Who Else Wants an Easy-Peasy Content Marketing Strategy?

BasingstokeYesterday, I was at Basingstoke with around 700 other small business owners getting inspired by the Entrepreneur’s Circle.

I love these events.

After all, when you work for yourself, it can get pretty isolating. And whilst the internet is a fantastic resource for hunting out new ideas, there’s nothing better than being in a room, sharing an experience with other like-minded people. As a little aside, big thanks to my mum who came with me to look after my little three-month-old boy! Otherwise the day away would have been impossible and I would have missed out :-)

Anyway, what always strikes me with events such as these, is the amount of ideas you come away with.

But mixed up with all the excitement, is a teeny-tiny bit of overwhelm as you wonder, “what the heck should I do first!

As a small business owner, organising your marketing plans to get them implemented is a key challenge – especially when you have budget and time constrains to think about.

Sales letters, blogs, newsletters, autoresponders, advert etc. Writing stuff so you can stay on your customers’ radar is super-important. But if you’ve got limited time and a limited budget, where on earth do you start?

If you’re struggling with just this question, unless you make a firm decision, you’ll either end up trying to implement too much at the same time and make a big hash of it OR get so tongue-tied and tangled, that you end up doing nothing. And that’s no good for anyone – especially your bottom line.

So what’s the solution?

Well, here’s an easy-peasy six-step strategy to help give you the clarity you need to get going – FAST…

1. Big picture thinking

The first step is to get clear on what you’re trying to achieve.

Try to visualise you and your business having already achieved your goal and you’ll know what’s most important to you. If it’s more sales, you need to focus on sales material. But if it’s more authority, you’ll want to invest more effort creating positioning and reputation-building content.

2.  Identify your options

Once you’ve got a big picture view of what you want to achieve, the next step is to concentrate on the detail. Let’s look at our two examples in turn:

If you want to boost sales, you could: 

  1. Create a compelling lead magnet to grow your list
  2. Create an autoresponder to stay on the radar
  3. Write some sales letters with a no-brainer offer to evoke desire and a deadline to create urgency
  4. Create some lumpy direct mail that encourages people to buy
  5. Create a landing page and direct traffic to it via social media and PPC

If you want to enhance your reputation, you could:

  1. Create a blog strategy and write about useful content on a regular, consistent basis
  2. Produce a monthly printed newsletter packed with useful content
  3. Guest blog on relevant sites to tap into a new audience
  4. Run a webinar or a Google hangout and tackle a key problem faced by your target customers
  5. Collect and use testimonials that prove you’re the “go-to” person in your niche

3. Organise your priorities

If you work by yourself, you’ll struggle to do all the above well.

So the next step is to look at your budget and your time constraints and decide which one thing is the domino.

What I mean by this is, which ONE thing do you think will have the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.

It could be:

  1. The one that is the fastest route to the money (which you can then invest into other things)
  2. The one that has the biggest leverage
  3. The one thing you can do right now
  4. The one thing you can get help with to make it happen faster

When you as this question, what you’ll often find is there in ONE thing on your list that can act as your accelerator to kick-start your progress. And once you’re going, you’ll create the momentum you need to take you towards your goals that much quicker.

4. Implement

Once you’ve decided where you’ll start, make it happen. If it’s sales letters to your existing list to promote a particular product, create the time in your schedule now when you will write them. In addition, decide a timescale. Without this, you’ll find the task will have a sneaky way of absorbing all the time that you give it!

In addition, don’t feel you have to do everything yourself. You may find it’s more cost-effective to get someone to help you, especially if writing is not your thing.

5. Reflect and review

Once you’ve implemented, you need to step back and review and reflect on what happened.

  • What results did you generate?
  • Did it work?
  • What would make it better for next time?
  • Is there something else you could try etc.

6. What next

By implementing one thing, you have taken a step closer.

  • You may have earned some money which will allow you to invest in something else on your list.
  • You may have made new connections which will open new doors
  • You may have raised your credibility and started new conversations

Whatever that may be, it’s now time to build on those successes and keep pressing forward. Yes, I know that it can feel relentless at times. It can also feel that you’re not getting anywhere because there is always more to do. BUT, remember this. Implementation is the secret that closes the gap. Getting stuff done is what’s going to take your business from where you are now to where you need to be.

What are you going to do?

As a business owner you have the freedom and flexibility to create anything you want. Simply tap into your creativity, ensure it benefits your customers and communicate your offer in a compelling way and anything is possible.

I’d love to know what you’re up to, so why not leave a comment below or drop me an email to georgina@gemwriting.co.uk.

You rock!

Are You Using This Super-Simple Method To Increase Your relevance?

Alice at PennywellGood news! In this post I’m going to reveal an easy way to get your emails read and your direct mail opened. Sounds good right?

But before we get to that, here’s a short story to make my point – it involves children and animals!

As you know, it’s hard to switch off when you’re a business owner.

I’m always looking for the next idea which I can implement and I’ve noticed they crop up in the most unlikely of places!

