Friday, 18 December 2020

5 steps in writing a Successful Non-promotional Article

 5 steps in Writing non-promotinal article

Writing has become a major component of businesses. Business owners, SMEs and companies are mostly investing in who tells their stories; and more interestingly how they tell the stories. The increase in the investment of writing by enterprises has been a major boost in the writing world. But can everyone write? 

Two weeks ago, a friend buzzed me on how a media outlet sent him a quotation of about 400 dollars for sending them an article which he considered to be non-promotional content. I asked subtly and jokingly, “Was that supposed to be a reparation fee or to be imbursed with that amount for impressive work?” He wrote about the rapid growth of financial technology in Africa. It was a well-written and articulated opinion but what went wrong? He ended up exalting a particular financial Technology company more than others. Do you want to ask if anything was wrong with his choice of words or writing dimension? A lot was. And that was the fact that the article ended up becoming or perceived to be promotional content.

So, here is the question, what is Non-promotional content?

There has never been a clear-cut definition to Non-promotional writing. For the purpose of this article, I shall refer to non-promotional content as a generic article. So, what is a generic article? A generic article is a form of writing done by businesses or its representatives with the intent of promoting their product(s) by giving it less attention in their content( generic article) buildup. It's a digital world and almost everyone knows when content is trying to sell or hard sell a particular product to them. The element of a generic article is under-communicating your product with the intent of arousing the audience curiosity which helps in driving brand awareness and growth. Perhaps, still the most sensitive type of content to media houses and its editors because of the technicality and cost avoidance involved in publishing content that seems to promote a product or brand.

The digital media market is already saturated with promotional content, and the new media audience are now naturally configured to be able to figure one out, once come across. In recent times, there has been a systematic growth in consumer behaviour, especially how they consume content and what type of content keeps them and later turn ordinary readers to a potential consumer. 

In this article, we shall discuss 5 steps of getting your non-promotional content to the world without being charged like my friend.

Position your brand as a "frontliner" in the industry

Doesn’t this sound confusing? You must have started thinking about how do I position my brand at the forefront without promoting or saying good and nice things about my brand. I chose 'position' instead of 'promotion.' Position yourself by offering values to the audience. Giving valuable information and educating the audience about your industry and the problem your industry is solving is a very important way to position yourself. Audiences read content for their own purpose, They read content to solve a problem or to be informed about a particular industry or solutions. As a strategic brand manager and content writer, it is important to capitalise on the need of the audience to sell your brand. If you are a brand manager for a Fintech company, you creatively write about what your industry is doing, write about the trends carefully, and position your brand in a way to arouse the audience interest. In a generic article, you might not have the opportunity to mention your brand more than two times, but those times must be strategic, worthwhile and should trigger the curiosity of the reader.

Write to Communicate

Do I still need to talk about this? Yes, it’s very very important. Because it remains the bait to the success of your article. You’ve been working in an industry for 5 years, you can't scale your industry knowledge to be the same with an audience who is reading to be informed or possibly to make a consumption decision. It’s very important to avoid the use of Jargon and industry terminologies.  Kotler and Keller in their book Marketing management explained marketing communications as the means by which firms attempt to inform, persuade, and remind consumers directly, or indirectly about the products and brands that they sell. A generic article can be used to inform and remind consumers indirectly of your product or brand. Consequently, You must be able to simplify your language for the audience and hopefully your potential consumer for them to understand. Writing is about simplicity,  do not practise your sophisticated grammar on the consumer, it's always counterproductive. You must be able to write concisely for the audience to comprehend.

Accommodate your Competitors

Most times, you can’t successfully write a generic article without accommodating your competitors in your content. It’s nearly impossible. How do  I explain this? From an audience perspective, you are not competitors, you are all solution providers. It’s very important to note that you are writing for the audience with the intent of promoting your brand in a not overtly manner. For example, you can write about your brand industry and mention some of the leading brands include yours. The point is how do I make my brand stand out? You can do that by giving additional information about your brand. For example, maybe you are writing about the income flow of Your industry and how it drives the economy. You can pick a particular statistic in favour of your brand and sight as an example. Isn’t that great? In order to position yourself for an opportunity in the mind of the audience, you should write about a particular topic where your brand is probably doing better than the others. At this stage, you need to be outright careful not to play your efforts and your brand in the hands of your competitors. Write about what the audience wants to know or what they should know. There is always one thing or the other your brand is doing better than your competitors which is possibly still keeping you in business, find a way to creatively tell your audience about it.

Be Strategic

The whole idea of a generic article is the ability to identify opportunity and capitalize on it. I wrote a generic article sometimes ago for a company I was working for on ways to commute from Abuja to Kaduna during the closure of Abuja Airport. I chose to be specific about Abuja to Kaduna because Kaduna Airport was the option given by the Nigerian government as a substitute to the Abuja airport. What I did there was a situational response and it was a success because the information was needed at that moment. Be strategic about what you write. You don’t write about a topic where your company doesn’t seem outstanding. It’s a sucker and I call it a waste of a bullet because your content is meant to shoot a shot for you. So, you write about a topic that is advantageous to your brand and business.

Choose the right Channel

Okay, this seems very crucial to me and I can’t tell you how important this is. Never make the mistake of sending out to an 'anyhow' media outlet. Be strategic about the channel you are using. My first generic article was a time-bound article and needs to be published within a time frame for it to serve the purpose I wrote it for. I ran out of time and I couldn’t submit to the media house I considered it to be most appropriate for. I ended up sending the article to a wrong channel so it could meet up with the deadline. Never make such a mistake. If you are writing from a “Tech” industry, you must consider channels that write about technology. It’s very important not to throw good content to a not-so-appropriate channel; it devalues your content and might end up not serving its purpose. Considering the right channel is a way to explore the full potential of your article and position it to the right audience.

 Writing generic articles is one of the best ways to position your brand for the change to come, and the conversion of a reader to a potential consumer. Remember, non-promotional content is a long term investment, it doesn’t yield immediately like the traditional paid marketing. So, champ, go write your next generic article in style.

Sherif Olayiwola is a Brand and Communication Strategist. You can reach him via and +2348102620851.

A Cold email or message shouldn’t be cold. That’s because you’re cold. And If you ever want to get people to respond to your cold email, you must not be cold.

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