Writing for impact: how to connect and engage

We all write for a variety of reasons—to promote, to entertain, to educate, to empower… Across all forms of media and communications, however, lies a single, underlying desire: to connect.

Connection is what enables us to form and grow relationships, whether in business or in our personal lives.

So when people obsess solely over SEO and trying to beat the many algorithms (Facebook, Google, Instagram…) to get their article/web page/product/book out there, in front of digital users, we’ve missed the most important aspect of what writing is for.

If we want to build brand equity in an authentic manner, if we want to have our web page or blog article or social post resonate with the target audience, if we want our target audience to promote our brand, our articles on their own—we have to engage them.

And how is that done? Let’s have a look (and no, it’s not by inundating your article/webpage/<whatever copy> with key words).

Let’s get emotional

Ever read a really long, dry, overly technical, boring report on something like different types of green available, and gone, “I feel this, I really feel this! I must share this on Facebook now!”

Yeah, me neither.

It’s human to zone out when something doesn’t engage our attention—and that often happens when there’s no emotional investment.

And the types of copy that do capture our attention (hook, line, sinker!), are the ones that get us right in the feels—either by addressing a relevant issue, pain point, by lending a voice to the voiceless, or by acknowledging the reader’s struggles and what their passion is.

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(33/32) If there’s anything that’s clear from Stephanie’s story—it’s her candor. But one condition of her storytelling has always been that we respect the privacy of her two children, and not include details about their lives. (Yes, there were two.) Many of you asked what happened to Stephanie’s first son. They have had a relationship for almost his entire life. Sometimes distant. Sometimes close. But by the time I met Stephanie, she had not spoken to him for a few years. This was clearly a source of pain for her. But Stephanie has that particular habit of people who have been hurt, where at the slightest hint of conflict, she’ll reflexively withdraw— so at least she can be hurt on her own terms. This is what happened with her son. I’d always wondered about Mitch. And during the course of our story, some determined readers discovered his Instagram account. I reached out to him and we had a long chat. As it so often goes, Mitch and Stephanie’s estrangement was based on a misunderstanding. There had been a particularly bad argument, and both were convinced that the other did not desire a relationship. Stephanie asked me to give Mitch her new cellphone number. And a couple days later they spent a wonderful afternoon together. It was the happiest I’ve seen Stephanie. ‘It hasn’t always been easy with my mother,’ Mitch explained. ‘But I know her story. And I understand her traumas. So I have nothing against her. It’s taken a lot of work—but I’ve arrived in a place of positivity. My worldview is this: ‘At all times, people are doing one of two things. They’re showing love. Or they’re crying out for it.’

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Can you think of content like this that gets you, that makes you want to share it with every single friend, family and stranger you meet? For me, it’s Humans of New York’s series on Tanqueray (Stephanie Johnson). What about you?

Now, these… These are the ones we feel a connection with. Ah, that blessed magical spark. (Is it any wonder that Brandon/HONY has managed to help Stephanie raise more than $2 million for her trust?)

It’s not about the money, money, money

Money ≠ Value.

There’s a difference, a very big difference between the two.

The price point/cost is secondary to the real value your product/service/brand brings to the client. That’s one big thing to keep in mind when writing your copy, whether it’s product description or book proposal.

And in each piece of content that goes out to your target audience, it’s not about providing monetary savings or bargains that will ultimately build your brand equity—it’s about providing value to your audience, providing valuable content that will enrich their lives, that will empower them, that will ease their pain points.

Think about it this way. Let’s say you’re an author looking to promote your upcoming book (on creative writing) through a comprehensive PR+comms plan, which includes a series of blog articles. You’re not going to want to have your articles talk about how well-priced your book will be; instead, a better approach would be to talk about how your upcoming book will address their writing struggles, how it will help them become a better writer.

You’re also going to want to provide your target audience with articles on creative writing tips (without giving everything away), with the sole purpose of helping your target audience.

Think about what’s important to your target audience, and speak to them on it.

Remember: as the saying goes, you get what you give!

Be real, be you

At the end of the day, the most important thing when writing is to be genuine, to create meaningful content.

In the time it takes to read the first couple of opening paragraphs, it’s enough for any discerning reader to tell whether you’re authentic or not, and whether the content is going to be worth their time to read.

Bottomline is this: don’t try to sound like someone you’re not, don’t try to hard sell, and definitely don’t focus on trying to fill your copy with SEO key words.

The most important thing is to craft engaging, relatable copy that connects with your target audience, helping them see the value you and your brand can bring to their lives.

Cause after all, Connection = Engagement = Conversion.

Now, get cracking on crafting your killer copy!

Are you looking for ways to get over your writing block? Check out my article on ways to get over that dreaded writer’s block!

Happy writing! xo

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