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!

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Fourth-Quarter Holiday Marketing Strategies Worth Considering

If you're a football fan, you love this time of year. From televised Thanksgiving classics to postseason nail-biters, the final months of the year offer ample opportunity to follow your favorite teams in their quest for greatness. And you probably know how dramatically fortunates can turn in that all-important fourth quarter. Well, now we're in the fourth quarter of the business year, what's the "score" in your own quest for profitability and visibility? You still have time to put some points on the board before the clock runs out, so let's look at some powerful marketing strategies for making the most of 2023.

Engage in Experiential Marketing

If you want to make a big splash in the most public manner possible, there's nothing like experiential marketing tactics to put you quite literally in front of your target audience. Experiential marketing includes all those events that allow you to interact directly with the public, with the holiday season serving as the ideal backdrop. The type of experiential marketing you engage in will depend partly on what kinds of products and services you offer. If you're in the food or dining industry, for instance,  you may want to offer samples of your wares or even full-blown cooking demonstrations in a grocery or home goods store. If you're in the tech industry, maybe you should put up a kiosk at a local community event, raffling off big-ticket electronics or discounts for future purchases. The point is: Get out there!

Host (or at Least Attend) Holiday Networking Events

For many businesses, "getting out there" also means networking. Now, I know that not everyone belongs to a year-round networking organization or enjoys attending constant chamber events. But the final months of the year open up numerous seasonal networking opportunities in the form of company parties and open houses in support of various causes. Do you have a brick-and-mortar facility that can accommodate lots of foot traffic? If so, why not host such an event so your favorite clients and business partners can invite and mingle with first-time visitors? If you can't host such an event yourself, make sure to attend a few of them so you can make new connections both inside and outside your industry.

Send Thank-You Notes and Gifts

People love to be recognized -- and the final quarter of the year serves as a natural summing-up time in which to express your appreciation for your vendor partners, employees, and customers. You'd be amazed at the power of a simple thank-you note, especially when it displays both eloquence and personalization. A skilled copywriter can provide the fomer, while handwritten text (or a properly convincing script-style font) can help convey the latter. If you want to grab the attention of your VIP clients, it's time to turn to the actual gifts. seek out a promotional products company that can provide extra-special gifts that include your brand name and logo. Your VIPs will definitely think of you going into next year, and who knows what that extra awareneness could do for your revenue?

Appeal to End-of-Year Customer Needs

People often need more help than usual as they prepare for seasonal activities, from making sure their plumbing can accommodate a houseful of guests to figuring out how to hang holiday decorations safely or get their business's books in order. These folks will naturally be Googling for solutions; the question is, will your brand pop up in their line of vision when they do? Now is the time to pump out those timely blog articles addressing the needs, and topics in question. It's also the time to make sure your online presence is optimized for local and mobile searches. Many of your ideal customers are out and about doing their shopping, after all -- so when they search for the nearest solution to their problem, you want to appear at the top of those search results.

Take these strategies to heart, and your fourth quarter may turn out to be a big winner for your brand. Meanwhile, if you need some quick, efficient professional assistance in putting some of that fourth-quarter marketing content together, you know who to call!

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Does Your Halloween Marketing Content Need an Exorcist? Common Demons Worth Banishing

 No matter how old you are, you probably remember going trick-or-treating on Halloween. You might even remember that it wasn't always about receiving candy. Back in the day, it wasn't uncommon for tricks to rival treats as a seasonal tradition, from papering trees to egging houses. Yes, Halloween can get ugly -- and if you allow the following evil spirits to sneak into your marketing content, you may find that the fourth quarter of the business year yields the equivalent of Charlie Brown receiving a rock in his treat bag instead of candy. So let's look at some of the worst demons you want to eliminate from your marketing efforts.

The Ghostly Audience

In movies and literature, ghosts are usually depicted as vague, translucent beings that shimmer in and out of existence, resisting all attempts to photograph them or get specific details about them. If you don't have a clear image of your target audience, how can you hope to direct your marketing content toward mere vapor? It's time to draw up a comprehensive buyer persona that aggregates all the available data on your ideal customer's demographics, hopes, fears, frustrations, income, and purchasing habits. After all, if you were a medium performing a seance, you wouldn't call out for just anybody, would you?

Frankenstein Messaging

If you're like many business owners putting together your own marketing content, you may have assembled that content piece by piece over a lengthy period, pulling from this or that source as you went. But just as dr, Frankenstein eventually found himself appalled by his creature, you may shudder when you see the hodge-podge of messaging inconsistencies you've stitched together. Do you perceive differences in tone and style among your web pages, blog posts, brochures, sales letters, and other marketing pieces? If so, hire an experienced copywriter to smooth out those jarring inconsistencies and bring all your content in line with your brand.

Mechanical Gremlins

This creeping menace doesn't just sabotage your marketing -- it also embarrasses you in the process. Elementary errors in spelling, grammar, and syntax can worm their way into your writing with surprising ease, leaving you with egg on your face just as surely as if you'd been looking out your window on Halloween night after denying candy to juvenile delinquents. Even if you manage to avoid the most cringe-inducing mistakes, your content may harbor more subtle imperfections that impair its effectiveness. When in doubt, ask a professional to proofread and edit instead of just throwing that gremlin-ridden content out there for the whole world to see.

This Halloween, banish the tricks from your marketing content so you can reap the treats of greater success. Consider me your copywriting exorcist -- and summon me to do your bidding!

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

How to Have More Fun With Your Marketing Content

Does content writing feel like a joy or a slog to you? I've worked with countless clients who used to stare at a bank screen and growl, "God, not more of this!" So if you'd rather do anything else in the universe than draft that blog post, email campaign article, or promotional piece, you're hardly alone. But you can turn that frown upside down by making your marketing content creation more fun, both for yourself and for your target audience. The following tips should help.

Amuse Yourself

 If you follow this blog, you know that I've spilled my share of virtual ink about how you must write for your audience, not for yourself. After all, you're probably not your own target market; your personal likes, dislikes, needs, concerns, and shopping habits may not intersect at all with those of your customers. But I honestly believe that when you enjoy creating your marketing content, that enjoyment shines through by lending the content more sparkle and vitality. So by entertaining yourself in the content creation process, you can energize your audience by osmosis. 

Think of some of the funniest things that have occurred to you in your business or personal life. While you're giggling over that, ask yourself how you can leverage that into a story -- a story that you can then relate to your audience's experiences and struggles.

