Tag Archives: Writing

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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Give Me A C. How About 4?

Enjoy A Poolside Read!

This week has been nuts. Partly because only 4 work days existed and partly, cause I am just busy. So this week, the blog looks a bit sad. With that I owe you, my faithful readers, an interesting article. This week I discovered an article about How Sustainability Marketing can help in a recession. Learn about the  4 C’s of sustainable communication!

Take a read, hopefully while you’re sitting poolside!

Happy Smart Marketing-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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

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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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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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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Filed under Advertising, Business Development, copywriting, Job seeking, Marketing, marketing in a down economy, Small Business Solutions, Uncategorized, Writing

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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Do You Suffer From Thought Blockage?

 

 

Don't Block A Thought-Nov. '08

Don't Block A Thought Again- Nov'08

 

In the past few days, things have been very busy around here, which is a good thing, but makes the idea well dry up quickly. I have looked though all my ideas and (gasp) discovered that I haven’t been able to brainstorm on fresh ideas for about 3 weeks. Not good. So when I was chatting the other day with a writer buddy, he mentioned a great book that I must recommend to anyone who has to have a quick, creative idea on demand.

 

The book is called The Writers Block-786 Ideas to Jump-Start Your Imagination,  Jason Rekulak’s book is fantastic!  And no, you don’t have to be a creative person to make this puppy work! Anyone can do it, it’s fun and best of all if you don’t like the creative prompt you see, all you have to do is turn the page. Check it out for yourself and see how it can help your business come up with some off-the-wall, innovative ideas to help support your business’ success. 

Share your thoughts with me and let me know how this works for you!

 

All the best in preventing thought blockage-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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Make Sure Your Writer Is Right

 

 

Old School Writing -08

Old School Writing -08

 

 

A few weeks ago I met a small business owner who had just hired a freelance copywriter and was worried about her decision. She had interviewed the writer and was so impressed by the writer’s personality that she decided to hire the writer on the spot. While we continued to talk I was starting to realize that she had made the decision to hire solely based on the fact that she liked the person she interviewed. The new writer was not meeting deadlines, didn’t have a good grasp of communicating with my friend’s marketing team and missed an important informational meeting with the client. Red flags were everywhere. She asked me to step in and help, which I was glad to do, but shared with her some of the following things she should have asked before getting into the situation at hand.

 

Here’s a list of important questions you should ask when hiring a freelance writer.

1) What are some of your most recent ad campaigns and how are they working?

This is where you ask to see examples of their work. To me, this is the most important part of the interview. Make sure they tell you why the campaign was developed, how the ideas came to fruition and what the response has been to the campaign

2) What kinds of writing do you do and what is your speciality? 

Many writers say they can write anything for you. This needs to be a red flag instantly. You want to hire someone who has experience writing the format you need. If your company wants to develop a website, make sure the writer you use knows something about keywords and how to make your website searchable. A website that is unsearchable is worthless. So don’t toss your advertising dollars out the window. 

3) What is your work style? 

It’s also equally important to know how your writer plans on working for you. Are they working from home? Do you expect them to come into the office? How do you plan to handle client/writer interactions? What additional resources will they need to get their work completed and done excellently? Setting forth your expectations in advance is key to creating a trusting, working relationship. 

4) Who are your top 3 references and what will they tell me about you?

Always ask for a reference no matter how well you like the writer. This is where the small business owner made her first mistake. You want to know that the writer has a good solid work ethic and that other professionals trust them with their business communications. You also want to ask the writer how those references will speak about their relationship with the writer. It’s good to have a confident writer and one that is well-respected in the industry. If no one has heard of them, that too should be a red flag. With the small business owner, she came to find out that the freelancer she had hired was more of a sales professional and was good at making up stories, not creating marketing messages that generated results.

5) What is your process for working with a new client and what steps do you take to get ready for a new project?

This is also a key question to ask and one that many small business owners don’t. When you bring up this question you are gleaming a wealth of vital information from the writer. This is a great time to talk about the cost of the project, see how organized the writer is with their projects and even determine if the writer is good brainstorming with clients/your team. 

It’s easy to find a writer to carry on a project. It’s much more difficult to find the writer that you want to create a business partnership with for the long haul. Think of it this way, if you are going through writers as

 often as people brush their teeth, you’re loosing a lot of revenue retraining new writers. Think about your choice. After all it’s your choice and it’s your decision. Make it a wise one.

 

All the best-

Sarah @ Dog-Eared Pages

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Does Your Business Stand Out in the Crowd?

 

Pumpkin Hunting Oct. 08

Pumpkin Hunting Oct. 08

 

This weekend my husband and I journeyed out with friends for the annual pumpkin patch expo. It’s something we have done for a few years now and it’s always a blast. Maybe it’s just being around dear friends or the fact that we drive golf carts in search of the perfect pumpkin, I don’t know, but whatever it is, it’s interesting to see which pumpkins we award as the “perfect pumpkin to carve”.

One friends says she likes the warty pumpkins because they have character. Another likes pumpkins that are smooth and flat on one side as they are easier to carve. We like pumpkins that are oval. To us, that’s what a pumpkin “should” look like. 

So as we were in search for our perfect pumpkin I was reminded how crafting a marketing message to catch a customer’s attention can not only seem like a quest, but the message can also get lost in a sea of other everyone else is doing. Finding your business might be very similar to looking for the right pumpkin. There’s a million of them out there, but what really fits your needs?

Here’s how to stand out in the crowded market and make your marketing message the one customer’s find, remember and act upon.

  • Delve into what your competitors are doing. Know their message inside and out. Is it successful? If not, why?  How can you capitalize on their weaknesses? Are your competitors using flashy images? Should they be and if so, why aren’t you using eye-popping images to grab attention?
  • Use keywords and messaging that resonates with your audience. Know what your customer’s speak sounds like. What are terms that get their attention? Are you talking over their heads?
  • Define your target market and talk to them. If you haven’t had a chance to chat with the people who purchase your products/services you should. How can you effectively communicate your company’s message to them if you don’t know what challenges, goals or expectations your customers seek? It’s a good practice to set up focus groups and parade your advertising ideas in front of the people that will be purchasing your product/services. Gage your message’s effectiveness based on their comments. Revise if you need to. It’s much cheaper to revise than to pull the plug on a campaign that’s been running for a few weeks or months!
  • Try something new.  With the Web 2.0 boom, there are a lot of new vehicles that your company can use to get your message out there without spending a ton of ad dollars. Survey your solid client base. See if they know about Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube or even MySpace. If they don’t, discover why they haven’t had a chance to learn about Web 2.0 and take it on as a new way to market yourself if it’s true to your target market, of course.
While you may not find a marketing vehicle that’s totally perfect, you can always fine-tune your ideas so that your customers are more willing to choose your product over the competition. With a little homework on your part, you can find the right messaging and and solid marketing platform. In the end, you create a more effective way to catch your customer’s eye.
All the best-

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