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Put Your Client’s Logo on the Front, Your Own on the Sleeve

Jeff Slain of Fully Promoted of Fishers IN was talking about apparel, but his advice is something we blog content writers need to keep in the forefront of our thoughts. Jeff’s common sense reminder to us Business Spotlight networkers the other day was that logo apparel buyers don’t want to tell the world about you – they want it to be all about them!

The “them”, we realize at Say It For You, can’t mean all possible visitors to your blog. Your blog can’t be all things to all people, any more than your business can be all things to everybody.   Yet everything about your blog should be tailor-made for your ideal customer – the words you use, how technical you get, how sophisticated your approach, the title of each blog entry – all of it out in front. The first impression has to be focused on things you know about your target market – their needs, their preferences, their questions – and only secondarily on how wonderful you and your staff are at satisfying those needs and preferences.

Successful content marketing addresses issues readers care about, with content that Josh Steimie, writing in Forbes, says must have three qualities -value, relevance, and consistency. The content is there to raise readers’ awareness of solutions, educating them about products or tactics they perhaps hadn’t considered before.

As a business owner or professional practitioner, you have not just one, but many stories to tell, including:

  • the benefits of your products and services
  • the history of your business and your own journey
  • successful case studies and testimonials
  • news of importance to your customers
  • your perspective on trends in your industry

A website with just a few pages cannot tell these stories completely, nor can it engage your potential and current customers with fresh content in real time. Truth is, no single blog post can tell all the stories, either. The key is for each blog post to get visitors engaged enough to hear today’s story.

The very fact that you have a blog and that the content on it is current says a lot about you and about the fact that you mean business! “You’re in the game”. You’ve got your new, fresh, logo apparel on.
The reality, though, (as Fully Promoted’s Jeff Slain knows all too well) is that they’re not going to read what’s on the sleeve until their interest has been fully engaged by what’s on the front!

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It’s Not the Blog That Makes You Rich

“I’m not the guy that makes you rich; I’m the guy that helps keep you from being poor”. That unusual self-intro by financial advisor and insurance agent Jeffrey Eric Frank from Wayne, Pennsylvania really captured my attention at a recent virtual networking meeting, Of course, as a former financial advisor myself, I immediately understood the truth in Frank’s “motto” when it comes to wealth. Focused these days on marketing, though, I couldn’t help making a comparison with blogs…

Their very nature makes blogs ideal for marketing, Randy Duermyer explains in thebalancesmb.com, naming the following characteristics:

  • Blogs are inexpensive to start and run.
  • Blogs build website traffic.
  • Blogs are easy to use.
  • Blogs improve search engine rankings.
  • Blogs engage your market.

Blog marketing, though, is hardly a direct route to guaranteed marketing success; while starting a blog can be done quickly and easily, Duermyer cautions, it’s the ongoing management that will take time and patience. What’s more, blog marketing is not designed to “close” deals in the same way as a face-to-face encounter between a prospect and sales professional might do. Going back to our friend Jeffrey Eric Frank, the blog, however well-planned and executed, is “not the guy that makes you rich”.

What can and will happen, as Hubspot blogger Corey Wainwright explains, is that prospects who have been reading your blog posts enter the “sales funnel” more educated on your industry and what you have to offer. What business owners and professionals are doing with the blog is taking advantage of the main reason use the Web in the first place – to find answers and information.

Rather than running traditional ads for your brand of hats, vitamins, or travel, you provide lots of information on the history of hats, on why vitamins are good for you, and about exciting places to go on safari.  Consumers interested in your subject, but who never even knew your name come to see you as a trusted resource, possibly as a business to do business with!

No, New York Life’s JE Frank doesn’t for a moment pretend to be the guy who’ll make you rich. And, at Say It For You, we approach blog marketing with the same sort of practical wisdom in mind. Blogging is a very good “back door” approach to sales, helping you cultivate an audience of people who may well move on to become buyers.

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Building Your Unique Selling Proposition

Today’s guest blog post was contributed by Certified Business Coach Andrew Valley of Westerfield, Ohio. With over 40 years of experience managing businesses and team, Valley has a proven track record of growing sales and profits.  The ActionCoach may be contacted at andrewvalley@actioncoach.com or by phone at 614 746 5969.


Don’t tell them what you do. Tell them what you do for them.

