Elayne Whitfield, BA, MVA ~ VA Industry ExpertSubscribe Now

Writing to Communicate VS. Writing to Sell

writing imageEvery successful business owner will have to write, or hire someone to write, at some point in time to promote their business. It’s important to recognize what type of writing will need to be performed in order to communicate your message effectively. Ask yourself the question; am I writing to communicate or am I writing to sell? Yes, there is a difference!

Writing to Communicate

When writing to communicate what you’re really doing is writing to share information. This could be with a current customer or it could be with a potential customer. Think blogs, white paper, advertorials, eBooks, eReports and other platforms that allow you to share important information about you as a business owner or your business. When writing to communicate your goal should be to teach, inform, engage and inspire. It is an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge while providing value and if done correctly you will open the channels of communication with customers and potential customers.

Writing to Sell

Writing to sell is different and often referred to as copywriting. When writing to sell your focus is usually on your sales pages, sales emails, direct mail, websites and brochures. In this case you are writing to tell people exactly what it is you do, how you do it and why it will help them. You will use emotional trigger words that leads the readers to a conversion.

Content Marketing

In content marketing you are developing a strategy to promote your business by distributing valuable, relevant and consistent messaging via various media platforms. In this type of marketing you will lean more towards writing to communicate. You want readers to learn who you are and what it is you do but you do not want to come across as overtly selling. You may want to do this through placing your content on websites, guest blogs, online articles and offline magazines.

Sales Page Writing

The writing on a sales page is all about the conversion. Your writing will need to persuade the reader to take action. It will be copywriting heavy and that is ok. Along with display advertising, banner ads, and emails this writing will be strong and it will need to be compelling. It is very different from content writing.

Combining Writing to Sell and Writing to Communicate

I hope that you have found this blog valuable so far. I hope that you have learned a couple of things and I really hope you will consider a response to what has been written. If that is the case then I have successfully achieved my ‘writing to communicate’ goal thus far. Now, could this blog turn into a writing to sell piece? The answer is yes. As I approach the end I could shift the focus and the language to influence you into a purchase or to sign up for something. By doing this I am mixing both styles of writing.

 
Even though I said earlier that copywriting is more often used when writing to sell, it can help with every type of writing you do for your business. You will find it in blog headlines and in email titles. It is the words used and the sentences formed that will entice the audience to continue reading and leave them with the desire to learn more.

 
You want people to want to read what you have to say and to do this you need copywriting or they won’t read at all. It will lead you to conversions and results you are looking for. Best of luck on your journey to learn all you can about the various types of writing out there. If it isn’t your thing, you may want to consider hiring an expert.

 
Click here for your copy of my ebook "Straightforward Strategies for E-commerce Success" a great guide full of ideas and practical tips to get you started and on the path to e-commerce success!

Content Marketing: How Sales-Oriented Should Your Content Be?

Content Marketing - How Sales OrientedIn the world of online marketing, two very different crafts are often confused: content writing, and copy writing. Although they are mostly confused in name only, sometimes the actual text gets mixed up too. One especially guilty group when it comes to this mistake is article marketers who often introduce unnecessary sales copy into their content writing. On the flip side, generic content is frequently put into sales copy by accident, drastically reducing its effectiveness.

Online marketing success demands an ability to differentiate between the two. While copy and content both have their proper places, it is rare that they go together, and it can be quite detrimental to a promotional article if they are used improperly. This simple guide explains how to balance sales copy and promotional content, and where to use each of them in your marketing efforts.

Incorporating Sales Content into Articles

It is best to keep direct sales, and sales related talk to a minimal throughout any promotional article. Although the purpose of a promotional article is not necessarily to inform the reader, it is certainly not to sell to them straight away either. If the reader is sold on a product right there in the article, where will they click to buy the product?

Save the sales copy for your landing or sales page. You can always incorporate pre-sales copy into a promotional article, but even then it shouldn't have an overwhelming presence. The purpose of a promotional article is to achieve one thing – get the reader to your landing page with a slight intention to buy in their minds. If your articles are not accomplishing this, you need to work on flow and content, not sales copy.

Where to Start the Pre-Selling:

The basic structure of any article, or really any written text, is introduction-discussion-conclusion. The first section of your promotional article should introduce a problem, a situation, or an opportunity to your reader. Once you have established this, move on to the body of the text. What is going on in this situation? How could this opportunity translate to the life of the reader? Where are the best places to find these opportunities?

