Does Your Marketing Have These Persuasive Basics?

 

 

A couple of months ago my fifth grader came home with an assignment. The directions read, “Create a thoughtful, one page advertisement in color that shows the dangers of smoking.” The instructions provided a list of items the ad had to include.

You may find yourself dismissing a grade school assignment as a mild amusement. After all, it’s the stuff of childhood nostalgia — lunch room antics, art projects, chalk dust and the unadulterated joy of summer vacation. Let me assure you, it’s much more.

The need for marketing efforts to succeed runs high. Knowing the basics of persuasive strategy isn’t an ought-to-know…it’s a must.  It’s astonishing just how much money is spent on material that fails to make the grade. Is your company producing B grade marketing? If you want to ensure your efforts are worthy of an A be sure your piece has: Continue reading Does Your Marketing Have These Persuasive Basics?

Due Diligence: The First 6 Moves of Any Content Plan

Content marketing has moved from a trendy sideline position to a mainstream key player. No surprise here. People like to read about themselves and high quality, well-positioned content feeds prospects’ and customers’ egos. It appeals to their emotions. It soothes their concerns. It increases a company’s visibility. It defines your brand by putting your clients and prospects in the spotlight.

A good plan does all of the above, a poor one wastes effort and money. So what separates a good plan from a poor one? Continue reading Due Diligence: The First 6 Moves of Any Content Plan

Playing Keywords on the Internet Orchestra

Have you ever listened to a live orchestra when someone hits the wrong note? Five minutes of elegance and bliss overshadowed by one awkward moment of discord. Or what about hearing a song that you just don’t like? If you’re like me I can’t get the cacophony turned off fast enough. 

Your content marketing strategy is like music. If your company’s web site is an instrument the keywords are the notes and your content holds the melody. The last few years were a time when companies experimented with their web site sounds; a few got it right, some hit some wrong notes while others made us scramble to find the “off” switch. What can you do to make sure your content melody is a harmonious sound that is clearly heard through the internet’s din?  Continue reading Playing Keywords on the Internet Orchestra

Respectful Selling

 Handshake

Aretha Franklin demanded it. Rodney Dangerfield got none of it. Your clients want it. And, if your business communication materials don’t have it, you are sunk.

The magic word here is respect.

Respect has a significant and (all too often) underappreciated role in business and marketing communications. What is it, exactly and you can you make sure your site expresses it?

Continue reading Respectful Selling

10 Places to Put Stories in Your Marketing

Stories allure readers

Narrative. –noun 1. a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious.

People like good content. This is probably why over the past couple years there has been a lot of focus on the power of narrative in marketing. Understanding why stories are so popular will give you your prospects’ coveted perspective and help you use stories more effectively in your own marketing campaigns. I’ve suggested ten places for stories in your marketing communications to get you started. Continue reading 10 Places to Put Stories in Your Marketing

Blogs: Opportunity or Waste of Time?

image of a door knockerTelephones. Automobiles. Television. Personal computers. Cell phones. At one point each one of these inventions was seen as an excessive luxury embraced only by a fringe population. Today it’s difficult to imagine our lives without them. It’s time to add blogs to that list.

Blogs have redefined the way we gather information and share opinions. A recent MarketingSherpa article states that many B2B marketers report that it’s their team’s blog, not the company homepage that is now the most popular entry point for visitors. When it comes to total views, Continue reading Blogs: Opportunity or Waste of Time?

10 Article Ideas for Your Blog or Website

Fuel your content
Fuel your content

So you have a website. Ten years ago, even five years ago, it was perfectly acceptable to have a static website that sat there and did nothing but occupy space.

Times have changed. Websites are filled with content, they’re interactive–they engage readers, build communities, introduce your company, educate prospects, engage prospects, establish credibility…need I go on? Today, businesses have a myriad of tactics and tools available to allow them to turn their website into their marketing and relationship building hub. All of it hinges on quality content. Continue reading 10 Article Ideas for Your Blog or Website

7 Surfer Questions: Does Your Website Have The Answers?

Let’s banish any notion that the internet as a marketing and communication platform is only a trend. There’s no trend, it’s a reality of business communications and customer engagement. Given this reality, why do so many websites fall short of providing the information their visitors need?

There’s more at stake than a missed opportunity. Missing content risks depreciating your brand. Here’s what you need to know.

Most people turn to the internet more than any other source of information and support, including experts and family members according to a survey by The Pew Research Center. Whether you’re the Head of IT looking for a more efficient software solution, a high net worth individual investigating personal risk factors, or a a parent comparing schools: everyone approaches their search with the same list of questions whether they’re aware of them or not.

Knowing this can help you refine your site and increase its effectiveness. Here’s some help on assessing your website’s current communication strengths and weaknesses. Pinpoint the spot on your website where it answers the follow visitor questions and see if it aligns with the accompanying recommendations. If you can’t find it, it’s time to write it.

1. Am I in the right place? So basic. So essential. A visitor cannot become a prospect and later a client unless they know your site is exactly where they need to be.

Accomplish this by naming your ideal target near the top of the page or state their problem in a clear concise way. Within a few seconds of landing on your page the reader should be able to say, hey, that’s me! This site is talking to me.