Take our recent day out to Pennywell Farm in Devon (if you’re ever in the area and have young kids, it’s well worth a visit). Upon arrival, children are given a sticker with their name and age on (you can see my daughter’s in the picture). It’s such a simple touch but it makes a huge difference to the children’s experience whilst they’re at the farm. At Pennywell, there’s a new activity every half an hour. It’s a great interactive day out and children are actively encouraged to get stuck in. And that’s where the stickers come into play. The staff leading the activities can talk to the children by name. And the result? Instant rapport.

Of course, there’s a powerful marketing message in this…

Customers are more likely to take notice and respond if you tailor your communication and refer to them by name. 

Here are three reasons why:

  1. It’s much harder to ignore someone when they say your name
  2. Use of your name makes the message feel more personal and less like a mass broadcast that’s been sent to lots of people
  3. When your name is used, a conversations shifts from general to personal

And of course, using names is a proven way to build relationships and make people feel more valued. And that’s sound business sense.

How can you apply this in your business?

If you want to get your emails read and your direct mail opened, personalise it. Simple!

Avoid turning people off with general broadcasts and instead, carefully craft your marketing messages so they appeal to a specific target audience. Getting close to your customer avatar will help. That’s because when you know who you want to attract, you’ll automatically hone your message to appeal directly to those people – and the result – you’ll instantly be perceived as more relevant.

Next, use your customer’s names wherever you can (and to help you do that, consider the contact details you ask for when recording a lead).

This will make your email marketing feel more intimate. After all, an email that simply says “hello” is obviously a piece of mass communication.

Try personalising your envelopes when sending direct mail. Just check out the awesome envelope that my printed newsletter from Print Guy arrived in. Can you imagine that being left unopened?

Kapow personalisation

In addition, you can also weave personalisation into your social media campaigns and other marketing strategies. There’s stacks of good practice out there that you can swipe and deploy. For example, Coke embraced the power of personalisation over the summer with their much talked about names on coke bottle campaign.

Georgina Coke personalisation

And Ikea is also exploring the benefits. One of my colleagues told me how her local Ikea had a green screen at their local store and was taking family photos to put on catalogues. Now that’s one way of ensuring it doesn’t end in the bin.

How could you use personalisation in your business?

There’s stacks of scope to use personalisation creatively in your business. I’d love to hear your success stories so please let me know in the comments below how you’ve used personalisation to attract more leads, get more sales and grow your reputation.

7 Secrets For Defeating Writer’s Block (and a FREE poster)

Creation of composition and crumpled sheets on wooden tableI have a confession to make…

This weekend I’ve finally started work on a new personal writing project.

It’s something I’ve been mulling over for a while now, but somehow I’ve just been too busy to get started. After all, I do have an eight-week old baby, client work and other bits and pieces vying for my attention.

Good excuse huh! I thought so too ;-) 

But these “good” excuses were just a cover up to make me feel better about what’s really stopping me. You see the truth is, I’ve been bitten by a bout of writer’s block (yes, it happens to professional writer’s too).

A clever procrastinator that undermines your profit potential

And it’s no laughing matter. I know that writer’s block sounds innocent enough. But the reality is very different.

It’s made me procrastinate and delay getting a new idea out there – after all, it’s not easy to push through the blockage. And as a result, my profit potential has been harmed. For me writer’s block arrives because of fear – fear that what I write won’t cut it. And that fear is tangible. After all, the words that end up on the page are part of me – and that can leave you feeling vulnerable and exposed to criticism.

Can you see how clever writer’s block is? It plays on your fears and can stop you dead in your tracks. In addition, it can add costly delays into your business plans and it can wreak havoc with your confidence.

What’s more, it manifests in a number of ways. Perhaps you’ll recognise some of these…

  1. You think your idea is rubbish so you never start
  2. You can’t get the ideas from your head coherently onto paper
  3. You procrastinate on a writing job and put it off until tomorrow (or until never)
  4. You stare at the blank paper and freeze
  5. When you do sit down, you can’t think of anything to write and so flick over to Facebook or Twitter

It’s no wonder so much business writing never makes it into print… What you need is a strategy.

Seven secrets for defeating writer’s block

Here are seven ways to help ensure you get that first draft of your blog post, sales letter, printed newsletter etc. out of your head and into black and white.

  1. Recognise it – writer’s block takes many forms. So when your fingers freeze, your brain fogs and your pen won’t move, don’t procrastinate. Instead, push through the pain and get something onto paper.
  2. Get in the mood – clear away distractions, chain yourself to your chair and just write (or type).
  3. Set yourself a time limit – if that writing task is freaking you out, set the timer for just 15 minutes, and then write yourself silly (and once you’ve started, I bet you won’t want to stop).
  4. Write without criticism – don’t let your judgemental mind hold you back. Instead allow your imagination to explore, keep writing and get the bare bones onto paper – it can be cleared up later.
  5. It’s natural to doubt yourself – so just push on through the doubt and let your ideas flow.
  6. Don’t aim for perfection – there’s a time for perfectly polished sentences and it’s NOT now.
  7. And remember – anything goes – bullet points, lists and scribbles are perfect for getting into a flow (and then watch what starts to take shape).

