Who cares about the galaxy far away, when you have customers swarming around waiting to be pulled into your universe right here?
We’ve all heard that content is KING. We may have even heard that video content is QUEEN, which, aside from most card games, always trumps the KING! But, what good is it to create lots of content if you don’t have a plan in place to attract people to the content once it’s created? And even when people come to consume a piece of content you created, what is your plan after that?
Many people put a lot of hours into the creation of a single blog post, video or even website content but then they put no thought into how it will be promoted or what the next step is, and they wonder why no one is finding them. [Read More at- If You Write It They Don’t Necessarily Come]
I’m going to talk about a lot of different content pieces, and I don’t want you to get overwhelmed. You don’t need to create all of these at once, and you can get help with many of these pieces (I know a great team who can help! 😉) but when you do create a piece of content for your marketing, you need to know its role and its place in your content universe.
Your Website- THE SUN
The core of your universe, or your sun, is your website or your physical space (i.e. your store, your office, etc.). It is the place you want to ultimately get people to come to so they can contact you or purchase something from you. If your website is old and outdated or doesn’t have strong calls-to-action for people to contact you or buy from you, this should be your first step. You need a clean website without pages and pages of text.
Donald Miller of StoryBrand says it best, “If you confuse, you lose!” Your website needs to be clear and yet answer the questions people are coming with. If you feel that explaining what you do is complicated, imagine what people coming to your site are thinking.
According to Donald Miller, there are three questions your website must answer in the first 10-seconds someone lands there:
What is it that you offer?
How will you make my life better?
What do I need to do to buy from you?
There are too many websites that never clearly tell people how to actually work with the company. Go look at your website with the eyes of a stranger. Does it answer the three questions above, QUICKLY?
Too much text on a site will also cause your potential customer’s eyes to glaze over and they will leave. It’s too much of an investment that you are asking them to make. I have a hard time when people send me an email filled with text, don’t think people will invest loads of time on your website right away. Have links and buttons to “read more” or “learn more” but don’t make it over-whelming for someone just stopping by to read a blog post.
Here’s the harsh reality, no matter how much you just love the 16 paragraphs you have on that home page, even your mom isn’t reading it. As the popular meme goes, “Ain’t NOBODY got time for that!”
Once you feel that your website will help you convert more of those who come to it, let’s focus on how to get more of those ideal people heading your way.
Your Larger Pieces of Content- THE PLANETS
There are planets that are orbiting around the sun. These are pieces of content that your audience members want and need. These should have a natural gravitational pull that brings people from the piece of content into your core for more. Planets come in many forms:
A challenge series (one tip a day delivered via email)
Live Video Shows or Interviews
Shortcasts (Alexa briefings or Google capsules)
You may have some of these planets directly on your website or they can be delivered through an email or social media post. Your planets can have planets within them as well. For example, you might write a blog post and within that blog post you have a graphic or box that has a “DOWNLOAD OUR TIP SHEET WITH 25 WAYS TO SAVE TIME.” This is a great way to see if your readers are ready to move forward and commit by giving you their email address. I call this a lead magnet delivery campaign.
Keep in mind, as sad as it may be, not all of our ideal customers will be drawn to every piece of content we create. For this reason, you need to continue to create a variety of content pieces to see which ones land with your audience members.
If your content is helpful or interesting and leaves the reader wanting more from you, they will take the next step. So let’s move out into the stars!
Your Social Media Posts -THE STARS
Your stars are the social media posts (and sometimes email pieces) that are pointing people to the planets. They are small, byte-sized, shiny objects that are attractive to people. Your social media posts should be visually appealing, drawing people in to get to know, like, and trust you. They give enough information to entice. They will have short captions that attract attention and make people want to click or be pulled into your orbit.
Email messages can fall into this category since the purpose may be to pull them in closer to your core, but typically a person is already close if you have their email address. This is where you might want to look at how you can segment your email list to create smaller groups to get more personal with –that’s a topic for another post.
The key with social media content is you need lots of it. Just like stars in the night sky, not everyone will see every post. Some go by like a flash and won’t even catch your attention, while others stop you from scrolling immediately, drawing you in. You will need a variety.
