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Do sales and marketing work together in your business?

Marketing’s role is to draw more leads into your firm, and the Sales team needs to convert those leads into business. Sounds straightforward, so working together should be no problem, right?

Watch our video and see if this strikes a chord…..

A joined up approach that uses valuable content every step of the way is far more effective. Talk to us about the way we help businesses unify their sales and marketing.

How to write really bad content

be impressive like a marble statue

Content, content, content. We’re swimming in the stuff, and yet we’re still being told to create more, more, and still more.

The web is awash with shoddy stuff. Thoughtless filler copy, words without meaning, copy without substance.
If you don’t want yours to join the tide of second rate content flotsam, then slow down, and take a deep breath. Our not entirely serious guide to how to get content wrong will help you make sure yours is top quality.

Be impressive. You know what’s really impressive? Long words, that’s what. And industry jargon. They show you’re terribly clever. Fill your content with words that show how much more you know than other people, and they will admire you. No matter if they don’t understand it. Don’t bother to explain it. If your readers can’t keep up, that’s their lookout. You are impressive, like an awesome marble statue, and that’s what counts.

However, if you want content that engages potential clients, you might want to try writing as though you’re talking to them. Talking in a helpful way, using words to connect with readers, not to distance them.

Key words are everything. All you’ve got to do is repeat your KEYWORD a lot, and Bob’s your uncle. KEYWORDS are the holy grail. KEYWORDS are king, queen and the rest of the royal family. SEO is all about repetition, say KEYWORD enough times in your copy and you will rise to the top of the KEYWORD pile and everyone will KEYWORD find your KEYWORD site and KEYWORD love you forever. KEYWORD. KEYWORD. KEYWORD.

Of course, that’s not the case. Knowing the search terms your clients are using will help you shape your copy, and you do want to use them, especially in titles and headers, but not at the expense of writing something useful and making good sense. Google’s not dumb. You won’t get points for ramming repeated phrases into your content.

Be vague. Who needs a point? You write for the love of it and carry your audience with you. You have a lovely turn of phrase, and readers delight in the clever way you string together words and sentences with such charming ease. What was I on about? No matter, you’re here, on my website, reading my copy, and I’m entertaining you. Lovely lovely me.

Or not. If you’re not being useful, people won’t stick around. Write copy with a point, and stick to it.

Be very serious at all times. Business is important. Your business is uber important. Your content should be heavyweight. It’s wearing a tie and very neatly polished shoes. Lecturing is good. Imagine you’re standing behind a lecturn and addressing the nation with some really serious news. That will strike the right note. There’s no place for light heartedness, and certainly no room for jokes. Don’t crack a smile. Stop sniggering at the back.

We say, relax a bit. A little humour will get you a long way. Everyone likes to smile, so don’t be afraid to have fun with your content.

Design is unnecessary frippery. Your content speaks for itself. A great big slab of unbroken text is just what your readers want. Pictures are for primary school kids, white space is wasted space. Fill all the available area with your wonderful words. A good look to aim for is an old fashioned encyclopedia page. Readers just love to roll their sleeves up and get stuck into heavyweight content like that.

Or maybe not. Make your content easy to read, choose images that lift the text, let the words breathe, scaffold your content with helpful headers that let readers scan and guide them through to the end. Yada, yada, yada. You know what works for you.

But if you need help creating valuable content, then get in touch.

On your mark, get set, GO!

win with content marketing

You know you need to produce first class content to market your business, but how do you set yourself up for gold medal winning success?

Just like an athlete, you need to plan, prepare and train. Putting together the right content mix for your business needs inspiration and dedication, not to mention, stamina. Here’s our quick guide to creating content that wins.

1. On your marks…

Preparation is key. Before you step out onto the track with your new content, make sure you know what you’re trying to achieve. Do the thinking and planning, and don’t rush this stage.

Key to the preparation phase is research, talking, and listening.

Ask yourself: am I clear what my business is all about? Do I know what I want to sell, and who I want to buy it? Can I sum up my niche in a sentence?

If you can describe your dream clients in detail – you know the questions they are asking, and the content you can create to supply the answers – then it sounds like you’re ready to………

2. Get set…

Get your platform right. You’ll need a solid web platform for all your valuable content.

Marketing with content puts a lot pressure on your website. An athlete wouldn’t attempt a marathon in a pair of tired old trainers, and you shouldn’t try to market your business with a website that isn’t properly designed for the job.

For starters you need an integrated blog, and a sound content management system, all wrapped up in beautiful user friendly design. Once yours is finely tuned, and you’re proud to send people heading its way, then it’s time to …

3. GO!

Start sharing all that lovely valuable content. Get it up on your website, blog regularly, distribute it via social media, label it for search engines, take it wider, share it with the world on other websites.

You’re developing powerful networks but don’t forget the human touch. You may be sending your content far and wide, but it’s still you that people need to connect with. Building trust is one of the most powerful things you can do with your content, so make sure there’s a real sense of you at the heart of all you create.