So what’s stopping you? Come on. Let’s get writing :-)

Do let me know how you get on. Just pop a comment in the space below and tell me how you’re defeating writer’s block and what written nuggets you’re creating. And if you’re wondering what I’ve been procrastinating over – it’s a new product designed to help non-writer’s create copy that works. So watch this space. I’ll be launching it on Monday 4th November (to mark my daughter’s 3rd birthday).

Your bonus: FREE writer’s block poster

Good news! I’ve created a downloadable poster of these seven strategies for you to print out and pin-up. Simply click here to download your FREE copy now.

Five Writing Tips That Can Multiply Your Profits

One Two Three Four Five Counting Finger HandsI’m constantly intrigued.

Why are business owners willing to invest in design and print costs only to skimp on their words?

For sure it’s important your marketing looks good and arrives in your prospects hands looking like the real deal. BUT if the message is all wrong, you’ve potentially thrown good money down the drain AND missed out on sales.

Your message will make the difference and that’s why being able to write for your business is such an important skill to either learn or outsource.

In fact, it can multiply your profit potential – here’s how…

1.  Know your audience

OK this sounds really obvious but I find a lot of business owners don’t know their target customer that well. And the results are detrimental. You see, if you can’t picture in your mind who you are talking to, you’ll only ever create a generic message. And by appealing to everyone, you end up appealing to no one. In turn your sales message falls flat and you get disappointed.

In comparison, if you understand your customer’s pain, what will motivate them to take action, how they make their buying decisions, what they’re struggling with etc. you can address these concerns through your copy.

And the result? You’ll instantly appear more relevant and interesting. And whilst you may not appeal to so many people – often this is a good thing. You see, If potential customers self select, it means you can reduce the amount of time, effort and money spent on attracting people who in reality are not a good match for you and your business.

2.  Have a clear end goal

This second tip will help you structure and focus the direction of your message.

It’s all about having a clear idea of what you want a piece of writing to achieve. You see that’s one of the BIG differences between writing good English and copywriting. Copywriting is about persuasion.

So what do you want your reader to do? Your objective will vary depending on the type of writing you are doing but could include downloading a special report, buying something, joining your list to discover more about your coaching, singing up for a discounted trial etc.

If you know where you want to take your reader, you can carefully craft your message and plan your structure to ensure they arrive at YOUR chosen destination.

And of course, when they get there, ensure you have a clear, specific call to action which makes it crystal clear EXACTLY what you want your reader to do next.

3. Use stories

Stories, anecdotes and case studies instantly make your words more compelling. After all, people are interested in people. But the reason goes deeper than that. Humans are hard-wired to remember and respond to stories. Stories help information to stick which means as a marketing tool, they are invaluable.

Case studies are also really useful as a form of social proof to back-up what you’re saying. When you talk about real people that you and your business have helped, potential clients (who fall into your target avatar) are able to see the possibilities for themselves – and that’s a very powerful way to market your business.

4.  Answer objections

This tip is really cool.

People will always have objections to your offer. And these reservations will vary. For example:

  • That’s too expensive
  • I don’t really need that
  • No way – that’s too good to be true
  • I don’t believe that could do that
  • I don’t need that now
  • Etc.

Now most business owners try to brush objections under the carpet. They cross their fingers and hope the reader won’t think like that and simply plough on with the sales pitch. Big mistake.

Never underestimate the intelligence of your readers. Here’s a great quote from advertising guru David Ogilvy which makes this point far better than I can:

“The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything. She wants all the information you can give her”.

Instead, anticipate all the possible objections to your offer and write them down. (If you know your target customer, this is often easier than you might think). Next, figure out how you will address them. Finally, weave this information into your message – even better if you can answer the objection when the question arrises.

5. Write more!

I know, it’s easy for me to say this BUT there are two very good reasons why writing more will help you multiply your profits.

  1. The more you write the easier it becomes: And whilst good copywriting does require a degree of technical knowledge, it’s also about having the creativity and insights to write interesting stuff that appeals to your target customer. And the more you put pen to paper, the more natural writing becomes.
  2. It ensures you keep in touch with your customers: I guarantee your customers do not hear from you enough. Often businesses only send out some words when they have something to sell. Not a good idea! Never forget. It’s not your customers’ job to remember to do business with you. It’s your job to stay on their radar – and the written word is a really powerful way to do this. So email more often, write an extra blog a month, send out a press release, add additional content to your website etc. Use words to build and enrich the relationship you have with your customers and your profits will multiply.

non-writer's guideAre you a non-writer?

I’m at my most comfortable with a pen and notebook in my hand or sat tapping away on my iMac. I just love to write and I always have.  And whilst writing to sell is very different from the fairytales and fiction I used to enjoy creating as a kid, a lot of the principles are the same. 

But I know many people don’t feel the same as me! They are consumed with writer’s block, get turned off by the blank page and struggle to know what you write. If that sounds like you relax, because help is at hand. You see if you write copy for your business, you’ll want to get your hands on my FREE report – The Non-Writer’s Guide To Creating Irresistible Content That Works. In addition to some insider secrets copywriting tips, it also contains a number of practical examples to show you great copywriting in practice.

