5 Things I've Learned from the Content Marketing Transition
Ever seen Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire?
It’s essentially the story of a guy who has a life-altering epiphany about his role as a successful albeit slightly unethical sports agent.
This leads him to stepping out of his comfort zone and beginning his own sports management firm with just a single client in tow – played by Cuba Gooding Jr.
Jerry’s thinking here is that the quality and ethical integrity of his work will improve by focusing on his clients as long term prospects, rather than cashing in on their immediate success.
Basically, the whole plot revolves around his attempts to move from one way of working to another – despite pressures from his even more successful peers.
It kind of reminds me of the epiphany I had, when I decided to deviate from the journalistic path to copywriting.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t confronted with the same ethical dilemma as Jerry Maguire.
And I definitely didn’t have as much on the line, being at the very start of my career.
But by making the transition from reporter to content marketer, I could see my work having longer-term rewards for clients, as opposed to writing those so-called ‘first-fast-now’ news stories, day-in-day-out.
I’m not knocking that industry at all – but I could see my work being written one day and forgotten the next.
Churned up in the hard news cycle, like most other online editorials.
But that’s all in the past and now here I am working in digital, like many other people who have previously indulged journalism.
And since I’m not alone in making this crossover, I thought it might be cool to share the 5 key learnings, or similarities, I’ve found from the change so far.
1. Learning the art of persuasion…
This is an obvious one.
In a previous life, I was required to write to inform.
Nowadays it’s all about that call to action.
Yes, you’re writing for an audience, and you’re still required to inform them about the product.
But it’s all about informing with purpose.
Persuasion is not required in news writing – so you could argue I’ve acquired an entirely new skill.
Tom Cruise is a persuasive don in Jerry Maguire.
So, I guess whenever I put pen to paper I’m channelling my inner NFL agent.
My client is my Quarterback.
2. Headlines are still everything
Now that’s a proper call to action.
For those of you who don’t know, it’s the headline - or the most well-known statement everyone quotes from Jerry Maguire.
It’s the famous phrase that’s synonymous with the film.
That’s what you strive for with content.
Getting that headline just right.
Granted, no one is a fan of clickbait.
But you still need that killer headline that not only gets the reader excited but also delivers on its own promise.
As it goes, I reckon this is probably the most similar crossover element I’ve found between the two industries…
3. SEO is even more important than before
This isn’t the first time I’ve flirted with SEO.
As I learned more and more about the art of news writing, I found there was more and more pressure from above to get the right keywords into my copy.
News stories need to rank well too.
The good thing about my keyword briefs nowadays is that they come from people who actually work in organic search.
It feels good to know that whatever I write is underpinned by a genuine strategy that will ultimately pay dividends for the client.
4. You still have to ask yourself: what’s the story?
It’s the question I asked myself before I even wrote a single word of this blog post.
What’s the angle?
What can the reader subsequently take from it?
It’s simply not enough to just write.
The words need to carry weight, regardless of their purpose: whether that’s to inform, sell, or otherwise.
This all sounds like obvious stuff, but since joining the industry I’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of content out there.
The presence of a good story is essential if your content is going to sing the loudest.
5. Curiosity is King
You still need an inquisitive mind.
When you’re dealing with so many different clients in a variety of different industries, you need to at least have a genuine interest in the way brands operate.
Copywriting aside, I think it’s probably the most important requirement of my job.
In my short experience so far, I’ve found that ideas for campaigns thrive or die on the level of research that goes into the content and its intended audience.
If you’re not interested in the world, you might as well hang up your keyboard for good.
That’s my view anyway.
And since I’m hopefully many years away from doing just that, it’s still gonna be interesting to see how many more Jerry Maguire moments I have throughout my new career.