The Business of Rebranding in 2018; Is it Time?


Picture of company employees mapping out the process of their business re-branding plans.
Mapping Out our Business Rebranding; The Competitive Edge

 

As the title of this article implies, the question of if and when to rebrand out business entity looms large. Do you love your current business brand? Is your business flourishing, evolving, growing consistently? Today, I want to share with you ways in which we need to focus on our business entity and how rebranding can play a significant role in the sustained health of our business in 2018 and beyond.

Targeted Market Engagement

Over time, you may begin to notice subtle, or not-so-subtle changes in the level of your targeted market’s engagement in your business. Perhaps they are becoming less interested in what you have to offer, disengaged and tending to shop around more, connect in a more responsive way to your competitors. Is it all about price point, quality, less responsive to changing needs? It can be any of these issues and more.

Sometimes our customer’s perceptions of our company may change and at times not in a positive light. You should always anticipate changes in your competitor market and brand orientation as well. Let’s face it, if we and our competitors have done our homework, we know that we must always be acutely mindful of what we and our competitors are offering right out of the gate as a new startup and how we (and they) evolve over time.

Brand orientation and change can be hugely challenging and we need to refocus consistently on a changing, evolving marketplace and the model of our competitor branding. Do you have an edge in your industry, a unique product or service line that no competitor is offering? This is perhaps your most significant question as a business entity now and moving forward.

Is your business model and what it has to offer still fresh and offering great and essential customer solutions. That value cannot be understated. Our marketplace is ever-changing as are our potential and existing targeted market dynamics. Are we merely maintaining status quo with lackluster or are we consistently moving forward to meet changing customer needs head on? If we’re not doing so, it is more than likely time to shake things up and bear new fruit for a uniquely diverse range of products and/or services.

Is it time for a change, time to rebrand your business model, how it functions and distinguishes as unique and vital in an ever-changing marketplace? Is it time to infuse a new vision moving forward through a carefully conceived, designed and orchestrated design and rebuild process? These are heady questions and pose a considerable challenge for many companies. The anxiety of the very thought of ‘change’, by our very humanistic nature, imposes both positive and negative anticipation.

If your business is lagging, faltering, scaling in a downward direction with revenue expectations consistently diminishing, then the only option is to implement change. If your current approach to your business and how you reach and engage your targeted market is just not working, it’s time for a change, time to look seriously at rebranding.

I share the very same anxieties that any business owner or manager will face in the process of change; potential disconnect with our current clientele, an uneducated leap forward that may cause more harm than good. What if our new look and feel is a jumbled mess that our targeted market simply cannot relate to? Still, the even bigger and more important question should be: “what will happen to our business if we just lay back and wait and see”? That is a dangerous position to take for any business entity that is struggling and on the verge of failing. Complacency is another nail in the coffin.

Your fears about changing your business brand, its very platform, are real yet all you need do is look to the many successful corporate entities today who have gone through the same over the life of their brand, sometimes a multiple of times, who, with carefully researched analysis and planning, have overcome their adversities to move forward in a thriving revenue position, growing consistently through their perseverance.

Oftentimes, brand changes do not necessarily have to be major in scope. Sometimes it can simply entail the presentation of your product or service in a more pleasing, attractive manner, shedding competitive light on the enjoyment and benefits of what you have to ofter. We live in a solutions-oriented marketplace today where people want information fast and to the point that packs a commanding, engaging and compelling message that tells the consumer that you and your company, product or service solutions are the right fit for what they want and need.

Stay current with consumer needs. Recognize new consumer demographics with careful market research on how best to reach your best potential targeted market. Make it as easy as possible for them to find you through a highly visible website in terms of search engine visibility. Know current search engine optimization techniques (SEO) in keeping with ongoing algorithmic changes implemented by the major search engines, especially Google. You cannot wing it when it comes to website and marketing visibility.

Dispelling Product or Service Negatives

When marketing your product or services, make sure that you are acutely aware of and sensitive to any negative perceptions in the marketplace about specific aspects of what you, and your industry, offer. Such consumer sensitivities can have a significant impact on your consumer experience. Are their environmental concerns, ethical questions of product development, aesthetic appearance questions or public perception issues with a consumer’s association with your brand? Such issues can quickly become the difference between an excited, devoted customer to one who quickly looks to competitors for a more palatable solution for their needs.

Product or Services Diversification

This issue is two-sided and dimensional in nature. Trending thoughts on what a business entity offers have evolved over time. Not that long ago, the popular consensus was that we, as business enterprises, should be highly focused on one specific brand and related services. The whole thought process on that perspective was that if we were to offer too many types of our product and/or services lines, the consumer may question our level of actual expertise when addressing their problems or needs.

More recently, the growing consensus has been the lean toward a more expanded dimension of product lines and service levels, thusly satisfying a larger market, a one-stop-shop as it were, much as the benefits of the large shopping mall have been touted vs, the local corner store or strip mall/plaza.

As time-consuming as staying current with current market trends can be, market research on an ongoing basis is essential for a healthy, sustained and growing market revenue share. For the sole proprietor, extending one’s self to that higher level of market awareness is never easy. Many small business entrepreneurs often struggle along on their own devices in the hopes of somehow nailing it ad-hoc while their competitors, who are able to invest in the human resources necessary, sail ahead with a positive growth experience simply through being better informed of what the marketplace wants and demands.

We cannot be the little corner store barbershop that operates with a solitary human being providing the same old, same old to a fixed number of devoted customers and thrive perpetually; that is simply not realistic thinking in today’s marketplace.

Be Innovative, Take a Stand, And Stand Out!

If ever there was a time to grasp new and ever-evolving dynamics in the marketplace and business community, it is NOW! Some of the largest corporate conglomerates of today found out, sometimes the hard way, that we need to sit up straight and pay attention to a diverse and ever-changing consumer and marketplace or be left sitting at the curb with nowhere to go.

The name of the game today is to offer diversification and distinctively unique, exceptional products and services that our competitors simply have not or cannot offer to our huge and mutual consumers in waiting. It’s not just about satisfying a need or want; it goes way beyond that finite spectrum of consumer focus. The marketplace of today leaps at their purchases with emotional response and they are looking for what quickly grabs their attention, fits their solution-centric focus in the moment and turns their emotional crank up a notch every single time!

Standing out with products and/or services that are unique, brilliant in their conception, design, and delivery are essential factors for many in the marketplace today. Have we recognized and adjusted to the consumer’s own changing lifestyle dynamics and not only what they need in the current day but whether that product or service will satisfy their evolving solution-hungry wants and needs moving forward? It’s just not good enough anymore to simply run a supply and demand product line or service that won’t address an already changing marketplace need.

What we have to offer at any given time and place must be significant and diverse, standout and standalone in many respects. What we offer needs to speak to the people, and the more connected our business offerings are to significant community issues, the more closely connected the consumer will be. “Hey, this company has a conscience. They are making a statement and willing to stand out as an exception. I like this company’s values and their overall focus on their customers, now and moving forward. This is the kind of brand I can identify with in a positive way. They know us, understand us, want to reflect that awareness through what they offer us.” Just look at huge corporates like the McDonald’s food chain. Public outcry over what was or was not healthy and socially conscious became an enormous issue for them to address head-on or face serious repercussions from a wavering consumer at large; even the mighty fall…and fall hard.

Functionality, Relatability & Engagement

So much has been said over the past few years in terms of the consumer’s perception of a business entity; how we present ourselves, our vision and focus, our very product by design and customer delivery. Consumers of today are acutely aware of their own perspective on life and its living and they want to associate and do business with companies who share their perspective.

Be ever-conscious of the quickly changing demographics of the consumer and their product needs and objectives. Don’t distract them with a huge volume of web data that they really could care less about nor have any time pouring over. In your web content be concise, honest and straight to the point. Tell them what you have to offer, how it addresses their specific problems, needs and wants, and move them quickly to the means to connect with you whether in digital contact format or via phone, email or text. Don’t waste their time with superfluous fluff that is useless collateral and does not drive them quickly to where they want to go; their destination is the shortest and most direct route and through a clean, concise overview that speaks volumes to them in few words to the conclusion that “yes, this is exactly what I want”.

Any business entity that has a business model bent on deceit or slurry marketing jargon that aims to mislead or hustle the consumer into an unclear, murky decision to purchase has no place in today’s marketplace and the savvy consumer recognizes BS in a heartbeat. People relate to what they truly believe in and care about in life, personally and professionally; anything less is not worth their time nor attention and certainly not their investment.

At the time of this writing, Lasting Impressions Editing is undergoing a degree of rebranding and that will include considerations for a somewhat modified, expanded service line. To that end, our website is currently undergoing an exciting redesign over the next few weeks so stay tuned for updates in our newsletter (have you subscribed?) as we move forward with renewed vision and focus on our core customer services! We look to the future with excitement and optimism!

May 2018 be an outstanding year for each and every one of you. My best always,

 

Don MacIver, Owner, Editor, Writer

Lasting Impressions Editing

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© Lasting Impressions Editing 2018

Do I Really Need a Website & Blog for Business Marketing in 2017?


screenshot-donmaciverediting.wordpress.com , Blog on Website and Blog Importance-2017-10-02-18-12-01-006

WEBSITES & THEIR IMPORTANCE

  • The Lifeblood of Commerce: It has been long-established that small business entities continue to be the living, breathing life force of local, regional, provincial or state and national economies. Small business accounts for in excess of one-half of a country’s employment, a reciprocal value in terms of national sales revenues. Those very same small businesses are the force that builds and sustains communities across nations. There has been a substantial increase of self-employment startups nationally, a key indicator of economics-driven commerce yet to come.
  • Business Dependence on the Web: Small business enterprises have, over time, become increasingly dependent on the internet through their website marketing. Stores and new apps development is an integral part of the online equation. This total web dependence clearly illustrates the unquestionable importance and value placed on a website today. Nearly 100% of all small business revenue is now derived directly or indirectly through the internet medium. With the advent of e-commerce apps, the direct revenue stream through online and even inter-website apps has afforded business entrepreneurs that fully independent operational status all the more clearly and effectively.
  • Virtual Services-Based Business Delivery: Since websites became essentially a fully independent and functioning entity, especially where a business is service-based and has no physical product retail or walk-in customer services requirements, the totality of the independent online business has further become a reality. There is a host of cost and logistical savings factors which make online business ventures so appealing.
  • Industry Disruption: The onslaught of online business entities has had a significant and growing impact on the industries they are attached to. The means to remain competitive for non-internet based companies has been a tremendous issue for industry proponents to deal with. On the negative side, staffing is downsized dramatically, thereby creating challenges for those individuals displaced by the new business realities of today.
  • Consumer Value: A website is an essential part of doing business for today’s business entity whether a small startup or a large corporation. The benefits are many for not only the business but also for potential customers or clients who are searching for what a business has to offer. Immediate access to a business online around the clock has become an increasing aspect of a host of consumer demands as a viable services contender.
  • Website Functions: A website incorporates relevant product and/or services information platforms and serves as a marketing strategies vehicle. The business website is the ‘hub’ of all online marketing and advertising traffic channeling and backlinking.
  • The Website Advantage: Websites are a cost-effective means to get the business’ story out to the masses through a medium that is always accessible online where potential customers can browse at their own preferred time of day or night. Today, with technological advances, potential customers can access the internet even when they are out and about over the course of their day through any public location which has Wi-Fi internet services; coffee shops, cafes, libraries, even outdoor parks. Mobile phones are now a major mode of internet access even to the extent of requiring major web design considerations to accommodate the greatly reduced dimensions of the viewing screen.
  • Online Customer Testimonials: Customer/client testimonials on websites are a solid trust-building way to gain a potential new customer/client’s confidence in contacting the business owner to find out more.
  • Expanded Market Reach and Share: Websites affords a business greatly expanded, global customer reach beyond only local customer potential. The more potential customers that a business can reach online, the greater their capacity for increased sales volume through scale.