Interested? Simply CLICK HERE to download your free copy :-)

3 Simple Ways To Sharpen Your Sales Copy

Sharpen your sales copyGreat sales copy reads effortlessly.

And it’s persuasive…

Somehow it catches your eye, draws you in and before you know it you find yourself nodding at the content and getting excited about owning the product or service that’s being “sold” to you.

And a response like this translates into a healthy bottom line…

But from a copywriting perspective, the problem with writing great copy is it’s time consuming and often challenging.

The end reader doesn’t get to see the countless drafts, screwed up pieces of paper and brainstorm of ideas and notes. Instead, all they see is the final polished version that’s been tweaked, honed and vigorously checked over to ensure the words are just right.

BUT if you want to stand out and get results, you need to invest this kind of effort to ensure your words are sharp, specific and persuasive.

And it’s NOT enough to simply describe what you’re selling.

You also need to consider the sales psychology which means figuring out the right angle, tweaking the order and identifying the hooks and stickiness that will keep your audience reading.

And that’s where these three simple techniques can really sharpen your sales copy.

1. Be curious about everything

Good copywriting isn’t just about being able to say things well.

It’s also about deciding what should and shouldn’t be included in your copy – and to be honest, this second bit poses your biggest challenge along with your biggest win.

You see you don’t need to have masses of experience in a particular industry to be able to write about it.

In fact, there are times when excessive prior knowledge can be a disadvantage because you can start making dangerous assumptions and taking things for granted.

In comparison, a newbie brings curiosity, surprising questions and fresh insights. What’s more, these fresh eyes will help you make unusual but interesting connections and ideas which can turn a piece of writing from dull to delicious.

So I urge you to look around with childlike curiosity. Be interested in everything you see. Be aware of how different people see the world and learn from these experiences. Take notes. Jot down ideas and allow your discoveries to weave their way into your own copywriting. I promise it will make your words more compelling.

2.  Be brave and explore fresh ideas

Most business owners who write their own copy never take risks.

Instead they fall into the trap of churning out the same old, boring, indistinguishable sales copy as everyone else – and then wonder why customers get turned off.

If you really want to make a difference in your business you need to be willing to take a few calculated risks and try something a bit different. For sure it may not work BUT the upshot is it could…

Think about:

  • What would happen if you added a splash of your personality into your marketing?
  • How about using your creative flair to help you stand out?
  • What about incorporating characters, storytelling and themes?

The cool thing about business is there’s so much you could try – and in reality inspiration is everywhere. Just look around you, notice what catches your attention and then ask this cracking question.

How could I apply that idea in my business?  

3.  Sleep on it

There may be times when you simply have to get something out NOW.

However, if you can wait do because it’s always worth sleeping on a finished draft before you hit the send or publish button.

That’s because I guarantee that even the best piece of sales will always be improved when you look at it afresh the next day.

You’ll probably spot some typos or grammatical errors that you overlooked the previous day (beware, your mind will read what you want it to say rather than what it actually says!)

But more importantly, you’ll probably uncover a better way of making a point or identify a more suitable analogy or case study that sharpens and enriches your words.

Copywriting is an essential business skill – FACT

The ability to write sharp copy is undoubtedly one of the most important skills you can learn and develop if you want to run a successful business.

Being able to consistently persuade customers through irresistable words and interesting marketing concepts can help you find more customers, build your reputation and grow your business. And to achieve that, not only do you need to write well – you also need to stay open to ideas.

So allow your curiosity and imagination a free reign, and see what you uncover :-)

P.S: If you write your own copy and want to sharpen your skills, I suggest you sign-up and download your free copy of  the Non-Writer’s Guide To Creating Irresistible Copy That Works. As well as being packed with useful tips and ideas, you’ll also discover 12 practical examples to show you good copy in practice. To download your copy simply CLICK HERE.

Here’s An Easy Way To Create A Customer Avatar For Your Business

AvatarsHands up who wants to:

  • Massively increase their conversion rates
  • Attract more of their “best” customers
  • Create advertising that actually works by generating an impressive return on your investment?

If so read on because I’m about to reveal a highly effective, yet easy to use marketing tool that could seriously revolutionise how you approach your marketing.

It’s time to create a customer avatar for your business

A customer avatar is simply a detailed profile of your target customer. Once you’ve got one you can use it to do things like:

  1. Market to and own a niche where you become “the one to go to”
  2. Hone your marketing message so it appeals to a specific someone as opposed to a generic everyone.
  3. Increase conversion rates because you’ll be able to say the sorts of things that will encourage your target customer to take action
  4. Attract more of the right customer because the “wrong” people won’t be attracted by your message
  5. Avoid spending money on marketing that just doesn’t work

It’s relatively easy to create a customer avatar. It simply involves completing a template of detailed information to profile your best customer. And if you read on, you’ll discover a link at the end of this post where you can download the template I use with my own customers. What’s more it’s free :-)

But I don’t need an avatar because my business appeals to everyone…

Wrong!

