The following article is the result of a series of workshops involving EdTech developers, marketing coordinators and instructional designers.
Writing is very easy. Unless you actually want people to understand you.
When you are writing persuasive content, you need to keep a couple of things in mind. Those things are important to ensure your writing has a real effect on people. This means that you need to know the audience you are writing for, and what you expect from them after reading you. That and be coherent, concise and with perfect grammar. Maybe it’s more than a couple things.
In the context of content marketing, the key concept here is: Intent. It’s not enough to know who will read what you write. You have to think of what actions you want them to make after reading.
Before we begin
Think your writing as a “Campaign.” You have a message that you want to send to a specific audience, and as a result of that message you want people to think or act in a new and different way.
Before you begin, put yourself in the audience shoes. In a way they are the most important part of your story, even if you are writing about somebody else.
The purpose of your writing is to entice the reader to invite you into the next chapter of their story. This could be something specific, about one of our products and technologies, or something less tangible like the company’s values, or even your own dreams and aspirations.
The basics of a story, disarrayed
It is always a good idea to start with the beginning, then skip the middle and go to the end. Here is why:
You need to start by referencing the context, the actors or players, and the problems or challenges they are currently face. Paint a picture of the world and the people in ways your readers have never seen before, and make it evocative.
Make sure to keep a list of:
- Every strength and skill of each of the players that you mention. If you are part of the story, make sure you describe the things that makes you great. The same goes for customers, other people or even fictional characters.
- Every problem or challenge needed to solve. Important: Try to be positive about what you think of “weaknesses” or “flaws.” Try your best at framing them as kinds of challenges.
Then, it’s good to skip the middle, and think about the End. The Conclusion. The Happy Ending. Make sure that:
- Every problem and challenge that you mention is either solved, or significantly improved.
- The person who is affected by them at the beginning of your story is now in a better condition because of it.
And then, you can connect the beginning to the end:
- Make sure every skill and strength that you mentioned at the beginning is used to arrive to the happy ending.
- Try to be as specific as you can about the process. It is almost never linear, there are new problems and challenges and a lot of unexpected things before we come to the Happy Ending.
Get into your story
Feel free to create and add “color” to your story, your world and the characters, but keep your story concise and focused on one topic. Below are some examples of good structures, but feel free to tweak them, mix them or do something entirely new if you feel it is the best case for your story.
- Stories about people who use EdTech. A story about a teacher, a student, an admin or anyone who benefits from your help.
- Stories about people who purchase EdTech. If you are writing about an organization, make sure you include the specific people involved. Who makes the decisions? Who uses your solutions? Who else is a beneficiary?
- And of course…
You can also write about your own experiences. It is always preferable to focus on one specific episode than on the story of your life or your time at a company. Write about a challenge you faced by yourself, or by the customer. All the previous advice applies: Be technologically specific and how it was instrumental in the resolution of a problem.
You’ve got the sauce
This is perhaps the most difficult part of writing. On top of making sure you have a good story and that is related to the reader intent, you also have to make sure people understand why is it you who is telling the story.
What makes you unique? What makes you… “You”?
What can you do and what do you see that nobody else can? These questions will help you make sure you have an original idea and that you are authentic.
Don’t be afraid about telling the world how amazing you are. Be confident (and also humble) about your own skills and strengths, and how they can help other people. Don’t be shy about the things you can do and the adversities you have overcome in the past.
So in summary: Begin by introducing the world (context), the characters and the problems they face. Then, leave and empty space and write the Happy Ending. Finally, go back to the empty space and describe how you used your skills and strengths to overcome the obstacles that kept the characters to arrive at the happy ending. Make sure you assemble thing in a linear order.
Write, rewrite, then rewrite once more
It is essential that after your first draft, you take your eyes off it, go to sleep or think about something else.
Then you can go and read it with fresh eyes the next day or after a while.
- Find ways to remove unnecessary words.
- Ensure each paragraph focuses on one idea and that they are explained as clearly as possible, with simple words.
- Check again for skills, strengths, problems and challenges. If you include a skill or strength that is not used in the story, take it down. Likewise, if you mention a problem but at the end it remains exactly the same, remove it from your story.
Make sure each section of your story is between 150 and 300 words. In any case, the whole piece should not exceed 1,000 words. If your text is just about 450-500 it’s fine as long as the story is good and coherent.