Wednesday, October 16 2019
How do you stand out from others? What is it about you that people are drawn to when they're considering using your services?
It’s not that you post tons of messages on social media. It’s not how often you send out your newsletter. And it’s not having the most impressive website.
Of course, you have to provide value and be able to do what you say you do. That's a given.
But underneath it all, It’s about you, your personality, and how you present yourself. Even if you’re offering the same services as someone else, it’s you that people are drawn to. People relate to people.
In my experience, when you allow your quirks to be seen, people appreciate the transparency. That includes parts of you that you might not like so much.
Some may criticize you for revealing yourself. Consider whether you want those people in your life or business. Maybe it's best to walk away and find the ones who do appreciate you with all your idiosyncrasies.
Think about how you can inject more of your personality into your promotions so you become a real person to your readers, not just another one who's lost in a sea of similarity.
If you have a different take on this, I’d love to hear from you.
And if you don't know what makes you stand out, let's talk. You can hit "reply" or go here to get in touch with me.
Monday, September 16 2019
If you’re trying too hard to sound “professional” in writing your marketing message, it can backfire.
It’s likely that your idea of professional writing is linked to the kind of academic, literary, "good" writing that we all learned in school. What we often don't think of is that a highly professional tone can come across as formal, cold or distant. It may be more suitable when you want to convey information or to educate, although even then it can be too formal. And it’s more likely to distance people from you and your business than to connect with them and engage them.
But in marketing you want people to relate to you.
Don’t hide who you are behind formality.
Let your audience get a sense of YOU so they want to get to know you better. At the end of your piece, you want them to say “I like this person. She has what I want” rather than “What a piece of beautiful writing”!
And of course, you have to be professional in how you show up, how you speak and present yourself and the image you’re projecting. At the same time, your message can be presented in a casual conversational style that connects with your audience.
Connect AND be professional.
If you have a different take on this, I’ll be glad to hear from you.
You can hit "reply" or get in touch with me here.
Wednesday, August 14 2019
In a radio interview on NPR, the founder of 1-800-GetJunk says he was never motivated by money. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was motivated by imagination. They both made a ton of money along the way, but that was secondary to why they did what they did.
Yet many gurus try to persuade us to buy their products or services by promising that they'll help you double or triple your income or earn $50,000 in 60 days.
If you think it's all about the money, I encourage you to look deeper and see if that's really true for you.
What motivates you? Consider things that go beyond money.
You may want to take your journal and do a brain dump with answers to questions like: Why do you want the money (beyond taking care of your basic needs)? What are the deeper elements of your life and business that drive your decisions? What's your bigger purpose in life that money can serve?
The information you uncover may give you some useful insights. Then you can bring those more fully into what you do and how you do it. Your words will gain more depth. You'll create a more solid connection with your readers because you're letting them see who you really are.
Try it and see!
Let me know how it works for you. And if you'd like help to figure this out, so your readers feel that you're transparent, get in touch with me and we can chat about that.
Friday, July 19 2019
Here are a few basic guidelines I find useful and that I keep coming back to:
- A clear subject line. For me, the subject line is the reason I open an email or not. So Instead of saying “follow up to our conversation” it might be better to be more specific like “questionnaire attached” or ‘the proposal you requested".
- A greeting such as “Hey", "Yo" or "Hiya" may not be professional, depending our your audience. Try using "Hi" or "Hello" instead. Or if you need to be more formal you could use “Dear [Name]",
- Beware of humor: it doesn’t translate well onto the page. Often a humorous effect comes from tone of voice or body language, in addition to the words. Without those clues, your reader may misinterpret the humor, not realize it’s a joke, or think it’s cynical or sarcastic. And that doesn't serve anyone.
- Proofread before you send the email. A message full of spelling errors makes you look sloppy or careless. Sure, a mistake can slip in now and then but if you constantly send out messages with mistakes, it can damage your image.
- Don’t send an email when you’re angry. You can write the message, but save it and read it again and make adjustments when you’re calmer so that the message is neutral.
Do you have other favorite tips that help you present yourself professionally and encourage people to read your emails? Let me know!
Thursday, July 04 2019
I got an offer for a website review from a business owner who specializes in website design, development and maintenance. I’ve been on her list for a very long time because she delivers good content. She's helped me personally too and I've always liked her down-to-earth, compassionate approach to service.
She prefaced the offer by saying that she normally only does this for her clients, not for the general public. OK. So this is a steal. I can accept that.
I read on and the message was connecting and engaging. Her offer sounded great.
Until the end.
You could click on a link to be added to a separate list if you’re interested in this offer. Good idea, so those who aren’t interested in this offer aren’t being bugged with unwanted emails.
And then came the warning:
“WARNING...if you say NO, I will not send you any more reminders and NO Website Review Special deals, which you might regret.”
And the part that that bugged me was those last few words: “which you might regret.” The friendly, respectful tone of the email up to that point was instantly negated by this not-so-subtle pressure, by tapping into the guilt or fear of missing out (FOMO) in a way which was inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the email.
From a place of respect and softness and helpfulness, it suddenly transformed into a do-what-I’m-suggesting-or-else-there’ll-be-consequences kind of tone. I have nothing against people using this kind of tone if it fits their personality and the tone of what's around it.
