Good beer and good writing

Close your eyes. Scratch that. Keep them open just enough to read this.

Imagine you’re at a pub in a small German town. You’re sitting outside at a picnic table with a small group of your favorite people.

The evening is warm and there’s a little breeze. You overhear quiet conversations at nearby tables. A little oom-pa-pa music floats out of the pub.

In your hand, a cool, locally made wheat beer.

Are you there?

There’s a point to this. Other than taking me to my happy place.

The story pulled you in. It got your attention.

If you want to convince someone to buy your product or service, you need to get your reader’s attention. And that, dear friends, requires good writing.

In the podcast episode “Is Good Writing Making a Comeback?”, Rachel Parker share great tips on how to up your writing game. (Episode 218 of her Content Marketing Podcast.)

Here are a few of her tips, along with a bit of editorializing.

  • Know what you want your readers to think or do. Before you start writing. This is common sense. But, at times, I still start writing with the hope I’ll back myself into a point. [sad eyeroll]
  • Our attention spans are almost non-existent. That means you need to hook readers immediately. How? Do you have your own version of the beer story? How about an attention-getting quote or intriguing question?
  • You don’t get a pass to go all boring once you have readers’ attention. You have to keep it interesting to the readers all the way through.
  • Great headlines – and email subject lines – rule! Make yours clever, interesting, fun or unexpected. You want your readers to say, “Oh, what’s this? I want to find out.” But don’t make yours clickbait (intentionally over promising or misleading). Clickbait is evil.

Here are a couple of headline examples. Which are more interesting to you?

  • X and Y Clinics Announce Plans to Combine*
  • Better Together! X and Y Clinics to Combine
  • XYZ Corp. Receives “Best Company to Work For in Chicago” Award
  • Happy People Do Great Things – XYZ Corp Awarded “Best Company to Work For in Chicago”*

*Based on real headlines.

Exercise:

Just for fun, read a good sampling of the email newsletters you receive. Read the subject lines, too! You will laugh; you will cry. If you love to read or have writing-nerd tendencies, you will find this exceedingly fun.

Pay attention to what piques your attention. Which subject lines would compel you to open emails? Which opening sentences make you want to read further? You will learn a lot!

If this post piqued your interest, check out episode 218 of Rachel Parker’s weekly Content Marketing Podcast. You can find her podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and her website.

Happy writing!

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