Here’s to a New Year

Here’s to a New Year

… and another chance for us to get it right. – Oprah Winfrey

If there is one thing that Oprah Winfrey has, it’s passion.

As a professional copywriter, I understand how important passion is when telling a product story in such a way that it touches hearts and emotions, as well as pocketbooks. If somehow or other I miss the impact of key benefits, how can I expect readers to get excited?

I Don’t. So Here’s What I Do.

I spend time talking to people who work for the company, and people who are already customers. I hear their stories about how (the product I’m writing about) has made their lives easier, better, perhaps more fulfilled. And I find myself getting excited. And I want to share their stories. And I do – through email, blog, website, or sales letters. And that passion is infectious and gets readers interested and willing, at least, to learn more.

Here is the point I want to make. You may not be a professional copywriter, but you are probably, in some way, trying to sell a product. Get excited! If you feel you might have become a little stale, then talk to your customers or employees. Let them inspire you.

Then tell your story with strength, humor, grace, and most of all passion.

If you don’t – who will?

Can You Keep A Secret?

Can You Keep A Secret?

I have a secret … one that I have found really grabs readers’ attention. And I’m going to let you in on it –

Try writing your next case study as a “Hero’s Journey”.

Most case studies are dry, boring, and seem to be nothing but a compilation of bullet points.

Try bringing your case study to life by telling it as the story of a Hero’s Journey (your customer) from peril to triumph (of course, with your help).

Stories add credibility; they make you more memorable; they demonstrate the benefits of your product or service in a way that bullet points never do.

Hero’s Journey is a structure invented by Joseph Campbell. It actually consists of 12 steps, but for purposes of creating powerful case studies, 6 steps are just fine. The 6 bolded steps are in Campbell’s own words.

  1. The Ordinary World. This is where the hero (your customer) exists, oblivious of the adventure to come. Describe the situation.
  2. Call to Adventure. The story begins when the hero’s world is turned upside down. Maybe new competition comes into the marketplace, or a system that has always worked somehow fails. Whatever it is, disruption occurs and your customer needs a solution. Describe the problem and the stress that it is causing your client and the people around him.
  3. Refusal of the Call. Although the hero knows he must accept the quest, he has concerns, doubts, and may refuse the call, which only exacerbates the situation. In fact, he may try to shy away from the problem, continue to use existing processes, and fail. Show the consequences of not solving the problem, and how the hero learns that he must take action
  4. Meeting the Mentor. At the crucial turning point, where the Hero desperately needs guidance, he meets a mentor (your company) who gives him something he needs. Whatever you have offered, it gives the hero the courage to cross the threshold.
  5. Reward (Seizing the Sword). With your help, the hero now emerges from battle in a stronger position ready to meet more challenges.
  6. The Road Back. Now the hero can return home with prize in hand and share the story of success with his boss, team, and/or shareholders.

Follow the Hero’s Journey template when crafting case studies and move prospects to BUY NOW.

Check This Out

Check This Out

Even the best of us feel squeamish asking for testimonials. It seems like we’re wrenching those golden referrals from customers who we know very well love us. Why do we have so much trouble asking for them?

But ask, we gotta!

According to ClickZ, when asked how they felt when there are no customer reviews available, a whopping 35% said they were less likely to buy, and 32% said they would hold off making a buying decision until they did more research. Only 8% said they didn’t care.

Here are some tips which may make the process a little easier:

  • The best time to ask for a recommendation is when you have just done something really wonderful and your customer is high on you. It’s not necessary to wait until you have completed your project.
  • Give your request urgency by stating a reasonable deadline
  • Gently suggest what you would like included – which should exemplify one of your core messages. For instance, when I ask for a reference, I try to get my customer to quantify any increases in revenue or customers generated by my work.
  • You can offer to write a draft for your customer’s approval if you know them well and know this is something they would be open to. Sometimes it makes both of your lives easier.
  • Be sure to send the finished draft back to the customer for approval, and keep a record of the approval in your file.

