The Magic of Writing Things Down

Have you noticed everyone is getting ready for the Fall market?  It is so similar to going back to school in that we were prepared in having our school clothes ready, our supplies ready and also our attitudes were entirely different from the summer.

We were more on high alert and paying attention.  So too with the animals.  They are on high alert and foraging for the long winter months ahead.

Summer is a time of expansion.  The vegetables and fruits of the summer are known for expansion such as tomatoes, peaches and corn.  In the Fall, the vegetables and fruits are known for contractions such as squashes, apples and root vegetables.  It is the yin and yang of the seasons.

Already getting dark at 7:30 p.m. here in Toronto, it won’t be long until Day Light Saving Time. Where does the time go?  It seems like it was just yesterday I was dipping into the pool and patio dining.

All the more reason for me to follow my business plan to a tee.  I write down things to the quarter then to the week and then to the day. I also write down three big projects to accomplish every quarter.

There is something magical about writing things down.  They will come to fruition rather than rambling in your head.  I lost 60# by writing down what I was going to eat every morning and having an accountability partner I called the menu in to.  There was no hesitation at the refrigerator because I already had it written down.  It was very peaceful believe it or not.

All of the great thought leaders espouse writing down a business plan at the beginning of the year, yet how many of us do it?  September in its freshness and newness seems a good point to start.  Even though it is the last quarter of the year, there is no time like now.  Everyone is serious about learning and absorbing new information, so why not think about giving a teleseminar or amp up your facebook postings.  They say you only have to be really good at only one social media platform rather than deplete yourself at many, so choose the one you like best and go after it.

By all means, write down what you want to accomplish.  You will surprise yourself with your results!

Hiring a Copywriter Could be Your Smartest Business Decision

January 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Coaching, Copywriting

As a business owner, you likely wear many hats, some of which you’re uniquely qualified to put on, others that are a little – or maybe a big – stretch. However, there is one hat many business owners, especially new ones, wear (often in the hopes of saving money) that often unwittingly hurts their business. That hat is Copywriter.

Speaking from experience, it’s often hard for us, as business owners, to write effectively about our own businesses. This could be because we’re too close to it. It could be because we’re not sure how to write and we end up focusing too much on ourselves and not enough on the potential customer. Whatever the reason, it’s not your fault. Unless you’re a trained copywriter, there are things about writing for businesses that you’re just not going to know.

While not knowing how to write enticing copy is an issue, another area to consider is time. While it’s true you are the expert in your business, putting your effort toward writing a website, sales copy, autoresponder copy, etc. is probably not the best use of your limited time. And if writing is painful for you, then outsourcing the task to a professional who lives to write and loves it seems like a no-brainer.

Getting those tasks that will provide a foundation for your business done should be directed to people who can do them best. In this case, looking for a competent copywriter to take the writing off your shoulders should be the first priority.

“But copywriters are expensive!” When you hire a professional for the service they provide, there is a fee. The same is true of copywriters. But they aren’t created equal, so it pays to shop around, do some interviews and discover the person with just the right stuff for your business. The fee you pay them to write is an investment in your business, nothing more. It’s like buying pencils…on steroids. If you’re truly concerned about the cost, take time to do a cost/benefit analysis. Calculate how many sales it will take to recoup the money you could pay to a copywriter. Compare that cost to the time (in dollars) it will take you to write your copy instead. And be honest with yourself. The results might surprise you.

A talented copywriter can take ho-hum copy and transform it into words that not only sell but sing to your current and prospective customers. But it’s not just about making copy sound good – it’s about writing messages that create intrigue, develop desire and spark curiosity. In short, well-crafted copy spurs action – whether it’s to click a button, pick up the phone, walk into an establishment or place an order. The right words set your company apart from your competition in a good way.

Sometimes hiring a copywriter means she will simply enhance what you’ve already written. She can massage your words taking them from a rougher form and polishing them to say exactly what your potential customers are needing and wanting to hear. Hiring a copywriter can take your business copy to this:

Why everyone is talking about Jane Doe!

Jane Doe, a world renowned and certified professional coach, has an enduring passion in assisting individuals and groups to achieve an enhanced life experience. She has many proven formulas to ensure success at each and every level of life’s experience. She is legendary for her masterful approaches to resistance and change:

  • EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) She is adept at this 
  • NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) One of her specialties 
  • Guided Visualizations or Imageries- extremely helpful if you are entering the hospital, or an unfamiliar experience 
  • Mindfulness– Very popular 
  • Meditation– Very practical to know for everything from a-z 
  • Positive self talk and alignment as well as affirmations 
  • Coaching– a holistic approach 

Her clients will attest these methods have aided in personal and professional challenges in their lives.

From this:

Jane Doe is a certified professional coach whose passion is to help individuals and groups to achieve Better Life Performance. She uses methods and practices including coaching, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), guided visualizations, mindfulness, meditation and positive self-talk among others. These help clients resolve issues around personal and professional challenges in their lives.

