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Pro Polish Minute Launch

I’m starting a weekly email newsletter on job search strategy and personal branding to help you stand out in your job hunt and project proposals in about a minute.

This newsletter will launch on Thursday, November 5, 2020.

Do you know there are only 9 more Mondays in this year? That’s not much time when you factor in holidays.

For the rest of the year, I’m going to be assigning projects that should take less than 15 minutes you can do on Friday to make your Mondays better.

Get on the list at this link: http://eepurl.com/dGivnz

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Your Blog Needs a Life & a Purpose

Blogs and the Honeycomb Model Everyone tells you that you need a blog. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. That depends on how it will help you grow your business.

Blogs can have many focuses and they can enhance the user experience when they visit your website. You can use them to share product updates, tips and tricks, news, thought leadership articles, your take on what’s happening in the industry, recipes or photos.

Whatever focus you take, the purpose is the key. The purpose of your blog is to build trust, loyalty and to provide useful information for your audience. And it helps people who don’t know you find you through the search engines.

If you’re thinking about starting a blog or want to enliven an existing blog, it’s important to understand the commitment:

  • Your readers will want to hear from you at least once a week.
  • Your blog should not be sales-driven. It should be educational.
  • Your blog needs calls to action that ask the reader to take the next step. You don’t want to push them away.

If you’re interested in discussing the life you want to create for your blog, let’s chat. Contact me for a free consultation today.

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How to Pump a Little Health Into Your Content Marketing

pump a little health into your content marketing

Have you noticed how many people have been hitting the gym and making an attempt to delete the junk from their diets the past couple of weeks? It’s definitely a resolution revolution these first few weeks of January, which means it’s the perfect time to set some goals for pumping a little health into your content. Here are five ideas for how to do just that:

Put your content on a diet.

Someone sent me a list of the 25 most common typos and copy mistakes last week. One of those tips stuck out – look out for redundancies such as centered around. If you read that correctly, you’re saying the same thing twice. It’s actually centered on. But this is a great point. We need to trim the redundancies out of our copy. So, I challenge you to see how much you can trim your content.

As Peter Shankman said last week in his recap of his year to 10 percent, we should focus on eating meat and vegetables and leave out the carbs. Redundant words and overused jargon are just like the carbs; they may up the word count, but they do nothing for the health of your content. Simple sentence structure with simple words hits much harder.

Introduce quality supplements.

Content marketing is based on building an audience from people searching for solutions via the search engines. As you know, there’s also been a focus on quality with search algorithm changes and smarter content consumers.

It’s getting more crowded out there in the online marketing space (kind of like the gyms this time of year), so it’s important that we introduce some quality supplements to our every day link bait articles and blog posts.

Your audience is searching for you. Give them video. Give them a simple slideshow or infographic. Anything that tells the story in a new way and shakes things up. Supplements are meant to enhance what you are already doing. Make this the year that you introduce that e-book series or start that podcast.

Stop doing the same old routine.

I’ve heard this from numerous fitness trainers – getting on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes at a pace where you can read a book doesn’t do much for your long-term fitness. Sure, you’ll burn some calories, but your body adapts. It gets used to the exercise and you hit a plateau.

That’s why you have to change the intensity, track your heart rate and introduce new exercises all the time for real fitness. Same thing with your content. Doing the same thing over and over may get you some results for a while, but unless you get out of your comfort zone, your leads and traffic may get stagnant.

Add more daily movement.

A study released in the summer of 2011 showed that people who had more “incidental activity” in their lives had better fitness levels. The same goes for your content marketing. You’ll do better peppering a little content marketing activity each day.

Scheduling in some social media and blog brainstorming blocks can really help you improve on these daily habits. Similar to the rotation of how we clean our homes (laundry day, bathroom day, deep cleaning day, etc.), we can establish content marketing habits.Try focusing on one vehicle during each “incident.”

