Tuesday, February 27, 2024

3 Underrated Topics That Can Enhance and Empower Your Blog

Here we go again, encountering that most dreaded of nemeses: the blank screen. If you maintain a blog, you probably face this recurring battle about as enthusiastically as your next root canal appointment. We bloggers are always on the hunt for varied, entertaining, valuable subject matter we can share with our target audiences. But it can be all too easy to fall into a rut where you rehash the same handful of topics over and over, boring both yourself and your readers in the process. Additionally, it's just plain hard to find a hundred ways to spin the same article. Maybe it's time to start thinking out of the box by tapping some other kinds of blog posts -- posts that mix things up while still offering genuine interest and marketing value. Take a look at three powerful contenders that business owners often underrate or neglect.

Underrated Topic #1: The Employee Spotlight

Many company blogs spend most or all of their time addressing customer questions, needs, and concerns -- rightly so, since Google searches on these topics can lead directly to helpful blog posts on these subjects. You definitely want to keep creating a steady stream of such posts, but you should also take a little time to remind your audience of just how well-equipped your team is to tackle those challenges. So why not post a "Team Member of the Month" or "Meet Our Newest Team Member" article every once in a while? Introduce one of your specialists and mention that person's position, functions, background, credentials, industry experience, hobbies, et cetera. It's an easy write; after all, you've got their resumes on file, and you can email a simple questionnaire to get any other details that would enliven the article. Plus it helps your customers feel that they know you.

Underrated Topic #2: The Industry Update

You might be thinking, "Oh, none of my customers care about the ups and down of my industry." Think again! Changes in techniques, strategies, economic factors, cultural preferences, and other dynamics have a direct impact on your business -- which in turn can have a direct impact on how you serve your target market. This means that you can, how has the evolving EV market affected what kinds of cars people are buying? If you're in the electronics industry, what do your customers need to understand about the impact of supply-chain disruptions? It might feel like you're trading marketing for journalism, but you can spin these facts and figures back to the bottom line: why you're the knowledgeable expert your customers should continue to trust.

Underrated Topic #3: The Hearty Laugh

Enough of the serious stuff -- sometimes people just want and need a lighthearted break in their day. Believe it or not, you can make a big impact just by giving your target audience a laugh or two. Now, unless you're in the comedy business, you obviously don't want to devote your blog to nothing but yucks. However, an occasional humor-oriented piece does no harm, and it may in fact do your brand a world of good. You're not just a company; you're a team of witty, charming humans worth listening to, laughing with, and ultimately buying from. I throw out the odd "comedy" piece from time to time, such as my annual October post in which I relate common marketing challenges to Halloween horrors. It's fun for my audience, it's fun for me, and it still lets me address genuine marketing issues.

Give these three kinds of blog topics a try. I think you and your readers will appreciate the fresh dose of variety and vitality that results. I'm always happy to help you dream up and write these articles, so don't hesitate to reach out!

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Best Practices for Assembling Your Own Marketing Team

Are you ready to put together a regular marketing team to promote your brand? Maybe you're launching a new business from scratch, or maybe you'd rather have your own go-to gang than rely on(and pay for) a big-time marketing agency. Whatever your reasons for assembling your own crew, you'll want to go about it as efficiently, effectively, and painlessly as possible. So here are some tips and considerations worth keeping in mind as you proceed.

Outsource that talent. Sure, it's great to have the "always-on" available and consistency that you can get from an in-house marketing department. But with those advantages come the disadvantages of having to offer insurance, paid vacation, and other benefits employees expect in today's workplace. Outsourcing different marketing tasks to freelancers with the necessary skill and experience in their assigned areas can yield the same high-quality results as long as everyone communicates well. (More on that in a bit.) It also lets you pay for services on an as-needed basis instead of having to dole out full salaries to people who might spend the quieter days twiddling their thumbs.

Make sure each team member fits. The most brilliant portfolio or resume in the world can't tell you everything you need to know about a prospective marketing team member. How reliably do they produce a high standard of work? How consistently do they meet deadlines? How favorably do previous clients or employees rank the experience of working with that individual? Ask for referrals and testimonials, interview candidates personally to determine whether you can deal with them comfortably on a regular basis, and ask other marketing team members to recommend some of their favorite past colleagues.

