As the Craft Your Content team gets older and wiser (maybe that’s just Elisa), we’ve gotten over the whole fake content marketing thing.
You know — the big push for SEO-focused articles and listicles that serve no purpose but to fill Google with more of your brand, the buzzwords that get people to buy your stuff even if they are not inclined to, and the constant pop-ups.
Part of the reason I love what I do (and love working for this company) is that we care about quality content. We write what we believe will be informative and interesting to writers and entrepreneurs like us, and we always try to honor our identity as an honest company devoted to our craft.
We aren’t writing articles to fit into a box or to dominate the market. Do we want to sell our services? Sure! But we want to sell our services to people who understand and appreciate what we do.
However, as an agency, we often have to serve our clients’ voice and vision. We can’t impose what we believe onto someone else’s brand.
So, when we are acquiring new clients, we have to be careful about who we decide to work with. Because there are so many businesses out there who don’t respect their customers.
Successful businesses aren’t built on a superiority complex, and if you have one, you better read on. It’s about to get real.
Are you an idiot? Would you like to be treated like an idiot?
If you answered either of those questions with “yes”… just leave. There is no helping you today.
Though many people would like to believe that half of the world is made up of idiots, that’s simply not true. And even if half the world are idiots, do you think they want to be treated as such? If you don’t want to be treated like an idiot, what makes you think your audience wants to be?
Semester after semester in my marketing classes, there was this odd tendency to alienate consumers from marketers.
We treated our “target market” like a problem we needed to solve, an alien race we needed to communicate with. How, oh how, do we get these strange, elusive people to buy this product?!?
I never understood why, as marketers, we were treated as intellectually superior beings who could trick our consumers into buying products and services using four simple elements.
Especially when most of my classmates couldn’t even spell “entrepreneur.”
No matter who you are or what you do — you are a consumer. To some extent, you intrinsically know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to selling a product.
Why, then, do so many marketers put out campaigns that even the most idiotic person can see through?
Your customers get that when you’re trying to sell them something using fancy language, you’re just using another word for “buy” — you’re not tricking them.
You see, language is funny like that. It’s all about the meaning behind the words.
No matter what word you use, if you mean for them to purchase something, they are either going to catch on to what you want them to do, or you’re going to confuse them.
Say I want to sell a deodorant, but I don’t want to say “buy my deodorant,” because some marketing blog told me not to.
So instead, I say, “try my deodorant.” However, in order to “try” it, they have to pay for it.
As soon as they get to the checkout cart, they are going to figure out that I actually do want them to buy my deodorant. At that point, they’ll either be ready to pay for it or they’ll exit out of the page.
Did the word choice benefit me at all? Maybe it got a few people past the advertisement and into the shopping cart, but did it actually affect my sales? I’m not sure the sales data would be statistically significant enough for a definitive yes or no answer.
If they want to buy your product, they are going to buy your product. If they want to subscribe to your newsletter, they are going to subscribe to your newsletter.
I don’t know how many different variations of “give us your email address” I’ve seen in my lifetime. Obviously enough to make me cynical.
But enough about my disappointment with the marketing community. We do have some amazing clients who are truly dedicated to their customers. We’re lucky like that.
Some of our clients actually like to use synonyms in their writing, and here’s why we support them…
As I said above, it’s all about meaning.
My beef isn’t with all synonym users. On the contrary, I’m a thesaurus fiend. Synonyms are vital to keeping your writing interesting, creating connotations, and utilizing all the beautiful intricacies of language.
If you want to use “try” instead of “purchase,” or “subscribe” instead of “sign up,” because it sounds better to you, then go for it.
By all means, play with language until you find something that works for your brand and your audience.
But if you’re using synonyms because you think you’ll be tricking your customer into doing something they wouldn’t usually do… just don’t. I can’t emphasize how much you should NOT do this. What kind of shady businessman tries to trick their customers? I’ll tell you what kind. This kind:
If your audience trusts your brand, they are going to trust your product. Tricking them into buying something by using certain phrases or synonyms doesn’t exactly fit with the whole “trust” angle.
Instead of relying on marketing buzzwords, SEO keywords, and the newest shadiest ways to sell your products, focus on creating content that builds your authority, creates a positive image around your brand, and actually generates interest among buyers.
To build trust and make an honest sale, you have to put work in. It takes more than just buzzwords and flashy graphics. So, while synonyms can be a great way to play with language, you have to make the meaning count. You can’t just rely on a single sentence to get a customer, you have to respect that they are complex individuals and build their trust through quality content. The more meaningful content you create, the more meaningful those synonyms will become.
