strong-contentThink about when you’re getting into the nitty-gritty of planning a direct marketing campaign. You have defined a solid goal, identified the target audience, and decided on the communication channels and cadence you want to use to reach and connect with people. Then it’s time for the most important part, scoping out the content.  Grabbing someone’s attention is only half the battle.  Actually engaging them after you’ve grabbed their attention is the other half, and could mean the difference between your communication becoming a vehicle for response or another addition to the recycling bin.

So, how do you make sure your content is strong enough to carry your message? 

The best place to begin is often at the end. Put yourself in the recipients’ shoes and think backwards. To get the creative juices flowing, think about what is important to them. What motivates them? Consider elements you sometimes forget such as email subject lines, taglines on outer envelopes, and domain names.

If you have already developed your content, give this test a try to see if it is strong enough to get the results you need. If you’re just now creating content, consider these questions in the process:

  1. Does the content make me feel good?
  2. Is the goal clear?
  3. Is the length appropriate?
  4. Is it believable?
  5. Am I motivated?
  6. Is there something in it for me?
  7. Do I know what I’m being asked to do?
  8. Do I understand what the timing and deadlines are?
  9. Am I clear on what the next steps are?
  10. Do I want to share it with all of my friends and family?

If you can answer YES to all of these questions, then congratulations! You are ready to deliver your piece and expect positive response! If you answer NO to any of the above, you should probably re-evaluate the content.

Once you have finalized your content, it’s important to proofread and, if you are using electronic channels, test the process. Make sure you have allocated time for quality control (and engaged help from multiple sets of eyes) so your strong content isn’t outshined by errors.

All of us get caught up in timelines and quotas. It’s easy to focus on logistics and lose sight of the reason for the communication. But when it comes down to it, no matter how fast we get something out to the right target audience, if the content is not strong, the response will not be STRONG. It’s worth the extra time to get it right.

P.S. Have you ever sent out strong content and received a weak response? That means it’s time to do some research and possibly test different types of content and channels. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn about the behavior of your target audience in the process!