Let me tell you that unless you genuinely are a mass market business, this simply isn’t true.  And here’s the evidence. You see, if you take a closer look at your customer base, you’ll discover there’s a core of people who:

  • Spend more
  • Give you repeat business
  • Upgrade to your premium products / services
  • Generate a large percentage of your profit (and don’t barter with you on price)
  • Give you great feedback
  • Are great to work with
  • AND best of all, they refer you to their friends, say nice things about you on social media and help market your business via word of mouth.

What’s more, if you look even closer, these people will often have common demographics, values and motivational drivers.

Then compare this with other customers on your books who only buy once, are more demanding and make you feel uncomfortable or unsettled. I bet you’ll find these people don’t share the same profile as your core group!

So whilst your business could theoretically serve anyone, which group would you most like to work with on a consistent basis?

Focus ALL your attention on attracting the right people

With a detailed customer avatar in your business toolbox you’ll be in the minority. That’s because most business owners will not make the effort. And as a result you get to work a brilliant competitive advantage.

That’s because instead of creating advertising that is forgettable, generic and blends in with what everyone else is saying, you can tightly tailor your message to your ideal customer. For example:

  • Creatively use the language your customers use
  • Closely address their buying objections
  • Design the sort of offer you know your avatar will respond to
  • Filter out the sort of person you’d rather not work with etc.

In addition, instead of guessing the most effective marketing media, or simply using the format that everyone else is trying, you can choose the method you know your target customers are most likely to look at.

And as a result you’ll increase your conversion rate, attract more of the right customer AND avoid burning money on advertising that simply doesn’t work.

Cool right :-)

Then download your FREE customer avatar template now :-)

Please don’t miss this opportunity to seriously improve your business marketing. Instead download your free template now and use it to work on your customer avatar. Just click here.

Then once finished, give your avatar a name. Even better find an image that best represents the person you’ve described. Next pin your avatar up somewhere prominent in your working space as a constant reminder of who’s the right who for you.

Then every time you:

  • Write a blog post
  • Work on some new copy
  • Develop a new product or service etc.

Make the effort to get into the shoes of this person and visualise their perspective. What do they need to know? What could they struggle to understand? What objections might they have? etc.

And the result? The chances of your words hitting home will increase…

And what impact could that have on your bottom line?

Now that’s something to think about…

P.S: Download your free template NOW. Just click here. It’s free :-)

Warning: Are These 14 Essential Ingredients Missing From Your Marketing?

Stand out from the crowdAs a copywriter I see a lot of really poor marketing.

I define this as marketing that:

  • Fails to attract attention
  • Doesn’t inspire customers to take action
  • Is boring and forgettable
  • Is “industry generic” (meaning in the absense of your name and logo it could apply to just about any of your competitors)

And the worse bit is it means ambitious business owners like you are losing out on sales.

But it doesn’t have to be this way…

You see good marketing will help stand out in your niche, attract more customers and multiply your income.

And it can be achieved if you combine time and creativity with these 14 proven techniques.

So read on and discover your copywriting checklist

And don’t miss the link to a FREE downloadable version at the bottom :-)

1.  Communicate your USP

  • Why should customers pick you over all the competition?
  • What makes you “the one to go to” in your niche?
  • What can people get from you that they can’t get from ANYONE else?

Figure this out, weave it into your marketing message and suddenly you’ve got a Unique Selling Point that can encourage customers to make you their first choice.

2. Write headlines that attract attention

Without question your headline is the most important aspect of ANY marketing material.

Want proof? Then consider this…

Approximately 8 out of 10 people will read your headline whilst only 2 out of 10 people will read the rest of your message.

This statistic has SIGNIFICANT implications for where you focus your creative efforts.

You see, if your headline fails to inspire your reader to keep reading, the rest of your message is a complete and utter waste – it will go unnoticed.

In comparison, write a captivating headline that hooks your reader in with something that interests them, and you have a good chance of setting them up on a slippery slope through your pitch.

The lesson here is simple. You MUST spend the time needed to nail your headline. So please don’t settle for the first idea that springs to mind.

3.  Place the emphasis on YOU

Next check the emphasis of your copy.

I see far too much advertising where the business presents the message from THEIR perspective by using phrases such as “we do this” and “we think that“…

This approach is a BIG mistake.

You see, your potential customers are just not that interested in you.

All they want to know is What’s In It For Me?  

And the quickest way to achieve that is by using copious amounts of the most powerful word in advertising… YOU.

(N.B: The best ratio is around 3:1 – that’s three you’s for every we).

4. Sell the benefits

I bet you can explain the features of your product or service to a customer really easily.

In addition, I wouldn’t be surprised if you chose to explain those features in your advertising. A lot of micro businesses owners do.

However features fail to hit on the emotional buttons that you need to press if you want to close a sale.

Instead you need the emphasis to be placed on BENEFITS.

This means explaining what difference a customer will experience in their life if they invest in what you have to offer? 

Is it more time, more wealth, more intelligence, more power, more control etc…

You need to know because that is what you’re really selling.

And that’s the message you need to convey in your advertising. Do it and you’ll get more people buying. I guarantee it :-)

5. Include an offer…

As you know we are bombarded with information everywhere we look.

In addition to this you need to overcome people’s natural instinct to do nothing.

