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The Nuts and Bolts of Great Marketing Content

nuts and boltsI once got a comment back from a college professor stating, “Great nuts and bolts article.” Next to it was an “A.”

I loved the grade, but I didn’t love the comment until years later, when I realized that nuts and bolts are the keys to great marketing content. If you don’t have the nuts and bolts located and labeled, your article or email or web page is going to fall flat. Just like the bookshelf that requires these pieces to stand tall.

The nuts and bolts great marketing content are simply benefits, facts and audience emotions and desires. With these three tools, your content will stand tall amid the fluff many marketers call great content. Let’s break down what’s behind these essential pieces of great marketing content.


The benefits are the bolts of the content. They give your content the strength to attract your audience. Benefits are the foundation of great marketing content, but they don’t work without the nuts and washers.


Facts are the washers in great marketing content. A good nut and bolt combination uses a washer to build a stronger foundation between joints. For instance, if you are connecting a door to a cabinet a washer protects the wood surface from damage when the nut is tightened. Fact “washers” come in three flavors – audience, product and industry. Consider them the protectors of your benefits and audience claims. Here’s how each washer works:

  • Facts about the audience help you connect the message to the consumer of your message, especially when there isn’t an exact fit.
  • Facts about the product help you derive the benefits for the audience
  • Facts about the industry help you understand the demand for the product.

Emotions and Desires

I often see content written with no audience in mind. Sure, there may be an implied audience, but without the audience or your content won’t keep anyone engaged for very long. Audience was covered in the facts section, but beyond the facts, marketers need to understand the emotions and desires of their audience. The emotions and desires give the bolts and washers (benefits and facts) the support they need to stand strong. 

Remembering these fundamentals of great marketing content can give you a foundation of credibility and engagement with your audience. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Courtesy of Firesign

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Why It’s Important to Think Like a Journalist in Content Marketing

journalistWhen I went to journalism school, my dad asked me what I was going to do to support myself. I told him that money didn’t matter; I was in this for the good of the people. I even had a t-shirt to support my cause.

Well, that’s before I realized how journalism training can be in marketing communications. My internship and eventual first job was at a magazine – a pizza marketing trade to be exact. The lessons I learned there were invaluable to my business today. I got to think like a journalist and investigate the issue of an industry. And a lot more people liked me.

Today, I’m not exactly a journalist, but a marketing communications writer who gets to treat each project like a journalist on a beat. I get to scour through industry reports, blogs and news articles to create messages that resonate with my clients’ audiences. That’s why I’m so glad I got formal training in journalism. It’s a key tool in what I do. And, thinking like a journalist can help you create better content.

How Thinking Like a Journalist Enlivens Content

There’s a lot of really great marketing content out there. But, many content marketers shake their heads at why they aren’t getting the traffic or conversions they want.

It’s because they aren’t thinking like a journalist. The number one factor in journalism is what’s most important to your audience – not the people on your sales or marketing team.

Real people read the newspaper or watch the news to see what’s happening in their world right now. They also read blogs and magazines that have to do with their specific interests or business needs. I believe this is why blogs are so popular. It’s instant information on your need-to-know subject.

Turn to the Seven Questions of Newsworthiness

A journalistic formula that never fails to help you gauge the content your audience wants is the seven questions of newsworthiness:

  • Prominence – This usually affects the people in the story. It’s why celebrities get so much attention. They are the perceived upper crust. People love to learn of their lessons and failures. Sad, but true.
  • Magnitude – The more people a topic affects the better. Why do you think people like Kenneth Cole make comments like the recent Egypt Twitter faux paux.
  • Proximity – The more close to home your message, the better it will resonate. This is often the number one item a journalist looks for. And as David Meerman Scott said yesterday in a video over at Hubspot, it’s a good idea when trying to drum up business in a local market.
  • Uniqueness – Firsts, a new take, twists, turns and one-of-a-kind feats and stories. That’s what readers want from journalists and what they want from you.
  • Timeliness – It used to be recent. Now, it’s real-time. As it happens. Live. On the spot. People love being in the know right now. It’s hard to manage, but it’s very effective.
  • Significance – Defining why this content is important to the audience is the key here. A journalist asks why this matters to the people. Your customer or prospect asks, “What’s in it for me?”
  • Human Interest – The human element helps a journalist connect the story to the readers. Adding a story or a anecdote gives your content resonance because people identify with other people.


A journalist thinks about the audience above all else. We marketers should follow suit.

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What is Brilliant Content?

brilliant content

As a kid I secretly wanted to wear glasses because I thought they made you look smart.

However, I didn’t need them. Or, so I thought.

I got glasses at 28. You see, I was farsighted in one eye. My other eye was making up for my lack of up-close focus.

Well, as I learned later, a simple pair of reading glasses can help immensely.

I finally got my wish – to wear glasses to look smarter. But they did more than that. They made me smarter. I could see more clearly and didn’t suffer from muscle tension in my neck anymore from straining to see the computer screen.

Brilliant content is just like a great pair glasses:

  • It brings the customer’s needs into focus.
  • It tells your story clearly and simply.
  • It allows you see what works and doesn’t – quickly.

Want to give your content a clearer focus? Let’s chat.