Sunday, March 28, 2021

3 Tips for 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, of course)? Business owners or representatives need to introduce themselves, not just to the public, but to their public -- that specific target audience they aim to cultivate. Think hard about exactly who constitutes the ideal reader of this bio. What do you want them 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 so you can get 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 because 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 to 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!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

3 Ways to Make Your Marketing Content More Digestible

Does your written marketing content go down smoothly and easily, or does it give your target audience a case of literary heartburn? Even the most graceful language and helpful wealth of detail can prove too much for today's time-pressed consumers and business clients to handle. We're all in a hurry, and at the same time we're all overwhelmed with the sheer amount of marketing content we encounter every day. So how can you get your audience's attention without trying their patience? For a start, try these three strategies.

1. Break Up That Wall of Text

The infamous wall of text has turned countless web pages, blog articles, and other marketing pieces into an impossible obstacle for the very people that they're meant to affect. How many times have you pulled up a website or social media post only to balk at the massive amount of information on display? Did you keep reading, or did you click over to some other, less demanding offering from someone else?

Create digestible chunks, not mountains of words. Look for logical opportunities to break up your content into short paragraphs. Use bulleted or numbered lists if it makes sense to do so. Think twice before adding tons of supporting data and details. Add some breathing room in the form of surrounding white space. These changes will help your readers scan the content more quickly and easily -- instead of scaring them away from the outset.

2. Make Smart Use of Microcontent

Potential customers who have only a few seconds to scan websites or social media sites need more than just easy-to-read content. They also benefit from tiny chunks of content that make their point even when viewed out of context. Welcome to the world of microcontent. These pieces of information serve as essential guideposts and teasers that compel further attention.

Typical examples of microcontent include titles, headers, and summaries. A gripping title that clearly lays out the subject matter to follow will hook your readers from the beginning, while sensible headers help them fast-forward to the sections that interest them the most. A juicy summary sentence describing what's to come helps readers decide whether to read further.

If you really want to make your microcontent work across your entire marketing campaign, stack those chunks of digestible data. Create a chunk on one platform that links or points to another, related chunk on another platform. Now you're telling your story one easily-managed piece at a time while leading your readers on a guided tour of your various marketing channels.

3. Simplify Your Vocabulary and Structure 

A huge vocabulary and elaborate way with sentence structure might impress people, but don't expect it to sell your products or services. When in doubt, cut it out. Express yourself in simple terms that make for fast, easy reading. Craft sentences with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Don't send your readers into the weeds searching for the point of what you were trying to say -- unless you want to lose them for good.

Make sure that your marketing content also provides clear directions and instructions for your readers. If you want them to click a particular link, email you, subscribe to your channel, or perform some other key action -- then say so. A clearer path keeps readers from getting lost halfway through the journey.

Do you have trouble creating those potent little bite-sized morsels of marketing content? Contact me, and let's rework your marketing feast into a lean-and-mean appetizer platter!


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

More Than One Target Market? Create Marketing Content for Each of Them

A typical conversation about marketing strategies and implementation usually includes some discussion about a business's target market. We all spend tons of time thinking about this preferred customer base -- narrowing it down to this or that ideal buyer persona, fine-tuning our products and services for that buyer persona's projected needs, and creating marketing content aimed at tickling that buyer persona's fancy. All pretty straightforward so far -- but what if you have more than one target market to appease?

I've had plenty of writing clients who faced that question. For instance, one of my regular clients provides IT services for markets in several major cities across the U.S., each of which has its own set of technology and industrial challenges to be met. Recently I began writing articles for a promotional products franchise that has two distinct audiences: business owners who might need the products themselves, and franchisees who need to market their own promotional businesses in a more unified and effective way. The article topics that might appeal to one group aren't so likely to appeal to the other.

Can you see where this is going?

If you need to make a marketing impact on more than one target market, you need to think about how to aim the right kind of content at each of those markets. For many businesses, the answer lies in a multi-track approach. One of my real estate clients offers a prime example. Her website's home page directs her two different target audiences (career real estate investors versus ordinary folks who just need to manage a rented property) down two separate tracks. Depending on their needs, her potential customers click on one option or the other, and from that point on they go down a separate online sales funnel that addresses their concerns and offers the specific solutions they need.

My IT client serves as another case in point. Since Google slaps companies down for duplicating content across multiple websites, I ended up writing a whole new website for each major city that the company serves. The homepage for the parent location gives visitors the chance to click on their respective city, an action that sends them directly to that local city's website. Of course it takes extra time and effort to create and maintain these multiple site paths. But it also allows my client to configure each location's marketing content for that particular audience, resulting in more effective local marketing and bigger sales overall.

How about the promo products franchise? Well, we're devising a year's worth of email articles for each of the two target audiences. The company can then send the emails crafted for each audience on a rotating schedule, influencing both audiences by addressing their specific preferences, needs, questions, and concerns.

Do you want to attract more than one target market to your products or services without diluting your overall brand? Contact me and let's talk about marketing content creation for each of your ideal audiences!