Tuesday, October 18, 2016

4 Ways to Build Trust by Building Your Marketing Content

For better or worse, the current political tides have brought the word "trust" floating upward to bob prominently on the surface of the American consciousness. But for business owners and marketers, trust is a year-round essential. You know you have to grab and then build on the trust of your target audience if you hope to succeed. You may also know that presenting the right message is a critical step toward that goal. But do you know how to make your marketing content work for you in your trust-building efforts? Let's look at four smart strategies for communicating that trustworthy image.

1. State Your Case With Case Studies

You can say "Trust me" until you're blue in the face, but nobody's going to do so until you've answered the obvious next question: "Why?" Even then, you can list all kinds of features, awards and accolades, but your prospective buyer may be more powerfully persuaded with a detailed look at how your products or services helped someone else with a similar need. This is where short case studies can do a world of good. Write up a few well-chosen paragraphs describing a past client's problem, the steps you took to solve it and the results they enjoyed as a result. Post it on your website and repeat as needed until you've got a whole "gallery" of success stories representing different industries and/or solutions.

2. Tell Them Through Testimonials

You don't always have to blow your own horn -- sometimes your satisfied clients are more than happy to sing your praises publicly. That's why you should get into the habit of asking for real, verifiable testimonials. If you've got people vouching for your quality by sharing their own delight with your work, pepper your online and off-line marketing content with it. The fact that this is one kind of content you don't have to spend time and effort composing is a nice fringe benefit.

3. Flash Your Credentials

Just as flashing a badge can get a plainclothes police officer past skeptical gatekeepers and other obstacles, displaying your professional and community credentials can help lower trust barriers. If you belong to local or national chapters of well-known associations, get permission to put their logos or banners up on your site and add them to your print marketing collateral.

4. Keep Sharing Your Expertise

The more you know about your field, and the more generously you share those insights with others who need them, the more deeply you'll reinforce your reputation as a trusted expert. Keep posting those interesting, useful blog articles. Make your voice heard on your social media channels of choice. Polish your website and print content until it shines with authority.

Trust has to be earned, and your marketing content can help you earn it. Contact me if you'd like some help taking your reputation to new heights!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Creating a Need With Your Marketing Content

Here's a pretty funny Bloomberg article about how some companies try to put a gender spin on some puzzlingly genderless products. Check out that first item, for example, the Bic Pens "For Her." I don't know what's inherently feminine about these pens,  but apparently they're scoring with their target market. Oh, and check out the "Tools for Women" toolbox (You guessed it -- a pink hammer, a pink drill, a pink level...) You'll also see "manly" products such as Slim Jim beef jerky and Just for Men hair color (which offers what appears to be the exact same product under a different name for women).

I'm not going after the gender angle here. I'm marveling at advertisers' ability to create the need for a product out of thin air, even when that product already existed. Here Jane doe's been buying pens all her life, and then suddenly she sees Pens for Her and thinks, "Finally, a product aimed at my sensibilities and style." Um, they're pens. Or the guy buys Slim Jims because the"Menergy" they provide unleashes his inner Macho Man. In these cases a niche appeal has been invented from whole cloth.

Marketing Copy Makes It Cool

Even a buzzword can be sufficient to snap up that segment of the population who melts at the sound of it. One of my favorite examples of this sort of thing is my old pair of computer headphones, the Sony MDR-V6. This model has gone unchanged for decades and has made a forever home in many a recording studio and TV production house, mainly because of its ability to reproduce fine audio detail. But I think there's another reason they caught on with home listeners as well as professionals -- namely, the sticker on each ear pad proudly proclaiming, "FOR DIGITAL." Digital what? Beats me. Digital equipment, presumably, or maybe digitally-recorded music, which was the hot new thing back in the'80s when the MDR-V6 first came out. Never mind what it means -- these are obviously extraordinary headphones and I must have them right now because they're FOR DIGITAL.

