Monday, January 15, 2018

4 Reasons You Should Let a Pro Write Your Profile

Have you ever been stuck with the job of writing your own bio profile for a social media page, professional directory listing, or your website's About Us section? Fun, isn't it? Although entering that text can be as simple as typing into a box, you may feel utterly boxed in when it comes to making that profile leap off the page as it should. Even so, many professionals think they have to go it alone and write up their own profiles, for better or for worse. Here are four good reasons to let a professional copywriter create that content for you instead.

1. The Wrong Impression Will Be the Last Impression


For the countless people who pull up LinkedIn Facebook, or professional directory bio pages in their search for a particular kind of professional, your profile may be their first impression of you -- and possibly the last, if you blow it. Clunky language, misspellings, grammatical errors, and other wrong notes can reduce a visitor's idea of you in a hurry, despite your impressive list of skills, clients, and  achievements. Not screwing up your profile is the first hurdle toward credibility, so don't disqualify yourself right out of the gate.

2. Your Profile Counts as Marketing Content


Some professionals are perfectly willing to invest time, money and effort into several types of marketing content -- from web pages and blog articles to print marketing copy -- without recognizing profile text as another important piece in the marketing puzzle. All your marketing content should integrate seamlessly to produce a single, congruent, compelling presentation of your brand. That can't happen if you just cobble together bits and pieces of your resume and throw them up on your social media profile page or directory listing.

3. Your Uniqueness Needs to Shine


If someone is searching for the products and services you provide, they're probably looking at more profiles than just yours. If you're in a crowded market or a super-competitive industry, it's especially easy to get lost in the shuffle -- unless your profile stops viewers in their tracks. To achieve this goal, you have to state, in no uncertain terms, exactly what sets you apart from the competition. Do you have more experience? Do you bring special skills or training to the table? Are your products or services better than the other guy's? If you're having trouble isolating or expressing that unique value proposition, a professional writer can offer some helpful outside perspective as well as the necessary eloquence.

4. You've Got Better Things to Do


Even if you have the golden combination of basic writing skills, marketing expertise, and the ability to put your unique spin on your profile -- why would you spend hours laboring away at this task when  you've got business to conduct? Some of my best clients are brilliant, articulate individuals who recognize the value of handing this work over to a trusted professional while they focus on more profitable and/or enjoyable activities. Ask yourself what your time is worth -- and then contact me. I can help you put the "pro" in your profile!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Your New Marketing Year Starts Now

You know that powerful new marketing campaign you've been wanting to unveil in 2018 -- the one that will help you turn your business's fortunes around, build upon current successes, or establish you as a new player in your industry? Well, here we are in 2018, so your magnificent marketing push starts today, in a flurry of activity to rival that New Year's Eve fireworks display that blossomed so excitingly over your community last evening. 

Right?

Or maybe, just maybe, you awoke with a kind of entrepreneurial hangover, that sinking feeling of having missed the boat. Too many other tasks ate up your schedule and demanded your attention, so that fresh start you'd intended to apply your business's marketing efforts isn't quite ready to leap out of bed, get dressed, and go attack the world.

Does this mean you've already blown it for 2018? Certainly not. If your dreams ran ahead and left your execution behind as we enter a new year, all is not lost, so don't panic. You can still assemble your creative team and produce some interim or "pilot" marketing pieces to keep your brand afloat while that bigger machine powers up. Remember, a professional copywriter or graphic designer can dream up brilliant content in a fraction of the time you'd spend at the drawing board yourself. For example, you could order a bunch of timely, topical blog articles to keep your online presence active and your audience paying attention. If you have major announcements for the coming year, what better way to get the word out than through some quick, compelling social media posts? A good copywriter can also refer you to plenty of other marketing pros to help you get moving. Ask me how I know this.

While you're buying yourself some time, however, make sure you put that time to good use by completing and implementing a real long-range plan. A strong, comprehensive 12-month marketing campaign typically involves some combination of several individual elements -- copywriting, graphic design, web development, social media, video, et cetera. Your marketing coordinator (or you, if you're in the hot seat) coordinates all of these tools to create a coherent, cohesive statement about who you are and what you do. As you're now all too aware, this stuff doesn't fall together overnight. You have research to do, strategies to implement, and several skilled professionals to corral. You can still make your marketing dreams for 2018 come true, but you'd better start right now, before January turns into February, and then March, and then April....

