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Content kills - content strategy advice

Don’t have much to say? Then don’t. Here are some simple content tips that will help you to get the maximum bang for the minimum of buck and avoid some of the common pitfalls.

Lewis North

Don’t have much to say? Then don’t.

Picture the scene: you’ve commissioned a new website, which comes complete with a snazzy layout for your portfolio of previous work. It looks great with lorem ipsum – three neat little paragraphs next to lots of lovely photos. Doesn’t seem too tricky does it? Great. The only problem is, you’ve got 20 case studies to write before the site can go live. That’s 60 paragraphs. That’s 20 different ways to say ‘We worked with XY and Z to achieve amazing results’.

Let’s look at another scenario. Your new site has a blog. You’re going tweet about your new blog posts and post links on Facebook. It’s going to be an excellent way of developing your online presence and increasing brand awareness. The first three blog posts are great: you’ve been thinking about them for months, so the words are right there ready to be published. The fourth is a bit trickier, you have an idea but you’re not sure how to start it. The fifth post just won’t come, and anyway you’ve got plenty of other, more important things to be doing. You’re not neglecting your blog – you’re prioritizing your work load. Fast forward and your blog hasn’t been updated in 9 months, your Twitter profile is tweetless and your Facebook timeline has tailed off to nothing. Your web presence resembles the Marie Celeste.

The problem is that although you are a business owner, and you have a website that allows you to publish your thoughts to the big wide world, you are not necessarily a writer or a marketer. Creating fresh, relevant, quality contenton a regular basis is a big commitment and you don’t have the time to do it yourself or the resources to employ a marketing team.

So what are your options?

You could engage a copywriter to work your ideas up into something publishable. A good copywriter will take the time to research your business and understand your objectives and your brand persona. This relationship can be a valuable asset to your business and usually not with an obscene price tag, although might be put to best use for lengthier articles and case studies rather than less formal updates and blogs.

Alternatively, you could try working to a simple, consistent formula. There’s no reason your portfolio has to have a wordy case study for every example, and there’s no rule that says blog posts have you to be pages long.

Ask yourself this: what do I need to say and what do I want to say? Ok, got your list? Now ask yourself, what’s realistic? Work out a simple formula that works for your business and use it week on week. A couple of examples…

Yummy Buns Bake Shop has a Facebook page on which they post weekly updates featuring a photo of their prettiest cake of the week and accompanying text that always follows this formula:

Baked: 162 cupcakes (a record!), two wedding cakes and a batch of iced biscuits.  Themes: church bells (wedding!), thank you, happy birthday. Favourite ingredient: stem ginger – makes for sticky cupcakes – yum! Atmosphere in the kitchen: frantic but fun.

Infinity Kitchens know that their best recommendation is the standard of their previous work, which they feature in their online portfolio. However, they hate writing and don’t have the time to draft descriptions for each project. Instead they upload a photo of the finished kitchen and accompany it with the following text:

Challenges: L shaped kitchen with limited natural light.  Solutions: Bright work surfaces and splash backs with reflect light around the kitchen.  Materials: Solid wood beech cupboards and doors, York stone flooring, Apollo resin work surfaces and splash backs.  Testimonial: “We’re thrilled with how light our new kitchen is and the space saving accessories Infinity recommended make life so much easier. Highly recommended!” Mr and Mrs Brown.

Neither Yummy Buns Bake Shop nor Infinity Kitchens have to spend ages thinking about what to write or where to start. They’ve got plenty of opportunity to embed key words without having to write reams of text. Most importantly, they’ve hit upon a formula that they find manageable and that will serve them for the long term.

Have a look at the Tumblr feed of the talented photographer, Clare Hewitt, for an example of this in practice.

So... Shall we talk about your next project?

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