As a business owner, whether you’re a trades-based business, a restaurant, or are in professional services, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is telling others what you do. Most people are only interested if what you do fits with what they need or want; otherwise they are not interested. You must tell the listener how your product or service can benefit that person, and how you can do it better or differently than others who do what you do.

So how can you differentiate your business from others in your category? The most powerful tool you can use to stand head and shoulders above your competition is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your USP communicates the singular, unique benefit that your customers can expect to receive when they favor your business instead of your competitor’s – stated in specific, graphically illustrated terms. It will make you the obvious choice and lead prospective customers to the conclusion, “I would have to be an absolute fool to do business with anyone but you…regardless of price.”

A USP Will Raise Your Business Above The NOISE

Our communication habits spill over into marketing and advertising all the time. Show me 99% of all marketing material created and I’ll show you a huge jumble of hyperbole, fluff, platitudes, and yawnably unbelievable, black hole nothing words. Words like cheapest, professionalism, service, quality, speedy, convenient, and best. These words do absolutely nothing to communicate why you’re the best deal. Claude Hopkins, the greatest advertising man in history, summed it up: “Platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding like water from a duck. They leave no impression whatsoever.”

The concept of “USP” is credited to Rosser Reeves, chairman of the Ted Bates & Co. advertising agency in the 1950s, and his definition of what makes a USP holds true today: * All advertising must make a proposition to the customer: Buy this, and you will receive a specified benefit.

  • The proposition must be unique; something competitors cannot claim or have not chosen to emphasize in their promotions.
  • The proposition must be so compelling that it motivates individuals to act.

A unique selling proposition (USP) is a succinct, memorable message that identifies the unique benefits that are derived from using your product or service as opposed to a competitor’s. A USP should be used as a strong and consistent part of an advertising campaign. It can be painted on the company’s cars or trucks, printed on the letterhead, and used in the packaging copy. It becomes, essentially, a positioning statement—a declaration of your company’s unique standing within the marketplace as defined by your product’s benefits.

Often a USP is a quick and snappy condensation of the company’s strategy. To expect consumers to remember a continually changing or drawn-out message is a near-futile hope. It is particularly important that a USP immediately convey one of the strongest competitive advantages of using your product. Marketers should strive to create a significant perception of difference between their product and the offerings of competitors. Developing a USP that accomplishes this task is called product differentiation.

Here’s an example of an effective USP from a well-known company in an extremely competitive industry. This company became the biggest in their field entirely because of their USP. The company is Domino’s Pizza. Consider Domino’s USP: “Fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed!” This USP built Domino’s into a pizza empire!

Things to Consider in building your USP
Study your Competitors: research what they are using as a USP. It is difficult and expensive to challenge a competitor for a position already occupied, because of the “anchoring” phenomenon. When you know your competitors’ positions, you can choose to avoid direct challenges and instead carve out your own niche, where you can be both first and best. The easiest way into a person’s memory is to be first. Don’t be an also-ran.

Differentiate your Product or Service: Your prospects must see you as having something different, something special that sets you apart from the others in your industry. Otherwise, there is no reason for them to call you. They may call your competition, or they may decide not to call anyone at all. So, consider these questions:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Why you’re different
  • How you can benefit your prospects – a feature may be useful but a benefit is a solution to a problem or a fulfillment of a need.

There should be a lot of difference between you and others doing the same kind of work. If there aren’t then you’re not paying close enough attention or you need to invent some unique things that others don’t do.

What else can you do?
Brainstorm with your team. Interview and survey your current and past customers. Ask them why they bought from you rather than your competition. What are they looking for in a provider of your product or service? What is important to them when making a buying decision? What feature or benefits do they value most or would like to see added to your product or service?

Once you have settled on the most unique and compelling feature of your product or business, begin to distill it down to one paragraph that clearly communicates and sums up why your customers should buy from you. This paragraph can be used on your website or in your marketing materials where you have more room to explain the unique benefits that you bring to your customers. However, it is still too long to be used as a tagline or slogan.

You still need to distill your USP down to one or two focused sentences that clearly and concisely communicate the benefits of your USP to your customers. This statement should leave no question in your customers’ mind about what you do and how you are different than your competition.
This USP statement will become your tagline or slogan. Integrate your USP statement into everything you do. Put it on every page of your website, on your letterhead, in all of your advertising and marketing. Communicate it to your employees, managers, and staff. Let it infuse into your corporate culture. Every time you talk to your customers, employees, or suppliers you should mention this USP. You cannot just give lip service to your USP, you must live it and breath it! It must become a part of you.

