Category Archives: Branding Strategies

Creating and Building Your Brand

Why Hire a Professional Copywriter?

 

Thank you, Lisa Twining Taylor(Dancing Goat Web Design), for uploading my recent Rotary Speech (1-6-2015) to this website and to YouTube for me. Thank you, William Lee (Keeba and Lee Sales) for videotaping the presentation for me. It turned out great.

Clocking in at just under 17 minutes, the presentation  explains the added value of a hiring a professional copywriter. I was amazed to hear from people after the presentation that they had no idea of the additional insights and help that a professional writer can provide to help business owners and entrepreneurs take their outreach to the next level.

If you know of anyone else who might benefit from knowing this information, feel free to point them to this website or to my YouTube channel (WordWhisperer.NET). They will thank you for it… as I do!

P.S. My apologies that the video ends so abruptly, even though the presentation itself didn’t. There was an unwelcome interruption from an uninvited interloper (not a Rotary member, a Rotary member’s friend, or a friend of mine) at the point where Bill stopped videotaping. The videotaping wasn’t resumed after it occurred.

But you aren’t missing much.  Most of the things I covered occurred before the interruption happened. There were only a few additional follow-up questions. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what they were or I would list and answer them here for you.

 

How to Brand Your Business

http://howtodoitfrugally.com/SharingwithWriters_July72014.pdf

SUV all decked out
SUV all decked out
I'm getting fabulous results as a result of branding my SUV
I’m getting fabulous results as a result of branding my SUV

My article about branding my SUV (and getting immediate positive responses) starts on page 13 of Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s newsletter. If your branding efforts have been stymied because of your budget, there are frugal ways to get the word out about what you do without breaking the bank.  Here is just one of them.

Also consider other free and low-cost branding strategies: social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more), podcasts, free special reports and other ways to get the word out about what you offer. Informational (non-sales-y) pieces are all the rage because they work to build the like/trust factor and eventually result in sales.

Copywriting Wisdom for Business Owners

Here’s a video I produced today, an “infomercial” of sorts about why choosing a professional copywriter is so crucial. It’s just a little over three minutes long and worth your time. Please watch, share, LIKE, enjoy and comment when you get to the YouTube page it’s on. Thanks!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz1h_XoQARc

This blog is almost completely about great copywriting. It’s a blog for newbie copywriters and for business owners and entrepreneurs who want to try writing your own copy. I just caution DIY’ers because educators in grade-, middle-, high school and college teach their students to write English pleasantly and properly–not powerfully. (They aren’t writers for the most part. They know all of the mechanics but none of the magic.)

So just because you got A’s or B’s in English composition in school –or because you know someone else who did who’s willing to write your copy–doesn’t mean that it will convert browsers into buyers.

Buyers aren’t looking for pleasant prose–and that’s not what you’re selling.  If your target audience can’t hear the sizzle and smell the steak when they read what’s on your page, they will go somewhere else where they can. Now that we have the Internet and social media, it’s easy to shop around.

So…what stands between you and your customers? If it’s anemic copy that isn’t converting, there’s a solution: make sure the person you hire to do your copywriting knows what the heck they’re doing!

You don’t want to spend your working life chasing leads. With good copywriting at your beck and call, you won’t have to do as much of that; your customers will discover and come to you!

I bet you could use a little work-life balance, if you’re like most small business owners and entrepreneurs I know. That’s what great copywriting can buy you– more freedom to do the things you love to do with your loved ones. Remember those days?  Recapture them. Get someone on your team who knows the copywriting business inside and out and you should do better, faster.

PR Must Develop & Deliver Relationships

Back in the day, PR simply wasn’t necessary.

Not all that long ago (most Baby Boomers can remember the times) it was easier–much easier–to sell stuff. As mentioned several times already, before the advent of mass media outreach and interstate commerce, an egg was an egg was an egg: local, farm fresh, free-range and delicious. There was nothing to recommend one farmer’s hens over another’s, unless the hens were scrawny and sickly-looking or the farmer treated them (or you) badly. Sales back then (ever since sales began and until recently) were based on relationships within a community.

As radio and TV came along, and as commerce could be exchanged farther from home or homestead, ad people came up with ways to differentiate products and services, to “brand” them so people knew they were still trading with  companies they felt they would like and trust if they knew them intimately.

Today, with global commerce and scores of social media platforms in addition to TV and radio, all bets are off. But the more things change, the more they stay the same when it comes to PR. The ONLY way you’ll ever be able to stand out in any crowd is to develop relationships with  your target audience. They can buy what you’re offering almost anywhere these days, and it’s fast and easy to look around for the best price and quality.

