the 3-step system to writing content

The 3-Step System to Writing Content that Turns Heads

Recently, I sat down (virtually) with Kyle McMurry of Westchester Shop Local to talk about the 3-step system to writing content that you should implement in your small business.

Below you will find the full Facebook Live video and the transcript underneath.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local  (00:25):

Hey, this is Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local. You know, these days content is King. You’ve probably heard that before, but here’s the thing. So many businesses start to create content, they spend a lot of time, resources, money, and people creating the content. And it never gets read. It basically gets ignored.

And I would say that happens to 80 to 90% of the businesses, particularly local businesses that try to create content. And so pretty soon – within two, or maybe three months, they just throw up their hands and say, it’s not worth it. We’re not getting anything from it.

Yet using content is one of the most time tested best ways to actually get new customers in the door. So how do you create content that doesn’t get ignored that will actually get customers in the door?

So we brought on an expert today, Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (00:59):

She’s going to walk us through her strategy of how she creates engaging content, content that pulls people in and down into your sales process. And eventually transforms them into customers and can even get them to become advocates and promoters for your business. So I want you all to welcome Colette.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (01:21):

Hey, how are you, Colette? Oh, we already got a thumbs up for that. How about that? All right. You got a fan club. So tell me, Colette. How long have you been doing this? How long have you been creating content for businesses?

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (01:36):

I’ve been doing this since about 2007. So quite a number of years? 

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (01:42):

Well, first of all, how did you get involved in this? How did you become a writer? Were you always a writer? Did you go to school for it?

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (01:51):

Yes. So back in the 1990s, I went to college and I got a degree in journalism and I actually started out as a reporter. So I worked for a local newspaper. And so this job that I have today is not something that you know, I started out thinking I would be doing. Obviously, I still write, but I had a different path back then, and so, you know, being a reporter was something that I wanted to do. I did it for a few years and then I kind of segued into this. I actually went into PR first. I was in the school communications business for many years too. But there’s a common thread through all of it. I’ve always written. And storytelling is huge. Really. It’s kind of, if you will, the most important part of content creation for me, at least. Anyway. so even when I was a reporter and today as a copywriter, it’s still a thread that holds it all together. Really.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (02:48):

You know, a lot of people are confused about this because they hear, they should tell stories. Right? And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard business owners go, well, here’s my story. I always wanted to, you know, do a business or found a business and then I did. And, and then they wonder, like, they go, stories don’t work, right? So there’s a craft to telling stories, do you think, and it’s not just like, I always wanted to do this thing. And what are the missing kinds of ingredients? Do you think that people, when they do these kinds of stories, because we see those a lot, especially on video, what are they missing? How could they make those stories better?

The First Step To Creating Content That Gets Consumed – Relate to Your Customer

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (03:30):

I think that when we’re telling the story, it really has to relate to your customer. And you really need to know who your customer is. And so that’s kind of the first step to creating content. And if you know your true customer, if you know what their pain points are, you can kind of tell a story around that. You don’t want to, you know, just talk about yourself the whole time, but you want to tell a story that relates to other people. And I find that’s something that most people miss. And storytelling is so important. I mean, it’s all around us. You know, often we just don’t realize that we’re being told stories all the time and it’s what compels people to act. Without it, I mean, you could just write a list of things that you provide for a client in bullet points, for example.

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (04:19):

And it doesn’t mean the same thing unless crafted another way or unless you tell a story about it. like how did you help a customer do X, Y, and Z? So I think not everybody is able to do that. Not everybody is a natural writer, which is where I come in. And when people start businesses, they think that you know, I can create some kind of content and everybody is going to read it or everybody is going to come knocking on the door. And, and again, that’s not, that’s not going to happen either. It has to be a continuous process. So I think the fact that being a reporter initially has really helped me because it’s something that I learned how to do because obviously, I was telling stories right from the very beginning. So I work that into everything that I do.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (05:07):

You know, being a reporter because I’ve heard this a lot. And when I was first trying to learn how to write, one of the things I said, or what I was taught was you’ve got to at least answer the journalist questions. Would you give that as advice to people who want to start creating their own content?

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (05:26):

Yeah, absolutely. Because again, you need to put yourself in the minds of your customers. You can’t really think about yourself the whole time. What are they looking for? What are the problems that you want to serve? So you want to cover all of that ground. You want to answer all of the questions. So yeah, when you’re creating a piece of content, it might be easier for some people to kind of do a little draft or bullet points at the beginning and flesh it out. But again, the needs of the customer has to be at the top of mind every time you create a piece of content. There’s no point in telling people how great you are because most people don’t care. You know that too Kyle, right? You need to think about your customer and, you know, I think it works so much better then.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (06:22):

Yeah. As a good friend of mine used to say “Enough about me, how do you like my dress?”