 BLOGS & CONTENT MARKETING

  • Customer Reach through Marketing Strategy: Affords visitors brand exposure and recognition through personalized content that is informative, entertaining and meaningful. The blog should be designed to provide content and perspective that will be of interest to the blog writer/company and the potential customer or client.
  • Brand Exposure and Recognition: The business owner can establish their own brand voice and personality through blogging. This aspect of marketing strategy is priceless as it builds trust and gains a business invaluable traction in terms of positive engagement of targeted customers.
  • Social & Pro Media Outreach: Share original content to social and professional media platforms through linking back to the original article (website) location. From there, the blog content can also link to other relevant blog content as a means to further enhance the visitor experience. Linking to other pages on the website which further support the blog topic is even further value-added engagement for blog readers.
  • Importance of a Blog: Is a blog really that necessary for a business? The main challenge is the time factor involved in effective research and writing of effective blog content, especially for a sole proprietor who does not have the staff to delegate this task to. Writing skills are a critical aspect of blogging. Can you effectively reach out and communicate in a way that informs and develops interest and the desire to find out more, to become a customer or client? The short answer to this question a resounding yes! A business blog attached to the business website is an essential component of the content marketing strategy as the singular vehicle to convey product and/or services essentials to a carefully targeted online audience.
  • Effective Blog Functionality and Purpose: Whether a small business startup or a large corporation, a blog is a website and business essential that establishes a level of authority or expertise and provides visitors and subscribers with valuable and readily usable information relative to the business’ products or services. A blog is an essential element of online marketing strategy.
  • An essential point of destination for visitors through the marketing funnel process, thereby channeling increased traffic to a business website.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Through effective blog content search engine optimization, including headings optimization, there is an opportunity for enhanced visitor engagement to attract new customers and increase conversion to sales.
  • Effective blog SEO helps to increase search engine page ranking and positioning in search engine results pages (SERP’s).
  • Lead Generation and Sales Conversion: A powerful tool for developing company brand recognition, lead generation, and sales conversions.
  • Provides an opportunity for potential and existing client relationship building through their engagement and interactive processes.
  • The Sales Funnel: Link back to your business website by linking your blog posts to all social and professional media platforms.
  • Add blog subscribing for convenience to your followers and also to establish a mailing list.
  • Blog content SEO helps increase exposure and interest through search engine results page listings.
  • Search Indexing and Site Visibility: The greater the amount of quality, informative and useful information a blog has, the greater the amount of indexing and search visibility your blog will generate and in turn the greater the amount of organic site traffic back to your website.
  • Blog Frequency: It is essential to update your blog with new articles on a consistent, scheduled basis. Subscribers come to anticipate new blog posts with regularity and a blog can help build brand loyalty through that ongoing informational connection that many subscribers grow to depend on.
  • Return on Investment: Businesses have done research on Return on Investment (ROI) from the blogging process and have found a conclusive and direct correlation of increased customer business activity in the way of purchases when quality blogging resources are consistently available and shared to its awaiting readership.
  • Inbound Link Generation: Online content marketing is a powerful way to attract quality, authoritative backlinking by industry professionals who develop an appreciation for a business’ blogging initiatives. Such inbound links is a key element of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This type of ‘referral traffic’ back to your website is invaluable in terms of increased web traffic and the trust and confidence visitors will have upon arrival to your site; they are warmer prospects for doing business with.
  • Long Tail Search Queries: Blog titles are automatically incorporated as an extension of your blog page URL (web address) which provides an immediate identification of a blog’s content for those using long tail search terms or ‘semantic’ queries as is increasingly popular today.
  • Increased Leads: Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between blog post length and lead generation. The more value-added a blog article is, the greater the perceived value to the prospective or targeted market that engages with those articles and in turn the greater the business activity that ensues.
  • Valuable Engagement and Conversation: Because blogs include the ‘Comment’ feature for readers, those comments, in turn, provide an opportunity for the business owner/writer to engage directly with each individual who is commenting. That is a powerful form of consumer engagement that is not found anywhere is in business marketing. That engagement further develops trust and confidence in the consumer and furthers the sales funnel process toward a decision to buy.
  • Content Freshness: Google loves fresh, highly informative content. This is the basis for their overall page/website ranking formula. The greater the search engine’s perceived value of the blog and site content to the benefit of the consumer, the better the page ranking and search engine results page positioning a blog and/or website will have.
  • Brand Differentiation: The whole name of the game on the internet today is how companies represent their brand in a way that differentiates or elevates them as a distinctive and better choice for the consumer. Through the production of original and highly meaningful, usable content, a business will realize increased search query traffic, prospective customer recognition, and trust and ultimately increased sales. There is a level of intrinsic value placed upon linking to authority content of other professional websites, however, to infuse highly topical, trending and informative, immediately useful information through blog content publication has value second to none.

 Connect with Customer Focus & Inclusion

In the final diagnosis and perspective, it is clear that the website and blog both have their equal and deserving prominence as essential tools in the business marketing process. From a new business startup and small business perspective, those two elements are the most effective means of audience connection and meaningful dialogue.

Above all else, remember that the current trend in business marketing today is to STOP the long-standing marketing approach of “Buy me, Buy me, and yet again buy me”. Our potential customers are sick and tired of blatant and unrelenting in-their-face selling. Our potential customers will NOT be treated like ‘targets’ and ‘prospects’ to be pushed or manipulated into a purchase.

Treating our audience with the respect and appreciation that they deserve is our first and ongoing priority. Let’s remember that we need to gain their respect and maintain that respectful confidence on an ongoing basis; after all, the life of a business is dependent on customer satisfaction and loyalty of repeat business.

The most significant burgeoning trend also addresses the matter of customer interaction. Talk to your ongoing and potential customers. Gain friendship and comfortable interaction. Show them through demonstration that you have the answers, the ‘solution’ to their problem through your product or services. AND, show them why they should pick you over all your competitors, why your solutions are better for their needs. Differential yourselves as exceptional with what you offer; don’t just say it, say why!

Marketing Content

Before you take your pitch live, remember to do extensive on and offline research. Study your website analytics data carefully; know your targeted market’s likes, dislikes, and needs, understand their problem and be absolutely sure of the ‘distinctive’ solution(s) that you offer to their problem. The next marketing solution is to present your product or services solutions as they are most relevant to your awaiting market.

Personalization is all over the internet at the moment as a key element of the sales equation. Take that time to know and understand the problems that your prospective consumer is faced with and you are already halfway to the solutions. Skip the preliminary research and understanding at your company’s peril.

Inflection of the Human Touch

Above all else, friends, in order to effectively connect with your marketing audience, shape your marketing content in a personal, human conversational format that truly speaks to your audience. Inject some humor into it! As long as you effectively deliver your message, why not put a smile on their face. That kind of emotional personal response is worth gold to any business owner and marketer and for the potential customer that feeling is the first step towards trust and a comfort level that says “let’s do business”!

 

LinkedIn, Marketing Quote, Jay Baer

Tips for Essential Business Networking in 2017


photo care of the muse dot come

photo c/o themuse.com

“To be successful, you have to be able to relate to people; they have to be satisfied with your personality to be able to do business with you and to build a relationship with mutual trust.”

– George Ross

See more quotes on networking:

Sandy Jones-Kaminski, LinkedIn

Personal and Professional Growth Through Business Networking

Are you relying solely on your online content marketing and advertising as your primary methods of brand development and growth? Your results are less than promising and well below your expectations right? In this article, I’ll share why business networking has become an essential part of developing your startup business and building that business into a consistently growing and sustained entity in the marketplace today. 

Two of the most common approaches to professional business networking today involve face to face networking events or online networking through a variety of websites structured for connecting online with industry professionals. What’s the bottom line?

“Networking is about making good connections and building

new relationships with other business people.”

– tacklingyourdebt.com

 

Why Networking?

Professional networking is nothing new in the business world. In fact, networking right from the onset has been an essential part of reaching out to those individuals or groups of people who share the same business interests and overall objectives. Your primary objective during the networking process is to introduce yourself to business owners and managers, demonstrate to them that you have the best solutions for their needs and impress upon them that YOU and your solutions are unique in a way that will bring to them the greatest benefit over your competition offering similar products or services.

Networking is perhaps the most important aspect of brand introduction and recognition in your marketing arsenal. Often times you will connect faster and more effectively when conversing one on one or as a group presentation at a professional networking event. There is nothing more powerful or impressionable than meeting people in person. The challenge, of course, is the much lesser scale than you would realize through paid advertising where your targeted audience reach can be exponentially greater.

Not everyone is comfortable with the networking environment, especially the first few times attending such functions. It takes some advance preparation before the event to essentially rehearse or practice the networking process as you anticipate the event rolling out over the course of the evening.

Focus on relaxing. Be aware that every single business person attending the event, regardless of their level of professional confidence in their office environment and/or the successes they may have achieved will have arrived for the event with a level of their own nervousness or apprehension. Relax! You’re not alone. Have some fun with it! Networking events are not structured as hard-driving, pressure infused tinder box sessions of handshakes and chest pumping. You’re not going in there to stand off against heavy hitters in the industry who are your direct competition.

What you will find on arrival are a large group of individuals standing around, sipping on coffee, tea, perhaps a wine and most of them will have an expression of bewilderment or apprehension. They know the basic routine for such events but they are awkwardly glancing around to see who will make the first move. To stand back and observe can often be a humorous way to see where guests are at as the event gets under way.

