Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Tips for Creating a More Effective Onesheet

If you've used print marketing to promote your business, you're probably familiar with the term "onesheet" (or "one sheet," one-sheet" et cetera). This simple document serves as an all-purpose leave-behind for those client meetings, networking events, and other situations in which you want to stay top of mind long after the encounter has come and gone. But you can't just hand out any old thing with your name on it and expect the calls to roll in. Like any other marketing piece, a onesheet needs to have all the essential elements in all the right places to make an impact and attract customers. So let's look at some smart tips for making your onesheet as effective as possible.

Envision Your Audience.

This rule applies to all kinds of marketing content, including onesheets. Before you write a word of content, ask yourself who you're writing that content for -- and get as specific about it as possible. Does your target market mainly consist of tired homemakers? Harried executives? New parents looking out for their kids' long-term health or finances? Try to imagine that person as vividly as you can, and then write directly to that imaginary person. You may asking, "But what if I have several different types of clients?" The answer: Create a different onesheet for each of those target audiences!

Match the Design to the Brand.

When I write onesheets for my clients, I'm working in tandem with a graphic designer -- either someone the client has already engaged, or one of my own "regulars." In many cases, the graphic designers will want me to create the text first so they can draw visual inspiration from it. But these experts also receive their design cues from your existing brand elements. Send samples of your company colors, fonts, and other key features to the designer early in the process. Make sure you have (or can construct) a high-definition image of your company logo to ensure crisp, detailed, clean-looking results.

Include Striking, Relevant Images.

Pictures always make a big, colorful, eye-catching splash as part of any good onesheet design. Yes, you can get away with stock photos of smiling people in suits shaking hands or whatever -- but honestly, everyone has seen that kind of stuff a zillion times, to the point that it doesn't make as much impact as you might think. Get a professional photographer to take pictures of your team members, workplace, equipment, and other images under optimal lighting and with optimal gear. If you typically display vivid yet simple charts or other graphics when you make pitches to prospective clients, your designer might be able to make use of those, too.

Use Each Side for a Different Message.

Of course, you can create a single-sided onesheet instead of a double-sided one. But it's not the smartest investment, in my opinion. For one thing, when you only use one side of the sheet, you're going to a lot of effort to create half a document -- when you could double the amount of information the onesheet communicates at relatively little additional cost. Even worse, the minute somebody accidentally turns that sheet upside down on a table or desk, it becomes nothing but a blank sheet of paper. So I recommend organizing your information so that each side of the sheet conveys its own important message. For example, the top side might lay out your basic sales pitch, while the reverse side might introduce you and your key team members.

Flow Toward a Call to Action.

Just as the graphic designer creates a format that leads the reader's eye in a precise pattern down the page of a onesheet, so must your written content flow toward a call to action. Both sides of your onesheet should end with a final encouragement to contact your company for more information or to make a purchase. (Some onesheets even include a tear-away coupon or other special offer for this very purpose.) It's usually smart to place your contact information in this same part of the page so your excited reader doesn't cool off while searching the document for it. You always want to make that response as easy as possible.

Follow these tips, and you'll be well on your way toward producing a powerful onesheet. Or if you'd rather just leave it all to the specialists, here's one more tip: Contact me. Not only do I have decades of experience writing onesheet content, but I can also bring top-quality graphic design talent onboard as needed. We'll provide you with a leave-behind that won't get left behind!

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

How to Write Responses to Negative Online Reviews

The other day I saw a Reddit post from an apartment dweller who wanted to know why the overwhelming majority of online apartment reviews were so viciously, blisteringly bad. I answered that most tenants who are satisfied (or at least not too disappointed) with their apartments don't bother to post reviews at all, while the few genuine rave reviews are often dismissed as something the staff cooked up. You have to get pretty enraged to want to spend the time and effort typing up a bad review. Unfortunately, negative publicity tends to spread much more rapidly than the good stuff.

Has your business gotten a bad review or two? Maybe you made a mistake that infuriated a customer, or maybe the customer got steamed up over something and unjustly decided to blame it on you. Either way, you can't let that poison pollute your social media channel or website unchallenged -- you must clean up the mess quickly, cleanly, and professionally with the right response. So let's look at a few basic rules concerning this important form of reputation management.