Put Creative Copywriting to Work for You

Steve Jobs famously opined that people don't know what they want until you show it to them. Henry Ford once said, "Before the automobile existed, if I'd asked what people wanted, they'd have said faster horses." So my question to you is: Do you have a product or service that might appeal to a niche audience you never considered even remotely reachable? Does your new toy have uses for the heavy equipment industry? Does your scientific tool do things that kids would love? Is there some sexy tag line or compelling copy out there that might gain you a whole new customer demographic? In other words, what's your "FOR DIGITAL" sticker? Contact me and let's talk about creating that need through the right marketing content -- creating new profits for your business as a result!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Breaking Through Burnout: How to Keep Your Marketing Content Fresh

What's your definition of the term "burnout?" For many workers, it's that sense of mindless routine that long ago replaced any genuine enthusiasm or novelty. For some longtime employees, it's counting the days until retirement so they can be freed from a career they never really wanted in the first place. In the marketing world, burnout is often associated with a kind of creative exhaustion -- the dreaded blank you draw when you know you must produce a new piece of critical content within a set timeframe for the umpteenth time.

Creative burnout can afflict not only individuals but entire departments. If you or your marketing team find it a struggle to meet your content creation deadlines these days, you may have your own case of burnout to break through. Here are some tips for re-invigorating your imagination and refreshing your marketing content.

Tune in to your competitors. 

If your eyes glaze over whenever you review your own marketing for new ideas, splash some cold water on them by checking out your direct competitors' stuff. I don't mean steal from them; I mean let their styles, sensibilities and viewpoint nudge your out of your complacency -- even if only to respond, "Oh, come on, get real! This is why we get it and they don't." Being reminded of what sets your own brand apart could set off some new creative sparks on how to communicate that uniqueness.

Practice creative repurposing. 

If you find yourselves saying, "Oh, we've said that already," stop and think about whether that's actually a problem. It's possible to repurpose content in fascinating ways simply by folding it into a new format or using it to support a new angle on the subject. Finding a new context for old content can give you a launching point for fresh perspectives or even inspire totally new concepts.

Get your audience into the act. 

Maybe you're worn out from constantly trying to second-guess what your target audience wants or needs to hear. There's a relatively simple way to remove that burden: ask them. Run interactive contests, include questions that prompt responses or conduct interviews with some of your prime clients for future blog posts. You might be gifted with some fabulous nugget of insight that can be polished into powerful new marketing content.

When in doubt, sub it out.

Sometimes there's simply more marketing content to be created than there are hours in the day or marketing professionals in the office. Don't be afraid to expand your tent as needed by engaging freelance marketing professionals to take the extra load off your schedule. That's what we're here for!

Don't let the demands of marketing content creation drag you into the doldrums of creative burnout. Try the ideas listed above and see if you don't start feeling better fast!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

3 Signs That It's Time to Update Your Website Content

Your website content is a thing of beauty, if you do say so yourself. Maybe you spent long hours polishing every turn of phrase and positioning the right keywords just so, or maybe you invested in the expertise of a professional copywriter and/or marketing agency to make sure everything was perfect. So it may seem odd to think about tearing all that wonderfulness apart and reconstructing it from scratch; even the idea of adding to it or modifying bits and pieces of it gives you pause. When, and how frequently, is it necessary to make updates to your current website content? Here are three indicators that the right time is right now.

1. Your Website Content Doesn't Reflect the Current You

Business change, brands evolve and new products and services proliferate. These are all healthy signs of growth and adaptation -- but if your web content doesn't change to encompass these new directions, you can create quite a cognitive disconnect, not only with your customers but also with the major search engines. Remember, Google rewards relevance. The more directly your content reflects exactly what you offer and the target market it's intended for, the more effectively you'll attract (and retain) the right traffic, and the higher you'll rank in those people's search results. Google also likes to see a fresh infusion of new content every so often as a sign that you're still actively building your online authority.

2. Your Numbers Are Down

Hopefully you're using some sort of analytics tool to measure and monitor your incoming web traffic over time. If your numbers have plunged recently for no obvious reason, maybe it's time to take another look at how your website content uses keywords. The keywords that drew so many eyes to your site a few years ago may have given way to other, hotter ones in your industry. You may want to evaluate your keyword strategies to see whether a shift in emphasis would be welcome. Adding fresh content that applies directly to your target market's needs, concerns and requests will naturally steer you toward a more optimized site; in fact, it's pretty hard not to address those issues without employing the very keywords they're using to search for solutions.