Whether an industry event hosted by community organizers of such business venues or your local Chamber of Commerce there is usually a half-hour to an hour at the opening for relaxing one-on- one or small group greetings and conversation. Keep it light! Handshakes and a confident smile are a great way to reduce initial tensions and you will find that people relax in turn and conversation will flow freely as attendees start to feel and embrace the friendly, cordial atmosphere.

Networking must always be focused on the best interests of your prospective client or customer and NEVER all about you and your sales pitch!

If you walk in the door of a business networking event and holler out loud that you have arrived and fashion yourself THE topic of discussion and focus for the evening, you are in for rejection. Don’t ever work the crowd with the ‘buy me, buy me, buy me’ attitude. Every business person in the room is there for the same purpose so relax and allow the event to unfold as it will.

Remember that often times, being the first one to extend your hand to greet others leaves a positive and memorable impression. Don’t hang back shyly awaiting others to initiate conversation.

During your advance preparation for the event, jot down notes of the key points about your business that you would like to introduce or focus on. Plan what you will wear, your posture, your polished shoes, your hair grooming, your smile, and your friendly tone of conversation. If the opportunity does not present itself the first event you attend, don’t panic as there are usually regular monthly events and sometimes even more frequently. Chamber of Commerce events often reserve half of every event for meet and greet networking and the last portion of the event to include a guest speaker and final comments from your host about upcoming special events, organization announcements etc.

More Tips for Your Networking Event

  • Arrive at the Event Prepared with a Goal: Prepare in advance of arrival to the networking event by ensuring that you have established goals for the event. Going ‘empty-handed’ without a plan will ultimately cause you to go off track and waiver with signs of confusion or lack of confidence. Always have a Plan B in mind in case circumstances change. Decide ahead of time how many people you want to meet or perhaps a target of one new job or project. Go with purpose and demonstrate your focus and professionalism.
  • Wear Suitable Attire: You are going to a professional or business networking event. Don’t arrive with a tattered pair of cut-off shorts or blue jeans and a T-shirt. First impressions (and ongoing impressions too) are critical. Look the professional that you are. Be calm, cool and collected but not too casual in appearance. Your posture during the event is important too. Don’t slouch. Stand tall and look ready for business!
  • Business Cards: Take a good supply of business cards; ready for handout to those you feel will continue to be a contact. Those business cards do not come cheap so don’t toss them out to everyone who nods and says hello. Doing so can look desperate. Keep the business cards in the same place for each event; know which pocket they are in so that you don’t fumble around trying to find them…all impressions!
  • Your Introduction: Plan for a professional greeting that identifies your name and your business name along with a brief but confident handshake. Focus on the other person’s introduction as well and try to remember at least their first name and nature of their business for the next event. Do not try to overload your new acquaintances with exhaustive information about yourself and your business. Stick to the primary information and pass the conversation over to the others.
  • Start by Listening, Then Speak: Don’t be in a mad panic to speak first. By allowing the other person(s) to speak you gain valuable time to gain composure, listen carefully and relax for your turn to speak. People tend to be predisposed about their own interests and concerns so it tends to follow that the first person to speak will not have a fully attentive audience.
  • Be Sincere and Show Interest: People see through insincerity in a heartbeat. If you stand in front of them nodding and smiling continuously but your mind is on your own agenda, just wait until they stop talking and ask you a question; then you are left with the embarrassment of having not listened to a word they have said. That is extremely deflating in a networking conversation scenario. Your turn will come. Stay focused, hear what the other person is sharing with you and ask them relevant questions of genuine interest.
  • Be on Point: When speaking, avoid rambling on and on. Stay on point with clear and concise statements and pause for the person listening to absorb what you have said. Sum up what you do in two or three sentences…no more. People especially new to the networking environment will quickly feel overwhelmed if you relay to them the equivalent of a four-hundred-page novel manuscript. Be brief and to the point.
  • Note Taking: You can experience that information overload as well so take a notepad. Jot down important essentials in point form about anyone you meet who is of interest for future conversations. Those key points will cue you later on about further discussion, a follow-up phone call or email or plan a coffee out together to explore further.
  • Post-Event Follow-up: Within two or three days of the networking event, send those follow-up emails or make those calls and share that you would be pleased to continue to stay in touch. Compliment your previous or initial meeting with them and demonstrate your attentive recall by mentioning something you talked about that really interested you or made you curious to hear more.
  • Online Connection Invitations: Don’t send your new contacts a generic invitation to connect i.e. on LinkedIn or the social media platforms. Send them an email to keep it personalized. Let them know that you enjoyed your time with them at the networking event and would love to connect with them on the professional/social network platforms. When communicating online with them remember to always use their name when messaging, at least once if not more often. Make that critical, impressionable connection and develop a trusting, friendly relationship through value-added, genuine interest in the other person and they will most often pay it forward.
  • Remember: Stop the hard line sales pitch of ‘buy me, buy me’ and shift your focus to the person(s) of interest, their needs and how you can help them with a solution or refer them to someone who can; the payback will be exponential in return.

So much of the foregoing is merely common sense but all important points to focus on when networking. Once you have the process down to a routine it is much easier to relax and enjoy meeting new friends and potential clients or new business associations. Even in the absence of direct business, any one of those individuals could turn out to be a huge resource to you in terms of ongoing referrals, an influencer and beyond!

Building Trust

Your best possible approach to networking is to avoid dominating the conversation. Show interest in the other business persons you meet. Get to know them first, on a personal level, before jumping into the business conversation. Never favor conversation with males over females or vice versa. Professional respect is imperative.

Listen carefully to a conversation and absorb what these individuals are about in their personal and professional lives. That is how friendships and trust develop towards potential business associations and engagement. The same approach needs to be woven into marketing content today. It is all about trust building rather than the ‘buy me’ sales pitch that was prevalent for decades past.

Online Networking

The other side of the professional networking process is your online connection development. There are more and more professional business networking websites being introduced online. Developing a consistent process for your online networking activities is just as important as in-person networking.

Be consistent with your networking activity in either case. Be aware of the various social media platforms that you are on and the premise of their intended use. When on a site like Facebook, it is still principally a social platform. Set up a business, fan or author page separate from your personal page and keep the business separate. For those who are there strictly for social interaction, many resent the presence of business activity in the mix. You will find yourself an outcast in the social community rather quickly and in the process do your business more harm than good. Respect where the line is drawn.

LinkedIn continues to lead the pack in terms of professional networking websites. Its growth has been tremendous since its launch in May 2003. LinkedIn was developed as a professional networking site for business entrepreneurs, owners and new business start-up proprietors to connect with each other and explore business opportunities, hiring opportunities and new business associations. There has been an influx of individuals attempting to use LinkedIn for social purposes and that has caused contention among members. Best practice is to respect that professional business focus and save social interaction and engagement for the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and similar sites. Even in the social media platforms, as with Facebook, a business or professional element has been introduced to those sites but their primary focus remains one of a social nature.

Professional Networking Websites

As mentioned, LinkedIn is still the frontrunner among professional networking sites but there are quite a number of more recent newcomers that you may wish to check out:

  • LinkedIn: The world’s largest professional network with more than 500 million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. Their mission: to connect business professionals around the globe for economic prosperity through professional growth and new associations.
  • Alignable : A professional networking and referral site, their focus is primarily on small business and start-ups. The site has developed a system of helping new and small businesses to find, discover and interact with other small businesses including their local business community. In Alignable’s own words, the site is seeking to “reinvent the small business economy”. Small business has long been the backbone of towns, cities, and regions across nations. I have recently become involved in this site, well worth a look.
  • AngelList: This is the Canadian site for AngelList. The focus here is on investment in support of new business start-ups. There is also a professional networking element developing between business owners on this site. Jobs and projects are listed for these new start-ups as well.
  • Black Business Women Online: A blog and online community for black women who are entrepreneurs and professionals.
  • neext: This site has transitioned from the former Beyond.com and is now job searching and job alerts including employer hiring ads listings.
  • Meetup: This is a networking site for professionals to help them find like-minded groups and ‘meetup’ opportunities locally for a wide range of interests.

 

Benefits of Networking

The whole premise of a small business is networking, developing relationships and taking action on newly established connections and resources that help to establish and sustain a new business. There is a time dedication and a considerable amount of personal initiative required to establish a new business and keep it growing.

The new business owner of today needs to develop a network of friends and business associates. This network provides invaluable resources to draw information from, influence and the inspiration to persist with a business when the going gets tough. Associated with those who have a similar vision and ambition will inevitably stimulate positive forward movement in your business.

Additional key benefits of networking include:

Shared Knowledge and Resources

Networking is an empowering way to obtain input from area businesses, share business perspective, increase knowledge and more. In a group scenario, other business entrepreneurs have already been where you are in the startup process and will afford you the opportunity to learn how to avoid typical mistakes of trial and error in the operation of your business.

Build Connections

Exposure starts with direct interaction but will also expand to other business connections in the community as well. New business opportunities will develop through the networking and referrals process. Sharing details about businesses in your own network strengthen your new network relationships.

Increased Confidence

It takes discipline to stay on track with consistent networking. You need to push yourself to keep making new contacts and the more routine your network conversations become, the greater your confidence level will be. Business development depends on talking to people and continuously making those new connections.

Elevate Your Profile

The more visible you and your business are, on and offline, the greater benefit you will gain for the growth of your business. Attend regular business networking events, community social events, any public activity where you can share your business identity, especially where there is an interest of a relevant nature. The more opportunity to share your knowledge, experience and expertise, the greater the benefits to your business you will realize. Establish yourself as the go-to authority and watch your business grow!

Another benefit is increased lead generation. The greater the community awareness of your business, the greater the trust and recognition and the greater opportunities for referrals will be.

 

The Art of Successful Writing


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It’s All About the Reader Experience

From as far back as my childhood days in elementary school, I clearly recall my fascination with words. Our teachers would speak with determined reference to the ways in which we needed to express on any number of levels through the many complexities of the English language.

Of course, in our very early elementary school teachings, those lessons were fairly simple in terms of what children that age could reasonably understand, absorb and apply both orally and in writing. Our preliminary task was to learn to speak the language and learn how to print, neatly and with deliberate and neat penmanship. Those words that we related to the most and were most often used in our day to day conversation were an early focus in class.

With each passing year, the importance of learning how to speak, read and write the English language became of greater importance, more and more complex. Grasping the spelling and meaning of each word was increasingly important, as was an understanding of just how complex the language really was. And then came the revelations of thesaurus content wherein lay a whole other dimension of the language through synonyms.

Well into the mid-secondary school period, we became more and more deeply engaged with the language through our studies. Written assignments became a routine part of our daily learning experience. Our teachers used the assignment process as a means to gauge our individual knowledge, understanding, and application of the language. I remember very early on feeling a sense of wonderment for the language, our language that was used in every conceivable aspect of people’s lives whether for personal reading, eventual writing as a profession, vocational requirement or creative endeavor.

