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.
A web presence and advertising is great, but everybody knows it's the referrals and testimonials that gets the clients begging for more. Though it may seem like all you need is any old customer to send some good vibes, it actually takes careful selection, specially vetted questions and know-how to get the right people to sing your praises. Here's three steps to getting the testimonials you want and need to boost your business.
1. Identify the right clients
It may seem like the obvious choice to choose the client who happens to be the happiest. However, you'll soon find that the happiest client doesn't always mean great testimonials. Though this particular customer may be the happiest, it does not mean he or she has the best story. Aside from a happy customer, you want to find someone who has a compelling story or who has transformed the most. Their stories will highlight the key components of your business. For example, if you own a gym the best person to give a testimonial may be the person who was sluggish, had a host of health problems and now he is in shape. healthy and confident because of the workouts at the gym. Or maybe you pick someone who had no social media presence, but now has 1,000 likes on Facebook thanks to your work.
Aside from being the happiest with the best story, the best clients for great testimonials are usually influencers. Finding someone with name recognition, a great following, or who's word holds a lot of weight would be highly beneficial for your testimonials.This person doesn't have to be famous or the owner of a big blog. It could be someone who is influential in the community because she is a Girl Scout troop leader or maybe someone who is trusted because he is the principal at the local high school.
2. Choose diverse questions
The most important things you want to find out in testimonials include what the problem was, how you helped, and what life is like now. However, that does not mean you can only ask blanket questions such as "what was wrong with you before" You can get creative by asking questions about their favorite part of the process with your company, and what differences they see within themselves. You can even ask them what keeps them coming back to your business.
3. Ask the questions in a natural way
If at all possible, you want to avoid asking these questions in an email. Though convenient, email denies you the ability to see natural reactions and little quirks or nuances displayed by the client. Those things add color to the testimonial. Once you get the approval, try interviewing clients while they are in your facility and dressed comfortably. There's no need to make it a formal event. You want the interview to be as natural as possible.
Now that you've got the interview out of the way, your next step is to thank the client and publish the interview on the blog, newsletter, website, youtube andy more. Now just sit back and let the testimonials bring more clients to your door!
There are three things my heart skips a beat for: performing arts, writing, and charity. So I figured, it only made sense to combine the two. That's why, starting this month I am giving away up to $400 worth of copywriting material to non-profit organizations serving NJ every quarter of the year.
I know how hard it is for non-profits to get noticed in order to receive funds and volunteers without great marketing material. Hopefully, I can make it much easier with the marketing content I write. So if you are part of a non-profit in need of some blog posts, website content, press releases, etc. now is the time to get it done.
If you are interested in finding out more, click here
or email me
If you browse the pages of my website, you'll find multiple pages in which I ask my visitors to do something. Sometimes it's "Learn more" and other times it's "Contact Me." Regardless of the phrase, it's meant to give the audience a reason to become involved immediately. They're known as a "call to action". Informercials are known for having great call to actions. They are constantly trying to get the audience excited by repeating features such as "Act now" or enticing them with special offers.
Not having a call to action can mean the difference between having ten or two people contacting you. It can also mean not making any sales or reaching a marketing goal you set.
Here are 4 Things to Keep in Mind When Creating a Call to Action:
1. Have an open mind: While phrases such as, "Call Now" or "Tell a Friend" are popular calls to action, they are not the only type. A call to action can be the invitation to download something for free or sign up for a trial.
2. Make sure it's beneficial to you: While having a free offer is a great way to get audiences involved, it's pointless if you get nothing from it. For example, you can offer them a free download to an ebook in exchange for subscribing to your newsletter.
3. Consider a call to action on each page: While it may seem a bit repetitive, it would be wise to add a call to action to each page of your website. However, they don't all need to be the same. For example one can ask site visitors to call you, while the call to action on another page can invite readers to share your blog.
4. Verify everything works: The last thing you want is to have a link with a call to action that does not work. It will make you look unprofessional and the only action your site visitors would do is leave the site and never return. Double check that all links work routinely.
There are no boring topics. There are only boring writers. I'm sure some of you are thinking, "That's easy for you to say. You're a pro." But it's true. I don't care who you are or what you do - there will come a time in your life when you will have to write about a topic you are less than thrilled about it. It's even worse when you are required to make this topic interesting for other people. It's not the easiest thing in the world, but it can be done.
Sure some people might argue that writing interesting content relies heavily on thorough research, awesome sources, and an interesting gimmick. But I'm here to tell that thought is wrong. Having great research and interesting sources can help, but it's not necessary to write interesting content. All you need to do is ask the right questions and then answer them. Don't believe it's that easy?
