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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Write for Your Reader, Not Your Boss

Written By: Mark E. Goodman | Comments Off on Write for Your Reader, Not Your Boss

Content marketing is a top digital priority for B2B marketers. Companies are using blogs, newsletters, videos and social media to tell their story.

But who are you telling your story to?

When tasked to come up with content, it seems like too many content creators are writing to impress their bosses, not their readers.

Here are some tips to help avoid boss-centric content.

Write for the Man on the Street

Even if you are creating an industry-specific piece, write it so that the man on the street would understand your ideas or solution – and the benefits of implementing them.

Think about the questions a casual reader would ask that also have value for the more sophisticated reader.  Start with the question, in layman’s terms, and provide the answer.

For the expert, your question will pique their interest not only for content, but also a curiosity as to how you may have answered it.

For example, a real estate developer was focusing on architects.  Part of the content created demonstrated value by noting the tons of concrete and miles of wire that had been deployed.  This was impressive, but what might have been more compelling would have been dollars spent (or saved) and jobs created.

In another example, a veterinary research organization discussed drug research to help people with their dog allergies.  But rather than referring to allergies, which everybody understands, they discussed the impact of the hypersensitive response of the immune system.

Be Careful with Quotes and Titles

Organizations tend to give leaders great titles, and often you will see references to them in press releases. This is a paraphrase of a real person’s title description:

Robert Alexander Smith is the John George Jones professor of Chemistry, professor of medicine, professor of materials science and engineering, professor of biomedical engineering, and professor of chemical and biological engineering and director of Global Institute for Materials and other Cool Stuff at Global National University.

But who wants to read all of this?

For the quote, just note him as Bob Smith, professor at Global National University, with a link to his bio.  If the reader wants to learn more, it’s just a click away.

Speaking of quotes, try to distill down the typical press release quote to fewer than 15 words. Many press release quotes contain a two-sided quote:  First, they put it into context, then provide the citation and then further expand with more detail.

On the internet, however, it’s best to keep it short.  Then, you can provide a hyperlink so people can read more if they want to.

Use Real Pictures

Lastly, use real pictures, not headshots.  The internet loves pictures.  But readers like pictures of the experts in action. Authenticity gets a lot more traction than perfection.  Which one of these pictures is more engaging?

However, be careful about picture quality.  In my work, I normally crop a picture and adjust it in a photo editing program to ensure quality.

After you create your content, ask someone who is not connected to give you some feedback. Keep an open mind to their comments.  As the author you might find yourself getting defensive, but a great reviewer or editor can add tremendous value.  They don’t necessarily have to be impressed – but they do need to understand what you are trying to say.

Article written by
Mark Goodman is the President & CEO of e-Conversation Solutions. He is also past workshop chair at SCORE Chicago. Prior to founding e-Conversation, Mark held numerous positions as a technology executive, including Director of Business Development at Motorola, where he was the first business manager in the cell phone group. In addition to Motorola, Mark was an executive for a Silicon Valley company and a film buyer for General Cinema Theatres. Mark holds an MBA from Boston University and an MA in radio/TV/film from Northwestern University.