How Will You Crush Your 2018 Goals?

How Will You Crush Your 2018 Goals?

According to Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, the #1 reason we’re so bad at meeting goals is that we bite off more than we can chew. It may seem reasonable to list a bunch of BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) on our 2018 Market Planner, but realistically it’s a plan that we rarely execute.

When we try to develop too many projects at once, they become competing priorities that leave us distracted, discouraged, and overwhelmed.

The good news is that you can achieve the greatest business success by identifying and managing a single audacious goal for the year, thereby allowing you to focus your energies with tremendous results.

I Trust You

I Trust You

Question: How do you attain the exalted position of trusted advisor and preferred service provider?

Answer: Regularly and consistently create compelling, information-rich content; e.g., articles, blogs, presentations that:

  • Clearly demonstrate your expertise
  • Add significant value and knowledge to your reader
  • Encourage sharing of content
  • Leave an indelible impression that you are an authority in your field

And then send them to your entire list and post them on your website, social media pages and groups. You will be amazed how quickly your reputation is enhanced.

The Clarity Commandment

The Clarity Commandment

Clarity is as important as a persuasive message.

When writing sales copy, I write the complete piece and then go back and edit, edit, edit. I constantly challenge myself to read it through the perspective of someone who may not know the product, the premise, or the promise, and needs to be carefully led from point A to Point B, C, D, or E.

And then I apply the #1, final test – a test that I recently learned from a friend who is one of the world’s leading copywriters. And I can’t believe I never thought of it myself.

I read it out loud. That way both my eyes and my ears are alert for lapses in clarity.

Try it — it works! You will never break the Clarity Commandment again.

Do You Close the Deal Every Time? If Not, You Need This!

Do You Close the Deal Every Time? If Not, You Need This!

Writing an irresistible call to action is as much an art form as a science. In my 30 years of writing and critiquing sales copy, I’ve noticed 3 deadly mistakes marketers make when creating calls to action.

  1. No urgency
    Too many marketers make an offer and leave it up to me, the reader, when to respond. What happens? I put it off and forget the offer three minutes after reading it. Solution? Add immediacy to your request – such as, seating is limited, sale ends Friday, prices go back up next week.
  2. Too Many Contact Options
    Don’t tell me that I can visit Facebook, call your telephone, text, or visit your website. I just get confused – and don’t respond. You as a marketer need to give me one specific thing to do – for instance respond to this email. Otherwise, I might drift away, never to contact you.
  3. Too Much Corporate Gobbledygook
    What is gobbledygook? You might not be able to define it, but I’m betting you know it when you see it.
    Basically it’s words like:
  • Next Generation
  • Robust
  • Cutting Edge
  • Ground Breaking
  • Best of Breed

Over-used and abused, these terms plant you squarely among the undistinguished masses.

Ways to Build Brand Loyalty

Ways to Build Brand Loyalty

Strategy 1: Create An Amazing Customer Experience

Starbucks and Apple. What do they have in common? They are both brands built upon customer experience. Their founders understood their customers and created experiences that fed into their customers’ emotional needs.

How Can You Juice Up Your Customer Experience?

Is Starbucks really the best coffee in the world? Is Apple really that much better than Microsoft or Android? Many people would say no. But how fun is it to walk into a store and order your coffee exactly the way you want it? Or walk up to a counter and get to talk to a computer genius, who supposedly can solve your tech problems. How often do you get to do that in life? Companies should aim to deliver that same kind of customer experience in every aspect of customer interaction by:

  1. Doting upon their customers and providing unexpectedly remarkable customer care
  2. Embedding this attitude into their corporate culture so that everybody – from sales assistant to receptionist – focuses on delivering remarkable customer experience

Strategy 2: Surprise and Innovate

There are some companies that just never stop inventing. OK, it can be a little annoying because you never feel you are keeping up. But how many people just have to have that next generation iPhone?

How Can You Juice Up Your Innovation?