2. Who are you and do you have what I need? Be clear about what you’re offering and why it’s a benefit. Drop the mind-numbing business-speak. Your words should be in your client’s vernacular, not the industry jargon (unless, of course, that’s how your clients speak to you).

This information should be offered immediately after the reader realizes they are indeed, in the right place.

3. Who else have you done business with? Testimonials, case studies, and online portfolios are all ideal places to include this information.

4. Will you be able to solve my challenges? Your prospect is looking for specific examples that relate to them. Here is where case studies and success stories accomplish some heavy lifting. Many websites fail on this front. They are so busy listing their mission statements, work ethic, state-of-the-art technology and cutting-edge knowledge that they forget to provide examples of a problem a prospect can relate to.

5. Do you have any educational material I can download, review and show my team? Until this point your site has been talking about how your company is a problem-solver. It’s time to cough up some proof. Blogs, articles, white papers, reports, guides, how-to pieces: all of these demonstrate that when it comes to helping clients you walk the walk. Why? Because these documents help the prospect solve a problem.

6. What’s it like to work with you? You know those educational materials listed above? The prospect hasn’t even hired you and your generosity is helping them. They’ve helped me and I haven’t even hired them. Imagine what they could do if I pay them!

7. What’s the next step? Your landing and home page should lead the reader by the hand to the next step. Tell them in no uncertain terms what you want them to do. You may want to send them to another part of your site to learn about your services, gain more confidence, learn more about your company, etc. Be sure to tell them.

In addition to articulating the recommended next steps you should have your contact information easily accessible. Don’t bury it in a drop down menu or in small print on the bottom. It’s not a treasure hunt, it’s a website. Make it obvious.

We could stop here but there is one more thought prospects will have churning inside their minds before they push the “contact us” trigger.

8. Are you worth the effort and expense? This is an underlying concern your prospects will have as they review everything on your site. While all your efforts serve to reassure a prospect that your organization is worth it, there is a humble tool that most websites don’t use to its full capacity: the FAQ page. Expand your FAQ page to address all the naysaying issues and concerns head-on. Anticipate your prospect’s tough questions and write them in plain view.

Now you have the questions. It’s time to go to your website and find the answers.

P.S. If you still believe you can just shrug off the importance of having a robust website with killer communication let me gently point out that you’re reading these words on a website…online.

On that note, did you find what you needed?

K. Marley is a professional content writer who helps businesses communicate their value to their prospects and customers. Make contact at http://www.kmwordsmith.com

Originally published on: Jun 1, 2010

10 Resolutions Revived by Case Studies

Do you hear that fizzle? That’s the sound of all those collective business New Year’s resolutions fading away.
The secret to keeping a resolution is in how you set your goal. Instead of goals that rely on the unpredictable behavior of others, establish goals that give you the control and accountability. Continue reading 10 Resolutions Revived by Case Studies

What Gives?

A gift

 
Giving. It’s a celebrated act during the holidays but not so much for business communications. Or is it? A recent study by the university of Massachusetts Dartmouth discovered that the fastest growing businesses are the ones that are boldly engaging in social media.
 
Social media is powered by the interactions between people. So what are these successful businesses doing? They’re giving.
 
In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, author Robert Cialdini uses scientific scholarship to explain what influences our decision-making. He introduces six principles of ethical persuasion (no torture here): reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency.


How do these tie to giving? Recipricocity, liking, authority and social proof are all big players in social media and content.

When someone offers something of perceived value the recipient automatically feels a sense gratitude and an obligation to reciprocate. It’s human nature. If you give me something useful I’ll give you something in return. That something can range from a few minutes of my attention to positive word-of-mouth to money.
 
Social media allows us to publicly share what we choose to return. This builds on another of Cialdini’s principles; social proof (if all my peers support this, it must be good).  
 
Something wonderful happens when you produce high quality, helpful content. Readers will start to see you as an authority on the topic and they will like you because you helped them. See how this works?
 
Marketing through giving also creates some pretty cool side-effects.
 
Authenticity. One article, one tweet, one update: giving in social media and marketing isn’t a one-shot bullet. Nor is it snake oil.  Giving repeatedly helps prospects really understand who you are and what you can do for them. In his 2009 White Paper Success Summit, Michael Stelzner used the analogy of a bank account. Every time you give you’re making a deposit. Every time you ask for something (a call-to-action) you’re making a withdrawal. Overdraw on your account and you’ll be penalized. Manage your account well and you’ll develop a credible and trusted reputation.
 
Integration. Giving allows you to tie traditional and online marketing methods together. Businesses are advertising the availability of helpful information in lieu of announcing features. This information is then made available through social media channels, email, or hard copy. That’s a lot of touch points for your investment.
 
Enthusiasm. A positive, can-do attitude. Facilitating awareness and learning. Wouldn’t you agree these are desirable qualities and actions? The best communications, either through content or conversation, radiates these elements.
 
If you like this article and are on Twitter please consider retweeting it. Nothing like an example!   

 

K. Marley is a professional content writer who helps businesses communicate their value to their prospects and customers. Make contact at http://www.kmwordsmith.com.