Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Marketers: Content Works; Readers: Be Smart

Consumers Can't Tell Native Ads from Editorial Content
Article or Ad...No One Knows
Native Advertising on the Rise

As a content marketing writer, you might think headlines like these would leave me gleeful. But I was a reader (and a journalist) before I was a marketing content maven, so you'd be wrong.

I'm worried.

I write content (and some real old fashioned news/ed stuff) for a living. With each assignment, I have a job to do. The content I write is intended to educate and/or persuade in order to convince you, the reader, to take action.

But the content is not intended to brainwash you; it's supposed to be helpful. I hear you snicker. But it's true - marketing content is directed at readers who are already thinking about buying (or taking the desired action). 

I'm not splitting hairs, I'm trying to draw an important distinction. And more importantly, I'm saying - readers, please learn to recognized marketing content and be smart when you read!!

(Aside: it would be great if you learned to recognize 
and appreciate good content. 
If you do, you can tweet this. 
Wink, wink.)

Is Marketing Content Intended to Be Deceptive?

I believe advertising copy is (usually) not intentionally deceptive. In 20 years I've had just one client ask me to flat-out lie about a product. (In case you're curious: the company is still in business, and is no longer my client.)

However, there's a lot of blurring of the lines in content - and that's not a new development we can blame on online content marketing practices. Advertorials existed long before the internet.

Readers need to be smart and know what they're reading. If you want to know why I'm a little wound up about this, read the articles behind the headlines above:

Consumers Can't Tell Native Ads from Editorial Content

Article or Ad? When it Comes to Native, No One Knows

Native Ads on the Rise

Facebook Blurs the Line More

If you think it's hard to categorize your marketing content (and your reading material) now, hold on tight: Facebook's latest update (F8) is sure to blur the line a bit more, and possibly obliterate it completely. 

From messenger bots to video profiles and virtual reality, the future is here. Or at least, it's in beta at Facebook. (Read Buffer's great take on F8 on

What's the Difference Between Editorial Writing and Copywriting? 

As a freelance business writer, content manager, and general wordsmith, I write a  w i d e  variety of "stuff."

Sometimes it's hard to categorize what I'm writing - but the label (advertising? editorial?) is far less important than the intended result. Regardless of the writing assignment, whether it's a case study, white paper, brochure, report, or feature article, my starting point is always the same question:  What should this piece do?

The result, and the intention, should be as clear to the writer (and client) as it is to the reader. That's why I made up my own category for what I do. I call it Writing that Works

If you're interested in getting better results from your marketing content, I'd love to hear from you.

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