Entries tagged with “marketing”.


Many people run into writer’s block when generating copy for their websites.  Deciding what and how much to include is always a juggling act.  Too little and your potential client may not feel comfortable that you know your business well enough.  Too much and you can scare people away.

To help I want to share a helpful article on writing for your website by my friend and Small Business Marketing maven, Stacy Karacostas:

Writing to Satisfy Both Readers and Skimmers on Your Website

Writing for the Web truly is different from writing for print. One of the most critical ways it’s different is that people don’t read the same way on the Internet as they do on paper. In fact, many people don’t read on the Web at all—at least not at first. Instead they skim and scan to see if your business has what they’re after.

Then, only if they’re really interested will they read your site content word for word. Or do a mix of skimming and reading.

So as an entrepreneur you don’t want to skimp on the amount of Website content (or copy) you write. Because, as I’ve talked about in previous articles, your Website has to have all the tools and information it needs to be a good salesperson. Otherwise it won’t help you grow your small business.

That means your writing has to be friendly and easy to understand. And your copy has to answer all your customer’s questions and deal with their objections…Then convince them to take action.

It also has to achieve three core goals:

  1. Make the shopping experience easy and convenient
  2. Inspire confidence
  3. Show what’s different, or better, about buying from you

That’s a mighty tall order to fill in the 250 words or less some “experts” recommend. Though really, it’s not about how many words of copy should go on a page because you need exactly as much as it takes to achieve your goals—no more and no less. It’s about how you write and format that copy.

So, let’s get back to what I was saying about skimming versus reading…

Most people will skim your Website before they read it—at least initially—because they want to see if you have what they are looking for. And they want to find it as quickly as possible.

However, when they’re really interested in what you are saying—or serious about buying soon—then they’ll devour every last word you put up there. Assuming, of course, that it is interesting, informative, and easy to read.

So, since some site visitors are going to read while others are going to skim, you need copywriting that satisfies both. How do you do that? Try editing and formatting your Website content with these important rules in mind:

  1. Banish Big, Bulky Paragraphs
    Big, long chunks of text are just not inviting to read. Especially on the Web. They just look like too much work, and are almost impossible to skim.Make all your paragraphs no more than five lines long. On the Web even a one sentence paragraph is fair game.
  2. Be Up Front
    Stick to one point and state it early in the paragraph. People who skim read the beginning of a paragraph far more often than they read the whole thing. And the last thing you want to do is bury critical information where it won’t get seen.
  3. It’s Good to Be Short
    It’s easier to both skim and read ideas that are broken down into bite-sized pieces. So keep sentences around 20 words or less. This seems hard at first, but you can almost always find a way to break a long sentence into two shorter ones. Use Tools/Word Count in Microsoft Word to keep yourself honest.
  4. Use 5 Cent Instead of 50 Cent Words
    Using long words take more thought, and are more likely to be misunderstood, than short ones.  Plus, these days most people (even college educated ones) read most comfortably at about an eighth grade level. So anytime it’s possible to use a shorter word, or two short words instead of one long one, do it. The exception: if the long word is specific to an industry or market you are trying to reach, then by all means use it.
  5. Catch Their Eye
    One of the best ways to make your copy both skim friendly and effective is with well-written headlines and subheads, and well-placed bolding and highlights. Someone should be able to skim nothing but these to get all the major points and decide whether or not to read deeper.
  6. Bring On the Bullets
    Next to headlines and subheads, bullets are one of the best tools for satisfying both skimmers and readers. Just make sure each one provides a clear, compelling benefit—not just a feature. Because it’s not just about what your product or service is or does. It’s what it does for your customer that matters.

By writing and formatting your small business Website content with these rules in mind, you make it easy for people to find exactly what they are looking for in an instant. And you can write as much copy as you need to satisfy anyone who wants to read more, and convince them to take action.

—————

Practical Marketing Expert and Business Lifestyle Architect Stacy Karacostas is on a mission to help other savvy entrepreneurs unchain themselves from their business. Discover how to market and grow your business with less effort, help more people, make more money, AND still have a life by grabbing your own copy of her *F*R*E*E* “Success without Shackles Starter Kit” at http://www.theunchainedentrepreneur.com

Have you noticed a growing number of questionnaires on Facebook?  People are asking about your pets, what cities you’ve visited, your political view, even if you were going to stay up to watch the Royal Wedding on TV.

For Facebook users, you can implement Questions on your business fan page to interact with customers as part of their social media strategy.  Ask questions about your ideas or conduct a mini survey to determine which of your services is most popular.

To begin using Facebook Questions on your own page:

Step 1: Sign into your Facebook Fan Page.

If you administer multiple fan pages, go to the “Account” tab at the upper-right side of your Facebook account and click “Use Facebook as Page.”  Click “Switch” next to the fan page you would like to be signed into, which should be the page where you want to add Questions.