Let's practice with a topic that can be considered boring: Door Knobs. At first glance it's seems like a completely mundane topic. That is until we come up with a few interesting questions surrounding the typical who, what, where, how and why.
Here's some I came up with in five minutes:
- What are some cool ways to decorate a doorknob?
- At what temperature is a door knob too hot to touch?
- Who invented the door knob?
- How can you fix a broken door knob?
- What is the world record for the biggest door knob?
- Do door knobs have to be made out of metal?
- Why do all door knobs generally appear to be the same size?
- Where can I get door knobs that match french doors.?
- What type of hardware is needed to install a door knob?
Ok, I know these questions may still seem extremely boring to you, but there are real people who are actually interested in this stuff. If you don't believe me just do a Google search, or visit sites such as Answer Bag, Quero, Profnet, Yahoo! Answers, or WikiAnswers. Millions of people find these questions interesting and are searching for the answers. You have the power to provide them with one. Suddenly, boring topic doesn't seem so boring anymore... at least it's not for the audience.
When the term "blog" comes up, most people usually visualize a string of blog posts filled with tons of content listed in chronological order. While that may be true, it's not the only way to use blogs. Blogs include many elements including videos, info graphics, photos, slideshows, Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, and more. Not only can they spice up an otherwise dull blog, they're great on those days you are short on words. I know I can't be the only one to experience writer's block every now and then!
To make your life a little easier and truly inspire you to utilize other elements of your blog posts, I've included a list of places to get some useful multimedia. Photos:
Everyone knows how useful photos in blogs can be. But unless you take your own photos, you just might struggle with finding some worth using. Don't even think about googling images! You'll find yourself in a nasty battle over usage terms and copyright if you don't credit the photo properly. Instead visit stock photography sites such as Stock Photos for Free
, Morgue File
, or Free Digital Photos,
. There you''ll find thousands of photos in several categories approved for publishing uses in blogs as long as you credit the photo accurately. If giving the photo owner credit is a problem, you can also purchase the rights to use the photo for as little as $3 on some sites. That's what I did when publishing my latest ebook
The use of video is hardly a new phenomena when it comes to blogs, but that doesn't make it any easier for people to find decent videos relevant to their blog post. YouTube is a no brainer when it comes to searching the web for videos to use in your blog. Check channels that are relevant to your blog content and subscribe. Vimeo
is also a great and underrated website for videos. Even more valuable for credible and great quality videos are your favorite news stations. Check ABC, Fox News, CNN, The Onion, and more for noteworthy videos. Infographics:
Everyone knows numbers and stats are much easier to grasp when their in photo or graph. That's why infographics come in handy. However, they can be very hard to find and even harder to make. Infogram
has both of those issues covered. The site allows you to build your own infographic or search the site for free! However, if you are short on time, and have a big budget, you can hire Visua.ly
to make one for you based on your data. Music:
I know music isn't visual, but it really can be a great addition to a blog post. Music can help create certain emotions, tell a story, or just entertain your readers. Visit Sound Cloud or Free Music Play to score some great sounds for your blog.
After months and months of procrastination, you finally jumped on the blog bandwagon. You saw the benefit, planned your content and jumped headfirst with several posts lined up. Though you adhered to your editorial calendar and checked SEO, you probably aren't taking advantage of all your blog's capabilities.
Beyond the content and design, there is a whole world your blog is dying for you to take advantage of. It's the world of plug-ins. Plug-ins aren't just flashy gadgets; they're useful accessories that can take your blog to a whole new level. Not only can the right plug-in increase visibility, it can help attract more readers if you pick the right ones. Below are five plug-ins every blog should have. CommentLuv
- We all know a good way to get comments on your blog is to read and comment on other blogs. CommentLuv is a plug-in that provides a link to recent posts to other blogs under a person's comment. Using it allows the commenter to promote their blog and it allows you to find more blogs to follow and comment that could potentially lead to more views on your blog. SEO by Yoast -
Everyone knows how important SEO is, but yet so many people have no idea how to do it effectively. SEO by Yoast takes the guesswork out of search engine optimization. By simply inserting your "focus word" in the form, the plug-in scans your document letting you know how many times you've used your keyword and if it needs to be used anymore. After checking your post, a green light, red light, or yellow light, alerts you to when your post is publish-ready or if more work is needed to further optimize it for search engine results. Akismet:
Spam isn't just canned ham anymore. It has found it's way to the Internet in more places than just your email's junk folder. It's can now be seen on a blog near you. But that doesn't mean it should be seen. Not only does spam make your blog a little unsightly, it takes a lot of time to delete them. That's time you could be spending promoting your blog or creating more content. That's where Akismet comes in. This plug-in captures all the fishy comments and puts them in your spam "folder." Yo u then have the option to trash the legitimate spam or "allow" the good comments that may have slipped in mistakenly. Social Sharing -
You'd be lying if you said you didn't want any of your blog posts to go "viral." I think it might be every bloggers dream for their post to spread like the cold in a daycare center filled with kids. Other than having great content, the best way to make that happen is by having a social media plug-in. There are several of these out there with easy sharing capabilities for sharing via email, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+ and more. While my favorite is Flare
, there are several others that are easy to use. nrelate Related Content -
So you've got a new blog post and it's getting a lot of traffic. But that doesn't mean you don't want traffic to your other posts! Instead of letting all your old posts fade into the darkness you can us this plug-in to get attention for older posts. This plug-in displays blog posts with similar topics on the bottom of current posts to attract more interested readers. This way posts published as long as a year ago can get the same amount of traffic as a recent post from yesterday.
