Make content, not Spam.

Content Typewriter

Whether you’re promoting a product, a cause or just a way of thinking, your content shouldn’t read like a sales pitch. The message you’re sending needs to focus on what you can do for your readers, not what they can do for you.

What separates compelling content that readers connect with from Spam? Here are a few questions to ask yourself next time you’re drafting a blog post/tweet/email:

1) Does my audience care?

Ask yourself what will make your content connect with you readers. Is the information or messaging rewarding to them? Read through it a few times, not as you, but pretend you’re her. Do these details matter to Jane? How are they helpful?

If they are beneficial to ‘Jane’ and the rest of your audience, then find a simple, concise way to explain why. If they aren’t of benefit to Jane then start over!

2) Does this feel like a form letter?

There’s nothing more disconcerting than a stock email from someone trying to sell you something. You may be sending stock letters if you can answer yes to any of the following:

A) Is the customer’s name in a different font style/size than the rest of the email?

B) Is your message all about the product or service without mentioning the customer at all?

C) Do you use one of the following or similar phrasing: “This is an excellent value!”, “That’s just x amount per piece!”, “Here’s a way to get the most bang for your buck” or “Let me know if you’d like to do this”?

Receiving this type of email (not to be confused with an eBlast) is disconcerting for a decision-maker because it’s clear you’re copying-and-pasting this message and clicking send for every name on your client list. It makes your sales pitch transparent; it makes the reader/customer understand that you aren’t thinking about why the opportunity is important for their business. You’re thinking about your business.

Need a few quick fixes to avoid these faux pas? Make sure your font sizes and styles are fluid and consistent. Back away from generic, coupon-booklet phrasing and put the focus on the customer perspective, no bangs and no bucks. Make one paragraph easy-to-tweak copy that you update to explain the specific benefits for the recipient. It takes an extra minute, but it will keep them reading that much longer. Lastly, always sign off with a personal note: It was great seeing you at the conference in New York last month; I hope you got  a chance to see your cousin in the city!

3) When I post urls on Social Media, do readers know where they go?

Whether you’re sharing a link on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, you need to tell your readers where it’s going. A web address isn’t exciting on its own and with more and more hacking of company accounts; readers won’t trust a stand-alone url.

Why not include a fun explanation with your link? If you’re linking to a video on YouTube, tell your readers why. Watch our two-minute video on increasing your blog subscriber numbers this week! Sharing your blog post? Read today’s Scratch post to learn about cookies you can bake without an oven! You get the idea; tell them why they’re going to enjoy the content.

What do you think, what feels like Spam to you? Let’s be friends; comment, question and tell all below!

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7 thoughts on “Make content, not Spam.

  1. Pretty spot on advice here. I sat in on an author’s seminar last week about working in the digital age, and he kept stressing the same point – you must be entertaining. Whether that means you’re being useful, funny, or informative is up to you, but spam? Not entertaining.

      • Yep, I had a great time. There were a number of writers’ panels at the Origins gaming convention in Columbus, Ohio that I was able to attend. The one mentioned was with fantasy author Mike Stackpole.

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