Many people feel that posting one or two times a week is plenty of content on their social channels, but what they don’t realize is, like a shooting star, most people miss the infrequent post and so they never get pulled into your universe. If you’re promoting a new blog post, you might want 3-5 versions of social posts, each with different headlines and images pointing people to the post. This gives you five chances to capture someone’s attention.
Don’t forget that your social posts are not just for pushing out promotional content either. You want to mix in a healthy dose of “social” content to allow your ideal audience to get to know and like you. Social posts that do well include a peek behind the scenes in your office showing how you prepare for projects or your work team in a brainstorming meeting. Anything that lets people come in a little closer to learn more about the personality of your brand.
Ask questions to see whether your audience likes listening to classical or pump up music on a Monday morning. Share your favorite quote. That’s the social part of social media.
NEXT STEPS? What do you want your audience to explore next?
Now that we have explored your content universe, you will start to see how important each piece is in your marketing strategy. Nothing works when it sits alone. If you only have a website, you’ve got to work harder to get people to find you. And once people are on your website you will have a lot of work to do getting people to know, like, and trust you if that’s all they know about you.
Is it possible to only have a website and not need the planets and stars in your content universe? Of course, it is. When I have an immediate need for a plumber, if I don’t already have a relationship with someone, I’m going to Google, but then I will take the time to read the reviews on their Google My Business page, which is also a social channel.
Can you use only social media to get business and never need a website? Sure, you can. There is a cupcake truck that drives around Denver selling only cupcakes. You can find out where they will be and what flavors they will have stocked only through their social media accounts. So, you may have something so desirable that people are going to know about you through word-of-mouth and they already like you, so you just have to show up! That’s my kind of business.
The key is, you will shorten your sales cycle and increase your conversions when you have your content universe in working order. So once someone has been drawn to you through a social media post and goes to your website to read a post or watch a video… then you have to ask what do you do to keep them engaged with you? This is where the lead magnets and email campaigns come into play.
Often, we spend a lot of time and stress trying to drive more traffic to our websites, but we don’t think about what the person will do next. We don’t have a next step identified and so the person reads some information and then clicks away to another website. We think our “contact us” page is enough of a call-to-action, or even worse our “sign up for my newsletter.” Who wants another newsletter clogging up their inbox? Why not, “Get our weekly free tips and tools,” or something that sounds like something people would actually want.
When we attract people to our website to read a blog post, we have to think, “THEN WHAT?” What can I offer my reader when they finish, to give them a little more? What can I give them that might allow them to think of my brand a little longer and perhaps allow me to connect one step deeper with them?
You will want to start creating lead magnets and content upgrades for your blog posts or other content on your website to encourage people to exchange their email address for something of greater value. Let’s use the example of a content upgrade in one of your blog posts.
If you were an electrician and had a blog post about the “25 tips to keep your family safe around electricity in your home.” You could then create a printable tip sheet for parents to use with their children to help educate them on the “Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts Around Electricity”. You could have a second sheet that provides readers with “20 Hidden Electrical Dangers Lurking in Your Home.” Of course, your contact information is at the bottom of both sheets. All the reader has to do is enter their email address and download these great resources. Who wouldn’t want these? Since you are an electrician and you want to know who lives in your neighborhood, you could ask for their mailing address along with the email address and then mail out a card with tips on a magnet.
When your blog reader gives you their email address, you make sure you have a statement on the form they fill out mentioning you will send monthly tips and resources to keep their family safe at home, and they are automatically added to your list. Now you need to think of ways to nurture this relationship.
Perhaps you send a welcome email with a short video letting them know you are so glad they are focused on keeping their family safe and that if they are ever interested in having a free home inspection for them to give your company a call. Always mention ways they can stay in touch and find more tips and resources on your social channels. You want to stay top of mind and in front of your potential customers as often as you can
Now you send a regular email with additional tips and resources, perhaps seasonal tips along with additional information that you know a homeowner will find helpful. It doesn’t have to be a sales pitch in an email, and it doesn’t have to be daily or weekly. You are nurturing the relationship. Building trust.