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (06:28):

So, okay. So really what you’re talking about is really being focused on your audience, remembering your audience when you’re writing. So it’s not just what you want to hear. It’s what they want to hear. And I see that mistake a lot too. I see people talking, using words that they get. Right? But their audience has no idea what they’re talking about. So again, it goes back to what you’re saying, that you need to keep them front and center, right? That’s your audience, that’s who you’re writing to, and you need to make sure that they’re getting it.

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (07:02):

And that also you’re creating value if you’re writing for a client and you’re thinking along those lines. Off the gate, you know, you’re just creating content. There’s no other way around it. So yeah, absolutely agree. A hundred percent.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (07:20):

So somebody goes, okay, I’m going to do this. I’m going to try this. I’m going to keep my customer in mind. What would be the first step that they would need to do to not get their content ignored and actually have it become an effective sales tool? What would be the first step on that?

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (07:39):

Well, I think I kind of touched on it a little bit at the beginning there. I think you really need to know the customer. You and I have talked a lot about this customer persona, of having a good idea of who that customer is in your own mind. And if you’ve been in business for a little while, or maybe you’ve been in business for many years, you kind of have an idea of who that customer is. So you could, you know, get a piece of paper and write it down and say, you know, this person is 55, they’re married, they’ve got three kids. They own a home. You know, they make $100,000 a year or whatever it might be and you have that in mind first, before you do anything, because you can’t really be writing for an invisible person. So you need to know who you’re writing for. And I think a lot of businesses forget about that too. So that would be the first step.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local  (08:22):

Okay. You know, it’s funny because a lot of times when we’re shooting video with people, I’ve had people be nervous and I’ve told them to take something like their child or a picture of their husband or whoever, and put it right behind the camera and just say, just talk to them. And it’s amazing. Nine times out of 10, they are much calmer. It’s amazing how much more relaxed they get. And I’ve actually heard people, writers tell me the same thing that to have a picture of somebody right in front of them, whatever that is, you know. I’ve had people searching the Internet for their perfect customer and using, you know, these kinds of demographics and then pasting that picture in front of them. And when they write their content, they’re constantly looking at it. So it keeps them away from that formality and you know who you’re talking to. 

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (09:11):

Exactly. Yes, absolutely. Yeah, for sure.

Step Two To Publishing Content That Your Potential Prospects Devour – Know Why You’re Creating Content

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local  (09:14):

All right. So step two.

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (09:17):

I think step two would be, why are you creating content? What do you want to do with this content? So do you want to drive traffic to your website or do you want to sell a product? And then there’s the whole other story with the product. You may have to do more than even create content. You might have to go a few steps further than that and maybe run a Facebook ad or something like that. And we talked about that before too, but I think it’s really crucial to know why you’re doing this in the first place. Why are you creating a blog? You know, it’s not just to put it out there and look at it and say, gee, that’s great. And I’m published. There needs to be something behind that. So for example, I have a travel blog. You know that my Ireland on a Budget travel blog is kind of my passion aside from the other things that I do, right?

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (10:06):

And I’m constantly creating content for that. And the reason is that I want to drive traffic to it because, without traffic, nobody’s going to know about Ireland on a Budget or any other website that one might create. So content is really important as well as knowing why you want to create that content. And, you know, for many it could be driving traffic. I mean, hopefully, that will create sales, but at the beginning, it’s like, you know, putting a sign up in the shop window. You need to try and bring in the customers and people need to know that you exist. If they don’t know you exist, well, what’s the point?

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (10:45):

Right? It’s like we say, “having a neon sign in a basement.” So it’s kind of like the Stephen Covey thing of beginning with the end in mind. If you know where you’re going, then you can kind of map it out, how to get there, and map your content to get your customer to the sale or to your website or whatever. I mean, that’s really key. I think that’s really important. If you’re just writing for writing’s sake, that’s when you’re going to run into trouble. You know, if you don’t know why you’re writing it, you don’t know who you’re writing to. You’re going to lose, right?

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (11:27):

Yeah. You have to be strategic really.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local(11:30):

All right. So step, where are we? Step Three.

