Time is ticking. A deadline looms. You have to compose a creative, engaging and insightful post about…light bulbs. Or, insurance policies.
We’ve all been in a spot where we have to come up with something that will educate or entertain our readers about a topic that’s just not very sexy or unique. Even if you’ve been given an angle or bullet points to cover, coming up with those first few sentences can be worse than spending the afternoon with the dentist.
So let’s take a cue from our creative writing friends and work with writing prompts. These ideas are a little different than, “You’re lost in a forest and realize the birds can talk. Write about what happens next.” Instead, let’s work with a variety of writing approaches to launch into an article, social media text, blog post or even a newsletter.
Kicking Off Your Content Creation
1. Tell a story. Launch directly into a relatable narrative that leads back to the topic at hand. Drum up interest, present a conflict and perhaps, your topic is part of the resolution. Then, dive into the meat of the content.
I stumbled across a new service online that promised to elevate my content creation. After playing with the features for a while, I was getting the hang of it.
Intuitive. Helpful. Eye-catching. I was intrigued.
After less than 30 minutes, I started deciding how I could implement this service into my workflow. Basically, I was sold.
Then, I had a question.
Continue reading: Hooked, Then Dumped: A Failed Sales Story
2. Wow with a statistic. Throw out a number that will entice your readers to know more. If 89 percent of people are affected by something or a process leads to landing a $10,000 project, people will want to read on.
The key to any successful marketing strategy is reaching your key audience in the location they frequent most. When it comes to fast food marketing, millennials — a substantial 25 percent of the population — spend more money on dining out than any other age group, according to Restaurant Marketing Labs.
The average millennial shells out $174 per month on restaurant food, compared to non-millennials, who spend $153 per month. The $21 difference could easily translate into two or three more fast-food lunches per month, and a significant bottom-line boost for quick service restaurants (QSRs). How can you take advantage of mobile marketing offerings at your OSR?
Excerpt from: Why Fast Food Marketing Has Gone Mobile (post is no longer online)
3. Offer a solution. Explain a remedy to a pain point in the first few sentences. Then, use the rest of the article to explain the solution process in more detail with examples.
Over time, sediment and rust accumulate in the fuel tanks of older vehicles. Sure, fuel filters do their job, but if they’re not changed often enough (or ever!), the tank could use a thorough cleaning. After all, any vehicle that’s been sitting for even a few months will have problems with condensation in the tank, which will lead to corrosion (in a metal gas tank, at least). This is often one of the first tasks you’ll have to do if you buy a vintage car for a restoration project, or if you buy a vehicle that’s been sitting for some time.
Next time you’re tending to maintenance work under the body of the vehicle like replacing the fuel pump, and have the fuel tank removed, give it a thorough cleaning to help extend the life of your engine.
Continue reading: How to Manually Clean Your Fuel Tank
4. Paint a scene. Get visual with your words and place the reader in a scenario where the product or service you’re marketing improves their life in some way.
After my first year of freelancing, I was on top of the world. I made an appointment for my annual tax preparation with a group of retired accountants who kept up their licensing and worked a few weeks each year for fun. I walked in and was introduced to a retiree sporting a gray ponytail and a rock ‘n’ roll T-shirt. Perfect — this is my kind of guy. Unfortunately, our conversation about music quickly went off-key.
Excerpt from: Is a Tax Penalty in Your Future? (post is no longer online)
5. Relate to the news. Is there a hot issue, or popular holiday in the headlines right now that could amplify the importance of your product? Use it to leverage readers into timely content.
You’ve made it through another 365 days at the office. Are you ready for the next round? Before you start writing January dates on all of your business correspondence, map out a few New Year’s resolutions for work.
Excerpt from: The Top 6 New Year’s Resolutions For Work (post is no longer online)
6. Draw on empathy. The ‘we’ve all been there’ scenario is a powerful tool. This combination of storytelling, shedding light on a problem we all have and offering a solution works to strike an emotional response.
The conversations you have with yourself are powerful. The subconscious listens and reacts to what you tell yourself, both positive and negative. The importance of self-love shouldn’t be overlooked.
A few months ago, I realized I needed to change the unkind tone of my internal dialogue. According to Psychology Today, up to 70 percent of our mental chatter is negative. As I come to terms with several waves of raw emotions, I’ve made self-care a top priority in my daily life so I don’t get engulfed in the negativity that replays in my head. I came to the realization that I needed to take better care of myself, to learn to feel my emotions, and to process painful feelings in healthier ways.
Continue reading: The Importance of Self-Love, Part 1: Acceptance
Often combining two of these ideas works well too. The empathy example also includes an intriguing statistic, storytelling and an upcoming solution! Do you have a go-to approach to writing on a difficult topic? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or on this post on Facebook.
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Note: This post was last updated on October 5, 2022.