At the end of each email message be sure to offer a free consult or perhaps a summer special or holiday safety check, along with your contact information. Never make people search for your contact information. I’m always surprised how many of these emails I get where they expect me to click over to their website to find how to contact them. Call me lazy, but that’s just too much work!
When this family needs an electrician, who are they going to call? They have now gotten to know you, like you and trust you because of the information you have shared. They certainly wouldn’t dare call someone from a random Google search.
Make sure you’re not collecting email addresses the way many people collect social media fans. If you are adding people to your list and then not doing anything to stay in touch and nurture the relationship, what’s the point? And then when you want to sell something to this list of people, how likely will they be to purchase from you?
WHAT NEXT? LET’S PUT IT INTO PRACTICE TODAY:
Here are 3 things you can do today to start building your content universe:
Create a content inventory of your current assets.
Add all of your blog content, video content, any lead magnets you currently have, etc.
Make a list of ideas for possible lead magnets and content pieces that you will plug into your calendar for creation.
Draw out a simple content map with your website being the sun, the pieces you have floating around the sun and then begin the craft some social media posts to start shining on those planets!
If all of this has your head spinning… RELAX! We can help you with any or all of these activities and we love working with our clients to move from just having social media posts thrown up on your profiles to having a strategy in place to drive more leads to your business!
Perhaps you’ve heard this term, “Lead Magnet” and wondered what it is. Maybe you’ve heard them called freebies, giveaways, value offers or a slew of other terms. The bottom-line is they are a crucial part of your marketing mix and without them, it is hard to measure your success and many times, it’s hard to get to your goals without them.
WHAT IS A LEAD MAGNET?
A Lead Magnet (I’m going to use this term but you can call them whatever you’d like) is simply a piece of content or an item of value that people would exchange their contact information for. Perhaps you would exchange your email address for a free ebook. You might sign up on a website with your email address to get 20% off an order. You enter your email address to gain access to a free webinar or online course. All of these are lead magnets. What’s NOT a lead magnet is a piece of content that just talks about YOU or your brand. Lead magnets are not promotional content. They are not a piece of sales copy. They are helpful and/or valuable content to the prospective customer.
Even if you think the item is super valuable because it tells your prospects about the services you offer…that is NOT a lead magnet. That is a promotional piece of content.
WHY SHOULD I GIVE MY VALUABLE CONTENT AWAY FOR FREE?
This is often the response of people when I say we need to take their template, their eBook, their white paper or tip sheet and give it away for free. Do you remember the days when you paid to create brochures and flyers and then you bundled them up and went to the post office and paid them to mail these? Well what did that cost you? You are going to pay for your marketing one way or the other. Why not use a method that is working for today’s consumers?
And if you are going to tell me the printed brochures do work for you, then you can get a pass on this post and get your gold star. Keep doing what’s working. But for those who need to find a way to reach today’s savvy consumer who is searching Google for answers, this is for you. Keep reading.
WHY ARE LEAD MAGNETS IMPORTANT IN MARKETING?
In marketing, we have goals such as brand awareness, building trust, increasing brand engagement, and establishing credibility, but these are harder to measure. We also have more tangible goals like building an email list, increasing website traffic, driving traffic to sales pages and helping to convert to sales. These actions are usually done with the use of lead magnets. These actions are easier to measure because there is an action people take when they download or sign up for something.
Lead magnets are important because they form a bridge from EXPOSURE or AWARENESS, to TRUST and LIKABILITY. They give people a stepping stone to stand on and decide if they want more of you before you expect them to open their wallets. And the higher your price tag is the more steps you may need. You may need a free tip sheet that then gets their email and then in a series of emails you send helpful content that has a link at the bottom to download your research paper or eBook. Then you might have to invite them to a free webinar to then talk about the coaching program or consulting practice you have.
They also help start to qualify a lead and gain a small commitment from them, moving them toward a sale. If I create a piece of content that is for leaders managing teams of people in candy factories, I might just know something about the person who downloads this item.
EXAMPLES OF LEAD MAGNETS
Here is an example of some lead magnets. I’m sure there are many more we could think of, but this will get you started:
Tip Sheet—Top 10 tips for ____.