  • If your USP is “low price/good enough,” you’ll be racing to the bottom with a gazillion other sellers of similar goods and services
  • If you’re competing on quality, you’re in rarer atmosphere with slimmer pickings because there are fewer truly savvy shoppers who are looking for stuff that will last, products and services whose ROI will make them smile to realize that they’ve invested in quality outcomes that will serve them commendably for long periods of time

No matter who your target audience is, you need to know where they hang out online and off, and you need to start (if you aren’t already) hanging out with them, not as an opportunistic seller but as a helpful, giving, pro-active sounding board and fellow human being.  You need to develop relationships so you’re not pegged as a tireless, unwelcome predator.  Although people love to buy (when they’re good and ready) most of us loathe being sold to–especially inappropriately within social media places where people gather to be entertained, to learn stuff, and to have a good time!  Interact with your target audiences “inappropriately” in the various forums–as a ham-handed promoter of Thine Own Goods and Services–and you’ll have your head in your hands faster than you can figure out what the hell happened.

What people learn about you and how they feel about you matters.  Unless you’re a conglomerate with monopoly powers/zero competition,  how you treat your potential customers matters.  What you offer and share (freely) will determine whether they’ll want to have anything to do with you in the short term and over the long haul.  That’s easy enough to understand. After all, PR stands for “Public Relations” not “Push Relentlessly”!

What’s harder to understand is that every social media platform is different. The people who frequent these sites have established a “culture” for them; business owners (and the clueless copywriters they hire) violate them at their own great risk.

A good book that explains the different cultures is Gary Vayverchuk’s Jab Jab Jab Right Hook. If you’re using social media in any way, or about to enter it as a business presence, READ IT

(This week. Not next!)

Yesterday’s UCN Presentation is Posted Now…

On the right-hand side of this blog you’ll find a video of yesterday’s UCN presentation: Copywriting Tips. Before the camera work began, I started the presentation by saying that most English teachers are technicians, as opposed to being professional writers, artists or creatives. The first words you hear on the video follow that thought. I’m explaining how I discovered this fact while in junior high school…

 

Grab Attention

Your mission, should you decide to accept it:

“Stop me in my tracks–rivet me in place–in eight seconds. Or less.”

 

(Go ahead. I’ll wait.)

(But only for eight seconds. If you don’t succeed, I’m outta here, baby.)

No pressure, right?

It’s a tough row to hoe, isn’t it? But it’s the row we copywriters have to hoe, every time, if we ever expect to sow a bumper crop of new buyers for our clients.

So here’s how  we grab attention

We write riveting headlines

Have you ever noticed how many headlines begin, “Who Else Wants to… (win a car; buy a home; marry a millionaire; fly to Rome/Paris/Frankfurt/New York/Hollywood?)” or “The Top (3,5,7,10) Reasons Why… ” (you should never schedule elective surgery in June; you should get long-term care insurance while you’re young; your credit card is a potential pain in the pocketbook) or “How to…. (grab your audience’s attention in a media-saturated world; earn a seven-figure income working from home; condition your body to run a marathon).

Headlines suggesting that a reader is about to 1.) get incredibly lucky or 2.) avoid some kind of pain, problem or predicament are all the rage. Headlines like these feed on positive and negative emotions, on hopes and fears.  And as you already know (if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time) consumers usually buy  based chiefly on their emotions. (They justify their purchases using logic-based rationalizations.)

Our first sentence grabs attention

If a headline is the lure that attracts ideal clients and gets them to stop swimming long enough to bite, our first sentence must be cleverly created to set the hook. If it doesn’t do this, there won’t be anything to gather into our clients’ nets. So our first sentence must be absolutely irresistible to our clients’ target audience.

Next , the slippery slope grabs attention

When we’re writing copy, we  always remember that at the end of every sentence, wherever a period appears, our readers have permission to leave. This is why good copywriters use every technique in the book, at the end of every sentence and all along the way, to keep the audience engaged.

Some of what we do would give your English teacher a splitting headache and high blood pressure. (“Got milk?”) We start sentences with and, but, so, and other words that would have red edit marks all over them if we were writing classroom essays. Why? Because the insatiably-curious human mind simply cannot walk away from a subsequent sentence that begins with andbut, or  so.

