To me, all this is common sense. But every day I encounter ads, news releases, websites and, believe me, even blogs – and more- that fail to communicate to and with their audience. They deliver generic one-size-fits-all content that is either too vague, product oriented or ego-feeding. It seems that folks at the big companies often cannot distinguish between user manuals or product specs and an effective product description. They also overlook the differences among various types of media and push the same content to TV, radio, magazines, and the Web.
Let’s say I’m shopping for a new car. Well sure I’m concerned about safety, seating, gas mileage, horse powers, so on… But I’m also a girl. So when I go to the [CAR BRAND]’s website and get something like: “5.4L… blah-blah-blah… Triton V8… blah-blah-blah… power-deployable running boards… blah-blah-blah,” I have no idea who this Triton guy is and what power-deployable running boards are supposed to do. But I need to know right away what this car can do for me. Will is save me gas and money? Will it stop fast enough if I notice a red light a little too late because I was fixing my make-up? Will it fit my girlfriends and their boyfriends in together with our mountain bikes and camping equipment? This is what I want to know. And guess what, if I can’t find this content on your website/blog/[your choice], I’m going to your competition.
So, after doing a little research I was able to distinguish 4 major mistakes that companies make when developing content:
- One-size-fits-all content – companies fail to distinguish different types of customers they might have and create content that, at the end of the day, doesn’t target any of them.
- “Look at me, I’m so good” or ego-feeding content – companies write about how good they are at what they do instead of how they can help their target market solve its problems. Financial institutions are especially guilty of this one.
- Product-specs content – this is my car example. Again, instead of telling the audience how this particular product can satisfy the audiences’ particular need, companies talk about what the product does and what it is made of. IT companies and car-manufacturers do this mistake especially often.
- Vague-language content – this is when companies talk about how ground-breaking, innovative, robust, user-friendly and so on the product is. Ok, so what can it do for me?
Poorly developed content usually includes all of these mistakes to some extend. So, next time your are writing a copy – for your ad, news release or website, think about your audience, its needs and problems and how your product can satisfy these needs and solve the problems.