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Posts Tagged ‘freelance writers’

How to make topics such as “log data” appeal to non-geeks

Wednesday September 19, 2012

Corporate Data Center

Even if you understand that the concept of log data has nothing to do with forestry, face it: it’s just not inherently riveting stuff.  Or is it?

 

The so-called Big Data revolution is gaining momentum after languishing as an obscure concept just a few short years ago. And one of the key drivers is imaginative, credible content crafted by the savvier tech brands that are spreading the Big Data word to a broader commercial audience.

 

Technology executives and marketers have always tried to make their marketing content relevant, readable and actionable.  The problem is, the arcane computer-science vocabulary used by so many companies creeps into marketing content – including communications intended for audiences that are not necessarily technical.  Yes, you still have to reach those systems administrators and lords of IT. But getting the attention of finance and operations stakeholders is equally important. Not to mention the CEO, the board and the opinion leaders they listen to. It is here where tuning marketing communications based on stakeholder requirements, preferences and biases is essential.

 

Otherwise, you run the risk of baffling, boring or confusing key purchasers and influencers.

 

What are you doing to ensure that your technology content, however arcane, is presented in compelling and imaginative business terms for non-technical decision-makers and the media who follow your category?  Is your technology story consistently told in business terms?

How to turn a company blog into a content-marketing machine

Wednesday January 11, 2012

Printing Machines


Companies that actively blog say that their posts generate a 52% lower cost-per-lead than their other marketing communications channels. And those who post something daily have a substantial number of higher quality (sales-validated) leads than less frequent publishers. So why aren’t there more hyper-active B2B blogs out there?

“We just don’t have the resources to devote to that kind of a publishing schedule,” a lot of technology folks will say.  Understandably. We hear you.  It’s a challenge.  There’s another way to think about the problem, however, than strictly as a labor-intensive issue.  And the upside is too good to dismiss out of hand, according to the observations of Jason Keath, a veteran reporter, editor and long-time social-media educator whose experience ranges from obscure start-ups to big names — think Nordstrom, Radio Shack, Pepsi and Ford.

Aside from intimate knowledge of what it is that turns on your customers/audience the most, there are three basic elements to transforming your blog into a killer content-marketing machine: contributors, content and editing:

1.  Build a bench of the right volunteer contributors because this is where all quality content begins.  Make a list of traits you’re looking for.  Product knowledge? Social networking presence? Industry authority? Customers?  Industry leaders?  Keath suggests checking out forums, other blogs, and websites where conversations happen, like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Quora. Look for people already talking/writing about the topics you’re interested in.  Yes, some bigger names will want to be compensated, but others may be quite happy with a link back to their blog and the idea of being read by your customers. If you have to come out of pocket, pay quickly. Be sure to recognize them with link-backs and Twitter follow buttons.  If you’re a big company and your contributors are employees, make sure the CEO knows who these people are and that they know the CEO knows — and cares). 

2.  Make it simple: suggest the subject matter or request that they come up with something they already care about and give them a clear deadline.  Get a firm commitment.  And make your editorial guidelines simple — no more than one page.  Spell out the most important things they need to know and point to your blog-post examples as models to emulate. Create an easy process based on editorial flow happening on your intranet, via email, or through your blog software.  Include this in your guidelines and make sure its understandable.

3.  Set high standards. As a content creator, you’ll be judged by the content you create.  No way around it. 

Have you made more frequent blogging a new year’s resolution?  If so, how do you intend to keep it?  What are your editorial plans in 2012?

Why tech managers hate to write

Friday December 23, 2011

Angry Businessman

 

We were talking to a friend of ours at a mid-size tech firm the other day and the conversation turned to the  subject of web sites, content generation and writing.

“The stuff on our site is really stale,” he said. “We need a complete makeover, but there’s so much else going on right now we keep putting it off”.

I suggested he bring in an outside writer. “We’ve tried that”, he said. “It’s a pain. And not cheap.  Learning curve’s too steep.  Besides, we have the resources inside.  We’ll get it done.”

“So what’s the problem?” I asked.

“Procrastination, probably. And I hate to write. And we’re interrupt-driven to some extent”.

And there you have it. Vicious circle of allowing busy-ness to interfere with the business of generating fresh content. Combine this with a natural aversion to the keyboard, and procrastination prevails. Anecdotal evidence around the Valley suggests that many managers not only don’t like to write, they don’t like to even initiate writing projects that call for (gasp) coming face-to-face with new content that must be set in stone. Or, at least, put up on the web site.  Which is problematic in today’s in-bound marketing world where “content is king”.