Lead With a Joke

You've probably seen or heard this approach used by all kinds of narrators, from preachers and teachers to journalists and keynote speakers. It's a powerful way to break the ice and get your audience on your side from the beginning. A humorous anecdote or elaborate joke can set the stage for a lighthearted romp, grabbing audiences' attention, tickling their emotions, and encouraging them to read on. If you enjoy the story as much as your audience, you'll be that much more eager to keep producing more of the same.

Get the Reader in on the Act

What's more fun and interesting -- being talked at, or having a two-way conversation where your thought, insights, and opinions matter? Yeah, that's what I thought -- and I guarantee that your readers feel the same way. That's why you should add entertaining interactive options to your marketing content wherever possible.

Simply asking leading questions throughout the body of the content can do wonders to create that interactive feel. Then when you get to the end of your blog post, email, podcast, or video, reach out for direct input in your call to action. Add a quiz, ask for feedback on a particular point, or provide a link for readers to enter a contest. You can even challenge your readers to send in their own short videos or stories as part of the fun!

I understand, of course, that even fun can occasionally be hard work, especially when you're not in the happiest of moods. (As Steve Martin famously said, "Comedy is not pretty.") There are times when you could use an influx of outside ideas, energy, and creativity to keep the good times rolling. But you're in luck, because I enjoy giving business's marketing content that extra kick in the pants. So contact me today -- and start having more fun with this essential element of your success!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Creating a Onesheet? Read This First

If you want a great promotional "leave-behind" for those sales calls, networking meetings, and promotional events, then you want a onesheet. Even if you've never created one for yourself before, you've probably seen plenty of them in your everyday business dealings. These handy one-page print pieces (also referred to as one sheets, one-sheets or one-pagers) can market both yourself and your brand at a glance by showing off your company colors and logo, talking about how people benefit from what you do, and including a bio spotlight for yourself or any member of your team. 

But just as a professional-quality onesheet makes the impression you want to make, a sub-par onesheet can shoot you in the foot -- especially if it gets passed around from one cringing viewer to the next. Yes, there is such a thing as bad publicity! So, how do you produce the kind of onesheet that grabs attention and gets results? First, take heed of these important tips.

Decide on the Scope of Your Onesheet

A onesheet can vary widely in the scope of its messaging. You might want a comprehensive document that devotes one side of the page to your brand's UVP and includes a detailed professional biography or "About Me" statement on the reverse side. This kind of onesheet makes a useful all-round introduction piece. Or you might only need to promote one specific product, service, or event, in which case you can probably get away with a single-sided sheet. I generally recommend the double-sided approach wherever it makes sense, if only because once that sheet gets placed face-down, it just looks like a blank piece of paper not worth flipping over. Oops! But whichever format you choose, don't try to shove a manifesto down your audience's throat. A successfully-written onesheet includes enough empty space to maximize readability and give the images a chance to shine.

Make It All Flow

An experienced graphic designer can create an intuitive visual architecture for your onesheet -- one that leads the eye naturally from one key point or element to the next. But at the same, time you need to make sure your written content does the same. The most natural progression of ideas in most marketing pieces involves three sections: (1) a pain or empathy statement that expresses your target audience's need, (2) a solution statement where you describe how you can help, and (3) a call to action that urges the reader to respond. On the bio side of your onesheet, you might start with an arresting introductory statement and then backtrack to give a brief history of your work. Along the way, sprinkle in your motivations for doing what you do. Finally, invite your reader to connect with you and learn more.

Go Out Strong

With any luck, your onesheet's beautiful design and compelling content have hooked your audience from the top left of Side 1 to the bottom right of Side 2. At this point, the worst mistake you can make is to go out with a whimper instead of a bang. Always add a call to action, whether you want the reader to contact you, place an order, visit your website or whatever. Include your contact information in the footer on both sides, just in case your readers either forget to flip the page or feel ready to act after reading only Side 1. Better yet, use your onesheet as a giant coupon delivery device. Build a barcode or tear-away section that the reader can use to redeem some extra perk or discount.

If you want a onesheet that will deliver your message and sell your products or services, you may want to leave both the content writing and the graphic design to the professionals instead of laboring over them yourself. I've written content for countless onesheets over the years, and I can hook you up with a brilliant graphic designer if you don't have one already. Contact me to learn more and get started!

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Smart Ways to Repurpose Your Blog Content

Let's face it, blogging is hard work. Not only do you need to craft relevant, entertaining content that compels your target audience to action, but you have to do it again and again, cranking out posts like clockwork, to reap the full benefits of this form of content marketing. If you're going to put that much effort into the task, you might as well get as much out of your labor as possible -- and that means finding lucrative ways to repurpose that content. Take a look at a few smart ways to make your blog the gift that keeps on giving.

Compile Your Blog Posts Into a Book (or Speech)

One of the simplest and most popular ways to repurpose blog content involves dropping them together into one longer manuscript, "massaging" them until you have an honest-to-goodness eBook or printed book. Go back through your previous posts and look for an overall theme that might lend itself to this treatment. You can even blog with this end goal in mind, posting a series of related articles that naturally come together to convey a single major point. Are looking to put together a speech you can deliver to groups and associations? Look no further than your blog for source material -- or sell your blog-derived book at your presentation.

Turn Your Blog Posts Into a Course

Do you regularly dispense guidance, advice, or educational content in your blog posts? If so, you just might have the bones of an online course that you can upload to one of the major online education platforms. This strategy doesn't just open up a new potential income stream for you; it also reinforces your reputation as a problem-solver and an expert in your field. You can expand on the source material as much as you like to turn it into a series of valuable lessons.

Turn Blog Posts Into Videos

Everybody's consuming online video on a massive scale these days, with youTube serving as the most obvious example. Uploading useful, entertaining videos to your company's YouTube channel can boost your online footprint, reputation, and visibility. Since that's also the goal of regular blogging, why not use one to produce the other? Simply read your blog text into a microphone, add that audio to some relevant images, and presto -- you just made a Youtube video that's just as meaningful to your target audience as the original blog post. Why bother with this kind of redundancy? because some people are primarily readers, while others are primarily viewers. You want to grab the attention of both camps, right?

Of course, you have to have the original blog content before you can morph it into something else. If writing those original posts still stands in your way as a bottleneck to successful marketing, why not enlist the aid of a skilled freelance copywriter? Contact me today to get the creative ball rolling -- and then watch where it takes your business!

