It could be that your marketing content is causing paper wounds.
Yes, I’m referring to those small but surprisingly painful cuts that appear to be drawn to the most delicate portions of your fingers.
Is low-quality marketing content causing your prospects agony comparable to paper cuts?
In the more than two decades I’ve been writing and editing marketing content, I’ve witnessed many creative entrepreneurs, small business owners, and freelancers invest significant resources in content marketing, only to hit a sales wall due to common content issues that cause paper cuts.
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What causes content-related paper cuts? The following list is illustrative but by no means comprehensive:
- Poor initial presentation
- irrelevant images
- Undefined phrases
- Lack of social evidence
- Strange color scheme
- Unequal value exchange
- No means of contact
- Broken structures
- The content appears dense.
- Uncertain distinction
- There is no means to bridge the divide.
- faulty text movement
- Heavy usage of negative
- Unresolved reader concerns
- Inoperative purchasing cart
- Lacking in structure
- Inadequate mental transitions
- Heavy vocabulary
- No distinct selling proposition
- absence of evidence
- Aggressive sales verbiage
- Unresolved reader concerns
- Grammar errors and blunders
Indeed, no one is flawless. We all make errors.
But this mindset—that we all make mistakes—leads too many content writers and content teams to expose prospects to the risk of paper cuts.
The real danger of paper wounds is that they accumulate.
Death by a thousand paper incisions
Have you ever heard the expression “death by 1,000 paper cuts?”
The original expression is “death by 1,000 cuts.” It is an ancient Chinese method of torment and execution involving… I’m sorry to place this mental image in your head… Slow cutting.
A 1858 illustration from Le Monde illustré depicting the lingchi execution of a… [+] French missionary, Auguste Chapdelaine, in China.
Today, “death by a thousand paper cuts” alludes to succumbing to a multitude of small ailments or problems rather than a single major one.
And this is precisely what occurs when consumers read poor marketing materials.
Here are some examples of how paper wounds manifest in various forms of content.
Save trees with your website.
How does your website function as a form of marketing content?
Imagine a prospect visiting your website, which hasn’t been updated in years. “It looks like it was built in 2008,” they conclude. Paper cut, paper cut.
They do not use the back option to return to the search results because they need your product or service. They continued reading. They ponder, “Wait, is that a typo?” Paper sliced.
“What’s this supposed to mean?” They contemplate while reading and rereading, but do not comprehend the text. “Sigh.” Paper cut, paper cut, paper cut.
They click on your services page and observe the misaligned images. Paper sliced.
Following seven paper incisions, your prospect is in pain. They leave your website in search of another consultant.
Paper wounds caused by an ebook
Your marketing ebook may have an attractive design, but is the content giving potential customers paper cuts?
Another prospect downloads an ebook from your SaaS company after responding to a LinkedIn advertisement. It appears attractive, which is an advantage.
They anticipate scanning the headings to determine what is most essential and worth reading. However, there are no headings. Paper sliced.
Still intrigued, they commence reading.
The author then begins pushing, selling, and presuming at the 97-word mark. “You need this process because it makes things easier for everyone in your company,” they say.
The prospect is repellent. They were anticipating an examination of the ebook’s subject, not a direct sales proposal. Paper cut, paper cut.
Can you detect that the prospect may already be losing faith in your company? They are still on the initial page.
Cuts from a newsletter subscription page
Are your registration forms working? Or are they causing business losses and paper cuts?
Your prospect has just discovered a tweet promoting an email newsletter on a topic of interest. They click the link, land on the newsletter subscription page, enter their name and email address, and then select the “Subscribe” button.
“Am I a subscribed member or not?” They ponder, repeatedly clicking the button.
Still, nothing has occurred. Paper sliced.
Rarely, the prospect desires to hear from you, so they check their inbox to see if they received an opt-in or welcoming email from you.
Paper cuts abound.
Although there is a small possibility that the prospect will contact you to inform you that your form is broken, there is a much greater chance that they will meander away, possibly permanently.
Can you sense how distressing these issues are for customers? Do you see how your content’s lack of precision and refinement could cause you to lose hordes of new customers?
Understanding and editing: Your defense against paper wounds
When you have empathy for your consumers, your marketing content is less likely to result in paper cuts and repel prospects.
Developing reader empathy and collaborating with a content editor are two strategies for avoiding paper wounds in your writing.
Content editors already have reader empathy. Therefore, they are editors.
Content editors do not flee when they suffer paper wounds. Instead, they delve deep to comprehend the message your content is attempting to convey. And once they comprehend that message, they modify your content so that its message beams brightly, resonates on a deeper level with readers, and does not cause paper cuts.
However, you need not employ an editor. You, your writers, and your content team can cultivate consumer empathy as well. Here are several approaches to take:
Learn about your customers. If this piece of advice sounds banal, it is because you have likely heard it many times before. But it is not banal. Knowing your customers is the first step in resolving many of the more severe problems that lead to paper cuts.
Utilize analytics tools, surveys, social media monitoring, and customer feedback to acquire demographic and psychographic information about buyers. Understand the preferences, interests, use cases, and pain points of your customers. Work hard, and you will reap the benefits.
Engage purchasers. Again, not banal. Never publish content in isolation. Respond to your audience via email, social media, forums, and comment sections. Listen to their inquiries, objections, and concerns so that you can address them in your content.
As you interact with customers, it is important to actively observe, as this can provide you with valuable information about their experiences and expectations.
Know what’s happening in the world of your buyers. Keep abreast of the most recent news, trends, and changes impacting your prospects. This enables you to address timely issues and pertinent challenges, allowing your content to demonstrate to readers that you comprehend their world.
There are two methods to improve your marketing content and avoid giving your prospects paper cuts: employing an editor and cultivating empathy.
As part of the content-creation process, developing an empathic mindset requires placing oneself in the reader’s shoes and considering their emotions, experiences, and goals. It entails comprehending consumer obstacles and desires and communicating in resonant ways.
Developing empathy requires additional effort. This is an ongoing procedure. However, if you keep your prospects at the forefront of your mind and consistently strive for comprehension, you will produce better content without suffering paper cuts and generate more sales.