Tag Archives: copywriting

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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Filed under Advertising, copywriting, Marketing, marketing in a down economy, Small Business Solutions

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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Have You Ever Had A Sizzling Online Connection?

Last week, I became a true believer in online connections. No I am not talking about Match.com, I am talking about an amazing group of women, Chicks Who Click.  They mean business when it comes to connecting online gurus with the tools, trends and training to make us truly twitterrific. Picture-2

Enter in my newest online friend, Suni Hayes, of My Office Zilla. Not only have I never met Suni face-to-face, but this kind stranger invited me to this week’s upcoming Chick’s Who Click conference, for free.  She checked with her friend Shawn Kinkade, who then then checked with me and the rest is history (sounds kinda like the game of telephone, huh?). What’s more, I have already met two other people, online who I can’t wait to meet at the conference this weekend.  Here’s my shout out them: Denise Smith and Elaine Ellis. 

So what’s this got to do with your business? Well, if you’re not connecting with others and planting solid seeds for future connections to grow and flourish, you may just be watering barren soil, if you’re not using some kind of social media strategy.  Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and of course my favorite, blogging, can really give you a voice in a world of multiple messages. Here are a few keys to making your marketing message loud and clear, so you’re heard and people have your product/service “top of mind”.

Tips 4 Communicating A Loud Social Media Message

1) Less Words, More Power

One of the key things to keeping your message front and center is to make it concise. Yes, as a writer this is very hard, but when it comes to getting your message out there you want sweet, short and simply spectacular words. After all, if you’re sending out a tweet to your customers, you only have 140 characters to broadcast your message, so make them work for you. Bottom line create a relationship with your customers and be real. That’s what social media is all about. 

2) Share information that is useful and helpful to your audience

I often hear many of my clients tell me that Twitter doesn’t work because most people don’t care when someone is brushing their teeth. I agree, don’t bore me with a bunch of useless details, but have you thought how important a “brushing my teeth” tweet might be to someone selling toothbrushes? Look for opportunities to connect. What if you are an owner of a hair salon and someone tweeted: “Having a bad hair day, don’t laugh”. Image how you could make that person’s day if you instantly got back to them and offered a half-price haircut & style at your shop? I am pretty sure I would remember that and probably tell all my twitter followers about it. 

In addition, offer up useful information, helpful stats and interesting stories that bring life to your Facebook page or blog. It is amazing how posting a story about someone struggling with time management can make quite bit of buzz on your site. If you can provide tools to help your  audience’s business or even life easier, they are going to remember you.

3) Think of it as an online networking event

With so many layoffs, I keep hearing multiple stories about how Linked In saved a person’s bacon. As a pink slip hit their desk, there was no need to worry about their connections. They didn’t need to search for the company directory or grab their desktop rollodex. All the contact info they would need to notify their business connections was saved and easy to access online, from anywhere, not just the workplace. 

What’s more, LinkedIn offers you a chance to help others. Whether it be an upcoming event you think might be helpful, writing up a testimonial for a fellow co-worker or even  feedback on a book you just read that has changed your life, you can offer up a lot of valuable information to your connections. In addition, searching your connections, connections is a great way to meet new people and if you’re the one that received that pink slip, perhaps meet your new boss.

4) Connect and Reconnect 

The most powerful thing I have found so far with social media is the power of meeting new and old friends/co-workers/neighbors. The sense of community that is created within the social media sphere is quite exciting. I can’t think of the last time a print ad made me feel so great, well maybe if it was advertising chocolate, but that’s different. I have met some of the most brilliant marketing pioneers out there and I must say, they are just as personable as if I had known them for years, Colleen Wainwright. Not only have I met new friends, I have found some old friends, co-workers from my old TV days.

Bottom line, we as humans want to have solid, dependable connections. Which makes being a business owner quite a way to make an impression through tapping into that human desire and delivering a memorable, lasting connection and experience. See where social media can take you next. I would love to hear more about your journey-leave me your comments.

So as I prepare for the upcoming conference, I look forward to sharing more insight on social media and how your business can move to the next level creating and retaining lasting customer relationships. Stay tuned ….

Happy Social Media Connecting-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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Are you a Wordy Worderson?

words3I have to admit my love for words is a bit of a sickness.  I confess, I have a problem and honestly, I try to get away from the keyboard, especially on beautiful day like this, as much as I can. So trust me – I understand your problem with writing too many words.

