You're probably thinking, "I like free things. Doesn't everybody? What's wrong with free?" I used to think the same way. Turns out there are a lot of things wrong with" free." On the outside looking in "free" is the word referencing the ultimate reward of getting goodies for giving nothing in return. However, from a copywriter and marketing perspective, all we see is an email that won't get opened or will somehow end up in the spam folder. "How could that be?", you ask. 

The truth is we are naturally wired to be a bit skeptical. While that free offer sounds good, your first inclination would be that it's too good to be true. And who could blame you, most of the time we go through life believing that nothing in life is free. Therefore, why would some random company email me an offer with the subject line "Get a FREE T-shirt - Details Inside!" You'll be convinced there is some catch requiring a $50 purchase, or attending at least five of their informational sessions before you even click on it. Then one of three things happens. 

A. You'll either delete it and never give it a second thought
B. You'll see it in your spam folder and ignore it because you figured it was in there for a good reason.
C. Open the email only to unsubscribe from the list.

If one of the three happens, you're losing potential costumers and all that time you spent carefully constructing the perfect email would be wasted. Instead of using the word "free", reference an offer that can't be passed up or make mention of the easy way to "earn" discounted swag. You might find you'll get a lot more clicks, opens and maybe even sales.

Just like business plans aren't one size fits all, marketing strategies aren't one-size either. If you run a breakthrough mom - and - pop shop around the corner you certainly aren't going to target your customers the same way JC Penney would. However, there a few marketing materials EVERY business must have. If you don't, consider it your kiss of death. Having the below items will definitely be a breathe of fresh air. 

Business card- No matter how advanced technology may get, the business card will always be the leader of all things marketing. It won't go out of style. It won't be forgotten. But it may be totally discarded if you don't make it stand out. Add a catch phrase or two, create an interesting title for yourself or just play around with the shape. - Anything to make your card hold it's own in a pile up. 

Web presence - No you don't NEED to have a website, but you do need to have something online. That could be a blog, Facebook page, Twitter profile, Youtube channel or business website. Think about it. When was the last time you paid attention to a business you couldn't find online? If you don't have any signs of life on the internet, you might as well not exist because you are invisible to the consumer. 

Press Kit - When you do your job well, people will notice. Eventually you will catch the eye of magazine editors and media reps. How upsetting would it be when someone finally asks to see press releases, executive bios, testimonials, etc and you can't produce it? You've potential missed a great opportunity for exposure. 

Thank You letter - Love may mean never having to say, "I'm sorry." But business means always having to say, "Thank you." Think about it. Your clients are your lively hood. As unique as you may be, your patrons could have spent their money at any other business that does the same thing you do. Let them know they're business is appreciated with a personalized thank you. That doesn't mean having a template in which you just switch out the names of the people you dealt with. Instead, send a handwritten note on fancy stationary with a cute anecdote. Trust me, you're consumers will appreciate a well-written thank you and they WILL come back. 

Magnet-  How many times a day do you think you walk over to the refrigerator? On average, I figured I go to my refrigerator at least five times a day. That means getting a quick glimpse of the magnets on the refrigerator multiple times. Some of those magnets happen to be promotional items from various businesses such as restaurants, travel agents, lawyers, etc. While I may not need to contact a travel agent every time I go searching for milk in the fridge, you can guarantee the next time I need a travel agent, I'll know exactly who to call. When consumers consistently come across your business name you will certainly be remembered when it comes time to hire someone of your expertise.

You wound't write a letter to a complete stranger, right? So why would you do that when marketing your business? You can have the most in-depth marketing strategy in the world, but it doesn't mean a thing if you don't know who your target audience is. It's not enough to know just their occupation, location and other basic information. You need to know more so you can get through to them on a personal and professional level. Not sure where to begin? Here's a list of some questions you need to ask and research to make sure your marketing strategies align with your audience and yield the best results. 

1. Where do they live?
2. What's their education level?
3. Are they married?
4. What's their sexual orientation?
5. Do they have children? If so, what are their age ranges?
6. What are they passionate about? Dogs, volunteering, civil rights, education, etc.?
7. What is their means of transportation? Car, bus, truck, subway, train, boat, etc.?
8. What is their income level?
9. What is their lifestyle? Are they homebodies or social butterflies? Are they trendsetters or trend followers?
10. What motivates them?
11. What keeps them up at night?
12. What are their hobbies?
13. What is their ethnic background?
14. What is their race?
15. What are their daily tasks?
16. How much do they spend on services and products similar to yours?
17. Where do they hang out?
18. Do they watch television?
19. What are their priorities?
20. Can they adapt with technology?
21. What annoys them?
22. What inspires them?
23. How do they spend their free time?
24. What are their goals?
25. What problems do they have?
26. Are they religious?
27. When do they get new information and when do they prefer to get it?
28. Are they business owners? What industry is it? How big or small is the company?
29.Are they worldly or well-traveled?
30. What is their political affiliation?
31. Do they own pets?
32. What is their preferred method of communication?
33. How old are they? What age group do they fall in?
34. How do they speak? Do they use big words? Are they into slang?
35. What are their worries?
If there is one thing business professionals hear frequently, its "Learn how to craft the perfect sales letter." What they didn't tell you is how to properly do it. That's probably because they didn't know know how to write a compelling sales letter without selling anything. Yes, you read that correctly. The best sales letters do not sell anything. Why? Because consumers hate that. Be honest. How much do you like it when you receive contact from someone trying to talk to you out of your money? I'm assuming you don't have much patience for them. Remember that when crafting your own sales letters. 

Instead, write your letters as though you are trying to help them with a need as opposed to selling something. Recognize, that means making no mention of your prices or direct mention of your service. Instead, identify something the prospect is doing and mention how you may be able to help them do it more efficiently. For example, "I noticed you host many fashion shows to publicize your designs. Based on the work I've done for x company , I believe I can help you reach out to the community faster and more effectively. Would you like to chat sometime in the near future?"

Writing in this way does several things. A.) Personalizes the letter so the readers see that you took the time to know them B.) Identifies your credentials C. Suggests a course of action without being too pushy. 

Potential clients tend to respond favorably to letters formatted this way because you treat them like people as opposed to another sales figure. Most importantly, it gives the impression that you care by identifying a need and offering to fix it. And who wouldn't want to work with someone who actually cares?
I may be good, but I'm no magician. No matter how well I write your blog, newsletter, or website content, readers are not going to magically read your writing unless you market it. That means you have to actually put in the effort to make sure it is seen and hopefully well-received. Otherwise, all the time and money spent on perfecting that content will all go to waste. Yes, I know you are busy handling those sales and basically running business. Luckily, I've come up with 25 simple ways to market your writing. Here they are: 

1. Add blog link to your email signature
2. Create a Facebook page for your blog
3. Purchase your own domain name
4. Add the blog link to your Twitter profile
5. Make sure your blog is listed on business cards
6. Comment on other blogs within your industry
7. Submit link to various directories
8. Write guest posts for other blogs
9. Be featured in a podcast
10. Network with other bloggers
11. Participate in online forums
12. Add tags to your posts
13. Submit your blog to search engines
14. Link your blog to your Linkedin profile
15. Write blog posts frequently
16. Update your Facebook status with news of recent blog posts
17. Include a link to your blog in newsletters and brochures
18. Sign up for HARO and respond to reporter queries
19. Participate in Twitter chats
20. Write press releases to announce your blog
21. Practice SEO
22. Add share buttons at the end of all posts
23. Include an RSS feed
24. Write reviews and include a link to your blog
25. Utilize trackback features

Thought of some I missed? Let me know in the comments or shoot me an email!