Why You Shouldn’t Write Your Own Marketing Content (and your subject matter experts shouldn’t, either)
July 24, 2017 by Maria Ford
We are often hired to “edit”, “finesse” or “work our magic” on an organization’s website content, product brochures, white papers, and so on. In these cases, our client usually feels a responsibility to provide us with a first draft.
And most of the time, I get that draft and can see the blood, sweat, and tears that have been drained into it. I can feel the pain of the individuals who were tasked with creating that content. And despite all that effort, it’s still terrible and needs to be rewritten.
I wish I could turn back time and convince my client that this is NOT the best approach. They’ve wasted valuable internal resources on something that I can do much better and much faster.
Those who are not professional writers and communicators likely can’t fathom how someone from outside of their organization – outside of their industry and their world (i.e. me) – could even begin to comprehend what is needed. But I submit that, in fact, I’m in the best possible position to understand what’s needed. Here’s why:
I’m a writer
O.K., you know that. That’s why you hire me. But what you don’t know is that your internal resources are NOT writers. Yes, they may be able to write. But it’s not easy for them – certainly not as easy as it is for me. I’m a writer because I was born this way and because I practice it every day. It’s how I think and how I breathe.
So, I guarantee that I’ll be better at it, and faster at it, than your subject matter experts (SMEs) – even the ones who are able to write well.
What I am not is an expert in your area, so I’ll rely on your SMEs to do the job well. Being a writer is also about being a great and curious researcher. Your SMEs will feel both involved and relieved when they discover that their participation can be limited to providing guidance, answering some well-thought questions that I’ve prepared, and reviewing a document that’s a pleasure to read.
“You said that better than I could have said it myself” is a pretty common response to the work we do. Also, “Yes, that’s exactly what I meant but I didn’t know it until I read it.”
Some of our clients call it magic, but it’s not. It’s our job.
I see the big picture
Precisely because I’m not inside your world, I am objective about your project. I’m also objective about what’s needed to make your project successful. And, because I have 15 years of marketing and communication and business experience, I’ll understand the significance and the role of your writing project within the bigger picture.
What I produce will meet the needs of your organization and the target audience. And that means it’s more likely to get results. I’ll also raise flags if I think that what you want to have written doesn’t seem to fit the goals and/or the audience. Together, we can devise a content strategy that makes sense and that fits.
About fit, your subject matter experts likely see things from a narrow perspective. They may not understand how this project, or how their specific subject area, fits among all the other gears that are in motion and connected to this project. As an outside observer of your organization, your brand, and your communications mix, however, I can do that. In fact, one of my first questions to you will be to gain an understanding of where this piece or project fits within the framework of your brand, your other communications, marketing, or sales activities.
Non-professional writers generally approach writing projects from the perspective of “what do I want to say?” As a business and marketing writer, my focus is different. It’s on who’s going to be reading this thing, and what do they need from it?
Website content is perhaps the most painful type of content to read or work with when it’s been written by someone who is not an expert in web writing. We web writers know something that non-writers don’t: we know that we must write for people who won’t read.
These days, that’s true of nearly every type of content in marketing and business today. Emails, memos, direct mail pieces, web pages, microsites, blogs … most people don’t want to read yours. The only way to get someone to read a thing is to get inside their heads and write from that seat.
A better approach
Call us first. It’s that simple. Before you or anyone in your organization puts pen to paper or pixels to screen, call us. We’ll talk about what you’re trying to achieve and how it can be done best. Take the blood, sweat, tears, and teeth-pulling out of the equation. We’ll make it easy!