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“Writing for Your Audience — The Message, the Words, the Plan” – Business Sense Workshop, March 2017

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Every word has an audience. And every audience has a message. Tying those three things together, however, is what takes the act of writing into something more strategic. This talk will touch on determining audiences and message, and then dive into some basics on how to write and plan effective web content that is both on point and on time.

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“Writing for Your Audience — The Message, the Words, the Plan” – Business Sense Workshop, March 2017

  1. 1. WRITING COREY VILHAUER @mrvilhauer Business Sense Workshop, 2/28/17 FOR YOUR AUDIENCE: the MESSAGE, the WORDS, the PLAN
  2. 2. COREY VILHAUER User Experience Strategist, Blend Interactive - @mrvilhauer
  3. 3. blendinteractive.com
  4. 4. nowwhatconference.com
  5. 5. Web Copy Articles Interface Copy Legal Contracts Blog Posts Emails Product Descriptions Social MediaWriting Billing Corporate Culture Development Finding Clients Project Management Brainstorming Ordering Supplies Site Design
  6. 6. 55% of pageviews get less than 15 seconds. 20% of text actually gets read. 30% longer to read online. 20% of people read to the end of a post. 99% these stats are meaningless.
  7. 7. THIS IS NOT A WEB PROBLEM
  8. 8. THIS IS NOT A NEW PROBLEM
  9. 9. ONLINE READING TRENDS HAVE LITTLE TO DO WITH BEING “ONLINE” THEY HAVE TO DO WITH SELF- SERVING, BORING, IRRELEVANT, AND BAD WRITING.
  10. 10. (it’s going to be okay.)
  11. 11. MESSAGEWHO ARE YOU? WHY ARE YOU HERE?
  12. 12. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCES KNOW YOUR PERSONALITY KNOW YOUR MESSAGE
  13. 13. Universities and Colleges Advertising Agencies Museums and Institutions Content Management System Vendors
  14. 14. Content Management System Vendors Vice President of Digital Director of Marketing Director of IT and Web
  15. 15. AUDIENCES WANT SOLUTIONS
  16. 16. Sell more widgets Buy a widget Get them to sign up Read our news Join our newsletter Find a sign up form Learn more Get helpful reminders
  17. 17. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCES KNOW YOUR PERSONALITY KNOW YOUR MESSAGE
  18. 18. ARE NOT MESSAGE Values, Mission, and Vision
  19. 19. Example: SHIMANO
  20. 20. Our Mission: Our Business
 Policy: • To promote health and happiness through the enjoyment of nature and the world around us. • We strive to provide quality products and services that are reliable and trustworthy. • We pledge to continually increase our corporate value and to ensure corporate management worthy of the trust placed in us. • We strive to provide a fair and vibrant work environment where all can share in the pleasure and satisfaction that comes with achievement. • We pledge to be a good corporate citizen, by preserving the environment and contributing to the prosperity of our community.: • To inspire ourselves to think creatively and to strive for continuous self- improvement. • To continually improve our technical skills in order to meet the challenges of our dreams. • To achieve our objectives through innovation and responsiveness to the challenges we face. Our Principles:
  21. 21. ARE NOT MESSAGE Copy Points “We offer a wide range of solutions for any project”
  22. 22. CORE STRATEGY What are we trying to do?
  23. 23. Message Mad-Libs For [target customer] who has [customer need], [organization name] is a [market category] that [one key benefit]. Unlike [competition], the product [unique differentiator].
  24. 24. For serious bicyclists who have advanced part needs, Shimano makes bicycle parts that are small, strong, and sturdy. Unlike SRAM, the product has been proven over decades. Message Mad-Libs
  25. 25. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCES KNOW YOUR PERSONALITY KNOW YOUR MESSAGE
  26. 26. MESSAGE ARCHITECTURE Voice and tone Direction Justification
  27. 27. MESSAGE ARCHITECTURE Who. We. Are.