Once you have established and discussed all that you can, introduce a potential solution for the reader; your solution. Do not jump to selling the idea straight away -- that is the job of your sales copy -- but push the reader slightly so they feel like moving towards it. It is not your job to sell them in the article, only to get them to click on your link.

The Transition from Pre-Sell to Actual Selling:

Your content should work in tandem with your copy to make the sale. Before you start marketing any product through a promotional article, familiarize yourself with the sales page and landing pages that you will be leading readings to, to the point where you can seamlessly incorporate their points into your writing.

People generally love familiarity and trust, not unknown situations. When you can design an article to convince a potential customer into moving to your sales page, and have them arrive there full of confidence and intrigue, you have found article marketing success.

Click here for your copy of my ebook "Straightforward Strategies for E-commerce Success" a great guide full of ideas and practical tips to get you started and on the path to e-commerce success!

Top Internet Business Ideas

Internet Biz IdeasAs far as business opportunities go, there’s no place like the Internet. You can become a part of someone else’s business or create one of your own in an almost endless sea of enterprising options. There are also many advantages to starting an Internet business as opposed to entering the traditional world of employment. Here are a few of the top Internet business ideas right now to help you find an appropriate area to direct your job seeking endeavours.

Every day people search the Internet for all sorts of business opportunities. In the modern economy, something that many people search for is ways to make money without having to cover a lot of overhead costs. To begin an Internet business, most people will have much of the required equipment at home already. If you have a computer with a high-speed Internet connection, a telephone, a desk, and a printer, you can get going right away with minimal additional costs.

Blogging

This is one way to create an online presence for yourself without having to worry about the technical issues of owning your own website (that will come later). Many blog websites offer free hosting and provide already installed features to make setting everything up easy. Blogging can be valuable to you and fun as you can blog about anything that you find interesting or that you think other readers will be interested in. More specific blogs directed at niche groups will perform better than simple personal ones. Blogs can also make money with programs like Google Adwords and AdSense. Pay per Click advertising works great for generating revenue.

Internet Research

Anyone who can navigate the Internet well and filter out the quality content, can market themselves as an Internet researcher. Large and small companies alike pay researchers to find out various types of information for them. They also generally require reports and analysis from such research.

Selling Products

If you have a hobby like making and selling crafts you can expand it into a business online just by making a simple website. Set up a website that caters to your product offerings and the market you generally sell to. Market these products online through various means to drive traffic to your website.

Selling on eBay

If you don’t want to be in charge of your own website, you can sell things through the online marketplace that is eBay. You can sell products you created or items you own and want to get rid of. Many people now make a living from selling items on eBay. If your business grows and becomes more successful, you can expand to involve other product markets.

Freelancing

Many online and offline businesses are looking for help with various types of content creation. Freelancers lower the overhead of the company and make many jobs more profitable by not having to pay for in-office work. Depending on your talent, market yourself as a freelance writer, graphic artist, website designer, or programmer.

Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants are an invaluable asset to many businesses today. For many years, virtual assistants have performed the administrative duties of companies from their home. Now, VA’s can be found specializing in many different industries such as medical, real estate, marketing, and publishing. VAs also perform tasks above just administrative duties such as website administrator, report creation, and Internet research.

Membership Sites

These are becoming more and more popular these days. With a membership site, you can choose a niche, such as online marketing, to appeal to. Customers pay to join at a certain level (ex. gold, silver, bronze) and are rewarded with certain perks from their membership that include newsletters, videos, or articles on marketing and related services to help expand their own business. You can create the website and supply the materials yourself, or by outsourcing each month to your members.

Do you have an idea for what your Internet business might do? Hopefully this list gave you some ideas to get started with. Best of luck with your Internet business endeavours!

Using Your Social Network Presences to Promote Your Podcast

Promoting Podcast on Social MediaUnless you’re just now emerging from several years under a rock, you’ll know that social networking has taken the world by storm. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all excellent platforms for connecting with your friends and family but they are also fantastic tools that you can utilize to promote your podcast and acquire new listeners. These sites give you the ability to promote to their millions of users but best of all, they are easy and often cheap or free depending on what social media marketing strategy you choose to engage in.