4…and keep going

Measure, refine, learn….and continue. Marketing with content is definitely a marathon not a sprint, and it’s consistency that will bring you success. Keep at it. Turn out even when you don’t feel like it. Deepen the value over time. Make it a habit – be valuable for life.

Think like a champion – believe in yourself, take action, put in the hard work, continue, have patience, deliver results, listen, learn, hold the faith – and just like a gold medal winning athlete, success will come.

Good luck!

Is your website too pushy?

Creating the right content is crucial, but so is presenting it in the right way. We say, give it freely to build trust. If you don’t, your website will feel like this.

If you like this, you might also like Does Your Website Say the Right Things?

The art of the sales follow-up

Sales follow up robots

Not everyone will buy at the first sales meeting.

Inertia, lack of time, budget constraints, other more pressing matters to deal with – there are many valid reasons why the first sales meeting does not immediately lead to a sale. Yet according to research only 20% of sales leads are ever followed up. That’s a shining pile of sales opportunity lost without a trace, simply due to lack of good follow up.

Valuable content makes for perfect sales follow-up. Instead of strong-arm closing or increasingly desperate demands for a decision, keep the dialogue open by sending your prospect information that they will value – the saw this and thought of you strategy.

Send a link to industry news and research that proves the urgency of the approach you recommended.

Write an article that reminds them of the benefits of your solution and nudges them towards the sale.

Invite them to join your mailing list and send valuable newsletters and updates build trust and keep you front of mind until they are ready to buy.

Valuable content can also be used at the proposal / presentation stage and to keep in touch after putting in a proposal without seeming pushy. The content has to stay relevant. If the client feels that they have been put on a database and sent a generic email you will lose their credibility and enthusiasm. Be valuable, stay relevant.

Valuable content can really ease the sales process at every step. Use it to help you open doors, nurture those leads and build stronger relationships with clients and customers.

If you need help creating content to win you sales, get in touch.

Why interruption marketing is a waste of time

do not disturb - interruption marketing is a lost cause

Interruption marketing is a lost cause. Here’s why you need to focus on content instead.

Scenario 1
I need a new phone. I ask my friends what models they recommend. I search on the internet, compare prices, features and deals. I make a decision based on the information I find, and I buy a new phone.

Scenario 2
I want to watch something on 4OD. Ads for HTC phones keep popping up. Clicking on the X makes them open, not close. I get annoyed. I’m offered a survey in preference to an ad. That won’t go away either so I end up with 15 open ads/survey windows, and no TV show. I give up, listen to the radio instead, and vow to never ever ever buy an HTC phone.

Interruptions are annoying

Not only does interruption marketing not work for me, it is completely counterproductive. And I’m not the only one. Being forced to watch something when you’re trying to do something else doesn’t please anyone. Why would you want to make potential customers angry?

How great content helps spread the word

The company would have been far better making some brilliant phones, and then creating some fantastic content that tells the story of how their phones work and how they help their users. If they were great phones, I believe I would have heard about them on my social networks. We all love to share good stuff. Great content spreads and takes root on the web, and I’ve have found it at the right time – e.g. the time when I was looking for information about phones, and not trying to watch something else.

Why we love Valuable Content

The reason we put our time and creative energy into marketing with content is because we know it works. It doesn’t turn potential customers off. It’s means you’re there when potential clients want you – being all helpful and useful and saying exactly the right stuff. And it means you’re not wasting your time being all pushy and persistent when they don’t. Interruption marketing makes no sense. Respect the ‘do not disturb’ and just say ‘no’ to it!

If you want help creating the kind of content that won’t make potential clients scream at their laptops, then get in touch.

Is your website self-obsessed?

dinner party

Ever sat next to someone at a dinner party who talks about themselves non stop, and doesn’t ask you any questions at all? Or been cornered by a party guest who gives you their whole life history without pausing for breath?

Being talked at, rather than listened to, is a sure fire way to make people seek solace elsewhere. And this same self obsession affects websites too. If your website is all ‘me, me, me’ you can guarantee people will be slipping off to refill their glasses, probably never to return.

5 traits of dinner party bores to avoid with your website

1. The waffler. They’re talking, but you don’t actually know what they’re saying. Perhaps they’re trying to impress you, but all it’s doing is making you assess the quickest route to to door. Make sure your site is easy to understand, written in the language your clients use.
2. The show off. Jacinta got 6 A starred A levels, Tarquin is really terribly accomplished on the mandolin, and Geoffrey’s being knighted. By all means, be proud of all your business has achieved, but a little humility doesn’t go amiss.
3. The terribly shy tongue tied one. Opposite to the show off, but sometimes just as trying. Your website needs to have something to say, a clear message that potential clients can relate to.
4. The monotone drone. Everything they say is tinged with grey. It’s not that the words are inherently dull, but the delivery makes you want to put your head on the table and weep or sleep. Make sure your content is presented in an engaging way. Changes in pace, variations in tone – how you say it is as important as what you’re saying.
5. The flibbertigibbet. One second they’re talking about house prices, then it’s Kate’s diminishing figure, then it’s ooh have you caught up with the Wire and isn’t coriander a vastly underrated herb? Quite frankly, you can’t keep up, so you switch off. Don’t make the same mistake with your website, keep it focused so that people keep listening.