Fact: writing is hard work but most everything we do everyday isn’t easy.  That’s why they call it “work”.
Fact: there are domain experts out there in all tech sectors for whom your learning curve should not be an issue. We won’t say they’re a dime a dozen, but they are available.
Fact: you know that marketing today is in-bound.  This means that the people you want coming to your site and lingering long enough to fill out a form can’t be pushed in anymore. They find out on their own who’s hot by talking to peers and searching online. In that order.
Fact: this means that the buzz you build is the gift that keeps on giving.
Fact: fresh and frequently re-freshed content draws search engines which propel your rank upwards which increases the chances that you’ll be found.
Fact: if your content is compelling it will be shared and the buzz machine will kick in.

Is getting that writing project off your back a New Year’s resolution for you?

There’s a small difference between the companies who really get it when it comes to in-bound, content marketing and the ones who muddle along with low-traffic web sites and so-called leads that are merely a collection of fast-aging business cards. Which one are you?

Ten tips for better result$ from your content in 2012

Tuesday December 6, 2011

Thinking Heads



Case studies, white papers, solutions briefs, web content and blogging aren’t ends in themselves but the means to productive ends: more site visits, inquiries, trials, orders and revenue.  To help prepare you for the new year,  we’ve compiled a Top Ten list of representative tips for results-driven writing that we published here in 2011.  We hope they can contribute to your marketing mission as much they have stood the test of time in our own practice.  And here’s to a happy, prosperous New Year from Write Angle!

1.  More site traffic might make you feel good, but upping the number of visitors who actually make decisions about purchases is the metric the CEO will look for.  Here are five ways to make web content attract the right visitors to your site.

2.  There are a lot of wrong ways to produce content and the snake oil of SEO is more widespread than ever today. Beware. Here are some guidelines intended to help you avoid the three biggest mistakes in content marketing.

3.  If your case studies aren’t lead generators, is the time you’re taking to produce them really worth it?  Make the most of your time by applying these three things that make your case studies drive quality leads.

4.  Ninjas, gurus and wizards belong in video games, not on your content team.  The Web site metrics your content must drive are achievable by regular folks doing the right things.

5.  Making the most of your resources will be no less important in the coming year, if not more so. To create quality content on time and on budget, it’s incumbent upon the internal team to know how to get the most out of your writing consultants.

6.  “Ready, fire, aim” has never been a winning sequence when it comes to marketing and selling.  Carefully consider and answer our five questions to ask BEFORE embarking on a content-creation effort.

7.  Too many marketers undertake a writing project with an objective of getting it approved rather than making it effective. The objective of any content is to be consumed.  It must be read and passed along.  At Write Angle, we call it market-alism: how to write copy that customers want to read.

8.  It’s essential to see the world through customers’ eyes and to not look at customers through the lens of your offerings. Here’s an insider’s guide to outside-in writing.

9.  You want readers to heed your calls to action. To do so, those readers must relate to the story you tell. So it’s no mystery that citing examples that speak to customers makes your content hard to ignore.

10. McAfee, a brand that aims to protect itself as zealously as it strives to safeguard its customers’ digital assets, shares our views on why guarding the brand is Job One for technology writers.

What are your New Year’s resolutions on improving your marketing content?  What did you learn in 2011 that you intend to practice in 2012?

How PR agencies can profit from 3rd-party writers

Thursday May 26, 2011

We’re in violent agreement with the folks over at Beaupre bemoaning the dearth of dedicated content specialists (AKA writers and editors) among the ranks of so many PR firms.

To be clear, we at Write Angle have no ax to grind whatsoever when it comes to public-relations agencies.  Quite the contrary.  Some of us are former agency operatives, one even having spent decades in Silicon Valley on the client-side retaining the best in the business at places such as Apple and NetApp.  So we know, too, that great media-relations, the primary assignment of technology PR, is not the same thing as great writing.  Most firms, large or small, simply cannot afford to keep a separate stable of great writers.

Agencies earn their keep by their skills as interpreters and as relationship cultivators.  They’re paid to translate complicated concepts and information into irresistible ideas — nuggets of topical interest to the right reporters, bloggers and influencers with whom they have personal familiarity and cordial working relationships.  People who are adept at this aren’t necessarily as effective at long-form translation or turning these ideas into the lengthier prose that make prosaic media backgrounders, whitepapers and op-ed articles vivid, compelling reading. The problems crop up when the volume of work outstrips — or falls short of — the resources at hand.

The fact is that in hectic periods of “feast” the demand for press releases and web pages and content of all kinds can overwhelm a lean shop.  The other side of that coin are the leaner times when agencies, including those with no dedicated writers on staff, find themselves in the unhappy position of having to support idle overhead.  No matter what, clients will always expect quality deliverables on time and on budget at all times. The solution: dedicated, on-demand, outside writers whom the beleaguered agency would be proud to call its own. It turns out that such a service is just what the budget calls for in more ways than one, during times of feast or famine.