I keep getting questions about how to write client-attracting articles or reports.
One of the most important marketing tools you can have is an article that you give to prospects once they are on “First Base,” that is, when they have shown some interest in your services and want more information.
You can give an article to someone you meet through networking, after a speaking engagement, and on your website to encourage a visitor to opt-in to your eZine list. An article is often the first tool you use in the marketing process, and gives you a reason to follow-up with a prospect to learn more about them or to send them more information that can ultimately lead to a meeting.
But many people have a real struggle writing articles. They don’t know what to write about, the best format to use, how long it should be, different article styles for different situations, and ways to use an article for maximum impact.
I’ll answer all these questions and more in this article. I’ve been writing articles since 1986 and have written articles for this eZine for 15 years – around 700 articles. When you know the answers to these questions, you’re going to find articles a lot easier to write.
You’ll also start to reap the many benefits of writing articles, which are many. Articles increase your credibility and position you as an expert; they multiply your visibility when posted online; they make the follow-up process easier; and they ultimately make you a better marketer of your services.
In short, articles are one of the most important and powerful marketing tools. If you’re serious about growing your business, there really is no substitute.
11 Things you must understand about writing articles.
1. Come up with a good topic
Write about what you know, and what you know about are the problems, challenges and issues your clients face. Take a few minutes and write down every problem you’ve helped a clients with over the past year. These become your article titles.
2. The most read kind of article
The easiest and most read articles are how-to articles or how-not-to-do articles. How-to articles are just like this one – a list of specific things your clients can do to improve their situation. How-not-to-do articles are about common mistakes your clients make and how they can correct them.
3. Set the stage
Start every article with a paragraph or two to set the context, the reason why this topic is important and why they should be interested and keep reading. Sometimes you can do this with a story or example.
4. Outline the issues and challenges
Before you get into your to-dos, let the reader know what the problem, challenge, or issue is around your topic. Remind them of what they don’t know and what it might be costing them. You don’t need to lay it on too think, but if you skip this part they are less likely to read, as you’ve given them no compelling reason to.
5. Promise the benefits
Then a final step before the to-dos is to outline the main benefits they’ll gain from your article. Let them know what they’ll learn and the difference it will make. One or two short paragraphs will do. Then you can jump into the substance of the article: The to-dos or not-to-dos.
6. Be conversational
Write your articles conversationally as if you were speaking to someone. You don’t need to include a lot of technical jargon, just speak the language of your listener. It helps to read your article out loud; you’ll notice any awkward or stilted phrases, poor punctuation, etc.
7. Write fast
When I write an article, I sit down and write the whole thing in one draft without stopping, usually in under an hour. I don’t worry about getting everything perfect on the first round, because I know I can come back and edit later. Just let the ideals flow.
8. Edit slow
Then edit by going up to the top of the article, reading it over and making changes as you go. I’ll typically go through an article three or four times from top to bottom until I’m done and no more changes are needed.
9. Article length
A good length for an eZine article is about 750 words, but I tend to vary from 500 to 1000. The length isn’t such an issue, the content is. Any boring article seems too long. Any relevant and helpful article seems too short.
10. Articles vs. Reports
A report is similar to an article, but it’s usually more comprehensive. It may be 1500 to 2500 words. An article may focus on just one topic as this one does; a report gives a bigger picture, such as the report you give away on your website. For instance, it may be about the “Ten Rules of Leadership,” while an article may focus on just one aspect of leadership.
11. Get your articles out there
Send articles in your eZine and post them on your blog. Point to them through social media and post them online. To find out where, just go to Google and ask the question: “Where can I post my articles online?” You’ll find more than you can handle.
Again, I want to emphasize how important articles are to your marketing. I’ve actually gotten several great clients who found me first through one of my articles online. Make article writing a priority, learn the ins and outs, and start writing as soon as possible.
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