Writing and cooking content is all about communication. Everyone who works in B2B and B2C marketing needs to know a bit about content – even if you don’t write all day.

Feature, Benefit and Dream!
Let’s say you are marketing a new stereo. It has 5.1 Surround Sound, plays cds, dvds and blu-ray and comes with a 50 button wireless controller. Cool features. But what are the benefits?

“Amazing sound – much better that the garbage you listen to on YouTube.”

Now go for the dream. “Amazing sound that will blow your mind and cause everyone who enters your home to drool on the carpet!” Now that’s cool.

Benefits are important, but we’re all dreamers at heart. Push the limits a bit. The better your product, the better the dream. Sometimes, you don’t have much of a dream. If you’re marketing a new toilet seat, you can’t say, “So you can defecate with style.” Same goes for deodorant. The dream isn’t so enticing – “So your pits won’t smell like a rat hole.”

The challenge is when you’re marketing something complex. For most heavy IT services, the dream is “So you can focus on innovation.” The subliminal message is – “You pay us to take care of the boring BS so you can focus on the big picture.”

First Impressions are Everything
Your headline is your first impression. You’ve only got one go at it. Sometimes the headline hits me before I write the article. Other times, the content I write creates the headline. Flesh it out and go for the kill. It had better be strong.

Writing an enticing headline has never been more challenging. There is so much content out there. Too many headlines use “Secrets of”, “The Ultimate List of” and “The Top 10” – you need to be creative.

Don’t go too far. Your headline had better reflect your content. Better a decent headline that is honest than a headline that oversells. By the second paragraph, you’ll lose your audience.

4 Types of Headlines

1. Self-Interest – People are always thinking “What is in it for me?” Let them know exactly how they can benefit.
2. News – If you are presenting a new product, an update or recent addition to an old product, be sure to mention it.
3. Curiosity – We’re all curious cats. Curiosity is what you most often see in the media these days. Modern headlines are like anorexic strippers – teasers with little meat behind them.
4. Quick and Easy – Feature and benefit – straight and to the point.

Content for My Generation
Welcome to the ADD Generation. Attention deficit disorder. I call it “the content drive-thru.” Your audience doesn’t have time – and if they do, it ain’t for you.

Get to the point. Use colorful phrases, but don’t be long-winded. You have 3 minutes to wow me, and the clock is ticking. One minute and 45 seconds left. Move on!

Write short paragraphs. In the 1960s, songs were “limited” to 3 minutes. By the 1970s, Led Zeppelin was playing 12 minute versions of No Quarter and Stairway to Heaven. If you write content that takes 12 minutes to read, you’re gonna end up in hell.

Before you start writing, imagine the outline in your head. Pretend that your audience is in an elevator with you. Modern content is the 3 minute elevator pitch.

You’re 3 minutes into this article. My time is up!