Once into my secondary school years, I became increasingly aware of just how complex the English language was. We began to study not only advanced spelling of much more complex words and sentence structures but also a more in-depth study of the grammatical aspects of the language. This was pretty heavy stuff and for many, English Literature was tedious, boring, confusing and confounding. Many of my friends would question why we needed to know all that stuff, to begin with.

Well, when we eventually delved into the study of historical masters of the language, both structurally and creatively speaking, even more of the class began to wander their attentions to idle scribbling in their notebooks and banal daydreaming to while away the hours. Many would frequently check the big clock on the classroom wall, counting the minutes down to recess, a break from all of the mundane study sessions.

I look back on those days with a clear recollection of my own curiosity, no, fascination, with learning the English language, reading assignments and writing book reviews. The first time I held a novel in my hands was a milestone I will never forget. It was like diving into deep, darkened waters to unchartered depths of exploration and discovery for me. I kept those thoughts to myself because, quite frankly, kids in the day thought that anyone who was engrossed in reading studies was a ‘geek’, unusual to say the least.

Early into my high school days I began to have a sense that, even though I did not have a clear idea of what career direction I wanted to take, somehow I envisioned it having a lot to do with writing, communications, anything along those lines that would be an essential part of how I would make a living.

The study of poetry was for many an abstract, a nonsensical journey into waters that most students felt that they would never ply. What application could there possibly be through the use of poetic verse in our daily lives, right? Yet soon, I would develop an inspired thirst for the study of poetry. It led me to an appreciation for uniquely creative word, phrase and sentence composition that took a tremendous amount of focus to write effectively. Years later I would develop a lifelong passion for writing poetry.

I soon developed an even greater appreciation of how content development, in general, would form the basis, the foundation for more comprehensive writing applications that I would use throughout my entire career. My parents recognized my innate sense of excitement reading, especially fictional novels that I brought home from the library. One day mom brought home a box set of Hardy Boys mystery novels, hardbound and engagingly illustrated on the front cover.

I quickly became hooked on those Hardy Boy classics and read them repeatedly. My home library collection grew with each new publication and soon I would be into Nancy Drew mysteries and more. I would be fixated hour after hour, consumed by the gripping storylines, the suspense and wondering at the final outcome of each story, not wanting to put the books down when called for dinner. I would often read late into the night on weekends.

I loved the way the author developed his or her characters; their unique appearance and personalities, their voice, beliefs, interests, likes and dislikes, and their role in the story. And then there were the physical settings that surrounded individual scenes which rounded out the story. It all played out in my mind as a cinematic scene in a motion picture at the town theatre.

I recall punctuation being one of the more challenging elements of writing that I found difficult to grasp. I had an uncle who was a well-known journalist in both the newsprint and radio media. He was an artist and created the most incredible sketches with a graphite pencil that I have seen to this day. I began to read his newspaper articles, primarily editorial and sports columns but he later ventured in the most impassioned way into the political commentary and critique arena. He had a tremendous thirst for stirring things up and politics was just the thing. He struck out with a more unconventional and often controversial voice that had many readers incensed but truly got their attention and response. Those were my early lessons in reader engagement.

The more I read Uncle Gord’s columns, the keener my interest for writing became. I was fascinated about how he developed his storylines, how he captured interest and attention through the words he fashioned, how he painted a picture through every story told. The tremendous power and effectiveness of his word and phrase use and his very sentence composition was a marvel. I even fascinated at how each and every paragraph transitioned so fluidly to the next.

As a teenager, I was beginning to have a strong sense of where my career direction was meant to be. I decided to go on to college and study journalism. My interest and apparent strength lay in the printed media. I would work for newspapers, reporting stories from out in the field about any number of interesting subjects. I would interview important and learned people in order to establish and support my storylines.

While my passion for writing continued to grow during my college studies, the romance with journalistic reporting lost its shine, its polish for me and I did not pursue completion of those studies nor that vocation in life. Still, I would eventually forge on to management roles with a Crown Corporation that would be the beginnings of a life-long career in property and facility management. It was during those thirty years as a professional in the real estate management industry that I would apply extensive written communications on a daily basis.

Once I experienced the managerial roles in the real property industry, it was then that I quickly became aware of just how important effective written, and oral, communications would be in the course of my daily management and reporting of property operations to our clients. I was required to communicate in a clear, concise, informative and persuasive way, with clients from all walks of life. I would address property issues through all matter of supportive external service providers of daily or periodic services to our clients from trades-related contractors to architects, engineers, lawyers and industry professionals.

The strict rule of thumb within that Crown Corporation and all of the subsequent private sector firms that I was engaged by was to provide factually sound, informative and engaging communications and written reports to all clients and stakeholders. My accuracy and effective ‘voice’ through my written communications had to be delivered with the utmost clarity, consultative expertise and meticulous in its execution every single time documents were distributed from my desk. Critical decision processes were imminent from my communications.

Anticipating the extent of my focus on the written word moving forward after secondary school, I undertook to study intense, in-depth elective and college courses in English, grammar, and business management and communications as a precursor to my successive management years in a career that truly demanded exceptional oral and written communications skills. There would be absolutely no room for contextual error when it came to professional communications whether oral or written.

I learned the fundamentals of a storyline and communications development right from the opening sentence to set the voice and tone of the piece and what the reader could expect throughout its message, to the main body of the content delivery and final paragraphs that drew informative recommendations and conclusions. The content that I wrote was very often extensive in nature and complexity and was ultimately eight to ten or more pages in length. Even at that length, I was to cover a high volume of information and client recommendations in a clear and concise manner. Brevity to the point of confusion was never an option on the table. A lot was at stake if my message was somehow misconstrued.

The Art of Reader Engagement

The strength in communicating in an ‘engaging’ way goes far beyond mere logistics and factually informative report writing. In addition to writing highly informative content, the reader’s attention easily becomes distracted, especially the longer the overall length and depth of a piece is. Writing in a conversational voice becomes an essential element of reader engagement more now than ever before.

People’s time is harried; condensed into split seconds of engagement or distraction. Get to the point and give the reader what they are looking for and the sooner the better. Cut out superfluous content that would otherwise be characterized as ‘fluff’. Cut to the chase and make your point, especially from a content marketing perspective! What people will engage in is informative content that identifies the very problem they are experiencing and how best to go about fixing that problem, making their lives better, easier, more efficient, more cost-effective and enjoyable.

We often view ‘art’ as an ‘expression’, a unique and creative oral, written or painted/sculpted delivery of one’s thoughts or ideas whether spoken, on paper or online, even physically formed in an artful way that brings a pleasurable, inspired audio or visual experience to its audience. The beauty of any art form is strictly in the eye of the beholder…or is it? Is the perception of art by design for the divine graces of the beholder or is it mere aggrandization of its creator?

The art of reader engagement is all about the reader experience.

Today, when appealing to the emotions of your intended reading audience in writing, the critical element that delivers ties that bind is forming a connection with our readers through their emotional response to our content. Speak to your audience in a conversational tone…share with your readers through your own voice rather than second or third person.

When you relay a story as part of your message delivery, infuse the human touches that your audience can directly relate to. Consider a love story unfolding in your novel. What is the lighting like? Is it overpowering, glaring, unromantic or gently subdued? Are your characters yelling out to each other from separate rooms or are they close, but a movement’s touching away? How are they breathing? What are they gazing at? Are they resisting or embracing the imminent connection? What is the tone of their voice in conversation? Is it a matter of fact, suggestive, evocative?

How do we know we are making that important connection?

As writers, much of what we write is intuitive, off the cuff, instinctive progressions of ideas and circumstance which tend to lead the story where it is willed to go. It may follow our intended path of logical direction and flow but it also may weave its own directions between points A to B as would feel most natural under the circumstances.

We are a curious lot as creatives. We write as it feels good to ourselves. We develop a smug reliance on our instincts for brilliant situational development and resolution. Nancy is falling in love with Tom and that is how the story will end…right? Well, not necessarily. Writing as creatives, we hunger for what lies outside the box, the surprise element, a long way from what may seem logical.

In the literal sense, an artist will begin their project with very little or no sense of what they are about to create and allow the construction to go where it will. Here is what I, as a creative, experience when writing poetry or prose:

  • I first develop a conceptual idea for each piece.
  • As with a storyline, I envision a beginning, middle and an end.
  • I begin to write my piece from that concept.
  • I always have that ending in mind yet most often new ideas form in my mind and the piece takes on an entirely different direction and meaning.
  • I structure or shape my ending, my close, based on a new and fluid conclusion to the piece as it has progressed.

During its writing, I read back every word, every line, and every stanza repeatedly. Is its progression fluid, is it clear and engaging? With each new line, I read back again, always repeating that analytical process. I am incessantly reading back through the eyes of my readers, always. It is the reader experience that is paramount. Am I evoking an emotional response? Is it appealing and compelling for its intended audience or would it better be expressed another way?

I obsess on whether the reader is tearing up or grinning from ear to ear. Am I just being a coy and manipulative ass or am I producing something truly meaningful and never self-serving? Now, self-serving is a whole other matter to address and even though one’s content should never be overtly that, there is a quiet sense, as a writer, of the desired self-fulfillment, always. Still, my content always aims to resonate with its intended reader…without exception.

Content Revisions

Regardless of the genre or intended audience, whether a fictional novel, a university dissertation, business communication, content marketing or advertising copy, the primary objective is to write content that fully resonates with the reader. It has to echo, in other words, the reader should be able to relate personally to the content. It should invoke an emotional response. Editing or revision of content brings that content to its most clear and concise delivery while still delivering an enriching experience for the reader. The ambiguous becomes more clear, more appealing and a more natural progression toward the conclusion of the chapter or piece overall.

Revision fine-tunes, makes greater sense, hones in on specifics, filtering out redundancy, superfluous wording, laying bare a truer and more assuming path for the reader to walk along. When describing an action or reaction, use specific description to clearly explain a character’s train of thought to substantiate their response.

As you write, place yourself squarely in the shoes of the character in the moment. Each of their actions or reactions must emulate their personality under a particular circumstance and how that might change during other extenuating circumstances. It has to fit. If your reader does a quick about face there is an immediate and confusing disconnect. As the architect of the story, we need to always be acutely aware of the logical action and reaction that fits each situation and its participants.

In the writing process, if I have done my job you should be sensing the emotions of the characters and in response, you may well feel emotions of your own whether empathy or sadness, supportive or standoffish. In the course of reading, we experience our own sense of emotional responses, some that are powerful enough that our general response to similar circumstances in real life may change in kind. If we are going to interject an out-of-character response in the story we better resolve that displaced response with reasoning accordingly.

