Posts

Give the People What They Want — A Good Story

Author’s and copywriters are different. Journalists are in their own lane again, as are screenwriters.

Each artform has its own individual requirements and specialties.

But what ties them all together is how the artists must construct a story for their readers. It may be obvious how journalists, authors and screenwriters write stories as their craft is centered around recounting real or fictional events in compelling ways with compelling characters. Copywriting may look like the odd-man-out as the role focuses on writing text for advertisements or promotion; but there is (or should be) a story behind every heading, caption, website page, blog or advert.

It’s just a little less obvious.

But why do you need a story to sell something?

Stories are often looked upon as forms of entertainment. This is true, they have been entertainment since people shared stories around campfires and painted them as images on stone walls. But they are also ways of connecting with people, delving into shared experiences, dreams and emotions. With that being said, why wouldn’t you use a story to sell? Having both entertainment and connection woven into copy intended to sell a business, product or service heightens the engagement and interest that people will have with whatever is being sold.

In copywriting, there can be a complete story being told or simply characteristics of storytelling being used.

An example of storytelling characteristics being utilised can be seen in a Rolls-Royce advert written by David Ogilvy. After extensive research into the car he crafted this headline:

“At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”

Ogilvy could have simply said “it’s the quietest car you’ll ever drive” or “new innovations have made the noise levels of the Rolls-Royce lower than any other car at 60 miles an hour”. But NO. He chose to create a story by including small details that show and don’t tell. You get a sense of the car’s luxury whilst subtly becoming aware of how quiet it is. It’s genius.

Another element of storytelling that appears in copy is a voice—a clear, personable voice of a storyteller. In novel’s, this is referred to as the narrator, but in copywriting it’s the voice that surges out of the words and expands the idea readers have of the brand personality. How something is expressed on paper (or the web) can create playfulness, intensity, urgency and a million other kinds of voices. A strong narrative voice is a weapon every copywriter should have in their arsenal.

In terms of writing a complete story, finding a story to tell is usually the hardest part. However, most people don’t realise that if they have a product or service, there is already a great story waiting to be told. How did your business come to be? What problem did you see in the world that you wanted to help overcome? This story allows you to connect with your audience as you show them that you have resonated with their pain and have worked tirelessly to take that pain away, which builds a relationship and trust. This story will build empathy and hopefully conjure feelings of hope and inspiration.

Your big take away from this blog should be that EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD STORY. When writing for your business, don’t forget to look for the narrative that is hiding in the mundane. Find a way to weave the wonderfully creative techniques of storytelling into your copy to add interest, intrigue and investment.

Gather people around your campfire to have them listen and care about the story you have to tell.

The Ying and Yang of Social Media

Social media is a world unlike any other.

It’s still new to us, especially if you consider how it seems to be everchanging with each new phone update.

Life would be made much easier if only there was an extremely specific recipe to success for all small businesses on all social media platforms. A recipe that needed just a splash of engagement, a cup of killer content and a beautifully cohesive brand identity as the cherry on top. Then, BAM. You’ve got yourself a tsunami of eager customers for life.

In all seriousness though, I wish there was a simple recipe you could follow step by step that would unlock the secret to a successful social media presence… sadly there isn’t.

But, there are many methods that are proven to work that you can try out and modify for your specific business, product and audience. You can navigate your own way to social media success and create your own unique recipe to get there.

Something that will have to be figured out on this journey to a successful social media presence is where your fine line is for various topics. What is to too much and what is too little? What is smothering your followers and what is neglecting them? Where is the line between sticking with what works and boring, repetitive content?

Here are a few examples for you to consider:

  1. Over Posting and Under Posting

Finding that sweet spot in terms of how much you post is a vastly underestimated aspect of social media. It is commonplace for upstarting small businesses to believe they must post everyday (sometimes multiple times a day) in order to keep the interest of social media users.

This is false.

In fact, posting too much will likely annoy your followers who will have a newsfeed oversaturated by your content. It may negatively impact the view of your business and the number of followers you can maintain.

On the flip side, you don’t want to make your content scare so that you lose the opportunities social media provides for conversion and leads. Your acquired followers may also unfollow you if they don’t feel they are receiving the amount of valuable content they signed up for.

2. Over Selling and Under Selling

To sell or not to sell? That is the question!

This is probably the hardest area to pinpoint in terms of what is too much and what is too little on social media. Of course, it is important to promote your products and draw awareness to your website and other business materials. That is why businesses use social media in the first place, to market their brand and products.

