As Senior Writing Guru for Tuna Traffic, I craft a whole lot of original content for a myriad of customers. While I am indeed a ghost writer (you’ll never see my name in a customer’s blog byline, for example) I prefer to think of myself as more of a content chameleon, transforming my words to enhance our customer’s brand and directly connect with their target audience. To write as an expert means you’ve got to discover your customer’s voice, capturing the look and feel of their brand through language.

For me, that’s where the fun comes in. But, I’m guessing that for many of you, creating content for your own website or blog or marketing materials, etc., may sound… well… about as much fun as voluntarily getting a root canal. My first suggestion would be rather self-serving. Let us help you write what you need.

But, if using our mad writing skills is not in your cards, and you’re going to go at this content writing alone, heed my second suggestion: It’s all about the Pre-Work. Taking the time to dig in well before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. (Speaking of pens and keyboards, I’m often asked which is preferred. The answer is, whichever you choose to use is really all about you. There’s no right or wrong here. For me, I’m old school taking copious notes for my Pre-work on legal pads. But, when I actually get to the writing, I’m on my keyboard because it’s easier to edit my work that way.)

Here are 4 expert tips to get the creative juices flowing and write content that connects with your customer.

1. Think of Pre-Work as Detective Work

Not as homework. If you’re not wild about writing in the first place, you won’t be doing yourself any favors if you think of Pre-Work as something your 9th grade Language Arts Teacher assigned. Instead, remember – you’re the sleuth. And the more you can discover now to build the foundation for your writing, the easier it’s going to be. Spend the time upfront. Don’t start with a blank sheet or screen.

2. Identify the Purpose

targetThis may seem obvious, but it’s frequently overlooked. Clearly determining “What’s the goal?” of what you’re writing can be illuminating. Is it to promote a specific product? Introduce a new line? Remind visitors that you’ve opened a new location? Sure you want to drive sales, but push yourself to get more specific. Drive sales in which areas, in which markets, with which buyer persona? (Yes, I said buyer persona. More on that below.) By the way, if this type of marketing discovery work interests you and you’re thinking, “That would be good for my business, but I don’t know where to start.” We can partner with you to develop one for your business.

3. Develop Personas

A persona is a fictional characterization of your ideal customer that is based in real data. A detailed persona is an incredibly helpful marketing tool for more than just content writing, especially in the big picture areas of marketing campaigns, strategic planning, and product development. For the sake of this blog, establishing the buying motivations, behaviors and demographics for a persona give you a leg up on speaking in their voice, which is how you want to write. For additional inspiration, Hubspot does a great job at getting the persona ball rolling.

4. Be Consistent with Tone

legal-padYour brand has a tone, and it’s crucial to set that tone in your writing and stick to it. I often “Tunify” content for Tuna Traffic. “Tunifying” is devising content to match our brand’s tone, which is casual yet knowledgeable, a little quirky and when we can pull it off, clever. I would never “Tunify” content for a manufacturing company or investment group or medical clinic. Can those businesses have a tone that is casual yet knowledgeable, a little quirky and clever? Sure, if that’s what makes the most sense for their brand. But, it would have its own tenor and cadence. I incorporate two easy checks to make sure the tone I’m using is consistent. First, I always, always, always read what I’m writing out loud. I listen for the ‘clunky.’ Meaning wording that doesn’t flow well or just sounds like it doesn’t fit. Secondly, I’m a firm believer in Tuna Traffic’s Leadership Attractor, “No Head Works Alone”. I welcome others to read what I’ve written. An additional set of eyes makes us all better at what we do.

So, sharpen that pencil or put new batteries in that mouse and get writing. And remember, if you hit a little writer’s block, we got you.