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Tag Archives: clients

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?

Should your business be on Facebook?

facebook logo

Big brands like Coca-cola and Mcdonalds have embraced it, your customers and clients probably have personal accounts, setting up a page is free, and very easy. Should your business be there too? Our view on this is a resounding “it depends”.

Take the Valuable Content quick quiz to help you decide whether to get friendly with Facebook, or to market your business on other social media platforms.

1. Are you in the travel, food, hospitality or leisure industry?
2. Do you have lots of good pictures and video content to share?
3. Does your business interest people beyond their working lives?
4. Does your business inspire people? Do you have a meaningful mission?

If the answer’s ‘yes’ to all the above, then Facebook is for you.

5. When you talk about your business at dinner parties do people’s faces light up?
6. Is your business a source of great anecdotes?
7. Do you help your clients achieve a transferable skill, something not purely work based?
8. Does your business create loyal fans who love to share what you do?

If the answer’s ‘no’, then we’d suggest you divert your energies elsewhere.

Why we think Facebook is right for some businesses and not for others

Facebook is a social network; rather it’s still the social network. Facebook’s millions of users update their status’s regularly with personal stuff. Where they’re going, how they’re feeling, what they did last night. They share things that make them laugh, rant about things that annoy them, laugh, talk, flirt, argue. All human life is there, sometimes in rather more detail than you actually wanted. In short it’s a vibrant, noisy, lively place where people let their hair down. If your business fits well into this upbeat, social environment, then starting a Facebook page for your business is an excellent idea.

However for an accountancy business, or a firm of commercial surveyors, we’d suggest that maybe Facebook isn’t the right place to be. Ask yourself whether the updates you’d be able to post will look at ease between your neighbour’s holiday snaps and a video of a cat playing the violin. We’d venture that “Don’t forget to file your tax return by Thursday!” or “Is your business compliant with the Code for Leasing Business Practises 2007?” won’t make you any friends. You’ll be the person standing in the corner at the party asking for the music to be turned down, the one wearing a suit on dress down Friday.

Is your business Facebook-friendly? We’d love to know.

Come and tell us on the Valuable Content Facebook page – it’s a bit lonely!

More on social media
Why social media is crucial for your content
How to write great Twitter headlines
How to make Linkedin love you

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

Reflect and learn from the highs and lows

iceberg

In the rush to get things finished off this time of year it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.

Reviewing what’s working best in your business is important, so if you can spare some time to look back and reflect on your successes and the things that haven’t gone to plan, it will stand you in good stead for starting 2012 with renewed energy and purpose.

Jot some ideas down – the act of writing will help you think. And to get you started, here’s a very rough list of the highs and lows of the Valuable Content year – and the lessons we’ve learnt.

Highs

Getting your message straight is the single most important thing you can do. This year we’ve developed and refined a process that helps businesses see their services from their customers point of view. Translating this message into compelling content has created the basis for some great websites that are bringing in new business for our clients.

We’re going to push this service more in 2012.

Getting a book deal. It’s a big pressure, but we know it’s going to be worth it. Writing the book on Valuable Content Marketing will raise our profile, and the process of writing will really sharpen our thinking.

We’re going to publish the book in 2012.

Getting to grips with the importance of design. Of course we knew design was important, but we’re completely converted to the crucial part design functionality plays in making your content accessible.

We’re going to to build our connections with great designers, so we can offer the very best websites for our clients.

Blogging works
. It’s been lovely to see some of our new converts to creating valuable content really getting to grips with it and pulling in leads for their business. Writing is a confidence thing, and it’s been really rewarding to see happy people making it work.

We’re going to keep spreading the message in 2012, and making it as easy as possible for our clients to keep writing for their businesses.

Lows

Most of the projects we’ve worked on this year have run smoothly, but of course working life isn’t all plain sailing. Where it hasn’t worked so well, it’s been partly because clients haven’t been completely sure about the purpose and benefits of our approach. Maybe we didn’t make our processes clear enough, perhaps they just didn’t like the idea. We know ‘help, don’t sell works’ but maybe it’s a leap of faith too far for some. Our approach demands some serious thinking and information gathering from our clients. If you don’t commit to the whole process, we won’t be able to help you.

