What is the most important factor for creating a successful text? Is it the idea? Is it the content? Both are close and yet a means to an end. The most important matter the author has to be aware of is the text’s objective. But unfortunately, this is not much talked about and often presupposed. The consequence: The text becomes an end in itself and fails to have the desired effect.
Why talk about something that should be clear anyways? The answer is: because the world has gotten more complicated. In the past, advertising and editing could be separated clearly from one another. Not later than with the rise of Content Marketing or the more offensive push version “Native Advertising”, the borders begin to blur. Although Content Marketing is not in its infancy anymore, the industry can still not decide on a consistent definition. All the more important it is in practice to clearly communicate to the author which objective his text should pursue.
Apart from basics like the target group, you should exactly define for which phase of the Customer Journey the content should be created. You do this already? Great. But have you also yet thought about the professional self-conception of your authors? If marketers compare journalists to ad writers, this is mostly done superficially: Both are experts, technically close together; the one often writes longer, the other shorter texts. You already notice this by means of the record length.
Truth and Insight
What many people forget: The coinage and values of the two professional groups, their work’s objectives and so their texts’ objectives are not only different. They are completely opposite. While marketing “is oriented towards the clients’ needs” (Kotler); “a good journalist does not go along with a matter, also not with a good matter” (Friedrich). (The justifiable hint that press freedom and democracy contradict Friedrich’s statement is hidden at that point).
A good ad writer is characterized by the ability to know before writing which insight he wants to address to the reader. His text should take up the wishes, needs and motivations of the reader. With his text, the author wants to influence the reader’s action. He wants to trigger something. He is measured thereon.
A journalist learns the opposite: It must be absolutely irrelevant to him what kind of reaction his text triggers in the reader. His task is information. The consequences must not be a matter of interest to him. A news editor reports the diesel scandal and even mentions in his text that in Germany, every 7th workplace is dependent on this industry. To keep a scandal as a secret for that reason is no option, even if the producer is the largest advertising customer.
What does this mean in practice?
The Persuasion Axis
To sort your own thoughts, I recommend planning texts not only along the Customer Journey, but also to fundamentally deal with the desired influence of texts on the recipient: from merely informative to maximally action-motivating. From the sole message to the shortest and most effective sales promise: “50%”. This particularly makes sense if people who do not deal with Content Marketing daily are involved in the conception phase.
This Persuasion Axis, as I call it, especially helps to sensitize large teams and ensures that, from marketing board to different management positions up to the (online) editor and the executive author, the same language is spoken.
Journalists of course also write excellent persuasive texts. Nearly all lifestyle magazines deal with how readers should shape their lives. But customers obtain the best effect in Content Marketing if the briefing for the author contains precise objectives and insights besides the format and the length of the text. “The board wants it to be as journalistic as possible” is thus counterproductive.