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Tag Archives: blogging

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.

How to find stuff to write about

pebbles on a beach

Creating the kind of content that your clients want is the best way of raising your profile and winning more business, but knowing exactly what to write about can feel like a hurdle. How can your make your valuable content hit the mark?

Five ways to get your content on target

1) Listen What kind of questions do clients ask you? This blog post was prompted like that. People are always asking us ‘but what can I write about?’ so we’re confident this post is going to find a readership of people who are thinking about their marketing, who may want help from us at some time, or who would be happy to refer us people who know useful stuff about content.

Keep a notebook. Jot down the questions you’re asked. Answer them with 5 bullet points. Each question will form the basis of a short blog post.

2) Research What are the big questions in your market? A quick jaunt around the relevant LinkedIn groups, or the liveliest forum in your industry will show you the issues that are raising a stir. Look at upcoming conferences – what are the speaker topics?

Pick the topic that catches your eye. Draft a simple Q and A blog post that deals with the topic from the point of view of your customers. Don’t worry about being a ‘thought leader’ (you don’t have to give the lecture!) Write about the subject as if you were explaining its relevance to a favourite client. What would they want to know about it?

3) Interview Uncover your inner journalist and interview a client, an expert from your team, or someone in your industry that you admire. Ask them the questions your clients would ask you.

Use the interview as a podcast on your website, or the edited transcript as the basis for a blog post. Or two.

4) Survey 92% of people believe everything they read in surveys. Okay, so we made that up, but there’s nothing like some interesting data to grab headlines, and make an interesting read.

Try LinkedIn or Surveymonkey. There are plenty of web tools that will let you do this for free. Frame the questions in terms your target market cares about. Use what you find for a blog post, or as fuel for an email marketing campaign.

5) Repurpose What content are you sitting on? Most companies, if they do a quick audit, will realise they’re sitting on valuable nuggets of content gold e.g presentations, research created for a different context, information your wrote for sales proposals – even printed guides lying around.

With a bit of reworking you can get these online and make them available to a wide audience. Make the most of what you’ve already got!

Quick tips to keep ideas coming your way

1. Ask your clients and prospects – there’s nothing better than a direct, face-to-face chat.
2. Listen in to the top commentators or bloggers in your field – they have their ear to the ground.
3.Set up Google Alerts on key terms to find out what’s being talked about on the web.
4. Twitter Search tools (e.g.Twilert) are useful – see what’s trending on Twitter.
5. Which of your blog posts get the most comment? Write more on that subject.
6. What questions do you get frequently asked by clients in sales meetings? Answer them with a blog.
7. Guest blog. Ask a related expert to write on your blog, and return the favour next month.
8. Share an infographic that explains things clearly from a different angle- look at Pinterest for inspiration.

Five reasons not to blog

closed sign - reasons not to blog

You don’t have to write a blog. It’s not the law. Here are five popular reasons not to do it.

1.You can’t be bothered. Really, what’s the point? Your marketing is working fine, you don’t need any more clients, thank you very much.

If you’ve got a steady stream of leads, and more of the kind of work you want to do than you can handle already, then maybe you don’t need to blog. But if you’d like to pull in additional leads, get referred more, and build your business, then maybe you should give it a go.

2. You don’t want to give information away. And why would you? You worked hard to learn all this stuff, publishing it for free is a crazy idea.

People buy from people they trust, and it’s hard for people to trust your expertise if it’s all locked away in your head. Sharing some of your ideas and experiences in a blog is a great way to show not only what you know, but your individual approach. Being helpful and sharing pays off. As far as know I haven’t lost any writing work through writing about how to write.

3. You’ve got nothing new to say. The internet is awash with blogs. The world doesn’t need another one.

Well, yes, that’s true. But you do have something original to say. Think about the way you solve your particular clients problems and write from that perspective. Don’t worry about being a world authority on your subject, just be the great guy who knows his stuff and gets it done.

4. You’re not a writer,you’re a lawyer/architect/IFA/designer/*insert your own job title here.

True, but you probably can write well enough. Be clear, to the point, and avoid jargon. Don’t think of it as an essay written to impress, write it as you would say it, and you’ll find your voice. (And if that doesn’t work, you can always cheat and get someone like me to write it for you.)

5. You’ve got writer’s block. You know you need to do it, but the blank page is staring at you and try as you might, it just won’t work.

We’ve all been there, but the way to get out of it is to take action. Write something silly, write something provocative, write anything. The act of crafting ideas into words will get things moving, and once you’re in the flow you can switch back to the subject you’re supposed to be writing about. Or not. The best blogs sometimes start in the strangest places.

This blog was supposed to be ‘How to write a brilliant article,’ but I was distracted by helpful Twitter responses to my question ‘what holds your writing back?’ That one’s coming next, so watch this space.