Step Three To Creating Content That Turns Viewers Into Customers – Know Their Pain Points

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (11:33):

Step three, I think again, and I touched upon this before is you need to know the pain points of your customers. What are they struggling with? And if you know that, well then that kind of informs the content for you as the business. So for example, if you are the owner of a gym, and this is especially relevant now during this time since we can go back to gyms now, but a lot of people are not quite, you know, comfortable going into a gym with a mask, or they’re just not feeling safe enough. How would you try and entice these people to, you know, get back into exercise again and be interested in what you have to offer? And perhaps you might want to write something about it, or you might want to create an ad, say a Facebook ad about a Zoom class that you’re putting on.

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (12:18):

So you envisage the pain points that your customers have. And in this case, it’s, you know, I just don’t want to go back to the gym because I’m afraid to, but I really want to exercise. How do you solve that? And the way you solve it is by presenting something to your customer. So it could be in the form of a blog post or it could be in form of a Facebook ad. It could be, maybe a video. You might just throw up an Instagram video, or if you have a YouTube channel, and say, look, this is what I’m planning on doing. You know, I’m offering Zoom classes twice a week or something. And you would charge for them, but you want to keep your customers interested. So that’s just one example that comes to mind, but again, you need to know what they’re struggling with and then that informs your content and that will help you create a solution to that problem.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local  (13:16):

All right. So this is what we’ve got so far. We got to know who, right? We’re going back to those, those basic journalist questions, you know, what you’re trying to do or where. That’s kind of a, what, where kind of thing, where you’re going, what you’re trying to do. And then you’ve got kind of a why, maybe the pain is like, why I’m doing this. And so those are the first three steps. Is there a fourth? Is there anything else that you would put in there? Is there anything else that we missed? Like what else would they need to do so they make sure that their content is not ignored?

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (13:51):

I mean, aside from those two things, I think they need to have a commitment to consistency. That is, I mean if they’re going to do it themselves. If they’re going to hire somebody like me or whomever to do the content for them, then that’s a different story. But if they’re going to do it themselves, they need to be consistent. So I see that with so many businesses. They want to do all of these things and then they just throw up their hands. They’re like, ugh, I can’t do this. It’s just too much work. And the thing is that you and I both know that when you’re working online, when you’re in the digital world, that it just doesn’t happen overnight. You have to keep doing it. It’s a long game. It really is. So I would say consistency is really important and patience, too.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (14:34):

They kind of go hand-in-in-hand, right? Yeah. I think that is essential because you can do the first three things really well for two weeks and then just go, it doesn’t work. I mean, the promise of this, the promise of creating really good strategic content, which is what we’re talking about is that it goes on and on. It can last for several years. One amazing blog post I’m thinking about is from Digital Marketer. They had a blog post on customer value optimization that’s been going for five years, and they’ve got another one called “212 Blog Post Ideas” that also has been going for five or six years, bringing in leads, you know, month after month, week after week, in their case even day after day. So it’s kind of like, almost set it and forget it, right? So it’s, if you can do this, well, this will continue to serve you, but you can’t just do it once or even for three months or six months. It’s gotta be where people expect it from you is what you’re saying, I think.

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (15:41):

I think to that point, I read something, Kyle, the other day about Canva. So as a company, we all know what Canva is.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (15:51):

If you guys don’t know Canva, you should be using it because it’s an amazing tool. It’s almost like PhotoShop. It’s a super easy drag-and-drop tool, and you can do something that looks really pretty amazing in just maybe five minutes that you would have to pay for normally. All right. I don’t want to get any graphic designers mad at me. So I’m done. I’m not going to keep talking about it, but it is a really good resource. So

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (16:15):

Yeah. You know, but what I was going to say about Canva is that it was created by this girl in Australia. She was a student at the time. And you know, she started off as a publishing company, but they, and this was a few years later, but they wrote this blog post about the value of taking a walk. Would you believe that it got millions of hits and it’s got nothing to do with their business? And I’m not trying to say that businesses should go out there and create content that’s totally irrelevant to what they’re doing, but it kind of shows you that the power of something that goes viral and yeah, it’s been shared so many times. It’s not a small business anymore. It’s grown immensely in the last few years, but it is a success story and, and content is central to what they do.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (17:00):

And that’s really, it’s kind of fascinating because, you know, if somebody is listening to the show for the first time, they might think, well, wait, you just said, I should be strategic. I should know why I’m doing something and writing about something like a walk doesn’t seem very strategic. And it’s true. But I think that to keep yourself interesting and to every once in a while, just throw something out there that you’re really passionate about and see if it works, even if it doesn’t seem to fit because it may really resonate with your audience in some way. And so you do want to do it. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to only create content like that because you know, then you’re not being strategic. But once in a while to mix up, it’s super cool to think that way.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (17:51):

I think it’s really good again, but that comes from consistency, right? That comes from really knowing your customer. Because if you know your customer, you can find out what they’re into like nature and walks, right? You can use tools out there that will tell you. So when you want to do a wild card post, that’s what you can do. And those kinds of posts sometimes can be bigger than your strategic ones, but more importantly, they can bring a whole new crop of people to your business that would never be exposed to your content before. And then maybe 10, 20% of those people could become customers anyway. Because they may be interested in that, but didn’t realize they were until they read your blog post.

