Grab readers with snappy introductions: The art of the hook

I used to bomb introductions. I did it constantly. During my school days, red ink went flying just a few sentences in. I like to think they’ve gotten better since then, but I’ll admit it: Sometimes, my first attempts still fall flat. Unlike my teenage self, I know it and (importantly!) I don’t just shrug my shoulders and hit “send” anyway. While it would certainly be easier to give up and hope my readers will skip to the next paragraph—you know, the one after that ride through “what is she thinking?” land—I know most of you don’t have that much time on your hands. And I know when it comes to considering your own audience, you’re savvy to that observation, too.

But how do you improve a rough-‘n’-tumble beginning? It’s all about the hook.

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3, 2, 1, launch! Get your content strategy out the door

Last month, I covered the three essential content strategy questions you and your business ought to consider before launching so much as a Twitter profile. Let’s recap:

#1. Who is your target client?

#2. What is your product?

#3. What are your short-term and long-term goals?

“So Brittany,” you say, “I’ve thought about all three of these things really hard. Really, really hard. What do I do now?”

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If content is king, stories are god

I have a confession to make: I am a story hoarder. From Pocket to Evernote to Goodreads to an old-school paper file, I have stories shoved in every type of technology that could possible hold them. Will I read them all? No—yes!—well, probably not. Why? Because the great thing about stories is that there are always new ones to share and read and, sigh, hoard.

The other great thing about stories: They soar above the buzz of content that’s flooding our consciousnesses. Everywhere you turn, there is something new to read. What is it that you choose to spend your precious time reading and processing and remembering? The one with the great story.

Guess what: It’s not just you who makes that choice—your customer will, too. And here’s why.

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How to humanize your website content

It’s not much of a secret anymore that customers want brands to talk to them rather than at them. If you need proof, look at the rise of storytelling via the increased interest in longreads, Twitter stories, and Vine. Look at customer complaints that focus on phone trees and the dearth of human operators. Look at the popularity of House of Cards, in which Kevin Spacey breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience.

What is a secret is how easy it is to make the change from content of old to content 2.0. It’s not tough to connect with consumers. In fact, you can do it in three easy steps. Read on…

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Know your audience: How Cosmo is getting it right (and you can, too)

cosmoTen years ago, I would buy an issue of Cosmopolitan magazine and hide it in my bedroom, embarrassed to admit to my mom that I was curious about the S-E-X emblazoned on the cover. Five years ago, I’d buy it for a little airplane entertainment. Back then, it was known more for it’s ridiculous sex tips involving ice cubes and lipstick than it was for, well, anything else.

But all that changed two years ago, when Joanna Coles, formerly of Marie Claire, took over as editor-in-chief. Previously, she had transformed MC from a run-of-the-mill women’s interest publication to a must-read, packed with investigative reports and top-notch features. She brought the magazine to the 21st century, revitalizing its digital initiatives and recreating it as a brand, not just a glossy.

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