5 Tips to Grab Time-Starved Readers with Your Thought Leadership

February 2017

woman holding clock

Image source: Thinkstock

Easy reading comes from hard writing, as the adage goes. And easy reading is important for businesses competing across more platforms to grab time-starved readers with their thought leadership. This type of content marketing takes time to produce, and you want the investment to pay off with promising leads and a broader prospect pipeline. Here are five tips we’ve developed during our 30+ years as professional writers, editors and designers to help our clients reach consumers with little time to spare.

  1. Get to the point. Craft a draft, based on multiple interviews and other expert resources, then cut (and cut some more) to the message essentials. No one wants to read bloated copy, and at the first sign of extraneous thoughts or stray messaging, no one will continue. Need to convey complicated statistics or survey results? Do it in an infographic. Have paragraphs of points to make? Boil them down to bullets. And remember, anecdotes work well so long as they too get to the point quickly.
  2. Executive summaries aren’t just for executives. We create a lot of white papers, case studies and success stories for our clients. One mandatory ingredient is a one- to two-paragraph executive summary that captures the highlights and, we hope, beckons for a full read. This takes craftsmanship and clever design. Make it easy for someone to want to keep reading.
  3. Show, don’t tell. There’s a reason videos typically rank high on web analytics: they work. Some people prefer visual instructions or commentary; others favor word forms. Why not provide both? A short video can either supplement or replicate key points on screen or paper. Each video should be no more than a minute for maximum appeal. And, again, make sure both the video and supporting collateral are clutter-free and visually support your brand.
  4. Embrace the tiny lifestyle. Very few of us now want to open our tablet or smartphone and be greeted by a bunch of text. When we create content, we must make it both applicable and appealing to readers on the go. That means words and visuals that work well on very small screens. And that means keeping both the prose and the pictures simple since too much detail will be unappreciated, and may even be a turn off.
  5. Hyperlink, hyperlink, hyperlink. This seems obvious, but we still see many blog posts and other web-based thought leadership content that puts it all out there, creating page upon page of scrolling. That content could be far shorter (and improve SEO) with liberal use of hyperlinks – to original sources or even extended pages for more details. This not only lends the thought leadership piece more credibility, but it appeases both those who scan by default and those seeking a deeper dive into the subject.