3. You Never Got Your Website Content Right in the First Place

If your website has never been an income generator for you, then anytime is a good time to update the content. This is especially true for organizations that hastily threw a site together back in the day and populated it with the text from their company brochure or a few basic, generic paragraphs from whichever team member could spare the time to write them. Now's the time to ask a web marketing specialist which keywords your content should focus on, how heavily those keywords should be distributed throughout the text, how much content each page ought to include and so on. This investment could pay off in a big way if it transforms your online presence from a "brochure site" into a healthy revenue stream.

Last but not least, don't forget to blog. Regular blogging (within your site's domain, of course) counts as updated content. Businesses that blog regularly get 55 percent more site visitors and 67 percent more leads than business that don't. That's a great way to update your bottom line, so contact me if you need an endless resource of relevant, engaging, top-quality content!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Generally Speaking: The Copywriting Generalist

Sometimes prospective clients will ask me if I specialize in their particular industry: "Do you have experience writing for the automated-widget industry?" Many times I can truthfully answer, "Yes." Other times I can just as truthfully say, "No, and here's why it doesn't matter."

So here's why it doesn't matter.

Most of us copywriters consider ourselves generalists -- professionals adept at the art of absorbing and understanding whatever information we need to write on the widest possible range of subject matter.

Specializing in a particular industry or subject has its points, of course, both for clients and for writers. Specialists usually require less intake on the subject from the client, eliminating much of the learning curve on the front end of the project. From the writer's perspective, a more specialized niche is easier to market to because that target market makes up a more cohesive group -- people who tend to belong to the same organizations and speak the same lingo.

As a generalist myself, I think general-subject writers have the edge in some notable ways. For one thing, the sheer cross-pollination of concepts, information and resources that we generalists sift through on a daily basis, year after year, enables us to see the broad view of how your particular industry relates to others. If you work in the "green" industry, for instance, your product or service may impact the manufacturing, real estate, health and wellness, energy, electronics and other industries. Well, guess what? I've written for all of those industries and many others, so I can see the connections between them -- which means that I can help your audience see them as well.

At the same time, the outsider's perspective counts for much. People who live and think in one field 24/7 start to assume that the rest of us know as much about it as they do, and they start speaking in buzzwords and technobabble without even realizing it. A writer who can step in as Joe Q. Public and say, "What's the bottom line on this stuff?" can see your products or services from a mainstream audience's point of view.

Of course, everyone specializes in some way or other. Even though I write on every topic under the sun, for instance, I focus on marketing pieces, or as I like to call it, "writing for short attention spans." The work I do has a specific mission -- to grab and hold someone who's ready to flit off to some other distraction, and then nail a point home quickly and engagingly enough that the reader makes a purchase or requests more information. But as a general-subject writer, I can do that for any industry, product or service. Generally speaking.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Marketing Like an Olympian

As you are no doubt aware, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games are now underway. I say "no doubt" because TV and online channels are carrying hours and hours of every event imaginable, and because the sheer wealth of stories associated with any Olympiad never fails to flood the print, TV and online news media. But when you've got the greatest athletes in the world assembled in one city competing against each other for medals, it's pretty hard not to generate excitement. Your own organization may not have the whole world's attention (at least for now), but you can still achieve greatness in your marketing by doing what the champions do. Here are some winning strategies for playing at the top of your marketing game.


Even if some of the greatest athletes are naturals at their chosen events, they still have to train hard to get to the Games. They may have to force themselves to exceed their own expectations and expand their range of capabilities, especially if they're participating in a multi-faceted field such as gymnastics, with its multitude of events. Those same athletes may find future Olympiads progressively more demanding as they get older and older while the competition seems younger and younger. Marketing poses similar challenges because it's such a dynamic field. New technologies, new tactics, new platforms, new directions -- the marketing world is continually changing. That's why it's so critical to keep up your training. Learn new programs and options, follow marketing trends and projections, and keep strengthening yourself so you don't fall behind your competitors.


