I was developing pitch materials for an industrial robotics part when I first began to think about what good content marketing meant.
I wondered how I could evaluate my work to decide if the right people would respond to it. Probably 99 people of 100 see the words “industrial robotics” and stop reading to fling some birds on their iPhone. But that 100th person! He might be interested in my client’s machinery. How could I tell if was writing something good?
Writing marketing content is hard. Whatever format you are working in, you have a limited amount of space and a large number of key words, brand concepts, and proof points to fit in. At the same time you are trying to align your language with the four Ps of marketing for your product (or is it seven Ps? Or 10? Or 44?).
The result can feel forced and unnatural. So many Ps! How can you tell if it’s any good?
I did some research to see what the marketing gurus had to say about writing great content, and began writing down the elements of an effective, targeted message. I realized that a great message could be boiled down into seven elements, and that a simple device could be used to remember them all.
I call it the MEDICAL method for writing and evaluating great content.
MEDICAL stands for the seven elements of effective content:
Memorable: Great content must be memorable. Will readers still recall your main points an hour, a day, or a week later? If so, the writing meets this standard.
Exciting: Really good material is exciting. This can mean different things to different audiences, and ultimately is seen in how eager your readers are to promote it. Are you getting liked, retweeted, and shared? If you are, your content probably does the job.
Differentiated: Your content must be differentiated. The audience has to be able to tell you apart from your competitors. This can be accomplished lots of ways. If your readers can associate your key claims and phrases with your brand, then your content is differentiated.
Informative: At the most basic level, quality material must inform the reader. Your material must include all the information you want to the reader to know. If you’ve done this, you have an informative piece of work.
Consistent: Good writing is consistent. To meet this standard, your content not only has to be technically correct, it also must have a single voice across all your messaging. If you reader knows it’s your content from the language and the tone, then it is consistent.
Actionable: The most effective content contains a clear call-to-action. After reading, your audience should know what to do next: click a link, sign up for more information, pick up the phone, etc. If your writing causes your audience to take a specific follow-up step, then it has achieved this requirement.
Localized: Lastly, your material must be targeted to the correct audience. The words used must make clear to the reader that she is the intended user of your information. If the correct people are acting on your writing, then it is properly localized.
MEDICAL does not list the concepts in order of importance: they are all important. It’s just an easy way to remember the seven things that any great content will do.
Now when I evaluate or write content, I apply the MEDICAL test to see if it is doing everything it should. If one of these elements is missing, the content could be improved. It works for me, and hopefully you will also find it helpful. I focus on the written word, but I believe that MEDICAL can also be applied to other types of content.
In future posts, I’ll talk more about each of the seven elements of MEDICAL and apply them to some of the ideas I encounter in B2B marketing.