Great Writers, Great Content


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Byron White's presentation for PubCon, December 4th, 2007.

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Great Writers, Great Content

  1. 2. Great Writers Characteristics and Observations
  2. 3. The Challenge <ul><li>“ Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank piece of paper (screen) until the drops of blood form on your forehead.” </li></ul><ul><li>— Gene Fowler </li></ul><ul><li>“ There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a keyboard and open a vein.” </li></ul><ul><li>— Red Smith </li></ul>
  3. 4. Curious <ul><ul><li>Well-furnished minds and well traversed experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exceptional curiosity about every subject under the sun </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Above average wit and sense of humor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vivid imagination and powerful analytical thought </li></ul></ul>Resource: Story , Robert McKee
  4. 5. Work Hard <ul><li>“ Like an athlete or a dancer, I am uncomfortable —even damaged—by a day away from my writing.” </li></ul>Resource: Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft, Jane Yolen
  5. 6. A Lot Like Actors <ul><ul><li>They get under the skin of the target audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They inhabit the lives of their characters for a while </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The story lives on, but the psychosis moves on to another character, hero, dragon, mermaid, victim, slayer, angel or king. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 7. Understand Readers <ul><ul><li>Readers want credibility, belief and logic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Readers want exposure to new worlds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Readers want to laugh and cry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Readers want intimacy, mystery and bravery </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Readers want surprise and delight </li></ul></ul>Resource: Content Critical , Gerry McGovern and Rob Norton
  7. 8. Understand Storytelling <ul><ul><li>Great stories introduce great characters </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Great stories are contagious </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Great stories focus on “what happens next” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Great stories teach us to be smart </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Great stories surprise and delight </li></ul></ul>Resource: Content Critical , Gerry McGovern and Rob Norton
  8. 9. Play Mind Games <ul><li>Finish the story: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>My teeth were chattering… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Once upon a time… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In the rearview mirror, the cab driver saw… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It almost seems impossible for me to get back to that split second when… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I’m an alien from another planet, and I just met my first… </li></ul></ul>Resource: The Write-Brain Workbook, Bonnie Neubauer
  9. 10. Practice Haiku <ul><li>Japanese 3 line poem, usually 17 syllables: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflect a unique life view </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Brand new experience of a well-known situation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No rules, other than the 17 syllables </li></ul></ul>
  10. 11. Great Web Writers Characteristics and Observations
  11. 12. New Challenges <ul><ul><li>Create new value and shape new meaning with the written word </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improve organic listing positions in the search engines and drive more traffic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improve conversions rates and increase sales </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Justify the spend, guarantee the ROI </li></ul></ul>Resource: 200 Clients at LifeTips
  12. 13. Curious Researchers <ul><ul><li>Search box on the clients website and log files </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>FAQ emails submitted to customer services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discussion with customer service reps </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discussion with customer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keyword popularity research </li></ul></ul>
  13. 14. Work Smart <ul><li>“ It is no bad thing to learn the craft of advertising by copying your elders and betters.” </li></ul><ul><li>— David Ogilvy </li></ul>
  14. 15. A Lot Like Rich Actors <ul><ul><li>They learn the lines (and the rich keywords) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They get under the skin of the target audience, (with the help of customer profiling) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They can revise the script based on audience participation (A/B split testing) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Then they must perform flawlessly, day after day (tracked with conversion metrics) </li></ul></ul>
  15. 16. Understand Web Readers <ul><ul><li>Readers want to be able to find specific things </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Readers are in a hurry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Readers love personalization, “it’s all about me” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Readers want advice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Readers want up-to-date, relevant, straightforward content </li></ul></ul>Resource: Content Critical , Gerry McGovern and Rob Norton
  16. 17. Understand New Storytelling <ul><li>In the age of information overload, the web storyteller connects with readers and motivates the sales process. </li></ul>Resource: Sisomo, Kevin Roberts, CEO Saatchi & Saatchi Inspires Expires Touching the Heart Feeding the Brain Animated Annotated Compelling Compiling Casts of Characters Check lists Dramatic Static Emotional Promotional Dreams Reams Exciting Citing Acts Facts Moves You On Fills You Up A Story Information
  17. 18. More Mind Games <ul><li>Negatively Positive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Let the client finish these sentences: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We are not____________________ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We are not____________________ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We are not____________________ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We are not____________________ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Then cross out the negatives. Build a story around the positives. </li></ul></ul>