However, in this case the lack of consistency between the bulk of the email and this “warning” damaged the impression I had of her offer and how she operates and created niggling doubt in my mind.
I’m interested in your opinion. Do you think that last sentence is too pressuring and hypey compared to the rest of the email? Or am I overly sensitive?
Wednesday, June 19 2019
Lots of business owners write their own materials. There’s nothing wrong with that - but here’s what can go wrong.
You want it done quickly. You want that website content TOMORROW!
The problem is that writing is a process. We understand that it takes time to develop a website, it takes time to learn a language, it takes time to plan and cook a meal. Yet somehow we assume that because we use words all day long and we all learned to write in school, writing will happen in a heartbeat without much effort.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Here's how to break it down into doable portions.
When you’re writing, there’s the creative part and then there’s the editing part. They’re different.
In the creative part, let the ideas flow even if they seem totally off the wall. Get them on the page. Don’t censor. Otherwise you’ll start second guessing yourself and that stops the creative flow of ideas. And you’ll end up doubting yourself and your ability to get it done.
Then start editing, organizing the words in the right sequence, refining, deleting, adding.
As I heard on a webinar recently: “go slowly to go quickly.” In terms of writing, this makes total sense.
The more you’re willing to take the time to go through the process, the more likely you are to end up with words that create the impact you want.
The two broad steps above will get you started on the right track.
And as always, if you get stuck and need help go here to contact me. I can write, edit, or if you really want to learn how to do it yourself, I can teach you that too.
Thursday, May 02 2019
A while back, I wrote an article about hype in marketing. As I wrote I was thinking mainly of the ‘gurus’ who use exaggerated language and wild promises to get people excited about buying what they’re selling.
That’s where I was coming from when I wrote it.
One of my subscribers wrote back and said how sick she was of the political shenanigans etc…
And yes, her underlying assumption was correct: what the candidates do to persuade people to vote for them is also marketing.
The email from my subscriber reminded me once again how important it is in marketing to be aware of what the people you want to attract to you are thinking about so you can tailor your words to them.
They are reading your message through THEIR lens, NOT yours.
What do they WANT? What are the problems they face daily that you can help solve?
One of my mentors put it very succinctly when he said: “You have to join the conversation that’s going on inside the head of the person you want to attract.”’
With that approach you have a better chance of connecting in a way that makes sense to them.
If you'd like to learn more about creating a profile of the clients you want to attract, so that your words resonate with them, go here to get in touch with me.
Thursday, February 28 2019
Which is most important in selling your services or products: WHAT you're offering or WHY someone would need it?
About a hundred years ago, a famous copywriter called Claude Hopkins wrote that the WHY of what you're selling matters more than the WHAT. And since human behavior and psychology doesn't change that quickly, his words are still very valid.
He was a huge proponent of 'reason why' words and he turned out to be one of the most influential marketing and advertising writers of all time.
I can say: "I write marketing materials.' That's WHAT I do. But if I say: "I create words for your website, flyers and postcards so they get the attention of your ideal clients" I'm telling you WHY the service would interest you.
Or if a Search Engine Optimization specialist says: "I do search engine optimization", that's different from saying: "I make sure your website comes up on the first page of Google so people can find you easily."
What would excite someone about what you sell? With that focus, your words have more power to connect and engage, and you have a greater chance that someone will respond to your message.
If you'd like to dig more deeply into the WHY? of your message, go here to get in touch with me. and let's talk.
All good wishes, Maggie
Copyright 2019 Maggie Dennison
Monday, February 25 2019
I read that recent Microsoft research shows that that we have shorter attention spans than a goldfish! I don't know how true that is, but it does tie into the trend these days towards limiting the number of words you use to get your message across. When I'm talking to a client about a writing project, I often hear that they want very few words, and the reason they give is that no-one reads long messages.
My take on this is: It takes however many words it takes to get your message across succinctly and persuasively and so that it fulfills your purpose. If the message is compelling, interesting and relevant to the person reading, they WILL read it.
However, that doesn't mean you can ramble! Your message still needs to be on point.
Think about it this way: if we only wanted really short messages, no one would ever read a book, watch a movie, listen to a lecture or even read a newspaper article.
The key is to make your message engaging so the reader keeps reading because they want to find out more.
That's the art in good messaging.
For a message that keeps your audience engaged, get in touch with me
Copyright 2019 Maggie Dennison
Friday, September 14 2018
Last Friday evening I was in a tizzy and very scared about a gnarly, personal situation I had to deal with urgently. I called a friend to talk it over.
First she asked what happened. Then she started offering me solutions.
A few minutes into the conversation I was feeling squirmy even though her solutions were very practical and doable.
My unease was because she jumped right into the solution without any empathy or understanding of what was going on with me. I didn't feel heard and because of that, it was hard for me to consider her ideas.
That's what happens in our marketing messages too when we jump right into offering a solution without taking the time to acknowledge what's really going on a human level. Then things go wrong because we miss making the deeper connection that lets people know we care about them.
One of Stephen Covey's 7 habits of highly effective people says: "Seek first to understand and then to be understood." The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi expresses a similar idea. One of my mentors said: "Join the conversation that's going on in the heads of your potential clients."
Empathize. Show you understand. Then offer your solution.
All good wishes,