sharon tanton portrait

Tag Archives: voice

How to stand out from the crowd

How to stand out from the crowd

Let’s face it, you’re probably not the only one in your field. There are other designers, consultants, suppliers all doing the same as you, give or take an inch or two.

You can niche all you like, but there’ll always be somebody else, with a similar offer, ready to snatch potential clients away.

So how do you stand out? How do you frame your offer to get them to pick you and not them?

Here’s a quick guide to using words to make you stand out from the crowd.

1. Be the clearest. Chances are your business is mired with jargon. Be the one who strips that away and writes about how you help in a way that your clients really understand. It’s refreshing to find someone who tells it like it is – so be that person.
2. Be the most understanding. Always write from the clients viewpoint. Put their problems before your solutions. (But don’t use the word ‘solutions’. It’s on my banned list.)
3. Be the boldest. Copy that’s written with attitude is invigorating to read, so inject some va-va-voom into your words. Active verbs, no conjunctives, short and snappy.
4. Be the brightest. Brightest doesn’t mean complicated – it can mean seeing things from a different angle – making connections that can surprise and inspire. Write thoughtfully and your words will rise above the crowd saying the same old thing.
5. Be the smartest. Invest in good design so that your words look as good as they can. Good design shows you care.
6. Be the most useful. Fill your website with content that’s valuable to your potential clients, so they’ll turn to you first for help.
7. Be the most in demand. People want to work with the best, and the best are likely to be busiest. Use your website and social media to let the world know what you’re up to. Write about the nuts and bolts of what you’re doing – it shows you know your stuff. Walking the walk and not just talking the talk – that’s what get results.
8. Be everywhere. Blog it, tweet it, comment on forums, ask questions, answer queries – spread your words around to raise the chances of being found.

What have I missed? I’d love to know your tips for standing out from the rest. And if you need help with making your copy unmissable, call me on 07985 015300

Five things your newsletter needs

dustbin

A good newsletter is a great communication tool. A dull one goes straight into the trash. Here’s how to make yours stand out.

Think about why you’re producing the newsletter. If it’s just because you think you ought to, the chances are it won’t succeed. Newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with customers, reward clients, share knowledge, demonstrate expertise, convert warm leads into sales….so make up your mind what your goal is before you start.

Having a clear aim in sight makes it much easier to create relevant content that targets your readership and makes a real connection.

Authenticity

Chances are your business isn’t the only one offering your services. True uniqueness is rare. But it will have qualities that make you different from your competitors, and these need to shine through in your newsletter. Create content that spotlights the way your service is different. Demonstrate how your particular focus helps your clients.

Voice

Write it well, in a voice that reflects your brand guidelines. In practice this probably means finding a designated person in your business to write it every month, or outsourcing it to a good copywriter. (What is doesn’t mean is passing it round the office so that everyone can write their bit.) Consistency, accuracy and style count.

Brand

Newsletters have a privileged position in your communications toolbox. Your clients have signed up for it, they’re already interested in you. But just because you’re preaching to the converted it doesn’t mean you can churn out any old sermon. Treat the newsletter with as much attention to your brand values as you would your website, or special marketing campaign.

Design

Invest in design – just because they’ve signed up for it doesn’t mean they’ll read it. A good designer will work with your writer to make the content engaging, accessible, and easy to navigate They’ll work together to create headlines that draw people in, and make sure the page is balanced and reader-friendly.

I can help you get started with your newsletter. A new perspective is often helpful when you’re trying to define goals and identify brand strengths. Or I can write it for you. Do call if you think I can help – 07985 015300

Six steps to great web writing

A funny thing comes over some businesses when they start putting together their web copy. Rather like having a posh ‘telephone voice’, they write about themselves in an artificially ‘proper’ way.

Instead of saying ‘we run coaching workshops for new businesses’, they’ll write ‘we facilitate training sessions to leverage success for business.’ It’s a bit like having Hyacinth Bouquet answering your office phone. More than a little off putting.