Every product, business or service has (or can have) a USP that makes it stand out from the competition. It is up to you to discover or create this element of uniqueness. Differentiate yourself, your business and your products from your competition and watch the sales pour in!

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Blogging Wisdom in a Puzzle Book

I’ve always been a puzzle book junkie, and one of my favorite puzzle types is the Quotefall. The other day, after solving one of the puzzles, I realized the puzzle creator must know something about business blogging…

The secret of good writing is to say an old thing in a new way
or a new thing in an old way.

(The adage, I later learned, has been attributed to Richard Harding Davis.)

Saying “old things, is, in fact, a concern of many business owners and professional practitioners when it comes to their blog. Even if they understand the overall marketing value of having a blog, their concern is that, sooner or later, they (or their blog content writer) will run out of things to say. In blogging training sessions, I need to explain that it’s more than OK – in fact it’s a good idea – to repeat themes already covered in former posts. The trick is to adding a layer of new information or a new insight each time.

To us blog content writers, “saying old things in a new way” means that each time we’re preparing to compose content for a bog, rather than asking ourselves whether we’ve already covered that material and how long ago, we ought to plan content around key themes. That way, we can be using the same theme while filling in new details and illustrations.

What about writing new things in an old way? In the process of introducing new information or suggesting a new attitude towards certain features and benefits of a product or service, behavioral science tells us that we must create a perspective or “frame”. The “new” concept needs to be presented in a way that relates to the ”old” and familiar, so that readers can envision an improved result for themselves.

So, what happens when you realize that information you’d put in a blog post months or even years ago isn’t true any longer (or at least isn’t the best information now available in your industry or profession?) Maybe the rules have changed, or perhaps there’s now a solution that didn’t even exist at the time the original content was written.

This is the perfect example of saying old things in a new way. Armed with your new understanding or with a better solution to a problem of which you’ve now become aware, explain what you used to think, (linking back to the old blog posts), then share the new, better information you have today.

That Quotefall puzzle was a good reminder that the secret of good blog content writing is saying old things in new ways and new things in old ways!

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Steve Jobs and Pixar Illustrate an Important Principle of Blogging

 

My realtor friend Steve Rupp sent me a piece with the following story about Steve Jobs….

After purchasing computer manufacturer Pixar, Jobs relocated the company to an abandoned factory, re-organizing the physical structure with offices and workspaces around a large, central atrium. Under this new (at the time) very unusual arrangement, the mailboxes, meeting room, cafeteria, coffee bar, and gift shop were all in the center of the space. The underlying principle? “When people run into each other and make eye contact, things happen.” Of course, electronic messages could have been sent throughout the Pixar building in a millisecond, Jobs realized, but the community context of the message is the part that would help people understand each other and work together.

Could Jobs have avoided restructuring the entire complex of buildings, relying on mandatory periodic meetings or even informal periodic staff get-togethers to accomplish his goal of employees “running into each other”? Perhaps, but that “eye contact”, “context-sharing” and cross-pollination of ideas, Jobs understood, needed to happen frequently in order to be meaningful.

At Say It For You, after years of being involved in all aspects of corporate blog writing and blogging training, one irony I’ve found is that business owners who “show up” with new content on their websites are rare. There’s a tremendous fall-off rate, with most blogs abandoned months or even weeks after they’re begun. That sense of community Steve Jobs was after in the redesign of the Pixar facility? You might say the first job of a blog content writer is to help a business or a professional practice “get its frequency on”. What the blog does is get the business owners and practitioners into the “atrium” to “run into” their readers!

Good things happen in the blog frequency “atrium” for business owners who make blogging part of their routine as part of an overall business marketing strategy, with blog posts providing a steady stream of “sound bites” – little bits of different, interesting, and helpful content.

Steve Jobs building design was meant to encourage employees to “hang out” with each other in the Pixar atrium area whenever their schedules allowed, with no regular times posted. Over the years, blogtyrant.com relates, various studies have analyzed data to find out the best time to publish a blog post. Most often, though, we find that the issue is less that of choosing the optimal posting time and more about finding the time to create content to post in the first place!

Our mission, then as blog content writers, is to create an “atrium” where business owners and practitioners can share ideas with readers.

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