By: Colin Baker

What Marketers Should Know About Writers

December 13, 2017 8 minutes

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Quality writing is essential for most marketing strategies to be successful. That means marketers and writers need to work together to carry out their plans. Of course, results can vary widely, and if the collaboration between writer and marketer is poor, chances are the campaign will suffer. Communication between the two sides is certainly important, but shoddy cooperation usually stems from a lack of understanding.

From my experience, there appears to be a disconnect between writer and marketer. Both pursue the same goals, but achieving those ends can be a challenge when there is a failure to grasp the other’s point of view. As a writer, I don’t think I could do the marketer’s view justice, so allow me to tackle this problem from the point of view I know best — that of the writer. Here are just a few things marketers should know about their writer co-workers and the work they do.

  1. Writing is Always a Creative Process

Writers are responsible for a wide array of content. Each piece of content, no matter the type, requires creative input. Even if it’s something as simple as a social media post, or as mechanical as a set of instructions, writers must expend creative energy to formulate the most effective way to communicate the idea they’re writing about.

Why is this important to know? Largely because creativity is difficult to force. Demanding a writer compose a 500-word blog post in a couple of hours might not always be possible, at least not if you want one that’s top quality. While it’s true that many writers can work under a strict deadline, it’s helpful to know that deadline well in advance. Writer’s block is also a very real phenomenon, and should it strike, composing even a few sentences can become a laborious chore. Place too much on a writer’s plate in a short amount of time, and the stress can become overwhelming, causing the overall writing to suffer.

  1. All Content is Not Created Equal

Let’s say a writer is assigned two 1,000-word articles. That should mean each article will take about the same amount of time to write, correct? Not quite. As pointed out above, writing is a creative process, and attempting to assign a universal time limit to a word count would be a mistake. One 1,000-word article may be relatively easy to write, particularly if it’s a subject the writer already has experience with. Another 1,000-word article may be very different, requiring extensive research, detailed planning, and careful thought in how to write it.

Just because it took only a few hours for a writer to craft a 1,000-word piece of content doesn’t mean another piece of similar length can always be done in the same amount of time. Writers know their skills and can usually give an accurate estimate of how long it will take them to write something. All you need to do is ask them.

  1. Writers Wear Many Hats

Not literally, of course (well, some might). Though it may seem like the only thing writers have to worry about is writing, that covers more than enough ground. In order to create a high quality piece of content, writers need to take on a variety of roles. In one moment, the writer needs to become a researcher, studying some of the latest studies, statistics, white papers, and more just to collect enough information to write a useful piece. The next moment, a writer could turn into a technical writer, utilizing all the industry terms and jargon to better connect with the intended audience.

Writers must also become storytellers, creating a compelling narrative that encourages readers to give their full attention, something far more difficult to do in today’s world of 5-second sound bites and clickbait headlines. That is just a small sample of the many roles writers must become to be good at their jobs.

  1. Constructive Feedback is Always Helpful

One ingredient to becoming a great writer is to always find ways to improve, and in order to improve, writers need to receive helpful feedback on their work. Unfortunately, all too often the feedback they receive amounts to notes like “Please redo.” Needless to say, simply telling a writer to redo something can quickly become frustrating if the feedback doesn’t get into specifics. Is there a particular style the writer isn’t capturing? Do the points the writer is making not flow well? Is the writer targeting the wrong audience? Constructive feedback is a must if a writer is to improve on a piece.

  1. More Rules Equals More Complexity

Writers already have to juggle a large assortment of rules inside their minds. The Chicago Manual of Style sitting on my desk right now is nearly 1,000 pages long, but that’s not the only thing a writer needs to take into consideration when writing. Every client has (or should have) a style guide to follow. Writing tones can change depending on the audience the writer is focusing on. Debates over the correct usage of English rage on to this very day (side note: it is my professional opinion that you should always use the Oxford comma). And all that doesn’t even include the legal considerations some topics require.

In other words, writers have a lot to think about when writing. If at all possible, try to avoid overburdening them with a long list of new rules and guidelines to follow. Style guides should be simple and straightforward. If there’s ever confusion over what rules to follow, defer to the writer’s discretion.

It goes without saying that every writer is different, so it’s very possible these traits don’t always apply. In general, though, you can consider this article as a good starting point for understanding how writers operate. They have much to offer in terms of marketing success, but knowing how they work will make it that much easier to work with them.

Written by Colin Baker on December 13, 2017

Colin is a writer and content manager at 97th Floor.

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