Archive for Writing Great Copy

How to Engage Readers
AND Grow Your Reader Base

CAST TechniqueCongratulations! Your reader base has grown to 5,000! You had 4,277 hits on your blog last month, and 737 legitimate comments!

If you’re a solo professional trying to get found online, these numbers could be PDG: pretty darn good. Small businesses, however, might find these figures PDA, pretty darn awful. My point is whatever the size of your biz, you want to grow your reader base, increase hits on your site, and stimulate comments, on your blog, social media, and LinkedIn.

If you’re not seeing growing numbers, take heart; you’re not alone. I know this because it’s one of the frequent concerns and questions my clients have: “How do I grow by reader base?” Here are 4 techniques you should be using to engage readers, and grow your reader base.

4 Ways to CAST Your Net

“Quality online content” depends on what business you’re in, who your ideal clients are, and how you can reach out and attract them with your solutions. Here’s a memory device when writing for your blog or website. Read More→

2 Sure-Fire Ways to Inspire Your Blog Writing

Business-blog-writingA few years ago I polled readers and asked what their biggest blogging challenge is. Turns out, it’s not lack of time, it’s lack of inspiration. Does your blog writing lack inspiration? Is it hard to get really fired up when starting to write a post?

I get that.  When I was just starting out as a blogger (was that really over 15 years ago?!) I could just feel that screen staring right back at me.  What can a blogger blog about to other bloggers?

Lack of inspiration comes from not being sure you’re doing it right, or doing it well, and lack of confidence that it will be worth it… in other words, fear and doubt.

Fear and doubt go away when you know what you’re doing, and have a system that will allow you to move forward confidently.

Here are two ways you can side-step fear and doubt, and write frequent, consistent quality posts and develop a blogging habit that will grow your abilities over time. Nobody starts out writing well. Yet, everybody’s got a piece of genius within them, so it’s a question of finding it and putting it on paper, quickly, before any demons get in the way. Read More→

7 Content Marketing Questions to Ask
BEFORE You Write a Word

QuestionsHere are some key marketing questions to ask and answer before you write a single word of content, if you want to get good content marketing results.

When you outsource writing for your blog, newsletter, video or any type of content marketing, be very clear about your content marketing goals. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you’re outsourcing to another writer or doing it all yourself.

1. What do you want your visitor to do after reading or viewing your article, blog or video?

For example, do you want them to buy a product? Call a phone number?  Register on a form with their email address? You should have a specific action you want your visitor to take after reading your article or watching the video.

2. Who’s your target market or audience?

Be very specific here, for example you could say, “My target market is new real estate agents who want to generate more leads.”

3. What makes you better than your competitors? Read More→

Better Content Marketing:
Words and Numbers Matter

Content-MattersAs a psychologist, I’m fascinated by how our brains work. When writing online content, I try to apply neuroscience to understanding why some copy outperforms others. When writing for business, i.e. content marketing, you want to get the words right, so that  your web pages, blogs and e-newsletters get results for your business.

Words matter. Content matters. Sometimes it boils down to just one word or set of words that can make the difference between a customer who reads or one who clicks away. For example, which do you think has more impact:

  1. The surgery has a 95% survival rate
  2. One out of 20 patients die from the procedure

If you are like most people, you would find the second statement far more worrisome even though the odds are the same. Even in today’s marketing world, where we are inundated with images and sounds, words still matter a great deal.

There is a subtle but important difference between “10 percent” and “1 out of every 10.” Roger Dooley cites examples in his book Brainfluence: Read More→

5 Content Marketing Questions:
#2 Why Hasn’t This Problem Been Solved?

In a previous post, 5 Content Marketing Questions: #1 What is The Problem?, I reviewed the content marketing questions that help you organize and simplify your Web writing by asking 5 important questions:

  1. What is the problem (pain, predicament)?
  2. Why hasn’t this problem been solved?
  3. What is possible?
  4. What is different now?
  5. What should you do now?

