Whether you believe content is still king, or that the buzz around Content Marketing has had its day... it makes sense for every smart business person to release timely, fresh, and relevant content as part of your overall marketing strategy.
Of course we're all uber organised and have our content schedules ready to go for 2016, 2017, 2018 and beyond... right?
Yeah, don't worry, me neither.
As I'm doing it for myself anyway, I decided I'd post this blog and include my Content Marketing Template as a free download.
If you're not sure why you should be bothering with content marketing at all, just check out this video on Copyblogger.com:
"Content Marketing - How to Build an Audience that Builds Your Business"
Content Marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.
There's a few columns to fill in along here, just collect your ideas as you have them, as you gather suggestions and advice from trusted resources, and you figure out what works or what might work, based on your experiences with content marketing, and your knowledge of what is best for your customers and prospects.
Project Item or Outline - Your marketing ideas
Business Goal - What you hope to achieve with it
Media - Where you think it'll fit best
Timing - How long will it take start to finish
Date or Deadline - If there's a specific time frame suitable for it
Who is Responsible - If it'll be done in house or outsourced
Target Audience - Who's it aimed at
Budget - Is it something you can create with time cost only?
Don't worry if you're not sure of these details yet. I've filled in some examples in the Download, or you can just leave blank anything that's not relevant to your business at the moment.
The next tab is the Project Calendar itself.
As you fill up your Project Details Sheet, you can transfer the projects over to the ideal date and month that suits it.
To help with ordering this, I've added a filter on Date or Deadline column of your Project Details Sheet, which you can click on and check or uncheck whichever boxes suit what you want to do. For example, you may have 7 Project Ideas for January, so check the 'January' filter only and it'll hide everything else. Then just click back on 'Select All' when you're done, and you'll see all your Projects again.
Now you've got your Content Marketing calendar template, you know how to work with it (and if you're not sure on anything just ask in the Comments below!)... but what do you put in it?
Step One: Check Out Your Sales Cycle
You'll need to figure out HOW people become, or might become, your customers.
Who are they? Where do they live, work and socialise (in real life or online)?
Where do they start from and how long does it take them to buy, usually?
What sort of problems are they coming to you/your competitors to solve?
If you have this information, you'll see the stages they go through before purchase, and where/how it's best to create content to market to them through this cycle.
If you don't have this information - start to gather it! Meanwhile, check out some basic marketing info for your industry or niche, and you'll get a general idea at least.
Step Two: Brainstorm Marketing Project Ideas
Looking at the problems they face, and the phases your prospects and clients go through before purchase - run through some ideas to help solve those problems.
How do you solve those problems?
How can you let them know you solve those problems?
Why are YOU the best person to solve those problems?
You might end up with a list of blog post topics, some suitable advertising markets, event ideas, resources or added value offerings you can use to entice new customers, or keep hold of existing ones, interesting ways to keep your business on their mind, an email newsletter you can set up or a themed series of mailings you can send out, tried and tested ways to lead a prospect from considering to purchasing your product.
It's all good, write it all down on your Project Details sheet!
Your content doesn't have to be all newspaper or pay-per-click advertising. In fact, it shouldn't be. A good marketing mix is essential to keep your business bright in the minds of your customers and clients.
Try out different types of content on your Project Calendar:
Infographics & Charts
Old fashioned Direct Mail by post
Photographs and Exclusive Images
SM (Social Media) Posts
You might have the expertise to create this content in house, or you may need to outsource to a company or freelance copywriter, graphic designer or AV technician.
Find someone you trust, and start small - work with them on one piece of content or a short series, and see how you fit. If you're concerned about cost, I can tell you a good copywriter or other freelancer is worth their weight in gold for creating quality content that shows your business in the best light!
If you're not an experienced content creator yourself, or don't have one on staff - hire a professional. This is the front line image of your business brand.
You know your business needs a website. Of course.
More than $2.4 million is spent online. Per Minute.
Not per day. Not per hour. Customers are dropping 2.4 million dollars online EVERY 60 SECONDS.*
So yeah, of course you need a website.
But that’s a LOT of competition. So you need a slick website. Good looking, mobile friendly – especially with the new Google algorithm in play.
A really good looking website, mobile friendly, will get you up there on Google action and cashing in your share of that sweet 2.4 million… except it’s not that simple.
