When you scroll through the LinkedIn news feed at lunch, ever find yourself feeling unsated by the offerings of article links? Although the attached articles are purportedly written for a B2B or B2C audience, they often lack the most important function of storytelling: conveying a point.
For example, did the article on resiliency really give you actionable pointers or resources on becoming more resilient? Was it more like a pep talk than a TED Talk? Did the trade publication article quickly give your insight or did it drive you into a bunch of Google searches?
The information superhighway is jammed with useless information. Assuming most purveyors of clunky articles were trying to showcase a product or service, we can apply the following rule here: the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
Pro tip: the opening of an article should immediately make your point. See above. The problem of poorly crafted content is identified. Plus, the solution is offered right away; you must convey a point.
In news writing, the direct approach is called for with the so-called inverted pyramid. In this schematic, the most important information is placed at the top. As the story continues, it winnows down to the smaller details and background. Far too often, content marketing fails because the most crucial information is buried. Perhaps people don’t want to give away the farm, so they try to tease the audience into following along through a long, drawn-out (i.e., boring) story.
Your article headline and first paragraph should clearly state what your pitch is all about. Avoid metaphors, flowery language and ambiguity. You are trying to tell a story, so stop wasting time – that of yours and others — with fluff.
If you are not a talented writer, hire one with extensive business writing experience. Do not seek the cheapest option. The old adage of you get what you pay for applies to content writing and editing. You don’t want to have to re-do it yourself, but if you go cheap, you will end up doing that.
Another pitfall is cutesy or coy writing. Again, write with direct language. I currently subscribe to a couple of free email newsletters that are supposed to be headline services. The headlines are so darned cute and dripping with whimsy, I have to stop and read further – as in elsewhere – to know what they are trying to say. Headlines should not be ambiguous or vague. Headlines should be specific and explicit.
A headline that is not clear on its subject is also likely to get lost in the search-engine optimization game. Make sure your topic is a noun in your headline.
You are not just attempting to place a thumb-stopping speed bump in front of people. You are seeking to reach an audience that will buy your widget or service. Tell them why. Tell them how. Above all, tell them exactly what it is at the outset. You don’t get another chance several paragraphs into the article because many people won’t get that far. If you have reached this point and want to hire Adroit Narratives to write or edit your company blogs, newsletters, and social media, then contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to discuss the rate schedule for content management.