Resource Guide—Step-by-step guide to ______.
Must have apps/tools for your life/business.
e-Booklet (keep it short)
Sample questions to help someone __________.
Series of video tips
Single short video course
Discount code to use on purchase
Free item (perhaps customer pays shipping only)
Your best resources (equipment, suppliers, etc)
Monthly HOT TIPS (aka not-so-boring-newsletter)
TIPS FOR CREATING GREAT LEAD MAGNETS
There are a few things to keep in mind as you create a lead magnet. One, you should keep them short and “digestible.” If you give me your 78 page eBook, I will probably save it for later reading…to be read right after those 900 wordy emails and 42 e-zines I have saved in that same folder. Keep the content valuable and short. You want people to download the item and use it right away to see how awesome you are. They will come back faster for more if you keep things short and sweet.
Secondly, you want to be sure the lead magnet is indeed, valuable. Just because you think it’s the most awesome piece of content you have ever seen, it doesn’t mean that people will find it valuable enough to turn over their precious email address for it. It’s like when I see, “Sign up for my newsletter.” You know someone thought that was going to draw people like goats to tin cans, but let’s get honest with one-another, who REALLY wants another email coming in? No one. But if you had something like, “Get our monthly tips and resources,” that might be more of a draw. I’ll never forget when a client told me that he subscribed to many newsletters from professional speakers and was shocked at how useless and self-promotional almost all of them were. Make sure your offer or lead magnet is really providing value.
Lastly, always but your next move or call-to-action at the bottom of your lead magnet. If I download your resource guide and love it, I find it so helpful, I will probably be in the mindset to consume some more! Have a link at the bottom or at the end that takes me to that next step.
TOOLS TO USE TO CREATE LEAD MAGNETS
Lead magnets are not created out of some special magnetic app that you must use. You can use Microsoft Word or PowerPoint to create your item and then save it as a pdf (most lead magnets are saved as pdf for easy delivery and to preserve your formatting). You can have someone work their magic on the document to make it a visual wonder in Adobe Illustrator, or even have a professionally produced video piece to use…but you don’t have to.
Keep it simple but make it look professional and VALUABLE! A bunch of text thrown on an image that looks like a poster in the breakroom of the post office is not going to cut it. If you do not have an eye for design, either pay someone to lay out a template for you or use one of these tools:
Beacon is a template tool for creating guides, tip sheets and more. The monthly cost is steep ($30) but it might be worth it for a few months to build your inventory.
Canva is another tool that you could use to layout a great template and then plug your content into it.
WHERE TO USE A LEAD MAGNET ONCE YOU HAVE CREATED THEM
Now that you’ve created a few lead magnets and have started beefing up your inventory, plan on creating one or two a month, if possible. You want enough of a variety that you don’t have to offer the same item everywhere. Here are some of the spots you can use your lead magnet to draw people in:
End of blog posts
Social media posts
The end of a live or pre-recorded video
In your newsletters
In your email signature
In your LinkedIn connection messages
Now it’s time…time for you to create your first lead magnet or another lead magnet if you have one that might need revamping. As you work on that, we’ll get next week’s post lined up to show you the next step in your marketing plan.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below with questions you have or other ways you have used or seen lead magnets used.
Antonio gets up at 2am every morning to head out into the sea, off the coast of Vernazza, a beautiful fishing village in Italy. He takes his boat out about 20 minutes further than the other fishermen. He knows just the right spot to fish each morning. Antonio sifts through his collection of nets, looking for the perfect one for the conditions that day. He throws his nets out and sits in the stillness of the dark early morning casting several lines off the side of the boat as well, each with different lures and bait. His work pays off. By 5am his nets are full and each pole has pulled in its share of beautiful fish. He heads back in to get his fish to market. Fishing is his life. He unloads all the fish but two, which he brings home in a brown paper sack for his wife Louise to cook for dinner.
At the market, every restaurant in the area has someone there to grab the fresh catch and bring them back for their daily menus. Some chefs would not send someone else to make such an important selection while others have their shoppers out gathering everything for them.
