In this blog post, I focus on the first characteristic and describe the three steps I take to produce a piece that’s tailored to a specific client. Watch for two more blog posts to cover the remaining characteristics.
What’s a Generic Article?
What do I mean when I say an article is a ‘generic’ piece? My test is simple: if the client can take my article and give it to one of their competitors, and if that competitor can use my article as-is without modification on their own blog or website, then my piece is too generic.
Don’t get me wrong. There will be times when a client does want a ‘cookie-cutter’ piece and in those cases, I give them something generic. However, a client who has asked for a first-person article or plans to publish a blog post under their own name will almost always prefer a piece that is tailored to them.
Three Easy Steps to Create a High-Quality Article
Here’s what I do to personalize an article for a specific client:
Step 1. Learn more about the client from their website and social accounts
Most clients will state who they are in their project brief. If I know who they are, I will visit their website to gain insight into their business. I read their blog and search for older posts related to the topic of the article I will write. I read their Twitter profile page to see their current brand messaging. And I check their Facebook page, YouTube account, and other social sites for videos, recent events, news, and photos.
As I do my client research, I keep an eye out for insightful tweets, a striking infographic, a compelling success story, or a webinar they may have just posted that’s related to my article’s topic. It’s much easier than you think to find something relevant, especially if the client is following a content marketing plan.
Step 2. Reuse and link to the client’s existing online content
When one or more of the online gems I find during my research happens to be relevant to the topic of the article I’m writing, I will figure out a way to oh-so-casually link to it. The trick is to do this linking as subtly as possible, so it doesn’t feel forced or contrived.
I also try as much as possible to reuse the client’s own words and existing content. For example, if I find that they’ve tweeted a relevant screenshot of their product, I will reuse that screenshot in the article as supporting material.
From the client’s perspective, they see a written product that is specific to them, and which amplifies their current brand messages.
From the perspective of the intended reader, the article now has a sense of continuity because it links to the client’s prior work. The piece that I’m writing no longer stands alone and instead sits within a larger body of related material.
Step 3. Support the client’s influencer outreach
There are times when my social media research will reveal that my client has reached out to an influencer on Twitter. For example, some will have retweeted a popular blogger’s article because it resonates with them. In other cases, a client will have sent a tweet to a known thought leader or influencer to ask for a chat or a meeting at an upcoming conference.
If the influencer’s material is relevant to the article I’m writing, I will cite and link to their work as supporting material, and will mention the influencer by name in the text.
By including the work of thought leaders in the client’s field, I lend credibility to the article that I’m writing. I also give my client one more way to get on the radar of the blogger or influencer that they want to reach.
If you think the above tactics sound dead easy, you’re right! It really is that simple to transform a generic article into a tailored piece of content.
And while personalizing an article to a specific client does take a little extra effort, the small investment in time is well worth it because a discerning client will recognize the value of what I’ve done and will appreciate the difference.
If you found this tip helpful, I hope you’ll reciprocate by leaving a comment (or contributing a blog post!) to share the tactics that have worked for you.