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

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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

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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

Why Defining a Strategy and Not Wavering Works

At Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Amanda Todorovich gave a talk – How to Build a Killer Content Marketing Strategy – on Cleveland Clinic’s effort to grow an audience for the organization’s Health Essentials newsletter.

Todorovich, director of content marketing, manages a team of writers, designers, digital engagement strategists and project managers. Her team is responsible for the #1 most-visited hospital blog in the country.

The newsletter started at 0 visits and grew to 5 million visits per month in October this year.

I was inspired listening to her talk. She does not minimize the effort required or the mistakes made along the way. You hear about the trial and error. Her presentation shows the possibility of building an audience in a highly regulated field. Health Essentials is a living example of what happens when you do the work, persist and continue to do the work. Eventually, you will earn good results.

So how did she and her team reach this readership? Continue reading Why Defining a Strategy and Not Wavering Works

No One has Time to Read Ambiguous Messages, so Get to the Point

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Photo Credit: “Point!” © 2007 a2gemma, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

BEEP! A notification chirps from your smartphone. You pull the phone out of your pocket, wipe your fingers on your cotton jeans and swipe the smooth screen to unlock. Tapping open the email app, then …

BANG!

BOOM!

CRASH!

The emails clamor in your inbox. Each email is screaming at you. Look at me! Look at me! Read this now. Do this now. Emails are reminders of your unfinished tasks.

And your inbox is bursting. Continuously flooding with messages, the inbox is a cacophony that will never be silent.

When you acquiesce and scan the first email, trying to understand the long message on the little screen, do you wish the sender had written more words?

Probably not. You wanted the writer to be brief, concise and clear. Please get to the point, you beg.

If this is what you want, imagine what your client is thinking. Continue reading No One has Time to Read Ambiguous Messages, so Get to the Point

Three Confidence-Boosting Ways to Prepare for Your Next Conference

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Photo Credit: “Conference Center”, © 2015 Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine, Flickr | PD-CC0 | via Wylio

It’s coming! It’s coming! It’s coming!

As I’m looking ahead on my calendar, I see a big date approaching in September. I’m attending the Content World Conference and Expo in Cleveland, Ohio. It’ll be a first for me. If you’re into marketing, the annual event is considered the place “where you can learn and network with the best and the brightest in the content marketing industry.”

I’m a little excited.

Okay, I fibbed. I’m a lot excited.

Why? Because there will be plenty of good information shared, people to meet, knowledge to learn, potential clients to get to know, skills to develop … and I won’t be responsible for making dinner for a week. 🙂

Hey, this is a big deal. It’s the first professional multi-day convention I’ve attended in 13 years. What a tremendous opportunity!

“You’re going to sleep away conference-camp,” my youngest daughter said. (She experienced her first “sleep away” camp this summer.) It’s not exactly camp. I won’t be roughing it in a cabin, devoid of air-conditioning and electronics for a week. 🙂

But wait a minute. The events are similar.

I will be away from home. I’ll be outside of my comfort zone. Instead of nature, I will be immersed in marketing, writing and people – all topics I love. And with the money invested, I want to get the most out of it.

So I’ve taken logical steps: registered, arranged for hotel reservations and transportation, and signed up for the workshops. I’ve decided what to pack — I’m the queen of lists — and I started home preparations so my family survives 🙂 just fine while I’m gone.

Maybe you’re not as enthused about attending a conference as I am. But meetings and events are ubiquitous, aren’t they? Eventually, we are all bound to attend one.

Here are three ways to boost your confidence before you leave for your next conference: Continue reading Three Confidence-Boosting Ways to Prepare for Your Next Conference

Three Tips You Can Use Today to Break the “Curse of Knowledge”

Have you been the new kid on the block, so to speak?

If so, you can probably relate to the dilemma we faced when we moved from Kansas to Central New Jersey four years ago. We needed to learn in only three days the ins and outs of attending a New Jersey public school. Our two daughters would be enrolling in an intermediate school and an elementary school.

So we went online. We visited the school district’s website.

This is what we saw:

Where do we navigate first?

The website is not designed for a novice to the New Jersey public school system.

Where’s the Parent’s Handbook? What will I find in the Parent Portal? Where do I find information about how to prepare for the first day of school? How do I know the information I find here is updated? Some of the text states “Updated on Sept. 15, 2010.”

I felt lost.

The website creators did not have me in mind. They were unaware what the customer experience would be for a profile like me: a new parent of the school, new to New Jersey, with two children.

Website creators assumed visitors will have the same level of understanding that the creators have. But we didn’t.

Chip and Dan Heath call this assumption the Curse of Knowledge. In their book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, the New York Times bestselling authors state this natural psychological tendency happens when we assume everyone has the same level of knowledge as we do.

“Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has ‘cursed’ us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create our listeners’ state of mind,” wrote Chip and Dan Heath.

Here are three ways business owners and marketing agency directors suffer from the Curse of Knowledge and how to combat it: Continue reading Three Tips You Can Use Today to Break the “Curse of Knowledge”

Ask These Three Questions Before Hiring a Copywriter

Person writing on notepad.

Your boss has had enough. He agrees with you that there’s too much writing work to do and not enough in-house peoplepower (combining men + women + power) to do it.

He asks you to find a copywriter. In the long term, hiring a professional will ease your work load, but in the meantime, you have a new assignment in your job description. Find the right copywriter. Your manager may make the final decision, but he’s depending on you to do the homework.

Who do you recommend to hire? It’s important to choose the right one, not only to look good for the boss. You’ll be the main contact for the copywriter, so find someone you prefer to work with.

Three Important Questions

Let’s look at the three important questions to ask before hiring a copywriter. Continue reading Ask These Three Questions Before Hiring a Copywriter

Everybody Struggles to Write Content

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How to Make a Good Piece artwork by Claire Downey.

Feeling burdened about writing a piece of content for your business? You’ve been assigned a topic, you open the document to begin, but instead, find yourself staring at the white screen. Wondering what to say? Oh, how you hate the blank page. You doubt yourself. Will the writing be good enough?

In the recesses of your mind, the dread of knowing that when you finish crafting the content and it’s approved for publishing, you will have to do it again later this month.

The demanding obligation of creating content is not going away.

So what can you do?

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I recommend a book that may provide some relief from your writing angst: Everybody Writesby Ann Handley. The text won’t do the writing for you — darn! — but what you’ll appreciate is the author understands your pain. The self-proclaimed “Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content” condenses helpful resources into an entertaining reference.

I think the book is a must-read for everyone involved in content creation.

But until you set aside some time to read it (along with cleaning out the refrigerator and organizing your desk drawer, yes, I know how much you love to do those tasks), let me share tips from the book that you can use in your next piece of content.

“Content is essentially everything your customer or prospect touches or interacts with …” Ann Handley

Handley writes the purpose of writing the book was to “wage the war on mediocre content.” Because, she says:

  1. “We have become a planet of publishers.”
  2. “Brevity and clarity matter more than ever.”
  3. “What matters now isn’t storytelling, what matters is telling the story well.”

“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

You and I, we’re both responsible for crafting more good content at our front door. If we practiced what the following formula preaches, we would make a dent in eliminating unworthy content, if not in the world, at least in our businesses and clients’ businesses. Continue reading Everybody Struggles to Write Content