You might not know this, but I’m not simply a business writer. I used to own a PR firm where I specialized in online PR and social media consulting. And I’ve spent years helping independent creative professionals and business owners manage their marketing and PR efforts. I even ran a popular PR blog for a while before turning to a full-time career as a writer.
Now I’m turning my attention back to marketing and PR with the upcoming launch of The Bad Marketing Blog.
This blog will be similar in nature to my former blog, NakedPR, in that its primary purpose is to cut through bullshit advice that risks hurting your business more than it helps. But it will also focus on tips and tools you can use to improve your marketing from Day One.
The Bad Marketing Blog is set to launch within the next few weeks (assuming no further hiccups). And there are a few opportunities for you to get involved.
I hope to see you as an active member of The Bad Marketing Blog community when it launches. Don’t miss a thing. Sign up for the email newsletter today and you’ll be notified as soon as the blog launches.Read More
Recently we talked about business blogging and some important formatting tips for making your business blog content “scannable.” But formatting your blog posts only matters if you can think of something to write about.
How are you supposed to keep fresh ideas coming so your company blog can be regularly updated? If you’re short on ideas, try these five angles on for size. You might even want to alternate these types of posts on a regular basis.
Keep an eye on industry news and post commentary about any important stories. You can do this by monitoring social media updates, industry news sites, or setting up Google Alerts for industry-related keyword phrases.
A perk of sharing industry updates is that the ideas come from other sources. You just share your thoughts and expert insight.
Will you be presenting at a major industry conference soon? Is your company about to unroll something big? Have you been getting a lot of similar questions about a product you sell?
Good blog posts are often designed to inform or educate readers. You can do that by posting company news, answering customer questions, or even posting tutorials on how to use your products and services.
Is your company experiencing shipping delays because of inclement weather? Will your website be down for planned maintenance, especially if it affects a Web-based service or your e-commerce operations?
Keep your customers in the loop with updates or advance notice of potential problems on your blog. An informed customer is a happy customer.
Why not use your blog to showcase some of your successes? Bring on key customers or clients to share their stories of working with you, or post case studies explaining how your past work led to successful resolutions for your clients.
While case studies can work well for service-oriented businesses, what if you run a retail operation? Well, why not get your customers in on the action too?
Consider highlighting your best customers or stories about how customers are using your products. Your company’s fans will love that you care enough to put the emphasis on them once in a while instead of just selling to them.
Do you have other business blog post ideas to share? Leave them in the comments and give your fellow business owners and business bloggers some new ideas to write about.Read More
People read on the Web differently than they might read something like a book. Readers often visually scan an article, your marketing copy, or a blog post before (or in lieu of) reading your material in full.
As a result, it’s important that your business copy and content is “scannable,” especially on your company blog.
Your readers — in many cases your potential customers — want specific information. And they want it quickly.
Here are three simple things you can do to write more scannable content for your business blog.
Keep paragraphs to no more than a few sentences. And keep those sentences short. Large blocks of text can be difficult to read on a computer screen. You don’t want to lose your readers before you get your message across.
Break your copy or content up using subheadings. These are usually bold and in a larger font size than your body text. Subheadings are used to break up your main points or major sections of your blog posts.
Bulleted and numbered lists are also good ways to highlight important information. Lists can benefit your company blog in several ways. For example, they tend to:
Do your company blog posts already use these Web writing tips? Or do they feature long blocks of rambling text that can be difficult for readers online to digest? Do you have other tips for formatting better blog posts? Share your thoughts in the comments.Read More
It appears that “content marketing” will be just as hot of a topic this year as it was in business circles last year. Unfortunately many businesses still don’t understand the most basic principle of content marketing, and it’s causing them to make a serious mistake when bringing on business writers to help them.
Here’s the thing. Content marketing is all about creating and sharing high quality content — things people actually want to consume and interact with.
Now here’s the mistake I still see businesses make quite frequently:
They still prioritize quantity over quality.
It happens time and time again. A company — including fairly large ones — will advertise on some freelance board about a content writing gig. They want someone well-versed in Web content writing, blogging, social media, and content marketing. They expect that someone to have years of experience. They expect flawless writing. In fact, they usually expect several of these writers. And they almost always want these articles for $20 or less per piece.
The ads usually mention that they’re trying to build a collection of articles. It’s about quantity. They haven’t been producing much content on their own. Now they hear “content marketing” is all the rage. And they want in. So they focus on a massive surge of content up front, sometimes with little more than a plan to toss it on a company blog.
What’s the problem with this? Usually the client’s expectations far exceed what they’re actually buying. It’s easy to assume you can pay $20 or so per article and get decent material, if your experience only extends as far as bottom-of-the-barrel marketplaces like Elance. Most of those experienced, top notch content writers don’t find their gigs in those kinds of places, and you can’t compare rates there to hiring an experienced pro.
By all means, for $50 or so you could get decent content from a newer writer or one living in a lower cost of living area (assuming they write so fluently in the language you’re looking for that they would pass as a native speaker). But the obscenely low rates do nothing but send pros running. You end up sacrificing quality — what content marketing is all about — to save money and put it towards quantity. That’s exactly what did in content mills and what changed the focus on Web content for both search engines and readers in the first place.
Quality. You can put in the effort yourself to make that happen. Or you can hire a professional to assist you with your content marketing. Don’t make the same mistake companies have been making for years by outsourcing your content writing to the cheapest providers you can find. You won’t save a cent if that cheaper content costs you readers, customers, and rankings — all of the things a strong content marketing strategy should help you build.Read More
Previously we looked at what case studies can do for your business. But how do you actually write a business case study?
Today let’s take a quick look at what you should include in any business case study you write. The structure of your case study is up to you. They can be anything from a few paragraphs on your website to a multi-page report. But no matter how long your case study is, these elements should be included.
Remember, business case studies are about taking subjective sales copy and business claims and turning them into real-life results. They’re the ultimate proof of the value you offer to your customers.
Those are the most basic elements of any business case study. But they can certainly include more. Do you tend to include anything else in your business case studies? Tell me about it in the comments.Read More
When it comes to marketing your business, there are a wide variety of business writing and content marketing strategies out there. Coming up with the right strategy will involve choosing the best business writing tools for your company. For example, you might use white papers, blog posts, and email marketing campaigns.
Another option you might not have considered is the business case study. Let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits of case studies so you can decide if they’re a good fit.
Here are three things business case studies can do to help your business.
Case studies help you and your business show what you can do rather than simply tell people what you claim you can do. They turn your successes into stories and illustrate your abilities to other prospects.
You probably know it’s a good idea to get quotes and testimonials from happy customers. Other customers may be more likely to trust their peers than to trust sales copy coming from a company trying to make money.
Case studies take testimonials a step farther. Rather than simply gathering praise, you share customer feedback alongside detailed descriptions of the work you’ve done.
When you write a business case study, you’ll likely interview customers and get not only their feedback, but also their permission to use them and their project in your case study. On top of appealing to new customers, that makes case studies a great networking tool with existing customers.
You keep yourself connected to them, and you highlight them through a case study profile that can bring them added attention. In other words, there are promotional benefits for the customer. And that’s not likely something other contractors have approached them about. It makes your company stand out and can potentially lead to repeat business.
Have you ever used business case studies? How did they help your business? If you haven’t written a case study yet, why might you consider it (or what’s holding you back)? Tell me in the comments.Read More