- Part I: Grammar
- Part II: Style and Tone
- Part III: Persona
- Target audience
- Pain points
- Part IV: Content Structure
- Part V: Graphics and Formatting
- Part VI: Approved and Unapproved Content
Who Are We Writing For?
- Small and medium-sized business owners and non-profits
- Limited budgets
- Lack of understanding / fear of digital marketing
- Bad experience with other marketers
- Overwhelmed with information available
- Quick learning opportunities
- Free information
- Knowledge on what digital marketing is and how it can benefit them
- Unbiased information
- Organized content for specific lessons
- Real, actionable advice that they can understand and implement
- Effectively use the Internet to market their service or product
We need to develop 2 – 3 personas to help clarify demographic and psychographic characteristics of our readers.
There are different types of content that are appropriate for our audience. For instance:
- How-To Guides
- Real-World Case Studies
- Top Lists
- Serialized Content
- Data / Infographics
- Interviews with Experts or Successful SMBs
- Pro / Con lists
- Video Content
- Audio Content
Note: If your article is longer than 1,000 words, consider dividing it into multiple parts.
Your submitted content must have valid and reliable sources. It is your responsibility to investigate your source for trustworthiness. Here are some tips for investigating a source’s background:
- Use internet sources that have the name of the author.
- Investigate the credentials of the author if unknown. Use the author’s personal page to check:
- educational background and experience.
- discover any scholar publications.
- discover any published books from a university press.
- verify employment to a college or research institution.
Approved industry resources
- Reputable online journals and magazines have articles written by authors who list their sources in a bibliography that include scholar and offline sources.
- Most news sources are reliable. However, do not use news as the exclusive source because they are also entertainment organizations.
- The URL of the source can help verify trustworthiness. A site name ending with .EDU is generally an educational institution. A site name ending with .ORG is usually a not-for-profit. However you need to check for any type of bias. A site name ending with .GOV is considered to be a very reliable government site.
Unreliable source examples
- Blogs are unreliable sources when the credentials and expertise of the writer are unknown.
- Personal websites are like blogs (see previous point).
- Wiki web sites can be untrustworthy. Wiki sites are edited by groups of people with unknown expertise and credentials. (However, sites like Wikipedia may be a good way to find reliable sources; check the References at the bottom of the page.)
- Movies and historical movies can be an unreliable source. Movies are produced for entertainment and not to educate.
- Historical novels can be “based on facts” and contain one single fact with 99% fiction.
Controversial topics and opinions to avoid
- 40 Examples of Extreme and Controversial Advertising
- Top 50 Shockvertisements
- Intrusive internet marketing
- Violation of consumer privacy rights.
- Transparency and disclosure: using marketing to deliver questionable, controversial, or easily misinterpreted messages
- Questioning people’s’ morality or ethics instead of their thoughts
- Invasive marketing techniques that can lead to identity theft
- Encouraging black hat marketing techniques
- 10 Examples to Increase Sales with Controversial Content
- Generally speaking, politics, religion, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation should be avoided, unless the focus is exclusively on marketing (e.g., you might reference how a political campaign used social media as an example for how a small business might do the same).
Using links within content
As appropriate, linking to other quality content is encouraged. Links should be to informational/educational material and not to sales-oriented pages.
Internal links (to other MZ content) are highly encouraged to make it easier for readers to find related information.
Style and Tone
Allow your personality to flow through your writing, but keep the content positive and informative.
Keep in mind the target audience for the site and write content accordingly. Posts should be professional, but informal. Use everyday language, and be simple and concise.
Use active voice, not passive.
Write for readers, not search engines, but do follow the guidelines regarding linking to other content, especially internal links.
Videos will be uploaded to the Marketing Zeus YouTube page. Accompanying posts will ebed the YouTube video.
Contributors may refer to (and link to) other content they have produced elsewhere. However, Marketing Zeus will not duplicate content published elsewhere.
Graphics and Formatting
Image Selection, sizing, and alt-tag guidelines
- Thumbnail image: 300 pixels x 190 pixels
- Image within an article: 515 pixels x 350 pixels
- Gallery images: 650 pixels x 400 pixels
- Infographics: 650 pixels x at least 650 pixels
- Creative Commons
- Credit: Source name
- Note: Infographics must include within the graphic the source of the information provided
Author Attribution and Contribution
Your bio can include one link to a personal page (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn or your own blog) and one link to a business, if appropriate. You will be expected to provide a professional headshot to be included in your bio.