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

How to Make Your Blog Posts More Interesting

You may already understand that blogging can boost your business in many ways, from increasing your online authority and raising brand visibility to directing potential customers toward your website. So you have every right to feel frustrated when the hours of work you put into blog content creation yields nothing but the sound of crickets chirping. What went wrong? Sometimes you can trace the lack of interest to an erratic posting schedule, faulty SEO practices, or other strategic goofs. But you must also consider another possibility: blog content that simply doesn't grab your intended readers. If you think your blog articles lack that special something, take a look at some things you can to spiff them up.

Write for Your Audience, Not Yourself

You might be thinking, "I don't get why my audience doesn't love this blog content. i wrote it myself, and I think it's fascinating!" That's great, but you're forgetting one crucial fact: You're not your target audience. Your blog posts might convey compelling or even brilliant information that you and your peers would gladly lap up, but your customer base probably doesn't care about the specific technologies you employ, trends affecting your industry, or detailed explanations of how your products work. They may not even understand the buzzwords you're using, leaving them feeling bored, confused, or feeling like you're talking to somebody else -- which you are, unfortunately. Always ask yourself what your readers want to read and need to know before writing Word One of anything.

Let the Readers Into Your World

Even if your target audience doesn't care that much about the particulars of your industry, they can (and should) still feel a bond with you through the blog content you create. Look for exciting inside news that might spark their interest and build a blog post around it. Have you hired a brilliant new team member who has a lot to offer your customers? Write a post focused on that person. Did you recently solve a huge problem for a client? Create a little case history that explains how you came to the rescue, implying (of course) that you can do the same for the reader. Are you poised to release an amazing new product or service? Release a series of teaser posts that spark public interest and get your audience ready to buy. Do you need to address a recent challenge that potentially damages your image? Blog about it openly, stating your plan for correcting course and regaining trust.

Leverage Hot Topics

These days it seems like everybody in the world has their eyes glued to a favorite news feed, faithfully following the latest breaking headlines on everything from politics to fashion. You might find it all but impossible to compete against those hot topics. Luckily, you don't have to. Ever hear the saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em?" Hop on the bandwagon by thinking up ways to bring those topics into your blog posts, either as a passing reference that segues into your real topic or as a subject that directly affects your audience's need for what you do. When you consider the immense flood of breaking news that seems to surround us every day, you can see how your potential for grabbing your audience's interest is equally endless.

Give Advice

Many of the individuals who land on a blog page may have done so as the result of Googling a specific concern or question, a problem that they need to figure out pronto. Since they clearly have a strong, immediate interest in that subject, you want their query to lead them to your blog post on that very subject, right? Think about what kinds of challenges your target market faces regularly and what kinds of advice you commonly dispense. Then create blog posts offering simple explanations and helpful tips for one challenge after another -- not neglecting to include your own products or services as one potential solution. Once you've built up a formidable arsenal of such posts, they should continue to pay off for weeks, months, or years to come by directing a stream of new and repeat traffic to your business.

Now that you know how to make your blog posts more interesting, you're ready to start dreaming up those compelling topics. Would you like some help from a creative professional with decades of blogging and marketing content creation experience? Contact me today so I can help you light that fire under your audience!

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

How Is Content Creation Like Moving?

I'm in the process of picking up and relocating -- a process you've almost certainly dealt with at least once in your life. You know the drill: purchasing boxes, loading some items, discarding others, figuring out where everything will go and how to get it there, scheduling utility connections et cetera. While moving can seem tiring, boring, or annoying, it can also prove illuminating in some respects. In fact, as I was going through all these steps, I couldn't help but notice some striking similarities between the moving process and the content creation process. Take a look at some of the things these two activities have in common.

They Both Require Planning

Sure, you might throw everything you own into a van at random and set off for your new digs -- that is, if you don't mind opening the van to see a pile of jumbled boxes and broken valuables. Smart moving requires smart planning, from what order those boxes should be loaded and unloaded to what they should contain and what packing materials you'll need to ensure those items' safety. You also need to know that the electricity will be on when you arrive, your mail will go to the right place, and that you haven't left anything critical behind. 

Marketing content creation also requires planning, and not just in terms of organizing text and images. Ideally, you want to create an editorial calendar to coordinate and schedule your stream of content throughout the year. You must also select and nurture the right mix of social media channels to host that content and direct it at your target audience.

They Both Reward Efficiency

I've moved several times over the years, and every time I do, I manage to perform the move that much more efficiently. A move that once took several stages now only takes one or two. That's partly because I discovered the value of throwing stuff out. Where I used to simply pack up everything I owned without a second thought, I now start by asking myself, "How much of this do I need, and how much of it can I lose to streamline this project?" In the process, I've come to embrace a simpler, more minimalist lifestyle. 

Of course, that choice won't work for everyone -- but its equivalent in the world of content creation will. I'm talking about scrutinizing each and every line of copy you write. Are you using two words where one would do, or a four-syllable word where one syllable would make the point? the "slimmer" your content, the more powerful and readable it becomes. Less is more!

They Both Benefit From Outsourcing

Do you recall how you felt during and after your last move? It wasn't exactly a picnic, was it? Now matter how carefully you plan it and how efficiently you execute it, a move requires time and effort. The more of the work you do yourself, the harder it gets. (I've moved myself entirely without aid enough times to know.) At some point, you realize that you can save a lot of sweat, pain, and exhaustion by hiring a moving company for at least some of the labor involved. 

Well, you can take the same approach to content creation. Brainstorming ideas and polishing them into little jewels of persuasion can eat up a ton of time, keeping you from other necessary work while leaving you with double vision and a headache. A freelance copywriter can produce much of the content you need at a professional skill level. You know where I'm going with this, right? If you want to enjoy a speedier, less stressful, more successful marketing campaign, contact me today and move that content creation burden in my direction!

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

How to Get the Best Results From Your Freelance Copywriter

So you've finally decided to outsource your marketing content creation headaches to a freelance copywriter. Maybe you don't feel confident in your own skills in this area, or maybe you'd rather focus on what you do best in your business. Whatever the reason, you'll probably be glad you offloaded this time-consuming, brain-draining, expertise-requiring task. But you can't assume that simply engaging a copywriter's services will guarantee satisfaction with the final result, regardless of the writer's skill, experience, and reputation. Let's look at some important steps you can take to put yourself and your freelance talent on the same page, so to speak.

