When you read an article in a local magazine or online, you may not realize it but you are often reading a paid advertisement. These promotional articles don’t follow the standard format of an advertisement, such as an image with a logo and some copy or a few paragraphs of obviously biased promotion. They are written like a story or an article from a journalist’s perspective. Nevertheless, many of these are paid for by a business and used as a piece of promotion for that business.
The challenge many businesses have, though, is writing the article in a way that makes the reader enjoy reading it and not feel pressured to buy something, yet still accomplishes the purposes the business wants. Sometimes these articles begin with an exaggeration. They may boast about the business, then talk about its amazing founder.
We’ve all read this type of article. It doesn’t even try to hide the fact that it’s loaded with bias and has only one purpose: to get you to buy something. This results in the reader discrediting most of what the article says. The business then fails to connect with its target audience in a satisfactory way.
It’s actually not as hard as it sounds to write an article that reaches your audience and promotes your business. As long as you follow these steps you will be able to do it as well.
Educate your audience
It sounds counterintuitive, but the first step is to not sell. In today’s society we are trained to pay attention to signals that something is being sold to us. As soon as we notice these signals we throw out all the information coming from that source.
Instead of selling to your audience, educate your audience. Readers want to learn something, and this builds trust between you and the reader. Then when the reader later thinks about where to go to get more information about that subject, your business may be the one that comes to mind.
Write as a journalist
Articles promoting your business should be written similarly to how a journalist writes about an issue or an event. It should include an introduction, a body (story), and a conclusion.
The introduction needs to catch your reader’s attention, maybe with a question the article answers or a story. Include quotes from local experts or educational details about a subject in the body of the article. Conclude the article with a reference back to the introduction and a summary or call to action.
Tell a story
You need to connect with your reader immediately. One way to effectively do this is tell a story. This could mean telling the story of an employee or the story of how your business was started.
Another way to connect with a reader is to present a common problem your readers have—such as committing to an exercise plan or finding the right financial advisor—then use the article to present your business as a viable option.
Write the article in second person
Writing the article in first person or third person both have their issues. When you write in first person, it often feels too biased and overbearing when you promote something. When you write in third person, it feels too distant or detached for the reader to take it seriously. This is why second person is generally the best option. It establishes a connection with the reader—building trust—without feeling too overbearing or distant.
Break up your writing
Readers today usually skim articles before they read them—if they even read them. For this reason it is best to break up your article into multiple sections with headings. This helps those who skim the article take in information without reading the whole article, and it encourages people to read your article because it makes it look less visually intimidating. The reader feels like the article will take less time to read when it is broken up into pieces, and if they stop in the middle it is easier to come back later and finish reading.
Include an author box
An author box makes a paid article feel more like a normal article. The reader will be more likely to feel like the article is unbiased, especially if it is written by a third party such as a freelance writer.
Send your reader to your website
In addition to having a writer box at the end of the article, you need to also include your website, phone, address, and social media at the end or in a location near the article. This coupled with a call to action gives your reader somewhere to go to find out more information about your business.
Hire a professional
Finally, hire a professional to write your article for you. This is important if you are not an experienced writer. These articles are advertisements, and it is essential to do an advertisement right. Hiring a professional also helps take away overlooked biases and bring a new outside perspective to your business that may not be able to be seen from within. (If you would like to learn more about how to find a professional, check out my article: “Five Ways to Find a Reliable Freelancer.”)
This article originally appeared at brennanhallock.com/how-to-write-a-promotional-article-for-your-business/
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