Question #2, Why hasn’t this problem been solved?, is a great opportunity to address the challenges your readers and potential customers face.

You have a chance to show you understand your readers well, and you have an expert’s understanding of the subject matter. You can delve into the history of the problem, providing insights they may have never thought of.

The answers to this question serves to build audience anticipation for a new solution you’re about to reveal.

  • How is it they haven’t solved their problem?
  • Why is it that traditional solutions aren’t working?
  • Why are they still stuck?
  • Whats new about this situation that contributes to more frustration?

This is where you can really hook readers into your story. Yet so many blogs and email messages skip this step. It doesn’t have to be long, but discussing these points in a few sentences will get your readers to say, “Oh, right, I’ve experienced this. She understands me. What’s the solution, then?”

What’s your experience?  Do you skip over this step when writing your own copy?  Or, have you honed this question – or answer – to a simple sentence or two?

Another added bonus of including this step when writing for your business is that it forces you to periodically ask yourself this question.  It can actually strengthen your confidence and help you focus, or if necessary, re-focus, your business. It’s a simple way to take a step back and look at the big picture, seeing the forest and the trees.

Next up: Questions #3 – #5 to ask when writing content for the Web that gets results.

Inspired by Maria Velosa’s Web Copy that Sells, a blueprint for creating simple copy that works to market your products and services

5 Content Marketing Questions: #1 What’s the Problem?

In a previous post, Writing Web Content that Gets Results: Questions, I reviewed the basic rules of writing web content.

In this post, we’ll explore the 5 content marketing questions that will help you organize and simplify your web page and blog writing by asking 5 important questions:

  1. What is the problem (pain, predicament)?
  2. Why hasn’t this problem been solved?
  3. What is possible?
  4. What is different now?
  5. What should you do now?

As you write your content, you should cover each of the answers. This will keep you on task, and lead your readers through to action. I suppose it depends on what you’re writing, but I can’t think of many web pages, blog posts, newsletter articles where these 5 questions wouldn’t be appropriate.

I’ve been re-reading Maria Velosa’s Web Copy that Sells this week. Her blueprint for creating simple copy that works to market your products and services is clear. There’s a reason it’s organized this way.

Psychologically, we’re hard wired to sit up and pay attention to problems. This is why it’s a good idea to lead off with your headline and first paragraph addressing readers’ pain. Negative emotions are strong enough to wake us up and get us to read the rest of the story.

There are two things you must realize about this seemingly obvious and simple question: Read More→

Writing Web Content that Gets Results: Questions

The rules haven’t changed, but it’s surprising how many people start writing web content without regard for the basics. Many people focus on the medium, the latest shiny tool: the blog, the Twitter tweets, and Facebook updates, without regard for the basic rules of writing copy for the Web.

Content marketing is a buzz word not just because marketing people like new buzzes. Smart marketers know the rules and follow them. Even if the Internet changes at lightening speed, the writing basics for content remain the same.

I’ve been writing on the web for twelve years. Before that, I was a journalist and a psychologist and wrote feature articles and academic papers. Writing content for marketing is different. It’s designed to produce an action, most often sales.

Every once in a while, I go back to the basics. A standard learning tool for many copywriters is Maria Veloso’s Web Copy that Sells, originally published in 2004. The 2nd edition is now out and I’ve been reviewing and re-reading it. Good stuff.

Here’s a recap of some really key nuggets from this book:

Before you write one word, you must first:

  • Know your objective
  • Know your target audience
  • Know your product or service

I know this seems so common sense it’s not worth spending time on, but the time you take to write down a few notes on each of these things will be well worth it.

For example, writing on the web can have several objectives, besides making a sale. What is it you’d like readers to do? Contact you for more information? Sign up for a digital report? Leave a comment, watch a video, fill out a survey?

It’s okay if you’re a teacher and enjoy educating people without any sales objective in mind. However, if you’re not asking readers to think, ask, remember, or act, then you’re not really teaching, are you? Don’t let readers leave saying, “That’s nice, so what, bye-bye…”

Who are you trying to write to and reach? The more you know about your audience of readers, the easier it will be to “speak their language.” You can’t really connect if you don’t know to whom, can you?

