Often my work involves writing content for businesses that I don’t necessarily consider my areas of expertise. I admit that I initially found myself a bit hesitant to take on some projects because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to authentically convey an industry’s trends or a business’s values and concepts if I wasn’t familiar with such ideas already. But here’s the thing. Writing for content marketing is no different than writing for other disciplines and purposes.
When you’re writing a cover letter for a job application, you want the hiring committee to recognize your value and see that you have something to offer, whether in skills or prior experience. When you’re writing a grant proposal, you want to convince the funding agency that you are the right person or business for the grant project’s goals. When you are writing an academic essay, you want to inform your readers about a topic and provide evidence that will persuade those readers to view that topic in a certain way.
Each example involves learning about an audience, being knowledgeable, and reaching that audience through reason, values, and emotion. Each example approaches writing academically.
When an instructor assigns a writing assignment, students often are unfamiliar with the subject matter or have only a cursory understanding of the topic. To become familiar with the topic, they find sources to grow their understanding and become comfortable with approaching the topic critically. They rely on evidence from those sources to support their own ideas. They use specific examples to establish reasons and to refute opposing opinions. Because they take these necessary steps, they can write with a tone of authority and credibility.
We content marketers take a similar approach. When given an assignment for an industry that we aren’t experts in, we conduct research, learn about the target audience, and become familiar with the industry so that we can write authentically and confidently. We become the subject matter experts we need to be. We approach the content academically.
In a recent post, Jennifer Xue explains twelve steps that can help a writer become a subject matter expert. These steps are very similar to the steps you would take when writing an academic essay. Consider the steps she lists, and share your thoughts. How do you approach writing your marketing content academically?