Offers are the best way to push someone to ACT NOW. So in addition to getting potential customers excited by how they could benefit from your business, ramp up your persuasive stakes by presenting an incentive that encourages them to buy | call | sign up etc. then and there.

But please avoid the boring, predictable 10% off! Instead try an added value package that doesn’t end up costing you money.

6.  With a fixed deadline

Boost your response rates by putting a fixed offer on your deadline. That means take action by x time on x date.

Avoid the temptations to use deadlines that never end because they train customers to expect your stuff to always be on special.

In addition, don’t be tempted to extend your deadline because you’ll simply undermine the integrity of your offer (and annoy the people who have already brought!).

7. Use a call to action to increase response rates

What do you want people to do after reading your message?

Perhaps you want them to:

  • Buy online
  • Call your office
  • Sign-up to your newsletter list
  • Complete a form etc.

Never leave a reader guessing. Always be clear and specific and outline EXACTLY what you want a reader to do once they have absorbed your marketing message.

If you don’t include a clear call to action, the likelihood of your readers doing nothing increases significantly (and the cost effectiveness of your advertising will diminish).

N.B: Don’t forget to include your contact details (and don’t laugh – I’ve seen it done!)

8. Testimonials add credibility

Seriously nothing is more powerful than a 3rd party telling potential prospects just how great you and your business is – especially if the testimonial has been written by someone who is your target customer.

So become an active testimonial collector. Don’t wait for the testimonials to come to you, instead actively ask for them as part of your customer pipeline process. And then weave them into your leaflets, press ads, website, sales letters, even blogs…

You’ll be amazed at the impact they can make.

9. Bullets & lists make for easy reading

However great your copywriting, it’s rare for a reader will give your sales message the same kind of attention that they will when reading a good book.

Which means you need to make it as easy as possible for your message to be absorbed.

Bullets and lists are great for this because they break up a big block of text and make it much easier on the eye.

In addition, don’t be afraid of short paragraphs and short sentences.

You’ll find these proven copywriting techniques all help to pull your reader effortlessly through your copy.

10. Long route & short cuts

Most people won’t read your sales message carefully from beginning to end.

Instead they are more likely to skim and skip their way through, landing on words and phrases that particularly stand out to them.

As such you need to ensure your message is communicated in multiple ways.

The whole piece of marketing should capture everything you want to say. But in addition to that, your subheads and emphasised words and phrases should enable a skim reader to grasp the essence of your message.

(This blog is a good example. You can read the subheads for a simple checklist, whilst the short descriptions underneath explain each one for detail and clarity).

11. Guarantees remove the risk

Guarantees are brilliant because they take away the risk from your reader and instead put the risk onto YOU.

As such, it helps to build trust, can boost your integrity and make it easier for potential customers to respond.

This article contains some really powerful examples of cracking guarantees.

And if you’re interested in mine, well I won’t stop writing until you’re happy. Simple. 

12. Photos & cartoons add visual interest

For sure your words are critical.

But images and cartoons can really help attract attention and draw people in.

And this works even better if you integrate captions. After all, captions are the second most read element of your message after the headline. So don’t miss this opportunity to make an impact.

13. Write for somebody, not everybody

If you try to appeal to everybody who could possibly be interested in your business, you’ll end up appealing to nobody.

The quickest way to raving customers and making more money is to know who your ideal customer is and then write your message so it’s specifically targeted at them.  This means:

  • Getting involved with the conversations that are already happening around their kitchen table
  • Using your customers’ “jargon” and language
  • Solving the key problems your customer faces etc.

Make this person the focus of your marketing message, and you’ll have a much better chance of success.

14. P.S:  Don’t forget the P.S!

The P.S. at the bottom of your sales letter is often overlooked.

In fact, surprisingly it’s one of the most well-read parts of your advertising. So use it well – or lose out on sales.

Get your marketing checklist… It’s FREE!

Copywriting theory is relatively easy to grasp.

After all, I expect most of what I’ve written in this post makes perfect sense.

The problem is, when it comes down to writing your message, you forget or get confused by all the different elements you need to include. That’s the hard bit.

So to help I’ve created a really simple A4 checklist which you can pin up on your desk to remind you of the elements you should include when creating your next marketing piece.

It’s easy to get a copy. To download the checklist simply click here.

P.S: Please leave any questions in the comments below :-)

Ten Tricks To Make Creativity A Cornerstone Of Your Micro Business

How much time do you spend being creative in your micro business?

Creativity is about manifesting something new and bringing ideas and concepts from your imagination into a tangible form.

As a copywriter, being creative is my job. And that means I spend a lot of time in my zone.

But is it enough?

As a micro business owner there are always a million things to do. And that means it can be difficult to find dedicated creative time. However if you do, it could help you outsmart the competition. That’s because:

1.  It’s inspiring

Creativity is exciting. It gives you a buzz and can inspire both yourself and your customers. Just look at the legacy of Apple’s Steve Job.

2.  It’s innovating

If you create and develop something new, just watch how innovation gives your business momentum. You’ll push boundaries and make new things possible.