And of course you know your products and services, especially if it’s your own business and you’ve been working in it for a while. But how well do you know what the benefits are to your end users? How well do you know your customers’ challenges and problems?

Example: one of my clients is a talented artist who sells original painted greeting cards for various occasions, online through her website. When I asked her what problems does she solve with her cards, she said she provided a thoughtful way of connecting with someone on a special occasion. She hadn’t thought out all the other ways she helped her customers:

  • Her cards were unique, and therefore said much more than a store-bought card from a large company
  • Her cards were original art work which recipients were more likely to keep
  • Her cards saved people time from having to go to a store to browse through hundreds of cards
  • Her cards saved people the hassles of getting into a car and driving
  • Her cards offered a large selection of messages, including many blank

The more you can dig deeper into all the challenges your customers face, and the more content you can create that addresses solutions, the better your writing will resonate with readers. The stronger your online writing will be. Readers will subscribe, keep coming back, sign up for more, and become loyal fans.

I want to give you this simple 5-step blueprint for writing web copy that sells, as explained in the Velosa book, so stay tuned. If you want to be sure to get an email notice when I publish the next post, use the subscription form in the upper right hand corner to subscribe.

In the meantime, have you identified your first things first?  If you haven’t, why not?  I’d love to hear from you.

Content Marketing Videos: Speak to Problems First

What’s the best way to write a script for a video? Content marketing with videos is a key marketing tool, and it’s getting easier to do.

Here’s a new video the folks over at iMotionVideo Studios produced for me. I just love this service. Left to my own devices, I’d probably make one video every few months. But with a low-fee monthly subscription for a year, I know I’ve got a one-minute video commercial coming every 30 days. This is key for content marketing.

Why would I want that many? I don’t really, but for content marketing to work you need as much content as you can, in all forms. I use them to submit to video directories, post to YouTube, and it all counts to get found in Google searches. Some content marketing things have to combine quality AND frequency.

Most of the time I focus on how important it is to write quality online content for your readers, and teach my clients to achieve maximum results, they have to be writing things that are relevant and important to their readers: how do you solve their problems. Read More→

Neuromarketing Books for Marketing to Brains

If you want to know more about how to write content that makes an impact on the brains of your readers, here are some interesting sites and books about the emerging field of neuromarketing.

There are new neuromarketing companies and books galore, and I believe most offer important clues for content marketers. Here are a few of my favorites:

Read More→

Content Marketing that Speaks to the Old Brain

You get better results with your content marketing when you speak to the “old brain,” the one that’s also known as the primitive brain or the survival brain. Knowing how the brain works will help you write better as well as help you with presentations to influence others.

There are a few principles to remember, and here’s a great story that makes this come alive…

A Marketing Moment with a Homeless Man…

I want to share an excerpt of a story by Patrick Renvoisé, from his book Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Customers’ Brain. He tells the story of how he earned the equivalent of a $960/hour consulting fee from a homeless man…

One evening as I was entering a restaurant in San Francisco, a homeless person stopped me. His sign read, “Homeless. Please HELP.”

The man showed all the signs of distress with sad empty eyes. He looked me directly in the eyes, and I was compelled to hand over a few bucks. However, something led me to go further with this particular man.

Like many of my clients who try to get responses from marketing, his message was weak, and certainly not unique. So I gave him $2 on condition he let me change the message on his sign for at least 2 hours.

The man agreed, and I wrote a different message on the back of his sign. Later, we met up again.

He insisted on giving me $10, because he had made over $60 while I was having dinner. His usual take averaged $2-$10 an hour.

As my entire interaction had lasted only 30 seconds, this eight dollar profit translated into a $960/hour consulting fee, not bad.

All I did was apply what I know about the brain and marketing messages that get people to act.

Here’s what his new cardboard sign said: Read More→