Step 2: On your Wall, where you would normally enter your Status, click on the “Question” link and enter your question.  Click on the “Add Poll Options” link and enter the survey options.

Step 3: Click on “Ask Question”

Yes, it’s that easy!  Come up with a question that you’ve been meaning to ask your clients and see what your Facebook network thinks.

Wow! It seems like I had stopped for just a moment to catch my breath and months have disappeared. Well…it’s time to take a deep breath, exhale and jump in and resume sharing my Viewpoints. So here goes…

It’s again the start of a new year. Many people take this time to begin new advertising and marketing campaigns, or at least take a closer look at where they are with their business. An article I read hit the nail on the head for things to take a look at. Although it’s mainly direct towards trade show marketing, the basic rules still apply.

Planting Sales Seeds by Mike Mraz via Skyline Trade Show Tips

“My nephew Andy is a farmer.  He’s wanted to be a farmer since he was a little boy.  For Andy, there’s something so special about tending the crop to harvest.

Spend a day with him and you’ll learn that farming is very hard but rather simple work.

Of course technology has made a significant impact on the farming process. Fields are now charted by GPS, seeds are engineered to withstand hardship and chemicals assist in maximizing output.

But, the process is still pretty simple; turn the soil, plant the seed, water the field and harvest the crop.

Imagine if Andy farmed like many organizations marketed.

Here are 5 lessons that farmer Andy could teach marketers today:

  1. Choose the right crop for the right field.  Market segmentation and targeted messaging allow us to focus our efforts and leverage our marketing dollars like never before.  The proliferation of smaller more targeted events, allows exhibitors the chance to tell their story to a very qualified audience.
  2. Remember where you planted your seed.  What’s the point to randomly handing out or letting people help themselves to your literature a trade show?  When that brochure gets stuffed into a show bag, it’s one step closer to the trash can.  Just like the farmer controls his seed, the trade show marketer must control his information.
  3. Nurture your seed as it grows.  Focused follow-up and relationship development after the show is CRITICAL!  The farmer would never toss his seeds to the wind and expect the crop to harvest itself.  Why do exhibitors think that they can show up at a show, hand out literature, give away a few pens and expect a harvest to follow?  The harvest will belong to the marketing farmer who works the field.
  4. Know when to harvest your crop.  Experienced marketing and sales people know when it’s time to ask for the business.  They take a very strategic approach to developing the prospect into a customer and know when the time is right to close.  And, close they must.
  5. Be a good steward of the land.  Give back to your industry.  Get involved with the associations you belong to.  Put your “knowledgeware” (your smart people) on display by getting them on the speaker’s platform and presenting at your big conference.  To be seen as a thought leader you need to act like one.

If farmers behaved more like the average marketer, this country would starve.

With the exception of field sales (interesting use of words), the trade show floor is the only marketing field where we are face to face with our market.  In this field we have the opportunity to nurture a good crop and grow your business like no other.

So put on your overalls, grab your pitchfork and get to planting. You’ve got mouths to feed!”

by Stacy Karacostas, The Unchained Entrepreneur (www.theunchainedentrepreneur.com)

1) Start by calling or emailing them simply to set up an appointment to talk further. That’s easier and less daunting than trying to close the deal right then and there. And you’re less likely to bag out once you’ve made a commitment. If need be, hire a Virtual Assistant, Intern or assistant to call people back and schedule appointments.

2) Set aside one day a week, or an hour a day, to do follow up calls and block out the time in your schedule. Then commit to doing that and nothing else.

3) Draft an email that you can send automatically when people contact you, letting them know you got their message and would like to set a time to chat. That way you don’t have to think about it and it’s less likely to get put off until later.

4) If you’re not sure what to say on the phone, or how to answer certain questions, you need to create a script—something that’s never a bad idea. Then practice it with someone you know. You don’t need to follow it word for word forever. Just use it to help you get your thoughts in order, or as a cheat sheet, so you can speak confidently.

5) Create an automated system for sending thank you cards after phone meetings. I like to have a draft already written, that way I can customize the message quickly and send it out as soon as I get off the phone. A service like Send Out Cards or a Virtual Assistant or Intern works great for this too.

Read the entire blog post: http://theunchainedentrepreneur.com/five-ways-to-make-following-up-easy

When you build your next Web site, or write your next blog post, or craft your next email campaign to customers or prospects, answer three questions:

1) Who is the primary intended audience
2) What is my primary message to them
3) What is my expected outcome

Most marketers do the first two, but don’t always think through the third. And although the first two are required to make the third work, the outcome of your activity is by far the most important.

In fact, many successful marketers work backwards. If your expected outcome is to generate qualified leads for your sales team, for example, that will help decide who you choose as an audience and what you might say to them.

But the outcome is rarely just about generating leads, or traffic, or visits. When you think outcome, think revenue. What is the revenue-based outcome of what you’re trying to accomplish, and how does every facet of your execution gear towards that outcome?

(source: Matt Heinz, www.HeinzMarketing.com)