However, too much selling can sometimes repel audiences as they begin to feel bombarded by efforts to get them to the checkout. Your business will lose its personable side.

In amongst content which promotes and sells, there should be content that is educational, motivational or prompts casual engagement with your followers in order to create a feeling that there is a person behind the brand.

I suppose you can say there is a fine line drawn between selling and building relationships. Strike the perfect balance between these two things and you’ll end up with trusting customers who are not only engaged with your product, but they are eager to support your business.

3. Finding Followers and Finding Customers

It’s true. It looks good when your social media pages have a large number of followers. Visitors to your page may be impressed by the numbers and opt to join the extensive list of followers. A large following has potential to increase engagement and the sharing of your content to an even greater audience of people.

BUT…

Obsessing over numbers should not be your objective. Finding people that will have a genuine interest and customer potential should be the objective.

There’s no harm in having a couple of empty followers (those which add to your follower count but will not contribute more to your business) but the core base of your following should be made up of people that are beneficial to your business. These people can be obtained through targeted advertisements, use of relevant hashtags and searching the follower lists of competitors.

It is up to you to walk that fine line between having a larger following that looks impressive to visitors whilst still having quality individuals that make up this list.

4. Doing What Works and Making Content Varied

On social media, you track and measure the success of your content. When a post skyrockets and does ten times better than all your other posts, it’s exciting and you feel like you’ve finally cracked the code. All you have to do is keep posting that kind of content, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

It’s important to know what your audience responds positively to and engages with but, you should endeavor to keep your content varied. Social media audiences will not tolerate copy-paste content, they appreciate variation and innovation.

Sure, if posting a “Tip Tuesday” is your thing and your audience is positively responsive, keep it up. If you have an adorable dog that your audience goes wild for, include them in a post every now and then. Take advantage of what works, but don’t let your content become too repetitive and stale —your audience won’t thank you for it.

What Is Cause Marketing And Why It Matters Now

A crisis can bring out the best in people and companies too! As the year 2020 continues to rapidly pivot consumer behaviour trends, we could all use some inspiration for businesses to find ways to adapt to the current times.

So, how do you make a shift in your business strategy to match the current consumer demands?

The reality is consumers aren’t buying products purely for logical reasons, they do so, more often than not, because of reasons that benefit society and the earth. Often, this consumer responsibility connection between a brand and the customer has a large influence on customer retention and sales success. As well as usually, outperforming other purchasing motivations such as discounts, coupons and sales. That’s why you need to incorporate cause marketing into your strategy.

Therefore, what exactly is cause marketing and how can you make it work for your business?

With the age of social responsibility among us, consumers are displaying their preferences lie more with personal values than personal gain. Today, customers are more inclined to buy with their hearts and consciences first, even if it means splashing out extra cash. Consumers are committed more than ever before to leave the world a better place, and they expect brands do the same.

And, if you choose to ignore the age of social responsibility, you do so at the risk of your company. Addressing internal problems within your company is not enough today. It’s time to contribute externally. Today’s consumers support companies who are making an effort to make the world a whole lot more pleasant and socially just. So, find a cause and promote it.

When choosing a cause to support, make sure you feel passionate about it. Companies that support causes they feel strongly about, will typically do better. If your employees can all get behind the cause, the energy will not go unnoticed by your consumers. Simply, giving money to a cause is not enough today. Consumers want to see companies collaborate with not-for profit organisations.

In today’s society consumers understand the importance of buying power to effect change. Companies are rewarded by consumers when their values align. Conversely, consumers punish companies whose values don’t.

 

Consumers seek out and purchase from companies who share a commitment to make the world a cleaner, healthier and better place.

In conclusion, consumer power has become a means of activism. Consumers put their money and their actions where their heart is. And, so should your company.

 

 

So, to leave you with some final tips on how to successfully perform cause marketing;

  • Find a cause that relates to your brand
  • Choose a cause that you are passionate about
  • Do more than simply giving money to an issue
  • Collaborate and build relationships with the non-profit of your choice

Why You Need A Niche: Advice for Up-and-Coming Businesses

Ever heard of the saying “jack of all trades, but master of none”? It’s the concept that people that dabble in lots of things never actually become specialists of anything. This is an important saying to keep in mind when building an online business because someone who is intending to start out as a ‘jack of all trades’, providing 101 different products or services, will likely find themselves on a treacherous and rocky road.

