How Op-Eds Can Make Product Visibility Catch Fire

How Op Ed's

Op-eds have received a lot of national attention recently. From an anonymous White House official sharing his (or her) opinionated observations with the New York Times, to taking a stance on Nike’s motive to use a controversial figurehead to sell shoes.

While op-eds are often used to push political agendas, they can also be used by marketers to share perspectives on new products and innovations entering the marketplace.


Today’s Op-Eds

Op-eds aren’t just for newspapers anymore, and come in different shapes and sizes.

While the term originally meant “opposite of editorial page,” nowadays, journalists and readers alike refer to op-eds as “opinion editorials,” which is a bit redundant when you look at Merriam-Webster’s definition of “editorial” as “a newspaper or magazine article that gives the opinions of the editors or publishers.”

One thing we know for sure is that the primary ingredients of op-eds consist of the author’s own opinion and perspective.

Beyond major online publications like The Washington Post and The New York Times, you now find op-eds disguised as online stories (and intertwined with non-op-eds) found on popular sites like TechCrunch, Business Insider, and Huffington Post.

While these highly opinionated articles blur the lines between factual news and the author’s opinion, editors are becoming increasingly comfortable with this notion as they’re seeing more views, shares and re-shares when something slightly controversial is published.

The Business Insider op-ed comparing iPhone XR to the iPhone XS amassed over 1.2 million views in less than five days.

Beyond industry news sites, social sharing sites like LinkedIn and Quora provide a forum to quickly share opinions with fellow readers. Sharing your opinion on these platforms can quickly give you some additional exposure and acquire more followers.

Gary Vaynerchuk uses LinkedIn’s Pulse to share his raw views on current trends, leading to more followers (and more book sales).


Example of a Product Related Op-Ed

There was a time not so long ago when news stories were focused purely on the facts, and journalists were schooled to leave their personal opinions out of their writing. But with the exponential growth of blogs and the viral nature of the internet, analysts quickly realized that articles containing hot opinions received more views, clicks and shares than their un-opinionated counterparts.  

Even Google has taken notice.

At the time of this writing, a quick search for “iPhone XS) shows the first organic result (in Top Stories) speaking to why shoppers should go with the smaller version of the smartphone when comparing it to its bigger brother, Max. 

Is this a true story or a journalist’s one-sided opinion on Apple’s latest product releases?


Why Op-Eds Matter to Marketers

Op-ed authors share their perspective on a current topic that is near and dear to their hearts. The very nature of an op-ed is to educate, argue and persuade—all at the same time. Op-ed writers are often:

  • Opinionated and take a side (no gray area)
  • Knowledgeable on the subject matter
  • Influential
  • Controversial (which happens naturally by taking a stance)

What do all these characteristics have in common?

Product marketers who care about maximizing awareness of their newest shiny widget (and convincing others to do the same) will possess every single one of these qualities.

The persuasive editorials contribute towards social validation and are influential because they often lead to a bandwagon effect, where readers begin to conform to the thoughts of those around them.

How to Write a Thought-Provoking Op-Ed to Spread Product Awareness

Op-eds are quickly becoming a timely source of product information for online consumers to encounter, and provide marketers with more opportunities to instill thought leadership.

So how does a product marketer craft the perfect, shareworthy op-ed online? Here’s a quick how-to guide that lists out considerations to take before you start typing.

  1. Plan ahead. Weeks before product launch, determine the appropriate outlet where you plan to publish your op-ed. If you plan to publish on LinkedIn, then determine the day and time when it should be published. If you’re planning to publish on a third-party website, coordinate a date with the website’s editors so that your op-ed will get published per your timeline.

  2. Don’t get too long-winded. Try to get your point across in the first three sentences. Attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter, so 200 to 300 words are ideals for op-ed blogs that can quickly be shared on LinkedIn. (Quick note: Quora only allows up to 175 characters, but still enough to express your opinions on a hot topic.) For opinionated articles, that need more meat to get your point across, target 400 to 750 words.

  3. Form your own opinion. Don’t quote other experts’ viewpoints. Let your ego step up to the mic and shine. Make the editorial about what you think. It’s okay to show product bias, but be sure to back it up with personal stories from your own experiences.

  4. Empathize with the readers and provide them with a solution. Think through what questions a reader may have about your new product or service. Provide a clear, concise answer and illustrate with your words and images containing real-world examples.  
  5. Go against the grain (but be authentic). Going against the norms or taking an angle that is not mainstream can raise eyebrows (and clicks), it’s okay to be different. Just be genuine (and a little humor can go a long way).

  6. Include imagery. For op-eds that are over 200 words, illustrate them with convincing visuals that will strengthen your argument (avoid stock photos if you can). This is especially helpful if your op-ed consists of a product comparison, a before-and-after comparison or a trend that can be visualized with charts or—better yet—infographics.

  7. Don’t be salesy. This is one of the biggest challenges for product marketers. Remember, your article can reflect your own experience and knowledge of the benefits, but be mindful that it’s not an advertisement. Comparing old vs. new or sharing your take on trends you’re observing in the marketplace are a good start, but if you write a piece that comes across as overly salesy, you’ll quickly turn off the reader.

  8. Show some street cred. Set yourself apart from the Average Joes out there and show why you have such strong opinions. Establishing credibility—whether within the content or in your byline—isn’t bragging and will pack more punch.

  9. Make the article easily shareable. Most sites nowadays have social sharing widgets, but if you’re posting this piece on your own website or a third party’s, make sure there’s a way for readers to quickly share out your op-ed.

Make Op-Eds a Part of a Healthy Marketing Diet

When planning out your content marketing calendar, make room for op-eds whenever timely events (product releases, innovations, industry-related happenings, etc.) occur.

If you’re in a time crunch, a simple blog article op-ed can still pick up some steam, but for topics or trends you feel passionate about, make the time to write a longer one that is likely to be shared over and over.

Following these op-ed tips can give your product’s content an added boost for exposure and catch on fire.

Tory Smith

Tory Smith

Tory Smith is the co-founder of Bay Leaf Digital, a full-service SaaS marketing agency that helps B2B software companies improve their online visibility and convert more shoppers into loyal customers.  

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