Know your audience

cinema audience in 3D glasses

It’s possible to fill your website with a constant stream of content without making more sales. Content alone won’t do your business any good. Untargeted content is just white noise, irritating and easy to ignore.

The valuable kind of content is the type that hits home, that makes people feel you’re talking directly to them. So how do you go about creating that sort?

Understanding why people buy from you is key to creating the right kind of content. You’ve got to know your audience.

Knowing that will help you shape your content. Let’s think of an example.

Greenleaves is an environmental design consultancy. They’ve read a bit about content marketing, they’ve started a blog, and joined Twitter, but haven’t seen any benefit. It’s like nobody’s listening.

And that’s probably because nobody is listening, because they don’t know their audience. They clarify their clients as ‘medium sized companies in the residential, industrial and commercial sector.’ Way too vague. If you try and talk to everybody at once, you end up speaking to no-one.

Understand your USP

Greenleaves’ problem was they didn’t understand what was different about them, so the content they were creating was too generic. There are dozens of environmental design consultancies offering holistic approaches to planning and design so their blogs about planning law and waste management floated unread in the ether.

It was talking to their clients that helped them define their USP. Asking direct questions, ‘why do you enjoy working with us?’ revealed a different answer to the one they had been expecting. It was their connections to other experts that their clients most valued. Working with them was easy and rewarding because they knew the right people. They were a small company that offered a much bigger service through their expert network.

Knowing this gave their content some direction. Writing blog pieces that emphasised their joined up approach was a start. Getting guest blogs from their affiliated experts began to build their site as a hub of environmental design expertise. Understanding their USP gave them a voice and a picture of the kind of person they were talking to.

They discovered their strongest advocates were those in the residential sector; industrial and commercial set ups favoured bigger outfits. More fine tuning of their direction made a difference. Now they could produce content with real readers in mind – the blogs became livelier, more relevant, and gave a clearer picture of their company as the kind who really knew their stuff.

Blair Enns talks about demonstrating knowledge a mile deep and an inch wide. Far better to be an expert in something, than know a little about everything. Knowing your audience means you can specialise and demonstrate expertise.

What does your audience want?

So you’ve specialised. You’re focused on your target. You know who they are, what they look like, what they had for breakfast (okay, maybe not that.) But what do they want to hear from you? How do you make your content relevant for your audience?

You need to see things from your customer’s point of view. Understand their business, and how what you’re offering helps them.

Help is the key here. Making yourself useful is at the heart of the valuable content marketing strategy.

Three ways to get to know your audience better

1. Go to the right places
Networking with your audience, both the real and the virtual kind, is crucial. You need to know the word on the street if you want to be part of it. Learning to speak the right language happens much faster if you immerse yourself in it.

2. Listen
Content marketing is a two way thing. It’s not all about shouting ‘me me me‘, it’s more ‘you, you, you.‘ Take some time to read comments on forums, ask questions at networking events, give people a chance to talk about themselves so that you understand their challenges.

3. Ask your clients for feedback
Put some searching and detailed questions to your existing clients.

Be specific – why did you choose our service? what did we offer that our competitors didn’t? have you learnt anything from us that has changed your way of working?

This kind of feedback is invaluable for businesses. Providing you’re doing a good job, you’ll gather some useful material for your website and marketing materials. If you’re not doing a good job, then you need to know that too so that you can make changes. So ask away.

We can help you define your market and get to grips with you USP, and create the kind of content your audience will love. Call on 07985 015300

Be the expert

front cover of romance novel

‘Show not tell’ is the advice given to writers, and it holds true for business.

In a novel I don’t want to be told that the hero is gorgeous.  Let me see how women react to him.  Let me hear what he says. Make me fall in love with him too.
And the same goes for business marketing.  Don’t tell me your customer service is great, show me how your services help people like me.  Be specific. Details matter.
Demonstrating your expertise is a good way of showing, not telling, that you’re top of your game.
Canadian Business guru Blair Enns, founder of Win Without Pitching http://www.winwithoutpitching.com/founder advocates demonstrating knowledge an inch wide and a mile deep.  Really knowing your stuff puts you in a much more powerful marketing position than knowing a little about a lot.
Case studies, published either on your website, or as part of a broader marketing campaign, are a great way of showing how your business operates and adds value.
Clearly demonstrating how your business solved a client’s problem – resulting in increased turnover, happier staff, a new contract – is the best kind of marketing.  Show how your services boost the bottom line figures, and you’ve demonstrated your expertise.
Experts have opinions, so share yours.  Write the paper, talk at the conference, blog about what’s new, keep your website up to date. Be seen and heard.
And the best bit about this kind of marketing? It’s not expensive. You don’t need glossy adverts, you just need to able to write.  Or know someone who does.