Why? What? How? What Else? A 4MAT Guide To Writing Web Content

One of the emerging requirements for effective digital marketing is writing good content that will introduce you to prospective clients.  So it’s no longer enough to be good at what you do, you need to be good at educating people you don’t know about the value of what you do.

This can sound quite challenging, however the good news is that there are tools available to help you develop material for the customers you haven’t met/won yet.

One very useful tool with multiple applications is  the 4MAT learning styles model. I learned about it years ago in public speaking training and have used it ever since for speech writing and developing training materials as well as authoring magazine and blog articles.

Writing content that engages people can keep them on your site longer – and that will help your Search Engine Optimisation.

4MAT proposes  that different people like to learn differently, so when you’re writing for a general audience, you’re likely to get better results if you meet their needs.  It also proposes that there is a particular sequence which will make sure you collect and maintain the interest of the four different learning groups:

  1. Why? Imaginative learners need to connect what they’re hearing with prior knowledge and experience. Connect what you’re communicating with their personal meaning system.
  2. What? Analytic learners want to know the underlying theory and the authorities behind it. Give them information about the facts as experts see them.
  3. How? Pragmatic learners want to jump in – to get hands on and learn in the doing. Answer the question “How does this work (specifically)?”
  4. What Else? Dynamic learners learn by doing, and then explore what else they can do with what they’ve learned. Answer the question “What can this become?”

So far in this article, I’ve introduced you to two elements of 4MAT:

The next step is How.  Different people have different ways of writing – this is what I do:

  1. Work out the topic I’m going to write on – usually this is an article title.  These sometimes come from discussions about “if only our customers understood XXXXX then we could YYYYY”.
  2. Jot down the 4 styles in sequence – why/what/how/what else.  (I like doing this on a white board if at all possible.)
  3. Expand the headings with words about my topic.
  4. From this stage I can usually write my article or post.

The final element of 4MAT is What Else.  So in this introduction to the process, I finish with the suggestion that you use 4MAT in other places besides blog posts.  It’s useful for a range of marketing material including slide presentations, speeches, training material and video scripting.    You might explore the preferred learning styles of people you interact with. Could what you’re trying to tell them be better matched to how they learn?

So next time you have a blog post to write or a message to get across – try 4MAT-ing it.

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