Relevant Clean Content is Still the Number One Factor Google Search Looks For
Time you spend trying to get the copy right can be done in half the time by a professional copywriter. Lots of things are important. But Content is King.
Can you write professional content for your business? Chances are, unless you’re a writer, the answer will be no. Content, yeah, sure. But relevant clean and engaging content, specifically targeted to your customers? Not so much.
When deciding if you should hire a copywriter, it’s worth remembering:
You know your business – a copywriter knows how to communicate your business to your customer.
A copywriter will focus on exactly what you need to grow your business, without getting distracted by the day to day business. You’re too close.
You can easily achieve 2 primary business aims when you hire a copywriter: you can build relationships with your customers through content engagement, and you can directly sell your products or services to your ideal customers.
Writing is a skill and a professional craft, just like any other trade. Unless you’re a designer, you don’t do your own business graphics. Unless you’re an accountant, you don’t do your own business accounts. If you’re not a writer, it makes sense to hire a professional to take care of the most important aspect of your marketing endeavours.
Drop us a Line – Email Us to discuss your business marketing needs, and get your share of that $2.4 million per minute TODAY.
When sorting your business marketing and PR there's a lot to think about.
You've got website, social media profiles, a blog, print and digital advertising; you know it's important that the look of all these individual elements should blend to your brand - forming a cohesive whole.
But once you've got them all prettified and branded... what about the content?
Copywriting is the essential element in your marketing strategy, but often the most overlooked, especially if you're an entrepreneur or SME.
Whether you're a beginner or novice copywriter for your business, it pays to strengthen your writing skills and keep your copy sharp. So we've put together the 10 top tips for writing copy that every business writer needs to know.
Tip 1. - Know Your Audience
Who is going to read this content? Having a vague demographic mapped out is no use. Even a very specific demographic isn't gonna help much, except as a foundation. You have to get specific.
Don't think of this as content creation for Females Over 40 with Mid to High Income. Imagine your Aunty Jean, who happens to be in her late 40's and reasonably comfortable, financially speaking. You're writing to your Aunty Jean.
Tip 2. - Find Your Value Proposition
What value are you offering to Aunty Jean with your product or service, exactly? What problem are you solving for her? What's in it for Aunty Jean to get involved in your selling process right here and now?
Tip 3. - Understand Your Unique Selling Point
USP is what makes your product or service different from everyone else's. Look at what your competitors are offering, and figure out how and why you're doing it better, or differently. Why should Aunty Jean choose your business over every other?
Tip 4. - Figure Your Objective
With every single piece of content you create, there should be a very clear goal in mind - what exactly do you want Aunty Jean to do when she has read your copy? This is the time for classic SMART Goal thinking: your objective each time you write should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
Tip 5. - Write an Effective Headline
The famous advertising revolutionary, David Ogilvy, had this to say about headlines: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
So, what if Aunty Jean only ever reads your headline? How do you communicate that your product or service is the one that will solve her problems? How will she know enough about what you have on offer to take the action that will put money in your pocket? That's the job the hard working headline has to do in your marketing copy.
Tip 6. - Email Subject Lines Matter
Ok, so this tip is email marketing specific, but as this is an easy, effective and inexpensive way to market your product or service, it should definitely play a part in every business marketing strategy.
The subject line of your email is what gets Aunty Jean to stop scrolling through the piles of alerts and special offers and amazing new deals, and click to open yours. The subject line is your key to the gates of Aunty Jean's attention. Use it wisely.
Tip 7. - Choose Your Words Wisely
Some words are ineffective and must be avoided, while others command attention and direct action. Leave out the words that are not specific, that soften a sentence or add ambiguity - words like might, may, try, strive, could and wish are all banned. Use active words instead, such as will, and can, while making the copy very directed at Aunty Jean reading it, by addressing it to her using you and your.
Tip 8. - Less is More
Your content must be clear, direct and to the point. Use short sentences to break up the flow of text. Include bulleted lists. Avoid the passive voice, which makes the copy sound rambling and disconnected from you, your product or service, and Aunty Jean. Edit til your thumbs drop off, then edit some more. Keep it simple.
Tip 9. - Hit Them in the Feels
While your copy must be concise and direct, you don't want to lose the emotional impact. Aunty Jean will spend her money with you when her logical mind is convinced that this is a sensible thing to do, sure. But the real decision maker in psychological terms is how your writing makes her feel. Is she afraid of a bad consequence? Moved by sadness or sympathy? Giggling merrily and in a bright mood? These emotions will be the tipping point towards parting with cash. Use them!
