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Why What You Do Matters

what-you-doI just got off the phone with a potential client and he was thanking me for my help and expertise. We are in a serious negotiation over a potential project and I’m really excited about working with him if we can get everything aligned.

The reason I’m excited about the project isn’t the money. Yeah, money is nice and it pays for things, but I don’t really work just to get a check. I could do a lot less putting myself out there if I wanted to just earn a paycheck.

My work is an extension of who I am. It’s what I do to help others become better. A marketing project isn’t just a way to get the phone to ring. It’s about investing in people and in their lives – to make them better.

And that’s why what you do matters – your “what you do” is an investment in the lives of other people.

Someone once asked me if I loved what I do enough to do it for free. At the time, my focus was on making a living for my family. So, at the time, it seemed like a silly question. But today with a little more life experience and some time off for my family, I’d wholeheartedly agree that I love my work enough to do it for free.

I’m so grateful I get the opportunity to do what I love to help my clients create a better life for the people they love and serve.

So, yes, what you do matters to someone else. That’s the thought I want to keep in my head and heart for today and every day.

Interested in discovering how your “what you do” can help others more effectively? Check out my service called Pro Polish, which is designed to help you make the most of “what you do.” Find out how you can get better results with your resume, LinkedIn profile and business correspondence.

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Why It’s Important to Get Really Clear About What You Do

clear business goalsI recently went through a transformation in my business – I took a break and started over. It was a gutsy move and one that scared the dickens out of me.

But this year, I’m looking at a new freedom. I’m starting on some of my own info products and will be launching an ebook series later this spring.  I’m finally doing what I want to do with my business and have honed my specialty to serve more a more specific clientele – professionals, entrepreneurs, independent publishers, startups and tech companies.

I recommend everyone take a break and get clear about what you do in your business and why you do it.

Then, take out the trash. Clear out the things that are getting in the way of what you really want for your time, money and work.

This post is a hint at what I’ll be releasing in the next couple of months – an in-depth e-book series and new blog on how to get very clear about what you do.

It’s based on a model I’ve been using in helping my clients understand who their clients are and their pain points for years. Now, I’m putting this successful, simple strategy on paper for others to use to get clear on what they do.

If you’re interested in the details, please drop me a line or learn more here.

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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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The Invasion of the Ampersand & Other Naughty Punctuation

Ampersand-handwriting-1
Image via Wikipedia

Everyone who knows me knows I have quite a few pet peeves, but two writing related peeves really stand out – the overuse of ampersands & quotation marks for no reason.

The problem is that there is a huge invasion of text message/Twitter speak in everyday communication, and it drives me batty. And for some reason companies think they have to throw up a couple of quotation marks to distinguish their tagline.

Know what this says to me as a consumer? You’re not the real deal. That may seem a bit harsh, but I value a company that thinks about the details. Like the appropriate use of quotation marks. The purpose of these attention-grabbing symbols is to distinguish conversation in prose, quote someone or to call attention to a term that may be unfamiliar. It’s not to distinguish what your company is known for.

Moving on to the real renegade, I believe that the overuse of ampersands shows how busy we all think we are. I recently did a test to see the difference in the time it took to type this curvy, serial symbol. It takes no longer to tap a-n-d on your keyboard. So, why are we so hooked on making it part of our professional communications?

It’s the text message and Twitter in us. We have to be so pithy in our 140 or 160 characters, that this space-saver has crept into other forms of communication. But just like we had to learn to adapt our messages to Twitter and text style, we need to communicate within the style guides of our chosen medium.

Just sayin’.

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When Your Life Becomes a Headline

Writing headlines is a required skill in my line of work. For me, it’s the most satisfying part of the creative process because it’s what people will read first.

I’ve studied headlines since I was a little girl. My parents were newspaper carriers, so I always had access to the headlines first thing every morning. Now, I scan the Internet at intervals throughout the day for headlines that catch my eye.

I think the intrigue behind headlines is that there’s life or a story behind them. That’s why I got into this business. I like hearing, sharing and creating stories.

And recently, my life became a headline. I got the heartbreaking news no mother wants to hear. I thought I was expecting a baby, but in reality it was a sort-of tumor.

The headline “It’s Not a Baby; It’s a Tumor” keeps running through my head as I recover from the surgery to remove what’s clinically called a “molar pregnancy.” The simplest explanation is that it’s a problem with fertilization and a mass forms in place of an embryo.

The clinical outlook for this condition is really good, but there were words of “possible cancer” and feelings of devastation. The next six months will be filled with testing (to get hormone levels back to normal) and waiting (we weren’t trying for a baby, but we have to wait it out for almost a year).

I’ll never look at headlines the same way again because when your life becomes one, it’s even more important to think about the story and the life behind it.

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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

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What is Brilliant Content?

brilliant content

As a kid I secretly wanted to wear glasses because I thought they made you look smart.

However, I didn’t need them. Or, so I thought.

I got glasses at 28. You see, I was farsighted in one eye. My other eye was making up for my lack of up-close focus.

Well, as I learned later, a simple pair of reading glasses can help immensely.

I finally got my wish – to wear glasses to look smarter. But they did more than that. They made me smarter. I could see more clearly and didn’t suffer from muscle tension in my neck anymore from straining to see the computer screen.

Brilliant content is just like a great pair glasses:

  • It brings the customer’s needs into focus.
  • It tells your story clearly and simply.
  • It allows you see what works and doesn’t – quickly.

Want to give your content a clearer focus? Let’s chat.

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Writing Letters of Appreciation – All Year Long

I just learned that last week was National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week. I’m a little late to the game for the national week, but I try to make this a monthly practice. I don’t always succeed, but I usually manage to get at least five letters or cards out a month. I love getting notes in the mail (so rare – other than birthdays or holidays). Here’s my latest list:

  • My local county supervisor – He helped me with a stinky customer service issue involving the local trash collection service. I know he deals with lots of complaints on garbage, pot holes and people’s grass length. I think a letter of appreciation would benefit him.
  • My child’s preschool teacher – I have a hard time enforcing the timeout, but not so much since my daughter’s preschool teacher put her in timeout last week. She deserves a letter of appreciation for making things a little easier at home.
  • Those people who gave me great LinkedIn recommendations lately – I feel like social media has taken away the power of the written word in many cases. That’s why I try to remember to send a card once in a while to a business contact. I think it shows a distinctive professional touch.

Do you use this simple success tactic to remember your customers and show appreciation “just because?”