Call it what you like, but when I jump on a website that has a ton of sentences and word combos, it looks like a bunch of ants charging across my screen and suddenly my eyes cross. I wonder, do your clients think the same thing? Yes, I think so. Brevity is the new spice of life and I admit, it does make for much easier reading. 

Here’s how to cut the word clutter and kick the wordy habit:

1) Punch it with a bullet: Use bullet points to easily list important points in phrase format. No, your 3rd grade English teacher won’t object. Get your point across quickly and catch the reader’s eye with bulleting.

2) Say it with less: Don’t use the same words over and over and over and … okay you get it. Sweet and to the point-(here’s some ways to do so). Who likes to read the same words twice? The same words twice?

3) Overarching descriptions without getting caught in the weeds: Give your readers the main idea of what you’re trying to say and stop! You can give them a further explanation in person. Don’t loose your readers in tangled wording.  Honestly, who wants to try and understand how a circular saw works online? Yes Jim I am talking to you!

These are just a few tips to help avoid making your customer’s run away from your marketing materials. More to come soon.

Happy Wording Chopping!

Sarah @Dog-Eared Pages

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Is Your Content a Point of Contention?

photo11Last week I went to lunch with an old writing buddy. He and I had worked together at one of the areas largest ad agencies and for some reason, not sure if it’s just a writer thing or the fact that he occasionally brought fantastic baked breads to work, we became friends. As we sipped on our hot tea we talked about clients past and present and how no matter when or where you are writing, creating captivating copy is something we both strive for on a daily basis. Yes, we’re both as one of my friends says, “Word Nerds”. 

It was after chatting with my friend for awhile that I realized, maybe that’s why I love words so much-they can do so many things. 

Persuade, evoke emotions, inform, grab your attention, make you feel happy, help you forget your troubles …. and so on and so forth. But what I am noticing as I continue working with new clients is how each one, regardless of their high marks in English, struggle with content. So I offer up these content tips to help you think more like a writer and have an easier time working with the next writer you hire.

4 Content Tips To Trip Your Customer’s Trigger:

1) Grab their attention, talk directly: In a world where so many ideas and thoughts are communicated, you must find the right words that resonate with your target market. Be direct. People only have a small attention span so speak to exactly what they need to hear, without paragraphs of content. For instance, if you sell expensive watches, saying something like: ” “If you’re looking for a cheap watch, Handover Watches don’t belong on your wrist.”

2) Leave the flowery speak to gardeners: Consumers want to know who, why, where, when and how. So, don’t place cutesy words around the facts. Imaginative word play does have it’s impact, that’s not what we’re talking about here. Tell them how they can get the product, where they use it, etc. Don’t waste your customer’s time by making them read multiple paragraphs to get to the “meat” of your product, because they won’t waste their time and will seek your competition.

3) Don’t speak about yourself, talk to your customer’s needs: It’s easy to boast about your new showroom or tell customer’s all about your sleek customer service plan, but if you don’t talk to their needs, they will go elsewhere. Craft your words to speak to the needs your product/service fills. You can ask a question like: Sleepless nights? Why not try a sleep aid that will have you counting sheep before you count 1, 2, zzzzzzzz.

4) Use the words “you” and “your”: Give your copy punch. Think of it as if you’re having a direct conversation with your customer. You wouldn’t talk to a potential customer in your showroom as if they weren’t even standing there, so don’t try it in your marketing pieces. Speak directly to them. First, it’s conversational, making them feel at ease and second, it’s a way to show you actually care about their individual needs. Use the words “you” and “your” to communicate what it is “you” can do for them.

Happy writing-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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The Importance of a Sticky Message

 

What Are Your Messages Saying?

What Are Your Messages Saying?

So you have an ad budget, but you’re not sure where, how or when you should release the dollars, much less what the ROI will be once the greenbacks leave your hands. Yes, it’s tough to part with hard earned cash to promote your biz, but my guess is you’ve probably had a bad “advertising” experience before and now and you’re a bit shy of where your next marketing adventure could take you. My guess is, the number one problem your past marketing failed to do was be “sticky”.

 

Why Should Your Marketing Message Should Cling Like Saran Wrap

When it comes to crafting your marketing message, it pays to have someone who massages words for a living help. Bottom line, if you’re marketing ace isn’t talking to you about creating a message that capitalizes on your customers emotions, while evoking that light bulb moment, then their words and your cash are falling on deaf ears. Translation, your message won’t stick to your clients and your clients won’t stick with you.