Copywriters are trained to find just the right words to describe your business and you. Sometimes it takes research, brainstorming and old-fashioned trial-and-error to get it just so, but that’s what copywriters do day in and day out. In short, you can skimp on other parts of your business that your potential clients and customers never see. But you can’t skimp on the writing – it’s front and center all day, every day and speaks volumes about your business. What message and image do you want your business copy to convey?

 

Using Social Validation as a Marketing Tool

December 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Coaching, Online Marketing, Social Validation

When you’re looking to buy a product or service, do you ask people around you for their thoughts and opinions? Do you read product reviews before you click “buy” on a website?

Just how important are other people’s opinions in your life?

If you’re like most people, your answer to the question above is probably “very important.”

It only makes sense then that this issue is also important as you market your business. Knowing what others think of you, your product or service and what they say to others is paramount in not only saying the right things to elicit a favorable response (that they buy from you), but to also head off any unwanted and unwarranted “bad press.”

As humans, we look to others for social validation – that what we’re doing is the “right” thing. In his wildly successful book, “Influence:  The Psychology of Persuasion,” author Robert Chialdini states, “When we are uncertain about what to do we automatically look to other people to guide us. And we do this automatically and unconsciously.”

So why do we need social validation for seemingly unimportant decisions such as a book purchase? It’s simple – we want to feel safe in our decision. Obviously, the higher the risk, the more we assess how what we want meshes with what others in our social circles think and want. “I learned a long time ago that I could waste a lot of time and in some cases money if I ignored recommendations by fellow consumers on sites such as Netflix, Amazon and iTunes,” said Bakari Alil II, Ph.D.

Michael Britt, Ph.D., a noted psychologist who publishes the popular “Psych Files” podcast, concurs by mentioning how quickly we evaluate the worth of a book based on the reviews of other customers. This underscores the importance of product reviews and ratings. In terms of marketing your business, one bad review can send prospective clients and customers fleeing. How you respond to that negative feedback can bring them back. That topic, however, is for a different article.

Another less obvious way to convey social validation is to note which products or services tend to be the most popular. Since we unconsciously look for approval for our decisions, highlighting the most popular choice almost eliminates the need for prospective customers to read reviews. You’ve already informed them that they are (or aren’t) making the most popular choice. And, the most popular option isn’t always the most expensive.

For example, imagine you own a website that sells plastic zebras. You may have many different styles and colors of zebras as well as optional accessories to dress up a new plastic zebra. If you note on your site that, “90% of customers love the black-striped zebras with the pink bells added on,” you will likely see a spike in the purchasing of black-striped zebras and the optional pink bells. Is this manipulative? Not really, you’re simply providing purchasing information that a prospect is hoping to see. You make the buying decision easier for the 95 percent of people who need social validation before they make a decision.

Perhaps not surprisingly, only five percent of people don’t necessarily need social validation before they decide something. These people are considered “initiators.” Similar to early adopters, initiators are those people who make informed decisions without the need for any social validation. This rare group contains the leaders – the ones others look to when making a decision. In your group of friends, are you known as the “go to” person with information that can help someone make a choice? Or are you part of the “imitator” group – the 95 percent – who look toward others for advice? You may be wondering if you can switch between these two groups. Not really. We all have a preferred style, although that’s not to say we can’t step up and be an initiator at times. But we mostly work within our comfort zone, whichever style that is.

Given that social validation is so rampant, it only seems natural to talk about it in terms of business marketing. Certainly reviews and client/customer testimonials serve this purpose. However, social media is playing a larger role in social validation each day. If you’ve visited almost any website lately, you’ve probably seen the various buttons you can click on to “like,” “recommend,” “share” or “+1” the site. This is social validation at its most basic form. Something else you might see on that same site is the “Tweet This” button. Yes, if clicked on a message is sent to all that person’s followers on Twitter. But it also shows a count of how many people have tweeted the site/post/article, etc. Again, social validation. Seeing a number is a great motivator for the 95 percent who come after the five percent who’s been there first (and already Tweeted).

Blogging is another avenue for social validation. If your prospective customers are online, you can use a blog to demonstrate your expertise, ability to understand complex ideas, educate your readers and provide relevant information. For example, a real estate agent could blog about local buying trends, housing starts, things to consider when buying, how to find financing, etc. Demonstrating industry knowledge and a willingness to share it puts you ahead of your competitors who have yet to embrace blogging. This also provides another avenue for people to give social validation by clicking the social media options you’ve provided. Win-win for all.

Social validation isn’t going away and to ignore it, especially in this high tech age, could be a prescription for slow or no growth and even failure.

5 Tips on how to have a “STICKY” website! Keep your readers engaged for longer!

November 15, 2012 by  
Filed under Coaching, Copywriting, Online Marketing

Writing copy for your website should be really simple and easy. After all, you’re the expert in your business, right?

The trouble is, you’re the expert in your business, which means you know way more than the average potential customer is going to want to know. Many business owners make the mistake of giving away too much information…or not enough. Either way, the result is the same – website visitors come, read a bit and leave, never to be seen again.

