The upside of procrastination

Procrastination may actually be conducive to creativity, because “when you put off a task, you buy yourself time to engage in divergent thinking rather than foreclosing on one particular idea. As a result, you consider a wider range of original concepts and ultimately choose a more novel direction.”

The most essential B2B writing skill

While writing may be a much-anticipated creative outlet—a bullet on your job description that you actually look forward to—when you write for a company, that piece of work isn’t yours.

Get out of your social media comfort zone

If we said any social media channel could work for your brand, would you believe us?

Drowning in content? We’ve got a solution.

If your marketing department is drowning in content—yet still failing to keep up with the demand for more—we have a few tips that might help.

Creating rabid fans of your content

The dream of every content marketer is to generate content that keeps readers coming back for more. But how exactly do you create a loyal following? In this video, Peter Shankman, founder and CEO of social media company The Geek Factory (and author of Zombie Loyalists: Using great service to create rabid fans) talks about how to create a super-loyal customer base.

The ‘no more excuses’ social media plan

Social media is a phenomenal way to connect with customers—but a consistent, effective strategy can also be a drag to maintain. In an ideal world, you’ll have someone to manage the day-to-day tasks for you. But if you don’t, you’ll be happy to hear you can do it yourself—in just 18 minutes a day. Hootesuite recently set out a great 18-minute social media plan for businesses. Basically, the minute-by-minute guide breaks down the social media experience into five easy steps: browse and engage; monitor; post; analyze; and schedule. It also gives you advice about how to apply the five steps to the various social media channels. In our opinion, it’s […]

Great writing starts with a great process

Outsourcing great b2b writing—content that reflects your company’s style, tone and overall brand—can be a tricky process. Not only do you have to find a great writer (or agency of writers), but you have to be able to establish a writing process that works for both parties.

 

The writing process can be different for every company. So, while an experienced writer will be able to offer suggestions as to how things could work—or how other companies have done things in the past—you ultimately have to know what will work best for your specific organization. To help, here are some questions you may want to consider:

 

  • Will you provide the writer with content ideas or will they be expected to come up with topics themselves?
  • What materials, information or interviews with subject matter experts will you provide? How will interviews be arranged and conducted?
  • How hands-on are you going to be? Will you write something first and simply ask the writer to fix it up? Or will they be expected to write the articles from scratch?
  • If you have a larger in-house team, how will you streamline the outsourcing process and keep track of the external writer’s workload?

 

Feel free to involve your writer in the discussion and acquire insight into their preferences. The ultimate goal, after all, is to find a system that works well for both parties—and is most likely to elicit great results.

 

To hear more tips on how to improve your company’s content with an external writer, download the new AR Communications Inc. ebook—The Right Fit: How To Outsource Great Writing.

 

Do copywriting formulas work?

I hate it when content takes longer to write than anticipated—especially when my calendar is overflowing with deadlines. So when I recently came across a website that offered a complete handbook of copywriting formulas—a handbook that promised to drastically reduce the amount of time I spent writing content—I felt like I hit the jackpot.

 

Right there in front of me were standard formulas for writing tweets, headlines, blog posts, web pages—virtually any form of content you could imagine. But, once I had a chance to really look at them, I have to admit—those formulas made my head spin. Honestly, I think it would take me longer to force information to fit into a template than it would to simply write that same content from scratch.

 

The entire experience got me thinking—is there really such thing as a copywriting formula? Judging from personal experience I’d say yes—but in very rare situations. If you’re sending out a standard press release—say, announcing the opening of a new office—then sure. Certain types of speeches could probably benefit from a fill-in-the-blanks approach also. But things you write in abundance—like blog posts? Personally, I think you need to freestyle those.

 

My reasoning is simple. The whole POINT of content marketing is to write pieces that will capture the attention of your target audience, and you can’t do that if all your content follows the same, predictable formula. Writing a boring, run-of-the-mill press release is fine if you just need something—anything!—to post in your website’s ‘news’ section. But if you want to really capture the attention of the media—and gain some coverage—you need it to stand out.

 

To do that, I suggest ditching the templates and, instead, trying some of these time-saving techniques:

  • Put the most interesting/important/eye-catching messages at the top of the page. Not sure what those messages are? Try implementing some tried-and-true journalistic rules—sourcing out the 5Ws, the news peg, the inverted pyramid—to help you organize your thoughts and find the nugget of information that will really speak to your audience.
  • Stop thinking so much. Can’t get that first paragraph perfect? Jot down the first thing that comes to mind—without worrying if it’s good or not. Revising it later is so much easier than getting it perfect the first time.
  • Tell the story. When verbally telling stories to others, we tend to naturally offer up the most interesting information first. It’s a great way to determine what’s really important about your piece—and also offer some clues on how to arrange your thoughts.
  • Glance at some precedents. When all else fails, look at a similar, previously-written piece of content. Pay close attention to how the information is arranged and copy that “formula” (in your own words, of course).

 

What do you think? Is there a time and a place for copywriting formulas? What tricks do you use to write efficiently? Please share—I’d love hear!