A new year should mean new opportunities, new dedication, and new growth for your business. Don't let this exciting moment go as flat on you as yesterday's half-consumed glass of champagne. Even if you didn't get your full-scale marketing blitz going by January 1st, you can still do something. So -- do something!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Why I Have No Idea What You're Saying

Have you ever chatted with a professional in a different line of work from yours and walked away wishing you'd brought a translator with you? You're pretty sure it was English -- at least, the little words sounded familiar. But 90 percent of it somehow managed to whoosh right over your head. Are you stupid? Do you have a hearing problem? Or have you simply been buzzed by wall-to-wall buzzwords?

We all fall into jargon from time to time. Car buffs talk about torque and fuel ratios, composers pepper their language with Italian musical phrases, electricians casually drop terms such as "resistance" and "capacitor," and physicists no doubt talk like time-traveling refugees from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It's only natural for people in the same profession to talk shop. The problem comes when the engineer or the musician or the Chief Operating Officer suddenly has to speak to a general audience. We're listening, but we just don't understand. And after a few minutes of not understanding, we're no longer listening.

The problem isn't limited to industry-specific terminology, either. I'm often asked to rewrite or edit content written by people work in a more general business field, and I still have to spend half of my project time just trying to figure out what the heck these folks are trying to say. A lot of it tends toward the nebulous, stuff about "aligning verticals and utilizing granular compartmentalization to achieve a more impactful synergy," yadda yadda yadda. Business-speak is a way for people to talk a lot without saying much. But if you're trying to sell yourself or your product/service to a mainstream audience, don't be shocked if you're rewarded by the sound of crickets chirping. 

As a first step in clearing up your verbiage, try to avoid jargon-like words that ordinary language can handle perfectly well, such as "agreeance" (agreement) and "incentivize" (spur, motivate). And watch out for whiz-bang phrases that describe something that isn't really that amazing, such as "results-oriented." (You'd never guess how many business professionals think it a huge feather in their caps to describe themselves or their company as "result-oriented." As opposed to what, "sitting-around-doing-nothing-oriented?" You actually aim to deliver results? Does that mean your competition doesn't?) "Full-service" is another phrase that doesn't really communicate anything. (Ever hear a company describe itself as "partial service?") 

Finally, don't overuse the relatively simple, easy-to-understand buzzwords just because they aren't as likely to whoosh us -- for instance, not everything has to be a "driver" for something else. (I see that one a lot too.) Get a thesaurus and give another word or two a chance. There are plenty to choose from.


If you're not sure you can veer away from industry lingo, or you can't tell how accessible your stuff is to your intended audience, get a professional copywriter or copyeditor to go over it for you. You may get a revised version that makes you exclaim, "Oh, so that's what I was saying!"

Monday, December 4, 2017

Creating Content for Influencer Marketing

If you've been involved in your organization's marketing efforts for long, you know by now that "If you build it, they will come" works better for baseball movies than it does for self-promotion or brand awareness. Creating content for your own website or social media pages is a must, but it isn't the whole story. If you want your target market to latch onto that content as quickly and as massively as possible, you need to get the attention of the movers and shakers that these people follow, listen to and obey. You can do this by aiming your content directly at those movers and shakers through a strategy called influencer marketing.


What (or Who) Is a Key Influencer?


Key influencers have been with us since as long as there have been human beings to influence, from gurus and great thinkers of the past to modern-day celebrities such as Dr. Oz and Oprah. (Yeah, we've come a long way.) As social media has blossomed on the Internet in the past decade, a new medium of influence has come into being -- and this medium has turned into a powerful soapbox for both bona-fide celebrities and for countless other individuals who have built up a great deal of authority and sway among their followings. These folks are key influencers. If they recommend a course of action, plug a product or service, or profess their love of a particular brand, their followers listen. some of them will take those recommendations to heart and become loyal customers. They may even evolve into key influencers in their own right, spreading the word about their favorite products and companies.

Wouldn't you love to have some influence over the influencers? Well, you can -- if you aim the right content in the right directions.