Finished with a project? Jump into a conversation on Twitter for 10 minutes? Ask a question on Facebook. Share that news item with some takeaways in a quick blog post. Content marketing doesn’t have to be a long, arduous workout. The mini sessions really do add up, especially if you fit them in every day.

Get a professional opinion.

Want to know the number one reason workout plans and diets fail? The goals are too broad. Most exercisers start out with a goal of losing 10 pounds or more. Most dieters drastically change their habits. This much change too soon can work well for a while, but every time you slip, it’s harder to get back with the program. If the program is complicated, it’s even more difficult to get back into it.

I’m not saying that you need to outsource your content marketing or dieting for the rest of your life. However, professionals are there to help you define your goals, create plans you can stick with and give you accountability. A professional opinion can be the difference in getting results and giving up.

I personally had to enlist the help of a professional for my fitness. I tried giving this mentor up last year in January because I could do it myself. Know what happened? I barely exercised between February and November of last year. I lost all the muscle my trainer helped me develop. I lost sight of my goals for excellence. I signed back up in November and have been with the program 90 percent of the time.

In my next post, I’ll outline what you need to look for in a content marketing professional. This person can help you pump a little health into your content marketing.

If you’d like a no-obligation consultation on your content marketing strategy and goals, please contact me and I’ll put you on my calendar.

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The Quick and Dirty Guide to Writing Q & A Posts

guide to q & a blog postsIf you ever interview one of your team members or an expert for your blog or newsletter, it’s not as simple as sending them a questionnaire and then posting it to your blog. There’s a strategy behind great Q & A posts. Here’s the quick and dirty guide to writing Q & A posts.

  • The questions are more important than the answers. If you ask bad questions, your interviewee and your audience aren’t going to get much out of the experience. Spend some time tailoring the questions to your keywords, your audiences’ needs and desires and finding something new.
  • Answers need editing in the written form. Interviews on video can be a little less edited, but if you’re writing a blog post Q & A or even an e-newsletter Q & A, it’s important that you edit for the reader. Clean up the punctuation. Also be sure bullet important points and call out memorable quotes.
  • Takeaways or next steps are key. Sure, reading an interview or Q & A is great, but it’s important to call out the lessons and next steps. This makes your post or email interview actionable.

So, just like every other type of content marketing, a Q & A post requires a strategy. If you need help developing a content strategy, contact me and be sure to subscribe to my content marketing ezine –  Content Confidential.

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Why You Shouldn’t Post Your Email Content to Social Networks

click sendIf you’ve spent any time in MailChimp or Constant Contact or any of the other email programs, you have the option to post your newsletter or promotions to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Don’t click those check marks!

Why you may ask? It’s robbing you of an opportunity to offer exclusivity to your email list.

Let’s explore the mindset of a customer that opts in for your email newsletter and likes you on Facebook.

Ms. Customer signed up for your email newsletter to learn about new merchandise and to receive exclusive offers. What’s exclusive about an offer that you send out via email, post to Facebook, put on your blog and Tweet seven times in a day? Nothing.

Why should Ms. Customer stay on your email list? She’s not getting what you said you would give her – exclusive updates and discounts.

The reason for multiple channel marketing is to reach more people, but you’re doing it wrong if you’re just pressing send and blast. Each network has a specific audience with specific needs and wants. If you use that channel – whether it be email or Facebook or a community, you should always have the audience in mind.

Consider that next time you start that email newsletter. Don’t just post. Your audience is valuable and your content should be just as valuable. And it should fit the audience of the channels you decide to use.

Here’s a traditional advertising comparison – would the Lifetime network play commercials targeting young, single men? No! They are targeting women who like emotional stories.

Same thing goes for email. People are looking for news about your company in a newsletter or discounts in a promotional email. They aren’t looking for you to post the same thing to Facebook. Facebook users don’t want to see “SALE SALE SALE” in their newsfeed. They will unlike your page after too much of this.

The bottom line – consider the audience before you click send on any of your content.

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Is Your Content Content?

content?I love homonyms. At first glance, the title of this post looks like I made a mistake, but I didn’t. The post is all about getting content with our content.