Now, why do some restaurants thrive and have waiting lists for hours each night, while others struggle to keep their doors open? Of course it’s the way the food is prepared. It’s how people are treated when they dine at each spot. There are many factors that come into play, even if they all start with the same fish.
Marketing is like fishing. You can catch the attention of thousands and even drive them right to the door of your website, but if people don’t like what they experience once they get there, they move on down to the next spot.
You might be frustrated trying every marketing tactic in the book. You see your traffic increasing. You have more people liking and following your content (like chum) but the sales still aren’t happening. It might be time to evaluate what you are actually offering.
Do you have a product or service that people are still wanting? If you are trying to sell a software that works on a home computer allowing kids to check in when they get home and let their parents know they are safe, you might be overlooking the fact that 10-year-olds have iPhones and can simply Facetime Mom and Dad. You might love your home computer but not understand that many families see the home computer as outdated, instead using apps on tablets and phones.
Do you have a product or service with a price point that is too high for the audience you have attracted? You might have a quality product, but the audience you’re selling it to has no budget to spend on such items. Is there another audience you need to attract or do you need to retool the product to bring the price down? Your marketing may be attractive to your audience, but they’re just window shopping and drooling all over the merchandise.
Is someone else offering your product or service in a way that is easier for people to access or consume? Taxi companies thought their competition was other taxi companies until Uber came and took a huge bite out of their business. Walmart or Target offer great deals and yet Amazon keeps finding ways to get that same merchandise to consumers faster and free.
Do you have a message that you think the world needs and yet you forgot to check with the world to see if they feel the same way? Sometimes we fall so in love with our own messaging that we are blinded to the fact that no one else has.
We have seen several companies lured (had to work that pun in here somewhere) into this thinking. They keep throwing more money to marketing, thinking if we can just get more people to know about them, they will be successful. Perhaps the business needs to retool, rethink and realign with what consumers are looking for.
Keep your eyes on that horizon and see how consumers are behaving. What information are they really wanting? Don’t just trust your own thoughts and feelings. Do some research. Look at Google Trends. Watch college students. Do surveys of people other than your friends and family members.
You can bring all the fish in the ocean to your door, but if you’re not able to mix in the right ingredients that appeal to them, cook it and serve it up with a winning attitude, people still won’t bite.
The other day I was listening to a psychologist discuss how children learn, and she said a child’s willingness to ask obvious questions was the key. She went on to say most adults might assume everyone else knows the answer and therefore we don’t dare ask the obvious questions. It got me thinking. How many times in your business do you stop talking about the obvious because you assume everyone already knows it? What if there are potential customers out there who want to know the obvious about your business? This is the basis for great content marketing!
The obvious question for you is, are you answering your customers’ obvious questions in a straightforward manner on your website, blog and social posts so Google will take those inquisitive customers to you?
Have you ever had someone that you’ve known for a long time (like your mom), or someone you’ve been connected with on a social media platform for quite awhile, ask, “What is it that you do?” Of course we all have. There are people who dare to ask us what we consider to be …the obvious!
There are two reasons we may not be stating the obvious any more:
We’ve said it already.
Perhaps you wrote a blog post five years ago answering this exact question, or you tweeted about this last year. You don’t want to be redundant. Here is a newsflash: People are not sitting at their computers waiting for your next post to drop. Aside from your mother, most people do not see every post you write. (I apologize if this is hard to take.) In your mix of content, you will need to write the same points over and over, changing up how you might say them, to get a fraction of your contacts to read and then remember them.
We have evolved beyond that point.
Sometimes I find myself tempted to write, not for my target audience, but for the other “experts” out there who might read my content. After all, what if they read my obvious post and think I am simple? Oh sure, if I am publishing an article for others in marketing or social media, I might want to provide more technical expertise and discuss tools that only someone working full time in digital marketing would care to take the time to look at (and they would probably still say I was simple.) If, however, I want to answer the questions that a potential customer might have, I would need to get into their 8-pound heads and go back to the beginning.
My husband often reminds me that not everyone is a freak like me, with 230 apps on their mobile phones and accounts set up on every social media site known (and unknown) to mankind! It’s hard to fathom, but we all fall victim to the curse of knowledge at some point. We have stored up a wealth of knowledge over the duration of our career and assume that our customers, team members and family, all have the same level of knowledge, or desire to have this same level of knowledge. Another shocker here…they don’t.
