Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Is This Why You're Not Writing That Marketing Content?

In countless smaller businesses, the buck stops squarely at the desk of whoever started it all. If you're the chief cook and bottle washer at your company, you may be tasked with a huge number of issues, including the business's ongoing marketing efforts. And in marketing, content is still king -- so why do so many business owners shy away from writing that critical content? Here are a few reasons:

It's Hard 

Producing compelling content, for any purpose, takes a certain amount of mental and emotional energy, and there's no denying that it gives the brain a workout. And let's face it, the last thing your average overworked entrepreneur needs or wants is yet another mental challenge. For those who are not naturally gifted or confident writers, the task can seem positively Herculean -- but even those of us who do it for a living can feel pretty drained after a few hours of bashing away at the keyboard. Nor does it necessarily get easier over time; as the lower-level concerns such as spelling, grammar and mechanics eventually get ironed out, the writer's attention turns instead to more advanced issues. There's always some new challenge awaiting you over the horizon, no matter how good you get. So the creation of written marketing content can tie up a good many brain cells that might have gone toward, say, running your business. Which leads me to the next objection:

It's Time-Consuming

Even the fastest, most brilliant writers have to spend X amount of time on any piece of writing if they want it to meet professional standards. Writing is rewriting, as they say, meaning that a first draft is rarely the last one. Before you post that article, print those postcards or allow that new website to go live, you must go over your work with the proverbial fine-toothed comb -- cutting the fat, smoothing out awkward phrases, and making sure the message "pops." The less confident or experienced you are as a writer, the more time you'll spend fussing over it. Some of us (myself included) even struggle with typing speed/accuracy. (I never took typing in school. I can galumph along at an acceptable rate, and my own bizarre self-created technique is too ingrained to unlearn now anyway.) 

It Might Come Out Wrong

Failure in the business world can be damaging enough on its own (unless of course we learn from it) when it occurs privately, inside the company. Falling on your face in public is a whole other level of "epic fail" entirely. We're all understandably terrified of looking like goofballs in the way we present ourselves, and marketing is all about public presentation. So many business owners will shy away from creating their own marketing content on the grounds that they might inadvertently embarrass themselves, now matter how strongly they write. What if the target audience doesn't get what you're saying? What if your industry lingo makes no sense to the average Joe? What does your public want you to tell them?

These are all sound concerns -- and I hear them all the time from business clients who engage me to write their marketing content. Fortunately, a skilled copywriter can squash most of them. By hiring me to take their writing off their plate, for instance, business owners and marketing managers can focus on the pressing needs of their company instead of wrapping all their free gray matter around a blog article or web page. It also prevents content creation from sapping all their valuable billable time. Outsourcing the writing to a third party can even help ensure that the final product speaks to a broad mainstream audience and not just other folks in the business.

Are you facing any other challenges to producing the marketing content your business so desperately needs? Contact me and let's work on overcoming them!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Audio vs. Video Script Writing: Two Different Types of Marketing Content

So you want to explore the media or radio, TV and Internet audiovisual media to promote your products, services and brand. These tools can certainly hit home with your target market. But do you want to go with full-blown video commercial spots, or focus on radio spots instead? Can't you just write one script for both media? And if not, why not?

The writing techniques you use will vary depending on whether you're employing both sight and sound or sound alone to make your points. I've written both kinds of scripts, and with very few exceptions, I've found the need to employ a different approach to each, even when both scripts are selling the same product or service. Let's look at how these two types of media stack up.

From a purely presentational viewpoint, video has some obvious advantages over audio-only formats. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then moving pictures can deliver an epic amount of information in a surprisingly short amount of time. The highly compressed nature of visual storytelling makes it ideal for TV commercials, especially when you consider the costs of prime-time advertising. It also allows you to ram home your message quickly and efficiently on YouTube and other video sites in the attention-challenged world of the Internet. A copywriter drafting a video script will typically fill one side of the page with visual descriptions, sound effects and other technical information, with dialogue and/or voiceover text positioned to match on the other side. This format gives the director, actors, and editor an easy-to-follow breakdown of the whole piece, ensuring that no essential elements get left out.

The downside of video is the sheer financial and logistical complexity that required by that extra dimension. Cameras, lighting equipment (and the skilled personnel behind them), location and/or studio sound, costumes, makeup, video editing -- you can rack up a huge bill in a hurry. You'll want to do your homework to make sure that your video spot will tap your target market and deliver substantial ROI.

That leaves radio, podcasts, "commercials on hold," and other audio-driven projects. While audio-only scripts might seem like poorer cousins compared to their sight-and-sound counterparts, the truth is that this format is both more limited and less limited than video when you know how to use it to its full potential. Sure, you can't show things over a radio speaker -- but you can suggest them. And whatever you can suggest, you can afford. You want to have Godzilla destroy the city in your radio ad? Fine. Mix together sound effects of Godzilla's distinctive roar, crowds of people screaming and muttering, and some guy yelling, "Godzilla's destroying the city!" Congratulations -- you've just achieved an effect that would cost zillions of dollars to present on the screen.

On the other hand, the need to describe things for the reader's imagination can eat up precious time, and it can sound pretty stilted as well. I once heard a radio adaptation of the film Forbidden Planet which, while generally well acted, was overstuffed with description: "Hey, what's that?" "Looks like a robot." "Interesting how he has four limbs just like we do." Et cetera. And even though radio spots cost less to run than video spots, you still have to plot your marketing strategy wisely so that the right prospects are hearing your ads at the right times.

Anyway, audio and video can both serve as powerful tools for capturing new customers and retaining old ones -- a long as each type of script is written to play to the medium's respective strengths while downplaying its weaknesses. An experienced, creative copywriter can ask for compelling visual images that won't break the budget, or suggest limitless vistas over the radio waves with a few well-chosen words. Just remember, all scripts are not created equal -- and that's how it should be!