When you become content (i.e. happy, laid back) with your content (info up for discussion/sharing with your audience), you’re walking on thin ice. Sure, formulaic blogging is a great starting point, but we really need to make sure content is fresh, fierce and fetching.

Content contentment can take away from that fresh, fierce and fetching approach to producing content. So, how do you know when you’re becoming a little too content with your content? Here are a few indicators:

Too much focus on the search words

Yes, content marketers are looking to gain search engine traffic, but your content has a higher purpose – to be engaging and educational. And it’s purpose is to etch credibility and trust into your audience’s minds. When your content becomes resourceful, they come back. And that’s the secret to content marketing.

Too narrow a focus or too much repetition

Some blogs are geared toward providing tips and tricks on how to use a product. That’s all great, but it’s important to pepper in some benefits to all the features. It’s important to make connections to what’s happening in the industry or your space. Look at your category list for a little inspiration. If there’s a content gap in a category or two, and the blog is getting traffic to those categories…maybe it’s time to beef them up a bit. Adding some customer case studies or a tie-in to something cool in the news is a great way to harness attention from both your audience and the search bots.

Too much focus on product info

I make my living writing for a number of blogs and companies who know the value of content strategy. However, sometimes a theme is weak or the topic is just losing its luster. When you reach this hurdle, looking at the search terms, what the competition is doing and outside your industry spark fresh, fierce and fetching ideas.

Too little focus on your audiences’ needs

The reason someone found your content in the first place is because they have a need – a need to solve a problem, a need to learn how to do something or a need to be entertained. They searched or heard about you from someone else and need you to help them. If your content is content with only addressing audience needs once in a while, you’re missing the point of content creation and missing out on opportunities to help people. That’s why we should be in business – to help others and get paid for doing a good job. Does your content do that?

Spreading your content in too many directions

Content marketing is as much about the medium as it is about the words you use. However, I learned something from a great former boss – sometimes the medium is the problem. Let me give you a couple of real-world examples.

Email bombardment

I’m on quite a few email lists because I need to know what’s going on in the industries I write about. However, this past week I’ve been bombarded with emails for whitepapers, industry reports and other promos I don’t care to read. So, I unsubscribed from the email list of a publication I respect. But the unsubscribe didn’t work (big no-no). I’m still getting emails with content I could care less about. I’ve filed a complaint with the director of online marketing. Hopefully, this will be fixed soon.

Spinning your wheels in the wrong space

Some mediums are filled with people just like you looking for an audience. Twitter is a great example. In some cases, Twitter is a great place to converse and spread the word. But for some companies, it’s not the right place to be spending your time. I’ve witnessed recently that a client has gotten response from Twitter, but the response has not been from the right people. If the audience isn’t right, why spin your wheels?

Is your content suffering from contentment? Contact me to help you develop a strategy for getting it out of its comfort zone.

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Surviving Social Media as a Politician & Other Random News

business newsIt’s been a busy month. I’ve been working on a number of projects and am very excited to see some things coming to fruition that started several months ago. Here are a couple of tidbits I just couldn’t keep to myself.

Surviving Politics & Social Media. The Social Media Survival Guide for Political Campaigns book just launched! I worked on two chapters of this awesome guide for office-seekers to leverage social media. I worked on Chapters 3 and 7, which dealt with hiring a social media team and using social media for competitive intelligence. Definitely worth a read if you or someone you know plans to enter a political race for 2012.

Texting…Texting, One-Two. I’m on my way to Ohio to headline a conversation about text message marketing with a whole bunch of bingo hall operators! I’m really excited to learn more about charitable gaming and will share the insights next week. We’re talking about how these (mostly volunteers) can take advantage of a simple, and effective marketing tool called the lil ole text message.

Back on the Business Beat. My first real topic or as we journalists call it “beat” was 10 years ago this year! In Advanced Reporting, I was assigned the “business beat.” At the time, I thought it was a drag and a half. Now, it’s how I make my living. Thank you to the teacher who saw that in me!