All the drills and exercises in the world won't help athletes who no-show qualifying events, eat whatever they want and substitute partying for sleep. A top-quality athlete may live what we would consider a monk-like existence of rigorous discipline to ensure an efficient forward path toward success. Marketing requires discipline too. The business that fires off a haphazard blizzard of press releases with no underlying marketing plan in place isn't going to make it to the proverbial finish line. Neither is the industry expert who blogs only when it's convenient instead of following a consistent schedule. Making a marketing plan, obeying that plan's instructions, and adjusting the plan to suit changing times or directions can help your brand stay on message and in front of its target market.


When it comes to expectations of quality, an Olympian starts at the point where most of us would have long ago declared victory. Medals are won and lost on fractions of points from the judges. Records are made to be broken, not tied. The insistence on excellence fuels the Olympic athlete's jets -- and it's also the "secret sauce" in champion-level marketing. Don't settle for adequacy in your marketing content or deployment. Remember, if your marketing is as good as everybody else's, it's no better than anybody else's. Aim to stand out from the crowd through sheer quality of execution.

Whether your audience is the entire world or a specific, narrow niche of lucrative prospects and clients, you can make your organization a winner in their eyes -- with increased revenue as your "medal." So market yourself like an Olympian, and go for the gold!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The FAQ Page: Content Marketing's Neglected Gem

Many times when a client and I are discussing content creation for a new website, the client will list many of the "must haves" such as the home page, the "About Us" page and various product or service pages. At some point or other I'll ask them, "What about an FAQ page?" And they'll mumble something along the lines of "Well, maybe later, I don't know, possibly, if it turns out we need one, sometime down the road...." blah blah. The notion seems to be that the only reason to build and populate an FAQ page on a website is to straighten out hopelessly confused buyers and prospective buyers. Okay, that's a good reason -- but it's hardly the only one.

Your FAQ page isn't just an online troubleshooting guide or information kiosk; it can also serve a powerful piece of marketing content in its own right. Here are some specific actions your FAQ page can perform to help you sell.

De-Cluttering Other Pages

Countless organizations pack their websites hip-deep in details, turning critical top-level pages like the home page into dense, unreadable, uninteresting messes. That's not to say that the details don't matter -- in fact, the right detail presented at the right time can help clinch a sale. The home page just isn't the place for it, but the FAQ page frequently is. By breaking these important specific into paragraph-sized chunks preceded by fairly open-ended questions ("What other chronic ailments can this therapy treat successfully?" etc.), you can lay out these details in manner that makes them easy to spot and absorb while freeing up other pages to do their work more effectively.

Spinning Your Side of the Story

At some point or other you may need to defend your products, your services, your company or even your entire industry against negative press or rumors. Even when all is generally well, there will be instances where you need to relieve prospective buyer's concerns over particular aspects of your offerings or processes. Hence the need for FAQs such as "Why does your product cost more than competing brands?" or "Is it true that some people have had allergic reactions to this item?" Your FAQ page can double as both a natural place to address any lingering concerns and as a positive-spin zone for shooting down false accusations and getting the best possible face on genuine shortcomings.

Guiding the Reader From Pain Point to Final Pitch

An FAQ page can act just like a landing page if you arrange the questions in the right sequence. Start with general introductory questions that include pain points (a literal example would be "What is sciatica?" "What symptoms does it cause?" "How debilitating can this problem become?"). Then go into questions and answers directly related to resolving that pain ("How fast does this therapy yield results?" or "Can this technique eliminate the need for surgery?"). Finally, wrap up the FAQ with a section that compels a call to action ("Why do you recommend that I schedule my first treatment as soon as possible?" and so on).

An FAQ page can do a lot for your online content marketing, no matter how knowledgeable your target market might seem to be. Ask the questions you want to provide the answers to -- and aim those answers right at your audience's sales triggers.

Any questions?