Since we work with tons of writers and entrepreneurs, we’ve seen our fair share of strategies. We know what works, what doesn’t, and what’s laughably bad. Here are our suggestions for five ways to build trust between you and your audience and show them the respect they deserve:
1. Create engaging content
The key to content marketing is to create content that stimulates a reader’s interest in your company or product. Some people totally misunderstand the phrase “content marketing” and think, “Oh great! I can market myself through content. I can use my content to sell things!”
And then they go on to create articles like “10 reasons why you need my editing service” as if breaking their sales pitch into blurbs will actually interest readers. Hey! Guess what? It will bore them to pieces.
To create engaging content, the best thing to do is to avoid the example above. Instead of “10 reasons why you should purchase my service,” write about why editing takes a long time or even the different editing tools that are available online. You could include your service (like we did) in your last example, but only after you’ve offered reasonable alternatives to your product.
Think about infusing your writing with personality and telling stories. Personalize your content to make it unique to your brand and vision. If you make it clear you’re not only writing the blog to sell your product, your readers will be more likely to trust you. Show you aren’t self-interested. Write for your readers.
2. Be consistent
If you say you are going to publish an article every week, do it. If you say you are going to offer a sale every Friday, you better hold yourself to that promise. You must be consistent to be trustworthy, and you must keep your promises.
Craft Your Content has struggled with consistency before. We’ve gone stretches of time without publishing an article or putting out a newsletter. And it hurt us. That’s why we’re working extra hard now to always put out content when we say we will.
Being consistent isn’t just about gaining and keeping trust; it’s also about staying in the minds of your consumers. If your reader suddenly needs a product like your fat blaster, but you haven’t published an article in two months, is she going to think of your product? Maybe. But the odds are less likely if you haven’t been consistent with your content.
3. Share what you value
Creating content consistently is hard. It requires serious dedication and long hours.
Luckily, there are shortcuts you can take every now and then when you’re facing a deadline and serious writer’s block: Curated content.
Curated content can mean a number of things, but it is most commonly seen as articles that compile a number of resources relating to a certain topic. It’s all about sharing information that could be useful to your readers.
Craft Your Content likes to share what we know by not only writing quality posts, but also sharing quality posts written by others. It shows our audience that we’re not afraid to promote others, and that we read a lot.
In other words, we know our shit.
By sharing articles that aren’t yours but you value, or by writing curated content posts, you will gain trust and show your dedication to quality, not just dedication to sales.
4. Be attentive
Marketing isn’t one-sided. Feedback and communication is vital to understanding what you’re doing right and what you can change. Part of building trust with your buyers is showing them that you care what they think.
Always pay attention to their needs, interests, and wishes. Read and respond to reviews, comments, and emails in a kind, helpful way, even if they aren’t happy with your company.
I’ve seen one-star reviews turn into three-star reviews because the customer was contacted and their issue resolved:
This person was clearly unhappy with their hotel, but because the company reached out and tried to make it better, they changed their review.
When customers are reassured that if anything were to go wrong during their buying experience, their issues would be resolved quickly and painlessly, they will be more likely to trust you with their money.
5. Be honest
The final point should be a no-brainer: Don’t lie to your buyers.
If we offered “unlimited editing” for a flat monthly rate, but then imposed a monthly article limit on a client who has purchased this package, that would constitute a lie. No matter how sexy the word “unlimited” sounds, if you can’t truly offer an unlimited amount of your service, don’t use the word. You’ll piss off your clients and lose lots of money.
If you tell even the smallest lie about a product you’re selling and your buyers find out, all that trust you’ve built will completely disappear, and it’s a lot harder to win back someone’s trust once you’ve lost it.
Always be honest, don’t keep secrets, and admit your mistakes. You should never have a reason not to. (And if you do, you’ve probably got more problems than can be solved by reading this article.)
You know that old golden rule? Treat others the way you would want to be treated? That’s kind of how we like to view content marketing.
Market to people the way you would want to be marketed to.
Produce content that you would want to read.
Remember: it’s all about meaning.
If you can’t convince yourself to buy something, you’re not going to convince your audience.
So stop treating your buyers like some idiot alien species who doesn’t understand third-grade English, and instead create engaging content that will build their trust and lead to sales organically.
And please, stop using synonyms to trick your customers.
Erika Rasso graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in English and marketing and is currently working on her MFA in Screenwriting at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has worked as a writing consultant, an editor for a literary journal, and an editor for an academic journal. In her free time, Erika enjoys writing short stories and screenplays (though mostly she just watches WAY too many shows on Netflix). She is the Director of Production for Craft Your Content.