Crafting a message that resonates with your customers is key. Make your message stick with these tips:

  • Make emotions flow-If you aren’t considering what it is your customers need and why they seek your product/service, start now! These are called pain points. When a person seeks a product or service, the have a need. Doctors are called upon because people feel lousy. Plumbers show up to the scene because there’s a flood in the basement. So, what thing is it your product/service fixes? 
  • Testimonials, Testimonials, Testimonials– Did you hear me? If you aren’t collecting testimonials from your current client base, you must. Get a LinkedIn account, send out a request for a recommendation to your “connected” clients and instantly you have a testimonial that you can use for countless marketing pieces. Nothing sells your biz better than word of mouth, especially the mouth of a happy client.
  • Unforgettable, that’s what you are – If you want clients to remember you, create something about your business that’s memorable. I don’t care if you are an accountant that shows up to your client’s office on a motorcycle (actually does exist), or you offer your clients a trip to Hawaii for referring a friend, or even better yet your product or service is so remarkable that people can’t get enough. Whatever it is, do it with excellence and create an exciting experience for the client’s you serve. How cool would it be for a client to receive a gift basked of fine chocolates just as a thank you. I am pretty sure they will remember you. And, you don’t have to break the bank, just doing something thoughtful is enough. So get to thinking about that one thing that can set you apart.

Bottom line, when the message is crafted, make sure you are speaking to the right person in the right way. Create a moment for them that they say, ahh ha, this is what I need and I am picking up the phone/walking in the store now because I can’t be without (fill in your product/service here).

Wishing you the best in message crafting-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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Are People Talking About You?

People are talking about your business … let’s hope!

Actors posed as Romans-chatting.

Actors posed as Romans-chatting.

No matter what size of business you may own, work at or even aspire to own one day, you can make a huge impact on your brand by incorporating day-to-day stories about your business. By using customer testimonials (see my website), you can instantly bring not only validity to your business, but the ability to showcase how your products or services are helping current customers. 

A little aside …. One thing to remember before you ever use a testimonial is to get your client’s approval in writing. Make sure to ask their permission to use their words in your marketing materials. Keep their approval, whether it’s an email or a signed version of their testimonial in a marketing testimonial file just in case you need to verify at some point. 

How do you gather a quality batch of testimonials that work? Here’s a few prompts to get you started.

  • Think back to recent client conversations. Did they mention how great the product or service you offer worked? Have the recommended you to others? Are they working on another project with you? If you answer yes to any of these questions, then make a call and see if they’d be willing to write a 1-2 sentence blurb about working with you. 
  • Make some calls. Look at your client list. Pick up the phone, call a few of your top clients. Inquire if they would be willing to write a recommendation on your behalf. Bonus: If you’re already a LinkedIn user, it’s easy to capture client testimonials. Not only are you able to look up your client when you need their email address, but their recommendation is also listed on your LinkedIn page and their LinkedIn page further validating your professional working relationship.
  • Take your client’s words and make them work in your marketing efforts. Once you have collected several solid client testimonials, it’s time to make them work for you. Create real-world stories that incorporate your customer’s words, along with how you helped solve a problem for them or how your business helps their business run better.  You only need to create a 2-3 sentence paragraph that can easily be posted on your website, business collateral, sales materials, brochures, print ad pieces, blog page or often your clients can become good supporting material for a business magazine that might be writing a feature about your business.

So what are you waiting for? Your client’s words are out there, ready to help you brand your business. Get started today by picking up the phone and making their words work for you.

Happy Testimonial Hunting-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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Be Still My Freelancing Heart

After reading an article entitled More businesses are using freelancers, experts say on CNN.com, I had to write a quick post to share with you. Here’s some insight that might prove helpful in your business, at your job or even in your search for a new job.picture-4 

According to this article, many people, like myself, are seeing a positive spin on their businesses. It seems that many companies are discovering how to work smarter, not harder by eliminating unnecessary expenses when looking for creative marketing solutions. Businesses see the value of working with what is termed as Solopreneurs on a project-by-project basis. While the larger companies are still out there doing huge marketing campaigns, many small- to medium-sized businesses are using targeted marketing tactics like social media to get their message out there in a cost-effective way. 

So what does this mean to people searching for jobs in this new arena? Well, think like a small business owner. Where would a potential employer cut first? What’s more, how can you fill this need? What tactics can you use to leverage yourself into a job that is a win-win for both of you?