3.  It’s outsmarting

Use creativity to tap new markets, reach new customers, and keep existing buyers wanting more. Stay creative, spot the new ideas and you’ll be the business out front.

Convinced? Here are ten tricks to wake up your creativity

1.  Find your “zone”

You’ll be at your most creative when ideas free flow and ooze naturally. So take the time to discover what takes you to that place. Often it will be when you stop trying.

2.  Stay inspired

It’s a good way to find your zone. Read, ask questions, speak to customers, spend time in nature or listen to music. Find what gets your ideas flowing. And once you know what it is, commit to spending quality time hanging out there.

3.  Keep a notepad

I take my Moleskine everywhere. A notebook is a great tool to jot down random thoughts and fleeting glances. What’s more it will quickly develop into a valuable resource. It ensures you don’t waste time trying to remember and gives you a head start when brainstorming.

4.  Schedule creative time

Whilst it’s true creativity is a natural process, it does require some good old-fashioned elbow grease. So commit at least an hour each week (more if you can) and put it in your diary so you don’t forget.

5.  Don’t try to hard

OK this contradicts the last point but too much effort can stifle creativity. So if it’s not working, move on and try something else. If creating feels difficult, your critical head may be in the way and a cracking idea could be stifled. So when this happens…

6.  Sleep on it

Or take a walk. Discover what works to take you away from the moment. In your absence your subconscious will be hard at work. Then when you take a new look, you’ll be surprised at what shifted.

7.  Have fun

You’ve got to enjoy being creative. So stock up on stationery, use different colour pens, doodle, scribble, write on stickies and make your creative workspace fun. Let your expression be free and wait for those little gems to come running.

8.  Watch who you tell

New ideas need nurturing so protect your creativity with encouragement. It is useful to cast a critical eye, but avoid the drainers who knock your confidence and suck embryonic ideas into the void.

9.  Trust yourself

To be creative you must get out of your own way. So be observant with your thoughts and dispel those “well that’s a rubbish idea” comments. For sure some ideas will be a non-starter, but you never know which fleeting notion could be the one to transform your business.

10.  Finally watch how you speak to yourself

Call yourself creative, believe in your ideas, and ask how you could make an idea happen. Whatever you do don’t focus on the reasons why something won’t work.

So there you have it. Three reasons to be creative in business and some powerful tools to make it happen.

Over to you

But what have I missed? What gets you into the zone of creative explosion! And most importantly how have you used creativity to grow your micro business?

Please leave a comment and let me know.

4 Simple Techniques To Overcome Writer’s Block In Your Micro Business

How scary is that blank piece of paper?

You know you’ve got to get the words out whether it’s for a leaflet, your website or your blog. But somehow they just won’t flow.

And it means you get less done while your writing problem takes up time and space in your brain.

It’s a common problem.

I’ve spoken with a number of clients this week and they each told me they struggle to know what to write.

I think the problem is that words are pretty personal.

Your customers will make judgements about you and your business based on what you publish and that puts you on the line.

In addition, a positive response to your sales message is really important because that’s how you generate interest and grow a healthy business.

So unless you work with a professional copywriter, you need to find strategies to help you overcome these setbacks.

Here are four that always work for me.

1. Plan the night before

I make it a habit to plan my work the day before.

Time is my most valuable asset. And that means anything that helps me get more done in less time is worth my while.

Let’s say you need to write a blog post in the morning. Schedule that task into your diary for the following day so it becomes a commitment.

But don’t leave it at that.

If you try to write the post “cold”, it will take you longer. Instead write down the working title along with a rough outline for the content. Let’s say you’re going to write a top 10 tips post, work out what those tips are the night before. The key is to get clear on the key points you need to make.

And here’s what happens…

In the morning, instead of looking at a blank computer screen, you’ll already have an idea of what you want to write. This allows you to get into the zone quicker. In addition, you will have allowed your subconscious mind to process your ideas the night before. As such you’ll find your words will flow significantly easier and more complex ideas will also emerge.

This works for any type of business writing whether it’s your web copy, a leaflet or a sales letter.

Try it :-)

2. Don’t question what you write

When you first start writing, your message can be disjointed, awkward and very raw.

In addition, you have all that self-doubt running through your mind. “This is rubbish”. “I can’t write”. “I need to use better words that this”. “I don’t know what to say”.

The secret is to not let these thoughts stop you.

Instead, plough on through the clutter and just get anything down on the paper / computer screen.

Do that and you’ll allow the magic to happen.

You see, as to start to write, you’ll find your ideas start to crystallise. New thoughts will naturally evolve and your work will become stronger.

By just letting go and writing anything, you loosen the blockage.

Then you can go back and edit (that’s the bit I like best).

Read through what you’ve written and you’ll:

  • Identify where different points need to be re-ordered
  • Spot the waffle which can be cut completely
  • Find places where your message is too complicated
  • Spot typos and grammatical errors which you can correct
  • Think of additional points you need to include to make your message stronger
  • Re-work the headline so it attracts attention
  • Find sections which can be presented as bullets and lists instead of a paragraph etc.

And here’s the thing. It’s far easier to edit something down than beef it up later. So let those words flow!