What does a creative writer do?

When I say ‘creative writer’ I am doing so from a fictional perspective as well as in the sense of written communications business to business or other specific targeted audience. We are ‘creatives’ in the sense of how we develop our content or copy. We develop the words and message for our intended audience and purpose, right?

We create or write and then were reread over and over again. Then we revise our content or copy through a series of tweaks as we examine our words, under the microscope, from every angle. Does it suit? Does it appeal? Does it invoke the intended response? Does it compel the reader’s own response and/or desired action? We must always read through the eyes of our audience.

We must always be mindful that each and every reader has their own personality, their own belief structure, their own likes, dislikes and reactions to what they see, what they hear and feel when they are reading. Our content should always compliment the reader’s intelligence and innate sensibilities, their potential personality, sense of humor and logic, wit and fancy.

Revisions are for the benefit of the reader and rightly so. Anticipate the changes being made during the editing process and how that might alter the reactions and responses of your readers in kind. Anticipate your readers’ perspective from various angles. As a writer, gauge your own responses as you read back your content and ask yourself how your varied and diverse readership would react in kind.

Build on your story through anticipation

Whether writing your first novel, business communication or advertising copy, it is essential that you write and revise through the anticipation of what it is your readers will be anticipating as they read progressively through your content and how they will react or respond. From a content marketing and advertising copy perspective, register a problem that you know your targeted audience is experiencing, build on the emotions being felt about that problem and show your audience how you can help them overcome that problem.

The approach to writing your novel is not dissimilar. Build a problem into a situation or scene, carefully anticipate your readers’ potential reactions or emotional responses and move the story or message forward with a most logical conclusion or solution to that particular problem.

Write with purpose and direction but the flexibility to allow for change

As writers, we fashion ourselves as conductors of an orchestra; flapping our arms and hands as directional overtures that guide our individual and collective musicians to act and react in response to the intended course of the composition score. As the music plays out in response to our direction, sometimes a wayward yet keenly enthusiastic and artistic soul among the collective throws in their own sense of musical prowess. As a conductor with an acute sense of hearing, you sense an errant series of notes, subtly off course yet curiously intriguing to be sure.

So you strike out for the cessation of sound as you awkwardly collect your thoughts. Then and without undue fuss request that the wayward musician replay that series of notes, audacity aside! Much to your astonishment, you, the masterful conductor, suddenly experience the unexpected; an alternate yet surprisingly pleasing and well-suited interjection of background accompaniment that works even better than the original score. What follows would be a rather furious recording of the new and preferred enhancement of the musical score, with a discreet nod to your ‘co-writer’ as subtle approval and signal to the collective to repeat the overture accordingly.

We must read back our work with an open and receptive mind to change.

Regardless of the source, our intuition becomes imperative in the moment. Trust your instincts, gauge your reader response and go with the subtle nuances of revision as the story or message progresses and as we read back repeatedly during the editing process.

It is the allowance for unexpected change that will shape and reshape our story or message in the most meaningful ways. As in life, we experience many twists and turns in the journey and must adapt to those changes which, for the most part, are positive. We can always alter our course when anticipated changes are not the most suitable to the storyline, message and solution conveyed.

Have you ever sat bolt upright in bed, shocked out of a dead sleep only to groggily awake to brilliant notions for a piece you are writing? Has it caused you to laugh out loud in the triumphant glory that such a critical idea would somehow startle you out of dream state, about your writing project no less, and render your storyline or copy superbly better conveyed? Well, I certainly have experienced that flash of unexpected light and regardless its origin it had me scrambling for the light switch and my pen and writing pad to get it down before the thought drifted in tatters out the open window!

Never take for granted the subtleties of revision on the winds of change. Some things were just meant to be!

Subscribe to the Lasting Impressions Editing Newsletter

© Don MacIver 2017; All Rights Reserved

8 Copywriting Essentials to Master in 2017


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1st Rule of Engagement; Stop Selling Yourself & Focus on Customer Benefits!

What essential copywriting elements drive response?  Copywriting has been around for a long, long time and although the focus and perspective evolves to an extent over time as marketing and advertising professionals rethink and reshape, the core principle of copywriting today centers on how your prospective customer or client will benefit; what’s in it for them? Read on to find ways to zero in on best copy strategies for your market.

Lose sight of that focus on how you can help your customer acquire a less complicated, more enjoyable and problem-free life experience and conveying that very story at all times is key to capturing your targeted market’s attention and desire to keep reading what you have to say…and clicking through as directed to find out more and make that critical buy decision.

For as long as memory serves, the sole focus in marketing and advertising copy was centric to ‘Buy me, buy me, and yes, buy me.” Not anymore!

Regardless of ongoing innovations in digital marketing and PPC (pay per click) advertising, writing effective ad copy continues to be the essential factor in driving audience engagement and compelling them to want to find out more and ultimately may offer a prospective purchaser whether what you offer is a product line, services or causes and more.

Be aware that the platforms that we are using as marketing vehicles are in a constant state of flux. We must always stay current on the many changes those vehicles are undergoing. As equally important, the reasons for those changes and how we as marketers and business proponents need to adjust and take advantage of the new and improved version of those vehicles drives new potential in a fiercely competitive marketing arena.

Industry Tools

As demanding as research is in terms of our dedication of time and energy, we need to always be aware and intimately understanding of the many relevant tools and technologies that are developed to enhance our targeted audience reach and engagement. You cannot afford to allow your own strategy and techniques to fall short in terms of ad copy that is not on-point or all of your efforts will lose ground rapidly in terms of relevance and effect.

Master the Craft of Skilled Copywriting 

Take your craft of copywriting skills to the next level through ongoing research and development or your return on your efforts will fall well short of expectations. Be sure that you implement current standards as time passes to that end.

Keywords remain an important part of your copy strategy. Use your core keywords in your ads in accordance with current Google policy guidelines at all times. Never underestimate the critical importance of algorithmic and content ranking that comes with Google updates as they occur, at times twice or more within the same twelve-month period.

Lag behind in your awareness of what the major search engines expect to see in your content at any given time, especially Google, will prove harmful to your website and can result in critical loss of visibility to the extent that all your hard work to develop your hub presence online becomes virtually ineffective and your site ‘invisible’ to those searching for what you have to offer.

8 Copywriting Essentials

1) Write Your Copy to Meet User Needs & Objectives

›  Make sure that you anticipate what your targeted market/audience needs and/or wants to make their lives or businesses better. That takes research so take full advantage of all relevant articles and innovative new data analytics tools which help define who your audience reach includes (demographics) in terms of relevance, interests, geographical location, age, gender, education, vocation and more.

›  Phrase your ad copy very carefully to make sure you are capturing their attention and appealing directly to what those needs and desires are.

2) Use of Numbers or Statistics in Headlines

› Market prospects will often share what their purchase budget is in advance. By including pricing in your ad copy you will help with the consumer’s decision process when they are considering your ad vs the ads of your competitors and what they have to offer.

3) Appeal to Your Market’s Sense of Entitlement

› This area of marketing may be less familiar to you. People today have an acute sense of entitlement. They have strong and deeply personal perspective on what they should be able and are entitled to have in their life not only in terms of lifestyle but also personal belongings/possessions and more. Appeal to that sense of entitlement in terms of emotional response to your ads by your prospective customers.

4) Emotional Triggers

› When writing your brand story and ad copy draw on responsive emotions that will drive reaction and potential decision making motivation i.e. excitement, anger, disgust, fear, urgency. Statements of affirmation and humor also invoke response. Use careful and respectful wording when drawing on these type of emotions so as never to come across in an offensive way.

5) Write Unique, Keyword Rich Display URL’s

› Be aware that diplay URL’s are often of greater interest and relevance for ad copy. Design your ad copy to contain your top or core keywords. Remember that search engines pick up on keyword elements which help to identify what a particular article, blog or website is all about. That is essential to your placement and positioning in search results!

› Remember to always incorporate your core keywords into your website and blog/article headings and body text in addition to the ad copy you write. There should be a direct correlation between your various online presences accordingly.

6) Use of Punctuation to End the First Description Line

› End your first description line after your headline with a punctuation mark i.e. an exclamation mark (!). By doing so your ad may receive an ‘elongated headline‘ if that ad places in the top three search results. An ‘elongated’ or ‘extended’ headline means that the text from your first description line is moved up to the headline. The extended ad headline has the effect of increasing the CTR (click-through rate) of ads. 

7) Anticipate Common Objections with Well-Crafted Copy

› Read back your headline and ad copy repeatedly to make sure that it will have the desired affect on its intended audience. Before even writing that copy, make sure you have fully considered who your intended/targeted audience is and how they will react to your copy wording. Always remember that by staying focused on your ad copy wording you are creating a positive influence when it comes to the reader’s decision process between you and your competitors. When it comes to ad copy, first impressions are critical. There are rarely second chances in the marketing and advertising copy realm of thinking.

8) Focus Your Ad Copy on Benefits

› Last but certainly by no means least is this ad copy essential; regardless of past convention, do not sell yourself or your company by telling people how great you are! This is critical. Understand that they only care about how you can make their life easier or better for them. The consumer today is sick and tired of the age-old marketing and sales approach that is “Buy me, buy me.” They just don’t want to see, hear or otherwise embrace that tactic anymore. They know what advertising is purposed for. Still, their focus is strictly on how they alone will benefit from what you have to offer…so maintain the ad copy focus strictly on them!

Make absolutely sure that your ad copy is clear on what the reading consumer will gain for themselves by purchasing your product, service or cause. Lose sight of this critical convention and you have just wasted a lot of time, effort and advertising dollars (for yourself or your client) only to see your ad campaign fall flat on its face with lackluster results. After all, the ad IS all about the consumer!

For more information on copywriting take a look at this HubSpot.com list of Fantastic Copywriting.

Audience Engagement & Social Media Profiling in 2017


add-social-media-buttonsAre your website, social and professional media platforms producing the kinds of traffic and conversion results that you have anticipated? You’ve spent countless hours adjusting your online presence to comply with previous search engine algorithm changes, primarily Google, to no apparent avail? This article will focus on those two elements to your online presence and how to get improved results for the new algorithm updates just released for 2017.

Once again search algorithm updates are changing the way we develop our web content on our websites and blogs and through social and professional media platforms.

Improving the Mobile Experience

First things first; you’ve heard of the buzz over the past year about the rapid escalation of mobile use for internet access. This story continues to move forward to the extent that you can expect that the same trends will continue for years to come. Previously we were focused on optimizing our website and social/professional media for greater visibility in search engine results pages (SERP’s) and advance preparations to ensure that our online locations are mobile friendly.

