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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.

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.

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.

“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.

Why social media is crucial for your content

Hansel and Gretel cottage

Creating fantastically valuable content for your marketing is vital, but great content doesn’t spread itself.  Without help it can sit on your website, untroubled by visitors, and not reach the desks and minds of the people it was written to engage. Something is needed to get your content from A to B, and that something is social media.

Social media is your biggest content distribution tool. If you Tweet about your blogs, you will lead people straight to your website, where they’ll find the article that piqued their interest, and dozens more on subjects they may well be interested in too. The content works to demonstrate your expertise and build trust, generating good leads and sales.

Think of it as the candy-covered cottage that lured Hansel and Gretel to the witch’s lair. (Then stop thinking that, because you’re not doing bad stuff and eating children- you’re good guys.) But by advertising yourself with the kind of things that will attract your audience (like sweets – kids, it’s a no-brainer), you’ll get people to the place you want them to be. It’s a big spooky old wood out there, and you need something that guides people through it. The tasters of your blogs, written in the form of compelling headlines, are the neon fruit gums that will shine in a pathway to your website.

“Social media didn’t create content marketing, but it’s an unsurpassed tool for getting it distributed.”Copyblogger

One of the biggest points of Twitter, or Google+, is as a way of getting your content seen by a really wide selection of people. As a networking tool, it’s hard to beat, putting you in contact with far more people than you could ever hope to meet in the real world. Your growing network of followers will see what you’ve written straight away, and if they like it they’ll share it with their contacts, who in turn might share it with theirs, and so on, and so on. Valuable content creates a ripple effect, spreading your ideas across the web, to your kind of audience and often across the world.

If you’re writing a blog, you need to embrace social media – it’s not an optional extra. Otherwise all your wonderful words of wisdom will gather dust, which would be a big old waste of time. If you write it, you want people to read it – and social media is a great way of leading people to your content.

Valuable content rules for social media

There are many different social media options and there will be others to come, but if you want to get the best results across any social media/social network the same rules apply. Here are 7 valuable content rules to help you, whichever social medium you select:

  1. Be there. Social media IS important – join the conversation or you’re missing a trick – be sociable, communicate on the platforms. And be consistent – show up regularly.
  2. Be valuable. Be helpful, entertaining, educate your clients – not self-promoting, annoying or boring – stop talking about yourself – know your customers – become a valuable source of information for others. All the valuable rules apply.
  3. Be generous, generous in the content and information you share, and generous to others – share other people’s content even more than your own – if it is valuable to your kind of customers, then share it – even if it’s a competitor who has created it. Chris Brogan, President of Human Business Works, and a genuine social media expert says to make 10 tweets about others for ever one tweet you make about yourself. Become known as someone who offers things up to others, and eventually people will come to you.
  4. Be interesting. Mix it up – all sorts of different types of content. Have something to say.
  5. Be human. People want to do business with those they know, like and trust – get people to know a little more about you – not just the work you, but the whole of you, or at least a bit of you – as much as you feel willing to openly.
  6. Be on message. Talk around your business mission – not relentlessly, but let the golden thread shine through your message so it’s clear to those that follow you what you stand for.
  7. Be polite. Say thanks to those that follow and share your stuff. And “remember your ABC – always be crediting.” (hat tip to Charles H Green for this one).

Your stream of tweets or your Facebook feed are bite sized chunks of content – make them valuable to your customers, share yours and others’ stuff, get people to get to know you – to know, like and trust you, and they’ll remember you when the time comes to buy, or recommend you when others need to do so.