It may be time to go back to the beginning. Take some time to ask obvious questions of your customers like, “Do you know what we do?” “What are you spending time doing that we might be able to help you with?” Tell them you would like to answer the most obvious questions they have as well. No shame. Once you have gathered some of this information, write a series of blog posts or create some short videos answering these obvious questions. This will be great content for your inbound marketing and content marketing.
Do you need help with your content marketing or inbound strategy? Did you know we do that? What’s an obvious question YOU have? Come on….ask us. No shame.
It can be confusing today looking for help with your social and digital marketing, especially with all the different terms out there: Social media company, social media marketing, social media agency, content marketing agency, inbound marketing company, social media management, internet marketing and it goes on and on.
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT
If a company only handles social media, it may mean they only post short pieces of content on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. They may ask you to provide the content and they will simply post it or schedule it for you. Some will monitor questions or comments that come in on those posts and some do not. A social media company should also handle community management, which includes responding to comments or questions along with growing your online communities.
A CONTENT MARKETING COMPANY
A content marketing or content creation company might just provide the copywriters or content for your blogs, social media posts, websites etc. Content marketing has to be a big focus whichever way you go since you will need not only blog posts and social media posts, but content pieces such as eBooks, tip sheets, resource guides, etc. to use as lead magnets if you are to grow your email list.
A MARKETING AGENCY
A marketing agency, (and some immediately think of the old advertising agency model, like Mad Men) might be focused on print or television media as well as coming up with campaign ideas and then outsource the daily social media activities. Many will handle campaign creation, maybe digital assets and then outsource the rest.
AN INBOUND MARKETING COMPANY
While the term, “inbound marketing” is often interchangeably with “content marketing” they can vary in the results they expect to produce. Some inbound companies focus on the sales funnel and creating content pieces that drive people to the funnel, so they might create lead magnets, email follow-up or drip campaigns, blog content, and social media posts.
If you are like most organizations, you might need a bit of each. You want someone to help you come up with creative ways to reach your ideal customers, write or produce the content that appeals to these customers and follow this all the way through from content to results. After all, it’s about getting more people to become aware of you and your brand and then to encourage more to consider hiring you or buying your products or services.
MARKETING VERSUS SALES
It’s important to ask lots of questions when looking to hire someone to help you with your marketing. Some think if they hire a marketing or social media company, customers will walk in the door to make a purchase the next day. While this certainly can happen, it’s like saying you heard a commercial or saw an article in a magazine today and immediately went out to buy the item advertised. While that happens, especially if you are really hungry and you see an ad or commercial for a big juicy burger or VooDoo donuts, the reality is, most of us are not running burger or donut shops.
Marketing is about making a connection with people. A connection via content that can be written, recorded on video or audio, or even through a simple photo that disappears in 10 seconds (SnapChat). After this initial connection is made, a relationship is hopefully started and through more exposure to your content, this relationship is nurtured and you continue to provide value and information until the person feels they trust you and that you are the answer they have been searching for. This could take hours, days or years, depending, typically, on your sales cycle, the price point of your product or service and when each person actually has a need.
If you have a salesperson or sales team, they could be taking the leads that are coming in from the marketing campaigns and following up to close the sales. The more targeted your content is (meaning, you shouldn’t be posting your content on LinkedIn if you are trying to reach teens, and you probably don’t want to be running ads for high-end luxury cars during Judge Judy), the quicker the return will be on your investment and the more qualified your leads are for the sales team.
If I create a resource guide to help a homeowner stage their home to increase their sales price by $10,000. I know the people who download this piece are LIKELY to be selling their home soon. If I create a piece of content that shows the top interior designs in Hollywood, anyone would download this. It doesn’t qualify the lead enough, so the more targeted your content pieces are, the easier it is to identify where in your sales funnel this prospect is.
