Do Better Writing Blog

Use This Highly Irresistible Idea to Cut Through Marketing Clutter

Image: Hersheys.com

Convey your message in tempting mini-candy bar style

What’s your snack of choice these days working from home? For me, I love mini-size candy bars. Did you know the tiny confections have been around since the 1930s?

Let me back up. I can’t say eating a fun-size candy bar is by choice. A more precise phrase to describe my behavior is giving into a snack of temptation.

So why are these so irresistible? What’s their appeal? And why do I bring up the topic?

Mini-size candy bars by Mars, Inc.
CandyFavorites.com

1) Mini-sized candy bars = bite-sized chunks of information

If you think about it, eating a “junior” candy bar is a complete package. The bite-size sweets still contain the chocolate, the caramel, the peanuts – the value of a regular-size bar — but they’re also encouraging you to want a little bit more.

They’re a ready-made “grab and go” dessert. Tempting to devour. And people do. I do.  

So when you’re trying to convince a prospect to buy your product or service, think about conveying your message in a mini-candy bar style.

Continue reading Use This Highly Irresistible Idea to Cut Through Marketing Clutter

3 Techniques to Persuade Your Reader to Turn the Page

Wall of Mirrors painting by Claire Downey

Image: The Wall of Mirrors by Claire Downey

Lessons from Grover in The Monster at the End of This Book

When my daughters were young, we’d pile into the navy blue Honda Accord (a boxlike-design model year) and go to the public library every week for story hour. We’d check out dozens of books and scoop them up into our totes.

I was doing a weight-lifting regimen back then: hauling book totes and childcare bags, and lifting children in and out of car seats, high chairs, bathtubs, tricycles. I swear I had Michelle Obama biceps and triceps. At least back then.

On some occasions, the books they chose as their favorites would be mine too. Such as this one:

The monster at the end of this book book cover
The Monster at the End of This Book
Written by Jon Stone and Illustrated by Mike Smollin

When I needed to find a book for a toddler gift recently, I knew which one to choose. Before I wrapped it, I handed the book over to my teenager. She smiled and said, “Oh, I remember this book.” And we read aloud, “So please don’t turn the page.”

And, of course, we turned the page.

Jon wrote a classic children’s book featuring Grover. It’s not only funny and entertaining, but also steeped in persuasion. You can apply his techniques to update your marketing messages. Here are three principles of persuasion he used:

Continue reading 3 Techniques to Persuade Your Reader to Turn the Page

Welcome Emails Increase Your Open Rates by 82%

Welcome scarecrow wall hanging

Try an easy technique proven to improve your email engagement (and not everyone does it)

How’s your email marketing going?

I hear you’re focused on growing your email list. Good idea.

Over 200 marketers and 25 leading experts were asked in a recent study, which digital marketing channel generates the most return for your organization?

“About 59% of marketers said email marketing continues to generate the most return-on-investment.” Emma 2018 Email Marketing Industry Report

Email is your gold mine

So you’ve joined your peers in viewing an email list as a big asset.

And you can’t stop once you gain a subscriber. No, you’ve got to win him over to earn his long-term engagement, you know, reading your emails and taking action. Perhaps buying your product or service. Becoming a customer.

Because the value of an email list is the level of engagement, not the size of the list.

Curious to know the technique that will boost your email open rates by 82%?

Continue reading Welcome Emails Increase Your Open Rates by 82%

Optimize Your B2B Content: Use the 5 Stages of Awareness

Heads collage

When I wrote articles for regional business newspapers back in the day (they were called business journals, i.e., Springfield Business Journal and Lincoln Business Journal), one criterion for the assignment was word count. I needed to stick to that number and get to the point before my word limit was up.

Every two months, my article would make the front page, and it needed to fit in the upper right section, starting above the newspaper’s fold.

Today, we don’t have to squeeze our words into printed newspapers’ limited space. The Internet offers freedom! And yet, as business-to-business companies, we’re still obsessed with word count.

In describing the project’s scope, a chief marketing officer often says, “I only want 500 words.” Why only 500 words?

There is disparity about how long content should be. In a blog post, Neil Patel breaks down the word count for each industry’s content. And he concludes no magic number exists.

“Word count is not a standalone ranking factor. Word count only has merit if the content quality is high!” says Neil Patel

So what do we need to pay attention to instead?

Our reader’s level of awareness.

Consider this report about visitors’ behavior when they go online:

“People are not likely to read your content completely or linearly. They just want to pick out the information that is most pertinent to their current needs.” How People Read Online: The Eyetracking Evidence report, 2nd edition

And according to Kate Moran, a User Experience expert for Nielson Norman Group:

“The #1 biggest mistake in writing for the web is not understanding the people who will be reading the content.”