We’re going to make sure we’re getting our message across clearly. We’re going to make sure top people are engaged in the process before we start. We’ll choose the right people to work with us in 2012

What’s on your list? What have you learnt? We’d love to know.

Oh, and a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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.

How content gets you found

illustration of man on top of a mountain

I’m doing some research for a new project – writing landing pages for a Pay Per Click web campaign – and I’ve been assessing my client’s competition.

The pages are for a legal practice, so it’s a very crowded market, yet one firm keep coming up top, again and again. And the thing that’s keeping them there is a very simple piece of valuable content.
This firm has created a straightforward and well written pdf document that answers all the ground level questions that I, (and I presume potential clients) will have on the subject. It’s not flashy, or particularly visual – nowhere near as comprehensive as an e-book – it simply lays out the key areas you need to understand.
Their expertise in the area isn’t explicitly referred to – but is implicit in the fact that they have created this ‘all you need to know’ document, and put their name to it.
For me, and potential clients at the information gathering stage of a project, resources like this are invaluable. We don’t want to ‘ring for a free appraisal’ – talking is something that comes a bit later, when you’ve orientated yourself in the area, and you know what you don’t know, and where you need help.
However their website would be the first I’d go to, if I wanted more information. And were I looking to pick up the phone to someone, they’d be top of my list, because they have already shown themselves to be understanding of my situation, authoritative, and ready to help.

Creating a valuable document to signpost people to your company

It’s not difficult to create this kind of valuable document, it just needs a clear understanding of your potential clients’ problems and a willingness to share your expertise. Here’s what you need to remember

1. Choose the right topic. What terms do people search for in your business? What are the most frequently asked questions from your newest clients? Build a document that addresses this, and get it up on your website as a simple download.
2. Don’t write the book. This law firm’s pdf worked because it answered the basic questions, and laid the ground rules. Going into too much detail would be a mistake here. Signposting documents aren’t the place to show off everything you know, rather they should answer clients first questions, and lead them to the next stage.
3. Think ‘quality’. Had this document been poorly written – stuffed with SEO filler words or simply not good to read – it would have had the opposite effect on me. Constantly being sent to a poor resource is irritating. If it’s going to surface again and again, make sure it stands up to all the attention.
4. Consider design. You don’t need to go overboard and invest in something too polished. Nor do you need images, it’s fine to produce something text only. However do think about typography –
a) pick a user friendly font.
b) consider judicious use of headlines to make your content easy to read on the web.
c) allow enough white space to give the words room to breathe.
d) break the text up into chunks. Potential clients are hungry for information, but they’ll still thank you for making it easy to digest.
e) Clear calls to action. This kind of document is the opposite of a hard sell sales piece, however you do want potential clients to know where you are once they’re ready to talk. Include some suggestions for further reading, and do include your contact details.

If you’d like my help putting together a valuable ‘signposting’ piece, call me on 07985 015300

Related posts:

How to stand out from the crowd

How great content gets you referrals – six rules to follow

How great content gets you referrals – six rules to follow

We all want to be remembered and recommended. The best leads come via our contacts, because the ground work is already done; you’ll already have been talked up, so there’s less explaining to do. Lucky sixes die

Your website should fill this role of referrer too, it should be full of useful content – tangible examples of how you help, so it’s easy for potential clients to remember you as ‘the people who….’

Writing memorable copy is what copywriters are paid to do – we create those catchy little phrases that hook brands and products into customers minds. But there’s more to it than that. You don’t need to be a copywriter to create unforgettable content, you just need to pay attention to the following rules.

Six rules for memorable content

Rule 1. Get to the point fast.  You know the way it is when someone asks for directions. ‘Left at the Queen Victoria pub, straight on, right at the second lights, third exit at mini roundabout, second on the right.’ All we remember is the ‘left at the Queen Vic’ bit. When you’re writing about what you do, be succinct. Don’t add too many layers to what you’re saying.  Say the most important bit, clearly, and deal with the rest separately. 

Rule 2. Shine a light on interesting details. There are hundreds of IT consultancies that deliver better systems and an abundance of leadership consultancies that help businesses develop their management teams. So how do you stand out?
a) Who do you work for? We met a Financial Advisor recently whose clients included many premiership footballers.  That kind of detail is great for referrals – he’s the man who advises top footballers.
b) What campaigns are you proudest of?  Be known as the people who got deliveries to customers in the harshest winter Britain has ever known.
c) What’s unique about your service? Is there anything you do very differently to your competitors that will improve the lives of your clients?  

