expertise publicly and makes it easier for a writer to put together authoritative content in line with the client’s expectations. Essentially, we combine our marketing strategy and writing skills with your company’s industry knowledge.
Sometimes, we are ghostwriting feature stories for PhDs or executives who’ve been in the business their entire lives. These stories get published in industry trade magazines where people with an in-depth knowledge of your industry will read them. In order to sound like your experts, it is immensely helpful to hear from your experts first!
We may also talk to some of your best customers. These interviews help us write powerful case studies and project profiles showing what you can do in addition to what you know.
Your content marketing program will be more effective if you view it as a partnership instead of just a way to get some marketing duties off your plate. When you provide writers with access to SMEs, the result is high-quality content.
The Advantage of the Outsider
While it’s likely you’ll be surprised by the insights a good marketing team from an ad agency brings to the table, the truth is that we’ll never know as much about your industry as you do. On the other hand, there are also clear benefits to having newbies and outsiders writing content for your company.
Every industry has its own technical jargon. Depending on your audience, using that sort of language could be a hindrance. It tends to clutter things up and make the content confusing.
Effective content marketing involves the ability to write clear, concise copy in terms the target audience will understand. A good writer should be able to take tough topics and explain them to your audience, and they shouldn’t be afraid to ask “stupid questions.”
While there’s no such thing as knowing too much about your industry, it’s important to take a step back and look at things from your target audience’s perspective. The best marketers have a lot of empathy. We know how to put ourselves in another person’s shoes, and that’s key in content marketing. We don’t write content for your business; we write as your business for your target audience. That means when we sit down to put a story together, we are representing your company while thinking about how to reach your customers.
This article was originally published in December 2016 but updated in December 2023 to reflect our evolving approach to copywriting.