We’re all overwhelmed with content these days.
And most of it is booooooring. (Just look at those blank faces above!)
There are more articles, blogs, and updates than anyone can keep up with, and everyone can relate. That’s a big problem when you’re in the business of producing content. Sure, your content marketing clients pay you for your work regardless of how many people read to the end, but if you can manage to create more engaging content for those clients, their audience will tell them about it, and they’ll come back to you wanting more.
And if it’s this difficult for you to keep up with the news of the world, your favorite recipe blogs, and updates from friends and family, just imagine the pressure on business people who are researching problems that could help their company save—or invest—a small fortune.
If you’re writing for B2B audiences, then chances are, you’re writing to a very busy person with very big problems to solve. If they are researching one of those pain points, they might be hopping from company blog to company blog to find answers to their questions.
So, here’s a thought. Create an introduction that gives your readers a break between whatever they last read, and the brilliant article you’ve penned for them.
If your carefully crafted, painstakingly edited article isn’t the first one they read (and, let’s face it, it often won’t be), you need to do something to stand out from the crowd—and you need to do it fast, like in a manner of seconds. Your client’s work helps bring that set of eyes to your work and from there, your words must take over. What you’ve written must lure them in, and keep them reading until the CTA. That’s our job.
Use your introduction to give your readers a tiny mental break. Give them an opportunity to clear their mental clipboard so they can learn about all the interesting points you’ve laid out for them.
It’s like those first few seconds when you sit down to tea with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. There’s the greeting, and then there’s a moment to breathe before you launch into your updates. Doesn’t that feel good?
So, how do we apply this same, very human concept to content marketing writing?
Here are a few strategies to try:
1. First things last. When you sit down to write, tackle the body of the piece first, and then circle back to write the introduction. This approach is effective because you’ll have a better idea of what type of hook will flow into the rest of your article. I’ve recently heard a few other writers say this works well for them, too.
2. Talk to yourself. One of my favorite tips for writing an engaging introduction is to pretend you’re having a conversation with yourself. If you have any four-legged coworkers, they might be a good stand-in. Ask questions or make observations that are relevant to your audience members.
3. Avoid starting with a statistic. I know it’s tempting, because statistics are so important and so interesting. But bear with me here. How many B2B articles have you read that mention a statistic in the first sentence? I’m not sure I could count that high. (That’s why I’m a writer, not an accountant.) If the goal is to do something different to set your content apart from, frankly, the competition, this is a big opportunity.
There are a thousand tips and techniques writers can apply to create more interesting introductions, and these are just a few reminders to get you started. For me, they’re great reminders to think differently about not only the objective of my content, but also about the needs and desires of my audience. I may never get to meet them, but I like to think that, maybe, they’ll enjoy the few minutes they get to spend with my writing, and that it gets them closer to solving real problems in their business. That can’t happen if they never get past the introduction.