Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Is Your Marketing Campaign Stuck on "Groundhog Day?"

Did you hear the exciting news a couple of weeks back? The world's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, did not see his shadow when he emerged from his den this past February 2nd. According to legend, this means that we can expect an early spring instead of six more weeks of winter. The question is: Are you ready to move forward with your own marketing initiatives, or are you still hiding in your den?

Apart from old Phil himself, Groundhog Day is perhaps most fondly associated with the movie of the same name starring Bill Murray. Ever feel like you're repeating the same situation over and over again? If so, then you'll sympathize with Bill Murray's character in the movie Groundhog Day, even if you don't like him much.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow...

That's TV weatherman Phil Connor's problem -- he's just not a likable guy. He's an arrogant grump who resents his assignment to cover celebrity groundhog Punxsutawney Phil's prediction for the season. The only way his February 2nd could get any worse would be if it happened again. And then it happens again, and again, and again. He keeps having the same conversations with the same people until he's ready to kill himself. 

But then he realizes that this bizarre Groundhog Day has its upside, because he has an opportunity to become a better person -- the kind of man his beautiful news producer Rita would find ideal. He spends February 2nd after February 2nd learning to speak French, create ice sculptures, play the piano and get to know the people around him. By the time the calendar finally does start moving forward again, he's a new and better person.

One Bite at a Time

If you feel paralyzed in your attempts to grow and market your business, maybe it's because you're trying to master everything at once. A full-scale marketing campaign, for instance, can be an intimidating thing to envision, build, launch and manage. And I don't now about you, but when I see an insurmountable hurdle dead ahead, I stop in my tracks and think twice before surmounting it.

At times like these it may help to take a page from Phil Connor's playbook. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, goes the old joke. Director Harold Ramis stated that Collins relives at least 30 or 40 years of Groundhog Days to master all the new skills he displays. You can become effective at marketing your business in far less time than that, and you can do it incrementally.

Get the website done. Get your print marketing looking sharp. Learn how to use social media and sharpen your networking skills. If you screw something up, you can always fix it. But unless you do something every day to build your marketing knowledge and skills, your business will remain frozen in place, experiencing the same results over and over again. Phil Connor broke out of that loop -- and so can you.

Take full advantage of the early spring. Contact me, and let's get to work on a fresh new approach to your marketing content!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

How to Win Your Business's Marketing Super Bowl

If you keep even the teeniest part of one eye on the national marketing and advertising scene, then you know where all eyes will be turned on February 2nd. Yes, it's Super Bowl time again. The Super Bowl serves not only as a showdown between the NFL's two winningest teams, but also as a showcase for the splashiest, craziest, most arresting commercials you'll see anywhere. At the same time, you'll be looking at some the biggest one-day investments you'll ever see a brand make, with the average 30-second TV spot commanding $5 million.

If you've seen your share of Super Bowl ads, you know that some of them make clear powerful selling points, while others don't seem to have anything to do with a brand's products or services at all. How and why does this approach work, when does it not work, and how can you win your own marketing "Super Bowl" against your competitors?

Big-Time Branding


One of the main reasons that major brands advertise during the Super Bowl is, well, simply to remind us all that they're major brands. The sheer glitz, glamor and importance of a major sporting event like the Super Bowl can convey a kind of "halo effect" to advertisers. If your ad is running alongside ads for Coke or Apple, you give the impression of being on the same playing field as these commercial giants. If you are Coke or Apple and you don't run an eye-popping ad during the Super Bowl, then you're potentially sending the message that you no longer belong in that elite crowd.

When you're planning your marketing campaign, think about where your target audience is, and where your competitors advertise in their efforts to pick that audience up. Then make a point of producing a steady stream of videos, articles, online ads and direct mail -- and position those pieces in areas that keep your brand as visible and healthy-looking as possible.

Conversation Starters


When you see a puzzling, abstract, aimlessly funny or downright bizarre Super Bowl ad, your first response may be to think, "What did that have to do with anything?" Your second response may be to ask your water-cooler buddies what they thought it was all about -- or to post such questions on your favorite social media platforms. This ad hasn't generated any direct sales, but it has achieved something almost as valuable: buzz.

Such conversation starters can prove especially useful when you're trying to make a big initial splash, grow your audience to include new demographics, or reclaim a part of your audience that's dropped away due to loss of interest in your brand. True, you may not have millions of dollars to schedule an amazing Super Bowl ad (not to mention the millions more you might spend actually producing the thing). But you can certainly look for unusual opportunities to make an impression on a smaller scale. From promotional stunts and online/mail-in contests to a brilliantly innovative new website design or radio spot, you can get your target market talking about you.

But What About Selling?


Creating buzz is great, but the Super Bowl ads most likely to generate actual sales are the ones that make their points as directly and clearly as possible -- while still offering cleverness and entertainment value. If you watch this year's game, pay attention to which ads confuse you and which ones make you want to go buy something. Then think about your own marketing strategy for 2020.

You probably want to build your brand while also increasing sales revenue. If that's the case, make sure to populate your social media accounts with genuinely relevant and helpful information, from before-and-after success stories to DIY advice. Create landing pages that draw your prospects toward specific products or services. Send out regular coupons, advertise specific sales days, and spotlight particular needs and challenges that your company addresses.

You may not have a team -- or an ad -- in the Super Bowl, but if you're like most businesses, you face some pretty brutal competition every day of the year. Take the examples of Super Bowl ad campaigns to heart, apply them to your own marketing strategies, and watch yourself soar to the top of the rankings. If you need to raise your content marketing game to championship level, don't hesitate to put my freelance copywriting services to work. This is one game you definitely want to win!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

3 Tips for Writing a Better 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 or a popular social media channel such as LinkedIn, then you'd better customize that bio to produce optimal results. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Imagine Your Audience


Would you use the same approach to ask for a date that you would use to ask for a job (assuming that asking for dates isn't your job, obviously)? Business owners or representatives need to introduce themselves, not just to the public, but to their public -- the specific target audience that they aim to cultivate. Think hard about exactly who constitutes the ideal reader of this bio. What do you want that person to do -- offer you a job? Check out your products and services? Recommend you to an associate? Focus on telling that person exactly what they'll want to hear as a means of triggering that response.

2. Match the Surrounding Tone


I've been called in to rewrite employee bios that stuck out like broken teeth on the client's website. in many cases, they simply didn't match the style and tone of other previous bios, 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 vice versa), or a first-person address in a sea of third-person entries. Some bios may seem overly friendly or even childish within the larger context of the page, while others may seem dry and stiff. If your bio will be added to a general bio page, read the existing entries carefully and try to match their tone and length.

(The exception to this rule comes when you've been asked to provide a bio that will sit next to your competitors' bios on a directory page. On those occasions, by all means stand out, as long as you can do it in a way that scores points over neighboring entries instead of making you look silly.)

3. Keep It Clear and Readable


A bio is not a resume. Your goal is not to include every single detail of your professional, academic and personal life; it's to get the reader interested in who you are and what you offer. Ever looked at the author bio on a book jacket? In most cases, you get the least you need to know, just enough 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. Impress the reader, not with your vocabulary, but with the high points of your professional history, skills and experience.

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