It’s important to diversify social network platforms when planning your marketing efforts and remember not to limit yourself to only using the big sites. There are a number of niche social networks you can tap into. To begin with, take a look at services like Ning. Ning allows its users to create their own social networks, often for very specific interests. Seek out and become a member of these micro social networks. You may not be promoting to many people at once through these sites, but if you've carefully selected the right networks to tap in to, you should be able to establish a high conversion rate for those who you do connect with. They have the same interests, after all!

Targeting by Groups, Fans, Likes, or Dislikes

Most large scale social networks employ some method or function that allows users to tag or become part of a group related to a topic they are particularly interested in. Take the time to find these niche groups of fans and promote your podcast to them. If you can narrow your promotion down to the right relevant groups you will be able to garner much more positive attention than if you were to just try and appeal to the broader population of users.

Bulletins & Announcements

Utilize your social network's announcement and notification system. Have you recently released a new podcast or do you have some exciting news to share with your audience? Let everyone on your friends list know about it. You may spark interest in people who haven't thought about your show for a while which can help regain old listeners. Remember, not everyone uses RSS feeds or has the time to keep up-to-date with all of their favorite sites and content producers. That being said, it certainly does seem like everyone today has time to log into their favourite social network to see what's going on.

Getting the Most Out of Your Friends List

Trying to add as many people to your list as quickly as possible can be time consuming, expensive, and most likely very ineffective. Instead, narrow your focus and consider what specific kinds of people listen to your show. If you can, try and compose an audience profile and determine what your ideal listen would look like. This should include information like the average age of your listeners, if a certain gender tends to listen to your show more, and what their relationship or financial status generally is. By targeting your marketing efforts towards these individuals you'll produce much more effective results.

Social networking sites are powerful platforms and, if used correctly, can be one of the most effective ways to promote your podcast. When trying to use these platforms for marketing, always remember to be genuine in your efforts. If you focus on promoting yourself to people who will be more likely to be interested in what you have to say, gathering a large following is a very real possibility.

Conditioning Your Prospects and Customers

Conditioning your prospects and customers

When you’re looking to market to prospects and build relationships with existing customers, it’s important to stay in touch with them as often as possible. Get them on your email lists and segment them according to where they are in the buying cycle so that they can be targeted by your messages accordingly. Consistent communication can go a long way for conditioning customers to trust you and think of your business whenever they are in need of your services.

Tell Them What to Expect

Whenever anyone buys from you or signs up for your email list send them a thank you note with an explanation of what to expect from you in the future. How often will they hear from you? What will you contact them about? Make some promises and assurances to them.

Do What You Say You’ll Do

It’s very important that you do whatever you said you were going to do. For example, if you say you will send them a newsletter every Monday, send them a newsletter every single Monday and never on any other day. If you skip or switch the days they may get confused. A lot of people will actually forget they signed up for a list and when you don’t stay active they will report you for spamming them.

Remind Them of What You Said

Periodically, be sure to remind your prospects and customers about your previous promises and assurances. This will help them remember who you are and will build trust.

Let Them Know When You Follow Through

When you do something you said you would do, tell them. “I told you I would send you an update on my xyz product and as promised, here it is.” Again, this reinforces the point that you stick to your word and can be trusted.

Ask Them for Input and Opinions

Once in a while invite your prospects and customers to submit their ideas and input. If you have a new product idea, tell them about it. Ask them what they think. Ask them what they’d pay for such a product or service. Ask them if they would like to see something from you that you do not currently offer.
Tease Them about New Products – Never pass up an opportunity to give them some hints or small bits of information on a new product, service, or event. As you hint about it, make them really want it by explaining what’s in it for them.

Thank Them for Buying

When someone buys something from you (or answers any call to action), be sure to thank them. A ‘thank you’ is always a nice thing to do, plus it gives you a little bit of extra space to provide them with more information about you and your products and/or services.

Follow Up Regularly

Even after someone has purchased and you’ve thanked them, it’s not over. It costs a lot less to create a repeat buyer than it does to turn a lead into a new buyer. On top of that, repeat buyers are more likely to make larger purchases than first time customers. Cultivate your relationship with buyers even more consistently than you do leads and prospects.

Most people need to hear things multiple times before it sinks in so stay consistent with your messages. The more you stick to your word and the more value you can provide to your audience, the more they’ll look forward to whatever you offer them.