The first question to ask yourself is:

Continue reading Optimize Your B2B Content: Use the 5 Stages of Awareness

Why You’re Not Grabbing Your Reader’s Attention

The nuance of selecting the right word

By Shannan Seely

“See, the best interpreters are part linguists, part diplomats. They have to know the politics behind each word,” Danny Hajek, National Public Radio reporter.

Try to put yourself in the shoes of a prospective customer.

How do you want him to feel when he visits and reads the copy on your website? Like you’re speaking directly to him? So he feels like you understand him, can relate to his concerns and have the knowledge to solve his problems?

Do you want him to think, “These people get me!”

Many writers inadvertently fail to foster these feelings online with a prospective customer. Let me explain the three reasons why and how you can fix it. Continue reading Why You’re Not Grabbing Your Reader’s Attention

Search 10x Faster in Google

magnifying glass

I watched a movie recently about Saroo Brierley, a boy from India who fell asleep and rode on a train 1,000 miles from his home. When Saroo got off the train, he was lost. Only five years old, Saroo found himself in another part of India where a different language is spoken. He also did not know the correct name of his hometown, and encumbered with language barriers, could not return home.

It’s an astonishing tale and one I can’t keep thinking about.

Saroo wrote about his journey from India to an orphanage, then to adoption in Tasmania and eventually his quest, 25 years later, to seek his family in India. The book, A Long Way Home, inspired the movie, Lion, and earned six Oscar nominations.

Here’s a Google Earth: Saroo’s Search video describing his fascinating journey. (Spoiler alert: Stop the video at the 1:30 minute mark if you don’t want to know the ending and prefer to watch the movie or read his book first.)

Saroo’s story also inspired me to share some tips on how to get the information you want faster in Google Search. Let’s be more savvy in our searching, shall we?

1. Simple works best

In Google search, one or two word search terms will usually give you the broadest results. Start with short search terms, then refine your results by adding more words.

Example: sunflowers Continue reading Search 10x Faster in Google

Creating a Picture in Your Reader’s Mind = More Memorable Content

Paint and paint brushesWhen I rewrite my drafts, sometimes I get impatient. I cross out filler words and clichés and still, the content is blah. The words I use are so boring that I’m easily distracted by our family cat, Coco, or the contractors pounding on the roof shingles of my neighbor’s house across the street. (Do they need to pound at 8 o’clock in the morning?)

As writers, what can we do to engage our readers, even if the readers are ourselves? Here’s one easy trick to make your content and my content more memorable. You already know this powerful editing tip, but do you use it regularly? Continue reading Creating a Picture in Your Reader’s Mind = More Memorable Content

The Three Actions You Need to Take to be an Effective Content Marketing Team of One

439H (1)

I admit it. Business-to-business and healthcare companies who only have one or two people responsible for content marketing is a boon for me. It’s true. Small teams need, hire and value freelance copywriters. But it’s also true that I hate seeing clients run themselves ragged trying to keep up “feeding the content marketing machine.”

So consider doing these actions if you or you and one other person are responsible for creating content in your organization. Continue reading The Three Actions You Need to Take to be an Effective Content Marketing Team of One

How to Blog Consistently: Create a Blogging Habit

How’s your blog doing?

Remember in high school when the cheerleaders would spell the letters out loud for the word CONFIDENCE to the crowd? They’d yell “C-O-N … F-I-D … C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-C-Eeeeeeee!” The cheerleaders wanted people in the stands to join in the chant and encourage their team to victory.

For blogging, I think the word we need to pay attention to is C-O-N-S-I-S-T-E-N-C-Y.

If your company has a blog, and you’re not publishing consistently, then you’re probably:

  • Losing followers.
  • Missing new leads.
  • Losing online authority.
  • And your website may be penalized by search engines, including Google, for the lack of fresh content.

Maybe you’re feeling a little regret. A year is almost done and your company has missed the lead generation gusto a regularly published blog can bring.

Do you want a different result next year? Continue reading How to Blog Consistently: Create a Blogging Habit

Read This if You Take Writing Seriously

Shannan with Ann Handley2
My picture with Ann Handley, after her presentation at Content Marketing World 2017

Were you assigned to write a blog post that’s due next week? Oh, horror of horrors! Are you worried about starting with a blank page? Do you dread writing a story from scratch?

Every bit of writing in marketing has an objective. And that can be worrisome if you don’t know your objective. If you think the words matter, then you take writing seriously. So if you’re in this camp, you may want to keep reading.

I’m sharing some pointers from Ann Handley’s presentation at Content Marketing World 2017  – Writing Secrets from Productive and Prolific Writers (the Jerks!): How to Create Better Content When No One Has Enough Time.

Her advice just might boost your writing today.  Continue reading Read This if You Take Writing Seriously