Is your website friendly or off putting? A broad mix of engaging content that shows you’re listening, as well as broadcasting, is the best way of keeping your audience interested. If you need help creating the kind of content that people will want to spend time with, then get in touch. There’s also lots of information on creating engaging websites in Valuable Content Marketing, able to pre-order on Amazon.

You might also like:
Five ways to get your business voice right
Five ways to make your home page a hit

Does your website say the right things?

Potential clients arrive at your website with questions, and you’ve got a very short time to show them that you have the answers.

Many businesses make the mistake of assuming all visitors will want is to check out your history, and see what kind of people you are. Underline your heritage, show your human side by slapping up a bit of company news and Bob’s your uncle.

If that’s your approach, then think again.

If you don’t understand your clients’ particular needs, and create content that addresses their questions, then your website very probably feels like this one….

You might also like Is Your Website Too Pushy?

It’s not you, it’s me

it's not you, it's me.

It’s a terrible break up line, and a bad premise for a website, yet it’s a mistake that many businesses make with their web marketing. Creating a site that focuses on your business, rather than your customer’s concerns won’t win you many fans.

If you think of your website as an online brochure, a place to promote your services and list your achievements, then it’s unlikely to bring you many leads. It’s a sad fact of life that people don’t really care about your business. What they care about is what your business can do for them. How can you help them?

But surely, you might say, my company website has to be about my company? And you’d be right, in a way. It’s a matter of reframing what you do, and seeing it through the eyes of potential clients. It means putting everything you’re writing through a customer reality check.

Does your customer care that your business was established in 1853, and that you have delightful waterside offices, or do they want to see that you understand the issues they’re facing, and that you have the answers?

This is where valuable content comes in. By creating a lot of helpful content that directly addresses the issues your clients are wrestling with you can show rather than tell that your business can help. Building a bank of genuinely useful stuff, and having it upfront on your website home page is a great way of letting potential clients know they’ve come to the right place. A blog, where you share what you know and give away knowledge for free, speaks far more loudly of a generous approach than any number of awards.

There is a place for your business history and heritage on your website – by all means include it in your About Us section – but make sure it’s outweighed 10, 20, or even 100 to one, by pieces of content that are really valuable to your clients.

How to make your website all about your client, not you.

Valuable checklist – does your website include?
A blog which you update regularly.

Quick win articles – top tips – how-to guides offering useful advice that will help your clients right now.

A longer piece of content – a white paper or e- book -something to satisfy people looking for more depth and detail.

Video – not everyone likes to read, so getting your content into video format increases its accessibility. (NB the video has to be useful. Not you standing in front of your office saying ‘Established in 1853….’)

Case studies – more show, not tell, of the way you help your clients.

If you need help with creating a website that’s all about your clients, or with content creation for your current site, get in touch.

You might also like:

How great content gets you found
Know your audience
Creating case studies that sell

How to just do it!

stop procrastinating with writing

Writing – whether it’s blogs, newsletters or longer pieces of content – is the smartest way to spread the word about what you do.

However, getting down to the act of writing is difficult if you’re running your own business. It’s impossible to just drop everything and focus on writing alone – there’s so much else that needs your attention. And even when you do get the time, suddenly other things seem more pressing. Should I check my email? Tidy my desk? Have a cup of coffee?

Here are some things that help get writing done:

1. Think of the bigger picture.
The words you are writing are part of your big marketing plan. An easy small step in the right direction, not a huge unsurmountable hurdle. Get it into proportion and it won’t feel as hard.

2. Stop wasting time shivering on the edge, just leap in!
Open your computer, don’t turn on Twitter, don’t look at Facebook, don’t open email, just start writing. Once you start, you’ll get into the flow.

3. The sooner you start the sooner you finish.
Anticipate the end. Once you’ve done it, it’s done, and it won’t have to be done again. Get on with it!

4. Promise yourself a treat.
It works for small children and for grown ups too. 400 words and I can go for a walk/have a cake/make that phone call.

5. Remove yourself.
Write somewhere different, away from the distractions of your usual working day. A quiet meeting room, a café, a library, even a different desk. 

6. Make a commitment.
Deadlines work, (it’s the only way we ever get our writing done!)

7. Carve out some real time, and protect it from other demands.
Five minutes a day to record your ideas in a blog diary, half an hour to plan a blog (and write one too, once you’re really up and running), an hour and a half to write something that addresses the question that keeps coming up, and get it up on your website.

Writing really will make all the difference to your business, so set aside the time, and keep to it. What works for you? We’d love to know.