If you’re running a business you will almost certainly have competitors, so why should people come to you instead of one of those?

I’ve asked many people this question over the years (mainly because it’s an important issue to understand if I’m writing copy for them) – and the answers are rarely inspiring.

“We’re better.”

“We care.”

“We’re customer-focused.”

“We offer a bespoke service.”

“Our products are high quality.”

“We offer a guarantee.”

“We’re accredited by our trade body.”

On closer examination, any/all of these statements could also be applied to most of their competitors.  They are not what makes your business unique.

It could be price, but most people don’t really buy on price, they buy on what they get for their money.  That means you need to deliver massive value.

So you know your clients get amazing results from what you offer – how can you stand apart from your competitors?

There isn’t a single answer to this, but if you are good at getting your ideas down on paper (or onto a screen) have you considered finding a publication that might be interested in a regular column?

People who are columnists are perceived as an authority on the subject, so you are seen as the go-to person in your industry.  People expect to pay a premium for your services and feel they’re getting higher value service, so it’s a real advantage.

Do you have to be a good writer?

Not necessarily – but you do have to have good ideas and something to say.  If you know what your message is there is more than one way to get it across.

  • You can write a draft for the publication’s editor to work on (as long as that’s agreed up front)
  • If you’re more fluent talking than writing, you could record what you have to say as a voice file for them to transcribe
  • You could work with a professional writer who would take your ideas and turn them into a well-written article (we do this for many of our clients).

Find the right publication

You may have ambitions to become a social commentator on one of the major dailies or glossy monthlies – but if your audience falls into a particular niche, you’d find it easier to approach their industry journals.

Smaller publications are always looking for high-quality content to keep their subscribers happy, so being a big fish in smaller pond can be easier to achieve than you might think.

Start with an ad hoc item and then ask if they might be interested in a regular article.  They may say ‘not now’, but come back to you in the future when the time is right for their publication.

Be professional

If you do land a regular column you must respect deadlines.  If the editor tells you your column must arrive by 15th of the month – don’t send it on 16th.  They will need it to layout the magazine and fit in ads and other graphics – if your item is late it may not appear and you’ll be the target of negative gossip in that magazine’s editorial department.

Don’t try and shoe-horn a sneaky sales pitch in – you’ll quickly lose your column.  Your role is as the fount of knowledge on your subject, not as a business development manager. 

Many of these publications are happy to publish something at the foot of the item – either your photo and website, or sometimes a phone number or email address.

Don’t offer the same article to any other publications.  Your credibility will vanish in a moment if any of the editors discovers it has or is appearing elsewhere.

Need help? Get in touch, we’re always happy to give you a bit of advice – or hands-on support.