Tempted to Throw Away the Manuscript on 5 Separate Occasions

😣The dark secret about showing the client the “first” version

I just finished reading my first book written during the pandemic era. The title is Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel by Anthony Doerr. A significant length of 640 pages, but the book didn’t seem long. You can hear the editor’s praises (without giving away spoilers) here.

Now I know why the book was on the New York Times bestseller list for 19 weeks. The novel is about five characters whose stories cover almost six centuries. The people are all interconnected through a priceless ancient text.

Why mention it?

First, in case you didn’t know, Anthony Doerr is famous for winning the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. He invested ten years researching and writing the award-winner, All the Light We Cannot See.

The book received reviews like this:

“If a book’s success can be measured by its ability to move readers and the number of memorable characters it has, Story Prize-winner Doerr’s novel triumphs on both counts. Along the way, he convinces readers that new stories can still be told about this well-trod period, and that war–despite its desperation, cruelty, and harrowing moral choices–cannot negate the pleasures of the world.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

And this:

“Intricate . . . A meditation on fate, free will, and the way that, in wartime, small choices can have vast consequences.” The New Yorker

But if you suspect I’ve drunk **the Anthony Doerr is the Greatest Author of All Time kool-aid**, hold on.

Continue reading Tempted to Throw Away the Manuscript on 5 Separate Occasions

Wake Up, B2B! Use Concrete Phrases to Sell More Today

concrete art refers to concrete phrases in writing

Everyone loves a good story. Good storytelling requires concrete details. Straightforwardly true. But is B2B listening?

I recently read a consumer research article, published in July 2020, about how language shapes consumer behavior. And it’s not a psychological trick. Or a persuasion technique. Or some marketing-speak that bears no resemblance to the present B2B world.

Gathering evidence from “five studies, including text analysis of over 1,000 real consumer-employee interactions, demonstrated that customers were more satisfied, willing to purchase, and purchase more when employees speak to customers concretely.”

What?!

Express yourself concretely and get more sales? Simple word choice is a game-changer. Really?

Yes, really!

So can we apply this language tip to shape the attitudes and behaviors of our web visitors? Sure we can. Let me share details about concrete details.

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Use This Unadvertised Technique to Write a Super-Captivating Headline

Looking to update your sales collateral? I have three words for you.

Headlines. Headlines. Headlines.

Headlines in your sales materials are a big deal. They’re like a theatre marquee located downtown. Building a lot of fanfare. Designed to attract an audience. A paying audience. Enticing the audience to come through the door or read the copy.

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How Voice and Tone are Powerful Magnetic Forces to Charm Your Customers

Two women talking on string telephone necklace set

On your marketing assets to do list: ✅Update sales collateral. Salespeople need it! Like, yesterday.

Right now, the sales team is creating emails, one-page sales sheets and slide decks on their own. You see the inefficiency, plus don’t the salespeople cover large swaths of territory?

Salespeople need to spend most of their time in the field. Not coaxing a wi-fi printer to print in high-resolution. Turning the home printer off and on when it glitches. (Oh, I remember these days well. I was a field sales representative for over ten years. Another story for another time.)

Who knows how the sales content looks when it’s presented to a customer. Oooo, you don’t want to know.

So what do you need to do? Where do you start? Let me share what’s brewing in my copywriter brain.

Develop a branding guideline

Why?

Prospective customers are getting to know your company. What does the company stand for? Not only what the company is, but what it is not. What do you want customers to think of your company? And if each salesperson is giving their own version, these muddled messages are causing distrust among customers.

To build one strong business relationship after another, sales collateral needs to stick to a consistent brand voice.

The brands that connect with their audience will be rewarded. According to the MBLM Brand Intimacy Report, consumers are open to paying a premium for brands they feel emotionally bonded to as compared to less-engaging brands.

In this series, I cover the basics of developing a brand voice and why that’s important. Already familiar? Then share with your team. Spread the knowledge. Just in case, a refresher may be useful. I’m all for avoiding confusion, and establishing a common dictionary is a good first step.

Here we go on the path towards defining a consistent brand voice. First, let’s explain the basic terms of voice and tone, the key difference between the two, and give some examples.

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How’s Your Website Doing?

Hire a pro copywriter to audit your website now

I bet you could make a list. Your home. Your car (or pickup truck). Your retirement plan. Even your body.

You try to check on these important assets regularly. Annual audit, most likely.

And why do you do it? Well, you care about them. For possessions, you worked hard to earn enough money to acquire them. For your body, it’s highly important to be in tip-top shape.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn

You want these assets to last, to be effective, to help you get you where you want to go. Broken or worthless is no help to you.

