From the Trenches

If Content is King, Why is Writing Undervalued?

Mike Sweeney | June 25, 2009

Content is king from a marketing standpoint – now more than ever.  Can you really market anything without some form of content?  Think about it for a second.  Review every marketing vehicle you use, and try to identify one that doesn’t involve some form of content production.

If content is king, then what is the king’s most important weapon?  Another easy answer.  Writing.  And it’s not even close.

Writing is one of the most undervalued pieces of the marketing puzzle.

Let’s do a quick review of some marketing vehicles and how poor writing impacts each:

  • Press Release: Don’t even write it if you’re not going to do it professionally.  Journalists and your consumer/business audience will stop reading when they hit the first piece of evidence of poor writing.
  • Website: You know that rule, the one that says you have 10-15 seconds to capture a visitor’s attention and convince them to dive further into the site?  You know what can expedite that departure time?  Poor writing.
  • SEO: Writing is far more important for SEO than most “experts” are willing to admit.  Here’s one simple reason.  Let’s say you rank #1 on an important keyword, but your meta description tag (the one that smart people read to determine whether your site is relevant to the topic) is too long, which is often the case.  Fewer clicks.  Fewer leads.  Decreased ROI from that SEO effort.

Let’s check out an example.  When I search on “copywriting” on Google, here are two description tags associated with top 10 results:

Tag #1: “Copywriting advice for bloggers and online marketers.”

In case you’re wondering, this is an effective description tag, which happens to belong to a very popular marketing blog.  No surprise.

Tag #2: “Blues icon BB King was once asked how he found his heart-warming, bone-chilling sound. It’s simple, he said. I only steal from the best. After.”

This may lead me to a very cool article or blog post, but doesn’t matter.  I’m not clicking because I don’t understand how this description is relevant to my search query.

  • Twitter: This is a tough one.  Some people have such a massive Twitter follower base that it doesn’t matter what they tweet out.  People click blindly.  For us “normal” Twitter users, writing those 140 characters is like writing a newspaper headline.  Keep it short, sweet and relevant or no one will read, click or follow.
  • Email: Do we even have to address this one?  While just about every marketer executes email marketing programs, most fail to generate metrics that justify the program.  That part is indisputable.  If your email recipient is going to give your email a 3-5 second glance, do you really want to lose that recipient’s interest due to poor writing?

I could go on and on: case studies, sales emails, video scripts, blog posts, landing pages, whitepapers….every single piece of content relies on high quality writing.

Don’t skimp on the writing.  Maybe you can’t write well.  Maybe your staff can’t write well.  Find someone that can write well.  The service a good writer provides is invaluable.

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