What is marketing writing (also called content marketing)?
Marketing writing is all around you every day. You see it when you visit business websites, see a social media post from a business, or notice a billboard on the side of the road. You see it when you watch a commercial, pick up a brochure, or shop online.
Luckily for professional writers, every single type of business that exists needs marketing writers because every single business needs to get the word out about its products and services. Even governments and government agencies have marketing staff. Let’s dive in a bit to the different types of marketing writing that exist.
Marketing writing vs content marketing
First, let’s discuss the difference between marketing writing and content marketing. Content marketing is writing material specifically tailored to attract customers. A good example of this is a company’s blog. You might think that companies want to just write articles about their own products and how awesome they are. That is part of what a company blog should include. But it should also include more general articles about the company’s general goods and services and the benefits. For example, let’s say that there’s a telecommunications company out there that’s developing some new devices using new, cutting edge technology. Some of the blog posts will definitely be about the new devices they want to sell. But many of the blog posts will be about the technology itself, without focusing on the company. The idea is to educate the company’s target audience to educate them about this new technology, why it’s so amazing, and why it would benefit the reader to use this new technology. The idea is to not just try to sell the company’s products, but the set up the company as THE expert on this new technology. When someone searches for the new technology, posts by this company will show up. People who are researching the technology will find a bunch of blog posts about it, read some great content on the company’s blog, and realize “wow this company really knows its stuff on this topic!”
Content marketing’s goal is to raise awareness of a company and establish them as a leader in their industry. In addition to blog posts, content marketing can include white papers, emails, newsletters, social media, and other techniques to reach the target audience.
Here are some examples:
Cisco (networking technology)
Adtran blog (telecommunications company)
By the way, this is a hot field in freelancing right now!
OK so back to more general marketing writing. This may include writing basic content for a corporate website, writing profiles about corporate executives, crafting ad content, writing press releases, designing brochures and flyers, and more.
Examples of marketing writing/content marketing content
Sometimes you’ll hear marketing materials referred to as “marketing collateral.” Here’s a list of some of the projects a marketing writer and/or content marketing writer might tackle:
Ads: When you see an ad in any print publication, a marketing writer probably wrote the text in the ad. Sometimes in small companies marketing writers also produce the graphics. I had to do this in a few of my first jobs and learned how to do basic graphic design and layout. If you can learn how to do basic graphic design, you’ll be much more valuable to potential employers! Marketing writers also write scripts for TV and radio ads.
Brochures & flyers: Marketing writers come up with text to include in brochures and flyers to tempt potential customers to further investigate the company or buy from them. In larger companies, writers collaborate with graphic designers. In small companies, writers may have to work on layout, too. Brochures can be multiple pages, while flyers are just one page, or even smaller than one page.
Website text: Every page on a corporate website must be compelling and accurate. Marketing writers write text for entire websites, not just blog posts. A big part of website marketing writing is understanding SEO (search engine optimization) so potential customers will find you.
Blog posts: As discussed already, blog posts are really important components of a website, and are usually referred to as content marketing.
White papers: This is a strange beast that’s long-form content marketing writing. White papers are extremely common in technical and service industries. However, instead of obviously marketing a company’s products and services, white papers discuss technology or services that companies offer to the pubic. The goal of a white paper is to set up the company as an expert. The company itself is not mentioned at all, except on the final page and maybe a logo on the cover. Often, lower level people in a company, like an engineer, will show a white paper to an executive who is responsible for big purchases, to document why they want the company to invest in the technology or service.
Magazine articles: Everyone is familiar with magazines you can pick up at the grocery store or bookstore, but there’s a whole other category of magazines called trade journals. These are magazines specifically for different types of industries. There are trade journals for the travel industry, pizza restaurants, pet stores and so many more. Many content marketing writers will write articles for trade journals about a company’s new products or services. I used to write for trade journals as a freelancer and it was really fun, a great mixture of creative and business writing.
Presentations: Marketing writers often help develop PowerPoint and other types of presentations that sales staff might use to try to sell products or services.
Press releases: Companies want to be features in the news. Whenever a company release a new product or service, gets an award, or does something exceptional in the community, they usually write and send out a press release to relevant media outlets, which can include local media, trade journals, and websites. Here’s an example.
Trade show materials: Lots of companies attend trade shows to raise awareness of their company and try to sell their products and services. Marketing writers often assist in developing the trade show booth (as far as signs and text on signs), and all of the materials that will be handed out during the trade show. In many companies, marketing writers attend trade shows to set up the booth and the materials, and work in the booth.
Product catalogs: Companies that sell products usually have catalogs (both print and online) that describe each item they sell. Each description needs to explain the item and its features and convince people to buy it.
What skills do marketing writers/content marketing writers need?
Marketing is an interesting field. When most people think of marketing, they think of hugely popular brands, like Nike, Apple, and popular types of vehicles. And yep, those businesses all have amazing marketing content. Check out their websites for examples of how they organize and craft compelling materials. But think about it–every single type of business needs marketing writers. Could you craft compelling and catchy copy about vacuum cleaners? Or lawn mowers? Or a financial consulting company?
If you’re interested in marketing writing, you need a couple of skillsets to be great at your job.
- You need to be a good writer and have a great grasp on grammar. Note that I didn’t say you have to be a great writer. You don’t need the writing skills of Stephen King to be a great marketing writer.
- You need to be able to learn new technologies and business concepts. Many companies that employ marketing writers sell extremely complex products and services. For example, check out content from Lennox (air conditioners and heaters for homes and businesses), Illumina (genetic sequencing products), or Carpenter Technology (hey I used to work there, they manufacture metals).
- You need to be creative. How can you write about technology that might be sort of boring in a way that will be interesting to the target audience and make them consider buying the product? Check out the website for the software called SAP. Their writers do an amazing job writing interesting text about their products and services. Could you write persuasive content like this or the above links?
- You need to be a fairly fast writer. Most marketing projects I’ve worked on have had tight deadlines
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