I’m now writing for a local publication called What’s Around Town Metro Jackson. It’s a weekly newspaper/mag hybrid with all kinds of tips and a rockin’ Facebook community. I get to talk with local businesses about their story and how they connect with the community. Really excited to be working with these fine folks.

Well, that’s a wrap. Stay tuned for an update on the texting for charity event next week.

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Why Hiring a Pro Writer Could Increase Your Sales

The BBC has an article out today about how bad spelling is costing online sellers millions of dollars.

You could be losing half of your sales to spelling mistakes. Why is this so?

Even though the world has become more accepting of casual language and more real-time in communications, online buyers still expect professionalism from a company with whom they spend money. And professionalism starts with knowing how to spell and proofread.

An online retailer in the BBC article says, it’s tough to recruit enough employees who know how to spell. Several commenters remarked that companies need to hire proofreaders to clean up after their employees.

I think that’s a good suggestion, but I also think companies need to hire professionals to help coach their staff on how written communication works. After all, your blog, website, Facebook page, Twitter profile, etc. are how your audience is engaging with you.

It’s time businesses treat every word with the same care that you use to package your product and ship it. Businesses spend money to make sure the product arrives in mint condition. The words used to promote, describe and sell your product deserve the same attention. Or you lose money.

So, how can hiring a pro writer increase your sales? In three simple ways:

Pro writers (with an editorial backbone) check for facts, context, grammar and spelling. Consider a pro writer your word stylist. He/she gets everything just so before you present your sales pitch, ad or other marketing communications to the world. We make you look good.

Pro writers help you make your marketing more impactful. A pro writer knows how to make words pack a punch and increase the credibility of your messages.

Pro writers are meticulous and obsessive. We don’t want anyone to call us out on our poor grammar, spelling or lousy turn of the phrase. After all, we do have a rep to protect. It’s good to have obsessive people on your marketing communications and legal teams. We’ve got your back because we’re always looking over our own shoulder.

So, what do you think…would a spelling error keep you from buying a product? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

And, if you ever need a pro writer to help whip your marketing copy into shape, contact me.

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The Nuts and Bolts of Great Marketing Content

nuts and boltsI once got a comment back from a college professor stating, “Great nuts and bolts article.” Next to it was an “A.”

I loved the grade, but I didn’t love the comment until years later, when I realized that nuts and bolts are the keys to great marketing content. If you don’t have the nuts and bolts located and labeled, your article or email or web page is going to fall flat. Just like the bookshelf that requires these pieces to stand tall.

The nuts and bolts great marketing content are simply benefits, facts and audience emotions and desires. With these three tools, your content will stand tall amid the fluff many marketers call great content. Let’s break down what’s behind these essential pieces of great marketing content.

Benefits

The benefits are the bolts of the content. They give your content the strength to attract your audience. Benefits are the foundation of great marketing content, but they don’t work without the nuts and washers.

Facts

Facts are the washers in great marketing content. A good nut and bolt combination uses a washer to build a stronger foundation between joints. For instance, if you are connecting a door to a cabinet a washer protects the wood surface from damage when the nut is tightened. Fact “washers” come in three flavors – audience, product and industry. Consider them the protectors of your benefits and audience claims. Here’s how each washer works:

  • Facts about the audience help you connect the message to the consumer of your message, especially when there isn’t an exact fit.
  • Facts about the product help you derive the benefits for the audience
  • Facts about the industry help you understand the demand for the product.

Emotions and Desires

I often see content written with no audience in mind. Sure, there may be an implied audience, but without the audience or your content won’t keep anyone engaged for very long. Audience was covered in the facts section, but beyond the facts, marketers need to understand the emotions and desires of their audience. The emotions and desires give the bolts and washers (benefits and facts) the support they need to stand strong. 

Remembering these fundamentals of great marketing content can give you a foundation of credibility and engagement with your audience. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Courtesy of Firesign