Tip 10. - Credibility Comes with Quotes
Peer review. Customer testimonial. Quotes and recommendations. These are the pivot points for Aunty Jean's purse. If she sees that a woman just like her; MaryLou, Age 43, from the next neighbourhood over, has bought what you're selling and is over the moon with how it's solved her particular problems... you're in. This is a fantastic way to communicate the value and effectiveness of your product or service. Aunty Jean will be falling over herself to buy what MaryLou bought.
Did we miss anything? Add your own Top Tip to the Comments below, and Share the Post!
We know you want to grow. And we want to help you!
When our clients first approach, there are many questions. We love to meet, to talk, to reassure a new client that you are making the best move for your business by hiring a professional freelance copywriter or consultant; whether it's for a particular project, or on an on-going basis to off-set the much higher cost of a full or part time employee wage.
But as we get asked the same questions so often, here's a wee guide to help forestall any initial anxieties or unsurety, if it's your first time with a freelancer.
FAQ for your Copywriter
WHAT IS COPYWRITING?
We hear this a lot.
Many smaller businesses, particularly in Ireland, have never even heard of copywriting as an actual real life thing, and simply don't know the benefits a professional copywriter can bring to your bottom line.
Copywriting is one of the most essential elements of effective online marketing. The art and science of direct-response copywriting involves strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action. If the purpose of the writing is not directly promotional, a copywriter may be called a content creator or content writer.
Copywriters are involved in much, or even most, of the marketing materials and content creation in every substantial business. Some of the content we create is:
Direct mail pieces
Web page and SEO content
Traditional and Online adverts
BtoB (business to business) marketing
Television or radio commercial scripts
Company or product taglines and slogans
Ad jingle lyrics
Press releases and launch campaigns
White papers or Ebooks
Direct mail postcards
Flap copy or back cover copy for books and other media
Social media content - Twitter tweets, LinkedIn posts/articles, Facebook ads/posts
Not an exhaustive list, by any means, but it gives you an idea of the copywriting scope.
WHAT WILL IT COST?
We charge a flat fee per project. Each project consultation and quote are unique, and tailored to your business needs.
Generally, our fees currently work out at an average of €29, or $35 per hour. This is less than the standard market average of about $50 per hour for professional copywriting.
We work within the initial quote terms and specifications, to a flat fee, which gives you peace of mind - knowing that nobody is trying to stretch out a job to boost the per hour rate, and that your budgeted spend is guaranteed to remain on track.
This is where we live and work, and although we regularly conduct client consultations and meetings through Skype, Conference Calls, Google Hangouts, and plain old phone and email, a face to face real time meeting is more difficult.
Now, the benefit of this is that you, the client, are guaranteed that the price we quote is for actual real time work that's happening on your project - and not for travel time spent sitting in the car singing along to Soul Sister Divas Greatest Hits.
We will of course travel for larger, confirmed projects, but the costs will be factored into your quote, so just let us know in advance!
Not a bad deal really, over all, is it?
WHY CAN'T I JUST WRITE IT MYSELF?
Oh, you can.
Fred from Marketing could probably whip something up to throw in there too.
You can also get an intern, or a student on work experience to do it. Or head over to a content mill and grab yourself some cheap content from that nice man in India who will gladly do it for a fiverr.
Or, you can hire an experienced professional to put the words to your significant marketing investment (how much did that graphic or technical design element cost you?), your first person customer interaction (how much is a quality 'moment of truth' realisation about your business worth, in terms of a customer's lifetime loyalty?), your project content management, from proposal to final report (how much is that grant or investment opportunity worth to your business in the long term?).
As with every other thing in this lifetime, my friend, you get what you pay for.
For every $1 spent on email marketing in the US, the average return is $44.25. (Source: emailexpert)
When marketed through email, consumers spend 138% more than people who don’t receive email offers. (Source: Convince and Convert)
Email is almost 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter. (Source: McKinsey & Company)
Are You Ignoring Your Best Marketing Method?
Email Marketing works.
It works on you, it works on me, and it works on your customers. That's why top companies invest so heavily to get it right. Sign up for a few of these brilliant newsletters and you'll see it quite clearly for yourself.
