Content Marketing Helps You Sell Earlier

Are you capturing the easy sales on your website with good content?Sometimes I wish I could wear a t-shirt when I go into brick-and-mortar shops that reads,

“If you can see my face, I’m here to buy something.”

Or maybe the hologram on my credit card could shine a bat signal when I enter a store and a salesperson could come right to me.

Know Your Customer

In the days before the Interwebs, I worked in retail in a women’s clothing store. When a man walked in, we nearly knocked ourselves over getting to him. Not because we were high school girls but because most men hate shopping and they certainly don’t want to spend any extra time in a women’s-only store. They walk in and they buy (and they’ll often buy accessories if you suggest them). No trying on, no fuss. Just a card and they’re off. At sixteen, we knew our customer.

 

Today, I shop the same way.

 

Like the men I rang up on multiple occasions, I don’t like to shop. If you see me in your store, I’m there for one thing — to buy something. Show it to me and ring me up. I’ve already researched the prices online. I already know the product specs.

I’m not alone in my purchasing habits. 

76% of the population does their research prior to getting to the store or having a conversation with a sales person.

If you’re waiting to see your customer’s face before you launch into your sales pitch, it’s already too late. The good news is if they’re like 76% of the population researching before they reach a salesperson, you have a sale but…

 

How many people are you missing because of your website?

How many people can’t find the information they need easily from your site?

Or how many can’t figure out what you do or if you can specifically help them?

Are you holding their interest? Making them want to do business with you? Is your content working?

How many potential customers have questions you can’t answer online? Do you think they’ll wait to call you during business hours? They might if they can’t find the answer on your competitor’s site.

 

Tonight while your loved ones are sitting in front of the television with their phones or tablets ask them to visit your site. Give them a basic question to “research” on your site. See if they can answer it just from the information presented. See if they can do it quickly.

If not, you’re leaving those easy sales on the table.

 

If the easy sales are on the table, what’s happening with the hard ones?

 

Photo credit: skippyjon via Flickr

Why Your Homepage Content Stinks

Elephant in the room alert.

My home page design stinks.

It stinks because I’m not a graphic designer.

Thankfully my first year plus in business has kept me so busy the project I had worked on to redo my website with a designer fell by the wayside. But a lot of my business comes through word-of-mouth referrals and repeat business so my website stinking is not my main concern.

But if you’re a small business who wants more customers, or an association or chamber looking for new members, your homepage can’t stink.

Does My Homepage Content Stink?

I’m going to stick to what I know best: content. So here’s how you know your homepage stinks from a content perspective. Ask yourself:

Does my copy read like a college entrance essay?

Clear writing makes good website copy.

Don’t use highfalutin’ words, even if you know what they mean. Keep it simple. Tell your potential customers’, or prospective members’, how you can solve their problems in the simplest of terms.

Otherwise, you’ll only confuse them and let’s face it, no one wants to feel confused.

Does my copy read like my 5 year-old nephew wrote it?

Casual is good. A distinct tone is wonderful.

Adherence to basic grammar rules, if you want people to give you money, is still absolutely necessary.

Is it obvious I am a disenchanted English major who always wanted to write the great American novel?

Wordiness is just as bad as words that are unintelligible or words that can only be decoded by NASA engineers.

Do I mention clearly what I do and where I am?

Contant: you get what you pay for.You’d be surprised how many people use pat (aka meaningless) industry words to describe what they do.

Also, while many of us do business on the Interwebs, letting people know where you are means you’re less likely to get a call in the middle of the night wondering if you’re open.

And please…don’t advertise events without telling us where you are. You may assume your audience knows “Columbus” but there are something like 22 “Columbusses”, “Columbi,” “Columbus” (whatever) in the nation and who knows how many others in the world.

If my lack of fact checking is bothering you, Google it and leave the number in the comments.

Does my tone fit my brand?

This post is lip-smacking sarcastic for me, but it’s not a complete departure from my blog’s tone. I’m casual in my own business writing. That’s how I prefer it but I was an Econ/Poli Sci major so if you want dry and erudite drivel, I can do that too, but it’s not me. So I don’t.

If someone hires me, I write in their tone, not mine.