Engage multiple pros for each function. I once had a client who depended desperately on my availability any and every time he needed copywriting. I had to urge him to get acquainted with at least one other copywriter, and preferably a small bullpen of copywriters, in case I got run over by a steamroller or something. Don't put all your creative eggs in one basket -- have two or more writers, designers, and other marketing specialists in your contact list at all times. You'll not only ensure a steady stream of marketing content production, but you'll have the option of cherry-picking the best mix of individuals for this or that project.

Make the hierarchy clear and simple. The last thing you want to deal with in a complex marketing campaign is a confused mish-mash of ideas and execution from a bunch of individuals who are each following the beat of a different drum. Hire a full-time marketing coordinator who can serve as a point person for the entire team. Have this person create a clear long-term marketing strategy, complete with a detailed editorial calendar. Your marketing coordinator can then consolidate all communications, drafts, notes, and revisions from all hands via a collaborative work platform such as Basecamp or Asana.

Best of luck in assembling your marketing team -- and remember, if you're looking for a freelance marketing copywriter, I'm just a click away!

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

A Professional's Tips for a Better Professional Bio

Who are you? That may seem like a simple question, but think about it. Most of us present different personae in different situations or to different people. So if you're posting a professional bio to your website, a professional directory, or a popular social media platform such as LinkedIn, you'd better customize the way you present yourself for optimal results. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Imagine your audience. Would you use the same approach to ask for a date that you would to ask for a job? (I'm assuming that asking for dates isn't your job, of course.) Business owners or representatives need to introduce themselves, not to the general public, but to their public, the specific target audience they aim to cultivate. Think hard about the ideal reader of your bio blurb. What do you want that reader to do? Offer you a job? Check out your products or services? Recommend you to an associate? Focus on telling that person exactly what they'll want to hear so you can get the desired response.

Match the bio to its surroundings. I've been called in to rewrite employee bios that stuck out like broken teeth on the client's website because they simply didn't match the style and tone of other bios on the same page (or of the site in general). There's always one guy who insists on providing 500 words when everyone else has made do with 100 or less (or vice versa), or whose bio uses first-person address in a sea of surrounding third-person entries. Some bios may seem overly friendly in contrast to the rest of the page, while others may seem relatively dry and stiff. If your bio will be added to a general bio page, read the existing entries carefully and try to match their characteristics. The exception to this rule occurs when your bio will sit alongside those of your competitors on a directory page. On those occasions you definitely want to stand out as much as possible, as long as you stand out in a good way!)

Keep things clear and readable. A bio isn't a resume. Your goal is not to include every single detail of your professional/academic/personal life; it's to get the reader interested in who you are and what you offer, period. Ever looked at the author bio on a book jacket? In most cases, you get the least you need to know to make you think, "Wow, this author has some impressive credentials. I think I'll give this book a shot." Feel free to write a long draft, but be willing to go back and cut (and cut, and cut). As for word choices, go for clarity above all else. Impress the reader, not with the size of your vocabulary, but with the high points of your skills and experience.

Good luck telling your story -- and if you need any professional help, just let me know!

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Is It Time to Change How You Market Yourself?

We can all relate to the old saying, "Times change." Of course, anyone who's ever heard of Einstein can tell you that time itself is a relative thing that runs faster or slower for us depending how fast we're moving through space, et cetera. But what really matters in the marketing world is how we change. Our businesses, our brands. and our audiences evolve and remodel themselves constantly in response to other changes, from economic pressures to new technologies. And as these changes come about, you have to adjust your marketing approach accordingly. Let's look at some of the reasons you may need to change how you market yourself and what forms those changes might take.

New Offerings

Did your business pivot in a different direction at some point in 2023, or is it poised to make that pivot now? Did you retire some products and services while introducing others? Did your industry undergo a major shift that compelled you to shift along with it? I know that many of us professional writers had to figure out our relationship with AI, for instance. In my case, I actually added an "AI-generated content repair" service because so many clients were sending me bland, generic, awkward content and asking if I could energize and personalize it for them -- and of course that meant creating a new page on my website to promote the new service. Make sure your current marketing content still relates to what you actually do before you wade any farther into 2024.

