Writing

Blogging: Why Wouldn’t You Do Something That Works?

Posted on October 5, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Business Strategy, Content, Marketing Strategy, Small Business, Social Media, Writing | Tags: , , , , , |

Blogging Opens Doors

Blogging Opens Doors

Why would you not do something guaranteed to bring people to your website and introduce your company’s expertise and offerings? There are so many marketing efforts people chase that cost time and money with no guarantee that they’ll yield anything. So, I ask again…Why wouldn’t you spend a few hours a week on an activity guaranteed to pay off?

I’m talking about blogging. I guarantee you that when I write and publish this post today, I will get traffic. And I’ll get more traffic than yesterday when I didn’t post. I get traffic to my blog every day when I’m posting at least three times a week.

Some of it comes from publicizing the posts on social media. But lots of it comes from organic search – people searching online for topics represented in keywords contained in the posts — and they find me.

I almost talked myself out of posting today in favor of other things that require my attention. But I prioritized getting a post out – regardless of how short. Because I know it will get results. It will provide opportunities for new relationships and potential business.

That feels great to me and I hope that sharing this with you will be motivating and helpful. Success feels great. Blog for success!

 

Image from Ben Zvan under Creative Commons license.

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Tuesday Tweets

Posted on July 26, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Social Media, Twitter, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Tuesday Tweets

Why We Spend Time on Twitter

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets for July 26th — where we take a look at tweets from my Twitter feed for do’s, don’ts, best practices – and sometimes just for fun. Keep in mind that what we examine here is in no way personal. We’re all learning about building audiences online. In that spirit, if you disagree with my assessments, let me have it! I’m learning, too!

@jerichotech Michael R.H.Stewart  Quirky: The Solution to the Innovator’s Dilemma | Jericho Technology | http://ht.ly/5NTOK

The surprise here was on me. First, the title intrigued me because I’m fascinated by innovators – a true keyword for me — and how they come up with creative ideas. Then I thought the link would take me to Jericho Technology’s latest blog post.

But no! It took me to a terrific article in Entrepreneur about a start-up company (another interest of mine) called Quirky that’s crowd sourcing innovation and product development. It’s led by a quirky young entrepreneur who already has a great track record of success in his early twenties.

This is what I love about tapping into my Twitter stream occasionally during the day. I feed my interests with pertinent information.

@bhalligan Amazon’s revenue up 51% y-o-y in Q2 to $9.9billion. Awesome growth at that size. http://t.co/Is5csVW

@RajeshNRao Amazon Revenues Jump 51% Amid “Fastest Growth in a Decade”: Amazon‘s revenues jumped 51% in the second quarte… http://bit.ly/qh6JoL

OK. Here’s a case of two different tweets on the same topic that came in one tweet apart. They’re both about Amazon’s earnings report today. The first is from Boston, MA-based Brian Halligan, co-founder of HubSpot and co-author of the best selling book, Inbound Marketing – which has its own Amazon earnings story.

The second tweet is from @RajeshNRao of Magpur, MH (Maharushtra) India. He’s a senior marketing analyst at www.copperbridgemedia.com. Here are two people on two sides of the earth with a shared interest in online business, tweeting about news they acquired at the same time – and at a moment when probably one of them should have been sleeping

Brian’s link went to an article on Barron’s and Rajesh’s to Mashable’s version of the story. Talk about your news roundups!

@TechCrunch Video: Motorola Triumph Screens Flicker Black And White, Owners Seeing Red http://tcrn.ch/qQvVum

This tweet from TechCrunch resonates with the memory of great newspaper headline writing. The story – TC’s own review – is about problems with the new Motorola Triumph smart phone having flickering screen problems. And you can see it on video. Truthfully, my inner writer focused on the great headline and only now did I realize that there’s video showing the problem. Think I’ll go back and watch.

Obviously this week I’ve selected tweets that represent the best of Twitter. I must be in a good mind frame not to have gone looking for the worst examples. Oh, well. Next Tuesday will be here in a flash!

 

The recently adopted Tuesday Tweets graphic is from Freshalex Online under Creative Commons license.

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5 Steps to Finding Your Key Messages for Better Content Creation

Posted on July 15, 2011. Filed under: Communications, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, SEO, Small Business, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Key Messages for Better Communication

Identify Key Messages for Better Communication

When you’re about to undertake a major communications project – a new website, for example – you have an opportunity to review your messaging. What are the most important points for an audience to know about you and your business, the things you will need to repeat continuously and consistently, regardless of the kind of content.

Many companies have never purposely developed key message lists. This exercise is more important than ever. Especially online. Messaging consistency and redundancy comes into play on websites, as you never know what page will be the entry point for a visitor. It’s not always your home page. It’s also important to include key messages in content you offer for download and that you post aound the Internet.

Here’s a 5-step process for identifying the key messages that will resonate and stick with your audiences.

1. Review your existing content and marketing materials. Sometimes we go on auto-pilot when writing or speaking about ourselves and our companies. Keep an open mind for stale messages that can use an update – or that you can lose altogether.

