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Category Archives: More valuable content

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.

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.

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

“We also go to Antarctica” – or why you need more valuable content on your website

alps in summertime. image for 'why you need more valuable content.'

Scene 1. A woman enters travel agency.

Woman: Hello, I’m thinking of going on a walking trip to the Alps.
Travel agent: I see madam, we’re excellent at walking trips to the Alps.
Woman: That’s good. Can you tell me a bit more?
Travel agent: We’re excellent at walking trips to the Alps. We also organise walking trips to Corsica, the Pyrenees and Majorca.
Woman: Nice, but I’m interested in the Alps.
Travel Agent: We’re excellent at walking trips to the Alps. We also go to Antarctica.
Woman: Goodbye.

Scene 2. A woman enters travel agency

Woman: Hello, I’m thinking of going on a walking trip to the Alps.
Travel agent: I can help you with that, we organise walking trips to the Alps.
Woman.: That’s good. Can you tell me a bit more?
Travel agent: When were you thinking of going?
Woman: I’m not sure.
Travel agent. This guide to the best times to travel might help you decide. Take it, it’s free.
Woman: Thanks. Summertime probably. My partner is very interested in Alpine plant life.
Travel agent: This might help, it’s our guide to the Flora and Fauna of the Alps. We’ve highlighted the best walks, and put in the details of the places you can stay on the way.
Woman: Thanks. But to be honest, I’m not that interested in the flowers. Is there anything else for me to do while he’s hunting Edelweiss? Something a bit more exciting?
Travel agent: Try this video ‘Ten amazing Alps experiences.’ We made it last year on one of our adventure trips. It’s pretty awesome. Especially the paragliding bit. Amazing views.’
Woman: Thank you, you’ve been really helpful. I’ll get back to you.

Okay, so that’s all pretty unrealistic, but you get the idea. Your website is the travel agency. It’s no good having lots and lots of destinations on offer, if you can’t demonstrate that you know the places inside out. Huge websites with multiple service pages that say ‘we’re excellent at this,’ but which don’t offer further routes to explore won’t engage people.
You need the kind of helpful content your clients are looking for to show that you know your stuff. The right content will keep them interested, help them make a choice, and trust you. And that’s the bottom line. ‘We also go to Antarctica’ will leave you out in the cold.

If you want help creating the right content for your website, call me on 07985 015300.

A really quick guide to the main 4 social media platforms

Alphabet - Number 4 from old Manual Typewriter.

Not all social media channels are the same; different channels have their own rules of engagement. You’ll be using them all for the same aim – to pull people back towards your website, and to expand your network- but it’s good to know the terrain so you can blend in like a natural.

Twitter

As a business this is likely to be your number one marketplace for sharing your blogs, networking, engaging with potential clients. At present it’s by far the most popular way of sharing a business-related blog article. Twitter is a really broad church: it can work as well for professional services firms as party planners. You choose who you follow, so you can build up a targeted list of people that you’d like to connect with. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, so there’s no room for waffle. It’s possible to build really powerful connections on Twitter, fantastic both as a way of attracting people to your content, and expanding your network.

Facebook

The biggest social sharing networking site in the world. You’ll find big brands there, as well as pages for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Facebook works by sharing your content with your friends, who in turn share it with theirs and so it spreads. ‘Like’ something on Facebook, and potentially it will be seen by thousands.  Fun, lively, crowded. Great for some businesses, not so good for others (see: Should your business be on Facebook?)

Linkedin

The professional networking site, much less frivolous than Facebook, space to say more than on Twitter. A great place to publicise your blogs, connect with peers and potential clients. Commenting on other people’s discussions, and starting your own threads is great for raising your profile, although our ‘help, don’t sell’ mantra still holds. With over 100 million users worldwide, and highly ranked by Google, it’s invaluable for business networking.

Google+

Launched in 2011, this is currently big in the States, and becoming bigger in the UK too. Secure a presence here if you want to make the most of Google’s enhanced search function. Social sharing is going to dominate search engine rankings over the coming years – Google will deliver results search results based on what people are saying and recommending to each other, over and above simple keyword searches, so it’s useful to make a start here. We like the way it allows you to choose who you share information with, and it’s very intuitive to use – easy to update, easy to upload pictures and videos. Much less cluttered and intrusive than Facebook.

We’re conscious, writing this, that the landscape is changing fast. There are many other tools and the ones we mention today will date, but one thing we’re confident of is that embracing social media is crucial to the success of marketing your business with valuable content.

Stop, look, and edit

wait before you publish blog

If your New Year’s goal was to blog more for your business, then we congratulate you. Creating a steady stream of valuable content really is the best way to carve out your niche and get your message out to the right people.

Once you’ve got into the swing of writing, you’ll come to recognise the euphoria that accompanies the finishing of a great blog article. There will be five minutes when what you’ve just written is the most important thing that’s ever been written in the entire world on that subject. There’s not a moment to waste – you have to share it now, this very second, your life and the sanity of the world depends upon it!

There’s also a drive to be finished with it, particularly if you’re in the grip of the resolution fuelled New Year’s spirit. Ticking it off your things-to-do list would make you feel better, so you’re itching to upload.

The very best thing to do now is not to press send, but to save the document, close it, and go back and look at again tomorrow with clearer, more cynical eyes.

Just a few hours distance should make you better able to check the piece for the following common mistakes.