The mobile technology requires changes to web design well beyond what the average user is familiar with and experts handle that in their website builder designs. What you and I must get on board with right NOW is ensuring that your website or blog is indeed configured for mobile browsing. The background design work has been established and factored into web design and now the end users (ourselves) need to do a number of things to our websites, blogs and social media to further that mobile friendliness in order that when mobile users arrive at our site or page they have an optimum viewing experience, failing which they will quickly click out and move on with the search results elsewhere.

Responsive design is simply not enough. You need to be sure that all of your navigation and site elements are highly intuitive and convenient for your visitors.

Long form content now reigns supreme. Develop your content through lengthy articles that are comprehensive; that is, to fully and deeply cover your topic. Don’t glaze over with superfluous content that does not help readers solve their problem; give them lots of details that represent advice for your readers.

People are sick and tired of old news that has no depth and lacking usable information and meaning. You now need to do extensive research on your subject matter to enable you to produce information-rich long-form articles that provide value to your readers. I know what you’re thinking; now I have to spend hours researching from countless sources and writing even longer articles. I’m pressed for time more than ever.

Because there is such a high level of priority and focus now placed on long-form, information rich content, make that your focus and relax your post schedule to accommodate fewer posts. That way you trim the time factor while maximizing the quality of content you provide for your readers. Never lose site of the end objective; increased traffic, authority interest, followers/subscribers, engagement and conversion to sales or increased customers/clients.

Social Media in 2017

Your social and professional media platforms continue to be crucially important assets for reader engagement, pushing brand awareness, driving consumers to your landing pages, websites and blogs as well as other intended online destinations. That sequence of audience transitions furthers our SEO objectives.

Today, in terms of your social media accounts, the new order for audience engagement is to become much more actively social with your followers and non-followers alike and far less focus and posting on BUY ME, BUY ME, and BUY ME. Engage with your followers and other social media users on their own Tweets or Facebook updates and do so in a genuine, meaningful way that illustrates your interest and engagement in their interests. Stop the constant selling!

By interacting socially with fellow users you subtly support your own brand through the experiential authority of your comments, your voice online. Wherever possible, practice this user engagement with those whose own account platform has relevance to your own. Then and only then do you have something which is mutually interesting to each other to talk about. Demonstrate your brand expertise being sure that your comments are fully relevant to the other party’s interests as expressed in their Tweets/update posts.

Non-Business Engagement: Don’t lose perspective on the importance of social engagement. Drop your shoulders, remove your tie, kick off your shoes and relax with social engagements. Factor that essential time into your schedule.

Comment on others’ posts that you liked; tell them that you got a lot from their post and thank them by name. If there is no room to comment directly on their Tweet, reply to them or send them a private message with the same compliment. Share others’ Tweets or Facebook updates frequently. Shares are a critical way to expand your fellow users’ audience reach and you will find that they reciprocate accordingly.

Be sure to always use the other user’s name in your responsive comments; personalize your comment by saying: “Nancy, what you’ve shared here really resonates with me. Many thanks!” Then follow up with later interaction, perhaps by private message or chat, share more specific comments and develop two-way conversation in a meaningful way. Assure them that their article or post gave you useful, meaningful insights.

By following this approach you’re not just fluffing through your comments in an ingenuous attempt to grab their attention about you and your brand. People see through that façade immediately. Maintain your comments strictly about them and when they respond with meaningful dialogue, return the gesture with your own meaningful response and close the conversation by wishing them a great day/week.

Do you see the trend that is quickly emerging here? Switch gears and back off the sell, sell, sell accelerator pedal. Reduce the frequency of Tweeting/updates about your own brand and links back to your website or blog considerably. I know that sounds counter intuitive to what we have been practicing for so long yet the new world order online paints a very different picture than those of the past number of years where it was THE only game in town.

Place the sell factor on your website or blog and ads where it belongs. Those vehicles are the primary hub location online where your content marketing should rest, beyond which expand your targeted audience through advertising. Social media advertising continues to be a powerful medium. Transition quickly to being social in your social media platforms.

Social Media Platform Profiles

If you have designed your social media profile properly you have begun by inserting your name or business name at the top of your profile next to your profile photo which should be a nice, professional head and shoulders shot of yourself in business attire (smile, looking directly at the camera or slightly off center) or your business logo.  Follow with your hashtag keywords that have the highest relevance and potential search terms that people will use to find what you have to offer. Those hashtag keywords are critical not only for search results but also to tell visitors what you have to offer once they land on your page.

Make sure you have included your business website or blog URL – a must to navigate people back to your website where the marketing process takes place. If character limitations become an issue, use a TinyURL or similar for the website or blog link. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is also linked through your social media profile and if there is still room add a short URL link(s) to your Facebook page. Add your location by city and province or state. This is especially important for the many that search for such services or products in their own locale.

A Word on Personal vs. Professional Pages on Social Media Platforms:  I strongly advise that you keep your professional content on social media platforms separate from your personal pages. Why? Because the two do not mix for the majority of people. Keep the two separate and by having individual professional pages on each of your social media platforms and LinkedIn as well. On Facebook I opened with my personal page and when I launched my business I created a business page that focuses on the business end. I am also a published writer/poet and keep that aspect of my online presence separate as well. Many people hate users posting business content on their personal page; after all it is a social platform. Business has become a huge part of social media in recent years but keep it separate from your personal page, otherwise you may well suffer adverse effects of lower follower numbers and engagement accordingly.

Images & Video Media

Another critically important aspect of social media content is the use of high quality images and videos that will have relevance to your brand, or that of your targeted audience, and which add informational/beneficial value for your followers. While staying away from the BUY ME aspect of your content, link only to the relevant image/video source or related article.

LinkedIn Profiles

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I cannot stress enough the importance of having a LinkedIn profile; if you are a business person, a marketing expert, a social media enterprise, a professional of any description or a writer, author or poet who is marketing their product, services or cause, or if you are job hunting or want to have a professional presence for business networking purposes and potential employer exposure, having a LinkedIn account is essential. The power of this mammoth professional networking platform cannot be understated.

LinkedIn Profile Image

A serious note to all of you who have a LinkedIn account for business purposes. LinkedIn is a professional networking platform with emphasis on ‘professional’. Time and time again I see profile photos that are cheesy, idiotic, circus fare, face jammed right up into the camera, comedic and contorted facial expressions, freaky colored hair and the list goes on. STOP THE GOOFY PROFILE PHOTOS. LINKEDIN IS A SITE FOR PROFESSIONALS. There is a rapidly growing furor over those kinds of playhouse mentality profile images.

Your profile photo on LinkedIn must be professional; make sure your appearance is professional. The profile image should always be a head and shoulders photo, hair groomed, clean-shaven, direct gaze into the camera with a nice smile (or slight turn for a partial side profile but only slightly). Wear a crisp, clean outfit suitable for your vocation. Take the photo while you are fresh for the day and not after coming home from a grueling 18 hour day or a night out on town. Looking stoned or otherwise inebriated turns people off fast. People want to be comfortable that in seeing your profile photo they would be dealing with a professional.

I see profile photos that are actually on the diagonal, fully sideways and some that are truly upside down. You want professionals to connect with you? Use photos like just described and they will click out in seconds and ignore your existence. Such photos have no place on a professional networking or marketing platform.

Disclaimer: I only make the foregoing comments about suitable profile photos, not to make fun or belittle anyone, rather, to illustrate the type of professional photo critical for the LinkedIn profile. Save the goofy, cheesy stuff for your socials.

Follow conventional practices in professional circles and avoid experiencing high bounce rates (quick arrival and click outs) that will render your LinkedIn page virtually useless in terms of professional activity and brand marketing and also reduce your website traffic drastically.

You are using the site to foster interest and drive traffic to your website or blog (whichever is your primary business/marketing platform).

Developing Your LinkedIn Profile

The profile page on LinkedIn is your place to sell your experience, talents and potential as a new employee, associate or business partner to those business professionals. The same holds true if you are marketing a product, service or cause. Put your best foot forward and work painstakingly on a quality, error-free, professional presentation of who you are, what you have to offer, what you have achieved and how to contact you. Get a professional friend to help you or hire a professional content writer or editor to get your profile fine-tuned to where it needs to be that tells other professions: “Yes, I want to be associated with this individual and/or their business enterprise.”

Much of my preceding comments on social media will also apply on your LinkedIn profile. Remember that your LinkedIn account is a professional networking platform – ensure that all of your content is just that…professional from top to bottom including your Profile page. I’ve linked my own social media and LinkedIn profiles at the end of this article for you to take a look at if you wish to help you employ best practices in your profile development.

Following is a partial screenshot of my LinkedIn profile page. Click on the visual to expand it for better viewing.

Don MacIver; LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn Profile Image

Use a high quality/resolution photo image of yourself (or your business logo) that is free of distortion. Image specifications are searchable if you are unsure of the most suitable image size to use for best quality image viewing. The image should be clear, sharp and as relevant as possible to your business or profession, services, product or cause. The importance of a professional appearance of the header image is as critical as the header image for your website or blog, often one and the same for brand recognition.

An incomplete, nearly blank profile page is virtually useless here. Even if your experience is minimal you should be able to draw on the experience, education and interests that you have acquired to date and as your experience and employment situation changes. Always remember to update your LinkedIn Profile accordingly.

The colors incorporated into the header image you select should mirror the colors that you have in your business logo. It all goes to brand association and recognition…an important aspect of on-page images. Remember that if you find this page unfamiliar or too difficult to develop on your own, seek the help of a professional associate or friend or even hire a professional writer or editor to set up your profile page. On-page optimization is also essential which many people are not fully conversant with. Your page must be searchable and place well in search results.

That very first field at the top of your profile must be carefully designed from your professional head and shoulder photo image (or logo) to your name and professional credentials and your business name. What follows is the most critical textual elements of your profile; your itemized list of products or services using highest level keywords (on-page optimization for SEO) which must clearly define what you do, what you have to offer and what key components of your business are.

If you are not a business or marketing professional but want a professional presence online, list your qualification/designation and key responsibilities

Contact Information

Be sure to provide your business contact-related content in the fields provided and make sure that this section is updated for any future changes so that the profile does not become outdated or containing dead links.

‘Posts’

Use this relatively new feature for creating and posting your articles which showcase your brand with content that is rich in useful information that readers can use today. Present the most up-to-date information available as readers are frustrated by old news and click out fast. Write high quality articles that benefit the reader the most. Your content should be clear, concise and free of superfluous fluff that has no actionable value for the reader. Provide information that is of strong interest and benefit to your targeted audience.

