Congratulations! You’ve realized that you have no time to generate your own content for your website, newsletter, or blog. You’ve taken the courageous step of hiring someone to help you write all of the articles and marketing content that you will ever need, right? Wrong.
A lot of people who hire someone to generate content make the following mistakes when working with a writer. As a result, they often get frustrated with the results and then end up having a sour relationship with that person. Worse yet, they will tend to revert to a “do-it-yourself” attitude and take over the writing; in which case it will never be finished.
If you’re someone who desires the creation of good content by utilizing someone talented in that regard, here are some common mistakes that can be made, and ways to avoid them:
- 1 Don’t assume that the writer will know about your product, service, or industry. Even if they do, they will never know as much as you do. You are the expert. Be a thought leader. You know what trends are relevant to your customers, right now. Handing your writer a bunch of articles someone else has written and asking them to go “research” the industry rarely ever results in a good article.
- 2 You must have a plan for content creation. Business is cyclical. There are prime buying times for your product or service. Sit down with your writer to plan what topics you would like to discuss throughout the year. Highlight the 2-3 things you want to talk about during each publication. Whether quarterly, monthly, or bimonthly, one hour of your time meeting and brainstorming with you writer is all it should take to figure out what you want to say an dhow to say it.
- 3 You will have to be involved in content creation—up to a point. The writer you hired may be a great writer, but no one can get inside your head and pull the information out of it. For each issue of your newsletter or blog, have your writer interview you for 30–45 minutes and then create a first draft of an article for your review. You’ll find that it is much easier to proof and make revisions to something that is already written than it is to come up with fresh content out of thin air. Avoiding these common pitfalls while working with a professional writer will make the process of developing regular content more efficient, productive, and satisfying. It will also eliminate a lot of the headaches that go with the constant pressure of creating something new each time you need to send out a newsletter or post a blog.
By: Ryan Hembree, Principal
Brand & Creative Strategy
“Big Data” pervades every aspect of business management today—everyone is concerned about capturing data: from customer demo- and psychographics to the lifecycle of a product or service. The “Internet of Things,” networked appliances, sensors and gadgets, are all providing real time reporting on everything, creating a tremendous amount of data. The problem is: what do we do with all of this information once we have it?
I have written about the importance of infographics in other posts, and how professionally designed visuals can help communicate complex information in more meaningful ways, but since then the problem of too much information has gotten worse. In their book Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity, Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn argue that “we need information, but what we’re getting instead is data—untamed and unfiltered, without order, structure, or shape, and ultimately, without meaning.”
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Susan Credle, a creative director for a global advertising agency, argues for companies to focus more on telling the story of their product or service, instead of simply presenting data about the brand. However, both of these goals may be achieved through the use of professionally designed infographics (information graphics)—and with better success than simply relying on words alone.
The reasons why infographics (visualized data) are better than words is:
1. The brain processes images better than words.
Words can have hidden meaning (especially if you are not familiar with the language) or be interpreted in different ways. This is one of the reasons why communication through email can be misconstrued so easily…without appropriate context, we are not sure of the tone, urgency or mood of the sender. I prefer face-to-face meetings with clients because I am able to not only hear what they are saying, but I can gauge their response through body language.
2. Visual images invite the viewer to interact with the data.
Humans are hard-wired to discover patterns and interpret the world around them, ultimately filling in the blanks and drawing conclusions.
3. Infographics provide context for data by showing relationships, revealing outliers or anomalies, and showing patterns or trends.
“A picture is worth a thousand words” because it can tell the whole story about the data, not just a small part of it. It also makes the information more transparent and understandable.
Businesses are so focused on “numbers,” the “ROI,” and “data,” that we often forget about the audience—the people who actually need to use the information. Having a bunch of information or facts is one thing; having it distilled in a way that is understandable and meaningful is another. Unless people can understand what all of the data means it is, for all intents and purposes, useless. Charles Mingus, a famous jazz musician, is quoted as saying, “making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple… that’s creativity.”
A great example of how complex information can be simplified is the updated design for the Nutrition Facts labels, found on over 800,000 food products sold in the U.S., and updated last May. While at first glance the difference between the old and new not be that apparent, key pieces of data have been made larger, bolder, and easier to understand.
Part of the obesity epidemic in this country is due to people eating too much and not being active enough. The new Nutrition Facts label highlights not only the number of calories in a serving, but how many servings are in a container. For containers that in all likelihood would be consumed in one serving, the new labels show how many total calories are in a package. This might discourage some people from finishing, say, a whole bag of potato chip with their zero calorie diet cola.
When using infographics, brands can visualize abstract ideas and concepts in a way that will resonate with viewers, helping them better understand the information. However, it is important to not pack too much information into one graphic … too much data creates clutter and confusion. Better to use multiple graphics to tell the story of your product or service’s features and benefits than one poorly designed one, or worse yet, a bunch of bullet point text.
By: Ryan Hembree,
Principal | Brand & Creative Strategy