Guides are powerful tools for any marketing team. If it’s a good guide, it can engage readers, increase conversions and nudge consumers through the sales funnel.
But, there are some golden rules that you need to remember when compiling a guide. We’ve used our many years of experience to provide you with this handy set of instructions.
What makes guides so effective?
Guides tend to be long-form documents that answer all consumer questions on a topic in just one place.
They provide value for the reader, and are a great way of building customer relationships by talking about your expertise without being too sales orientated.
By writing an effective and engaging guide, you will set your brand up as a trustworthy, reliable and authoritative information source on a subject.
This should help persuade visitors to keep coming back to you for information, and remember you when they’re thinking about making a purchase.
The qualities of a good guide
Think of yourself as a tour guide for your topic. You have to show your audience the sights, explain how things work and answer any questions they may have (before they’ve even asked them).
Consider your consumer; who they are, what they need from you and why they have come to you in the first place. This should form the basis for your guide.
But, to turn a good guide into a great guide, it also needs to be:
A tour guide without information is worthless.
You wouldn’t want to go around the Colosseum with someone who didn’t know about the gladiators, would you?
Research your topic before you start writing. The copy should educate your audience through the inclusion of sources, statistics and graphs.
Consider the information your reader is looking for. Then, answer the questions you think they’ll have. The aim with this guide is to give them everything they need to take the next step towards a purchase.
Nothing is worse than a tour guide who’s bored of their subject.
You’ll only engage with someone who’s still fascinated by the history and excited at the prospect of passing on their wisdom.
The same goes for promotional guides. Your writing style needs to be engaging to help readers get on-board with your solution. Passion is contagious, after all. So, don’t be afraid to show how useful you think this guide will be.
Tour guides solve a problem for tourists. They fill in when a person doesn’t have the time or means to research an area.
Consumers have a similar mindset. A touch of empathy will go a long way, so acknowledge the issue and explain how your solution or guide will help them.
Talk to readers in a personable, human way. Using a second person point of view is a great way to make them feel like you’re talking to them directly. Also, try adding some humour where appropriate. It’ll help retain the reader’s attention.
We’ve all been on a tour that was just too long. Your feet hurt, there’s a kid crying and you’ve totally lost interest.
If your promotional guide waffles on without providing insight or information, your audience will tune out or (even worse) turn to another source. Don’t use words for the sake of it, make sure they’re relevant and accessible.
Use formatting elements (such as images and graphs) to break up text, give your guide a boost and increase engagement.
I once got lumbered with a ‘French’ tour guide who had an impenetrable accent. Turns out, it was an English person trying to add a frisson of authenticity, but all meaning was lost in the process.
Your guide shouldn’t leave readers more confused than when they started. Make sure the tone and style you use is accessible and relevant for those reading it.
Also, stick to these handy copywriting rules. Spelling and grammar checks are a must, as are short, actionable sentences.
Holidaymakers want to stop, marvel and take pictures.
No matter how much the tour guide wants to keep things moving through territory that’s familiar to them, they should accommodate their audience’s preferences.
It’s the same with promotional guides. You’re the expert who knows what’s going on, but your reader is probably experiencing this all for the first time.
It’s easy to slip into using jargon. Instead, just slow down and speak in layman’s terms to ensure that your audience understands the points you’re making.
Don’t be patronising, but do simplify your writing to fit your target audience. Take things slowly and the reader will be in a better position to make a decision about your product or service.
A good guide encompasses all these elements and more. Creating one can take up a whole stack of time and resources. But, with our help, you can create effective and engaging pieces that provide value for you and your target audience. Good luck!