Jim Morton

Archive for the ‘Web Content’ Category

Who’s Your Audience?

In Language, Skills, Technical Writing, Web Content on April 13, 2012 at 11:34 am

Whether you’re writing ad copy, email blasts, or white papers, the question you always should ask before you get started is: “Who is your audience?” It’s one of the first rules students are taught in Marketing 101, and yet, many writers get so wrapped up in their own visions that they forget this. They concoct catchy science fiction scenarios that would draw in everyone at Comic Con for a product that is better suited to a global summit of the Fortune 500. The cleverest advertising campaign in the world is a failure if it doesn’t engage its primary audience.

Sometimes it’s tricky figuring out who that audience is. I worked with a very sharp woman who understood marketing backwards and forwards. She knew how to pitch things, and she knew how to sell. When asked to come up with a campaign for an upcoming trade show, she came up with a solution that probably would have sold a lot of equipment, but it fell flat in the meeting room. The reason: her real audience was the boss and he hated it. She was pitching to a group of people who weren’t there. With a little more care, she might have been able to find a way to get the boss on board with her ideas, but she overlooked that one link in the chain. In the end, the man went with his own vision and the products continued to sell in the same modest way they always had. In fairness to her, she had only been on-board for a few weeks and didn’t appreciate this man’s idiosyncrasies. He would have done well to listen to her suggestions, but she also should have recognized who her real audience was and proceeded accordingly.

One of the most obvious examples of bad marketing is now a classic meme of the Internet: Snakes on a Plane. Quite unexpectedly, this film’s title, in advance of the Samuel  L. Jackson movie’s release, became a popular catch phrase among the technoscenti. The marketing crew at New Line Cinema were sure they hit paydirt, and they milked it for all it was worth. But when the movie came out, it had tepid box office during its all-important opening weekend. Techies liked the phrase, but they weren’t the audience for this film. The marketing team would have done better to concentrate the efforts in other areas and let the meme take care of itself instead of nurturing what turned out to be a dead end.

In conclusion: Good marketing requires understanding who your audience is, but it also requires some careful consideration to make sure that you are pitching to the right people.

Writing Web Content

In Jim Morton, Skills, Uncategorized, Web Content on February 28, 2012 at 12:29 am

Everyone these days writes web content. Every soccer mom, Sunday hobbyist, sports fan, film buff, and lonely teenager has a blog. Unfortunately, this mass production tends devalue the art. In fact, writing good web content is trickier than it looks. Anyone can type something up and throw it on a website, but that doesn’t mean that anyone else will want to look at it. Nor does it mean that anyone, outside of a small circle of friends, will ever know that it exists.

That’s where SEO comes in. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the the secret to getting your website noticed. If you are really good at it, you can push your site to the top of the list in Google searches. If you re interested in good SEO techniques there are some excellent seminars available. Keep in mind that SEO is an ever-changing playing field. This is due mostly to the fact that there are many people out here trying to “game the system” by forcing their website to appear at the top of the list in Google organic searches (an organic search is one that the didn’t get its standing in the results by paying Google). To prevent, this, Google is constantly improving their search algorithms.

The biggest mistake that most people make when it comes to their websites is trying to create dazzle instead of content. Remember: search engines like content, so skip the flash videos and describe your products.