Putting Those Eyes on You


The first thing you have to is figure out which key influencers your perfect clientele is paying attention to, and which websites and social media channels they're frequenting. LinkedIn Groups, for instance, is a natural home base for pundits in the B2B realm, whereas Facebook might be more likely to attract the B2C crowd. (You can then drill down into into key demographics; for instance, teens seem to have a special love for Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.) Once you've identified which channels attract the lion's share of your target market, you can figure out which of those users are getting the most views and seem to have the most influence here your particular industry, products or services are concerned.

Now it's time to catch those key influencers' eyes. You might achieve this by:

  • Making endorsements or other positive statements about the key influencers in question, complete with links to their blogs, websites or social media channels
  • Contacting the key influencers and offering them an opportunity to contribute a guest article or video to your website
  • Joining relevant conversations on your key influencers' social media channels so your brand has a clear and active presence there
  • Making helpful, insightful comments on key influencers' blogs or other online articles
  • Quoting their comments in your website and social media content


Influencer marketing isn't a magic wand, and it needs to be employed with a certain amount of subtlety if you want eyes on you instead of just eye-rolling. But if you create high-quality content aimed at just the right people, and then bring that content to where those people live, you'll soon be wielding some influence of your own.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Are You Getting the Most Value From Your Marketing Content?

For the past few Novembers, the kindly folks at Healthcare.gov have sent me friendly reminders that the window for renewing my ACA health insurance policy is now open, urging me to revisit my options for coverage. If you receive these notices too, you may have seen warnings that the premium on your current policy is expected to change, or that your current coverage levels and limits may no longer line up with new circumstances. The message? Go to the marketplace, compare the available policies and providers, and shop around to see if you can do better.

This strategy always makes good sense, not just for health insurance, but also for auto insurance, mortgage rates, apartment rental rates and terms, cable packages, and any other services or programs that might vary in their relative attractiveness to you over time. It's not about whether you're getting the lowest price; it's about whether you have the right features, arranged in the right way, to do you the most good. In short, it's about value. So maybe, while you're busy comparing the relative value of various other options, you should take another look at how well your current marketing content strategies are working. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What's the marketing ROI? What clear profit has my marketing content helped to generate in terms of direct sales, qualified leads etc? What about clear but less tangible benefits such as brand awareness, reputation management, and customer retention?
  • What are my online marketing metrics telling me about response rates, bounce rates, amount of time spent on which web pages, and exactly where my target audience is dropping out of the sales funnel? Which specific chunks of content are failing to shepherd the lead generation and sales processes along?
  • Am I really saving money by writing my own marketing content, or am I tying up valuable billable time and shooting my productivity in the foot?
  • Which social media channels are delivering the greatest value for the time, effort, and content I pump into them -- and which ones are just sapping that energy for no return?
  • Which of my marketing content activities might be better off outsourced to a third-party agency or other professional, instead of occupying a sizable percentage of my key staff on a daily basis?
  • Are my marketing videos delivering their intended message with the right combination of professionalism, relevance, authority and excitement -- or am I simply throwing stuff onto YouTube in the hopes of winning the "viral lottery?"
  • Is my marketing agency working from a detailed, well-crafted long-term plan, or do we seem to be spending all our time putting out fires and reversing the previous month's missteps?


Lots of time and money spent on marketing doesn't necessarily add up to marketing success. Stop and look at the strong points and weak links in your marketing setup. Maybe it's time to switch your current plan for one that will do you more good in the coming year!

Monday, October 30, 2017

4 Marketing Content Demons That Could Be Haunting Your Halloween

Happy Halloween -- or is it? Even if you're enjoying the parties, decorations, and trick-or-treaters associated with this time of year, your marketing content may be turning your business into something more like a house of horrors. Here are four frightening turns in your marketing content that you'll want to exorcise ASAP.


1. Mummified Marketing

Hollywood has always gotten good scare value out of mummies, even though the real thing is nothing more than the preserved husk of a human being. But if your marketing content is similarly mummified, you may indeed have cause for concern. Websites, brochures, marketing videos and other marketing pieces that sport outdated content convey the impression that your business died a long time ago, or (at the very least) that it's stuck in a kind of suspended animation. Maybe it's time to sweep away the dust and create new, vital, relevant marketing that can take your brand into the future.