New Channels

I recently asked a guy I know in the home services field about any changes to his marketing strategy for the new year. He mentioned that his company was taking a break from terrestrial radio. After many years of running radio spots on the same station, they felt that they'd kind of hit a wall, so he's now shifting his company's strategies more toward digital marketing. He'll find no shortage of fresh fields there, and as long as he chooses online channels and pursues them diligently, I'm sure his business will get a welcome boost. What social media platforms and other media channels do you currently use -- and how are they working out for you? Maybe you need to review the ROI of each channel you maintain, with an eye toward switching channels as needed. Or maybe you need to fill those channels with different content more likely to attract each channel's key demographics. New topics or a new tone could mean new profits.

New Audiences

Your brand identity and messaging worked great on your established target audience for X number of years, so why does it seem so ineffective now? Like I said, times change -- and so do people's needs, roles, challenges, and expectations. Sure, you can keep marketing to the same folks as always -- but those folks are getting older. So you may need to alter your brand to appeal to that older demographic, or you may want to freshen your brand so it can appeal to a whole new generation of buyers. You've seen countless brands reinvent themselves over the years by adopting flashy new slogans, aiming their ads at a different crowd, or redesigning their facilities to bring them up to date with the latest trends. Maybe you need to start putting out new, different marketing content to capture a contemporary audience or seize new sales opportunities.

Successful organizations separate themselves from the also-rans by adopting new strategies and tactics i. an ever-changing world. As we move forward through this new year, ask yourself whether your marketing content still serves your image, your solutions, and your audience. A freelance marketing copywriter can help you re-craft your content to accommodate the changing times. Contact me today so you can get a head start on creating a brighter tomorrow for your business!

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Want Better Results From Your Marketing Content? Personalize It!

Okay, folks, here we are in a brand-new year! You may have all kinds of dreams and goals for your business in 2024, while your customers probably have their own to-do lists to take care of, both at home and in the workplace. So how do you and your audience connect more powerfully (and profitably) than ever? A lot of your success will depend on what sorts of marketing content you create, what techniques you use to make it as relevant as possible, and how you target that message to your ideal demographic. Take the following tips to heart as you start churning out those blog posts, email articles, direct mail pieces, and other critical marketing messages.

Drop the Shotgun

I got an email just this morning from a marketing company I'd never heard of or communicated with. Normally, I'm more than happy to hear from marketing agencies, web developers and so on because we can share insights and collaborate on projects. In this case, however, I ended up unsubscribing and dumping the email in the trash almost immediately. What did this marketer do wrong? They sent me a general message that basically said, "Since it's a new year, I'm going to start sending you a series of emails on how to make the most of your social media in 2024." Um, thanks, but who asked you to? When did I ever indicate that I wanted or needed this "free" help? Do you even know who I am? Come to think of it, who are you?

You can see why this approach flopped with me. The marketer was obviously shooting out cold email blasts at anyone and everyone associated with the keyword "marketing." If you take this kind of shotgun approach, don't be too surprised when your emails wind up in the circular file as well. We've all got too much junk mail in our everyday lives as it is. Instead, target your previous contacts and current clients, sending them personalized messages that ask for their input, include an exciting offer, or request a fresh meeting to get up to date on their needs. When writing emails aimed at future prospects, keep it short and sweet, focusing on a basic introduction to what you do and inviting them to inquire further. 

Communicate Like Your Target Audience

Once you've found your target audience, either on your own or with the help of a skilled marketing strategist, you're ready to start aiming specific messages at them. But where do they hang out? Which social media channels do your customers prefer to frequent? Do they shop local, or are they more likely  to place orders online? Do they belong to a demographic that prefers snail mail to email? These and other pointed questions can help you figure out where you should place that marketing content and how often your audience might need to see it.

How does your target audience communicate? If your content adopts the wrong style or speaks on a different educational level than your target market, you'll just turn off those prospective buyers. You must also ask yourself what tone your audience most wants to hear in relation to your products or services. Do they want something from you that makes them feel warm and fuzzy, or do they want to feel impressed by the power of your professionalism? Whatever tone they're expecting, don't disappoint them.

