Monday, April 8, 2024

Say Again? The Value of Repetition in Your Marketing Content

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

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


Email Drip Campaigns

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

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

Blogging

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

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

Websites

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

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

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



Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Smart Ways to Streamline Your Marketing Content

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

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


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

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

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

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






Tuesday, February 27, 2024

3 Underrated Topics That Can Enhance and Empower Your Blog

Here we go again, encountering that most dreaded of nemeses: the blank screen. If you maintain a blog, you probably face this recurring battle about as enthusiastically as your next root canal appointment. We bloggers are always on the hunt for varied, entertaining, valuable subject matter we can share with our target audiences. But it can be all too easy to fall into a rut where you rehash the same handful of topics over and over, boring both yourself and your readers in the process. Additionally, it's just plain hard to find a hundred ways to spin the same article. Maybe it's time to start thinking out of the box by tapping some other kinds of blog posts -- posts that mix things up while still offering genuine interest and marketing value. Take a look at three powerful contenders that business owners often underrate or neglect.


Underrated Topic #1: The Employee Spotlight

Many company blogs spend most or all of their time addressing customer questions, needs, and concerns -- rightly so, since Google searches on these topics can lead directly to helpful blog posts on these subjects. You definitely want to keep creating a steady stream of such posts, but you should also take a little time to remind your audience of just how well-equipped your team is to tackle those challenges. So why not post a "Team Member of the Month" or "Meet Our Newest Team Member" article every once in a while? Introduce one of your specialists and mention that person's position, functions, background, credentials, industry experience, hobbies, et cetera. It's an easy write; after all, you've got their resumes on file, and you can email a simple questionnaire to get any other details that would enliven the article. Plus it helps your customers feel that they know you.

Underrated Topic #2: The Industry Update

You might be thinking, "Oh, none of my customers care about the ups and down of my industry." Think again! Changes in techniques, strategies, economic factors, cultural preferences, and other dynamics have a direct impact on your business -- which in turn can have a direct impact on how you serve your target market. This means that you can, how has the evolving EV market affected what kinds of cars people are buying? If you're in the electronics industry, what do your customers need to understand about the impact of supply-chain disruptions? It might feel like you're trading marketing for journalism, but you can spin these facts and figures back to the bottom line: why you're the knowledgeable expert your customers should continue to trust.

Underrated Topic #3: The Hearty Laugh

Enough of the serious stuff -- sometimes people just want and need a lighthearted break in their day. Believe it or not, you can make a big impact just by giving your target audience a laugh or two. Now, unless you're in the comedy business, you obviously don't want to devote your blog to nothing but yucks. However, an occasional humor-oriented piece does no harm, and it may in fact do your brand a world of good. You're not just a company; you're a team of witty, charming humans worth listening to, laughing with, and ultimately buying from. I throw out the odd "comedy" piece from time to time, such as my annual October post in which I relate common marketing challenges to Halloween horrors. It's fun for my audience, it's fun for me, and it still lets me address genuine marketing issues.

Give these three kinds of blog topics a try. I think you and your readers will appreciate the fresh dose of variety and vitality that results. I'm always happy to help you dream up and write these articles, so don't hesitate to reach out!

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Best Practices for Assembling Your Own Marketing Team

Are you ready to put together a regular marketing team to promote your brand? Maybe you're launching a new business from scratch, or maybe you'd rather have your own go-to gang than rely on(and pay for) a big-time marketing agency. Whatever your reasons for assembling your own crew, you'll want to go about it as efficiently, effectively, and painlessly as possible. So here are some tips and considerations worth keeping in mind as you proceed.


Outsource that talent. Sure, it's great to have the "always-on" available and consistency that you can get from an in-house marketing department. But with those advantages come the disadvantages of having to offer insurance, paid vacation, and other benefits employees expect in today's workplace. Outsourcing different marketing tasks to freelancers with the necessary skill and experience in their assigned areas can yield the same high-quality results as long as everyone communicates well. (More on that in a bit.) It also lets you pay for services on an as-needed basis instead of having to dole out full salaries to people who might spend the quieter days twiddling their thumbs.

Make sure each team member fits. The most brilliant portfolio or resume in the world can't tell you everything you need to know about a prospective marketing team member. How reliably do they produce a high standard of work? How consistently do they meet deadlines? How favorably do previous clients or employees rank the experience of working with that individual? Ask for referrals and testimonials, interview candidates personally to determine whether you can deal with them comfortably on a regular basis, and ask other marketing team members to recommend some of their favorite past colleagues.

Engage multiple pros for each function. I once had a client who depended desperately on my availability any and every time he needed copywriting. I had to urge him to get acquainted with at least one other copywriter, and preferably a small bullpen of copywriters, in case I got run over by a steamroller or something. Don't put all your creative eggs in one basket -- have two or more writers, designers, and other marketing specialists in your contact list at all times. You'll not only ensure a steady stream of marketing content production, but you'll have the option of cherry-picking the best mix of individuals for this or that project.