Don't Let Your Emotions Dictate Your Response

That initial flush of outrage may compel you to grab your keyboard and hammer out a similarly insulting reply -- the worst thing you could possibly do, since it only fans the flames higher and makes you look like a hothead. Do not stoop to the primitive tactics of the reviewer. Stop, take a few deep breaths, and compose yourself before you compose your response. Taking the high road doesn't just cool the emotional temperature, but it also makes the reviewer look like a caveman by comparison -- which can go a long way toward invalidating the review itself.

Take Responsibility

I learned this lesson second-hand many years ago, when a friend and I were dining out and the waitress kept getting his order wrong. The waitress made excuse after excuse about the kitchen being short-staffed, the waitstaff having problems, the manager being a big meanie and so on. My friend listened patiently and then said: "Yes, but why are you making these things my problem?" You may have the most valid defense in the world for whatever went wrong, but it still went wrong, didn't it? Hold yourself and your team accountable instead of publicly trying to duck responsibility.

Make Gentle Corrections

What if you didn't do anything wrong at all? What if the reviewer simply misinterpreted the situation and decided to blame you for it? You certainly don't want to apologize for an error you didn't make, especially if it leaves the false impression that you offer substandard products or services. In your response, gently point out the truth of the matter without making the reviewer out to be stupid or a liar, noting that you can understand how such a misunderstanding might occur.

Conclude Your Response the Smart Way

If you don't want your response to escalate into a war of words with an aggrieved customer, wrap it up with care. If you accept the blame for what happened, offer to make things right with a refund, a discount on a future purchase, or other such reparations. But don't end the response with an open-ended question such as, "Would you like to discuss the matter further?" This approach invites the reviewer to leave another salty reply for all to see. Instead, encourage the reviewer to contact you offline so you can iron the situation out peacefully.

When in Doubt, Outsource Your Response

Regardless of whether or not you actually fumbled the ball with an angry customer, you don't want to fumble it in your response to a bad review. If you don't trust your ability to reply with a calm, cool, positive tone, hand that task off to a professional copywriter. Business owners facing this dilemma have hired me to craft gracious, constructive responses on their behalf -- and I can do the same for you, so contact me today!

Monday, April 8, 2024

Say Again? The Value of Repetition in Your Marketing Content

"Sorry, I guess I told that story already." You might feel self-consciousness about repeating yourself in conversations, letters, and other communications. That's only natural; after all, you don't want people to think you've lost your marbles, or get tired of hearing from you, or accuse you of lacking imagination. But you don't necessarily need to apologize for repetition in marketing. On the contrary, a certain amount of it can make all the difference between success and failure in marketing your products, services, or overall brand.

Is there a wrong way to repeat yourself? Of course there is. Any competent writing teacher would run a red pencil through redundant statements and repetitive points in a student's work. Even in the world of marketing, you've probably rolled your eyes at those endless landing pages that just keep saying the same thing over and over. But I'm not endorsing repetition within a piece of marketing content; I'm talking about repeating important or compelling points from one marketing piece to another. So let's look at some situations where it actually pays to revisit the same material.

Email Drip Campaigns

If you've worked in sales at all, you know that it takes several "touches" to get a prospective buyer's attention, reinforce your brand in that person's mind, and then finally persuade that person to respond. Email drip campaigns typically take this approach while changing up the content just enough to maintain interest from one message to the next. I've written drip campaigns of anywhere from 16 to 50 emails that cycled through the same handful of services or selling points. (The same strategy holds true for direct mail campaigns, by the way.)

Why doesn't this repetition bore or annoy readers? For one thing, the emails don't get vomited out all at once -- they're sent out every couple of weeks, or every month, or on some other relaxed schedule to avoid hounding the target audience. The next few emails then cover somewhat different ground while refreshing the call to action and basic brand awareness, keeping the sender top of mind over an extended period. By the time the first message gets repeated in a slightly different way, it feels fresh while also triggering a reminder in the reader's head: "Oh yeah, they said something about this a couple months ago, didn't they?" Eventually, the right point strikes home at just the right moment to produce a response.