You have to think the same way on your website. Don’t choose a tone for your site that’s different from who your business is. It will only confuse people when they go from reading your social media and content marketing posts to doing business with you.

If your homepage design stinks get a graphic designer (and then get me one too) but if your content’s not up to snuff – if it’s not attracting your ideal audience, or getting them interested in what you have to offer, if it doesn’t convey why they need you and convince them they should’ve called yesterday, your content isn’t working hard enough. 

Think of me as a personal trainer for your words.

 

That’s where I come in.<Queue my dramatic theme song. Something akin to Wonder Woman but without the 70’s disco beat.>

I’ll whip them into shape and make sure they’re doing their jobs. No cutting corners, just getting you more business and more interest.

 

 

How Content Marketing is Like Online Dating (or the post forever known as OOPs I shared too much)

 

 

#online dating #content #marketing Don't pretend to be someone you aren't.

I tried online dating.

Once.

I had been warned.

Predators, one male friend said.

Waste, a female friend told me.

 

But I did it anyway because I’m stubborn like that and I was convinced there was no other way to meet new people.

I spent a half hour on my profile and it was enough to make any man run.

 

I wrote about being a single mom to 5-year old twins (at the time) and that they had to come first. “As much as I might like to climb Mount Everest with you” (there are a lot of “explorers” who want to “make the most of what life has to offer”), “doing so is next to impossible. Romance for me is more likely to be a home cooked meal and candlelight in yoga pants than an expensive French meal and dancing the night away.

I laid it on thick. I stopped just short of committed cat lady. After all, that would’ve been a lie. I don’t have a cat.

No pictures of me in a bikini. No kissy faces at the camera. The same shots I use on social media, all of my face.

 

And out of hundreds of men, 3 contacted me.

That’s the way I wanted it because these gentlemen had self-selected. They weren’t lured by a picture or promises of something I wasn’t. Those other hundred “adventurers” who were off “making the most of what life — the beach, Florida, Tampa, the water, whatever — had to offer,” they weren’t for me and I didn’t want to waste our time.

Your Content Must be Written to Your Ideal

 

You need to write, or create, your content for your organization with the same ruthless pen. Don’t write it to appeal to people who won’t buy from you. Don’t write it for people who might buy once because they don’t really understand what you offer.

You’re wasting everyone’s time if you do.

Allow them to self-select, or rule themselves out, before they even get to you. They know what they want and if you’re not it, that’s okay because there are others out there who are the perfect fit. 

Being all things to all people, doesn’t inspire loyalty. It dilutes your brand and message.

Know who you want to do business with, or who you want in your organization, and write to that person. Craft your marketing message like a love note written to your ideal.

There is no point in luring someone in under claims of something you’re not. Sure, you might get them to buy what you’re offering once but eventually they’ll realize the purchase wasn’t what they were looking for and they won’t return. They may even feel bitter and misled afterwards.

If one-off business works for you, then by all means when the adventurers walk by, sell them Mt. Everest. When the introverts visit, entice them into promises of a good book by a roaring fire.

But if you want to create a loyal customer base with a strong brand, you’ll understand who you are and who is your ideal, and you’ll speak just to those people.

 

In the interest of story and resolution, and since I’ve already shared an uncomfortable amount of my personal life – at least for an introvert – it suffices to say, I spent about 3 days on the site before I took my profile down.

It wasn’t for me. It reminded me too much of a menu.

 

Knowing who you are is as important in life as it is in marketing.

 

Photo credit by Floodllama

May Your Heart be Light

 

 

May the magic of the holidays inhabit your every day.

 

I love this time of year and it’s not because of the twinkly lights and the presents under the tree that may, or may not, have little corners pulled away from their wrapping paper coverings exposing tiny little secrets to what they may contain.

Nope.

I love the reflective quality of the time. The days are shorter. It gets darker earlier. The temps finally cool (I live in Florida), although not really.

And there’s time to think about where you were last year. And time to dream of where you’ll be next year.

 

I remember the people who are no longer in my life and, hopefully, cherish the people who are.

And I eat wonderful meals without care to the calories or what it takes to work it off in the gym. And I drink an amazing red (or two) and toast all that is yet to come.