2. Interview your employees, customers, referral sources and others who know your company. Create a brief questionnaire (it may vary by auience) that asks for impressions about different aspects of your business. Anywhere from five to ten interviews should yield the raw material that will offer up key messages. The interviews will confirm some of your notions about what’s important about your business and refute others. Some of what you’ll learn will truly surprise you. You’ll likely get more candid answers if you hire an outside consultant to help you, rather than asking the questions personally.

3. Read the home page information of a few competitors, or non-competing companies similar to yours and take notes. See how they’re talking about their businesses, products and services. This will not only give you some ideas of what to say and not to say, but will also help you position your messaging to reflect your company’s market differentiation. 

4. Review the interviews and your competitor notes. In the interviews you will almost certainly see repeating comments and ideas. Some of these will be key points that you’ve made historically, some will be fresh ideas.

5. Let your review of the process sink in for a day or two. Then sit down at the computer and make a list of your key messages. They should not be in any order of hierarchy. Put them down as they come to you. You’ll never use all of them in one place, but will pick and choose from the list as appropriate. You’ll also vary the language from one place to another, as long as the key idea is in there someplace. Tweak the list. See if anything is glaringly missing. Ask a few of the interviewees to review the key message list to be sure they reflect your company authentically.

Once you have your key message list, you’ll be amazed at how easily you write your content. The copy will flow. You’ll find yourself working in the right key messages in the right places. Your key message list will also provide a good starting point for key word and search term research.

By the way, you don’t need a new website as a reason to review your messaging. Do it at any time. It will definitely help your ongoing content creation.

How do you identify your key messages?

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Independence, Liberty, Freedom – Not Synonyms

Posted on July 4, 2011. Filed under: Communications, Fourth of July, Leadership, Small Business, Writing | Tags: , , , , |

Of course you might know that if I do a post about Fourth of July, it has to have something to do with communication. I can’t help it.

I’m not big at patriotic flag waving. my connection to my country is an emotional thing deep inside. It gets stirred at odd moments. Like today we went to pick up mulch at a Home  Depot near Jeff next to the Palisades Center Mall, a huge place with an iMAX theater, a traditional multi-plex cinema, hundreds of stores, and lots of restaurants and entertainment venues.

We saw hundreds of clean cut-looking young people walking across the parking lot from a slew of buses parked in a remote area. As they approached, we saw that they were wearing polo shirts with small patches on the pockets that said either West Point or Army on them.

We asked a couple of the group members what was up and they said, “Oh, sir and ma’am, we have the day off. We’re at liberty today.” The thought of these young people marching toward a mall to spend a carefree day at liberty after what I know is a tough normal regime for them, gave me that love of country feeling. How fortunate I was to be in the same place as these kids who will undoubtedly see some level of combat during their service.

So there’s a use of the word ‘liberty’ that took on special meaning on this day.

When I think of independence, I think about our responsibility to seek after our own ideas, to be accountable for ourselves and our actions — to work effectively within groups, but to be able to stand on our own two feet. And sometimes to be independent enough to ask for and accept help when we need it.

And when it comes to freedom, I think of it as our greatest blessing in a democracy like our own. Yet I also see it as a concept delimited by the needs of others in addition to our own.

My sweetheart, who served our country when he was as young as those kids today as a US Marine in Viet Nam during the Tet Offensive just pulled up on his Harley. He allows me the independence to take time from a holiday to keep up with some business chores and my blog and I’m going to wrap this up and go take a motorcycle ride. That feels pretty free, too – riding into the wind.

Just one other thought…Has anyone reading this ever attended a naturalization ceremony and been witness to people leaving behind allegiance to their birth countries and committing themselves to becoming U.S. citizens? It’s an amazing experience and I recommend it to all of you!

Happy Fourth!!

Image by West Point Public Affairs under Creative Commons License.

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Writing as Conversation: 7 Do’s and 7 Don’ts to Find Your Voice

Posted on June 27, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Reputation Management, Small Business, Social Media, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

In previous posts I’ve mentioned my daily email vocabulary builder, A Word A Day (www.wordsmith.org). It’s free and if you’re blogging and trying to spiff up your writing, I recommend you sign up. A Word A Day also includes a Thought for Today, a wise quote from a variety of sources. This morning’s quote inspired this post.

“Writing, when properly managed, (as you may be sure I think mine is) is but a different name for conversation.” -Laurence Sterne, novelist and clergyman (1713-1768) 

Age of Conversation

Writing as Conversation

I love the idea of writing as conversation. Straight from the 18th century comes a concept as fresh as though it were communicated for the first time in 2011. Contrary to the sales-y communications of traditional advertising, or the corporate-speak of the last generation (and in some cases the current generation) of company websites, or the overly-nuanced language of press releases, writing in a social, Web 2.0 world calls for a different – and conversational — style.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking about you and wondering what you might have to contribute on this topic. Also, I’m hoping that you will add to it. We’re all learning new tools and new tactics everyday. So conversing to pool our knowledge, experience and wisdom is a very good thing.