Had a website checkup lately?

Because this is an article about marketing, I’ve got to ask you:

When’s the last time you’ve done a checkup on your website? And actually had a copywriting pro review it?

Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios examined the top 200 marketing websites, according to Alexa, and determined the interval between major website redesigns for each site.

The average timeframe for a website redo was 2 years, 7 months.

If you’ve been in “set it and forget it” mode with your website for more than 3 years, now’s the time to do a website review.

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Steal Like an Email Copywriter

Shannan Seely in RIT t-shirt

Get inspiration from your inbox to reignite your enthusiasm for writing emails

This article is filled with gratitude to the office staff at the Parent and Family Programs at Rochester Institute of Technology. Here’s the story …

We moved our oldest daughter, Claire, to the college dorm last month. She’s enrolled at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, NY. And I feel like she was prepared, and we were prepared because of the Parent and Family Programs staff.

Well, true, Claire was organized. She kept her parents on track, but RIT was a positive influence.

Let me explain.

Initially, my husband and I scoffed at the emails we were receiving from RIT. Oh, this message is meant for helicopter parents. Adults who monitor their teenagers 24 / 7. Parents who are resisting the transition of their parenting role. Less micromanagement, more shifting responsibilities to their child.

Their boy or girl is a young adult, whether the parents are ready or not. Eventually, their child will need to do his or her own laundry.  

But then we – okay, actually me, because I’m the one who reads the emails – came across information I didn’t know.

Valuable Information

The message recommended checking your health insurance to determine what coverage your student will have when they move to Rochester. Some health insurance plans have limited out-of-network coverage. Turned out, she needed in-state health insurance coverage for her out-of-state college student status. And the emails informed us about the options.

Thanks to the emails from RIT Parent and Family Programs, we learned this before she started college. My husband signed her up with the appropriate insurance. Yayy! Peace of mind. For her. For us.

I’m in the Parents of RIT Club

I continued to feel the emails were useful. Stuff I wanted to know. I felt like the emails were written to me personally. But I know I was one of thousands of subscribers.

Write as if you’re emailing one good friend, because that’s how people will get to know you, like you, and trust you. Henneke Duistermaat

How did the staff make me feel like they were writing exclusively to me? And why does this matter? Because you can learn from RIT’s emails. Even if you’re in healthcare, pharma or business-to-business. Because RIT completely looks at the reader experience. (I know, I know, they are a high-tech design school. But bear with me.)

You can do what they do. And your subscribers will be grateful.

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How to Write a Great Testimonial for Your Vendor

Woman shouting testimonial

Show your support for a local business and boost the economy

Love it when you receive a recommendation? You appreciate the customer taking the time and effort, right?

You’re a customer too. How about you pay it forward?

Has a company provided outstanding service recently? Happy with a vendor and want to support their business? Let’s show our appreciation.

Why not write a customer testimonial on their behalf?

Andy Crestodina inspired me. Andy, cofounder of Orbit Media Studios, suggested asking loyal customers to give testimonials. Of course, he has tips on how. And you can apply this to giving testimonials as well.

Let me share tips I’ve gathered to ease the burden of writing a testimonial. You can nip the hesitancy to start. Drafting an effective testimonial won’t take you more time to write than an average one.

Plus, you can use your influence for good. You’ll help your vendor grow. And that’s gotta feel good to contribute to another’s success, right?

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Get Persuasive-worthy Testimonials with this Makeover Formula

black make up paletter by Kinkate

Use this formula when you or your team need to gather and optimize testimonials quickly

You want to add social proof to your sales emails. Good idea! If you need something fast, I suggest using customer testimonials. Compared to other forms of reviews, customer testimonials are different because they are sought and selected by you.

You can:

  • Choose the customer who gives the testimonial
  • Control what message is displayed
  • Decide where the testimonial is placed in the email

Word-of-mouth and third-party reviews don’t allow that flexibility.

Use customer testimonials

“When value is demonstrated rather than described it immediately becomes more relatable … Showing is more powerful than telling because it reflects the customer’s desire, problem or dilemma (alongside your potential solution) back to him. This is why success stories build trust in a way marketing copy never can.” Bernadette Jiwa

Your prospective buyer is bombarded with choices. As he considers what product or service to buy, inner tension builds. He’s looking for reassurance. Good testimonials minimize the friction a prospective buyer experiences inside his head. When he reads other customers’ opinions, he instinctively views this feedback as fact.

Good customer testimonials add credibility to your offer.

So read my tips and learn how to enhance your customer testimonials. If you act on these ideas, your testimonials will resonate to your prospective customer.

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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