Writing for Reading

Everyone on the marketing team is a writer sometimes. Whether you are writing copy for the website or advertisement, writing an email to a partner or business associate, or writing the content of an internal presentation, you will become a writer. And it is critical, in those times, to know who you are writing for.

Writers, those who do it for a living, develop a writing style. They write consistently in one way.

But for marketers, our writing style must adapt to the audience. We need to write for the people who will do the reading. No other form is acceptable.

Know Your Audience

The first question to ask yourself whenever you are set forth on a new writing task is, “who will be reading this?” The answer to that question should determine how you write.

I imagine that if you were writing an email to your CEO, it might read a little differently than an email you write to a peer. And that is exactly the point. We cater our messaging to our audience. So step one is – know your audience.

Readability is Key

Once you know your audience, you can begin writing. When doing so, or when you edit thereafter, remember that someone is going to have to read this. And the easier you make the reading, the more likely your writing will be effective.

Think of the copy on your website. Let’s use the product page as an example.

Who is it for? Prospective customers. You are writing for them. You want a prospective customer to read what you have written and then take the next step and complete a purchase, or request more information.

Studies show that the average adult reading level is 9 or lower. Unless all of your customers are literary critics or doctoral students, we must assume that their reading level is a 9 or lower. So therefor, since we are writing for them and not for us, we should write at a 9th grade reading level, or less.

The Hemmingway App is a great tool (and free) for this. You can copy and paste the text from your website (or anywhere else) and it will tell you the approximate reading level of that material. Not only that, but it will suggest ways you can make it easier to read.

The easier your writing is to read, the more effective it will be.

Make an Impact Today


There is a good way and a bad way to become more productive.

The bad way is to become a box checker. The box checker makes a long to-do list just so they can cross things off the list. It feels good, the act of checking a box. So they maximize that feeling by creating a slew of low level, pointless tasks that they do each and every day. And at the end of the day, when it comes time to sign off and go home, they can rest easy knowing how many “tasks” they completed. They feel productive.

The good way is slightly different. There may still be a long to-do list. But the things at the top of that list are value tasks. These are priorities, both for the individual and for the company. They recognize that these tasks may not be things that can be completed in one sitting, one day, or one week. They may not even be things that can be completed by one person.

But the crucial difference is, when these tasks are completed, they add value to the business. They add an immediate impact to the organization.

These are the tasks that get people promoted, that get teams noticed, and that get individuals raises.

Each and every day, you have a chance to make an impact on your company. Don’t squander it checking boxes. Instead, be deliberate about how you spend your time.


  1. Prioritize your workload, putting those items first that will have the greatest impact

  2. Divide large tasks into smaller sub-tasks and set milestones

  3. Block out time on your calendar to work on those tasks and advance them as far as you can

  4. Set reminders for team members whose input or assistance you need and stay on top of them

  5. Automate or delegate items that don’t add impact, but that must be done anyway

When you focus your efforts on adding value, your company benefits. When your company benefits from the things you are doing, you get noticed. When you make an impact every day, you become indispensable.

3 Simple Changes That Will Supercharge Your Content

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Content marketing is an all-encompassing term that has peaked and fallen off in years past. But just because use of the term is on the decline, doesn’t mean that successful content marketing strategies are any less effective.

In fact, the companies that are succeeding with content are using it to drive more sales, more loyalty, more brand awareness, higher levels of community engagement, and more.

But too many companies are still wasting their time doing content for content’s sake. It’s time to take a hard look at the return on investment of your content marketing efforts. What is it doing for you? What value is it adding?

If your content marketing is barely moving the needle, you need to make some changes. And if you are not ready to throw in the towel for good, you need to test some new practices that have potential to improve your results.

Here are three things you can do to get more about of your content marketing efforts:

1) A/B Test Your Headlines

Just like we test different subject lines for our emails, in an effort to get more people to open and read them, we should test different headlines for any piece of content.

A good headline makes all the difference. The right headline grabs attention and leads a user to view the piece of content we publish.

And though there are countless resources for best practices when it comes to headline writing, the only way to know for sure what headline will attract more readers is to test them in the real world. A free tool like Google Optimize will allow you to test multiple headlines for every article and settle on the one that gets the most visits, clicks, reads, conversions, etc.

2) Make It Easy to Share

The sites that succeed with content benefit from engaged readers/users. As a company, there is only so much that you can do to promote your content by yourself. To get real results, you need to leverage the virality of the web.

Content that is easy to share is more likely to get shared.