Beginning an online business with a clearer focus about what you are going to provide is a much more effective way of going about it. This focus will naturally mean your product or service appeals to a small or highly specific portion of the population. This is called having a niche.

Choosing a niche is going to make the process of building a successful business easier and faster. This is due to the fact that having a niche allows you to focus your entire attention on a single area of expertise. If you’re concentrating all of your efforts on providing this one thing, your product or service will likely have a higher quality; this is desirable and will increase demand. A niche does not only allow you to specialise, it ensures you aren’t stretching your limited resources thin by trying to cover too much ground.

An example of how niches are crucial can be understood if you imagine someone is starting up a catering company and decides they will provide all forms of catering, including all of the different cuisines and ranges (from high-end to casual dining). This person is opening themselves up to a huge variety of services. This will require increased resources to account for the many different recipes and their ingredients and would likely drain their time as they try to accommodate such variety. This is not sustainable or profitable for new small businesses.

Alternatively, if this catering company chose to only provide gourmet platter food or only provide woodfired pizzas, they have narrowed their target market down massively but have greater chances of gaining a stable place in this market over time by focusing their resources and specialising.

Having a niche is also shown to make your business more searchable online. Trying to advertise and perform search engine optimisation for dozens of different products or services becomes ten-times harder as you have to put all those different products in front of the right customers. The wide range of keywords you will have to target in your organic SEO will mean the process of getting customers to find your website through search results will be significantly slowed and thus, revenue will also be slowed. The only way to overcome this slowed pace is by resorting to paid advertising or by appointing more employees to the task which will demand a larger budget and use of valuable resources.

If you need any more reasons why selecting a niche for your business is a good idea, consider that a niche will simplifyyour marketing strategies going forward by giving you a clear message about features, benefits and purpose. Basically, it makes all the tedious processes of building awareness, interest and conversions for your business that little bit easier.

If this is all sounding rather depressing and like I’m knocking down all the product ideas you had for your new online business, don’t fret. You can expand your niche once you have an established place in the market. In fact, here’s a very extreme example of someone doing this:

A young girl named Jojo Siwa was on a reality TV show and was known for always wearing a huge bow in her hair. Upon leaving the reality show she released a line of eccentric bows which became a worldwide hit. Once she had an established place in the market, revenue and interested customers due to her bows, she began to expand her products to clothing, lunch boxes, perfume, bedspreads and backpacks (to name a few). She started with an incredibly specific niche which became an empire.

Overall, having a specific focus for your business, especially at the beginning, is an excellent idea. You are able to build expert status more quickly which in turn speeds up the process of gaining interested customers who are willing to trust and try your service or product. This is how you can begin building yourself a business with an interested market of paying customers.

It’s Time to Get Savvy: An Introduction to Email Marketing

Email marketing is a massively underrated segment of digital marketing that, when used in combination with other marketing channels, is a goldmine of opportunity. Think of email marketing as the Robin or Dr. Watson of digital marketing; it needs to work in tandem with something else to have relevance but when it does, it is highly effective, useful and fills a vital role.

Email marketing can be used to deliver specific content directly to the interested user’s email inbox. This content can include offers, advertisements and education. To break these down further and understand the different kinds of emails there are, businesses can specifically deliver things like:

  • Brand announcements: announcing your next webinar, event, or sale
  • Product updates: the latest features of your product or offered services
  • Newsletters: a summary of your latest blog posts, business updates or your latest content offers
  • Event invitations: informing users of an event you’re attending, or an event of interest to them (e.g. an event of a business partner)
  • Social media updates: letting subscribers know of your new posts and asking them to share or like your posts (there’s no harm in asking for a little help from your followers/fans)

Keep in mind that you should switch up the kinds of emails you are sending to your subscribers. If you are tracking the response of your emails, discovering which are generating website visits or higher engagement, this can give you greater insight in to which types of emails work best for your specific subscribers. Knowing your subscribers, to know what they need and why they need it, is the key.

Before you can send an email, you of course need to know who you are emailing and how you will reach them. You can form a subscriber list by placing offers to ‘join our email subscription” on your website landing pages, social media’s or other platforms. Enticing people to join your email subscription can be achieved in many different ways, but ultimately you have to sell the benefits of joining this subscription. For example, subscribe “to receive exclusive offers”, “be the first to know when our sales begin” or “subscribe to receive 10% off your first purchase”. Once they have subscribed with their contact information, you can begin sending out your marketing emails.

