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Posts Tagged ‘Blogs

Create Headlines That Work

Do your headlines and article titles sizzle? Do they grab readers’ attention? Do they make readers want to read the body copy?

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Headline, title, lead, opener – however you refer to it, the headline is the first impression your audience gets.

Whether read in a print piece or heard on radio or TV, the headline can spell the difference between success or failure: Is that first impression exciting and attention-grabbing? Does the headline offer useful information or news or promise readers they will gain something? Does the headline motivate the reader to keep reading, or make the listener continue to pay attention to what follows?

Whatever type of piece you are writing, the headline has to deliver, if it’s going to beat the competition and win people’s attention.

The secret that powers every successful headline is simple. The winners answer the most important question people ask themselves every time they read or hear a headline: What’s in it for me?

If a headline makes you interested in knowing more, it’s done its job, which is to:

  • Grab your attention.
  • Appeal to your self-interest.
  • Deliver the main message.
  • Persuade you to continue reading or listening.

Here are four sure-fire tips for writing headlines that get the job done.

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“Direct” Headline

This type of headline directly states what will follow. It clearly summarizes the message in the piece without using wordplay, hidden meanings, cleverness, or oblique references.

Select an important benefit that appeals to your readers’ self-interest, and then craft a statement that is bold, direct and perhaps even a little dramatic. For example:

Embedding Videos in Your PDF Documents

Get a Free Subscription to the Monthly Newsletter

Tank Tops – 25% Off Until Wednesday

Keep it short. Keep it simple. The “direct” headline gets right to the point.

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“How To” Headline

This one has been called “pure magic” in its ability to draw attention and compel people to continue reading or listening.

The “how to” headline dangles an irresistible promise before the reader: Listen to me. Pay attention to me. I can help you solve a problem. I can answer your question. I can help you learn something you want to know. For example:

How to Easily Save $300 a Month

How to Get More Sleep

How to Communicate Well

The “how to” says you are not alone. It relieves stress. It brings hope. This headline assures readers that others share their concern or have the same problem and, best of all, promises: You can fix it, solve it, learn it, overcome it—and here’s how.

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“Question” Headline

When you use the “question” headline, remember to focus on your audience. It’s all about their self-interest, so address your question to them. What fires up their curiosity? What fears or needs can your headline appeal to? For example:

What Won’t the Neighbors Tell You?

Which Foods Can Keep You Looking Young?

Is Your Air-Conditioner Costing You More Than It Should?

“Reason-Why” Headline

The “reason-why” headline is useful when you want to list the features of your product or service. It is also a good hook for pieces that offer advice or something to learn. For example:

Three Reasons Why You Should Get a College Degree

Six Ways of Chic Dressing on a Tight Budget

Five Steps to Looking Better and Living Longer

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These headline types are tested and proven—just look around and see what draws your attention. Ask your family, friends and colleagues. Ask businesspeople. Ask other writers. Do some research on what makes a headline effective.

Your challenge, as a writer, is to create headlines and titles that compel people to focus their attention on what you have to say and stay glued to every word.

Now it’s your turn: What sorts of headlines appeal to you? Writers, which headlines have worked well for you? Do you have any analytical insights into headline effectiveness? Please share your thoughts in the comments – thanks!  Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Writer Ideas

Marketing EBooks

Could digital marketing across multiple platforms represent a new business model for publishers? Could this model work for books on paper as well as ebooks?

Just a few years ago, who would have thought the subject of book publishing and marketing could have become as contentious and sometimes rancorous as it has these days?

Authors, agents, publishers and readers tussle over which is preferable: digital or traditional (print) publishing … and lately it seems that the trend is swinging toward a blend of both. But hold on to your hat! The blend itself is probably just another transition phase …

And do you even want to wade into the fray about book marketing?

Authors think it’s the publishers’ job. Agents and publishers insist that, for the most part and for most authors, it’s primarily the authors’ responsibility. And the audience … wait, do they even know you just published a book and are frantically trying to get their attention?

Yes, how exactly are you going to market your book to your target audience?

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Multi-Platform Marketing Campaign

Use various types of channels and media to build a multi-platform marketing campaign. (Click image for credit and source)

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A New Marketing Model?

How does the following approach to marketing your book grab you?  Let’s say you could reach out and connect with your audience in these ways:

Market your backlist books online.

Create frontlist fiction and non-fiction books digitally, and publish them as ebooks as well as online to various devices and as POD (print-on-demand) in selected retail outlets.

Team up with independent, traditional publishers to bring your ebooks to a larger audience through enhanced marketing, publicity and editorial strategies; these strategies would be implemented online via social media, blog postings, videos, photos, written pieces and interactive promotions.

Partner with agents and publishers who could do far more than just sell film and TV rights. Imagine partnering with someone who could actually develop selected ebooks for all screens (film, TV, web, mobile).

Collaborate with publishers who would build up your list of ebooks as well as other curated, complementary pieces, and then package and syndicate your digital publications as appropriate to other outlets, for example, social networks, blogs and mainstream media portals.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Here are two ways of thinking about digital marketing—before the sale (top) and after the sale (bottom).

