Category Archives: copywriting

2010 In Review or in your Rearview?

Yep. It’s time for the lists again.

End of year = lists of best of, lists of worse of, lists of lists …

Here’s Dog-Eared Pages TOP 10 list: (drum roll please …)

How to rocket your marketing message to the moon in 2011:

1) Craft something that’s unique. What? Your marketing message sounds like the competition? That’s like nails on a chalkboard. Liven your product or service’s special selling points within your messaging. Review this year’s success. Do you have some concrete numbers you can place within the messaging? Think how powerful your message can be if you can say something like, “9 out of 10 skiers in Denver choose Pete’s Ski Shack for all their slope needs” ….

2) Leverage social media platforms … they’re free you know. Once you have your unique message crafted, now it’s time to get down to business. Think of it as a stamp. Every time you speak about your company … STAMP … your marketing message to it, especially in the social media realm. No matter what you are using, Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn, if your unique message is not out there, people don’t know what is different about your business. Find new ways to impart that to the masses.

3) “Shout It Out” Have you declared a message about your company and “become the broken record” of your brand? Do you tell everyone around you about your company and it’s mission? If not, now is a great time to start. Make sure your unique message stays consistent and blankets all marketing materials you produce. Yes, even the pocket folders.

4) Let Testimonials Take A Front Seat If you haven’t had a chance to gather some client feedback, the end of the year is the perfect time to listen. Find out how your product or service is working with a simple survey. I like Survey Monkey. Ask why they choose you, why they need your product/service or even what is it about the company that needs improvement. And, while you’re at it, capture some testimonials about their experience working with your company. Once you have gathered their testimonials, make sure you have their permission to use them in your future advertising effort. Testimonials can pay off in a big way and if your clients communicate a message that resonates with your unique marketing message-BONUS!

5) Speak Customer Speak, Not Industry Speak What you say and how you communicate it with your customer base is very important. If you are using industry jargon like ROI or CPE or bit-mapping, your customer may be confused. This is not to say that you should talk down to your clients. I cringe anytime someone says, “We need to dumb down our marketing messaging”. No, you just need to be more aware of your clients. Know what is important to them. Think to yourself, if I was a client of the service/product I sell, why would I need it? What issue/event causes me to need it? Then speak to that with your marketing messaging, in their words.

6) Rid Your Messages of Superlatives Super what? Superlatives are those words that make your company and the items provided sound too good to be true. Those “$5000 words”. ICK! Scrap that stuff. If you find your messaging saying anything like “The best, An Outstanding Value, Top-notch, Most Beautiful, Unmatched Quality, the “you know what” police are on their way.  While your company may be great at what they do, don’t oversell with flowery words that are limp.

7) ID Wants, Needs, and Desires Make sure that your messaging speaks to the real reason people buy from your company. What void do you fill? Is that void mentioned in your unique marketing message? One of my favorite tag lines I saw this past month was “We Scoop Poop”. It’s direct, it tells the need they fill and what it is they do. Even if it’s a dirty job, they nailed their marketing message in only 3 words-BRAVO!

8) Support Your Message No matter what venue you are using to promote your product, make sure what you say is in line with how your company is different. Even in your public relation materials, you should speak with the same messaging. If you are giving away calendars, those words that speak to your business’ uniqueness still need to be present. Support your unique messaging across all formats.

9) Use $5 Words Instead of $5000 Words There is no reason to speak in verbose words. It can be an immediate turn off for many people. If your business comes across as ego-centered or too elite, it can send your customers quickly into your competitor’s offices. Use common words that your target market would use. Much like speaking “industry talk”, using big words can work against your messaging.

10) Focus on one thing Even if your company is great at everything it does, having no more that two outstanding (opps-superlative) things that your business can do is key. Don’t try to sell all aspects of your business in a small print ad. Just promote the one main thing you wish your target market to know. That’s it. It’s then up to your sales force to showcase the rest of your greatness.

Here’s to a Happy 2011!

Wishing you much success –

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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Can opening an email be as exciting as opening a package?

Recently I received and email with the subject line: 6 Career Tips Your Dog Knows. Being a “Dog-Crazed” person, I was instantly all ears. Here’s the article and I really like the parallels it offers. Check it out for yourself. 6 Career Tips Your Dog Knows.

All of this got me to thinking about the power of subject lines. What do you place within your subject lines? Do you use bright colors? All uppercase letters? Or do you take some time to think about what will resonate with your reader?

Here are some interesting articles I ran across on how to get your audience to open your emails.

Subject Line Comparisons

15 Rules to Writing Subject Lines Right

Tricks to Grab Reader’s Attention

10 Email Subject Line Blunders

So what subjects get your reader’s to open?

