The theme of this blog post is simple.
Keep things simple.
Okay – so that might be a bit too simple.
But that mantra should be at the forefront of your mind when managing your content marketing. Here are 10 ways to keep it simple.
1) Headlines should be simple
Business readers generally scan articles and posts – they need to get a sense of the headline straight away. So all titles should be self-explanatory. Cryptic or “clever” headlines are an issue as people will not take the time to get the joke. What’s worse is that these types of puns make a story almost invisible to search engines – you would have to know the joke in advance in order to find them and they do nothing for your SEO.
Make sure the first two words are significant – when scanning a page, these are what readers pick up on.
2) Get your marketing basics right first
As far as marketing strategy goes, get the basics right first. I’ve seen many companies send their executives and managers to seminars to discuss the intricate details of some esoteric marketing subject, when their own marketing is failing on the most basic of points. Improvements to the fundamentals of your marketing will always have more impact than any amount of investment in the latest development or tweaks to the minor details.
- Get your message right.
- Get your product or service right.
- Get your price right.
- Get your delivery right.
- Get your customer service right.
Don’t try and run before you have mastered the art of walking.
3) Write in easy to understand language
Keep it easy to understand – the faster someone can grasp what you are trying to tell (sell) them, the better. Make sure the proposition is obvious and the benefits clear.
Don’t use jargon, jargon is irritating and confusing to non-technical readers – not every reader will be an expert and many simply don’t have the time or the attention span to work out the meaning. If you must use some jargon terms (sometimes it can help your search engine optimisation) make sure you have a plain English explanation too.
Acronyms can also be dangerous – they can be detrimental in search as the same acronym is often used in different industries to mean different things. Try and avoid them – if you have to use them, then define them clearly at least once in an article where first used.
4) Write simple, subheads that sell
Subheads should never be generic or clever. Like headlines, they need to say something. Readers will scan for subheads, so they are a golden opportunity to sell the content in the paragraph below and capture readers’ attention.
5) Make one point with diagrams, charts and graphs
Any illustration – but especially diagrams, charts and graphs – should be making one point and only one point. The whole design should indicate and emphasise that single point. And if there are three points that can be made using the same graph for example, show the graph three times, each time highlighting the relevant point. Include the absolute minimum of details to make that point and put it in context. Keep it simple.
6) Simplify tables
If you have to use tables of information don’t draw lines all around the data. Lines are not information – they convey no message. Too many and readers will just see the lines. Use the minimum possible amount of lines to make sense of the table. Try not to use any vertical lines at all. Adjust the spacing between columns and lines to structure the table rather than adding lines. And if you do use lines, make them as thin as possible and consider making them grey or another light colour.
7) One message
Have a single main message. If you have multiple messages, you will struggle to get any of them across to your readers. One strong message, repeated if necessary, will make the point. Keep it simple.
8) One big image
One, good quality, big image is more powerful than several small ones. Make sure the image is also telling one story. Make sure that story doesn’t conflict with that told in words. Crop out any extraneous detail and focus in on the important essence of the photo’s purpose. If there are two stories to tell in the photo – feature it twice with different crops or highlighted areas. If you have more than one image, make sure there is a hierarchy of sizes so it is clear which image is the most important.
9) Give ‘em what they want
Don’t try and second guess your audience, keep it simple. Find out what your audience needs or wants and deliver it to them.
10) Keep it Simple
Always think how you can simplify your marketing, remove extraneous steps in the sales process, simplify your message, get straight to the point and shorten the distance between prospect and sale.
Marketing is about giving people what they want – successful content marketing does that without complication, without barriers and seemingly without thought.
The message: Keep it Simple.