Manuel vs Automated Emails:

Both manual and automated emails are important for email marketing. Manually sent emails are those that you create for specific and unique circumstances (e.g. an upcoming sale, announcements, newsletters etc.). Automated emails are those which are sent when a user performs a certain action on your website which automatically triggers an email response. Some automated email examples include:

  • Welcome: sent when a user first registers for your email subscription
  • Onboarding: can be singular or several emails providing information about your services or products and gives a rundown of what they can expect from your business.
  • Confirmation: sent in response to a user signing up for an event/webinar or completing a transaction.
  • Form response: sent when someone has completed a form to obtain access to an offer you have promoted, it will usually thank them for their engagement and will include the details of the offer.
  • Abandoned cart: if the customer has added products to their basket but has not followed through with the transaction, you can send triggered emails to remind them that they still have items in their basket and can encourage them to complete their purchase.

There is so much more to learn about email marketing, but this is a good introduction to understanding how, why and when to use email marketing to boost your business.

Final Three Tips:

  1. Your emails should be mobile friendly as 53% of all emails are being opened on mobile devices. If your formatting and content is not appropriate and appealing on a mobile device, then you are potentially wasting some of your efforts and failing to fully target half of your email subscribers.
  2. Make sure your email arrives at the time that best suits the user (consider time zones and how an email notification for someone at midnight may hurt the way they view your brand).
  3. Personalise your emails, tailor them to each user by including their name and providing information or recommendations that are constructed for them based on past behaviors.

Turning a Negative into a Positive: How to Handle Negative Reviews

Let’s be honest, we’re all human and we’ve all made mistakes. Some are the big type, some are the small type and some are the “I forgot my lip balm today” type. They can conjure feelings of guilt, embarrassment and can tinge your cheeks an unflattering shade of red. Yet, these mistakes usually pave the way for us to learn and move on.

Unfortunately, if you’re standing at the helm of a business, any mistakes that are made are a little harder to face internally and to gracefully leave behind you. This is because your mistakes are publicly scrutinised online through the accessible medium of negative reviews.

Though we wish everyone could forgive, forget and leave a review on our Facebook page praising our efforts, the reality is that sometimes we make mistakes and people will speak out about them. A negative review is far from ideal, in fact one negative review is shown to drive away 22% of prospective customers. However, the way in which you manage and respond to this review can significantly improve the perception of your business.

Respond quickly:

If you see a negative review, you should respond promptly. Leaving it is like leaving a parasite and allowing it to infect the reputation of your business. Some businesses choose to reach out privately to negative comments (through social media direct messages) to provide a more personalised, in-depth response. However, a prompt public reply should also be provided acknowledging the mistake and outlining what is being done in response. This ensures other readers know you are taking positive action and are responsive to all feedback.

Responding with haste will narrow the window of opportunity for individuals to view the negative comment in its isolated form and improve your chances of gaining new customers. Ideally, no one will see the negative comment without your empathetic, apologetic response tethered to it.

 

Don’t Delete:

It may be tempting to delete the unflattering or incriminatory words of a disgruntled customer, but this will do more damage to your reputation. You may gain new customers through the absence of the negative review, but you’ve lost a customer and any future customers they could have referred to you. By deleting their comment that they took the time to leave, you are communicating that their feedback is not valued and that you don’t intend to improve on whatever they found dissatisfying. If you delete it, you are simply adding fuel to the fire.

In the unusual circumstance of inaccurate reviews (pertaining to products or services you do not provide) or that resemble a misleading or fake review (made by competition, a former employee  or someone who has never been an actual customer), these reviews can and should be removed.

 

Empathise:

Often, you won’t agree with a review or perhaps what went wrong was completely out of your control. For example, when there are shortages of a certain product in a clothing store due to a sudden spike in demand, this is not exactly an avoidable situation. However, it is important to try and understand why the customer has posted what they did and how they might be feeling.

Imagine if someone had been saving up to buy an item of clothing and comes in-store to buy it only to find there are none in their size. Now, imagine that due to the upcoming line of clothing this item would no longer be in production. Understandably, they are disappointed. You may want to frantically explain the facts of the situation to justify the circumstances, but it is far more important to understand the customer’s feelings and show you care. You can explain without disregarding their experience, making excuses, or avoiding responsibility. This is far more likely to achieve a successful outcome.

 

Be Polite and Professional:

What’s worse than a negative review? A negative review accompanied by a rude, dismissive response. This is a recipe for a tarnished reputation.