What I ask of you is this. If you are looking for creative talent, and your resources that are ‘in house’ are swamped with work, or have limited creativity, turn to a freelancer that specializes in what you do. Freelancers are a cost effective move as they don’t require benefits, are able to focus on your project with minimal distractions and bring a background of problem solving solutions they have seen work in a variety of businesses. For more, check out my blog post 5 Reasons You Should Hire a Freelance Writer. 

All the best-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

 


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Lists, Top 10s and a Pocket Full of the Best Of

moo-websiteSo it’s that time of year. Yes the lists are rolling out and the top 10s are all the talk. And, as the Waterfold Crystal ball begins to drop in Times Square this year, we will all witness a sea of lists. 

Now I’m not poking fun at list makers, I am one myself. My lists have lists. So since everyone else seems to be making their lists, I didn’t want to disappoint my readers and not have one myself. Maestro  … drum roll please … Sarah’s Top 5 favorite website experiences … yes even a writer needs some down time!

1) Have you Hulued?

If you haven’t traveled to http://www.Hulu.com, you have been missing the boat. No it’s not a Hawaiian vacation planning site, it a site jam-packed with full-length TV episodes, movies, movie trailors and anything you can think of that might be entertaining to watch while the boss is still out on vacation.

2) Moooooooo Mania 

“Moo”ve over traditional business cards, this site is a great place to create and print unique business cards that will stand out in the crowd. Select from pre-designed templates, or create your own card with photography or graphic creations of your own. It’s a fantastic way to create one-of-a-kind cards that turn heads. Check out http://www.moo.com .

3) Are you feeling Wiki?

Check out http://www.wikitravel.com! I love to travel and this is the place to go to locate the most up-to-date travel guides around. And if you’re like me and a trip is not in the future (whimper) then you’ve got a great place to dream!

4) Got a Question? Search me!

I love http://www.searchme.com. If you have a question, they have an answer. Just type it in and wal’ la … a solution is at your finger tips. The best part about this website is that it presents all the searches in one, easy to use search format that is very similar to the iTunes Album flip through feature.

5) Just a cool website ….

Now I have to say http://www.tracychapman.com might be one of the coolest web designs I have seen this year. Music, visual intrigue and an unique presentation give this site a lot of sparkle. Even if you aren’t a fan of her music, Ms. Chapman’s website is a fun interactive experience.

Take a look for yourself. It’s a great way to see what the market is doing in the internet design/experience realm. What’s more, it helps pass the time while your boss is away. Enjoy!

Happy Web surfing!

Sarah @dogearedpages

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Does Your Marketing GPS Contain A Copy Map?

 

Open Road-Oregon_June'08

Open Road-Oregon_June

 

Okay so some of you are getting in the mindset of traveling. After all, Turkey Day is fast approaching. That’s why it’s the perfect time to think about your copy map. You have that fancy GPS primed and ready to go for your trip and you’ve packed all your “large pants” so that you don’t miss out on a bite of grandma’s pumpkin pie. But what about your marketing plans. Are they tied up ready to go for next year? Have you been doing any planning on that YEAR LONG trip? Have you consulted your copy map? 

 

Well, if you’re creating your marketing plan and you haven’t thought about your creative team … you might want to put on the brakes and make a quick U-turn. From a copywriter’s perspective I beg you to start assembling a crew now. The quicker you have a creative group, the more adhesive your marketing campaigns will be. 

That’s why I bring up the idea of copy maps. If you are on board already and have a copywriter waiting in the wings make sure they provide you with a copy map. 

A copy map is basically a work plan that offers insight on how the writer plans on executing your creative project. It’s a great way to also reduce extra expense as your writer should clearly detail the following tasks with a budget. Once you have reviewed them, the two of you can begin the work together-no surprises, just two happy travelers guided by their copy map. 

Here are some things your writer’s Copy Map should provide:

 

  • A project outline-what will the project cover?, what are the objectives?, who will provide the info?
  • Research plan-where will the writer gain their research? will you provide? (Hint: Providing info upfront can save you $.)
  • Executional plan– a chance for both of you to set expectations, work-style requirements, compensation agreements, payment schedules
  • Approval process-determine how many revisions are included in the pricing, how you plan to review the documents and turnaround time for revisions

 

With each of these steps charted in your copy map, you’re set to journey down a mutually beneficial road. All it takes is a little planning and a lot of creativity.

 

Best of luck to you-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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