Make the hierarchy clear and simple. The last thing you want to deal with in a complex marketing campaign is a confused mish-mash of ideas and execution from a bunch of individuals who are each following the beat of a different drum. Hire a full-time marketing coordinator who can serve as a point person for the entire team. Have this person create a clear long-term marketing strategy, complete with a detailed editorial calendar. Your marketing coordinator can then consolidate all communications, drafts, notes, and revisions from all hands via a collaborative work platform such as Basecamp or Asana.

Best of luck in assembling your marketing team -- and remember, if you're looking for a freelance marketing copywriter, I'm just a click away!


Tuesday, January 30, 2024

A Professional's Tips for a Better Professional Bio

Who are you? That may seem like a simple question, but think about it. Most of us present different personae in different situations or to different people. So if you're posting a professional bio to your website, a professional directory, or a popular social media platform such as LinkedIn, you'd better customize the way you present yourself for optimal results. Here are some tips to keep in mind.


Imagine your audience. Would you use the same approach to ask for a date that you would to ask for a job? (I'm assuming that asking for dates isn't your job, of course.) Business owners or representatives need to introduce themselves, not to the general public, but to their public, the specific target audience they aim to cultivate. Think hard about the ideal reader of your bio blurb. What do you want that reader to do? Offer you a job? Check out your products or services? Recommend you to an associate? Focus on telling that person exactly what they'll want to hear so you can get the desired response.

Match the bio to its surroundings. I've been called in to rewrite employee bios that stuck out like broken teeth on the client's website because they simply didn't match the style and tone of other bios on the same page (or of the site in general). There's always one guy who insists on providing 500 words when everyone else has made do with 100 or less (or vice versa), or whose bio uses first-person address in a sea of surrounding third-person entries. Some bios may seem overly friendly in contrast to the rest of the page, while others may seem relatively dry and stiff. If your bio will be added to a general bio page, read the existing entries carefully and try to match their characteristics. The exception to this rule occurs when your bio will sit alongside those of your competitors on a directory page. On those occasions you definitely want to stand out as much as possible, as long as you stand out in a good way!)

Keep things clear and readable. A bio isn't a resume. Your goal is not to include every single detail of your professional/academic/personal life; it's to get the reader interested in who you are and what you offer, period. Ever looked at the author bio on a book jacket? In most cases, you get the least you need to know to make you think, "Wow, this author has some impressive credentials. I think I'll give this book a shot." Feel free to write a long draft, but be willing to go back and cut (and cut, and cut). As for word choices, go for clarity above all else. Impress the reader, not with the size of your vocabulary, but with the high points of your skills and experience.

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Is It Time to Change How You Market Yourself?

We can all relate to the old saying, "Times change." Of course, anyone who's ever heard of Einstein can tell you that time itself is a relative thing that runs faster or slower for us depending how fast we're moving through space, et cetera. But what really matters in the marketing world is how we change. Our businesses, our brands. and our audiences evolve and remodel themselves constantly in response to other changes, from economic pressures to new technologies. And as these changes come about, you have to adjust your marketing approach accordingly. Let's look at some of the reasons you may need to change how you market yourself and what forms those changes might take.


New Offerings

Did your business pivot in a different direction at some point in 2023, or is it poised to make that pivot now? Did you retire some products and services while introducing others? Did your industry undergo a major shift that compelled you to shift along with it? I know that many of us professional writers had to figure out our relationship with AI, for instance. In my case, I actually added an "AI-generated content repair" service because so many clients were sending me bland, generic, awkward content and asking if I could energize and personalize it for them -- and of course that meant creating a new page on my website to promote the new service. Make sure your current marketing content still relates to what you actually do before you wade any farther into 2024.

New Channels

I recently asked a guy I know in the home services field about any changes to his marketing strategy for the new year. He mentioned that his company was taking a break from terrestrial radio. After many years of running radio spots on the same station, they felt that they'd kind of hit a wall, so he's now shifting his company's strategies more toward digital marketing. He'll find no shortage of fresh fields there, and as long as he chooses online channels and pursues them diligently, I'm sure his business will get a welcome boost. What social media platforms and other media channels do you currently use -- and how are they working out for you? Maybe you need to review the ROI of each channel you maintain, with an eye toward switching channels as needed. Or maybe you need to fill those channels with different content more likely to attract each channel's key demographics. New topics or a new tone could mean new profits.

New Audiences

Your brand identity and messaging worked great on your established target audience for X number of years, so why does it seem so ineffective now? Like I said, times change -- and so do people's needs, roles, challenges, and expectations. Sure, you can keep marketing to the same folks as always -- but those folks are getting older. So you may need to alter your brand to appeal to that older demographic, or you may want to freshen your brand so it can appeal to a whole new generation of buyers. You've seen countless brands reinvent themselves over the years by adopting flashy new slogans, aiming their ads at a different crowd, or redesigning their facilities to bring them up to date with the latest trends. Maybe you need to start putting out new, different marketing content to capture a contemporary audience or seize new sales opportunities.

