Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Boosting Your Business's Metabolism

In case you haven't noticed, we're experiencing a sort of national deep-freeze this winter (and unless you're reading this from Southern Florida, you most definitely have noticed). Many areas are struggling to get out of the negative digits, and we're not done with meteorological winter yet. So what are your options as far as keeping warming and staying alive and all that good stuff? Well, there are are two basic strategies: raising your external temperature, or raising your internal temperature.

If you're not willing to wait for your town to thaw itself out naturally (and you can't move to the aforementioned Southern Florida), then raising the external temperature will involve turning up your thermostat, switching a space heater on, or getting a fire going in the fireplace. But heating yourself is usually more cost-effective than heating an entire room or house. Wrapping up in warm clothing is a smart way to keep your body warmth next to you -- but you can also increase the level of warmth by raising your metabolism. This can be done in a variety of ways, including eating calorie-dense foods, performing aerobic exercise, and consuming spices such as ginger and cayenne pepper. Heat yourself up, and you're less dependent on the kindness of a chilly world.

With all that in mind, then, ask yourself: Has your business "gone cold" lately? Has a certain product, service, or even your entire brand cooled off in response to economic seasons, or as a result of sluggish marketing and development? If so, rest assured that you don't have to sit there and freeze to death. Sure, if you have deep enough pockets you might be able to weather your economic environment until circumstances change, but don't count on your competitors hibernating alongside you. Anyway, burning through your emergency resources is like throwing money on a fire to enjoy some temporary warmth.

I suggest a much more active and efficient strategy. Make your business a hotter property by fueling it with new, fresh, stronger marketing. Create content that generates a sizzle and raises the pulse rates of your customer base. Radiate your marketing outward by posting it on a variety of social media outlets. Spark new enthusiasm within the company by launching new marketing initiatives, refreshing the brand, and inviting your staff to jump on the excitement train. If it's a cold world out there, then take the necessary steps to heat things up and thaw things out yourself. Marketing content can be a powerful catalyst, so fuel up on it and get things cooking. You'll probably be rewarded with a healthy flow of that other essential fuel source -- revenue!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Writing for Your (Unintended) Audience

Not too long ago I met with a representative from a non-profit educational technology organization. This group had been blogging on their own for some time, and they'd finally decided that they would be better off outsourcing that laborious, imagination-sapping task. The representative noted that the articles seemed "dull," overly dry and technical in language and tone. After looking at some the previous posts, I had to agree.

But that led to the next obvious question: Who was the intended audience? His answer: "Well, primarily we want to reach out to IT managers and administrators at school districts. But we also get some teachers and non-technical people who read the blog too." 

That second group the rep was describing is what I call the secondary or "unintended" audience. They're good to have on board. They could help talk up your products or services. They may even be the ones who end up using and benefiting from those products or services most directly. They just don't happen to be the specific population will place the order. The problem is that this group doesn't know the technobabble or business buzzwords that your core audience bats around so effortlessly. So what do you do? Do you "dumb down" your content and risk turning off your target demographic, or do you continue using inside lingo that informs the intellect without grabbing the guts?

Fortunately, it's not really an either-or question. A skilled copywriter can present extremely sophisticated processes and concepts as clear, simple, engaging text. This opens up a blog or website to a broader potential readership, allowing it to attract many potentially valuable individuals the owners might never have thought to cater to. This approach doesn't alienate the industry insiders, either; it simply addresses the topics that matter to this audience in a more entertaining and readable way. Who wouldn't appreciate that? 

This approach is especially important if your prime directive is to create new customers, encourage repeat business, recruit supporters -- you know, persuade. (And that's pretty much everyone, if you think about it.) Are you worried about the accessibility of your written content, but you aren't sure how to fix it without robbing it of its depth. Then put that project in the hands of someone who knows how to translate it into powerful, meaningful words for a larger chunk of the World Wide Web.

Have I made myself clear?