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (18:31):

Exactly. Yes.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (18:33):

Super cool. All right. Anything that we missed? Anything that you think, there’s one more thing or anything that you think they really should know, that we’ve not talked about? Because we’ve covered a lot here. We’ve covered why you’re writing content, who you’re writing to, right? Which is so key. I tell this all the time, if I asked you to write a letter, the first question you would ask me is who am I writing to? Because you’re going to write to your wife differently than your grandmother, your child, and your child’s teacher. It just goes on and on and on. You’re going to have a different tone and people/ readers pick up on that tone.

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (19:14):

Yes, absolutely. Kyle, I would say that one more thing. It’s this, which is relevant now during the pandemic. It’s that we need to when you create content and I just wrote a post about it which is up on my website right now. And what’s the website? It’s – so it’s my

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (19:34):


Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (19:34):

Cool. With Os, not Es! one “O” in Colette. Yeah. Two “Ls” in Connolly. So it’s a little tricky.

I think that businesses need to be really aware of the environment that we’re in right now. And what I mean by that is when you’re creating content that you want to (if you’re in a business, obviously you need to make money and you want to make sales) not to be too “salesy “either and offer lots of information and have at the back of your mind, the pain that people are going through right now. So maybe they just can’t afford certain things and maybe you could write posts that are very, like, I’ll give an example. In this most recent blog post that I wrote, I give the example if you’re a toy store owner and you write a blog post about toys that children can play independently by themselves.

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (20:27):

You know, a lot of parents don’t want their kids in groups right now. We’re still in the pandemic. We need to behave safely and be healthy, but you know, you want to buy a toy for your kid. How about a toy that the kid can play with by him or herself? So stuff like that, perhaps you’re the owner of a company that makes chairs, for example, and you might want to write about the efficiency of a certain chair that you want to buy for your home office. You know, everybody is working from home right now. You know, you might not have the proper chair, and here comes along a post that tells you, this is the kind of chair you need. You know, what, if you have back problems. And so I guess what I’m trying to say is that you should try and make your content relevant to the time period that we’re in. That’s so important because people are hurting, but people also need, and you know, are looking for information for various things that can help them get through this. If you know what I mean? So that’s just the only thing I would say, just be sensitive to what’s happening.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (21:35):

You know, we say that a lot that to be successful online really requires two kinds of skills. The first one is always relevancy – be relevant. It’s rampant throughout the Facebook advertising world, the whole content world –  you’ve got to be relevant. And the second one is you’ve got to be engaging. Those are the two things. So it’s important that you can get those two things right. So be sensitive, I guess, to the temperature in the room or the temperature of the times is what you’re kind of saying, which is really key because you can nail an amazing blog post and release it at the wrong time and have it just go nowhere, right?

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (22:14):


Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (22:16):

All right. So if somebody wants to find you, if somebody wants to hire you, which they should, right? Colette is a really good writer. They would go to, where they could get in contact with you.

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (22:28):

I’m on Facebook. So if they’re on Facebook, go to Connolly Communications. And all of my contact information is there. I’m on LinkedIn as well. So it’s  If they put my name in there, they can find me.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (22:46):

So you have a business page on LinkedIn yet, or no?

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (22:48):

I have a personal page, but I should have one.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (22:52):

Okay. I’m just going to eject you right now from this podcast!

Colette Connolly from Connolly Communications (22:57):

That’s one of the things I need to do, believe me, but I get busy doing other things. So you know, I’m not perfect either. So yeah, my website, Facebook, or LinkedIn. LinkedIn is probably the best.

Kyle McMurry from Westchester Shop Local (23:10):

All right, so you got it from Colette. You can put these skills into practice. These are great tips. These are really, really good tips. If you can follow this, you’ve got the best chance possible of having content that’s not ignored, that actually can bring you in customers if you give it time and you’re consistent and you follow this. All right. So I want to thank you for being here today with us and remember Westchester Shop Local. “Together we can make local thrive.” Alright, we’ll see you next week. Bye-bye.

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