Posts

Content Writing Is Tough but This Secret Makes It So Much Easier

Blog reality 2017: a reader will only skim. His or her attention is already at saturation when gets to your blog. If your content is not clear and easy to follow, the sad truth is he’ll bounce.

Your content must HOOK him or her within the first sentence. Word one is even better.

That’s not just a writing thing, it’s a giving thing. The blog owner MUST give value.

You must make clear that your message is relevant for him and his busy life. He needs that much to decide if he’ll devote the next 10 minutes to hearing what you have to say.

It’s a Gift

If you’ve got a reader’s attention, it’s a trust. Take care of him or her.

Arrogance is a turnoff. Today’s reader can smell it a mile away. Salesy manipulation and braggadocio won’t cut it. Once eyes are on you, you must solve a problem, and you must do it for each successive piece that you publish.

There’s a reason why some blogs attract thousands of readers. There’s no silver bullet. It’s a value thing.

The owners of those blogs are giving people information that they can’t or don’t want to do without. It’s not about WHO does the writing. It’s more about WHAT they write.

What to Write

Write about your products but do it from the customer perspective. How can your reader use this product to make his life better. Easier. What problem will this product solve? How will it make him more money? Save him time? What is better—really better—about this particular product.

And be specific. Outline steps. Walk him through it. Specific. Specific. Specific.

Putting your best foot forward can become habit forming. And the more sage advice you give, the more you’ll attract the right reader.

How to Get Tangible Results

Keep in mind that if you want something, you need to ask for it. Otherwise, people just assume you’re good.

If you want them to take steps to find out more, give them a click through button that links to a landing page or product sales page.

If you want to get them to a trade show or conference where you’ll be exhibiting or speaking, invite them to look you up. Let them know where you’ll be.

Get them to reach out if they have questions or comments. Link to your contact page or sales team. Turning on the comments isn’t the best fit for every blog. You can have people contact you, though, if they’re unclear about how a product works.

End Results

Getting your customer results gives you a better result in the end. A good relationship with a customer is pure gold. It’s what makes every ounce of content producing sweat and research worthwhile.

As writers of content, the end goal isn’t just to sell products. Those products must make your customer’s life better.

Product = Solution

Service = Solution

Solution = Happy Customer

Better life is service.

That’s a small business mindset, perhaps, but big businesses are using this principle with great effect.

It’s the reason why companies like UPS, FedEX, Netflix, Amazon, Google, SONY, Marriott, Apple, and Samsung made the USA Today, Customer Service Hall of Fame in 2016.

Take a tip from the big fish, infuse your content and your blog with outstanding value. It’s harder but it’s the only thing that makes sense.

4 Simple Tips Pros Use to Write Better Headlines

Are your headlines doing the job? Headlines perform a critical task. They entice your reader to actually read your content. If your headline isn’t clear or doesn’t promise a powerful reward, people will pass it by.

Professional Copywriters spend up to 50 percent of their time developing the perfect headline.

Here are four simple tips that will help you improve the quality of your headlines.

1. Promise something useful

People read articles because they’re looking to solve a problem. They need to save time. Your headline let’s them know exactly how you’re going to help. Don’t make people guess.

If you want someone to click on your headline promise something they can do right away.

2. Use Numbers

Readers like lists. They’re easy to follow. People are more inclined to click a post with a list because they feel the odds are good that they’ll find something useful.

Algorithms like Google Hummingbird reward useful content. Numbers tell search engines that your content intends to deliver something.

Use random, 2-digit numbers like 13 or 27. It’s an old copywriter trick. These numbers telegraph authenticity to readers.

A word of advice: if you promise 17 essential tips, be sure all 17 of those tips are high quality.

3. Use a Logical Keyword

If you sell tires, use words in your headline like: traction, tread, wheel-hub or grip. If you sell software for autonomous vehicles, use words like: driverless, WiFi, or self-parking.

Think of this like deposits into your search-engine savings account.

The more you include keywords naturally used by searchers, the easier they will find you.

4. Keep Headlines Under 65 Characters

Algorithms penalize headlines that are over 70 characters. That’s because they’re harder to read. That aside, the important takeaway is not muddy up your message with too many words.

Make sentences clear, concise and useful. These qualities will entice interested readers to read your article.

 

Online Reputations and Rabbit Holes

This week’s Persuasive Marketing blog comes from Pete Bartolik, a freelance writer/editor with whom I enjoyed and valued working with for many years.  I think you’ll see why.  Pete spent many years as a staff reporter and editor, followed by a virtual lifetime with a PR agency, before hanging out his own shingle.  Enjoy!

Back in 1987, Ray Donovan, previously Secretary of Labor under Ronald Reagan and the first sitting cabinet member to be indicted, was acquitted with other defendants from charges of fraud in construction contracts. Alluding to the flood of negative print and TV news stories that accompanied the original mob-tinged allegations, he was famously quoted saying, “Which office do I go to get my reputation back?”

In today’s hyperactive blog environment, he’d probably feel like he’s falling – perpetually – like Alice down the rabbit hole.

When print still dominated, we’d counsel clients to expect to be misquoted or taken out of context, and develop a thick skin – plus, even when a publication printed a correction, odds are it would be seen by just a fraction of those who had read the original.

Blogs have vastly ramped up the delivery speed of information, and misinformation, and it now persists for all digital eternity.  More concerning is that the information can take many twists and turns as it traverses the Net echo chamber.

As a youngster you may have played the party game that goes under a variety of names such as “Whisper” or “Telephone” in which successive players pass along a sentence or phrase. By the time the content reaches the last person and is announced to the group, it inevitably has acquired a much different meaning.

Electronic social networks can take the Whisper game to extreme heights, with the potential for truly harmful reputational damage. You can’t afford to shrug off misinformation because it becomes part of your online “permanent record.”

Extreme alertness is the order of the day. Once a story or comment appears online it can proliferate with rapidity and continually resurface as later bloggers pick up on the original. So the best way to blunt the impact is to communicate quickly and directly with the original author to try and correct the record.

The folks who do the blogging for a living are generally pretty reasonable. Many will quickly update their online posting, sometimes just replacing erroneous information, or at least noting a required correction. The sooner you’re able to do this, the more likely you are to limit parroting of the damaging content.

But, still, work on developing that thick skin. It’s inevitable that even after you’ve got the right information online, somewhere down the line someone is going to resurrect the original damaging content. And their blog will tell two people, and they’ll each tell two people, and so on and so on…

Welcome to the rabbit hole.