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Digital Marketing on Top

Digital Marketing on Top: Use a multi-platform blended approach of digital and traditional media to move your customers from awareness to purchase. This example emphasizes digital media. (Click image for credit and source)

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Digital Marketing on Bottom

Digital Marketing on Bottom: Use a multi-platform blended approach of digital and traditional media to keep your customers loyal and committed to giving your company their repeat business. This example emphasizes digital media. (Click image for credit and source)

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If you want to learn more about how one publishing company is going about creating this type of new, digital multi-platform marketing model, take a peek at the website of Open Road Integrated Media (ORIM).

One purpose of this type of digital marketing model is to forge strong connections between authors and their audiences in ways that haven’t been possible before now.

Even though authors may not always meet and greet their fans in person, authors must still reach out and connect their ideas to … well … to other people and their ideas. In essence, you have to create mind links.

Is that sort of connection necessarily any less real if it’s done digitally instead of in person?

Could we be catching a glimpse of where book publishing must go if it is to survive as an industry?

Should traditional publishers consider retooling their operations around a similar model?

If you are one of the 80,000 independent publishers, would you consider partnering with a digital marketing company?

In fact, will traditional publishers even survive if their business model does not emphasize heavy-duty marketing, especially digital multi-platform marketing?

Now it’s your turn: What do you think? Is this model the book-marketing wave that authors, agents and publishers alike have to catch to survive and thrive? Please share your thoughts in the comments – thanks!  Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write Ideas

Google Traffic Generation Trends Analysis

Google Traffic Generation Trends Analysis - Video Ads vs. Social Marketing vs. Pay-Per-Click Ads vs. Search Engine-Optimization

It’s no secret that Google recently changed its search formulas.

Google’s intent was to decrease the occurrence of “content farms” in search results, because the farms were clogging the search rankings. Content farms tend to be heavy on ads, post information without much regard for quality, and often use text copied from other sources.

So good for Google! Time to stop rewarding the content farms.

Alas, however, Google’s modifications to its search algorithms also spawned some unintended (and negative) consequences for legitimate companies.

If you own or work at a small business with a web presence, then one or more of the accidental side effects may be giving you a real headache.

Recent articles on CNN Money and in the Wall Street Journal noted that, as a result of Google’s changes, many small businesses have seen dramatic declines in their web traffic and web-generated sales – think drops in sales of as much as 40 percent.

Wouldn’t that make you sit up and take notice? Thought so. As you might imagine, then, those businesses are now taking action.

Which brings us to the “silver lining in the cloud” part.

If you are a freelance writer, pay close attention here, because one tactic favored by those companies is to hire more freelance writers to customize copy.

You see, many of the affected companies sell lots and lots of different products. Formerly, they relied on the manufacturers’ product descriptions, meaning they basically just copied the text. The manufacturers certainly didn’t mind (it’s partly why they created the copy, after all), but that approach seems to have caused their sites to lose their place in Google’s rankings.

So rejoice, freelance writers. As Carol Tice says in her excellent post about this subject: “Google’s change is opening up a world of freelance writing opportunities.”

In addition to writing original product descriptions, companies also need copy for email marketing campaigns, customer Q&A, social media, direct customer communication and much more that will help each company distinguish itself from its competition.

Companies, although you’re going to suffer some short-term pain, in my opinion you have been handed a golden opportunity to make your businesses even more profitable and productive. You and your customers will eventually benefit enormously from what good freelance writers can bring to the table.

Remember, good communication is the heartbeat of a great business. (And better Google rankings.)

Bonus just for you: If you’d like to read more about substantive content and SEO, and why you should care, check out these recent posts:

Now it’s your turn: How do you present your products and services in an original, creative way? What keeps your customers coming back to your website and actually buying stuff? Writers, what do you think about the opportunities presented by Google’s changes? Please share your thoughts and keep the conversation going in the comments – thanks!  Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write ideas

Corporate Band of Bloggers

Could this be your company's band of bloggers? How could employee bloggers help your company stay in touch with customers?

Face it, your customers don’t want to communicate with your company, they want to talk to you. They want to get personal. Up close. And comfortable. So, how to entice them to pull up a chair, stay a while and get to know you better?

One way of inviting your customers to stay in touch on a regular basis is to assemble a band of employee bloggers to write about their areas of expertise and how what they do relates to and benefits the company’s customers.

For instance, imagine creating a corporate site that showcases multiple employee blogs, all housed under one landing page. In your mind’s eye, can’t you just see your company’s colorful landing page filled with clickable summaries of each blog, a search window, a blog directory and other features that make surfing, searching and reading your company’s blogs easy and interesting? Hey—you could even spice up the mix by adding a few video and multimedia “blogs” as well.

Take a good look around your company. You have departments that specialize in all sorts of business functions, for example: product design and development, data feeds, legal, regulatory, documentation, investor relations, logistics, accounting, shipping, communications, IT, HR, training, and current projects of all sorts—the list of possibilities is as large and varied as the number of companies.

Pull your band of bloggers together, along with an editor and a blogger-in-chief. Give each blogger on the team a byline, and include a headshot and brief biography.