Make Sure Your Copywriter Understands Your Brand

The most brilliant marketing content in. the world may not suit your brand, like a stunning dress that simply can't be made to fit you properly. Your content needs to speak in a particular voice that matches your brand voice. What should your brand voice sound like? You and your marketing strategy team need to figure that out before you ask a writer to produce content. If you've already got a firm grip on your brand persona, you must communicate that persona to your writer during those initial conversations. Don't assume that your writer possesses some magical telepathic ability to convey your brand voice. Even the content you currently use for your marketing materials may not fit that voice all that well, potentially sending your writer down the wrong road as a reference source. The two of you need to discuss your brand, audience, style, and tone to eliminate any potential for confusion.

Take Advantage of Your Copywriter's Insights

Despite my 26 years as a professional writer, I occasionally land a client who wants to treat me as a glorified stenographer. They know exactly what they want and how they want it, with little interest in listening to outside opinions or insights. This is a mistake. When you hire an experienced copywriter, you're buying a lot more than just words -- you're also paying for that individual's industry knowledge, original ideas, and creative suggestions.  Hiring a copywriting veteran and then simply dictating to that expert is like engaging Wolfgang Puck and then forcing him to cook your own recipes. If you're buying expertise, make as much use of it as you can if you want value for money. Exchange ideas with your copywriter, be open to recommendations, and rely on that specialist's knowledge wherever possible.

Let Your Copywriter Start From Scratch

I once had a client who hired me for website content but not for blog content because "our web development company includes free blogging services." A couple of months later, this client sent me a pile of incomprehensible word salad from the company in question -- article after article that made little sense or had little to do with the client's business. The client asked me whether at least some of this junk could be salvaged, and if so, how much it would cost me to fix it. I replied that I could indeed save some of it, and it would cost him exactly as much for me to fix it as it would've cost to pay me for perfect content right out of the chute.

In many cases, editing disastrous content takes more time and effort than drafting fresh content from scratch. As a result, even if your writer charges less for editing than original writing, you may still end up with a higher bill than if you'd simply let your writer start over. The only exception to this rule applies to re-concepting, of course. If you tell your writer, "This content is fine but I've decided to make this post about something completely different," you'll pay the second full fee because you're requesting a second original article. but you can avoid that frustration by making sure you know what you want before you ask for it.

Once you've taken these suggestions to heart, you should enjoy a happier, more productive working relationship with your chosen copywriter. If you haven't chosen a copywriter yet, look no further. Contact me today so we can build your company's success as a team!

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Struggling to Write That Marketing Content? Try These Productivity Joggers

Writing is hard -- and I say that as a professional writer with a quarter-century's experience under my belt. Some of the world's greatest wordsmiths have found themselves paralyzed by writer's block or otherwise unable to produce the material they need in a timely manner. Why do we struggle with this particular problem? I mean, you don't hear about people experiencing accountant's block or insurance agent's block. (Plumbers, of course, must deal with blocks of a different nature.) I think it's a combination of intimidation and time management trouble. Writing requires focused creativity for a specific period. If you don't do it regularly and efficiently, you may feel overwhelmed by its demands while also falling behind in your marketing content production quota, which only increases the perceived burden.

Fortunately, you can employ a variety of clever tricks to get yourself pumping out that materials for your website, blog, newsletter, or email marketing campaign. You don't have to resort to the drastic antics of a Friedrich Schiller, who kept stinky rotten apples in his desk drawer to inspire his creative mind. you may benefit from the following smart strategies to turbocharge your productivity.

Optimize Your Workspace

A cluttered desk area is like a cluttered mind: It makes finding specific things impossible. Those bills and tax forms only distract you from the job at hand, while constant incoming emails and online news updates help to ensure that your word processor screen remains blank. Clear all that paperwork away until you've completed your writing session. Look into "minimalist" writing apps that fill the whole screen, banishing all other electronic distractions.

Give Yourself 25 Minutes

Don't beat yourself up if you can't create for hour after hour. Research indicates that most of us can only focus on concentrated mental efforts for about 25 minutes at a time before we run out of steam. Franscesco Cirillo responded to this challenge by creating the Pomodoro technique, named after the tomato-shaped timer he sells as part of his online productivity program. But you can try a basic version of this technique using any handy timer that will alert you at the 25-minute mark. Set the timer, think and work as hard as you can for 25 minutes, and then stop and take a break when the alarm goes off. You'll keep your mind refreshed and feel less intimidated by that next session.

Set Yourself Free

Many writers and non-writers alike feel as if every sentence they set down must be a shining jewel. But if you've ever seen gems in the natural form, they're pretty rough; they need plenty of cutting and polishing before they make their way into fine jewelry. if you insist on creating a perfect phrase before you can move on to the next phrase, you'll probably just get stuck. So stop worrying about spelling, grammar, or flow. Just bang out a draft that you can polish later so at least you'll have something to polish. (Ray Bradbury famously posted a note above his typewriter that read DON'T THINK.) If the beginning of that blog post stumps you, then don't start at the beginning -- write any part of the article that you've got rattling around in your head. That bit will help you figure out the earlier and later bits, and before you know it you'll be done.

I hope these tips prove useful for you. If you still can't muster the time, energy, or creativity to produce a steady stream of marketing content on your own, you can always enlist my services. Contact me today so we can get started!

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Celebrate Independence Day by Building Your Personal Brand

Independence day, a.k.a. the Fourth of July, can mean more than just the date of the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. You might see it as a day to celebrate everything America stands for, a time to bring friends and family members together, and/or a welcome day off for fun and sun. (If you're a pet owner or someone who values a good night's sleep, you may view it as a time for shaking your fist angrily at the fireworks-illuminated clouds.) 

If you've stopped working for someone else to establish and run your own business, Independence day may have its own special meaning for you. In fact, I first started working as a full-time freelancer so close to the Fourth that I traditionally celebrate my anniversary as an independent contractor on this date. Even if you work with a national or international franchise, you may take pride in your status as an independent representative. But ask yourself this question: How much effort does that mega-corporation spend marketing you as opposed to marketing their enterprise?

I've worked with many independent representatives of major brands, from the leading insurance providers and realty firms to janitorial services and long-term care companies. They come to me with pretty much the same complaint along the general lines of, "The company I represent has all the marketing it'll ever need, and none of it helps me differentiate myself from the thousands of other reps selling the same products or services." The blog posts, print marketing collateral, and other materials the franchise gives them are all cookie-cutter templates with maybe a small corner dedicated to the "independent" rep. 

