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Copywriting – it ain’t about you

In two weeks I’ll be guest lecturing at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The topic will be web content writing (plus blogging and internal communications), and the audience will be (mainly) first year undergrads studying public relations. It’s a subject that I took in the very same degree 15 years ago.

I’ve been trying to compile a list of things that I’ll cover. How people read on the web, breaking content with headings and bullets, keeping sentences snappy and short etc. But I think the main thing that I’ll emphasise to the students is…

it ain’t about you, it’s always about them.

Whenever you are writing, you always need to keep your target reader in mind. You have such a short amount of time to get your message across, don’t waste it by focusing on your business instead of the customer.

What this means is that you should always focus on the benefits of your product or service, not just the features.

So instead of:

Our new iron has an automatic switch-off. (Just the feature is mentioned.)

Try:

Our new iron has an automatic switch-off, so there’s no need to worry if you can’t remember if you turned off the iron or not. (Both the feature and benefit is mentioned.)

It’s such a simple thing to remember, but it will make such an improvement to your content.

What are the benefits of your product?

If you ever need help identifying the benefits of your product or service, send me an email and I’ll give you a hand.

Content strategy, more than a buzzword

A short and sweet post for a Monday morning.

At the moment, there is a massive conference being held in the US call SXSW. The conference has an interactive stream (SXSWi), and I’ve been carefully watching the different content related presentations and panels.

The good news is that content strategy seems to be gaining more momentum as an important element of any organisation (about time really).

This reflects my own recent experience with clients. I’m beginning to have more conversations about how the content I write fits in with their overall goals, and also how they plan to manage the content that is already there. It’s something I’ve been pushing for a while, but now it appears the timing is finally right. It’s a very exciting time.

What’s your content strategy?