 When we communicate verbally, though, it’s easier to have our personalities come through. In addition to the visual cues in-person talk provides, it’s somehow more spontaneous when words spill from our lips and don’t require fingers on keyboards lagging behind a thought process.

Nonetheless, we’re all communicating in writing all the time these days – especially in emails, on blogs and on social media sites. So please allow me to offer a few thoughts about finding an authentic voice for written conversation.

  • Do write as though you were speaking.
  • Don’t over think the first draft. You can – and should – always go back and edit.
  • Do share occasional personal thoughts, perceptions and experiences when they serve to illustrate a point.
  • Don’t go overboard with personal info. Learn to walk a line that offers an authentic peek at who you are, while retaining a business-like decorum.
  • Do use interesting words and turns of phrase.
  • Don’t use industry jargon — and no off-color language.
  • Do try for humor at moments that can benefit from a bit of lightening up or to poke fun at yourself for some human foible that anyone can relate to.
  • Don’t make jokes at someone’s expense – including your own. Leave sarcasm and snark out of the equation. It’s not attractive.
  • Do be polite. Welcome your readers, acknowledge them and thank them.
  • Don’t be overly-solicitous; it’s not credible. Invite disagreement.
  • Do be a cheerleader for others. Use your content to include their ideas and praise their achievements.
  • Don’t promote your own stuff exclusively
  • Do listen for what’s important to your audience/s.
  • Don’t assume you know what’s important to others. Asking questions is divine.

And so I’ll conclude with this question…

How have you found your conversational writing voice?

 

Photo by Kris Hoet Under Creative Commons License

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It’s Awesome When Your Content Connects!

Posted on December 5, 2010. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

This post is dedicated to the thousands of bloggers around the globe who read my last post when it was featured on the WordPress homepage showcase, ‘Freshly Pressed’. First of all, it was amazing to have one of my posts selected from almost half a million posted that day. Second of all, the response was humbling and heart warming. A special thanks to those who commented or hit the ‘Like’ button to share it and welcome to those of you who subscribed.

Although our blogs provide a doorway to the entire world, when people comment on a post it reminds me how much a one-to-one connection it is. So today’s musical post is “Just You, Just Me”, played on several overdubbed tracks by one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, Bill Evans. Bloggers, it’s from an album ironically titled, “Conversations with Myself” — how our writing often feels.

For businesses, I believe in blogging as a way to share one’s expertise and create thought leadership. Because of its search-ability online, the content we create helps people who are looking for not only our products and services, but also our knowledge and experience, to find us. The knack is to share that info in an authentic and human way that connects.

At the moment we hit the keyboard, it’s hard to know whether what we write will resonate. We can write with our “Buyer Personae” in mind as David Meerman Scott explains in his book, “World Wide Rave”. But when we launch our content into cyber space, we can only hope it reaches its intended destination. Connect With content

The gift of the Internet is that when we connect, it lets us know! Whether it’s your WordPress blog stats, Google Analytics, Hubspot analytics or any of the robust tools out there, the value of our efforts is knowable.

When I wrote the post “10 Reasons Why I ‘Heart’ My Blog,” I didn’t say to myself, “OK, I’m going to sit down now and write some remarkable content.” I was thinking about people I speak to who are not convinced that they can or should blog. In my head I was talking to them and at the same time reminding myself that I want to dedicate more effort to my own blog.

What happened was a post that ended up connecting in a far bigger way than I ever intended. There have been other posts I’ve written that I thought shared meatier information. No one could have been more surprised than I was to receive a flood of response to this post that I wrote on a whim when I had a spare hour to think about blogging as an enjoyable path to success for my clients and myself.

The result reinforced for me in a very personal way that what I’m advocating for others works! When your content really connects it is the most awesome thing!!

Please share some of your stories about how your content has connected.

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Bury the Lead at Wounded Knee…NOT!

Posted on September 21, 2010. Filed under: Content, Entertainment, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , |

This post is about starting your content with the right message. Musically…Listen to jazz singer Mark Murphy tell us that “This Could be the Start of Something Big”!!!

Dear readers, when you’re creating content for your website or blog, start with what’s of most interest to your audience. This will help you win their attention and positive actions.

I just read some posts and content in preparation for a meeting with a potential client. In most of them, the prospect buried the information of greatest interest to readers below a bunch of facts that were more about his objectives.

We’re all subject to this pitfall – me included. I constantly monitor my own writing for whether I’m considering my readers more than my reasons for writing the content in the first place. I don’t always succeed. Sometimes I just want to make a point and trust the readers to trust that I have their interest at heart.

But not everyone reading our posts has enough history with us to give us the benefit of the doubt. That’s why we more often have to opt on the side of appealing to what interests them.

In the example that sparked this post, the writer, describing a seminar service, did rightly identify the audience – who it’s for – at the top of the post. However, the post then gave information about the schedule and the requirements for participating. It would have been better to first state the benefits to participants. Once they buy in, they’ll tune in to the where, when and how much!

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