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.