Summary

Highlight what your key services, products or cause entails or your occupational summarization. Remember who your targeted audience is to profile the most relevant expertise and experience. Do not rush this summary development and make sure that keyword inclusion is carefully designed to alert search engines and pull traffic for those searching for what you have to offer. Ensure that your profile is showing up in search engine results pages (SERP’s). You can test your search visibility by searching with your name and or business name and city location as your search terms. Note: With new online pages or sites it will take some time before it appears in search results provided the proper on-page search optimization and your page/site ranking has been executed.

Portfolio

Begin with a clear and concise summary of what you do and then build your portfolio/project profile with those project or client services most significant to this profile and relevance to your targeted audience and related achievements.

Word this section for optimum interest and action on the part of your professional readers. The Portfolio section is also of great importance to potential employers, clients and human resources/recruitment specialists seeking to find just the right fit for their client position candidate searches.

If you develop your profile effectively you will find that over time you will begin to receive contacts from business professionals who wish to express an interest in your experience and expertise. It is a powerful tool with a broad reach, not to be underestimated. A well written profile on LinkedIn will translate into exposure to any number of opportunity levels, funnel traffic to your website or blog and social media platforms as well.

Client Testimonials

I cannot stress enough how critical this section is. If you have had wonderful professional business, client or customer experiences and relationships, be sure to seek their personal testimonials. By obtaining those attestations about your quality services or products, your business objectives are legitimized and create a buzz of interest. Be sure to obtain permission before posting those testimonials publicly. Extend your thanks to that client or customer and support them in some way as well.

Testimonials are a powerful statement that will help sell your professionalism and brand authority. Flogging yourself can be an endless and sometimes futile effort so make sure you acquire testimonials from your best, most appreciative clients; they will pay it forward in spades.

Experience & Employment History

Use a chronological or hierarchal sequence to listing your career/professional history. As you would with your resume, only focus on the history that is most relevant to your targeted audience, employer or business/job role. Be clear, concise and brief in this section. You do not want to overload information beyond the primary position, company and brief, most relevant responsibilities.

Courses

Outline relevant course studies that advanced your education and skill sets as relevant to the type of position you are pursuing moving forward in your career or that serve to further your expertise and brand relevance.

Skills & Endorsements

This section is critical for highlighting your top level skill sets and expertise. Do not rush or under-populate this crucial field. This is where more defined details of your acquired skill sets or expertise come into play. I have seen countless profiles that limit their skills list to only five or six points. Consider carefully what your functions were with each respective employer during your career to date. Hone in on those critical responsibilities and the essential skills required to do the work effectively.

The Profile allows for 51 different skills to be identified. Use this area to full advantage; exposure for your expertise to all those seeking your experience level i.e. business managers, human resources personnel and recruitment experts all searching to find the one individual that is the best possible fit for their client’s position search. Do not sell yourself short.

In tandem with the skills listings, once you begin to connect with individuals in relevant industries to your own, you will begin to see skills ‘endorsements’ provided by your connections on your behalf. Make sure that you reciprocate those helpful and important gestures and acknowledge the same by initiating conversations through private messaging. Develop relationships and trust, never rushing the selling aspect of your own brand. Through that engagement process you will increase the potential for business, job or professional partnering prospects.

Engaging with your contacts and relevant group discussions develops powerful professional networking activity, perhaps the most effective means of attracting new business customers and clients today. When networking, focus on what you can do for your contacts based on their own needs and not your own. Forgo the personal selling of yourself; that will happen through genuine conversation and in turn establish your brand authority.

Education

Your educational history is fairly self-explanatory. Outline your key educational highlights and acquired qualifications, diplomas, professional designations, certificates or degrees. From this history you will want to emphasize those skills and qualifications that are most relevant to your career pursuits and at given time.

Certifications

Do not miss out or skip over this section when you have educational qualifications. Display your highest (hierarchal) designations, diplomas, certificates or degree(s) here.

Additional Info

Another important section of the profile, just as it is in your resume. Do not skimp on sharing your interests, hobbies, life passions outside the office. Show your human side and what you do with your non-working hours; it paints a complete picture for anyone considering engaging in your services in any way.

Honors & Awards

Again, this is very important information. If you have been bestowed a form of honorary recognition for something you have done over the years, professionally or otherwise, don’t leave anything out, especially an award(s) from your employer. Such awards points to your highest skill levels, achievements and the potential to reciprocate with a new employer or business partner.

Organizations

Getting involved with organizations that are relevant to your own employment or business is important. It can lead to important volunteer work and is certainly a powerful means to network with other business professionals in your community i.e. Chamber of Commerce.

Volunteer Organizations You Support

Volunteer work is an important aspect of your life and commitment to your community. Serving to help others in need is a powerful testament to character. It can also be a very rewarding experience for you personally and again paints a picture for anyone considering engaging with you on a professional level.

Recommendations

This is yet another critical element of the profile building process. When you have a solid experience with a client with whom you have had a good relationship, reach out to them to request a brief written attestation. As with a testimonial, that endorses your abilities in your industry or profession. Such statements are solid gold!

Emphasize a brief statement but if your experience with that individual has been very good, chances are that you will get a lengthier recommendation than you are anticipating! Always express sincere appreciation, publicly if suitable to do so, and pay it back in some way beneficial to the client or customer. Associates will also provide invaluable recommendations.

In summation, invest in the time and energy needed to ensure that your LinkedIn profile is all that it can possibly be. The fruits of your labor are potentially considerable. You will connect with the most amazing, influential individuals, converse in relevant professional groups, network with like minds that move mountains and establish a strong presence in the worldwide professional community.

 

LinkedIn Profile

Twitter Business Profile

Facebook Business Page

 

© Don MacIver 2017; All Rights Reserved

 

Social Media Marketing; Audience Reach for Business on Facebook


alheva_facebookHave you captured a presence on Facebook? The giant social media platform has garnered a huge audience reach as the leading social marketing platform on the internet today. Have you seen measurable results from that marketing reach or focused in another direction out of frustration?

Social media marketing efforts in today’s business environment face abundant challenges yet not insurmountable by any means. Social media platforms have undergone remarkable change over the years and will continue to evolve to address changes in the marketplace, search engine algorithms and how internet users ultimately utilize those platforms.

Seeking to establish and develop brand awareness and harness lead capture can indeed be frustrating for many businesses challenged with a juggle between available marketing capital , time and human resources to pursue marketing objectives to best advantage. An effective strategy is essential to your successes and without that strategy effectively implemented your efforts could well produce only marginal results.

Facebook has proven to be a very successful marketing channel and their statistical data bears that out. The mammoth social media platform will continue to play a strong role in the marketing focus of business enterprise as their momentum continues to gain and produce even greater results as anticipated in the foreseeable future.

Facebook Stats to Consider Carefully

  • Nearly 80% of all internet users, globally, use Facebook and fully 68% of those users are adults in the U.S. alone. Facebook user numbers are projected to swell to nearly 170 million in the U.S. by 2018.
  • Facebook continues to be the top social network globally in terms of membership with an 84% share. That’s staggering!
  • Nearly 1.8 billion users each month, globally, actively use the mammoth social platform with close to 1.2 billion people logging on to the site. Consider the potential of capturing the attention and engagement of even a fraction of that enormous audience potential.
  • Statistics reveal user habits which indicate that half of those users aged 18-24 log in to Facebook when they rise each morning. Being aware of such analytics for your targeted market is critically telling in terms of the best time of day to post for optimum targeted user reach.
  • Close to 30% of Facebook users are in the 25-35 age bracket which represents the most common user demographic. This is a prime target audience to reach out to for your expanded reach and potential new lead capture and sales conversion potential.
  • Work toward creating and sharing your quality content to that broad audience in a relatively economical cost range that won’t put a tremendous strain on your marketing budget.
  • Stats reflect an average user presence of 20 minutes or more with many browsing considerably longer means ample opportunity to gain valuable exposure through that audience in terms of website traffic, engagement and conversion activity.
  • Quality videos that provide informational and entertainment value for viewers has become a huge element of user engagement and establishing relationships, both elements crucial in social media platform marketing today. Consider this: daily Facebook user video views now exceeds 8 billion views every day. Including this powerful tool in your social media strategy has the potential to pay off in numerous ways. Be sure to share videos that bear strong relevance to your targeted audience’ interests to ensure their engagement and desired response.
  • Plan for consistent implementation of your social media advertising on Facebook, as with other social media platforms. Maintaining a presence in front of your targeted audience is essential. Facebook’s live video is quickly adding a new dynamic to the social media marketing strategy as well.
  • Persistence is the key. Establish your marketing strategy, stay the course with a balanced plan that works within your business marketing budget allocation and modify audience targeting parameters set in your Facebook ads to ensure optimum engagement and increased traffic and following.
  • Remember that in 2017 and beyond, the focus is transitioning to more and more direct interaction with your targeted audience; that is conversing in a meaningful way with individuals. Develop meaningful relationships through genuine dialogue that is beneficial to both parties. Quality content will continue to be important but increase time devoted to quality, meaningful online conversations with the audience you connect with. Mutual and genuine interests shared is the new focus to be sure to incorporate on a regular basis as a means to build an audience for a better bottom line. Outright selling on every single post on social media platforms is no longer effective. Personal connection is key.

Taking Critical Steps to Solidify Relationships & Marketing Results

  1. Determine clearly in advance who your ideal market is. Then develop post content that will be most appealing to that targeted audience. Monitor closely how your audience is responding; are they engaging through likes, comments and shares? If not, revisit your content strategy and test new content to find out what works well for your own audience.
  2. Plan an organized and scheduled marketing strategy. Increase the value of your blog content by eliminating superfluous fluff and getting right to the valuable core elements that your audience will benefit from. Be aware of upcoming changes that are anticipated with respect to the importance of blogging moving forward. Trends are always in transition mode. Take advantage of social media scheduling platforms like Hootsuite.com for greater efficiencies in your time allocation for the promotion of your brand.
  3. Continue to ensure that you are posting increasingly meaningful, beneficial, quality content with the infusion of value driven textual, video and image content that your audience will become more engaged in. That content must be relevant to their interests.
  4. Be sure to optimize your Facebook business page to ensure high quality content that includes critical keywords that will enhance your page’s visibility on the search engines. Make sure that in doing so sentences read back organically; that is, in a natural sequence of wording and sentence progression as opposed to intermittently inserting those keywords. Also ensure that your business page has an effective description that fully identifies the product or services you are offering.
  5. Incorporate a solid ‘call to action’ on your business page that will prompt followers to respond in a compelling way with the desire to seek further information about what you have to offer. You always want your audience to desire and be able to take the next step…to find out more through URL links to your website.
  6. Hire a social media professional who is fully conversant with the dynamics of effective Facebook advertising setup and strategy, audience targeting, analytics and more. Attempting to implement your Facebook ads on your own may result in frustration when the results may be less than you had anticipated.
  7. Become actively engaged (yourself) on and through your personal and business pages by following, likes, comments, and sharing of other users’ posts and pages and also connecting meaningfully on relevant Facebook groups as they continue to be of increasing importance to your social media marketing strategies.