Never be satisfied. Even if your customers seem content, always be watching for that next innovation that you could install, or a new way to solve a problem. Then let everybody know about it – with enthusiasm.

Strategy 3: Reward Loyalty With Loyalty

I work out three times a week with a personal trainer. It’s not just that he helps me build up my strength. What I really love about him is his point of view when it comes to the people he works with. For one thing, he puts his most loyal customers first. Notice I said most loyal – not his most profitable clients, but those who have been with him the longest and love him the most. What is the result for him? He has a core group of raving fans, who sing his praises to all their friends and have helped him expand his business.

How Can You Juice Up Your Loyalty Program?

Take a look at the customers who have been with you the longest. Why are they so loyal? Are there ways that you can tie the bonds even tighter? Most of all, don’t take them for granted! Loyal customers get deeply and emotionally involved with your brand. And they spread the word.

Strategy 4: Be Responsive

A mid-sized law firm in the Midwest had a policy that a partner returned every phone call within 24 hours – no matter what. This level of responsiveness was so engrained into their culture that they didn’t even think about it. However, one very smart marketing executive realized how unusual this level of responsiveness was and created an ad campaign around it. The company even arranged that their phones be answered 24/7 and a partner was always on call. The result? Increased new business, which generated additional revenue.

How Can You Juice Up Your Responsiveness?

Companies that want to juice up brand loyalty don’t have to go too much further than this one. Do you return customer calls the same day? Is every problem dealt with quickly and decisively? Are you ahead of what your customers want and try to provide those things without being asked? If so, you are probably ahead of most of your competitors.

Strategy 5: Spend Quality Time With Your Brand

Of course you’re going to spend time marketing your brand. But it is equally important to understand your brand DNA – what it is that differentiates you in the marketplace and the visceral perception of your brand among your target market.

How Can You Juice Up Your Brand?

One of the strategies for strengthening a brand is to go back to your core values. What do you stand for? What is the ultimate quality that you want to deliver? How should the customer feel after every interaction? Disney is absolutely brilliant at this. They have a published list of core values that they use to train every employee. These core values are so imbued into their culture that every employee knows exactly what to do in every situation – from an ice cream scoop falling off a child’s cone in a park to the care they give to every piece of dialogue uttered by every animated character.

Brand loyalty is no accident. It takes a great deal of strategic thought and follow-up. It is a combination of impeccable customer experience, innovation, and responsiveness.

Are you a Skimmer or a Cliff Diver?

Are you a Skimmer or a Cliff Diver?

I often help customers build a Brand Plan for Success. Essentially this is a detailed plan that states where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and the metrics to determine if you’re successful.

So that you can build your own Brand Plan, here are the TEN ESSENTIALS:

  1. Get Feedback From Customers This may require a customer survey or at the very least a number of client lunches. But the main thing is to find out what your client wants – not what you want to provide.
  2. Focus on A Main Customer Problem Once you know what your customers want, choose the problem or problems you are best equipped to solve and build your brand around it.
  3. Follow Trends Keep on top of trends, both for your own industry and other allied
    industries. Track on social media or wherever people within your industry go for information.
  4. Know Your Brand Differentiator This is the core of your business. What is it that you offer or do that makes people want to buy from you rather than a comparable service from your competitor?
  5. Know Where Customers Go for Information Do they rely on social media, or prefer to frequent trade shows? Is there a popular LinkedIn group(s)? Wherever your customers gather, be sure to be there offering information, education, and forging relationships.
  6. Identify Words that Customers Want to Hear Then use those words in your marketing messages. Social media is a great place to listen for consumer language.
  7. Set Priorities Create a timetable and stick to it.
  8. Schedule Resources Once you have identified all the key elements of your Plan, check to make sure that you have the resources to implement it. If you don’t, consider outsourcing some of the responsibilities.
  9. Establish Metrics and Track Them This includes increased leads, sales, and/or revenue.
  10. Review. Tweak. Repeat Once you have your structured Brand Plan, follow it, track your success, and tweak where needed.