2. The Blog of the Undead

The Blog of the Undead is a close cousin to mummified marketing. Like a zombie, this blog is mostly dead but refuses to stay down, rising randomly in search of fresh brains (specifically, those of your audience). But just as one glance at a zombie will confirm that you're not really looking at a living being, viewing a blog with sporadic, erratic updates will paint a picture of a business that is unhealthy at best or may even have one foot in the grave. You need to post to your blog regularly if you want your brand to retain an image of glowing good health.


3. The Ghost in the Sales Funnel

Ghosts and haunted houses are an ever-popular Halloween theme. A typical haunted house story will feature a ghost that lurks in some particular corner of a house, springing out when it wants to scare interlopers away. If you think about your sales funnel as a complex structure that sends your prospects on a one-way journey to a desired outcome (calling you, signing up for a free gift etc.), then your marketing content should be acting as a beneficial force that guides the way from one landmark to another. If any of these landmarks is disfigured by content that asks for too much too early or simply fails to compel further action, then you might as well have a ghost in your marketing machine yelling "BOO" at the worst possible moment.


4. The Wrong Costume

You can't have Halloween without Halloween costumes, which enable you to transform yourself into a demon, witch, ghoul, or any other persona you wish. But is the face you're showing to your target audience the right one for the reaction you want to get? If you want to scare the daylights out of someone, you don't dress up as a happy bunny (unless, of course, you happen to know about that person's severe bunny phobia). By the same token, your brand is the face of your business, and your marketing content must support the persona that you want your brand to project. If your content's tone, style and vocabulary aren't supporting and reinforcing your image, then you might as well be topping off your devil costume with a happy bunny mask.

Take a hard, unflinching look at these marketing gremlins, and get whatever marketing content assistance you may need to help overcome them. It's a surefire path toward more treats and fewer tricks for your business this Halloween!

Monday, October 16, 2017

4 Signs That Your Blog Is Busted

You may have come to blogging for all kinds of reasons. Maybe your social media guru told you that you should be blogging, or maybe you decided to pursue blogging as a revenue stream. Maybe you just want to cement your authority as an expert in your industry. So you got the blog up and running, and now you feel like you might as well not have bothered. What are you doing wrong? Here are four possibilities to look for.

1. Your Posting Schedule Is All Over the Place

How regularly do you post your blog articles -- once a day, once a week, once a month, or whenever you feel like dealing with it? A haphazard posting schedule impairs your ability to develop a loyal readership. You have to train people to know when the newest article is likely to go up so they'll turn your attention in your direction on a regular basis. In the worst-case scenario, a neglected blog might cause your audience to give upon you altogether. Whatever schedule you set, stick to it.

2. Your Content Is All Over the Place

Even if you're posting like clockwork, your blog could still be coming across as a scattered mess of ideas, especially if every article is aimed at a different audience segment. Stop and ask yourself, "Who am I writing for? Who is my ideal reader?" Most likely, it's also your ideal customer. Focus on addressing that customer's needs, concerns and questions, and your blog will instantly come into sharper, clearer focus -- and make a more concentrated impact.

3. Your Sales Pitch Is Turning People Off

Whether you're trying to monetize your blog through affiliate links or you're simply trying to promote your own products and services, it's all too easy to accidentally turn your blog into something that feels like an infomercial. Sure, infomercials can and do work, but at the risk of conveying a sleaze factor you probably don't want associated with your brand. Many web users have already lost patience with hosted content and other sales pitches masquerading as serious content -- so if you do want to sell through your blog, be upfront about what you're doing.

4. No One Knows Your Blog Exists

Did you create your blog with an "If you build it, they will come" attitude? If you have a brilliant blog that only receives a few sporadic hits with each new post, the problem may lie with the fact that you're not promoting the thing. Sure, people searching for specific answers to their problems stumble onto helpful, compelling blog articles all the time, but you can't rely 100 percent on this passive approach to inbound marketing. Get the word out by announcing your latest magnum opus on your key social media channels, complete with links. Talk up your blog at networking events or in your other marketing endeavors. Hook up with other bloggers and share their posts with your audience; they just might return the favor.

If your blog is busted, don't write it off as a bust. See if you need to fix any of the above issues -- and then do it!