Dreams about a Pulitzer aside, creatives working in fields like content marketing (and the colleagues who judge their work) may sometimes wonder where artistry fits into the mix. While first-step decisions on brand identity, marketing goals and communication strategies (audience, channel, timing) provide a crucial structure—content can either breathe the spark of life or just blow a waft of stale air.
This is where hours spent in literature class or lost in favorite stories can guide us, because luckily, basic elements needed to captivate an unseen audience apply across contexts. While reading a discussion in LinkedIn’s Content Strategy group—the pros and cons of writing lists (short and punchy) versus stories (expansive and engaging)—I thought “poetry.” And it’s not the first time I’ve been reminded of poetry in relation to content marketing. It may not be an original thought, but it can be a meaningful one. Careful word choice, dense imagery and audience provocation are hallmarks of good poetry. See where I’m going with this?
So to those of you responsible for creating the words and pictures that make brands live and breathe, and for those of you tasked with evaluating them, strive for content that is:
This facet encompasses both accuracy and detail. Choose wisely: Don’t say “delicious seafood” when you can say “local brook trout, stone-roasted tableside.” Don’t use a photo of “every student”—use a personality-infused candid of one of your own.
While shorter is generally better for marketing copy, especially on the Web, brevity doesn’t have to mean cutting essential details. Rather, wrap them tightly into the content, making every word (or image) count: “A surface design inspired by quilted textiles brings a tactile vibe to the tabletop” or “The cotton canvas cover is embellished with raised stitching to create a textural zigzag pattern in happy hues” (did I see some alliteration there?).
To stir the motivations that precede decision making, including purchasing-related decisions, reach for the audience’s deeper “whys”—or “why nots.” Do they want to be smarter, kinder, more beautiful? Are they afraid of turning into their parents? Create content that speaks to these longings, like Volvo’s “Looking Forward” commercial.
Even if it doesn’t motivate immediate behavior, good content can leave an impression that continues to influence even after the audience clicks away. Easy to achieve in the content clutter? No. But as some memorable brand messages illustrate, it’s the target to aim for.
You might have noticed that I haven’t limited the notion of poetry to just words on a page. Platforms like Google’s Tour Builder put actual imagery at the center of brief and often moving segments of text. So be inspired! Creating content is, at its heart, a creative act.
Emily Smith – Content Writer and Editor