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!

Common Mobile Marketing Mistakes

Common mobile marketing mistakesThe landscape of internet use is dramatically changing. Mobile sales are outstripping PC sales, over half of social media users are doing so from mobile devices, and approximately half of your audience is using mobile devices to read their emails. Because of this rapid and substantial change many marketers are making serious mistakes when approaching their mobile audience. Thankfully, you can avoid these issues if you just think ahead.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

Creating Complicated Opt-in Processes

You can always get more information from customers later, but creating an easy and streamlined opt-in process greatly appeals to mobile users. When a customer is using a finger instead of a keyboard to click boxes and type in information, they will become frustrated if the procedure is too complicated or lengthy. Make it easy; remember that less is more.

Not Ensuring Links Work for Mobile

When you send any email link it needs to be able to be read on a mobile device because you need to assume that’s where readers will be viewing it. Can the user click through easily? Does the website work well using any device? Can the user get around the navigation?

Not Being Targeted in Your Actions

When you send out a message or put out content, know why you’re doing it and who will be seeing it. You can use your email and website metrics to determine which devices your audience uses so that you can ensure that any device can access your info.

Not Understanding Laws, Rules, and Regulations

Like with most things to do with marketing, there are laws, rules, and regulations that need to be followed. Ensure that you become familiar with these laws so that you don’t break any of them and make things more difficult for yourself than they need to be. Opt-in regulations and privacy concerns are important to most people so they should be to you too.

Using Too Much Text for the Space

Remember the size of most mobile devices is about 3.3 inches of space. If that small space is overrun with text and your user has to scroll sideways forever to read all the content, they’re going to get frustrated and give up fast. There are ways to optimize your content within the code to ensure that it automatically adjusts based on the device your audience is using.

Not Creating Ongoing Value for Customers

As important as access is, creating value is equally essential. If you’ve created an app for example, if you don’t want to lose your customer, one way or another you’ll need to remind them about the app by offering updates, extensions, and more. The value of a long-term customer cannot be underestimated so keep them engaged with your product.

Building an App without a Plan for Marketing

Apps are a great way to get involved in the mobile marketing landscape. That being said however, creating an app is like creating a whole other business and it comes with new responsibilities. You not only need to create the app in a way that people enjoy using it, but you also need a marketing plan if you want it to be successful.

Not Having Clear Calls to Action

Once you know the purpose of a message that you want to send out, it’s imperative that you craft clear calls to action. Sometimes you may need to test different CTAs to find out which ones work best for your audience.

Treating Mobile as a Separate Entity

While mobile is a huge platform and should be considered by anyone who wants to market online today, it’s also important to remember that mobile devices are simply tools for users to access your content. Much like different browsers, different devices have different code requirements. Thankfully though, by using HTML5 and responsive coding, you can make your websites work for all devices seamlessly.

Avoiding these common mobile marketing mistakes will help you become a winner in the online marketing game. Don’t ignore the statistics of a changing environment when bringing your marketing campaigns into the present. Gear yourself towards mobile or you’re going to be leaving money on the table.

How to Create Wow-Worthy Content for Your Blog

How to create wow-worthy content for your blog  When people read your blog your goal is for them to immediately want to share it with their friends and then click away thinking, “Wow, that was awesome!” With blogs being such a large part of internet marketing today creating wow-worthy content is more important than ever. Here are a few tried and true methods that you should consider if you want your blog to be truly successful.
 
 
 

Know Your Audience

Remember, audiences change and it is not as simple as you may think to keep on top of who they are. Studying your audience as they grow and develop is important for you to stay ahead of trends. A great example to look at for this is a company like Ivory Soap. They have been around since 1879 and although their audience has always consisted of the same general demographics, their morals and ideas have changed a great deal.

Keep Up-to-Date on Industry Trends

The more you know about your industry, the more knowledge you’ll have to share with your audience and the more valuable you’ll be to them. Being aware of what is going on will make you a go-to person for information in the niche you’re involved with. Reading and studying your industry will also improve the quality of how you run your business too.

URL Structure and Tags Matter

Often times bloggers will underestimate the power of the right URL structure and the tags they use on their blog posts. These things still matter. The best URLs consist of unique, keyword-rich titles, and the best tags consist of keywords that are within the content. Don’t forget the tags on your images. Make it all count.

