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Successful Web Content Writing: Learning from the Past

Thanks to the digital age, you can be reading the news on the Internet at one moment and making a purchase the next. Whether you’re ordering new boots or booking a flight, the transaction can be completed with just a few clicks. Today’s savvy advertisers hire professional writers to produce quality web content that appears alongside the news, on a variety of web pages and even in your email box. But what kinds of marketing strategies were used before the digital age, and do they offer any value in today’s digital age? Consider the following:

  • Print Advertisement – Before television and radio, what we now refer to as content writing was confined to what could be produced in hard copy. In the Middle Ages, a drawing hanging outside of a local shop was likely the only visual content available to entice consumers to patronize the business. The 17th century brought newspapers to the educated people of England, and in the 18th century, the first advertising content appeared in France’s “La Presse.”
  • Commercials and Infomercials – By the early 20th century, professional writers were being hired in the U.S. to write quality advertising content for radio commercials. By the 1940s and 1950s, there were even more writers needed due to the invention of television – and the commercials that we now try to avoid by pre-recording our favorite shows on a digital video recorder. Near the end of the century, infomercials took over the airwaves when President Reagan deregulated the television industry by signing the Cable Communications Policy Act, which opened the floodgates to advertisers of such products as the Soloflex Exercise Machine and the George Foreman Grill.
  • Miscellaneous Marketing Strategies – The marketing of consumer goods and services has always been done via incidental methods such as word-of-mouth recommendations among neighbors, and door-to-door sales by company employees or owners. Even today, you may find yourself intrigued by the professional and pleasant young man who knocks on your door offering high quality window installation or roof repair — intrigued enough to purchase services you may otherwise have put off. Old-fashioned methods still get results.

How can we incorporate successful pre-digital age marketing techniques into today’s content marketing world?

Because communication and representation form the foundation of content marketing, effective ways to share messages that interest, inform, and drive consumer behavior from the past include:

  • Pictures – Successful pre-digital age print advertising utilized the power of pictures, including that carved wooden sign depicting a shoe hanging outside the cobbler’s shop. Today, we can easily incorporate color photos, drawings, graphs, and videos into our web content that can help draw attention to the information we provide.
  • Quality Writing – The power of the written word to effect consumption truly came into being when newspapers were first distributed. Educated people were drawn to high quality content writing – a lesson that must never be lost. Given the unlimited reach of the Internet, there are more writers needed now than ever before. Web content that keeps readers – and customers – coming back must include the work of professional writers.
  • Repetition – Television commercials and infomercials heralded the combined use of moving pictures and words to grab consumer attention. Additionally, radio and television advertisements showed us the power of the repeated message, a mandatory tool in the professional writer’s toolkit and the force behind good SEO writing.
  • Words Matter – What we can learn from door-to-door and word-of-mouth methods of sharing messages is that words matter. Simply adding a photo or video, or repeating a message over and over and over is not enough. The quality of the written word, whether ultimately put to music, accompanied by visuals, and/or spoken, remains the most important component of content writing. It has to be good!

Can you think of any other pre-digital age marketing strategies that could be incorporated into your content writing?

Diana R is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments. WriterAccess is powered by ideaLaunch.

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Freelancer Diana R

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