Successful organizations separate themselves from the also-rans by adopting new strategies and tactics i. an ever-changing world. As we move forward through this new year, ask yourself whether your marketing content still serves your image, your solutions, and your audience. A freelance marketing copywriter can help you re-craft your content to accommodate the changing times. Contact me today so you can get a head start on creating a brighter tomorrow for your business!

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Want Better Results From Your Marketing Content? Personalize It!

Okay, folks, here we are in a brand-new year! You may have all kinds of dreams and goals for your business in 2024, while your customers probably have their own to-do lists to take care of, both at home and in the workplace. So how do you and your audience connect more powerfully (and profitably) than ever? A lot of your success will depend on what sorts of marketing content you create, what techniques you use to make it as relevant as possible, and how you target that message to your ideal demographic. Take the following tips to heart as you start churning out those blog posts, email articles, direct mail pieces, and other critical marketing messages.


Drop the Shotgun

I got an email just this morning from a marketing company I'd never heard of or communicated with. Normally, I'm more than happy to hear from marketing agencies, web developers and so on because we can share insights and collaborate on projects. In this case, however, I ended up unsubscribing and dumping the email in the trash almost immediately. What did this marketer do wrong? They sent me a general message that basically said, "Since it's a new year, I'm going to start sending you a series of emails on how to make the most of your social media in 2024." Um, thanks, but who asked you to? When did I ever indicate that I wanted or needed this "free" help? Do you even know who I am? Come to think of it, who are you?

You can see why this approach flopped with me. The marketer was obviously shooting out cold email blasts at anyone and everyone associated with the keyword "marketing." If you take this kind of shotgun approach, don't be too surprised when your emails wind up in the circular file as well. We've all got too much junk mail in our everyday lives as it is. Instead, target your previous contacts and current clients, sending them personalized messages that ask for their input, include an exciting offer, or request a fresh meeting to get up to date on their needs. When writing emails aimed at future prospects, keep it short and sweet, focusing on a basic introduction to what you do and inviting them to inquire further. 

Communicate Like Your Target Audience

Once you've found your target audience, either on your own or with the help of a skilled marketing strategist, you're ready to start aiming specific messages at them. But where do they hang out? Which social media channels do your customers prefer to frequent? Do they shop local, or are they more likely  to place orders online? Do they belong to a demographic that prefers snail mail to email? These and other pointed questions can help you figure out where you should place that marketing content and how often your audience might need to see it.

How does your target audience communicate? If your content adopts the wrong style or speaks on a different educational level than your target market, you'll just turn off those prospective buyers. You must also ask yourself what tone your audience most wants to hear in relation to your products or services. Do they want something from you that makes them feel warm and fuzzy, or do they want to feel impressed by the power of your professionalism? Whatever tone they're expecting, don't disappoint them.

Show That You Understand

As you may already know, I'm a big fan of the empathy statement as an effective way to open a marketing message. Your readers/viewers want to know that you feel their pain and can provide the remedy for it. But don't fall into the trap of making big blanket statements like, "We understand your frustration when it comes to bugs (or house cleaning, or lost sales, or whatever)." Instead, throw out specific examples that will hit various targets dead center: "You can't invite your loved ones over for the holidays with cockroaches running rampant." "You work hard all day, only to come home to a messy house. Don't you wish that mess could just disappear?" "You sell the world's greatest (whatever their industry sells), so why is your competition beating you?"

Empathy works on both emotional and practical levels. Your customers want to seek answers from someone who cares and understands. At the same time, they want to know that you've anticipated their challenges well enough to come up with the ideal solutions. This is your chance to be a hero -- so make sure your marketing content sends that message loud and clear.

Send the Right Message at the Right Time

One of the most useful aspects of email campaigns is their ability to address recipients' reactions (or lack thereof). I once got hired to redo an email campaign for a business broker who was getting lackluster results after the initial message. That first email did a great job of exciting people about the idea of buying a business, with positive requests for more information pouring in. But then the broker sent a second email with a mountain of business documentation attached -- which promptly turned the interaction cold as a carp. I helped to resolve this breakdown, and others, by writing a series of emails that swatted away each and every possible rebuttal a buyer might have. For instance, I started with a piece that basically said, "Don't be intimidated by that paperwork we sent you last time -- it's just part of the process, and we're happy to guide you through it every step of the way."

Another tip: Take care not to put the cart in front of the horse when writing a series of marketing emails. Start as I mentioned above, with a brief introduction and an offer to discuss the matter further. As you send additional cold emails, acknowledge that the prospect is a busy person and you don't mean to bother them. Save the detailed sales pitches, product descriptions, and case studies for your pile of warm emails. Once your prospects respond to a cold email, move them to the warm pile and start feeding them the information they now clearly welcome.

Do you need help creating more personalized marketing content that individuals will respond to with, "Wow, how did these guys know exactly what I need?" Well, that's what an experienced freelance marketing copywriter is for -- so contact me today, and let's start hitting your customers where they live!