Writing personality and your content

Persuasion with technology writing is like ketchup on fries

Is “writing personality” a part of your content marketing plan?

In other words, do you ever tell your writers, “Put some ketchup on those fries”?

“Ketchup on fries” is the fast-food equivalent of putting writing personality into your content. Does your company want that or not?

Ketchup on all the fries, or just some of them?

White papers and position papers are notoriously devoid of personality. “Get the facts down, persuade the reader to see things in a new way, make him or her pick up the phone.” Not much room for personality in that recipe.

Direct mail letters do roughly the same thing, but they’re absolutely dripping with personality. Think of the last direct mail letter you received. The author told you everything about his childhood, then asked you in five different ways to download the demo from his website, or send in your $19.99 for the set of knives.

As a marketing manager, you may tell your writer how much or how little personality you want in a given piece. But if you don’t, the writer may invest a lot of time in a piece that will be completely off-target.

Writing personality: “You bet!” or “Don’t bother”?

For one client, we’re launching a new enterprise software product with a complete overhaul of user manuals, technical guides, references and knowledge base. I forgot to tell the writer whether I wanted personality in the writing, but she surprised me with a well-paced article capped with a pretty good title: “Who Let the Docs Out?” People will read that. Maybe even the engineers we’re aiming for.

One writer told me that in her work for a financial services software provider, they love it when she puts personality into her writing. She also does work for a large company in Cupertino that makes it clear that she can leave personality at the door, thank you very much.

Try adding a field for “writing personality” on the project requests you send your writers. Let them know whether you want ketchup on the fries or not.

You can always have them take it off later.

photo credit: shirokazan


Author: John White

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