  28. 28. Example: LEGO
  29. 29. CREATIVE AND OPEN • Offering millions of possibilities within their stable of sets WELL-CRAFTED • Every piece fits • The price is worth it for the quality and dedication from the team LEGENDARY • An intense history that carries on from parents to children • Memories of past gifts, legends of future ones IN LOVE WITH THE PRODUCT • They are fans of LEGO just as much as the customer
  30. 30. “WHAT’S THE SECRET? THEY ENGAGE WITH A BRAND THAT NEVER BREAKS CHARACTER.” Margot Bloomstein “Content Strategy at Work”
  31. 31. WRITINGGETTING THINGS DOWN ON “PAPER”
  32. 32. BE DELIBERATE BE HONEST BE CONCISE BE SPECIFIC BE CLEAR
  33. 33. SUMMARY FIRST
  34. 34. SEO GOLD STAR!
  35. 35. BE DELIBERATE BE HONEST BE CONCISE BE SPECIFIC BE CLEAR
  36. 36. BE CONCISE
  37. 37. Relevant HeadlineCute Headline What!? You mean it controls your actions? I can't get involved! I've got work to do! It's not that I like the Empire, I hate it, but there's nothing I can do about it right now. It's such a long way from here. Dantooine. They're on Dantooine. Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense. Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force. You mean it controls your actions? I have traced the Rebel spies to her. Now she is my only link to finding their secret base. I call it luck. I have traced the Rebel spies to her. Now she is my only link to finding their secret base. Hey, Luke! May the Force be with you. What!? You mean it controls your actions? I can't get involved! I've got work to do! It's not that I like the Empire, I hate it, • Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. • The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force. • You mean it controls your actions? Now she is my only link to finding their secret base. I call it luck. I have traced the Rebel spies to her. Now she is my only link to finding their secret base. Hey, Luke! May the Force be with you. Relevant Sub-Headline What!? Clear and actionable link to solution. I can't get involved! I've got work to do! It's not that I like the Empire, I hate it,
  38. 38. Relevant Headline What!? You mean it controls your actions? I can't get involved! I've got work to do! It's not that I like the Empire, I hate it, • Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. • The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force. • You mean it controls your actions? Now she is my only link to finding their secret base. I call it luck. I have traced the Rebel spies to her. Now she is my only link to finding their secret base. Hey, Luke! May the Force be with you. Relevant Sub-Headline What!? Clear and actionable link to solution. I can't get involved! I've got work to do! It's not that I like the Empire, I hate it, SEO
 GOLD STAR! THEY LOVE
 THIS STUFF
  39. 39. “The value from an extra 10 instances of your keyword on the page is far less than earning one good editorial link from a source that doesn't think you're a search spammer.” MOZ “Myths & Misconceptions About Search Engines”
  40. 40. BE DELIBERATE BE HONEST BE CONCISE BE SPECIFIC BE CLEAR
  41. 41. BE HONEST AMAZINGINNOVATIVE INDUSTRY-
 LEADINGPOWERFUL UNIQUE INTUITIVE SPECIAL
  42. 42. SEO GOLD STAR! EMPTY
 CALORIES
  43. 43. NO JARGON
  44. 44. AVOID IDIOMS That’s how the cookie crumbles. Ce est la façon cerise sur le gâteau. This is how icing on the cake. ↓ ↓
  45. 45. SEO GOLD STAR! NO ONE SEARCHES FOR DUMB JARGON/IDIOMS
  46. 46. BE DELIBERATE BE HONEST BE CONCISE BE SPECIFIC BE CLEAR
  47. 47. This part prescribes airworthiness directives that apply to aircraft, aircraft engines, propellers, or appliances (hereinafter referred to in this part as ``products'') when-- (a) An unsafe condition exists in a product; and (b) That condition is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design. Sources: www.PlainLanguage.gov The regulations in this part provide a legal framework for FAA's system of Airworthiness Directives. FAA issues an airworthiness directive addressing a product when we find that: (a) An unsafe condition exists in the product; and (b) The condition is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.
