Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Copywriting for Customer Appreciation

Now that another Thanksgiving has come and gone, you've probably had ample time to think about what you're thankful for -- and if you're in business, you're obviously thankful for your clientele. But have you actually expressed that appreciation to your customers lately? Thanking your faithful buyers  and associates not only makes them happy; it also assures them that their choices matter and encourages them to keep choosing you. Sending out the right bits of content at the right times can make all the difference in your efforts to show your appreciation in a way that yields results. Here are are a few of the forms that content might take:


Special Offers

Have your customers attained a special milestone that deserves recognition, from their very first product purchase to 10 years as a regular client? Sending out targeted thank-you emails, letters or postcards lets them know that you're thankful for their decision -- especially if those messages include a coupon, discount or other goodie they can make use of. If a local coffee house, for instance, sent me a thank-you note for my business over the past year with a "Have a free cup of coffee on us" coupon, I'd certainly do that. I might also buy a cookie, sandwich or gift certificate while I'm there.

Thank-You Letters

If you just want to express your appreciation at length in a more personal manner, send thank-you letters to your top clients. While you may not have the time to craft individualized messages to each and every client, you can still write several different variations of the letter aimed at particular industries and personnel. But consider adding the personal touch of ink of paper wherever possible. Hand-signed letters make a deeper emotional impression on recipients, while hand-addressed letters are more likely to be noticed and opened promptly.


Testimonials

If you want to thank a vendor partner for their top-class service and assistance, write a ringing testimonial that can be posted on Yelp, LinkedIn, Twitter or included in that vendor partner's own marketing materials. A polished, eloquent testimonial that tells a compelling success story not only makes your colleague look like a million bucks; it also reflects positively on your own willingness to show your appreciation with such care and passion. If your own team is pressed for time, hire a professional copywriter to help you craft this piece into a brilliant promotional statement. Your vendor partner will feel a natural desire to reciprocate, so don't be surprised if you receive a glowing testimonial for your business in return!

Show your appreciation for your customers and associates, and they'll show their appreciation by sticking with you for many profitable years to come. If you're feeling thankful now, just wait till you see how much more you'll have to be thankful for in the future!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

4 Misconceptions About Marketing Content Creation

The quality, quantity and frequency of your marketing content creation can make all the difference in your organization's growth and success -- but it isn't always easy to know whether you're going about it the right way, especially when there are so many opportunities to mislead yourself. Here are 4 common misconceptions about marketing content creation you'll want to sidestep.

1. Your content should be about you. 


I sometimes see what I call "This Little Piggy Marketing," so named because it goes "We We We" all the way home. While it's important to provide a unique and compelling description of your organization's, history, mission and solutions, nobody's going to buy from a company that only talks about itself. The bulk of your marketing content shouldn't be about you; it should be about your audience -- the person perusing your content right this minute in search of a specific answer to a burning need.

2. Longer is better.


You may encounter so-called rules about how long a landing page or blog article should be, with longer typically portrayed as automatically being better. Take these with a few cellars of salt. Don't assume that because a web page or blog article is twice as long, it's automatically twice as good. Compact, meaningful verbiage usually carries more of a punch and makes a more memorable impression. It's true that the bigger an investment you're asking for, the more depth, detail and persuasive arguments you need to provide. But as a general rule, write only until you've made your point. Then stop.

3. SEO is everything.


I've addressed this point before, but it's all too easy to fall into the habit of writing "for SEO purposes." Yes, search engine optimization is important, and yes, regular, relevant content can help you boost yours. But keep in mind that SEO can only put your audience in front of your products and services; it can't inspire them to buy. The real power of your marketing content lies in its ability to hit your prospects and clients where they live once you've gotten their initial attention. As critical as it is to get visitors through the door, it's even more critical to convert those visitors into customers. 

4. Once you've created "enough content," you're done. 


Unfortunately, the tale told by your marketing must be a never-ending one, for the simple reason that your clientele, the business world and your own offerings are constantly changing. If you create a big pile of content and then simply stop generating more, that pile will eventually grow stale, no matter how brilliant it may be. To make matters worse, your clients may get the impression that your business has gone similarly stagnant. You must keep re-engaging your audience with fresh, relevant content that holds their attention and inspires new purchases.

Steer clear of these misconceptions, and you'll find it much easier to keep your marketing ROI on course toward your goals. Do it right -- and watch it work!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Content Marketing Revision: How to Get the Rewrite Right

H.G. Wells has been attributed with the following quote: "No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft." I don't know whether Mr. Wells was speaking from some hard-earned personal bitterness (if in fact he really said this at all), but few writers can completely avoid an occasional goring with a red pen. I've been relatively lucky in that I don't usually get a lot of rewrite requests. That isn't necessarily bragging -- for all I know, the clients have rewritten my work themselves without mentioning it to me. In any case, I've found that there are certain things that both writers and their clients can do to help make the revision process less painful:

Writers: Ask questions, no matter how dumb they may seem. You may be the writing expert, but your clients are the ones with all the industry knowledge and inside data necessary for your project. Get clear on the basics and fill in the informational gaps as needed by asking questions. A quick email or phone call can prevent some major misunderstandings, not only on details but on the overall direction of the entire job.

Clients: Collect your notes -- all of them. You may be tempted to shoot some revisions requests to your writer the moment you receive the draft. But if you do, be prepared to fire off another email, and another after that. And then there's your marketing person, and your CEO, and whoever else may care to pile on with suggestions. Nothing confuses a writer worse than dozens of emails, each with different and possibly conflicting rewrite requests. Make sure you have collected everyone's comments and parsed them for consistency before sending that ONE email to your writer.

Both parties: Be prepared and responsive. For writers, that means listening closely and making detailed notes right from the initial consultation. Before launching into the first draft, go over the job with your client to make absolutely sure you're both on the same page. For clients, it means answering the writer's questions and providing additional information in a timely manner. Work together to make that first draft as compelling and accurate as possible, and you may not need to go to a second draft at all.

H.G. Wells would approve.

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!