We also use alliteration (“weaving words into wealth by turning browsers into buyers”), rhyming (“you’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent; “double your pleasure double your fun with double good double good Doublemint gum”), similes (“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”), metaphors (“I am Mayhem”) and other clever tactics that keep people trotting alongside as we whisk them down the slippery slope to the result our clients anticipate.

Finally (or along the way in more than one spot), the Action Line grabs attention

Unless the readers–our client’s target audience–follow us eagerly and willingly, like tail-wagging puppies, all the way to the action line–the line where we tell them what they need to do now to satisfy the desire we’ve placed or encouraged in them along the way, our clients will have no sale, no conversion, no win.  And we’ll get no additional work from these clients. And they’ll give us lousy reviews. And we’ll eventually starve as a sad result.

So, as you can see, being a copywriter is no bed of roses. There are plenty of places where we can mess up and cause the house of cards to collapse in a jumbled mess.

This is precisely why it’s crucial that business owners and entrepreneurs who are looking to hire a reputable copywriter need to know the basics about what good copy writing is and why it costs what it does.  Good copy isn’t something we just dash off in a few minutes. It has to be massaged, danced with, tickled, pummeled, and shaped into a series of riveting sound bites that carry potential buyers over the threshold and deposit them in front of your cash registers.

It isn’t a walk in the park. It isn’t a lark. So if you no longer feel completely capable of writing your own copy, hire someone who can.  Your bank account will thank you for it, and you’ll be able to write off every dime at the end of the year when you file your taxes as long as the writer you hire is a reputable professional with a business license.

 

 

 

“You Are Here”

If you’ve ever been to a mall, a theme park or some other spread-out, public-facing venue, you’ve run across those directional signs that proclaim “You Are Here!” so you can get your bearings and figure out your next move.

In chapter one of Reality Marketing Revolution, the authors let their entrepreneurial readers know where most of them are “right now”. In subsequent chapters, they show them how to get to where they want to be as successful enterprises.

Where most entrepreneurs are right now (the ones who are still  trying to figure things out) is predictable enough: they’re doing what they think they should be doing to get the word out about what they do. Trouble is, there is so much static–so much other “market noise”– that their target audiences can’t hear them.

Market noise includes competitors who are yelling louder, saying the right things to the wrong people and the wrong things to the right people,  clients who are too swamped to regard your message as more important than what they’re doing right now and tomorrow, and the fact that you’re probably sending the messages via the wrong media.

So how do you get your message to pole vault over the market noise so it comes down in precisely the right place at the right time to capture your prospects’ rapt attention?  That’s what the balance of the book is all about

The authors pose the question, “What is your basic marketing strategy?”

1. What are your revenue goals over the next 12 to 18 months?

2. Who, precisely, will buy what you offer? (Who’s your target audience?)

3. What pain, problems or predicaments do they have that cause them to want to buy what you offer?

4. What solutions do you have for their pain, problems or predicaments?

5. How are your solutions remarkable enough to create a buzz and put you head and shoulders above your competition? (This is your USP, or Unique Selling Proposition.)

Unless you have the answers to each of these five questions, you’re working at a distinct disadvantage. The authors write, “Strategy before tactics is a must when it comes to crafting an effective marketing effort.”

Any tactics you employ (advertising, etc.) must be part of a larger plan with goals, objectives, and metrics to effectively measure their success.  Otherwise you can end up throwing good money after bad. And money is something most entrepreneurs don’t have a lot of, starting out, so you want to be sure you’re doling it out in ways that have the greatest likelihood of coming back to you, and then some (by a bunch).

Get the book.

 

 

 

 

 

Target Audience Data

After you’ve established your target audience, created your 10-second intro and 30-second elevator speech and hired the perfect web designer to create your site, it’s time to start booking “dates”.

As with any quality date, it isn’t enough to know who you want to date and what they think and feel about things. You also have to figure out what to say and how to look to get your foot in the door.

You also need to know what’s in the potential relationship to attract, engage and keep  the other person interested. Those who don’t do this come across as entirely self-serving. Ham-handed paramours know what they want, but they rarely know (or care) what the object of their desire needs.

So, it appears, do some business owners and entrepreneurs whose sites I’ve seen on the  Web.

Insightful data about your “date” (target audience”) is the fuel you’ll need to drive to where your date is, but it can look like stalking if you appear to know everything about them without taking the time to identify who they are, down deep: what they’re thinking, feeling and truly needing.

So … how do you get from a first date to engaged, or from engaged to walking down the aisle and pledging eternal loyalty to each other (on line and off) as a business owner or entrepreneur?

