How to Make Your Readers Content with Your Content

This post was written by John White on Fri, 22 Apr 2011 07:19:40 +0000
Posted Under: publishing content,review loop,tell your story,value in content

Marketing managers don’t get paid to save money; they get paid to spend it well. In the push to get your content out there, make sure readers can be happy with it.

Wall of text <> content readersPamela Wilson published a report called “8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your Content.” It’s not about how to build white papers, case studies, Web pages or articles, but about how to dress them up. Line breaks, subheadings and bullet lists, as Pamela points out, make it easier for readers to get through your content.

There’s a lot of psychology at work in this.

“I want people to listen to me.”

As the publisher, you have a crying need for people to listen to you. Your organization has a story to tell, and you’ve paid a marketing communications writer good money to tell it.

You want attention.

“I want to learn a little and get through this thing.”

The readers in your audience want two things: to get value out of reading your content, and to get your content behind them as quickly as possible. They’ve accepted somebody’s influence to visit your site and find your paper and they’ve awarded you a few minutes of their precious time, so hurry up and get to the point.

They want gratification.

Giving readers their gimme

Nothing gets in the way of making your readers content with your content like subjecting them to a wall of text.

You’ve seen those, haven’t you? Maybe written a few of them? A page of copy that is just paragraph upon paragraph of narrative, devoid of graphics, callouts, white space, subheadings or anything to break up your deathless prose?

Or a paper that begins to buckle under its own weight, because everybody who reviews it wants to add more ideas to it?

You need to give your readers a damned good reason to slog through every page of your content. A graphic, a table, a callout box in the margin, a bullet list…Your reader needs to feel that she has accomplished something by the bottom of every page.

Have a look through some of your content (or the content your predecessor published, if you’re lucky enough to have a scapegoat). Pour it through the two filters described above:

  1. Does it tell my story?
  2. Can readers learn something useful to them in a hurry?

Go ahead – pick one of your white papers, case studies, newsletter articles or blog posts. It’s easy to tell your story; it’s not so easy to make your readers content with your content.

How do you do it? Let me know in the comments.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: Marshall Astor

Reader Comments

It’s the “quantity=quality” myth instilled in all of us from the 1st grade on. A 3,000 word essay gets us a B, but a 5,000 word essay gets us an A (“very thorough” writes the teacher on the top of your paper).

The first step, especially for b2b marketers, is to realize that when it comes to content marketing, the formula is reversed. A short, pithy and informative white paper/post/article gets you an A+, and a scrolling block of text gets ignored.

#1 
Written By Marcus Schaller on April 26th, 2011 @ 10:30

>A short, pithy and informative white paper/post/article gets you an A+

Good point. Most of us will even settle for memorable copy, let alone the A+.

#2 
Written By John White on April 26th, 2011 @ 10:55