How to organize a content marketing piece
What a difference a format makes: A communicator in one of my recent social media-writing Master Classes used the temple story structure to fill in the blanks to a great tipsheet.
Here’s how she changed her writing style from an original story she submitted before class to a new story she wrote during the workshop.
The original headline focuses on the topic:
Sharing personal information with retailers
The new headline focuses on the reader’s No. 1 interest: herself and her needs. Write about the reader, not about “us and our stuff.”
Protect your privacy on the Internet of Things
Don’t drop the deck, or the one-sentence summary under headline. It’s the most-read element on a web page. At 29 words, the deck in the new piece is more paragraph than microcontent. Keep your deck to 14 words or less, with an emphasis on less online.
By the time the read the headline and deck, readers should understand the gist of your story.
Simple steps such as checking how your personal information will be used and shared and turning off Iinternet-connected devices when you’re not using them can help reduce privacy risks
The job of the lead is to grab attention and get people to read the second paragraph. The best way to do that is with concrete, creative, provocative details. The original lead is too abstract.
The new one, though, is specific and tangible — and so more effective.
Give yourself one paragraph — three sentences maximum — to deliver the broader context, or “the reason I’m telling you this today” section.
More and more everyday objects are connected through the internet. Increased connectivity offers conveniences such as never running out of milk again, but it can also create risks for your privacy.
The new one is a little shorter and more elegant. But let’s speak directly to the reader instead of about “the document.” How about “Here are some simple tips you can use …”
This document offers information about some of the privacy issues that can arise in retail stores and options to consider if you feel uncomfortable sharing your personal information.
This document offers some simple tips to help you to protect your privacy while enjoying the benefits of what’s known as the Internet of Things.
A second background section
Uh-oh. More background. I’d rather see this synthesized and combined with the first background section.
Notice the focus on background — aka the blah-blah-blah — in the original story. Readers want the tips, not the explanation.
In the new story, I’d like to see a shorter subhead — maybe 5 to 8 words. Eleven words is more of a sentence than display copy. Maybe 9 ways to protect your privacy with IoT. Then number the list of tips.
Check out those brilliant bold-faced lead-ins, which lift the tips off the screen. And steal the parallel list of imperative voice to-dos.
Also note the shorter paragraphs and sentences throughout. By cutting both about in half, the writer makes this piece 26% easier, according to the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test.
Body section 2
Uh-oh. More background. All this ’splainin’ makes me weary. That’s 280 words of blah-blah, if anyone’s counting. Instead, synthesize the background into a paragraph and move on.
Body section 3
Finally, we get to the tips! But what are they? “Tips for consumers” doesn’t reveal much.
The italic type recedes rather than coming forward, and is hard to read on the screen, because the slanted type pixelates.
Label subheads — “marketing” and “Driver’s license requests” — hardly lift the ideas off the screen.
Related stories are helpful to people, but the original needs more set up. An intro, an additional resource for the It-takes-three-to-make-a-list rule and better description of the resources would help.
The new piece needs some sort of next steps, summary or call to action.
Leave a lasting impression in both pieces with a kicker that’s concrete, creative and provocative. For the new piece, you might come back to the idea that your things know stuff about you — or make another nod at running out of the milk.
Take your own story from meh to masterpiece.
To fill in the blanks to your next content marketing piece:
- Focus on the reader’s needs, not on us and our stuff.
- Master the temple story structure so writing becomes a matter of filling in the blanks.
- Cut Through the Clutter to make every piece you write easier to read and understand.
- Lift Ideas Off the Screen With Microcontent to get the word out to flippers and skimmers.
You’ll see the difference — guaranteed.