If this frustration applies to you, what's the solution I usually suggest? You need to create your own personal brand -- for instance, "John Doe, Your Healthcare Concierge" instead of "John doe, Your Local ABC Insurance rep." ABC insurance has all the visibility it could ever need and want. What you need and want is to promote your own business, not theirs. You also want to build a whole marketing platform around this personal brand, including a website, blog, social media array, and print marketing strategy.

This approach offers a ton of advantages. For starters, you don't have to get approval from Big Brother, Inc. on every little piece of personal marketing you want to implement. It's your brand, and you can market it however you like. Additionally, by throwing the focus on you and your own brand, you relegate the franchise to your line of products and services -- which means that if you want to add more products, services, and referrals from multiple providers under the umbrella of your personal brand, who's to stop you? You're now free to offer a wider range of solutions to your target market than ever before. That's independence!

I can't think of a more fitting holiday to embark on this exciting new career phase. Best of all, you already know a skilled, experienced professional copywriter who can help you craft the content for your personal brand. In addition to creating that written content for you, I can also connect you with top-quality webmasters, digital marketing providers, logo designers, and other marketing experts. Contact me so we can make your personal Independence Day a reality!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

The Two Smartest Ways to Pay for Marketing Content

At some point or other, many of us see the value in offloading a difficult or time-consuming task to a professional who specializes in that task. I could do my taxes (for better or for worse), but I don't -- I let a CPA do it so I can enjoy an optimal outcome with no sweat. I could learn how to fix my car, but I'd rather let a skilled technician do it so I can feel confident about taking that car on the road. 

My copywriting clients come to me for similar reasons. They don't feel good about their own writing skills, or they can't spare the time to write their own content, or they simply can't stand writing at all. You might have the same struggles, leading you to ponder the prospect of hiring a professional to handle your written marketing content creation. But if you want to make sure you get what you're paying for, you need to understand which payment processes will give you the best bang for your buck. Allow me to suggest the following two smart options.

Per-Project Rates

You've probably seen freelance creative types who charge by the hour for their services. On the surface, this method seems sensible enough. The freelancer gets paid for the amount of time they put in, no more and no less. The problem is: How do you know what the final price tag will be? Your freelancer might toss out a vague estimate, only to break the bad news that they spent more time on the project than anticipated so would you mind forking over some more dough? Additionally, if you've never worked with a particular writer before, you have no idea how quickly or slowly that writer works -- in which case, you could receive some nasty sticker shock at the end of the day.

A writer who charges flat per-project rates can give you exactly what you want at exactly the price originally quoted, with no monkey business. A sales letter will cost you a flat $X, while writing for a five-page website will cost you $Y and a set of blog articles will cost you $Z. This approach offers three major benefits. First, you can actually budget for what you need. Second, your payment amount has nothing to do with how fast or efficient your writer happens to be that week. Third, if you're a marketing agency, you can simply roll that number into a larger bid, marking it up to suit your preferences, and know that your copywriter will deliver the goods at that set price.

Monthly Retainers

Flat per-project rates may make infinite sense when you know exactly what kind of marketing content you need. But what if your needs vary unpredictably from month to month? What if you suddenly decide you need some kind of writing that wasn't listed on the per-project "menu?" What if you'd rather just drop X amount of money each month to keep a writer on call instead of processing a fresh invoice for each and every job that comes up?

That's where a monthly retainer can come to your rescue. In a typical monthly retainer agreement, you might pony up one lump sum at the beginning of the month to lock in your copywriter's availability for any combination of marketing content jobs, including items that don't quite fit the standard list of fare. Yes, you'll be paying your writer by the hour, but the number of hours is capped right from the beginning, with only one invoice to mess with. If you need more work than that retainer covers, you can then purchase more.

Anyway, those are the two marketing content payment methods that make the most sense to me. Not coincidentally, they're also the two payment methods I offer as a professional freelance copywriter. Contact me today to learn more about how you can get top-quality content without paying top dollar!

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

3 Reasons to Create as Much Marketing Content as Possible

You may have breathed a huge sigh of relief once you'd created the core content for your website, blog, print marketing, and social media channels -- and rightly so. Without those pillars in place, you can't establish and build a visible brand. However, some business owners make the critical mistake of resting on their laurels after that initial effort -- and then they wonder why their marketing isn't making the right impact on their audience.

The inconvenient truth is that you can't just create a big marketing push and call it a day. If you want to keep up with the competition and generate more revenue for your business, you must pump out a steady stream of fresh, meaningful content. That means regular blogging, frequent social media updates, periodic print marketing and email touches, and ongoing tweaks to your website as needed to keep the information accurate and compelling. Consider the following three reasons to keep creating that marketing content.

Reason 1: To Reinforce Your Message

You make quite a stir when you put out that big announcement or unveil your new online presence -- or you might not. Even if your efforts capture eyeballs, how long can you expect that initial splash to spread ripples? Consider a real-world analogy: When you tell a child to do something, how likely are those instructions to land if you only issue them once? Well, busy adults can rival children for a short attention span and vulnerabilities to distractions. That's why messages need constant reinforcement. Regular blog articles, email messages, direct mail pieces, and other bits of marketing content repeat your message until it truly sinks in and your audience finally responds. You might worry that you're repeating yourself, but if your audience wasn't paying sufficient attention the first time around, it'll be new to them, right?

Reason 2: To Boost Your Search Rankings

While nobody can really predict where Google's capricious algorithm will go next, you can bank on the search engine rewarding what it perceives as authority and relevance. How do you establish those qualities online? You keep producing more and more high-quality content to build a critical mass of evidence to that effect. You want your online footprint to grow until the search engines see you as the 400-pound gorilla of your industry or profession, at which point you can expect to rise in the search rankings. At the same time, you'll be creating more informational resources that your target market can put to good use, reinforcing that message even as you make that message more easily visible.

Reason 3: To Help Manage Your Brand's Reputation

Here's an odd anecdote, but an illuminating one. I recently got a request to create a huge amount of content for a legal professional who was incensed over some negative publicity that had gone viral over the web. This negative publicity should've made little or no impact, but it stood out like a sore thumb because anytime anyone Googled this professional, that negative publicity would leap to the top of the search results. Why? Because the legal professional had no other online presence to compete against that one unhappy article. So the guy's marketing agency engaged me to write, not just a rebuttal article, but a whole mass of favorable content. We created a website for his practice, a professional bio website, a personal website, you name it -- all with the primary goal of diverting attention from the negative publicity. Content creation also helps with reputation management by rebutting complaints from dissatisfied customers, but only if you stay on top of those comments and respond to them promptly.