Show That You Understand

As you may already know, I'm a big fan of the empathy statement as an effective way to open a marketing message. Your readers/viewers want to know that you feel their pain and can provide the remedy for it. But don't fall into the trap of making big blanket statements like, "We understand your frustration when it comes to bugs (or house cleaning, or lost sales, or whatever)." Instead, throw out specific examples that will hit various targets dead center: "You can't invite your loved ones over for the holidays with cockroaches running rampant." "You work hard all day, only to come home to a messy house. Don't you wish that mess could just disappear?" "You sell the world's greatest (whatever their industry sells), so why is your competition beating you?"

Empathy works on both emotional and practical levels. Your customers want to seek answers from someone who cares and understands. At the same time, they want to know that you've anticipated their challenges well enough to come up with the ideal solutions. This is your chance to be a hero -- so make sure your marketing content sends that message loud and clear.

Send the Right Message at the Right Time

One of the most useful aspects of email campaigns is their ability to address recipients' reactions (or lack thereof). I once got hired to redo an email campaign for a business broker who was getting lackluster results after the initial message. That first email did a great job of exciting people about the idea of buying a business, with positive requests for more information pouring in. But then the broker sent a second email with a mountain of business documentation attached -- which promptly turned the interaction cold as a carp. I helped to resolve this breakdown, and others, by writing a series of emails that swatted away each and every possible rebuttal a buyer might have. For instance, I started with a piece that basically said, "Don't be intimidated by that paperwork we sent you last time -- it's just part of the process, and we're happy to guide you through it every step of the way."

Another tip: Take care not to put the cart in front of the horse when writing a series of marketing emails. Start as I mentioned above, with a brief introduction and an offer to discuss the matter further. As you send additional cold emails, acknowledge that the prospect is a busy person and you don't mean to bother them. Save the detailed sales pitches, product descriptions, and case studies for your pile of warm emails. Once your prospects respond to a cold email, move them to the warm pile and start feeding them the information they now clearly welcome.

Do you need help creating more personalized marketing content that individuals will respond to with, "Wow, how did these guys know exactly what I need?" Well, that's what an experienced freelance marketing copywriter is for -- so contact me today, and let's start hitting your customers where they live!

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

4 Quick, Easy Ways to Improve Your Marketing Content Writing

I totally understand why many business owners hate writing their own marketing content. You spend hours bashing away at a web page, blog entry, or sales letter only to get a disappointing reaction from your target audience -- time and effort you could've spent on other crucial areas of your business. But many folks shoot themselves in the foot by committing small acts of self-sabotage without realizing it. The difference between so-so content and good content, or between good content and great content, can hinge on some tiny, subtle choices. Take a look at some little changes you can make that will vastly improve your marketing content's effectiveness.

Switch From Passive to Active Voice

Some people fall back on passive voice in an effort, I think, to sound more formal and elegant. Passive voice does indeed create a distancing effect -- but you don't usually want that when you need to make an emotional impact. Compare the statement "Gourmet cookies and cakes will be served at the event" to "You'll enjoy gourmet cookies and cakes at the event." I've shifted the subject from the cookies and cakes to the reader, where it belongs, while replacing the lame verb phrase "will be served" with "You'll enjoy." You can use passive voice once in a while for variety's sake, but don't let it suck all the vitality out of your writing. If you see multiple passive phrases in your text, look for ways to make some of them active.

Use "You" Instead of "We"

I've covered this problem before, especially in relation to "About Us" web pages. You're proud of your business and your brand, and of course your audience wants to hear you talk about your features and benefits. But ask yourself how many times you see the word "we" in your content. If you're going "we we we all the way home" like the Three Little Pigs, you can turn your audience off unintentionally. Readers don't want a lengthy list of what you do, they want to know how they benefit from what you do. So instead of constantly saying things like, "We offer x, y, and z services," look for ways to say "Here's how you'll benefit from our x, y, and z services."