  48. 48. “This is a multipurpose passenger vehicle which will handle and maneuver differently from an ordinary passenger car, in driving conditions which may occur on streets and highways and off road. As with other vehicles of this type, if you make sharp turns or abrupt maneuvers, the vehicle may roll over or may go out of control and crash. You should read driving guidelines and instructions in the Owner's Manual, and WEAR YOUR SEAT BELTS AT ALL TIMES.” Sources: www.PlainLanguage.gov
  49. 49. BE DELIBERATE BE HONEST BE CONCISE BE SPECIFIC BE CLEAR
  50. 50. “Update your settings to receive fewer communications from us.” “To receive fewer emails, go to Settings > Email Notifications.” Sources: Nicely Said
  51. 51. “Your order was successful.” “Thanks for your order. You’ll receive an email confirmation within a few minutes.” Sources: Nicely Said
  52. 52. BE SPECIFIC Sources: Nicely Said What is the reader trying to do? What does the reader need to know? What happens next? Is this topic covered somewhere else?
  53. 53. GOVERNANCEWHEN AND WHERE AND HOW
  54. 54. nowwhatconference.com
  55. 55. BE CONSISTENT BE A CHAMPION BE ACTIVE
  56. 56. BE CONSISTENT BE A CHAMPION BE ACTIVE
  57. 57. STYLE GUIDES
  58. 58. Words Trademarks Formatting Voice and Tone Legal STYLE GUIDES
  59. 59. “MAKE IT ORGANIC. LET IT GROW FROM AUTHORS’ AND EDITORS’ NEEDS.” Ginny Redish “Letting Go of the Words”
  60. 60. BE CONSISTENT BE A CHAMPION BE ACTIVE
  61. 61. CREATE AN OWNER
  62. 62. BE CONSISTENT BE A CHAMPION BE ACTIVE
  63. 63. EDITORIAL SCHEDULING
  64. 64. 1. Content Audit 2. Editorial Calendar 3. Editorial Triggers
  65. 65. SPREADSHEETS. 1. Content Audit
  66. 66. SPREADSHEETS?
  67. 67. ID URL (bike.shimano.com) NAME CONTENT LINKS NOTES ASSIGNED -4.0 /content/sac-bike/ en/home/articles/ 25-years-of- spd.html Info A news feed about recent Shimano happenings. Links to stories and other pages within the section Feed is broken up and weird - the name does not match the content George - - 4.1 /content/sac-bike/ en/home/news-and- info/70-30.html About About content Link to the main corporate site About page is written okay but is not customer centric - it is a history, not an about. Cathy
  68. 68. CONTENT AUDIT Page title File format Author Meta description Page links Audience relevance File size Editorial publish date URL Content description Last updated Categories/tags Images Reading level Season Scheduled for archive
  69. 69. EDUNDANTR UTDATEDO RIVIALT
  70. 70. 2. Editorial Calendar SPREADSHEETS.
  71. 71. SPREADSHEETS?
  72. 72. WHY? Align with goals Fulfill user needs Allocate resources Cross-channel stuff Ease and support
  73. 73. 3. Editorial Triggers SPREADSHEETS.
  74. 74. NEW PRODUCT CONTENT Max Time: 5 Days Immediate Action Gather information on new product based on New Product copy deck. Upload initial content to website using placeholder images APPROVAL NEEDED: Initial approval of content required Create product images for all sizes (150px, 350px, banner) FINAL APPROVAL web editor web editor product manager web editor lead editor 2 days 1 day 1 day 1 day
  75. 75. ALL TOGETHER NOW Content Audit Editorial Calendar Editorial Triggers JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
  76. 76. YOU DID IT!NOW GO WRITE STUFF!
  77. 77. nowwhatconference.com
  78. 78. THANK YOU @mrvilhauer www.eatingelephant.com/chamber17 FROM: COREY VILHAUER, USER EXPERIENCE STRATEGIST

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