As you can see, you can never have too much of a good thing where marketing content creation is concerned. Of course, all that content takes time, skill, and effort to produce. But all you have to do is contact a professional freelance copywriter and offload that work while you continue working on other aspects of your business. So contact me today, and let's get started!

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

If You Can Write a Letter, You Can Write Your Own Marketing Content

Anyone other than me remember Coronet Films? I was subjected to countless of these short "educational" films during my years in school, instructing young people on everything from why they should drink more water or eat more vegetables to how they should dress for different situations. Well, maybe it's because i'm frequently doing research related to my writing work, but somehow or other my YoutTube feed presented me with a 1950 gem entitled "How to Write Better Social Letters." (You know, back when people actually wrote letters by hand, on that ancient substance known to the elders as paper.) Dated as the film may be, it makes some legitimate points about how to organize your thoughts for readability and write with a specific audience in mind. You know -- like you have to do when writing marketing content.

Do you find marketing content creation intimidating, confusing, or simply alien to your experience? If you enjoy writing letters to people, you might know more about this discipline than you give yourself credit for. Think about how the following letter writing tips can apply to your copywriting efforts.

"Write how you talk." You can't expect a high-handed tone and scholarly vocabulary to come across as warm, natural, or relatable to most B2C or B2B audiences., any more than you'd expect these choices to resonate with a friend or family member reading a letter from you. In this case,  when I say"you" I mean "your brand," which will have its own distinct personality. Think of a business as a person writing a letter to someone who needs and wants that person's help, advice, and reassurance. Try to picture both your brand and your audience as individual human beings on both ends of that communication. The right tone will naturally follow.

"Tell a story." Effective storytelling and effective marketing go hand in hand. When you're recounting a memory or anecdote to someone in a personal letter -- or even talking about it over the phone -- you naturally begin at the beginning, don't you? You set the stage, introduce the events in the order they occurred, and then reach a slam-bang conclusion. This structure gives your story a logical, easy-to-read flow that keeps the audience's attention and prevents confusion. Simply follow this same kind of structure in your marketing content. Introduce a problem, throw in enough details to engage the emotions, and then segue into the solution (which, of course, is your product or service).

"Put a bow on it." It's easy to wrap up a personal letter -- you just summarize the gist of what you were talking about, add some compelling final comments, and then invite the recipient to reply, come visit sometimes, or whatever will keep the relationship rolling along. Well, that's exactly what you do when you conclude a piece of marketing content. you wrap up your points and then encourage your audience to take the next step based on what you've just communicated. It's as clear and surefire an approach as appending that final "Sincerely Yours."

See what I mean? If you know how to write a letter, you know how to create marketing content. but of course the fact that you know how doesn't mean you're obligated to do it yourself. Contact me if you'd like to hand this task over to an experienced freelance copywriter. After all, even a casual letter requires some time, effort, and skill!

Monday, May 8, 2023

What Is Your Business Doing This Summer -- and How Are You Marketing It?

Officially, we greet the first day of summer on June 21st, although here in Texas the summer heat arrives long before summer itself. We've already seen Cinco de Mayo come and go, and Memorial day will be here soon enough. When you're already out in the sun grilling and partying, you're pretty much doing summer, right? And we'll get a glut of other bg events coming up. There's Mother's Day, Memorial Day (if we're letting May sneak into the summer schedule), Flag day, Father's Day, Juneteenth day,  Independence Day, Labor Day....even such "niche" holidays as National Hot Dog Day, National Mountain Climbing Day, and National Watermelon Day. 

What summer holidays pertain to your business, what are you doing to draw customers on those days, and what marketing measures have you taken to let us know? Here are some ways to get your target audience's attention.

Festive videos - TV commercials have traditionally advertised summer sales and events, but they generally require elaborate planning, production, and editing. If you want to show the world what you're up to this summer, you'll find it quicker, cheaper, and easier to hit YouTube and other video channels with short, exciting, funny, compelling clips. You might already have some footage left over from previous summer promotions that you can cobble together in support of a high-energy scripted voiceover. You can also run some sort of video submission contest related to your upcoming summer spectacular, with creative fans sending in their own video essays or examples of fun in the sun. A lucky winner gets a prize -- and you get free promotional content!

Article-based promotions - Do you send out periodic email blasts and/or newsletters? Do you keep your business top of mind on the internet through regular blog posts? Now's the perfect time to plant announcements about your huge summer sale, fundraiser, or public gathering in the form of short but sweet articles. The articles can focus on the promotion itself, or they can be skilfully written to incorporate that information as tidbits within larger topics. If you blog frequently, you can touch on the subject multiple times without necessarily jamming the promotion down your target market's throat -- especially if the larger subject of the article deals with some other issue that naturally segues into your exciting news.

Direct mail - Don't let today's digital world cause you to ignore good old direct mail. There are always some folks who will respond better to a tangible ad, coupon, or announcement in their mailbox. The right combination of high-voltage written content, vivid graphics, and an offer they can't refuse will help ensure a big turnout or big sales figures. Better yet, targeted distribution techniques such as EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) can help you send exactly the right pieces to exactly the right neighborhoods.

I've only scratched the surface of the many ways you can market your summer activities. There's still time to get the word out, of course, but your window of opportunity is narrowing. If you need help creating the right marketing content to make your summer sizzle, contact me and let's turn up the heat!

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

How to Make Your Content Creation Easier

So you're stuck with the task of writing your own website, blog, sales letter, press release, or email marketing content. Maybe you don't have a professional marketing person on your team, or maybe you just like doing things yourself. But there's no getting around the fact that marketing content creation can challenge your wits, patience, and sanity even under the best of circumstances. Sooner or later you'll find yourself staring at a blank screen without the slightest clue on how to move forward and produce the content your business urgently needs in a crowded, competitive marketplace. If you're already sweating creative bullets, here are some things you can do to make the process a bit easier and less stressful.

Start with a Plan

You can't know what content to write without first knowing who you're writing it for, what they need and want to read, and how to push their buttons so they'll respond to your call to action. That means doing your research and coming up with a buyer persona -- that imaginary person I've talked about before, one who fits all the demographics and characteristics of your ideal customer. Okay, now that you have your audience in mind, you can plan your content creation accordingly. If you intend to blog regularly, that means coming up with an editorial calendar (which I've also harped on in the past). Block out a whole year's worth of topics if possible. you can always tweak it as you go, but have some kind of plan in place to guide your way.