Many marketing agencies have had to adapt and begin using the new tools with social media, and many early social media management companies are having to step back and make sure they are incorporating a more holistic marketing approach that goes beyond a few posts on Facebook. Take some time to figure out what you need to grow your business and then make sure you are hiring a person or company that can partner with you to make that happen. Ask lots of questions and get all of your expectations down in writing to eliminate or minimize disappointment later on.
I was on a call with a client who said he wants us to “help him start blogging.” I said, “You mean you want us to blog for you.” He said “No. I just want you to help me become a writer and start doing it myself. Give me topics and a deadline.” Hmmm interesting. I never thought of a business model where we get paid to get our clients to do the work! I like it. But after our conversation, I think I was able to convince him that he already was a writer, he just had to start making regular time for this activity that has never had a place in his day before.
We are all writers. If you can speak about your business and you know how to use a computer, an old typewriter, or a number two pencil, you can write. Sure there are some who will enjoy it more than others, and there are some who sound more eloquent in their style of writing, but we all can get the written word down. For that matter, use a dictation tool to have your computer write for you. (One is built into most computers, tablets and even smart phones today. I am on my Macbook Air, in Notes and under EDIT, there is the option to simply dictate to get my spoken words down in writing.)
In today’s marketing environment, we must make a shift in our activities and start making time to write. Our prospects are not answering their phones when we cold-call and they are not reading post cards and other mailers that we are sending out. They are turning to their friend, Google, to help them find answers to their questions. Google will show them answers in the form of blog posts, social media posts, and of course lots of videos from his son, YouTube. Is your content being found in this mix? If you are like our client, and you know you need to start writing more, here are 4 tips to get you going:
Set aside 30-60 minutes every day for writing.
YES, an hour! If you have to wake up earlier or you have to make yourself go to the library or coffee shop, make it so. Write this time on your calendar so you can’t book anything else in that slot.
Remember you are answering a question, not writing a novel.
It can be overwhelming if you think you have to write a whitepaper or a 1,500 word article. Imagine someone coming up and asking you a common question about your business. Now start writing as if you are writing a letter to that person to answer the question. I love the thought of writing just being a way to help someone or to teach someone something. I’m not trying to be RR Tolkien (????) or JK Rowling (although now I’m realizing that perhaps if I just change my name to GM Schreck, I could possibly write my first novel). Today, write down a few of the most common questions you get about your business. These are the first few posts you will write.
Don’t edit as you write.
Years ago, I read a great book by Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones. In it, one of the exercises she gave was to put your pen to the paper and write without stopping for 45 minutes. No editing, no stopping to fact-check. You were to write without stopping. It has helped me, immensely, get more content out. If you get down the “bones,” you can go back and edit later, adding in details or facts. Inserting links and correcting grammar and spelling errors. When you stop to fix or correct it, you lose your mojo. You break the train of thought you have going. It’s like having someone interrupt you while you are on a roll and then you forget what your point was. Don’t let that editor interrupt the writer while he is at work.
Create a “Story Starter” notebook for blogging ideas.
One of the biggest problems people tell me they have when it comes to blogging, just behind not having enough time, is not having topics to write about. They sit down and stare at the blank screen and then try to come up with something. If you create a “story starter” notebook in Evernote (or any other notebook system), you will have plenty to choose from. The reason I love Evernote for my “story starters,” is it is everywhere you are. You can open the app on your phone, jot an idea, and then later open that same note on your laptop, tablet or desktop. You want to start jotting down questions that people ask you about your business, observations you have throughout the day, thoughts you have after watching a commercial or interaction in a store somewhere. Start looking for topics everywhere. All you have to do is jot down the idea or “story starter” and then tomorrow during your writing time you can elaborate, or perhaps you let it stew a little longer and it will bubble up in a post down the road.
So what are you waiting for. Download, or open Evernote, and get your first few questions written down right now. (I’ll wait….)
Now fire up that old typewriter, pick up your pen, or open that iPad, and start writing!
Gina Schreck President (and blogger) at SocialKNX
Want a little extra accountability? Write the name of your blog and give us the URL to find it. Let’s all agree to go and learn something new from each other.
If you’d like help augmenting your blogging, we certainly can help you with that. The more great content you have coming from your website answering those questions, the better. Contact us for more information.