Making your content easier to share is not hard. There are existing plugins you can add to your website that allow people to publish to their preferred social network with one click. And you can (and should) customize the way your content appears when someone adds them to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others.

3) Invest in Media

Too many marketers treat content as a one-size-fits-all process. We write blog posts and articles and hope they get shared. But this outdated vision of the web is bound to fail.

Today, there are so many different formats to experiment with, that if you only write articles, you shouldn’t expect to succeed.

It make take more time and money to create engaging video content, live video, Snaps, images and infographics, but this is exactly the type of content that gets shared. The content and the audience should determine the format, not the team you have or the budget you’re working with.

If budget and people are limiting factors for your company, perhaps you should invest elsewhere and ignore content marketing for now.

Who Are You Writing For?


There is a tendency among those charged with writing the marketing copy for any website, email, or advertisement to ignore their audience. This is not intentional, but rather, results from a natural human tendency to see things from our own perspective rather than others’.

But marketers should know, ignoring your audience is not the way to win customers. So the question becomes:

Who Are You Writing For?

Often, the answer to this question is simple. If you are writing copy for your website, you are writing for the many visitors who come to your site each day in search of a solution to their problem. If you are writing copy for an advertisement about your new product, you are writing for the prospective customer who is unaware of said product and all of its benefits.

Rather than trying to imagine this vague notion of your audience, though, you should seek to get as specific as you can. This is why companies create buyer personas, representative descriptions of a target customer group.

Rather than writing for “all website visitors”, you are writing for Susan, a 50-year old married woman with adult children who lives in a wealthy suburb and makes weekly trips to the grocery store. Rather than writing for “prospective customers unaware of your product”, you are writing for Tom, a 30-year old technology enthusiast who lives in a big city and takes public transportation to and from the office every day.

When you know who you are writing for, it changes the way you write.

Now you can speak directly to your audience, identifying how it is that your products or services can improve their life, instead of speak in vagaries, using the type of language that your employees might use to describe the product but means very little to someone who has never heard of your company before.

Sell the benefits, not the features. And talk in words or phrases that your customers would use, because that is how you are going to grab, and hold, their attention.

The Marketer’s Guide to Negotiation


Marketers will not be able to avoid negotiations during their career. And neither should we try to.

There will come many times when having a solid understand of negotiation techniques will serve us well. Whether we are negotiating for a raise or promotion in our professional careers, negotiating advertisement rates or contract terms with partners, or pushing a business case or new campaign on our own executives, negotiating is a part of the job.

So how can you make the most of these conversations? You can learn the do’s and don’ts of good negotiation from the masters who have been in these situations before.


Effective negotiators never go into a negotiation blind. They don’t have an innate ability and simply wing it.

They have a well-thought out plan, based on careful preparation. They have analyzed the details of the negotiation and have identified the factors at play. Where are the opportunities? What are the risks? What is the best possible outcome?

The old cliché holds – if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.


They teach you in acting class to listen to your fellow actors in a scene, rather than simply waiting for your turn to speak. The same can be said for more effective negotiating. It is critical that you listen to what the other party is saying so that you can figure out exactly what they want, and respond in kind.

It may be that what you expected them to say was way off. They may be more interested in a certain subject than you anticipated. You need to be able to change course if the talking points shift. And the only way to do that is to listen and react.

Don’t Get Emotional

Emotions have a funny way of creeping up in negotiations of all stripes. And in most cases, they disrupt rather than support the goals of both parties.

A successful negotiation is professional and courteous. If you get emotional, you will have a tendency to stray from your plan. Use logic and keep calm for the best possible outcomes.

Be Prepared to Give Something Up

If you are truly negotiating, you may not get everything you want. So it is important to know what areas you are willing to give in to the other party.

If you are negotiating a contract, determine which terms are the most important to you, and look for areas where you can compromise. You want to make the other party feel like they are getting something out of the deal too.

It’s Okay to Say No

Not all negotiations will get you what you’re looking for. And often, it takes more than one conversation to get there. For that reason, you have to be willing to walk away.

Know what your alternatives to a deal are. Are there other ways to get what you want? Do you have a plan B?

If a particular negotiation takes place over time, spanning several different conversations, or several different groups of people on the other side, make sure you stay consistent and clearly state your desired outcomes with each conversation.


In a perfect world, we would get everything we want every time we want it. Sadly, this is not a perfect world. And so we need to be willing to negotiate.

The best negotiators got to be that way through practice and preparation. The easiest way to improve your negotiating skills is to study the skills and habits of successful negotiators and incorporate them into your own processes.