Author Archives: Dave Argentar

About Dave Argentar

Dave is a senior copywriter at The Simons Group. Having practiced law for 16 years before following his passion for writing, Dave has a deep appreciation for well-crafted content as well as for the fact that he is no longer practicing law.

Who do you think you are?

authentic brand copywritingWhen I was in fourth grade, our teacher tasked us with writing our “autobiographies.” Given that a compelling and lengthy personal narrative is a rarity among 9-year-olds, she also told us to write a chapter about what we thought our futures would hold. I wrote that “I will be a linebacker for the Chicago Bears and will marry a blond-haired girl.” One out of two ain’t bad.

If I had the patience or discipline to embark on such an exercise today, with four more decades under my ever-expanding belt, it would certainly lead me to engage in some serious self-reflection about who I am and what common themes define my personal story beyond “Disneyland was super neat!”

Crafting your company’s content should involve similar introspection.

In a previous post, I asked, “Who do you think you’re talking to?” That is to say, you should consider your target audience’s perspective when developing your content. Who is likely reading this? What’s important to them? What do they know about your industry, company or product?

Now, it’s time to ask yourself “Who do you think you are?” Whether you’re writing website copy, a blog post, or any other marketing collateral, you should know who you are or at least how you wish to appear before typing a single word. Your business’ identity, core values and culture should play a big, if not defining, role in the tone and substance of your content.

How can content convey who you are beyond explicitly spelling it out? “We are a company that manufactures the highest-quality widgets at the lowest price.” Here are two tips that can help you incorporate your company’s personality in your marketing content:

  1. Do some navel-gazing.

You may already have given a great deal of thought to your corporate identity. Perhaps you have a company mission statement that conveys what you are all about and identifies your primary objectives. Maybe your branding is strong and clear. If so, it’s important to take the defining elements of that identity and carry it forward into your content. If you haven’t spent time being a little touchy-feely about who you are as a company, you should do some brainstorming alone or with core members of your team.

Ask yourself:

  • What five words or phrases describe my company?
  • Why did I go into business in the first place?
  • How do I want prospects and customers to feel about my company after they visit my website for the first time?
  1. Make sure your voice is your voice.

If I could somehow conjure up William Shakespeare to ghostwrite my autobiography, I wouldn’t do it. As brilliant and timeless as the Bard’s encapsulation of my life may be, it wouldn’t reflect who I am. His writing would sound incongruous and awkward compared with how I am or appear to others — at least until I start living my life in iambic pentameter.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have someone write your content, but your content should sound like you. Maybe not the you watching the Cubs in Game 7 of the World Series or the you stuck in traffic on the Kennedy, but the you in a meeting with a client or on the phone with a potential customer. If someone reads your website expecting one thing and then gets another when they start interacting with you, it can dilute your company identity and be off-putting.

It has been said that you can’t fake authenticity. Your marketing content shouldn’t try to do so, either.

How does your content convey your identity? Let us know in the comments.

Who do you think you’re talking to?

strong copywriting contentBefore I followed my passion and made writing and content marketing my career, I took some time after college to get my head together and mature a bit. Many of my friends did the same; backpacking around Southeast Asia, working on a fishing boat in Alaska, or embarking on similar pursuits. I, on the other hand, went to law school and spent 16 years as a trial lawyer. I didn’t own a decent backpack and I got seasick easily, so it seemed like a good call at the time.

During my brief sojourn in the law, I saw a problem with content marketing that I still see in a wide range of industries, services, and professions. Oftentimes, writing designed to convey expertise and thought leadership fails to do either because it doesn’t take the reader’s perspective and priorities into account.

It is said that law school teaches you how to “think like a lawyer.” Unfortunately, thinking like a lawyer often had the side effect of causing one to write like a lawyer and communicate like a lawyer, even in contexts where doing so was ineffective or counterproductive (just ask my wife).

This problem manifested itself most often in interactions with clients and prospects. They were looking for a lawyer because they had a complicated legal matter involving issues or laws they didn’t understand. It wouldn’t do those folks much good if all I did was simply regurgitate these complexities in an equally incomprehensible way, as brilliant as my regurgitation may have been.

The desire to impress (and justify our six-figure student loans) through conveying our expertise and deep understanding of the law would lead to marketing content which, while accurate and on point, was often worthless and unenlightening to those untrained in law.

The fundamental issue was the failure to modify substance, language, and tone based on the content’s intended audience or desired purpose. What works in a legal brief submitted to a judge isn’t necessarily right for a blog post to a wide and varied audience. Winning a legal argument is not the same art as converting a prospect into a client.

No matter your business, you want folks to know that you know your stuff. You want to provide thought leadership and relevant, actionable information. But you need to remember that your expertise must remain accessible to be effective. That doesn’t mean “dumbing down” your content or being condescending. It just requires you to step out of your own mind and instead think like your readers.

Ask yourself these questions when you’re writing client-facing content:

  • Who is this content for?
  • Why would someone want to read this content?
  • What is the reader’s likely knowledge base about the subject or your company?
  • If you knew nothing about the subject, would you understand what you wrote or why it was important?

As Atticus Finch told Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view… until you climb inside it and walk around in it.” When crafting your content, try to think like that lawyer.

How do you make sure your content is approachable? Tell us about it in the comments.