Marketing Your Business on a Shoestring Budget

Marketing your business on a shoestring budgetWhether you’re just starting out or funds are tight for whatever reason, there are some things you just cannot do without and you’ll need to find a way to get them done on a shoestring budget. Since you won’t be able to sell anything if no one knows that your business exists, marketing is certainly one of those things. But just because it’s inexpensive doesn't mean it won’t be effective. In fact, some of the most effective forms of marketing can be done on the smallest of budgets.

Business Cards

You can get low-cost business cards online from websites like Vistaprint.com and PrintsMadeEasy.com, or depending on how tight your budget really is, make them on your own printer with your computer. Do not use the free versions of business cards that some sites offer, but if you find a coupon or get a discount code you can get cards inexpensively. It may be an older way of marketing but it still works.
When you go to any event, be sure to leave your business card. When you have any reason to hand out your phone number to anyone, for any reason, give them your business card. You never know when someone will need the services you offer or when your friends and family will meet up with someone who they could tell about your services. Hand your cards out freely.

Build a Website with a Blog

Using self-hosted sites like WordPress makes having a professional looking website with a blog really easy. You can get free themes off WordPress.org, buy a domain for about 15 dollars, and host your website for as low as 5 dollars a month. Every penny of that cost is worth it.
If you’re technologically deficient and can’t afford to hire someone to make it for you, consider using a website builder that offers a blog function. You want the blog to be on your website and not separate from your website like a Blogger or WordPress.com blog. However you choose to do this, the next step is to write regular, informative, keyword-rich blog posts that you promote via social media.

Use Social Media to Promote Everything

It is important to set up branded social media accounts for your business but you don’t have to be on every social media network. Instead, use the knowledge that you have about your audience to choose which social media networks will work best for you. Keep high quality, up-to-date profiles that represent your brand in a cohesive way.
When you write a blog post, send it to social media. When you take a picture of something, or have a question about something you’re creating, mention it on social media. Use social media to engage your audience in creative ways. You can use social media to get email list signups, promote events, and more – all free.

Find a Joint Venture Partner for a Project

A JV partnership is not a real business partnership. It’s a joining of forces or collaboration between complementary business owners who share an audience but are not in direct competition. Finding a project to work on like this can essentially help you both double your audience.
Make the JV partnership a time-limited project that has a definite start and end point. Determine all the rules and how money will be handled up front and put it all in a contract. Define each aspect of the work that each of you will be responsible for completing. Be clear and stick to the plan and you’ll both come out successful.

Write a Book

If you’re an expert on anything you can write a book about that topic. You can publish it easily on Kindle or promote it as a PDF document right from your website. You can sell it, or give it away for free. It’s up to you. Books can push you forward in the eyes of your audience as a true expert and they can become a calling card for you.

Get on the Speaking Circuit

Using your book as a foundation, put the word out that you’re ready to give talks locally. For the cost of a ticket, room and board, you can also go to other speaking events out of town. Sometimes, you can even get paid for speaking once you’re established and in demand. Speaking is not only a relatively cost-free marketing strategy, but it can also be a source of income.

Create Buzz

When you really have no money, a great way to get the word out is to create a lot of buzz. This can be done through any number of the previously mentioned strategies, the important this is to get people thinking and talking about you. Create a video, write a controversial blog post, or have a contest with videos that get voted on by the video creator's friends, family and audience. It’s a great way to get people talking and to get free advertising. Offer a relevant and amazing prize package and it’ll also create buzz.

Build Relationships through Networking

Choose networking events wisely. You want to network with people who can become clients, or who can send you clients. Since your budget is limited, try to find online or local networking events that you can attend. There are many mastermind groups online that have a small fee for joining but are awesome ways to find clients once you spend the time building relationships and developing trust.

Incentivize Referrals

A really great way to increase your customer base is to convince your customers to refer you to others. Most of the time satisfied customers will tell others about you, but in some cases they may not because they want to keep you to themselves. This is especially true with service-based businesses. In this case, a great way to overcome the issue is to give your customers a reason to tell others about you. Offer a discount coupon or additional freebies for each paying customer that people send your way.
If you sell products, consider starting an affiliate program as a way to get more people to tell others about your products and make more sales without it costing you anything more than a percentage of those sales.

Using these marketing ideas when you have little to no money will take mostly time, especially if you need to learn how to use the technology. However, putting to work even a couple of these ideas will push your business forward.