The Big List of Business Writing Projects

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in Business Writing - General | 1 comment

Business writing is important to companies large and small, and even to independent professionals. It helps you sell products and services. It helps you develop and earn exposure for your brand. It keeps you in touch with important groups (from customers to employees). And the quality of your business writing can have a direct impact on your perceived professionalism.

Yet many business owners don’t optimize their use of business writing. They ignore important types of business writing projects that could benefit their companies, often because they simply don’t think about them.

Are you missing out on important opportunities because you’ve neglected to try different types of business writing? Here’s a list of 50 types of business writing projects to hopefully inspire you to try something new.

  1. Advertising copy
  2. Advertorials / “native advertising”
  3. Annual reports
  4. Articles (such as guest posts or features for trade publications)
  5. Biographies of key figures in your company
  6. Books
  7. Blog posts
  8. Brochures
  9. Business letters
  10. Business plans
  11. Case studies
  12. Course materials (for the public or for internal use)
  13. Direct response / direct marketing copy
  14. E-books
  15. Email marketing copy
  16. Event invitations
  17. Fact sheets
  18. Flyers / posters (such as for event promotion)
  19. Grant writing
  20. Infographics
  21. Letters to the editor
  22. Marketing plans
  23. Media advisories
  24. Media kits / press kits
  25. Memos
  26. Newsletters
  27. Online media room / press room content
  28. Op-eds
  29. Packaging copy
  30. Portfolio copy (especially for independent contractors)
  31. Postcards
  32. PR plans
  33. Presentations
  34. Press releases / news releases
  35. Product descriptions
  36. Product manuals
  37. Proposals
  38. Reports – general (such as industry analysis)
  39. RFPs
  40. Sales letters
  41. Sales reports
  42. Scripts (for audio and video, such as PSAs or online videos)
  43. Slogans / taglines
  44. Spec sheets
  45. Speech writing
  46. Social media profiles
  47. Social media updates / posts
  48. Training manuals
  49. Website copy
  50. White papers

What types of business writing have been the most valuable to your business so far? Are there any project types you haven’t tried yet but would like to? Share your thoughts in the comments, or review my services and rates and contact me if you’d like to discuss working on a particular project.

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What’s Your Marketing Pet Peeve?

Posted by on Jun 17, 2014 in News & Announcements | 0 comments

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.

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 gearing up for launch. And there are a few opportunities for you to get involved.

  1. Visit BadMarketingBlog.com today to sign up for the email newsletter. Subscribers will have access to content that won’t be published on the blog, and only subscribers will have access to the free downloads I’m planning to release.
  2. If you have marketing or PR questions (such as questions about copywriting or managing your company blog), email them to me at jenn@badmarketingblog.com. I might use your question on the blog so others can learn from any feedback I’m able to offer. Include your name, company name, and website address if you want to be featured (or let me know in the email if you prefer to remain anonymous).
  3. You can also email your marketing and PR “pet peeves” to be featured in an archived collection of bad marketing advice, marketing-gone-wrong, and pet peeves from marketing and PR pros. Again, include your name, company name, and website address. The first two are required, though the website address is optional. If you’d like me to consider publishing your marketing pet peeve, please try to keep it to fewer than 50 words.

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.

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5 Business Blog Post Ideas

Posted by on Feb 17, 2014 in Business Blogging | 0 comments

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.

1. Share Industry Insights

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.

2. Inform or Educate Your Customers

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.

3. Post Status or Support Updates

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.

4. Offer Stories and Case Studies

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.

5. Publish Customer-Centric Posts

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.

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How to Write “Scannable” Content for Your Company Blog

Posted by on Jan 27, 2014 in Business Blogging | 0 comments

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.

1. Write short paragraphs.

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.

2. Use subheadings.

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.

3. Include lists.

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:

  • Attract more visitors;
  • Serve as link bait, helping you build backlinks to your website;
  • Make your posts easier to read;
  • Help you organize your content;
  • Help readers get right to the points they’re most interested in.

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.

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A Major Content Marketing Mistake Companies Still Make

Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Business Web Content Writing | 0 comments

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.

Are You Making This Content Marketing Mistake?

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.

Playing Content Marketing Catch-Up

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.

Lessons from the Past

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.

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What Should You Include in a Business Case Study?

Posted by on Feb 19, 2013 in Case Study Writing | 2 comments

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.

  • Problem or Opportunity — This is the unique problem you or your client faced (or a unique opportunity that became available to one of you). It helps if your prospects can relate to this problem. This way when they see how your product or service helped to resolve the issue, they’ll be more likely to give it a try themselves.
  • Your Approach — Here you’ll detail your solution to the client’s or customer’s problem. Or you’ll discuss your approach to helping them take advantage of an opportunity. You’ll talk about the exact services you provided or the product that was used (and preferably how it was used in this case).
  • The Results — Then you’ll talk about the most important element — the results. You obviously only want to publish a business case study when results are positive. Get specific with these. For example, if you helped a customer save $25,000 in overhead costs, you’ll note that. If you helped them grow their profits by 30% in a year, you’ll mention that. This is where you show that your approach, product, or service really works.
  • Testimonials — It’s also helpful to include client or customer quotes (or a single longer testimonial) with your case study. Clients can say things about you and your business approach that would sound questionable coming directly from you. For example, you should keep the case study objective rather than raving about your own work. But in this section, your customers have the opportunity to do that for you.

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.

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