Create content on your site that breathes life into these details, so that readers can quickly understand them and relate them to their own situations, and those of their friends and acquaintances. I mean content like case studies, Q and A’s, blogs – well written information that roots your offer in the real world. It’s show not tell, again.

Rule 3. Think heart not head when constructing your messages.
We remember things that pack an emotional punch more easily than those that are purely rational.  Do your potential clients care most about implementing their HR strategy, or do they just want a day when the phone isn’t ringing off the hook?  Consider how your services connect to your clients on a human level, and give these messages top billing on your website. Use these emotional hooks as the basis for strong home page messages with clear calls to action, and people will remember them. 

Rule 4. Engage, don’t preach. Back up your messages with content that demonstrates how your service makes their working lives easier – think about creating an ‘is this you?’ quiz, ‘service health checks’ video blogs as well as more traditional testimonials from happy clients. Engaging content will make your message stick.

Rule 5. Use memorable analogies.  Analogies and metaphors are great for bridging the gap between head and heart quickly.  They’re useful when you’re thinking about your key messages, and also when writing blogs that develop and deepen your theme. A word of warning though, similes and metaphors are powerful stuff. If you compare your help desk to a box of cats, no one’s going to forget it, so do think of comparisons that are useful as well as memorable.

Rule 6. Make people smile. Humour can be a tricky one on websites, and we wouldn’t advocate filling your site with a stream of ‘have you heard the one about the…..’ and Youtube viral funnies. But using wit in headlines and body copy,  and creating engaging content that surprises is a great way to get people to want to share your site with others.

Content is key to getting referrals. It’s the proof you need to show what you do, and it’s memorable material for your contacts to spread the message for you.

We help our clients create unforgettable messaging, and work with them to develop creative content that makes it come alive. Call us on 07985 01530

Make your offer crystal clear

ice cube or make your offer crystal clear

It’s the one thing that holds so many companies back, and it comes up time and time again. It seems obvious yet it ties people in knots. We’re talking about the question of clarity.

This month at Valuable Content we’ve been working on several projects distilling the messages of new clients, and working on masses of content creation for existing ones. We’ve been wrestling with the importance of getting those most basic messages clear, so we thought we’d share our thoughts with you.
Before you think about starting your marketing, get your story absolutely straight. If you want to get really good results out of marketing, put time and effort into making sure your proposition is crystal clear.
No amount money on your website, no amount of tweeting, blogging, or public speaking will get you the results you really want if people don’t really know what you do. Want to get more referrals and leads? Be clear on what you do and who you do it for. Let people know what you want to be famous for, and then spread the word.
We know it’s difficult. Many business owners fear closing the door on potential opportunities, and see being pigeonholed as a recipe for lost sales. The temptation is to want to be all things to all people, but this leads to nebulous positioning. Dilute your message and it becomes weaker. The result?  No one truly understands what you do. So what can you do?

5 ways to get clear on your message

It’s all very well saying you need to get your offer clear, but how do you achieve this clarity? Here are 5 ways we help our clients to get to the heart of their business message:
1. Look at what you do from your clients’ perspective, not from your own. Your clients don’t care about your products or services, they want to know what’s in it for them. Put yourself in their shoes.
2. Talk to your clients. Everyone talks about knowing what your customers want, and listening to them, but if you want real clarity you should ask them directly.
3. Think like a book author. We find that the clients we help to produce a business book have a blinding moment of clarity on their business proposition too. So, think like a book author. If you were going to distill all your knowledge into a book for your client base, what would it be about? What would it say?
4. Get some emotion into your offer. People respond to emotion, not logic when they’re buying, so appeal to hearts as well as minds.
5. Get some outside help. This is really, really hard to do by yourself.  Get a view from the outside. Hire a copywriter like me to help you here.  Helping businesses get to the valuable heart of what they do, and creating the voice to tell their story, is what I like to do most.
So what are you waiting for? Get thinking, asking, and talking. Cut out the waffle surrounding what it is you do, polish up the jewel at the centre, and shine!

And if you need help getting your proposition clear, give me a call on 07985 015300

More articles to help you get your proposition straight:

Be the expert

How to stand out from the crowd

Know your audience