When I’m writing web copy, I imagine I’m telling someone in the same room. My tone is conversational. I use the same words to explain something that I’d use if you were sitting next to me. Good web copy makes a connection with its reader. Lacing your sentences with unnecessarily long words puts your readers at a distance, and that’s not where you want them.

Sometimes I think it’s a confidence thing. People don’t feel they’ll be taken seriously if they talk in everyday language. Big words are good for hiding behind. My advice would be to take a deep breath, and just tell it how it is.

Top six web writing tips

1. Be clear. Say it out loud before you write it down.
2. Use short sentences. They’re easier to understand.
3. Keep technical language to a minimum. Of course some pages demand it – especially if your offer is a technical one. But your Home page and About Us copy should certainly be straightforward.
4. Be accurate. A conversational tone doesn’t mean you can forget your grammar. Good grammar makes your writing make sense.
5. Get to the point. There’s no room for rambling digressions in web copy. Users want information fast, so cut anything superfluous and give important stuff room to breathe.
6. Be yourself. Connect with your reader.

Top tips for successful newsletters

  1. Get sign up first. However lovingly worded and beautifully designed, if they didn’t ask for it, it’s spam.
  2. Be brief. People are busy. Even scrolling down too far is too much. One page max.
  3. Grab their attention. Headlines matter. Newsletter 73 isn’t going to get anyone rushing to click, but a great offer just might. Be careful though. We all love a bargain, but too many once in a lifetime sales make you look desperate.
  4. Use your voice. Newsletters need to follow your brand guidelines, in a tone of voice that matches the rest of your communications. So no text speak if you’re a firm of solicitors, and no stiff formality if you plan parties. (Actually, no stiff formality anywhere. Straightforward, honest and warm covers most bases).
  5. Reward. People on your mailing list are your special customers. Make them feel part of an exclusive club and they’ll reward you with loyalty. Money off deals work, but so does information. Letting your favourite customers in on the news before the rest of the world makes them feel important.
  6. Get the timing right. Once I signed up for a diet newsletter and they mailed by twice a day. Way too much. Once a year, and your customers might have forgotten who you are. (Unless you sell Christmas trees).
  7. Share success. Letting your clients know about your latest award makes them feel happy to be associated with you. It’s an affirmation that they might the right choice in working with you. We all like to be right.

Five ways to get people loving your links…

I love Twitter. You can pack lots into 140 characters, but what if you want to say more? Here are my top five ways for making the most of your link articles and blog pieces.

  1. Be relevant. Tell people something they want to hear. A big point of social media is brand building, but it’s not enough just to be there and shout a lot. Think about how your brand connects with people, and tell the stories that reinforce those connections.
    Consider what would be interesting for your audience, and tailor your stories to fit.
  2. Be precise, (and deliver). Have a point and get to it. Give useful information concisely. I hate it when I click on a link that promises to tell me something, and then five paragraphs on I’m no closer to knowing. Twitter offers access limitless knowledge, but it disappoints when the piece you thought was going to be useful meanders into nothing. Be one of the good guys, and deliver exactly what you say you will.
  3. Be fast. Twitter is quick-fire stuff. Users interact with it differently from other medium. Once you’ve squeezed the essence of your message into a zesty 140 characters, don’t let up the pace and let the link be wishy-washy. If I’m posting a link on Twitter I imagine an impatient reader, with potentially more interesting reads circling them like planes over Heathrow. Make your point quickly and move on.
  4. Be numerate. Pace again, busy lives. No points for originality, but breaking it down into bite-sized chunks and putting it in a numbered list gets Twitter hits. Top tens are memorable, and easily grasped. Top Fives are even quicker. It’s the promise of learning something quickly that Twitter does so well, so use it to your advantage.
  5. Be original. Develop your own voice. Find a different angle. Be clearer than the rest. Or bolder. Or more empathetic. And remember, just because it seems obvious to you, it won’t be obvious to everyone else. Your perspective is unique. Your followers want to know more about you, so share your ideas.