How to Increase Your Blog Subscribers & Article Sharing


Frustrated that after spending hours of research and fine-tuning your blog articles, you are seeing very little, if any, reader engagement? The follower numbers just aren’t there and yet even as you reread your blog posts repeatedly you still have the impression that your content is exceptional and should be attracting new subscribers?

My focus here today will be on a number of ways you can draw attention to ‘subscribing’ by using specific techniques to keep subscribing fresh in your readers’ minds. The more visible and readily available your subscribe forms are, the greater the frequency that readers should be inclined to subscribe.

You’re certainly not alone with that frustration. Keep in mind that there are countless numbers of content bloggers out there doing the same thing and many of them sharing the same experience of a seemingly static reader response. The competition online today is staggering and we must consistently develop new and unique ways to not only attract new readers to our blog or website but also find effective ways to capture our readers’ attention with every single new post and compel them to ‘opt-in’ by subscribing to receive our new blog posts right to their email inbox!

Content Quality

First and foremost, your blog or article content has to be exceptional, high quality, fresh (current), engaging and sufficiently value-added with information that is easily actionable immediately, not to mention truly beneficial to your readers, to compel them to click that subscribe button and sign up! That does not happen by chance or with mediocre content.

A whole article can be dedicated to the subject of quality content alone. Once we have established that quality content we now need to transition our focus to providing ample opportunity on our website or blog for our visitors to clearly see the path to future engagement of our blogs; through clicking the featured opt-in subscribe button and provide their email address in order to receive all future posts directly to their email inbox.

Opt-in Blog Subscribe Forms

Make sure that you have several locations on your website or blog to strategically position your blog subscribe forms/widgets, plainly visible to your site visitors with adequate reference to remind your readers/visitors to follow your blog by subscribing. In most cases your visitors will have two options for direct transmission of each new blog or article by either an email subscription signup or through your site’s RSS Feed and their preferred reader.

Opt-in Form Locations

a) Home Page Opt-in Form:

Place your opt-in form as conspicuously as possible on your home page. Depending on your site theme allowances for content, if possible situate your subscribe form above the fold line on your home page. In doing so your conversion rates should begin to occur in the order of a 5%-8% increase in subscribers for a given period.

The textual content typically found in opt-in (subscribe) forms is fairly generic in nature and does not lend itself to compelling your visitors to subscribe. Revise the wording of the headline on the opt-in form with a powerful call to action. Use strong, persuasive words that prompt the sign-up and what new subscribers will receive in return i.e. “Sign up for Free Tips…” You could also offer any other value added free gift for subscribing like a free ebook or exclusive tips relevant to the article or blog post.

By offering that killer free gift in exchange for subscribing this approach can convert at a rage of over 30%! Keep in mind that the conversion rates (new opt-in subscribers) is only an approximation and much depends on the value and quality of your blog posts to begin with.

b) Blog Page Opt-in Form:

Again, place your blog opt-in (subscribe) form in a conspicuous location on the blog page, ideally as close to, if not the first level location at the top of the sidebar. Link to your blog page with call to action buttons, prominently visible with solid, bright color contrast, on other pages of your site so that visitors will readily see the link button and be prompted to go to the blog page to read your content and subscribe. This practice is important for page navigation as well.

c) Footer Opt-in Form:

Another effective location to position opt-in (subscribe) form is at the bottom of each website page so that for any visitor who scrolls right to the bottom of the page while reading, they will again see the convenient presence of the opt-in form and they will often feel compelled to enter their email address and click Subscribe right then and there! It’s a great reminder location to secure the new opt-in.

d) About Page Opt-In Form:

The ‘About’ page statistically experiences among the highest levels of on-site viewing as most visitors who decide they have an interest in reviewing more content on the site want to have a sense of trust and comfort level that you have the type and quality of service or product that they want to acquire and that you are, in fact, genuine or real.

As such, you don’t want to omit an opportunity to include an opt-in (subscribe) form on the ‘About’ page of your site. Typically, because blogs are most often continuous scroll, you will not have a page footer to position your opt-in form so in this case place the subscribe form as close to the top of the sidebar as possible so that it has the potential to be seen as soon as possible upon landing on that blog page. Failing to do so will mean considerable lost opportunity to secure new subscribers.

Remember the critical importance of a blog on your website (or blog site) from a marketing perspective. The blog is your most powerful tool on the site from which to foster strong awareness of who you are as a business proprietor and/or product/service provider. The blog is also the perfect place to expand on value added information about what it is you offer that you don’t have room to share on the other site pages. The blog is THE place to showcase, in a clear and concise way, what you have to offer and WHY the visitor should buy from YOU!

Be aware that by having a check box in your opt-in form that states “Subscribe to (blog name)” statistically increases new subscriber frequency substantially. It is a means to compel the visitor to affirm/reaffirm their desire/intention to subscribe and follow your new blog posts to come!

Opt-in Confirmation Page

Typically, most opt-in (subscribe) forms follow with an emailed confirmation page which is sent to the new subscriber’s email address (used for the opt-in) as a means to have the new subscriber confirm that they did in fact just subscribe to the blog. This is a way to ensure subscriber security is assured and that there is no fraudulent activity at play such as automated capture of subscriber information for illegal purposes.

Your subscriber confirmation page should be effectively worded to capture the new subscriber’s attention and prompt them to provide that confirmation that they in fact did opt-in through the double opt-in final step. If they skip over that last step they will not receive future blog posts from your site as intended.

Eye-Catching Opt-In Forms

There are a multiple of opt-in form styles to choose for the blog subscription ranging from a standard fixed-in-place form to an eye-catching popup or slider form and more. Run A/B headline testing to determine what style of form and headlines resonate best with your visiting guests to the blog and following readership as well. It is critical to understand what is working best with your various website or blog site elements. When you observe sluggish response change it up…have fun with it but stay focused on powerful, compelling nudges that prompt your site visitors to action. Get their mojo going with the blog content and zero in on the new opt-in presentation to see what lights their fire!

Website, Blog & Newsletter Marketing

As critical as each of these elements are in their own right individually and collectively, make sure that you are shouting to the rooftops to pitch/promote them on your social media, advertising spots, professional group forums; essentially anywhere that you can expand your exposure. Turn your website or blog site into the ‘hub’ location for marketing your online presence by channeling your targeted audience’ focus through the marketing funnel back to the hub location to engage, interact, share and ultimately convert to purchasing customers. That focused effort WILL pay off. THAT is the essence of blogging!

To explore and discover more content marketing essentials refer to Backlinko for much more on this and similar topics where their focus is not only on web traffic tips but critical information regarding the ever-changing dynamics of search engine optimization.

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Did you find this article informative and value added? If so please SHARE this post through the share buttons provided. Thank you for your continued presence here and the opportunity for me to inform and inspire!

© Don MacIver, Editor 2016; All Rights Reserved

Audience Centric & Letter Perfect


A photo by Alejandro Escamilla. unsplash.com/photos/y83Je1OC6WcReader engagement has never had greater focus and it all comes down to audience connection through line by line content and storyline development that resonates powerfully, stimulates appeal and leaves the reader with a highly impressionable and memorable experience.

Whether the written works of an author, poet, writer, business professional, marketing copy or a personal account, the composition must convey a compelling message that invokes reader response. The English language is for many an intricate, complex and confusing tangle of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions and adjectives…the list goes on and on and what it all comes down to is choosing the right words in a clean, concise presentation and in a distinctly characteristic way that bears the unique voice and brand of its author.

When clients come to me they do so because they have specific and varied needs relating to the final presentation of their written project. They want to put their best foot forward and rightly so. For the author, standing out means competing against a rapidly growing authorship community that has vastly greater publication resources and options than ever before. They can opt for traditional print or electronic formats through self-publishing or publishing house services in varied levels of content development, marketing and distribution. Choosing a proofing or editing professional to help ensure accuracy, error-free, polished conveyance of our story has become an integral part of the publication process.

The business or marketing professional can outsource the challenge and tedious, time-consuming process of transitioning a draft copy to an error-free, fluid, polished communication that compels the targeted audience to actionable, measurable response. The very business of audience engagement has evolved tremendously over the past few decades and very few individuals can take on the various elements of developing and fine tuning effective communications and authored works independently…it takes a team effort.

When the product is finally presentation or publication ready the next challenge is getting that product, that compelling story out to the masses, delivering the message to the right audience and marketplace, on or offline..and that takes expertise all of its own. That our written communications have to stand out above the rest is an understatement.

There are vast resources available for understanding best practices of the day in terms of content development, management and conveyance. The dynamics of website content, keyword and meta tagging selection and related applications are perhaps one of the greatest challenges we face in promoting our products and services online. Internet is the medium of choice as reaching a global audience for many is critical to the growth and success of their business or creative endeavors. I have favored numerous reference and resource providers over the years as an author, writer, poet and business person.

Amoung my favoured sources of current and ever-changing dynamics in the world of communications and publication are SiteProNews for breaking technological, social media and search engine news, one of the most-read sources of expertise in their field. As an author I frequent Writer’s Digest for its wealth of information author centric, Writers Market for author publication reference and resources.

For the author who needs a little help with the grammatical side of their storytelling a good reference resource is found in the Grammarly Handbook and whether wearing the hat of an author, writer, poet, editor or business professional I have an open resource such as Dictionary Reference at my fingertips while writing any creative or business composition. Having both dictionary and thesaurus components is critical in not only conveyance of error-free content but also to discover and implement alternative and unique ways of written expression through synonyms and metaphoric phraseology. It all makes for better, more compelling reading and response.

Last and perhaps most importantly of all, as communicators in whatever form of creative or business writing we need to ensure that we not only stimulate thought and response mechanisms in our readers’ experience…we need to connect with them through their emotional response to our message. Our content can be exemplary in its composition, highly informative and engaging but unless we can make a critical, personal connection with our readers in a way that they can relate we will never fully accomplish our publication objectives.

In terms of connection, ask yourself this…why do romance novels sell millions of copies annually, why do bestseller publications of any kind, whether mystery, fantasy, poetic, science fiction, motivational, historical, geographical, autobiographical or other blockbuster book, magazine or other published medium historically sell to the masses year after year, decade after decade in such huge numbers?

When we discover the key to touching the human spirit, mind, heart and soul, only then will we fully understand emotive writing, audience centric and letter perfect, for the ultimate reader and audience response…and that, my friends means powerful human connection.

© Don MacIver, Lasting Impressions Editing 2016