Bring a Story Teller to Your Markishing Team

By Brian Massey
Conversion Scientist, Conversion Sciences LLC

Whatever kind of website you’re running, you’re likely to be publishing…something. So you don’t just need a marketing team. You need a “markishing” team. And your markishing team needs a story teller. Because, let’s face it, people remember a good story. They share good stories. Most web content is neither remembered, nor shared. And often it doesn’t convert either.

People believe the most interesting things about the words on websites. Among them:

  • Nobody Reads Them. Clarification: Nobody reads bad web content because it’s as compelling as the list of ingredients for dish soap.
  • The Only Important Ones Are SEO Keywords: Clarification: SEO will always be important but Google is constantly changing its rules so that keywords don’t win; good content does. Besides, if the search engines like it, but it reads like a list of ingredients for dish soap, you will convert no one.
  • They Can Be Written In-House: Clarification: No. Most companies write what I call Styrofoam copy: colorless, tasteless, and bad for the environment.

Styrofoam copy comes from hiring copywriters who write “business speak.” It is “safe” but offers little in the way of storytelling, metaphor, and proper use of detail. Then the work is sent through marketing, one or more executives and perhaps the legal department.

By the time the copy has completed this gauntlet of red ink, any remaining color, taste and freshness will have been squeezed out until it is “squeaky clean, like a Styrofoam sandwich,” to quote author Tom Robbins. (Source: Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, Tom Robbins, 2000 Random House).

Writing that converts must appeal to humans. That’s who your customers are. At least, that’s what we assume. Case in point: Groupon, a so-called “deal-a–day” site offering email subscribers discounts from local businesses. You’d think that discounts of 50%, 75% or more would be engaging enough for email content. Groupon didn’t. Each of the dozens of deals they send out is packaged in a description that is witty, entertaining, and fun.

How important is copy to Groupon’s business? The New York Times writes, almost jealously, that Groupon “has managed, at least for the moment, to make words pay.”

This flies in the face of reports and research that says Web surfers don’t read. Groupon descriptions get read.

Groupon writes the descriptions for their customers because they recognize one thing: businesses don’t know how to write, especially about themselves.

This includes you and me.

Marketing people may be great at messaging and positioning. This is only half the battle. Get a good copywriter, pay him or her exorbitantly, and don’t edit the copy, except to correct errors.

This more than anything will increase the value of your white papers, articles, videos, social network posts, and landing pages.

About the Author

Brian Massey  is the Conversion Scientist at Conversion Sciences and he has the lab coat to prove it. His rare combination of interests, experience and neuroses was developed over almost 20 years as a computer programmer, entrepreneur, corporate marketer, national speaker and writer.

Brian is  the author of Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of The Conversion Scientist™


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Brian is keynoting at Conversion Conference Fort Lauderdale 2012 on October 9th and 10th in Florida. Join him in his presentation on “Eye-hacking and Video: How Content Affects Engagement, Distraction and Conversion.” See the full agenda or read more about this session. You can also follow Brian on Twitter for some pre-conference networking.

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