It is imperative to remain polite and professional when addressing customers, but especially when responding to a customer who is unhappy with your product or service. This is your opportunity to make amends and prove your quality as a business and therefore, this should never involve insults, slander or flippancy.

A professional format for your response could look like:

  1. Introduce yourself/greet them.
  2. Thank them for their feedback.
  3. Apologise for the negative experience they had.
  4. Explain if there had been a misunderstanding (do not avoid responsibility)
  5. Outline what their concerns are and (if possible) how your business will change/avoid future occurrences like this.

 

Learn:

As mentioned above, there are ‘mistakes’ that are beyond your control. If a negative review brings to your attention an area of your business that could be improved (through employee development, improving phone/website service, technological developments, altering prices etc.) this feedback could be invaluable to the progression of your business. View negative comments as opportunities to learn, grow and gain insights that ensure future reviews are positive.

It’s Time to Get Savvy: 6 Essential Strategies for Small Businesses on LinkedIn

LinkedIn stands apart from other social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook as it isn’t about showing off your personal life, it’s all about your professional life. LinkedIn allows users to network with other users, creating a gigantic web of connections across the entire platform for individuals and companies alike.

For individuals, this platform provides professional networking, connecting, and job searching. Alternatively, businesses can use the site for recruiting and more importantly, developing and strengthening their brand. That is, if they know how.

Often for small business, knowing how to navigate and stand out on social media platforms like LinkedIn can seem daunting, especially when they are unfamiliar to you. To steer you and your business in the right direction, we’ve come up with some of the best tips and tricks to help you wield the power of LinkedIn.

  1. Turn up the Professionalism

LinkedIn varies from most other social media platforms as it demands an air of sophistication and professionalism. This often means that small businesses must alter their usual brand content in some way to cater to the platform. This doesn’t mean you to have to turn away from your brand identity, it simply requires adopting a heightened formality in terms of language and sometimes imagery. Unfortunately, due to this fact, the convenience of auto-posting between social media platforms is strongly discouraged as the expectation and standard of content is entirely different on LinkedIn.

  1. Email Marketing

A strategy for small businesses looking to expand their clientele is to write a message to be sent to individuals that you connect with on the platform. This message should thank them for the networking opportunity and invite them to join you email marketing list through a direct link to the email signup. A feature of LinkedIn is that it lets users’ message 50 people at a time in this way which welcomes a huge amount potential business opportunity. Keep the message light, and professional.

  1. Posting Blogs or Articles

Many businesses have a website that features blog material. The benefit of this is that it enables a business to showcase their expertise and personality to possible customers. Posting some or all of this blog content to LinkedIn as well allows potential for greater exposure and display of your experience and knowledge as a business that will set you apart from competitors. This is particularly helpful if any of your content begins to gain some traction as LinkedIn will then highlight and boost the visibility of this content across the platform to relevant individuals. Obviously, this is a great tool in garnering awareness and interest in your brand.

 

  1. Employee Profiles

For small businesses, it is beneficial to have employees create profiles on LinkedIn. The reason for this is that it allows for greater exposure to your brand by creating more avenues to your company page (as long as your employees include their current occupation and company in their profile). Additionally, Forbesconducted a study that found out ‘“Employees are 70% more likely to engage with your company updates.” When your employees “like” and “share” status updates, they make them visible to their contacts.’ This domino effect can happen in various ways and shows how employees on LinkedIn can act as promotors. Another role of your employees is as brand ambassadors so ensure they have appropriate photos and a complete profile.

  1. LinkedIn Groups

Small business owners should join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to their target demographic. This is a great strategy to gain insights into audience pain points, needs and topics of interest that help in shaping and improving your marketing strategies. A perk of LinkedIn groups is that you can message members of the group that you may have built a relationship with even if you aren’t connected. The space itself may also provide the opportunity for general interaction in the form of your business giving advice in the group which builds your reputation and expands brand awareness. Overall, this feature is a great way of building relationships with potential future clients and getting your business name out there.

  1. Profile Summary

The ‘summary’ that features on your profile is vital in making an amazing impression on visitors to your page. You have 2000 characters to convey in an enticing way what exactly you do. Don’t worry about addressing the entire planet, you have a specific audience and they are the only ones who matter. Be succinct, be exciting, be personable and be unafraid to boast a little bit… be confident, not arrogant. It’s hard to know if you have got your summary right but just try to think of it as a first date, the reader is wanting to connect with you and this is your opportunity to put your best foot forward, show off your assets and try to get a second date.

Here are some examples to get you started.