Happy  emailing –

Sarah @Dog-Eared Pages

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Out of a Recession, Into New Marketing Messaging

Okay so maybe we’re not out of the recession woods yet, but I have a sense things are turning around. My colleagues are getting busier and let’s face it, I haven’t had a lot of time to go out for a leisurely afternoon latte!  The long and short of it is this. As I talk with more and more small and medium-sized business owners, I am hearing that their old marketing maneuvers in the form of brochures, print ads and yellow page advertising just aren’t working. While these venues do work for some industries better than others, it’s often how the  company communicates and what they say that has a true defining impact on their bottom line.

Should you just ‘Say Anything’?

The first question, when I begin brainstorming with the client, normally is about marketing messaging.  They ask me, “Isn’t it okay for my message to include something for everyone.”  This is often one of the biggest mistakes a company can make. Don’t sell everything to everyone. It doesn’t help you stand out in the crowd.

Think of your message as a banner flying over your community. If you only had Five Words to say,  that summed up exactly what your business does, what would they be? It’s not easy, but it gets you to begin thinking about short messages that stick.

See Nike’s “Just do it.” Or what about Apple, they don’t even have one, they just have an image … an Apple. Seems pretty elementary when you think about it, but this one concept can cause major problems, especially if you use multiple messages.

If you want some real examples how the recession and new marketing messaging is changing the income for some businesses, take a look at these examples.

Happy Messaging-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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What is Your Story?

When I was little, one of my favorite things was a bed-time story.  As the book cracked open, the world stopped turning and everything but the sound of my parent’s voices went silent.  My mother and father would sit on the edge of my bed and unlock the magic of a book which I selected. We probably read the Poky Little Puppy a million times, but it was the way my parents read with distinct character voices and story of the puppy’s problem with curiosity  on top of the high importance they placed on reading that made a lasting impression on me. Now, as a marketing professional, I often think back to the magic of storytelling and engage business owners to tell me their story.

Chapter 1: Why Businesses Need a Story

Creating a hook at the beginning of a story is vital. As we sit down beside business owners, I often have them begin with an introduction to their company Many business owners start telling me about the day they opened their business. I hear things like:

“We’ve been in business since 1960 …”

“We started with only $500 in the bank and now we’re  a multi-million dollar generating business …”

“We’ve been in the same building for 30 years …”

All of these are great facts and important to “building the story” but they aren’t the main story, just a part. This is where the story can become very interesting, so I encourage them to tell me more. I then ask, “What was the motivating reason you or the owners decided to open the business?” Defining your passion offers an intriguing first chapter. Have you ever considered why you began your business? Have you ever told this to your customers? Is it different from the way you do business? Do things need to change? How do you begin your story?

Chapter 2: Allowing The Characters To Have Distinct Voices

It was magical to hear my mother speak like a puppy. As a kid, it always made me giggle, but more than that, it was memorable. Giving your current clients a voice is the next important chapter of your company’s story line. If you haven’t asked your clients how your working relationship is going, now is the perfect time to do so. Asking clients to offer their perspective, in their own words and in their own voice is a great way to learn what is working, tighten your bond and give each client a more defined customer experience.

Remember: When marketing and promoting your business, testimonials are king. What your clients are saying about you can make or break your business. After three months of engaging a new client, do a gut check. See what they think, ask what they like and don’t like. Finally, ask if they will write out a testimonial for you to use in you future marketing efforts.

Chapter 3: Choosing The Right Story

One of the hardest challenges each night before bed was choosing. I had a huge bookshelf stacked with books, each one my favorite (kids think everything is their favorite!). However, The Poky Little Puppy was my favorite, favorite! Why? Well, of course, hello, it had a dog in it (total bonus) and two it had a story line that resonated with me. This little ball of fur was curious and it was his curiosity that constantly got him into trouble. Unfortunately, I had the same trait growing up, well and quite honestly, still do. I say all of this to bring home the fact that telling a story that interests, engages and emotionally draws your customer into your story is key. By knowing what is important to your customer base, talking to them with words and phrases that resonate and unfolding the story in a way that nudges their emotions are all great ways to craft  memorable tale.

So the next time a customer asks why you’re in business or even why they should buy for you, will you have a story to share with them?

Happy Tales To You-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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Why Simple Simon Had It Right

What a great insight USA Today provided  recently in their article denoting that  how simple sells. I talk about this a lot and firmly believe in the less you say, the more you tell. USA Today goes on to state that simplistic marketing tactics are expected to be king in 2010. Oh be still my beating heart!!

Think about the last few things you have seen from:

Apple

Starbuck’s

Campbell’s

Besides the fact that they are all well established brands, they have one brilliant thing in common. Their marketing message, look and promotional insight are all simply executed. No flowery words. No extra fluff. It’s ONLY what they do, how the do it and what benefit they provide to their customer.

I offer this thought in reaction to the new trend expected for 2010 … How can you simplify your current marketing message?

Here are three ways to simplify and sell your product/service:

1) Focus on the reason your top five customers choose you over your competition. What you haven’t had that conversation? Now is the perfect time to start. Give your favorite customers a call. Ask them why and how they decided upon you.