Your company blog serves as a combination of news center, editorial page, and sales kiosk. Here's your chance to post about different aspects of your brand and business on a regular basis, switching from one focus to another for variety's sake (and to cover all the points you want to convey over time). But once you've made all those points, you can benefit from refreshing them. Keep in mind that people stumble on blogs at random in their online searches. The individual who discovers your blog through a particular post may have never read anything from you on that particular subject -- and you can't expect that person to leaf through all your previous articles on the same subject. So the occasional fresh look at that subject  can help to capture new audience members while reinforcing the points you already made to the older ones.

Repetition can prove downright fun for readers if you make it something of an institution. For instance, I'll often write an annual Halloween, New Year's, or Christmas article that takes a light, humorous approach that relates the content to the holiday in question.


Even in an integrated marketing instrument such as a website, a certain amount of repetition can make sense -- not within individual pages, but across the site as a whole. As with blogs, you can't know for certain which page a potential customer may call up through a Google search. That person might pull up your homepage, your "About Us" page, or a product/service page. Sure, your readers might feel compelled to explore the rest of your site, but in the meantime you need to make sure that page offers some key points about who you are, what you do, and why you're the answer to their needs. You also need to make sure each page concludes with a call to action, just in case they're ready to respond right then and there.

Don't forget that your company blog page is part of your company website. Repetition of key topics inevitably means repeating keywords and key phrases. As you gradually create a critical mass of these words and phrases, your website builds a larger online footprint while gaining authenticity and relevance in the eyes of Google. This does great things for your online rankings without forcing you to build the world's largest site.

As you can see, repetition can help your marketing content instead of hurting it, but only if you go at it strategically. If you struggle to find fresh angles on the same subjects, or if you worry about repeating yourself where you shouldn't, you may benefit from the skills, insights, and creativity of a professional freelance copywriter. I know I've said it many times before, but -- contact me today!

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Smart Ways to Streamline Your Marketing Content

You have so much to say about your business! After all, you're passionate about what you do, you've been doing it a long time, and you offer such a wide range of products or services that you can hardly wrap your head around them all. Or maybe those products and services are inherently complex, unusual, or hard to explain to Joe Q. Public. So you end up practically writing a book instead of producing tight, concise marketing content that people might actually want to read and absorb. It's a natural error -- but also a potentially costly one.

Have you ever had the devil's own time trying to machete your way through thousands of words of web or print marketing content? How many minutes (or seconds) did you struggle before simply giving and moving on to a competing company's easier-to-follow material? If your own marketing writing doesn't immediately grab your audience and then ease them into the basic concepts of what you're all about, you might as well just leave that "lorem ipsum" placeholder text on your site instead of creating any content at all. At the same time, however, you've got a lot of information to get across. So let's look at some smart ways to finesse this challenge.

Use more pages or panels. Maybe that five-page website, single-sided onesheet, or trifold brochure doesn't suit the scope of your marketing message. Instead of shoehorning tons of text into a few pages or panels, consider going with a different format. Spread your content out over more web pages, or go with a booklet or media kit instead of a brochure. You may spend more money, but what's the point of investing even a penny in marketing pieces that don't generate business?

Break "mega-blogs into blog series." In my networking group, each member delivers a little 30-second spiel every week about some aspect of their business. Nobody could describe everything they do or want in 30 seconds -- so we don't even try. We're encouraged to share "LCDs," or Little Chunks of Data, during these moments. For instance, one week I might mention my blog writing ser4vice, while the next week I might talk about press release writing. Over time, we slowly educate each other on one chunk of our work after another until we end up with a comprehensive understanding. Well, this technique works for blogging as well. Take that massive topic you were about to tackle in one enormous post and break it down into a series. You'll not only have a more readable result, but you'll have several posts instead of one.

Declutter your vocabulary. All those five-dollar words in your marketing content might make you sound knowledgeable, but they add to the overall length and "weight" of the writing in a way that bog your message down. Make like Hemingway and opt for the simplest, shortest words wherever you reasonably can. Your content won't just feel shorter -- it may actually take up less room on the page or screen. You may even find the content creation process faster and easier.

If you're going to go to the time and trouble of creating marketing content for your business, you might as well do it right. Break down and simplify your content, and you'll probably reap noticeably better results from all that work. Of course, you always have the option of simply handing that work over to a seasoned freelance copywriter like Yours Truly -- so contact me, and let me make the process even simpler for you!

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!