  18. 19. Practice New Haiku <ul><li>Japanese 3 line poem, usually 17 syllables </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflect a unique life view </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Brand new experience of a well-known situation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NEW rules—17 syllables + 4 keywords </li></ul></ul>
  19. 20. Web Writing Tips and Advice
  20. 21. Set The Right Course <ul><ul><li>Add new meaning that helps distinguish from the competition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create new confidence through your readers and prospect customers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create new energy for your sales and marketing department </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Turn browsers into believers, and believers into buyers </li></ul></ul>
  21. 22. Create Mantras <ul><li>“ A sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation, such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell or portion of a scripture containing mystical potentials.” </li></ul><ul><li>— SOURCE </li></ul>
  22. 23. Sample Mantras <ul><ul><li>Winning is Everything Greenbay Packers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Think IBM </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fun Family Entertainment Disney </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Save Babies March of Dimes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Healthy Fast Food Wendy’s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kick Butt in Air and Space Air Force </li></ul></ul>Resource: The Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki
  23. 24. Flawless Process <ul><ul><li>Brainstorm session that uncovers the story </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Methodology to get under the skin of the target audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research the rich keywords and scent trail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nail the value proposition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clarify the call to action </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Manage feedback </li></ul></ul>
  24. 25. Understand the Paradox of Choice <ul><ul><li>Understand the new age expansion of choice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discover and create the rules for decision making </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop decision making tools and process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create new methodology for buying decisions </li></ul></ul>Resource: The Paradox of Choice , Barry Schwartz
  25. 26. Understand the Sales Funnel <ul><ul><li>Preliminary: First impressions and headline architecture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Investigating: Knowledge seeking and trust building </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrating Capability: Show how products solve problems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Obtain Permission: Drive action, sign up, download or buy </li></ul></ul>Resource: Spin Selling by Neil Rackham
  26. 27. Follow Fundamental Rules <ul><li>KISS— Keep it simple, stupid —cut out the clutter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Speak the speak of readers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create deep information for heavy knowledge seekers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create light information for impulsive buyers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use super-simple navigation architecture </li></ul></ul>
  27. 28. Shape Perception <ul><li>Values become the soul of the art </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s worth living for? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s worth dying for? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s worth buying? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s worth upgrading? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why should I take action? </li></ul></ul>Resource: Story , Robert McKee
  28. 29. Make Meaning <ul><ul><li>Find new value in products that make the world better </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increase the quality of life </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Right a terrible wrong </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prevent the end of something good </li></ul></ul>
  29. 30. Practice White Hat SEO Rules <ul><ul><li>Unique titles, descriptions and keywords on each page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create original content (no dup content issues) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Add each page to the site map, and the site map to each page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not “stuff” keywords </li></ul></ul>
  30. 31. Keywords without Compromise <ul><ul><li>Harvest the rich search keywords </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The challenge is to pepper keywords without compromising the story </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reader must come first, the search engine spiders second </li></ul></ul>
  31. 32. Understand the Power of Links <ul><ul><li>Distinguish between link value– All Links are not created equally </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distinguish validation and population </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Select link phrases that work in concert with the SEO strategy of the landing page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Surround the link phrases with rich keywords </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Look internally for validation </li></ul></ul>
  32. 33. Results: Improve Conversions <ul><ul><li>A/B split testing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Track conversions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monitor traffic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assess Needs </li></ul></ul>
  33. 34. Conclusion: Hire the Pro’s <ul><li>“ If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.” </li></ul><ul><li>— David Ogilvy </li></ul>Resource: Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy
  34. 35. Questions/Comments [email_address] .com 617-227-8800 x201 [email_address]