A Positive Approach: Why Negative Content Should Be Avoided

by | Jul 11, 2016 | GrammarSpot, Writing Tips | 0 comments

If you want to gauge someone’s true personality, then put him or her in a grocery store’s 15-item express line behind an individual purchasing 17 things. I was once sandwiched between an offender and a woman who felt that it was her life’s mission to declare that a great injustice had taken place when the express checker decided to help the rule breaker. The disapproving woman tried to rally the troops with a negative outcry. When she didn’t incite a riot, she took to murmuring. The whole scenario made me uncomfortable and accomplished nothing besides encouraging me to take a nice big step away from the upset lady. This same concept can be applied to writing negative content and how it makes your readers feel.

Showcase Benefits Without Badgering

As SEO content writers, we often have to highlight the benefits of a client’s products and services in order to interest consumers to shop. The seemingly easy route is to draw attention to the downsides of the competitor’s product in an attempt to help the client shine. However, this approach can actually do more harm than good.

That’s because most companies don’t want to be seen as a Negative Nelly. They have a reputation to protect, and trashing the competition is viewed by many as a low blow. It is much more productive to spend the valuable word count talking about what a company can do for consumers instead of focusing on what a rival can’t. Debbie Downers can also make people feel really uncomfortable. Just as I distanced myself from the grocery gal with a vengeance, many readers will see negative content, immediately shut it down and seek out a different company.

Additionally, most retailers sell competing products, and many of the private label store brands are actually produced by well-known manufacturers. The lesson here is that the connection between brands may not always be known, so while bashing one company to help uplift another, you may be indirectly speaking negatively about the very organization that you’re trying to help.

Positive Negative Neutral

Compare Products Constructively

Does that mean that you should never compare products? Never say never. Just do like the Swiss and keep it neutral. Instead of focusing on one-upping, you can simply discuss how both products or services are beneficial, depending on the circumstances. Consider the following examples:

Negative: Savvy consumers should ditch last year’s e-readers because they don’t come with touch screen capabilities. Upgrade your dull technology and purchase the industry’s best.  Red x

Neutral: Consumers looking for a no-frill option should consider an e-reader that doesn’t come with touch screen capabilities. If having the latest e-book reader is important to you, there are more technologically advanced choices to fit your needs.  green check

Speak the Truth

Remember, speaking the truth about something doesn’t mean that you have to create negative content in the process. Successful writers are great at getting creative with their copy while showing their clients in a positive light.

What steps do you take to ensure that you always make your clients look good without stepping on the toes of their competitors? Please comment below, and take a deep breath the next time you’re standing in the express line and see a suspiciously full cart!

Amber Morris
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