Archive for storytelling

Compelling Newsletter Content:
2 Big Problems

newsletter-contentFrom what I see, many small business professionals struggle with writing compelling newsletter content. It’s not easy. You need to be interesting, personal, AND remind them of your products and services.Try too hard to do both… you end up confusing and losing readers.

The trick to creating compelling newsletter content is simple:

You’ve got to connect with readers in emotional ways and offer solutions to their problems. 

When I’m working with my clients on their newsletters, I often find one of two problems (or both): lack of clarity and lack of connection. Read More→

How to Make Social Proof Work for You


When writing on the web about your services or products, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of testimonials and client reviews. Social proof is such a strong persuasion trigger you shouldn’t limit these comments to just a page, but have them scattered throughout your web and blog pages.

Know what works best for your content marketing strategies, especially when creating a website or blog, introducing yourself, a new product, or special promotion.

In my previous post, Social Proof: Why It’s So Important, I reported on research that showed travel destinations with client recommendations and photos of the reviewer were selected 20 percent more than destinations with no review.

But not all recommendations (and ratings) will yield the same results. According to Dr. Susan Weinschenk, in her book Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click: Read More→

Best Kept Secret of an Email Newsletter Bio

Email-NewsletterWhat’s the best kept secret of a newsletter bio? As I mentioned in my last post, your bio on your blog or website About page should be current and tell a story, rather than be a resume written in the third person. The same is true for an email newsletter bio.

Unfortunately, I see many coaches and consultants use their resumes for their sidebar bio. (“Dr. Smith has 20 years experience in strategic planning and holds an MBA from Harvard, etc.”)

Then there are those who go to the other extreme: They tell too much about their achievements and come across like an ego-maniac.

While everyone wants to know about who you are as the author of an email newsletter, mostly they want to know “what’s in it for me.” (WIIFM) Read More→

5 Key Elements for Your “About” Page:
How to Tell Your Story

About-Page-My-StoryWhen’s the last time you updated your bio on your About page on your blog or website?

Smart bloggers know that this is one of the most visited pages: People want to know who’s behind a business. Personalities count. Yet many blogs and sites have a standard resume written in the third person, boring as all get-out.

Certainly client lists are important. But so are you. An About page is an important content marketing opportunity. Tell your story, your real story. If you are the sole author of your blog, write it in the first person. Read More→

Story Telling for Blogs

What's Your StoryDo you use story telling on your blog or website?

For anyone involved in persuading others (i.e., everyone), success depends on cutting through the noise and clutter to make the sale or persuade others to adopt our point of view.

Storytelling sells and persuades because it’s an innate skill that has evolved over centuries—something we all know how to do.

In fact, a storytelling gene (FOXP2), discovered in 2001, gives us the physical and neurological skills needed to speak words rapidly and precisely. We use these language abilities to form complex sentences in the proper storytelling sequence. Read More→

The Scariest Blog: No Personality

Scariest Blog PostWhat’s the scariest blog post you have ever read?  For me it’s a blog or website without any personality.

Storytelling and personalization is the key piece in content marketing as I see it. People are good at writing about what they know. They aren’t as good about expressing who they are and why they do what they do.

If you’re not writing real stories, your content – on your blog, in your newsletter, on your web pages – runs the risk of being boring. You may be excited about what you do as a professional, but your clients will get bored or overwhelmed if you just throw information at them.

What’s your back-story? Read More→

Content Marketing: Stories are Key

If you want your content marketing messages to be remembered, you must engage the emotional memories of your readers. Memory formation happens in two ways:

1.  You say or do something that makes an emotional connection.

2.  Something happens that closely resembles a previously established emotional connection.

What results is a neural network of associations that get triggered by a hot-button stimulus. Everything we retain in memory is because it’s gained an emotional place in our brain. At some point, something was important enough because it was emotional. That’s what hot-buttons are… we feel as if someone has poked us.

As a content marketing professional, you have words and visuals in your quiver of tools. How do you poke someone and push their hot buttons?

Stories are key. Negative stories can get people’s attention, but can also leave a negative aftertaste, if not followed by positive stories. I’ve talked about this before, and here’s a graph to illustrate this: 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

Top 10 “Ego” Blogs: Get Inspired, Write Better

I’ve been using to find blogs in niches. And I really enjoy their aggregated lists* of top blog personalities, or as they call them, Ego Blogs.

I have no idea what their requirement is to get listed as an Ego Blog, but looking at the individuals who are included, I’d say these are all big names in the Blogosphere and they have big readership followings.

Heck, some may even have big heads, but for sure, they all write with larger than life personalities.

It’s worth studying their blogs to learn the ways they write and include their personalities. These blogs are completely different, in various fields of expertise. But they are all strong personalities.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Get Personal: 5 Tips for Putting YOU in Your Blog

If you’re writing for your business, how much of yourself should you include? Everyone agrees that blogs are a place to have a conversation. How personal should you be? How do you keep the YOU in Business Blogging and still make it work for business?

There’s an ongoing trend to be personal with business communications. Rohit Bhargava’s written a whole book about it, filled with examples of how companies are successfully using personalities to market their business products and services: Personality Not Included.

I get updates from a professional who writes about arguments with her husband. I can’t help myself, I’m drawn into reading the damn things. And sure, she’s promoting a program…And there’s only a loose tie between the story, the husband, and the program she’s promoting!

But she tells the story so well, you don’t care! I can’t stop myself from reading her blog and newsletters. Why? As a psychologist, I can tell you why:

We’re hard wired to connect with others, especially about family stories, and we all relate to each others’ predicaments.

So, the dilemma remains: how do you do this successfully without embarrassing yourself – or worse – incurring the wrath of a family member? Read More→