You serve. You prove your mettle. During hard times, you don’t bail. During great times, you join in celebrations. You become a soft place to fall, a safe place to fail, and a serious commitment junkie.

But how do you do all of this? With words! Even when proving your mettle, holding a hand, celebrating a joy, you use words. Honest, reliable, supportive, heart-lifting words.

So … do you still think that just anyone with a decent notion of English grammar and spelling can “sell” your product, service, or cause?

Remember: your words create your world. Your responses regulate your results.

Be a great lover.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Copy that holds readers at arm’s length with Corporate Speak or  All-About-Us detritus cripples conversion rates.

Don’t be a bore. Be more. Then watch what happens!

Get a professional writer who knows how to serve and seduce–or expect your target audience to go looking for someone else who “knows, understands and loves” them better than you do.

 

 

 

Brand Your Business

Back in the day, an egg was an egg, a biscuit was a biscuit, and milk was milk–cow, goat, yak, what-have-you. Small communities had one or two options, tops, and were grateful to have those.

Then along came refrigeration, intercontinental highways, and global commerce. Perishable goods could be transported just about anywhere via railroad, eighteen-wheelers, ocean-going vessels and aircraft.

Over time, the mom and pop store found itself competing with Sears, J.C. Penney and larger grocery stores.  And thus, the need for branding was born.

“Ask for it by name.”

“Accept no substitutes.”

“You can trust you car to the man who wears the star–the big white Texaco star!”

In today’s environment, branding yourself and/or your business is crucial to “standing out” against your competitors. (Cautionary Note: Don’t confuse a logo with branding. Your logo will become a part of your branding efforts, but it should be created  after you’ve identified what your USP is going to be. (Your Unique Selling Proposition details the exclusive benefit you offer that none of your competitors can match.) The logo should reflect your USP in some way.

Without branding, you’re going to lose your shirt to a competitor who offers what you offer for less or to someone who has branded  him- or herself.

 

You need to position yourself in your niche (whatever niche that is). You do this easily enough by filling in the following blanks (thank you to Copywriting for Dummies by Jonathan Kranz for the following template and examples):

[Name of your company, product or service] is the [defining quality] [category] for [audience description] consumers.

Examples: “KIA is the economy car for two and three-car households“; “Mercedes- Benz is the luxury car for status-conscious consumers“.

You don’t advertise your positioning statement. You write and commit it to memory simply to keep you on track as you develop your branding campaign and marketing materials.

Branding implies a special experience

 

As you develop your marketing copy, you should be working from a copy platform. Your copy platform will include some, but perhaps not all, of the following elements:

  • Positioning statement
  • Key benefits of your product or service
  • Key features of your product or service
  • Product characteristics/”personality”
  • Target audience demographics and characteristics
  • Rules and regulations (how to address your target audience; words to use and avoid, etc.)

Define the experiences you expect to deliver to your customers  then build your brand around them

 

Choose the images, ideas and copy that reveal what your clients or customers can expect to receive when they do business with you.

Note: Don’t define or build a brand image that you can’t deliver on 100%

 

Define your business by setting limits on who you are and what you offer. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Find a niche to occupy and play on that note. Fearlessly pursue what distinguishes you from others in the same niche.

Develop a memorable tag line

Most tag lines are abbreviated, compelling versions of their company’s positioning statement or unique selling proposition.

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

“It’s the real thing.”

“When is absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

“Weaving Words Into Wealth–YOURS! Turning  Browsers Into Buyers.”

 

 

 

 

Brochure Beautiful

Last night I wrote brochure copy for a private consulting firm in Zimbabwe, Africa (Wanangwa Consulting Limited). The client, Freedom Mawoyo, found me on LinkedIn (as I recall).

My spirit resonated to what Mr. Mawoyo is doing in Africa on construction projects and by the unique way in which he does them. He has been able to save clients significant money without cutting corners that result in risky results.

Best of all, he has a stellar reputation.  So I’m glad to be helping Mr. Mawoyo get the word out about what he does. (He is not paying me for this blog. I’m writing it without any prompting from him whatsoever.)

Freedom relayed to me (via the Content Questionnaire I send to all new clients) that a lot of construction work in Zimbabwe is  sub-standard, a fact that has become common knowledge.  As you can well appreciate, the last thing you want is sub-standard quality when you’re building dams,  canals, other waterways and roads; the consequences for folks living near them could be catastrophic!

He’s doing important work and I’m proud to be one of the spokes in his wheel to make sure people discover him and reach out to him when they have large projects that can benefit from the kind of consulting his company offers.