June 6, 2018
As a writer, specifically a content writer, you can come across some interesting subjects. In fact, over the years, I’ve come across most subjects. Sadly (and hopefully the boss isn’t going to read this) not all of them are that interesting. A lot are but, as in all areas of life, there’s always one. Some weeks there seem to be a few of those subjects that are boring, tedious and difficult to find an angle on. It is true, some projects – and products – just have an inherent yawn factor.
Used industrial concrete mixing equipment and a regular blog post for a scaffolding company are amongst my own personal ‘head-meets-desk-repeatedly‘ categories and for all content writers there’s always a few subjects that can have that effect. So, heaven forbid, what if your product or service is one of those that gets consumers yawning and can result in a work-related head injury for your writers?
Sometimes a product is difficult to write about not because it’s boring, but because it’s actually likely to sell itself. It’s hard to sell a concrete truck to the average consumer but less so to someone in the industry, especially if they’re after a concrete truck, which they probably are if they’re searching for ‘used concrete trucks’.
The market, in that case, is also relatively small but the competition is limited. Another example of a great product, but one that can be difficult to write about, is cycle helmets. Just as a wild example for the purpose of this blog! This is one of those products where the benefits are self-evident, they can reduce the amount of life changing or life ending events in your customers’ futures; people just lap that sort of product up.
In this case, people get cycle helmets, they don’t really need it to be sold to them. Again, anyone searching for ‘cycle helmets’ is probably in the market for one, so how do you best engage them with your product over the competition?
In the world of copywriting and journalism the starting point for any piece is the ‘angle’. Without an angle you have nothing. It’s a bit like a film without a plot, you’ve little chance of grabbing the attention of your audience if they don’t quickly engage and want to read/view on. Using cycle helmets as an example again, the first thing to forget is the benefits of cycle helmets. Bouncing your head off tarmac and/or other vehicles at high speed is notoriously bad for you, everyone knows that, and they don’t need to be told!
Simply listing the safety features of your product is likely to get people yawning fairly quickly and you can find that stuff on just about every one of your competitors’ sites. To create interesting content you need something that will make you stand out, something that doesn’t just grab attention but stops people in their tracks. Often, finding the right angle involves a bit of off-piste thinking.
Cycle helmets tend to stop those life changing accidents, so start with that as your angle instead! Safety isn’t interesting – but danger is! So write a piece that highlights the world’s five or ten most horrific cycle accidents – this is a good angle to work from. Much more intriguing than the 5 best safety features of your cycle helmet. In this particular case your audience/customers will have a keen interest in the topic and it’s one that can be both controversial and yet engaging.
Road rage incidents involving drivers and cyclists are also a good place to start. Any topics around your product, rather than about your product, are likely to be the ones that grab the attention of your customers. In this case fear is the bit that will really grab that attention, along with a very human, but not necessarily commendable trait, that of gawping at accidents!
Whatever your product, whether it sells itself (cycle helmets), is just a bit boring (scaffolding) or is utterly engaging (puppies), remember who and what you’re selling to – humans. Engaging their attention is the crucial starting point and, on the internet, there’s a lot of other people trying to do that! To find your angle, especially if the product is one of those more difficult ones, forget about the product and think about people.
Topics that interest us range from danger and fear (those cycle accidents), to those that pull at our heartstrings (think homeless, unwanted puppies). Buying, and therefore selling, is often a more emotional decision than we realise. Whether it’s desire or fear that spurs us on, there is often a surprisingly strong emotional reason for our purchases. Whatever your product, you can use these emotions to your benefit. Demonstrate what the worst-case scenario is if you don’t buy that cycle helmet – or the saintly qualities you’ll acquire by saving that poor little dog!