Five things to do before you press ‘publish’

1. Is it on target? It felt like it was at the time, but writing can be deceptive sometimes. Ask yourself if it is genuinely useful for your clients?  It might be that some simple tweaking is all that’s needed to pull it back in line, or it might be that you need to put it on hold for longer. Great ideas are never wasted, but they do need the right format to fly. Don’t be scared of pulling something if you know it’s not right.
2. Have you missed any words out? Easily done when the prose is flying. Check your copy slowly and carefully to make sure it makes sense.
3. Have you repeated words? Again, it’s a common mistake when you’re writing fast. Check again.
4. Is it spelt correctly? Is it the right word? Spell check picks up most errors – but it won’t pick up mis-substituted words. Don’t let something go out until it makes perfect sense.
5. Is the grammar right? Developing a natural and engaging tone of voice doesn’t mean you can stop writing proper, like.  Inaccurate grammar halts readers in their tracks, and it makes your writing hard to understand.  If you’re not sure, ask someone else to check too. Even if you are sure, a second pair of eyes is never a bad idea.

So, do start writing, and keep at it, but make sure you build a window of editing and reflection time into your blogging schedule. And Happy New Year!

Related posts

Apostrophe catastrophes and how to avoid them

The 7 deadly word sins

How to write less, and say more

Does your website look like the result of panic Christmas buying?

house covered in Christmas lights

So, you’ve left it too late. The shops are closing soon and you haven’t even got half way down your list. What do you do – grab the nearest thing and hope it will do?

If the answer’s ‘yes’, then the chances are your loved ones are going to be a bit disappointed.

There are websites out there that look like they’ve been flung together in a panic too, and they’re a similar let down for users.

Here’s our seasonal guide to making sure your website’s a cracker, not a turkey.

Think about your audience. When you’re Christmas shopping, it’s a mistake to assume the same gift will do for everyone. Auntie May might like the lavender bath salts collection, but will your sister? And your brother-in-law? It’s the same with websites. Give serious thought to the people who will be using it. What content do your customers actually want to find? Take the time to find out, and give them that.

Think valuable, not just any old content. Wrapping something in expensive paper won’t distract from the fact it’s a rubbish present. A value pack of socks from Primark is still a value pack of socks from Primark, even if you wrap it up in the shiniest loveliest paper in the world. Paying for design and forgetting about the content has the same effect. It leaves people feeling a bit short changed.

Less is more. Covering everything with tinsel and fake snow and flashing lights doesn’t automatically make something better. Minimalism can be as effective when it comes to decorations, as it does with websites. Think of those web pages that cram everything in – they leave you with a headache rather than a feeling of goodwill to all men. Less can definitely be more when it comes to page design.

Music quickly becomes irritating on websites, just as Christmas carols played on a tinny loop in a shop make people want to scream. Slade’s Merry Christmas is fun once, okay twice, and any more than that and you’re pushing your luck. We feel that way about music on websites. Anything that blares out when you’re not expecting it is annoying, rather than jolly and fun.

Be surprising. Ever had the same gift, year after year? Does your heart sink at the sight of a hexagonal box? You didn’t even really like Turkish Delight eight years ago, and there it is again, lurking under the tree. Not updating your content can leave users with the same heart sink feeling. Keep your website supplied with new blogs, and they’ll look forward to finding out what you’re giving them this time.

So, the motto is think carefully, and be generous! (And if you were thinking of buying me a gift, steer clear of turkish delight.)

How to get the best results from your content writer


Content writers are greedy. We devour information. This is why.

The best and most valuable content distills your expertise, approach, and experience into copy that connects with readers. All the research, reading, talking and thinking goes into the distillation, so for the best results, give us lots to go on. To stretch the analogy probably one step too far, giving us a rich and varied diet leads to copy akin to the best malt whiskey – interesting, with depth, layers, heritage and a kick. With nothing to go on, the best we can manage is weak tea.

So to get the best from us you need to feed us a lot. Here’s what we like to eat.

1. Your current website. Why are you reworking the site? What don’t you like about it? Which elements are successful? Talk it through with us before you take it down.
2. Any marketing material you’ve produced in the past. We know it’s out of date, but it helps us get a feel for your business.
3. Blogs, articles in journals, anything you’ve already written around your subject. It will help orientate us in your area of expertise, and will also spark ideas and questions for future blogs. Content writers are always looking for connections – to clients, organisations, groups that we can make links with through the new website. The more we’ve got to go on, the better the results will be.
4. Sales letters, recruitment ads. Both useful for helping see how you define your proposition.
5. Back of an envelope stuff. You know that lunch you had, where you had that really brilliant idea about where the business was going, so you wrote it down and you were going to send that memo but something else happened and you didn’t get round to it…….well, dig it out and give it to us. Turning ideas and thoughts into concrete copy is what you’re paying us to do, so share your ideas, and we’ll be able to do it for you.
6. Minutes from meetings. Meetings where you discussed branding, marketing, or finding new customers are useful background. Don’t be shy, let us read them.
7. Conversations with your clients. Really important, this one. We always start content writing from the point of view of your client. How do you help them? How does your business solve their problems? Talking to your clients and customers is the best way of getting to the heart of this, so put us in touch and let us talk.

What if you don’t have any of the above? What if it’s a new business? Then just talk to us. Creating web content is a collaborative process so carve out some space in your diary. We’ll come to you, ask you lots of questions, record our conversation and get the information that way.

At Valuable Content we’ve put together a questionnaire to kick start web projects – lots of structured questions that help us shape your content and define your message. Call me if you’d like to know more.