3. Mindmap, list and brainstorm

You don’t have to write a perfect piece at the first attempt.

It can happen, but it’s rare.

So ease up on your expectations!

You don’t even need to start writing full paragraphs.

Instead do what you can to get the ideas out of your head and onto paper.

Doodle. Write key words. Use a mind map to identify how different points link. Figure out what works for you. I like post-it’s, different coloured pens and quality paper. My mad notes then germinate into the seed of something special.

And the reason for that is I allow plenty of thinking space.

I know, 500 words doesn’t seem a lot. But the difference between a really strong message and a weak one is the amount of thought that goes into it.

In fact, a significant part of my job as a copywriter is taken up as thinking time.

It’s what allows the right ideas to evolve.

4. Just write

I saved the best tip til last :-)

I promise you once you start you’ll find it easier to get going.

So write anything.

For sure you may not use a lot of what you write, BUT amongst all the clutter and confusion you will come across the little gems that can transform your marketing copy.

In fact, exploring and playing with words, ideas and concepts is one way of getting really good at solving your tough marketing problems.

What do you think?

Do you experience writer’s block? Do you get stopped advertising your business because you don’t know what to say? Do you find your critical mind prevents you from getting your words out? Tell me what happens for you in the comments below.

And if you want more tips to help you write better, join my mailing list – it’s free :-)

Is Your Small Business Website Letting You Down?

As a small business owner your website is your most valuable marketing tool.

It’s your base station. Your online home and the first place potential clients will visit to check you out.

But what does your website say about you and your business?

Does it actively coax potential customers to pick up the phone, or does it turn them off?

Is it winning you business or damaging your reputation?

Is it working as hard as you or is it letting you down?

Let’s find out…

1.  A living, breathing workhorse

Gone are the days when you could put up a website and tick it off as a “done job“.

If you have a static website that never gets updated, it’s time to rev it up a gear. Blog. Add a video. Amend your homepage. Write a FAQ page. Revise your meta descriptions. Review your About page.

Identify opportunities to keep your website fresh for readers and relevant for Google. Your business will benefit from your time and attention.

2.  Be congruent

Your outlook on business has probably changed since you first launched your website.

You learn new stuff. Get more experience. Understand customer drivers. Receive useful feedback. Identify new products. Change your offer.

Check your website’s message is in harmony with the impression you currently want to give customers. If it doesn’t. Change it.

3.  Showcase your personality

Your individuality is one of your biggest advantages as a business owner.

More often than not, people will want to do business with you because of you. So don’t be tempted to hide away behind your logo or your company name.

Instead set out to ensure visitors to your site get to know you.

Pin your picture in a prominent position on your website.

Give people an idea of what you’d be like to work with.

Build that likeability factor.

If people get a good feeling about you, they’ll give you a call.

4.  Grow your list

Permission marketing is one of the most cost effective tactics for touching base with customers. And you can use your website to collect the personal details you need to make it possible.

First time visitors are probably not ready to buy. But they may be interested in more information. If you can convince a potential customer to join your list, you can invest time nurtuting that relationship.

Firstly you need to offer a valuable free incentive to convince people to sign up.

And then you need a strategy to communicate with your list.

Explore an Autoresponder. Simply prepare a series of emails and send them out to a subscriber in a prescribed sequence. You determine the trigger and then over time new subscribers receive the exact same message as the people that have gone before them. It’s a great way to stay in touch, build your relationship and turn readers into buyers.

Blatant pitch alert: And if you want to see an autoresponder in action, simply sign up for my list :-).

5.  Add value to your audience

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be sold at.

In fact, I find blatant attempts to sell a total turn off.

But I am interested in hearing from people who enter into the conversations I’m already having. And I’m very interested in people  who offer a solution to my problems, or enable me to learn about the stuff that benefits me and my business.

You can use your website in a similar way.

For sure you need to talk about your products and services, but you can also provide a valuable resource of information to help people who are looking to fix the sorts of problems you solve. I’m talking about helping as a route to selling.

  • Write blog posts that solve common problems your target audience face.
  • Create a valuable free download in a similar vein.
  • Provide tips and ideas and give this away for free.
It won’t harm your business, and it won’t lose you customers. In fact, this type of content marketing can help you find and keep customers because:
  • You’ve demonstrated you know your stuff.
  • You’ve proven you can help. And…
  • When someone needs help, who do you think they’ll call?
You…

6. Make it easy to choose you

Customers should arrive at your site and be absolutely clear why they should work with you.

  • Tell them what makes you unique.
  • Make it clear why they should pick you over your competition.
  • Then tell your visitor exactly what you want them to do next with a clear call to action.

7. Get your words right

The web is noisy.

There are stacks of websites competing for the attention of your target customer. So how will you ensure you get them to stick around you?

The secret is in your words.

  • Write to persuade.
  • Talk your customer’s language.
  • Focus on benefits (not features).
  • Focus on your customer (not you).
  • Give people a clear reason to call (or sign up).
  • And be different.
You work too hard to be let down by your website. So have a look through it today and see what needs fixing. And if you have any questions, pop them in the comments below. I’d love to help :)