Launch your blog site, and let your customers get to know the people who make your company work.

 

For more information on biz blogs, you might enjoy these two recent posts: Business Blogs: 9 Tips for Great Results and Business Blogs: Top Reasons Why Your Company Needs One

Now let’s talk: Does your company use a band of employee bloggers to interact with customers online? Do you have any advice for those who might be considering such an approach to business blogs? Tell all right here in your comments! Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower  The Write Ideas

 

Business Blogs: 9 Red-Hot Tips for a Great Blog

Now that you’ve decided to create a business blog, how do you do that? Here are some practical ideas guaranteed to help you get great results.

Okay, you’re ready to take the plunge. You’ve decided it’s time to create a business blog and connect with your customers on a whole new level … but … how do you do that?

Relax. It’s not difficult. To help you get started, here are some red-hot tips for creating a successful business blog.

Objective. Your very first step is to define the objective of your company’s blog. Go no further until you know what your blog is supposed to accomplish.

Audience. You must know who your customers are so you can relate to them in ways that make sense to them and their experiences. You have to be able to get inside their heads and speak to them in ways they will find useful and appealing.

Plan. Sketch out a plan that lists topics, publication dates, research sources and experts to interview. Maybe you’re comfortable planning for two months of blog posts, or perhaps you’re the type who wants six months or even a year’s worth of topics ready to roll. The key is to create a topic outline, so you can work ahead and stay on top of publication deadlines. If you need to get buy-in or approvals from other staff members, a solid plan will make that part of the job much easier.

Reviews. Establish who is on the review panel. Depending on the size of your company and your industry, your reviewers may include people from the technical, legal, regulatory, marketing, sales and other departments. Really good advice: Keep the number of reviewers as small as possible. Remember that reviewers are meant to verify or question the accuracy of content; in all cases, the writer needs to be the “voice” of the blog.

Length. Generally, a typical business blog post is 300 to 500 words long.

Frequency. How often to post varies widely from company to company, but as a rule of thumb you should plan on blogging three to four times a week.

Comments. Allow comments—after all, you want customer feedback, right? A big part of the blog’s job is to connect with customers, and encouraging an ongoing conversation is a really good way to do that. Remember to monitor comments and respond to them. Depending on your company, you may need to develop an internal process for handling technical questions, requests for information, sales leads, and so on.

Keywords. As much as possible, use company keywords in every post. Just be sure you don’t get too “sales-y” or overtly promotional, unless sales and marketing are the explicit objectives of the blog.

Value. To keep your customers coming back and interacting, your blog must contain information your customers find useful. Blog about things your customers can relate to and care about, and you will build good business relationships through conversation.

Need a little more hand-holding? Want some examples of successful biz blogs? Check out Social Media Examiner and Performancing.

You may also like to read one of my recent posts on the top reasons why your company needs a business blog.

Now let’s talk: Have business blogs worked for you? Does your company use blogs to create a customer community? Do you have any tips, secrets or techniques for creating successful business blogs? Please leave your comments. Elizabeth Lexleigh  LexPower   The Write Ideas

Promote Communication via a Business Blog

Are you engaging your prospects and customers in conversation? A business blog helps build relationships through conversations that your audiences can relate to.

Are you leaving business on the table because your company is blog-less?

If you are doing business and don’t have a blog, you are missing out on a powerful tool that can serve as a useful connection and communication point for your prospects, customers, suppliers and staff.

Think of a business blog as a multi-functional hub: Users can access it at any time. You can update it quickly. And it benefits your audiences and your company by enabling you to …

  • Share expertise, opinions, thoughts, tips and ideas about your company’s products and services as they relate to your customers’ experiences and needs.
  • Ask for and get customer feedback (which you can use in marketing research and customer support).
  • Build an interactive relationship community with customers, prospects, suppliers, your staff and members of your industry, as well as your investors, partners and board of directors.
  • Tell your story, so someone else (like your competition) doesn’t write it for you.
  • Manage change, so you can direct your company toward the future you want it to have.
  • Give your company a face and a voice in your customers’ mind.
  • Enhance your customers’ experience with your products and services.
  • Maintain an active, informal (and low-key) marketing and branding presence to reinforce your other marketing and sales efforts.
  • Establish blog subscription lists and RSS feed lists to develop customer databases.
  • Quantify blog traffic, including down to the level of how many hits each post gets. Depending on the hosting site, your blog statistics may also track referrers, the search terms used to find your blog, top posts and pages, and through-clicks. These and other stats can provide an informational goldmine for various departments in your company.

Before you dive into the world of corporate blogging, you might find it helpful to take a look at what some other companies are doing. Check out iBlogBusiness, Forbes’ roundup of the best of the small-business blogs, and the Sunday Times 50 best business blogs for a sampling of looks, concepts and approaches.

Ask yourself this: Can my company really afford to remain blog-less any longer, if we’re serious about growing our business and making money?

Now let’s talk: Does your company have a blog? How does it benefit you? Have you found any drawbacks to having a business blog? Please share your thoughts by leaving comments – thanks! Elizabeth Lexleigh    LexPower    The Write Ideas


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