Ideally, authors should be willing to share their content with their own audiences. Supporting other authors through social media sharing etc. is also encouraged.
Grammar, Spelling, and Usage
Below are some basic guidelines; for questions not answered here, please refer to the American Marketing Association Dictionary or the Grammarly Handbook.
Acronyms and abbreviations
Abbreviations should be explained when first used.
No spaces or periods between letters in an acronym. Unless the acronym or abbreviation is more familiar to people than the full name, on first mention of term use full term with acronym next to it in parentheses.
Use “a” before words that start with a consonant sound. Use “an” before words that start with a vowel sound.
Always use figures.
Only use when part of a formal name. Do not use in place of “and.”
Use serial (or Oxford) commas, which means including commas before “and” in a list of three or more items.
If the company is not well-known, use the formal company name in the first mention. Don’t include a comma before Inc. or Ltd., even if it’s part of the official company name. Don’t use special characters in company names. Example: E-Trade, not E*Trade
Put titles of books, movies, songs, artwork, speeches, and television and radio programs in quotation marks. The exceptions are reference materials and the Bible. Capitalize the primary words, along with conjunctions and prepositions that have more than four letters.
Use copyrighted for past tense.
CONTENT & MEDIA REPRODUCTION RIGHTS & PERMISSIONS NEEDED
Avoid courtesy titles, like Mr. or Ms.
Use to make an abrupt change in a sentence or attribution at the end of a quote.
Dates and Times
Generally, dates should be spelled out (e.g., September 30, 2014).
Omit ordinal designations, such as November 16th.
Do not use datelines.
Days of the week
Capitalize the first letter and spell the whole word out.
If not included in this style guide, use the American Marketing Association Dictionary for marketing terms usage and spelling. Use the Webster’s New World College Dictionary for finding general word definitions.
Used to omit words words within a quote. If a complete sentence is used before the omission, include a period, then a space before the ellipses.
Capitalize the primary words when used before someone’s name. If the title is separated from someone’s name with commas, the title should be in lowercase letters.
Fourth of July
Citations and websites
Add hypertext links to the content you want to reference. Readers then can click on the content with the button to view the actual article or website. Make sure the link opens in a new window.
Google, Googled, Googling
Lowercase when used to refer to someone’s name on a social media account.
The number sign (#) followed by a term or phrase. No space between the two.
Capitalize the first word and the principal words.
When referring to a website, dd hyperlinks with the format: www.domain.com.
Other hyperlinks should use appropriate anchor text.
Images should be labeled to accurately reflect what is shown.
Photos should include a photo credit in the following format:
Avoid gender-specific titles (e.g., business executive vs. businessman) Don’t use “he” for an unspecified person.
Should include a list of sources for the information provided.
When used at the end of a name, abbreviate to Jr. Do not put a comma before the abbreviation.
key performance indicator (KPI, plural KPIs)
When referring to a Facebook like, do not put in quotations.
Begin list items with a capital letter. Be consistent with list items. For example, if the first list item begins with a verb, all list items should start with a verb. Only include periods at the end if a list item is a complete sentence.
There are several color options:
log in, log out (verb)
Use a person’s full name on a first reference and last name on next references.
not only… but also
Use abbreviation when mentioning a ranking. Capitalize the first letter.
Numbers between one and 9 should be spelled out. Numbers 10 and above can be written numerically.
Spell out “percent.” Don’t use the % symbol.
Don’t use ordinal numbers, unless it’s part of the name.
Possessives ending in “s” Use an apostrophe after the “s”
PARAGRAPH TEXT & HEADERSQ
Quotation marksUse when including a direct quote. A quote within a quote requires single quotation marks. For use with book titles or movies, see Composition titles.
Titles and subtitles
In names, don’t use courtesy titles. Only use Dr. when referring to a medical doctor.
No commas when using Jr., Sr., or III in names.
Don’t use a hyphen when using this prefix unless the word it’s connected to also starts with an “e.” Examples: re-elect, redesign
Use on lists that include commas in the series. Use to connect two independent clauses without a conjunction. Use before a conjunctive adverb.
sign up (verb)sign-up (adjective)
small business owner
small and midsize business (SMB)
Make sure to follow each social media network’s guidelines, when using their branding. T
Use parentheses for the area code. Example (555) 555-5555.
text, texting, texted
Use a.m. p.m. not AM PMU
URLsUse the shortest URL possible. Exclude “http://” and the trailing slash
Not the same as Internet.