So how do you write successful web copy? Below are some of the guidelines I use when I write for clients.

Unveil trade secrets to make readers stick to your website like glue?

  • The Headline is the critical factor that gets readers to pay attention to your page in the first place.  If you say something like “Welcome to my website,” it is the death knell of headlines and will have the readers fleeing from boredom.  Your headline needs to be benefit oriented and promote curiosity.  “When Doctors have headaches what do they do,” is an outstanding example of a headline that peaks curiosity.  It makes people get into a “dying-to-know” knee jerk reactionBrainstorm your headlines until you have come up with at least fifty and then narrow them down.
  • Next, you want your reader to stay on your website so you must have riveting writing.  How do you become different?  How can you be persuasive and compelling?  If your text is a train wreck it isn’t going to matter what your headline is.  Text is what sells.  Not pictures or graphics, but words in the right order.

The first rule of thumb is to write in benefits rich language and not focus on features.   So a feature sounds like this.  “A cell phone is small and fits in your pocket.”  A benefit statement however… “ a cell phone can find you in an emergency.”  There was a brilliant marketer named Theodore Levitt who was quoted as saying, “People don’t want a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.”  If you have a long list of features it will create a yawn fest and the reader will most likely move on.

Convince people you are who you say you are.  Add some vulnerability about yourself and let them identify with you.    On my About page at my website for an example, I relate how I struggled in the beginning.

Engage the customers by talking about them at least 50% of the time.  Do you know the acronym WIIFM– No I am not cursing!  It means “What’s In It for me?”  Customers don’t want to read about how great you are and how many awards you have won.  Instead of saying “I have blah blah blah,” change it to “Do you need blah, blah blah?”

  • Saying it so they can hear it – You can write all kinds of pretty words, but if it’s not in the language of your potential customers, they will never read them. Get to know your customers through the way they talk and express themselves. Play with wording so that it reflects that expression and you’ll have a much easier time of getting them to stay on your site. This also includes the keywords they might use to seek out someone who offers what you do. By using familiar language, you’ll have an immediate impact on your potential customers because they’ll feel as if you already know them.
  • Discover how to increase readership by 30%.  Have a picture of yourself on your About page.  Your About page should answer the 5 W’s.  Who, What, Where, When and Why.  Why did you start your business, Who are you, What is it about, Where is it, and When did you start it.  Your customers love to know more about the person and company they are doing business with.  It makes them feel close and will make them want to order from you or visit you.
  • Give a call to Action- You need to tell the customer what to do next.  Your action button needs to adhere to the proven 4 B’s- Bold, Brilliant, Big and Blatantly Obvious!  Recent studies have concluded the words “click” and “submit” underperform words like “Download Now” or “Register Now”.

These might seem like simple things, but combined, they create potent copy that converts. And that’s the whole point isn’t it?

 

Crazy Networking

networkingI live in Toronto and went to the last one of the season and quite frankly, I had a blast. What is it? It is run on a format and don’t quote me on it (c’mon, I have only been to one), but is very organized so when you enter, you pay $20 and are given a seat number to be assigned to.

Then it is floor time in which people all chat with one another before the networking meeting begins. Everyone was very friendly and more open than other networking meetings I have previously attended. Then I heard a buzzer and searched for my seat.

I was seated with two men…. A carpet retailer and a PR agent. One had been there before, and he explained the format. We were to go out on the floor and advocate for each other and bring back cards for people who were interested in the person’s service.

Wow, that certainly took the edge off and sounded like a lot of fun. It was my turn to explain what I did. I am a copywriter and serve just about anybody, so I suggested they look for people with websites, or brochures or in need of writing.

The carpet man went out on my behalf, and for some reason, I didn’t think he really understood what I did but sure enough, he came back with a fist full of cards and described each potential client to me.

Next, the PR man went out and talked me up, and then returned with more cards for me once again. Eureka!

Now it was my turn. The pressure was on me to do as good a job as they had done for me. I shoved my way out into the crowd and grabbed the first person I saw and started to ask if they had thought of purchasing a carpet that year and yes, they had. My heart soared. It was as easy as that. The only hard part was when I looked around the room and everyone was engaged, and I couldn’t find a soul to talk with. So I indeed came back with a fist full of cards for my partners.

What surprised me was the level of excitement I was able to maintain working the floor for somebody else. I was really a pro, and just kept going even after rejection. I was unstoppable. It was so much fun, and everyone was so receptive.

Afterwards there was a speech by an entrepreneur, and then the organizer talked to us about follow up. He reminded us to be polite and open when someone from Crazy Networking called and to be sure to take their calls.

The meeting came to a close, but there was an optional lunch and more time for networking on our own.

I have never been so avid about networking until I went to this event. Also, unlike other networking meetings that start at 6:30 in the morning, this one started at 9:30, which is perfect for someone like me.

I have already gotten a writing contract out it and am in negotiations for something else.

So check the Meet-ups in your area to see if you have one, and if you don’t, think about starting one. They will be successful. I am crazy for Crazy Networking!

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