Reading bad writing is something of an occupational hazard. There will always be a misused word or the occasional typo - those are the price of being human. But what I am talking about is writing that fails to deliver on its promise. In the healthcare b-to-b space, much of the content is good - but not great or memorable. It isn't going viral or getting retweeted. And, in most cases, it isn't that helpful.
Maybe that's why so few in PR and marketing feel they are using content effectively. In a survey from the Content Marketing Institute, 52% of b-to-b content marketers said they aren't producing the kind of content that engages. Yet, ironically, more than half said they will increase content marketing spending.
While much has been said about how great content can drive awareness, most writing fails to engage because it's missing one or all of the three key guides that, when present, drive the reader to act:
- Target audience. Writing that's worth reading never loses sight of its audience. The person to whom it is speaking is found in every idea, detail, and word. Understanding the audience - what the customer needs and where they are in the buying cycle - will inform the purpose of the piece and its form.
- Purpose. Knowing to whom you are writing helps clarify why you are writing it. The job of content is to differentiate the client, product, or offering in a meaningful way such as positing a new idea or solution to a common problem. Effective writing informs, persuades, and compels the reader to do something.
- Form and content. Why you are writing and to whom determine its form - data sheet, case study, or blog - and includes guides for length, organization, and patterning. Where the reader is in the buying cycle has everything to do with the kind of content they should be offered.
Clients rely on agencies to help them build strong brands, stand out as thought leaders, and grow. Great writing is the bridge to realizing those goals. Firms that pursue quantity over quality and churn out unengaging content will find it's just a matter of time before the reader and the client close the book on that relationship.
Brad Dodge is CEO of Dodge Communications.