Use Topic Brainstorming Techniques

Do you hate having to come up with an endless stream of ideas for blog, email, or newsletter content? Talk about a brain drain! But fear not, because a few little ideation tricks can help prime the creative pump. For instance, you might start by thinking about your target audience. What nagging problem did they probably have recently? What aspects of your business seem to interest them the most? What's the most helpful advice you could give them right now? Answers may pop into your head with startling speed. If you can't dream up whole articles out of thin air, what about titles? Ray Bradbury used to type out title after title and then let each title suggest an entire story to him. Worth a try, right? 

Streamline Your Style

Do you tend to launch long, elaborate sentences and then get sort of lost halfway through them? Are you always struggling for just the right word? Maybe it's time you simplified your marketing content style and vocabulary. Focus on clear, simple statements in everyday language. Even if you work in some specialized technical field, your audience probably doesn't want to sift through a lot of technobabble. They just want the answer to that all-important question: "What can you do for me?" So streamline your style, clarify your points, and you'll find that your content becomes both more effective and less of a pain to write.

Draft Now, Fix Later

"Analysis paralysis" can strike anyone at any time, making even the most straightforward decisions needlessly agonizing. Unfortunately, it's especially common in the world of content creation. As long as that screen stays blank, you haven't made any mistakes -- and so the screen stays blank. If you're a perfectionist, you may stare at that blank screen forever, terrified that you'll write something that doesn't meet your lofty standards. But remember this: You can't fix what doesn't exist. Barf out that hopeless word salad of a draft, accept that it needs revision, and then revise it. Launch the ship, and then correct the course as needed.

I hope these tips help you move forward with your marketing content creation. If you'd rather engage professional assistance for this chore, put me to work as your freelance marketing copywriter. What could be easier than that?

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Could Your Business Use Some "Spring Cleaning?"

Spring has sprung, and that means it's time for some spring cleaning. I'm not sure where the tradition started, but it seems to be fairly universal in homes across the globe. But businesses can also benefit from periodic fixing up, just a precision equipment might need occasional adjustments to remain in perfect working order. Have you allowed some slack to creep into the mechanism? Have small inefficiencies or inconsistencies snowballed into large problems over the course of the year? Allow me to suggest a few areas you might want to check for cobwebs.

Time management. Do you have a firm grip on your schedule as a business owner? Can you focus on the daily activities that actually earn you money, or do you waste time passively reacting to every emergency that decides to have its way with you? Stop and examine your schedule for "time thieves" that sap your productivity and earning power. For instance, are you still writing your own marketing content, even though that's not really what you should be doing with your billable time? Some strategic outsourcing to a skilled, experienced freelance copywriter just might solve that problem....

Money management. This area obviously relates directly to time management, but it also merits attention on its own. Has your business expanded beyond the capacity of your current money management system? Have small extra expenditures here and there drained money from your coffers in ways you never noticed? Now's the time to notice and respond. It may also be time to determine where your business needs deeper investment in specific areas so it can grow properly. Are you marketing your brand effectively? Many businesses make the mistake of trimming their marketing budget first when things get tight -- even though it's the only part of their budget that exists solely to generate revenue! If you want to bring in more money, maybe you need to spend more money on your marketing efforts.

Strategy management. Sometimes a business must make a major change in its target market, operations, products, services, or strategies. For instance, I've shifted more toward working with marketing agencies as opposed to end users, even though I'm still happy to take requests from both target audiences. I've also introduced a monthly retainer option for clients who just want to have me "on call" for any mix of writing, editing, and proofreading. You may find that your own company needs to make a transition of some sort, including a new or different approach to your marketing. Whatever changes you face, don't let fear, fatigue, or complacency sabotage your future success -- whip out that broom, and start sweeping!


Monday, March 27, 2023

Want to Sell More Products or Services? Market Yourself First

Everyone in business sells something. It might be a product a service, a solution, or even a dream. But if you own a business, you obviously want and need people to purchase what you offer. your natural response to this need might be, "Okay, then it's time to work on my marketing." But instead of simply throwing the spotlight on your products or services, maybe it's time you focused on marketing yourself.

What do I mean by "yourself?" Well, if you're a solopreneur or the public face of your company, you take my suggestion literally. A personality-driven company needs to market that personality first and foremost, because people are buying from you because of how they feel about you an an individual. You may therefore need to take a look at how you've represented yourself in your marketing content. Does your website's About Us page include a compelling bio about your accomplishments, vision, mission, and values? Do your blog and email articles read like they come directly from you, no matter who's actually writing them? Does your call to action invite your audience to connect with you one to one? These and other strategic choices can help people see you and your business as one and the same, offering them a direct line to the boss.

What if you're not the chief cook and bottle washer for your company? Your business still has a public face -- your brand. This brand has its own personality, one crafted by your marketing team to convey your company's overall message. Does your marketing tell that story in a consistent manner across every tool and platform it employs, from the high-profile stuff such as your website and blog down to every last press release, sales letter, and direct mail offer? If not, then it's time to put a professional copywriter and other seasoned marketing pros on the job of creating a more united picture of what you're all about.

Why emphasize yourself or brand before your products or services? Think about how many other businesses, including your direct competitors, are selling similar or even identical things to the same general target market. A commodity is a commodity, no matter how compellingly you market it, unless it's got something about it that makes it uniquely yours -- in which case, we still come back to marketing you or your brand again, don't we?

I've seen this issue come up time and time again with business owners who sell products and services through national or worldwide franchises. These business owners tell me that the franchise already has all the publicity it could ever use; what the need is marketing content that pushes people to choose them over the umptillion others associated with the same franchise. That's when we start creating a personal brand in which the business takes priority over the product or service line. If those business owners later decide to add new offerings or even switch to a completely different source, the personal brand they've established remains rock solid.

Do you need some help marketing yourself or your brand? If so, contact me and put my professional copywriting skills and expertise on the case. Remember, people aren't just buying what you sell -- they're buying you!

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Tips and Tricks for Writing About Yourself

 I've posted before about the nuts and bolts of writing bios and "About Us" content for marketing purposes. But for many of the business owners I've encountered in my 25 years as a professional copywriter, the real challenge lies elsewhere than in the mechanics of the writing itself. 

I've known many brilliant professionals who could write marketing content with ease and skill -- until they had to write about themselves. Some feel uncomfortable "blowing their own horn," while others simply can't distance themselves from the subject at hand (which is understandable, since they are the subject at hand). If you're struggling to create that much-needed website, brochure, or social media bio content due to some sort of psychological barrier, the following tips and tricks may help you move forward.