Know Your Numbers

Do you know what kinds of blog posts bring the most attention to your blog? If you don’t, you should. Once you know what types of blog posts get the most shares, views, engagement, and comments, you can create more of that type as well as spiff up the ones you already have.

Create Shareable Content

Content that has valuable information, great images, or content in video form, is shared more than other types of blog posts. Pay attention to what your audience shares and create more of that.

Link Internally

A great way to draw more attention and up the wow-factor in your blog posts is to develop good linking practices by linking internally to other blog posts that relate to the current post your audience is already reading.

Understand How Keywords Work

From short tail to long tail and all in between, there are many different types of keywords. The more you can understand how keywords work and which ones are important within your niche, the better you can use them to your advantage.

Use Many Forms of Content

Don’t skimp on your content variety. Use different forms of video, images, podcasts, text, and more. Your blog will be much more dynamic and interesting if the content used is not always the same. For example, some “how to” blogs might be best presented along with a video rather than a text only post.

Engage Your Readers

Don’t leave out your calls to action and reader engagement ideas like asking them to buy, click, read, or comment. By promoting it upfront you’ll get a lot more engagement than if you just hope it happens on its own.

Creating wow-worthy content for your blog will come naturally the more you understand your niche and what your audience likes best. If you’re unsure about anything, consider polling your audience to find out what types of content they prefer and what products and services they need most. Stay focused and up-to-date and your blog will be successful.

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.

Three Reasons to Market Through Email AFTER You Sell

3 Reasons to Market Through EMail After You SellFor years, email marketing has been a pre-purchase exercise. Marketers spent almost all of their resources on acquiring customers before selling to them, rather than reaching out to customers after the sale. While this method is obviously effective, it is by no means the be-all and end-all of marketing forms.

After the worldwide recession hit in 2008, businesses everywhere responded by cutting their marketing budgets. Advertising expenditures plummeted, global marketing presences were almost eliminated, and sales-focused businesses found themselves running out of buyers. In a new environment of business, companies began turning to uncharted methods to attract customers, leading eventually to an expansion of the email marketing world.

Today, the focus on size over substance is clearly present in almost every form of marketing, from offline resources to online marketing tactics. Marketers brag about their mailing lists, touting millions of readers, all the while ignoring the fact that each reader is almost completely valueless. Despite their massive size, these marketing lists are largely pieced together and almost completely devoid of any post-purchase subscribers.

The money is, as they say, most certainly in the lists, it's just not in any list. The most valuable marketing resources and the targets of any serious email marketer are the attention of any prospective customer that can, will, and has bought before. Once you have overcome the initial sale, repeat business is as simple as creating additional marketing resources to stay engaged with the customer.

Sometimes it is best to forego the short-term subscription and focus on customers that are ready to buy. Before you start an all-inclusive marketing list, consider these three reasons to keep your list exclusive and limited to customers that have already bought from you before.

  1. Post-purchase marketing gives you authority through established trust: It is easier to sell a $1000 product to a current customer than it is to sell a $20 product to someone you barely know. Commerce, especially online commerce, is all about building trust and establishing authority. Build trust with a small initial sale and you will give yourself an avenue for larger, more profitable future transactions.
  2. Customers qualify themselves. Prospects require your qualification: Marketing to new customers is an uphill battle. You are constantly re-evaluating your assumptions to appeal to possibility and quite often they can fail to be worth your time. The vast majority of pre-purchase prospects turn out to be duds and the few that buy from you are typically the types of customers that would buy from you on their own anyways. Focus on fostering qualified customer connections, not indiscriminate and valueless connections coming from anywhere.
  3. Post-purchase marketing is exclusive and value-adding: Exclusivity is a currency in itself. Marketers have forever capitalized on the “exclusive offer” strategy, offering each customer a one-off opportunity that is available to almost everyone else. While many are content with false exclusivity, true exclusivity gives you a marketing opportunity that is almost completely unparalleled.

The internet, especially over the last few years, has given marketers intense power to undervalue and skim over  personal relationships with customers. It has become all too easy to send a generic  template email to all contacts instead of differentiating previous purchasers versus prospects. A focus on true exclusivity and one-on-one treatment goes a long way in the world of template emails and form letters, and will be appreciated by your clients, customers, and business contacts.