When was the last time you made a decision that wasn't associated with some type of emotion? Whether you decided to pay the bills, watch a particular television show, or cook dinner it was probably inspired by an emotion. They may not all be good emotions, but it was enough to push you to do something.
We are emotional beings. We rarely make any decision without associating it with an emotion no matter how small it is. That's why if you or someone else were to describe your blog as just "fine," you know you are in trouble. Feeling simply "fine" won't motivate a potential audience to read your blog. It also won't inspire them to bookmark it, pin it to Pinterest, email it, or recommend it to a friend. However, it might inspire potential readers to ignore it. And why shouldn't they? Your blog hasn't given them any reason to keep reading because they already feel fine. You haven't made any promise to show them something that could potentially change their day or lives.
To capture and keep an audience you need give them a reason to muster up some feelings that will pursued them to read your blog. Allow them to feel surprised, shocked, inspired, intrigued, etc while reading. Whatever you do, make sure it musters up a feeling! For example, If you were to write a blog post titled "10 Reasons Why You are a Terrible Parent" and list the biggest mistakes parents make, readers will probably feel intrigued and slightly annoyed by your accusation just by reading the title. Parents would immediately feel the need to click on your link, read your post, and learn what they are doing wrong before passing it along to their friends.
If you are looking to garner a lot of comments, you may want to tap into controversial posts that will elicit lots of anger. For example, a post discussing why college is a scam or that Whitney Houston was a drug addict who deserved to die, will probably earn you lots of comments defended a point as well as tweets and Facebook shares.
Want your readers to see you as a helpful and caring person/business? Allow them to feel inspired. Write a blog post that taps into their inner most desires. Tell them about the challenges you faced starting out or how you understand how difficult it is to take the risk of starting your own business. Not only will a motivating and inspiring post have readers coming back for inspiration on a regular basis, but they will be sure to tell other friends who need to be moved as well.
Of course, if you are looking to "move" readers without channeling inspiration you can always fascinate them. A blog that evokes fascination is usually lots of fun. Give them a "wow" factor or an unknown fact to garner attention. It gives readers a reason to associate you with being innovative, "in the know" and on the cutting edge. Plus, it could gain you credibility and lots of attention. Think about it. Wouldn't you take a second look at a blog that fascinated you with an interesting fact such as "80 percent of all cruise ships are refurbished from using old cars." (It's not true... but you get the picture) It's so fascinating that you just have to learn more about it!
Next thing you know, your readers will practically be begging you for new information. And you don't exactly get begging readers with emotionless blogs. The lesson? Always make sure your readers feel something whether it be curiosity, intrigue, anger, sadness, inspired, fascinated, etc. As long as it's not "fine" you're in business!
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.
Me. Me. Me. Me. It might be cute at first, but that's basically all your blatant self-promotion says to potential clients. Chances are it's not making them smile either. They don't think you care about them. Your self-promotion tactics only focus on your awesomeness instead of how your awesomeness helps the client.
Think about it. How irritated are you when you go onto your favorite Linkedin group and all you see are blog posts written by fellow members? Or when you attend a networking group and another attendant won't shut up about her newest success as Head of Marketing. Of course, all of that sounds great. But if you are anything like me you're thinking, "Good for you, but why should I care?"
And that's exactly the problem. Gloating about your accomplishments doesn't do anything to help your potential clients. Instead, get inside their heads and find out what their problems are. That way when you do promote yourself, you can find a way to tie it in with satisfying their needs. Try saying this for a change: "Hi, I'm so & so. I do marketing for x company. Tell me about yourself. I'd love to know what goals you are looking to accomplish."
You'd be surprised how far focusing the attention elsewhere will get you.