New Year + New Ideas + Fresh Perspective = Blogtastic Results

This year I am starting a new blog post each week called BlogN2010. This will be a place where business owners can find tips, tricks and tasty tidbits that can help make your company blog fresh, profitable and a “must-read”. Stay turned for more blogtstic ideas!

Keeping fresh ideas pouring out of your blog posts is a challenge many blog writers face (myself included). Yes it’s a type of writers blog, but often times, it’s more than that. I constantly find myself asking:

What will people want to read?

What is timely and a topic on everyone’s mind?

Do people really care?

Bottom line, if you’re a small business and you need some fresh ideas for your up-coming blog post this year, here are a few things to consider before posting your masterpiece.

3 Business Blog Post Brainstorm Igniters:

1) Become Dear Abby-Offer Tips, Tricks and Tangibles

Let’s face it, you’re in business for a reason, you know something that people will pay for and need. So that means there are millions of things you can provide including tricks and tangible information that can help your readers. Providing educational tidbits is one of the easiest ways to bring what you know about your industry to light.

What’s more, not only can you provide valuable information, you can also provide advice. Take for instance the top three things your clients constantly ask your opinion about on a weekly basis. By taking those common questions, you can offer valuable advice that educates your customers and helps them better understand the importance of the services you provide.

2) Extra! Extra! Read All About It! – Bring fresh industry news to your readers.

Offering your readers insight on your industry’s new innovations, changes and newsworthy updates shows your readers that you’re on top of it. Trust me when I say your customers don’t have time to monitor your industry and their industry, so you must be the watchdog for them. Not only does it keep you in front of your clients, it also offers them a chance to discover additional products and services they may want to purchase from you. Plus, it’s easy to do. Find two or three industry blogs that you can follow and subscribe to their RSS feed. You can also go to Google Alerts, key in your industry and Google will email you news articles, industry topics and research on our designated profession.

3) Yes, pay attention to the person behind the curtain- let your clients walk in your shoes.

I used to work in television. I can’t tell you the many times people asked me to take them behind-the-scenes so they could see how we went about  putting a newscast together. For some reason, people love to see what it is other people do. Humans are curious and when you peel back the curtain to show what happens behind closed doors or even how your team works in the field, they seem to hold you in high regard. Now I am not saying that working at the TV station won me a ton of dates or anything, but what it did do was help people understand what I did on a daily basis and generated a ton of respect. Two things all business owners want! This is a great place to start your blog.

If you’re new to blogging and you’re looking for additional inspiration, check out The Writer’s Block by Jason Rekulak. It’s a handy little book that really jump-starts the brain. You can also keep a folder on your desktop and place interesting articles your run across in it. Keep your eyes open, blog topics are all around us!

Happy blogging-

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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20 Ways to Drive Leads Through Social Media

20 Ways to Drive Leads Through Social Media

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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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The Game of Phone

Picture 1Okay so I must admit that I have been hooked on the iPhone since it was first released. I have drunk the Apple-favored Kool Aid and feel somewhat lost when I misplace the phone. As I talk with many of my clients I discover that they too, whether or not they have an iPhone, feel unorganized and somewhat lost without their smartphone to guide them. So, when I stumbled across an article about Mobile Marketing in a recent edition of Ad Age, I thought I must share the article with you. Not only are we headed to a time when people are more connected than ever to one another, they are connected through their mobile devices, spelling opportunity to business owners.

According to the Ad Age article, many experts in the mobile field expect the mobile marketing industry to explode and become an “apps-focused” reality. Many large corporations are looking into the mobile realm and developing apps that not only promote their brand, but push it in an innovative and engaging way.

All of this got me to thinking what is it that marketing consultants and creative advertising gurus can do to make their client’s brand (pardon the pun) “ring in people’s ears?”  If it’s not an app, what is it that will engage your customer to react and stay engaged with your brand?

We at dog-eared pages would love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Phone Ringing!

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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Why Do I Need a Marketing Plan?

Blog-photoDEPEarlier this week a business associate asked me a very important question that I have been asked many times.

“Why do I need a Marketing Plan?”

At first I wanted to say, ummm, that’s kind of like asking me, “Why do I need wheels on my car?” To me, a marketing plan is just something you must have to make your business successfully work. It’s like putting on your shoes to go outside or placing toothpaste on your toothbrush … it is just something you do to complete the end goal, right?

Here are my Top Three Reasons You Need a Marketing Plan in Place.

  1. Your Road Map To Success. You wouldn’t begin a road trip to an unknown destination without at least looking at a map. Right? So think of your marketing and advertising journey in the same light. When you begin to plan your marketing tactics for the upcoming year (HINT: now is the time to start doing so, DEP can help.), begin with your end goal first. As you think about that goal, define where you want to be financially, how many qualified leads you plan to bring in each month/week and how much you plan to spend for the year to meet these goals.
  2. Target the Right Market. If you feel you were a little short this year in achieving your goals, reevaluating your marketing tactics, approach and execution are all good places to start. Many times I find my client’s aren’t “speaking” to their target market in a way that captures their attention and prompts them to act. Even more frequently, I see business owners lacking the understanding of who their target market is, much less talking to them. Every year I encourage clients to reevaluate their target market. Ask yourself the following questions: What do most of my clients have in common (i.e. all doctors, like to spend time with their kids, in a certain age group, spend X amount of hours on the road each week)? Where do they go to learn more about the products/services I offer? What is the number one thing they keep telling me is a positive aspect about my business?
  3. Set benchmarks for success. Just like a professional athlete sets personal achievement goals for their workouts each week, as a business owner, you too should be measuring your success and even your failures on a weekly basis. When you begin crafting your marketing plan, think about what goals you wish to achieve each week. Do you want to sell 25 new widgets a week? How many potential clients should you meet with each week to meet your sales goals? Have you charted where your referrals are coming from? Are you seeking more referrals from these sources? Bottom line, look for measurable items you can add to your weekly schedule and at the end of the week measure off to see your progress. I notice that for many business owners, this can be an eye-opening practice. For instance, I found that in my own business, I at one point was spending 10 hours a week working on my blog. While as a writer having a blog is important, it’s ROI (Return on Investment) wasn’t near worth the time I was taking. Think about what those things are that are taking time away from securing your sale.

As you craft your marketing plan or work with someone like Dog-Eared Pages to craft a marketing plan, be sure you remember the reasons why having a plan in place is so important. You might be shocked how it can change the way you do business. For more ideas on crafting stellar marketing plans, check out the following links.

Crafting Your Marketing Plan-from How Magazine

How To Create a Marketing Plan-from Entrepreneur Magazine


Happy Planning!

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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