2) Promote only one thing at a time. Don’t have an offer on every single page of your web site that is different. Be direct. Be focused. Offer only one thing, one incentive or one benefit at a time. With all the media circus that is around us, one direct, focused message can really stand out in the crowd.

3) Think like your customers. How many times have you fallen into the trap of creating marketing messages, advertising pieces that you like, only to find out your clients didn’t “get it”? Step back from your industry talk, put yourself in your consumer’s shoes. What is it that you would like to know about the product or service you are in the process of purchasing? What are some of your objections to buying the item? What factors have come into play that made your potential customer choose a competitor over you? Not sure what the answers are to these questions? Get busy doing the research. Once you find that one thing-focus in on that and only that.

Wishing you much success-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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Talking To Yourself, Again?

I know many of us fall into the trap of talking to ourselves. I am not speaking of those times when you’re in your car. You know who you are!  While stuck in traffic, you carry out the full dialog of how you want to tell your boss to leave you alone and how you should be promoted to the next level. As you finally have the discussion wrapped up, you realize the people on either side of you are watching your weird facial contortions and wondering who you are talking to in your car. I’m speaking of your marketing.

So many times when we craft our own marketing message, we craft it so WE understand it. Trust me, I’ve fallen into the trap using words that only ad industry people use, like ROI, target market, one-sheet, creative brief, etc. That’s why I have to share a great article I found today. If you’re looking for a good resource to help you tighten up your messaging, write clearer and with brevity, this article and the resources within it can help!Picture 2

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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The ‘Wild Rumpus’ of Storytelling

With the release of Where the Wild Things Are this weekend, I found myself falling quickly back into a magical part of my childhood. Siting next to my grandfather as he transformed a $2.99 paperback book into a fantastic journey. With each page, the smell of a new book and the hope of following Max as he explored a magical forest all from his imagination, I sat motionless waiting for the wonderment to wash over me.  In only ten sentences (that is all that’s in the entire book) I was quickly transported to the land of monsters, being crowned Queen of the Wild monsters and dancing with the monsters in a “Wild Rumpus”. As I look back, the story was mesmerizing, it had a way of grabbing my attention and making me want to know more. I told every friend I had about the book and before long, my whole first grade class was reading the book.

All of this reminiscing got me to thinking about marketing for business and how the way your story is conveyed can really make the difference in what your customers believe.

Combating the Big, Scary Monster or Does Your Company Have an Engaging Story?

It’s often frightening to think what it is that makes our business stand out from others. What is unique about your company? Does the customer you serve find that your service is head and shoulders above your competition? Do you know why? These questions, among many others are often hard for business owners to define. It’s not always easy to step outside of our businesses and really experience what you provide from the customer’s perspective. Take a look at this article from Entrepreneur.com  for some story starters and begin defining your story.

Are You a Kid Hiding in a Wolf Costume or What Can Storytelling Do To Showcase Your Business?

So many business that are launching a new website or implementing a new marketing tactic fall into the same trap. “Me too” marketing. Often they take inventory of what their competitor is doing and say we do that too.

For instance. Say you own a bakery. You competitor is within one mile of you. You can’t exactly use the same wording as they are, like “Your neighborhood baker”. If you used the same type of marketing, potential clients could get confused as to which one of you was the “neighborhood baker” that advertised in the local paper. What could be worse? Well, imagine if that same potential client went to the “other” bakery and had a horrible experience. Just think how you could loose out on clients the next time this potential customer’s friends mentions the neighborhood baker. They might say the experience was awful and if you were to run an ad with the same tone, they might think it was you!

Instead of copying what your competitor is doing be aware of their tactics and  brand yourself in a different light. For instance be “that baker on the corner who makes biscotti that is perfect to dunk into coffee”. Your true customers will remember the little things you do that are different. They will talk about those little things with their friends and then their friends will talk, etc. Word of mouth marketing is great, but for it to work, you have to have something that makes you stand out of the crowd. Be the expert in your field. Be the place people are talking about favorably. Have something unique that your customers can cabbage onto and tell others to see for themselves.

Let the Monsters Romp or How Your Customers Can Help Sell Your Business

Finally, the glue that holds your storytelling together in the world of marketing effectively is utilizing the valuable chapters your customers provide for your story. Client testimonials on a web site, in a promotional brochure or even better in a television commercial are invaluable. You can talk all day about how great your product or service is, but potential clients understand your bias and often discount it. However if the average Joes and Janes rave about your biscotti and how it is perfect with their favorite cup of coffee, they’ll be thrilled to be quoted in your advertising pieces. What’s even better? Do you know a famous person or person of influence within your community that raves about your product or service? Have you approached them for their insight. It could be worth its weight in gold!

Bottom line, don’t be afraid of marketing your company’s message through crafty storytelling. Just like a good book, a well-defined marketing story can intrigue, inspire and yes, involve your customers. Getting the word out there is your next step.

Let the wild rumpus begin!

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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