Pretend you're writing about somebody else. You might feel weird trumpeting your achievements to the world -- but would you have similar trouble bragging about an employee or colleague? Try creating a fictional person in your mind who has accomplished all those admirable things -- someone who also happens to have the same passions, interests, and background as yourself. Now write that person's bio. It's a lot easier, isn't it?

Keep the content other-directed. Yes, you're writing about yourself, but who are you writing for? Any kind of marketing content you create, including bio content, must be aimed at a specific audience to make them respond in a way that benefits your business. Keep your mission, vision, and values top of mind as you write your bio. Take every opportunity to turn the information toward the reader: "I've spent X number of years helping area residents just like you overcome Y challenge." The more you occupy your mind with how your work helps others, the less self-conscious you'll feel about the words you're putting down.

Experiment with different points of view. Some people find it awkward to write about themselves in the third person because it feels pretentious or unnatural to them. Others have trouble with the first-person direct address to the audience because it strikes them as too familiar or casual. Of course, the choice of point of view will depend partly on the voice and tone you've chosen for your brand persona. But if you feel intimidated, uncomfortable, or just plain stuck, try switching from one point of view to the other. The results might surprise you -- and you can always switch back again after you've got the meat of the content drafted.

Even if you find these tips and tricks helpful, you still might prefer to have an outsider write your bio for you, preferably a skilled, experienced copywriter. In that case, contact me today so you can shine like the star you really are!

Monday, February 27, 2023

3 Reasons to Choose Human Content Creators Over AI

I was participating in a networking conversation recently and got hit with an interesting question: "Are you worried about AI taking your job away?" Of course, this question had already been floated around various writers' forums and social media channels for some time, especially since Open AI unleashed the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT on the world. It seems like everywhere you look, you see headlines pronouncing the imminent death of search engines and the end of Google as the dominant force in that arena. 

So, was I worried that machine-generated content was going to put me out of work? No, I answered. And as I started explaining why, I realized that my reasons made just as much sense for my clients' purposes as they did for my own. Let's look at three reasons experienced, skilled human content creators aren't going anywhere anytime soon -- and why you wouldn't want them to.

Reason 1: Google Can Tell When You're Using AI

Until Chat GPT and its ilk become the law of the land regarding search, the major search engines will continue to make the rules as far as what content ranks and what doesn't -- with Google as the head arbiter. Okay, so you can still go ahead and ask Chat GPT to create your written content for you and then post it, right? Yes, you can, but there's a potentially worrying catch: Google can theoretically detect AI-generated content with the aid of programs such as GPT-2 Output Detector. Google might not downrank your content simply because it detects it as "fake," at least not currently. But keep in mind that Google likes to tweak its algorithm from time to time based on new criteria for relevance and authenticity, so who knows whether the AI-generated content you post today will still rank in the future?

Reason 2: AI Provides Content Without Context

AI content creation has been around longer than you might think. Many years ago, I wrote a blog post about a program that could generate quick, accurate football and baseball game summaries. I noted that while this kind of straightforward journalism might suffice for recounting plays, scores, and penalties, the program couldn't really place those basic facts into any larger, more meaningful context. While I'm sure AI has evolved somewhat along these lines in the years that followed, it still can't provide the kind of editorial insights or commentary that lend a piece of writing real depth. If you're happy with a laundry list of information, maybe AI will do the job for you. But if you're looking for writing that has real thought behind it, you want to bring some organic gray matter on board.

Reason 3: It Takes a Person to Understand a Person

Robots don't buy your products or services; people do. How do people make their decisions about who to buy from and why? As I've noted in the past, you can throw all the facts and figures in the world at a potential customer without nudging them toward the proverbial "Buy" button. That's because the decision to buy hinges on emotions, not logic. At the end of the day, all information aside, people buy from you because your content inspires feelings of warmth, agreement, and trust. Professional copywriters know how to trigger those emotions -- not just because we spend years training ourselves in all the necessary techniques, but because we understand how your target audience feels and thinks on a human level as well as a data-based one. In other words, it takes one to know one.

Don't forget that when you work with a living, breathing marketing copywriter, you get more than just  content -- you also get a real interaction with a creative professional who can go back and forth with you on strategy, tactics, and ideas. If that sounds like something you want and need, contact me today and experience the real deal!

Monday, February 13, 2023

Want to Market Yourself More Successfully? Stop Selling and Start Giving

Recently I found myself chatting with a marketing consultant who expressed some frustration with a client's attempts at writing his own PR: "He's a great businessman, he's a strong writer, but he tries to turn everything into an ad."

A salesperson's first instinct is to sell. When given an opportunity to appear in print, we all feel an urge to bombard that empty space with the details of how great we are and why. But we must remember that the only articles that interest readers is one that gives them something of value instead of simply lunging for their wallets. If you want us to make an emotional investment in your brand, ell us why we should care about what you do and how you do it.

You can promote your value through any and all kinds of marketing content. For example, you can issue a press release announcing an item of community interest. Your company's grand opening, improved product line, or expanded service area is a news piece, and your audience gains immediately by knowing more about what's happening in their town or neighborhood. A sufficiently large announcement attracts the regional or national press. In any case, a good press release informs first and advertises second.

What about other forms of marketing writing that use subtlety to win readers' interest in your business? Again, the key is to give them something attractive and meaningful to their daily lives. Here are a couple of examples:

Solve a problem. How many of us have needed a quick, authoritative answer to some vexing question, from how to unclog a drain to how to choose a business broker? Post an online article providing ready answers to a question, and you've taken a thorn out of your lion's paw. Add your company's contact information to the bottom of the article, and that lion will reach out to you the next time a similar thorn comes along.

Entertain. A funny, touching, or exciting human interest story makes a great feature article. Entertaining your readers is a surefire way to grab their attention and make them want to learn more about your products or services. And true-life stories can be powerful testimonials. Touch their hearts and they'll think of you when it's time to buy.

I once knew an insurance agent who made a point of saying, "I don't sell insurance; I help people buy it." When we educate instead of sell, we help our potential customers get what they want. By increasing your value to your target audience by enlightening and entertaining them instead of hard-selling them, you earn their trust, respect, and loyalty. If you'd like help crafting the kind of content that can capture their hearts and minds, contact me so we can position you as the best thing that ever happened to your customers!