I hug and love on the kids a little longer this time of year because with every tragedy that occurs, I’m reminded just how quickly lives can change, and at some point any ordinary Christmas can be a last. And I don’t do it to be sad or morbid. I do it to be grateful.

Then I dream of the trips I will take and the everyday adventures that will unfold this coming year and I hope they are both recognized and appreciated.

And I continue to learn.

Which brings me back to reflecting on all that has come before me to bring me to this point — happy and sad, trying and triumphant — and all the wonderful challenges, frustrations, opportunities, loves and losses that are still ahead of me.

And I smile.

 

 

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

May the magic of the holidays surround you every day.

 

Thank you for your readership.

5 Things to Know about Going Out on Your Own

Untitled designThis month I celebrated a very special milestone – one year in business for myself. Here’s what I learned as a solopreneur:

You’ll Get By with a Little Help from Your Friends

Sure, it’s nice if they occasionally treat you to Starbucks, which will almost certainly be off your budget that first year of business, but you’ll be surprised just how much help your friends and acquaintances are willing to provide you. From referrals to administrative assistance, friends are friends for a reason and don’t be embarrassed to take them up on their offers.

But it’s not just your friends, many professional connections are willing to help as well and here’s why:

  • Everyone likes a scrappy success story. Think about the movie Rudy where a diminutive guy landed a spot on the Notre Dame football team out of sheer hard work and determination. In the end, it was his peers that helped him get bench time and suit up for a game.
  • Most people want to do what you’re doing. They want to say good-bye to that corporate sentence they grudgingly carry out each day.  Seeing someone successfully shrug off “the man” makes everyone smile.

Say Good-bye to Work/Life Balance

Many people leave corporate America to have a better quality of life. You will – most likely – have greater flexibility in your work hours if you become a solopreneur. However, you’ll work longer hours, with less pay (at least initially).

But before you say forget about it, the beauty of working for yourself is that even though you’re working more hours, it feels like less. The passion you have for the job you do feels more like an enjoyable activity than work.

Not once this year have I woken up dreading “going to work.” How many of you can say that?

You Gotta Be Hungry

I asked a few very valued people for advice when I thought about going out on my own. The best advice I received came from Frank Kenny and I can still hear him say those words, “You gotta be huuuungry.”

He meant you have to want to be self-employed. You have to be willing to make sacrifices and want to succeed more than anything. You must give up the security of a good paying job for absolutely nothing other than the idea that you can do it. Going out on your own is not for the weak of heart. It takes intestinal fortitude and knowing that you might fall behind in your bills before you start turning a profit.

Well meaning friends will forward you job opportunities but to be successful you have to stick it out. You have to put in your time and you gotta want it to work and work hard to do it.

Steal if You Have To

When word gets around and you start getting more work, you’ll be able to turn work down or refer it to some of your other solopreneur friends, but in the beginning you’ll probably need to take everything you can. By doing this, you’ll ensure you can pay your bills and you’ll begin to make a name for yourself. But the work schedule is up to your clients and not to you so there will be days when you’re buried and days when you spend hours surfing the web trying to dig up work.

On your busiest days, you’ll need to steal time every minute you have it. That means working while you’re cooking or while the kids are watching TV. It means taking your work with you where ever you go – reading something for a client in carline as you pick up the kids or from the waiting room at a doctor’s office. You will need to use every minute you have so steal them from where you can.

You Get Paid for Your Time Until You Don’t

Time is money and unlike a job working for someone else, no one is paying you to sit around. When you’re not working, you’re not getting paid. Keep this in mind when you’re tempted to use your work day to run a load of laundry. Yes, you’re working from home but cleaning house is not your job, unless you run a maid service and you are a paying client. Someday, maybe you can look to producing a product that will get you out of the exchange of time and money but for today, work comes first.

A few last words of advice for those of you considering a big jump:

  • Have some savings. You’ll sleep better at night.
  • Tell everyone what you’re doing specifically in terms they understand. Your industry vernacular might not be theirs.
  • Get rid of the fear and just do. The timing will never be perfect. Just trust that the road that led you to this point did so for a reason and believe in yourself.

If you’re thinking about going out on your own, or have done so, I’d love to hear from you.