A content marketing guide for beginners

Words sell. There’s no doubt that good writing will win you more customers. Here’s how to start.

Carefully selected words can help persuade a customer that they really need what you have to offer, and motivate them to go out and get it. The other side of that coin, however, is that even one badly chosen word can completely put off a customer and lose them forever. People are just as wary of hard-sell pitches online or in print as they are of foot-in-the-door salesmen. If you are writing about your own business, you will have first-hand knowledge of your products or services. You will also know where they fit in your marketplace and who your audience is.

Don’t just write about your company, and its products and services, from your own perspective.  That’s a mistake many businesses make. Customers who come to your website are looking for information, perhaps to inform a buying decision. You need to tell them what your service or product can do for them, and what problem it can solve.

  • Understand your customers and anticipate what they want
  • Expand your vocabulary
  • Test your content – see what works and what doesn’t

What are the words that work best to get customers to:

  1. Notice your product or service?
  2. Contact you?
  3. Complete their purchase

Here are some of the ways you could start your pitch:

  • With a question: This addresses the customer directly, and may even be what they are doing there in the first place. Isn’t it time you…? Don’t you wish…? Why pay full price…? Are you paying too much for…?
  • With a statement: This gets your message out there immediately, while engaging the reader. Let’s talk about why you need… We’ll change your mind about… It’s never too late to…
  • With a challenge: You immediately call your customer to action and tell them just what you can do for them. Visit our showroom… Find out just what everyone is talking about…. Experience the world of….

Free or special?

Customers like to think they are receiving a special deal. Here are a few strong words that can perk up a reader’s attention, but make sure you’re honest. We all know just what we do with letters that have ‘valuable documents enclosed’. Don’t cry ‘special offer’ if you haven’t got one. Here are some words you could use, where applicable:

  • Free
  • Special offer
  • Discount
  • Limited-time offer
  • Bargain
  • Bonus
  • Exclusive
  • Sale
  • Extra
  • Sneak preview

Here are some pointers:

Engage: Focus on how your customer can benefit. Address their needs and desires. Let customers know how great your services or products are, and how they can relate to them.
Be persuasive: Encourage your customer to take the next step. Be polite, but not too subtle, in giving them a call to action. Don’t say ‘if you would like to find out more’ because that then gives them an out. Say ‘get in touch’ or ‘learn more’ to encourage them to make contact, or send them straight to ‘order’ or ‘buy’.
Be concise: Don’t use more words than necessary.

Tell them what you have to offer

OK, so you’ve got their attention. Now, what is the best or most appealing thing about the product or service you offer? Its quality? Its authenticity? Its durability?

Every sector will have its own buzzwords, and you have to use them to persuade the customer that what you have on offer will make their life better.

Take a look at these words below. If the word on the left sums up your product or service, then the words on the same line will be useful for you in helping to describe it to a customer.

Descriptive word Suggested alternatives
Quality Significant Outstanding Foremost Esteemed Excellent
Durable Strong Resilient Sturdy Robust Well-built
Convenient Handy Versatile Practical Efficient Time-saving
Exciting Lively Vibrant Thrilling Startling Fascinating
Expertise Qualified Accomplished Knowledgeable Professional Exacting
Fast Instant Immediate Prompt Punctual Swift
Attractive Beautiful Striking Dazzling Sparkling Elegant
Healthy Natural Nutritious Refreshing  Goodness Organic
Cheap Affordable Economical Thrifty Budget Value
Reliable Dependable Honest Trusted No-nonsense Sound
Stylish Glamourous Tasteful Sleek Edgy Graceful
Superior Fantastic Unrivalled Exceptional Supreme Distinguished

Clinch the deal

Now is the time to finalise the transaction. The customer is interested and engaged. You now have to come up with the choice of words that will make them take action.

  • Don’t wait any longer…
  • Don’t miss this opportunity…
  • You will receive all these benefits…
  • Just reach for the phone…       
  • With your approval, I’d like to…
  • Just hit reply and I’ll email you the details…
  • You won’t be disappointed…

Don’t be afraid to ask can you take the customer’s order. That call to action may be just what they need to decide to buy.

3 Action Points

  • Don’t go over the top
  • . It’s good to be proud of your business, but don’t use words like “best”. It sounds insincere and is easy to disprove if you’re not. Don’t say: We have the fastest printing service in Munster. Do say: We’ll print your leaflets in 48 hours or give you 20% off.

  • Don’t write meaningless hype. Unless you’re a boxer or wrestler, calling yourself “world-class” is just embarrassing. Avoid these particularly inane phrases. Innovation: If you have to say you’re innovative, then you probably aren’t. Market-leading: Which market are you leading, and does anyone care besides you? State-of-the-art: Don’t undermine the credibility of your business by using clichés.
  • Get your spelling right. Text littered with spelling mistakes is a sure way to put off clients. Every word processing program has a spell-checker, so there’s no excuse. Take care to set the program to English (UK). Ask others to read it too.
  • Image from Shutterstock.