Compress Your Phrases

Just as people sometimes use passive voice to make their content sound more "important," they also stuff extra words into their phrases to round out and complicate them. Don't do this. Extra words bloat a phrase while diluting its punching power. Consider one of the most common offenders, "in order to." Why not just say "to?" The more compact your phrases, the more power they contain. Go through your drafts with a red pen (or its digital equivalent) and look for words that can go.

Keep the Structure Simple

Wouldn't you love to make your marketing content both easier to follow and easier to create? You can achieve both goals at one stroke by simplifying your content's structure. Start by deciding on that structure before you start writing. The most straightforward structure in most marketing content involves an initial pain statement ("Don't you hate this problem?") followed by a solution statement (Well, here's how we come to your rescue!") and finishing with a call to action ("Contact us today!"). You can start writing at the beginning, middle or end without wandering down a rabbit hole because you already have your road map for the entire journey. Better yet, your audience will appreciate the clarity and flow of the final result!

These tips should make marketing content creation less strenuous while boosting the power of the content itself. But if you'd like even more surefire results without investing any effort at all, reach out to me for professional copywriting help. How's that for a quick and easy solution?

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

How to Leverage the Holidays in Your Marketing Efforts

As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, many of us are bracing ourselves for the combination of madness and magic known as the holiday season. In my quarter-century as a business owner and operator, I've seen some companies do gangbuster business over the holidays while others seem to disappear completely until early next year, like Punxatawney Phil contemplating his next move. If you want your brand to stay visible and your profits to keep rolling in through the end of 2023, you can't afford to hibernate. Fortunately, some smart marketing content strategies can help you end the year in style while preparing you for a more lucrative 2024. Take a look at some ways you can leverage the holidays in your marketing efforts.

Evoke the Holiday Spirit

This one sounds like low-hanging fruit -- but what's wrong with low-hanging fruit? People typically find themselves in a special mood once the holiday season arrives. Their thoughts drift to childhood experiences, previous family get-togethers, and some of their favorite holiday sights and sounds. They think about what they can do to make others' holidays brighter by giving the perfect present or making a much-appreciated donation. In short, emotions run high -- and as a marketer, you want to use those emotions to maximum effect.

What kinds of messaging would make a big impact on you personally this holiday season? Obviously you're not your target market, but ponder the question anyway. If you associate the holidays with warmth, peace, and joy (as so many do), how can you style your marketing content to tug on those heartstrings? Consider what kinds of statements you make right now that will trigger a deep emotional response in your audience -- and then make those statements.

Offer Relief From Holiday Stress

The holiday season often brings as much pain and agony as it does happiness, especially where seasonal stress is concerned. From the collective nightmare of Black Friday to the pressures of hosting houseguests, shopping for presents, sending cards, and hanging decorations, you could easily be forgiven the extra egg nog or three. Well, we're all in the same boat -- which makes us an especially easy target for the right marketing content.

What thorns do you take out of your customers' paws? If your products or services make people's lives easier, there's no better time to trumpet those benefits than right now, when everyone could use whatever stress relief they can get their hands on. Offer your audience solutions that lead to easier holiday preparations, more successful gatherings, or more of that precious relaxation time. In other words, market your company as a stress-busting Santa!

Get People Thinking About Next Year

As we turn to the last page in the calendar, many folks take up Charlie Brown's immortal catchphrase, "Just wait till next year!" However well or badly 2023 went for them, they want to make 2024 a better experience personally and/or professionally. Some of them will go so far as to make New Year's resolutions to that effect. Do your products or services align with their goals and aspirations? Of course they do, in one way or another -- so start getting them excited about next year before that calendar gets replaced.

B2B companies may find this strategy particularly successful as one business year officially ends and another begins. Books must be balanced, taxes prepared, new marketing campaigns launched, new products and services introduced -- the list goes on and on. But no intelligent, experienced business owner will wait until January to start putting those pieces into play -- they need to take action now. And that means you must do the same by offering them a brighter New Year. Play that angle, and your fortunes should grow correspondingly brighter.

Believe it or not, you still have time to create the marketing content necessary to make full use of these seasonal strategies. Freelance copywriters work all year round, so contact me today and let's add some rocket fuel to your reindeer team!