Do you know anyone who doesn't have an email address?
Ok, so maybe your grandad isn't tech savvy, or the old dear down the road. Not everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Linked In either, but there are more who have an email account (or 3) than there are on all of the social media hubs put together.
Does your business run a regular newsletter to a list full of eager, engaged, customers and customers-to-be?
Do you nurture your sales leads through a well ordered funnel to the point of purchase?
Do you do your best to ensure that your first time customers and clients become life long loyal advocates for your business?
If you answered NO to any of these questions... WHY ON EARTH NOT?!!!
The Answer is Email
As you plan your 2015 marketing budget, and beyond, you'll want to ensure that email marketing plays a large part in the planning.
Here's the top 5 reasons why:
1. EMAIL IS THE ORIGINAL SOCIAL MEDIA
As we've said, everybody has an email account. It's free, it's easy to use, and it has the essential 'Reply' and 'Share' (hit that 'Forward' button!) features built right in. Simple.
2. EMAIL IS MULTI PLATFORM
It works on everything from iPhones to Blackberries, to the old fashioned buzz and squeal of a dial up connection. There are 897 million mobile email users worldwide, including both business and consumer users (Source: The Radicati Group). Are you so sure your other marketing is getting through?
3. EMAIL KEEPS ALL YOUR MESS(AGES) IN ONE PLACE
Marketing messages are cluttered with so much other 'noise' and attention grabbing distractions. It's easy for your customers to file and sort your stuff into landscaped piles of mess, rather than try and follow you on Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, and all the rest.
4. EMAIL CAPTURES MORE CUSTOMER ATTENTION
It's easy to click 'Like' or 'Follow', but how many of your followers are actually seeing your stuff, first off with the new social media algorithms? If a customer gives you their email address, they are more likely to pay attention to your messages.
The average results for UK SME email marketing campaigns in 2014 were:
Open rate: 22.87% (2013 - 21.47%)
Click-through rate: 3.26% (2013 - 3.16%)
However good your social media plans are, you do not engage consistently with over 20% of your followers unless you're paying heavy advertising fees to do so.
5. EMAIL GIVES YOU MORE CONTROL THAN ANY OTHER MARKETING METHOD
You could be kicked off a social media site for violating its terms of service at any time, even by accident - and all your money and hard work will be gone. A site could do a massive redesign that relegates your business to last place, no matter how much you've spent with them on advertising in the past.
But if you're sending your customers email they have chosen to sign up for, the chances are they'll read it, as long as you keep it relevant and interesting for them. You own your mailing list, more so than any other digital marketing tool.
Keep it legal, keep it on topic, and most importantly, keep it coming regularly, and your customers will keep reading your marketing, and spending their money in your business.
When I started out in business, I didn't have a clue. Not a feckin' clue like.
I was promoted from a part time tour guide position, to full time manager of a regional Irish heritage and tourism centre, with no real experience other than my writing skills, and years of community event management.
But I built that business from the ground up, with very little budget and keen eye for content marketing. Social Media was gaining importance even back then, but the real key was our content marketing strategy. I figured if I built relationships, and provided interesting, memorable content, people would want to visit us.
Well, it worked out quite well, and now I'm building my own copywriting and marketing support business, as well as my freelance writing career.
And I'd love to help you do the same thing.
Join the Getting Started Business Group for your FREE Marketing Strategy Presentation and Step by Step Worksheet!
When You Join the Group, you will get access to a complimentary download of the free 'Marketing Your Business' presentation (in both Powerpoint and PDF formats). Market Value = €39!
This is your essential Getting Started Guide to Business Marketing Strategy.
This guaranteed Guide includes multiple free Resources, and brings you Step-by-Step through all you need to get started on a proven marketing strategy you can use to grow your business - Starting Today!
PLUS - you get your no-strings-attached Marketing Strategy Worksheet (in Word and PDF format).
Marketing Land studies show that 25% of US companies currently hire a copywriter to write professional content, but all trends suggest this number is on the rise. Content Marketing is where it's at.
And who has time to run a professional blog for their own business these days? Do you?!
1. Figure Out What Type of Content You Want
Who is your ideal customer?
What do they want to read?
What problems do they need you to solve?
Answering these questions is the ESSENTIAL first step to any content marketing for your business. Any successful content marketing strategy, at least.
2. Be Prepared to Pay for Quality Content
Seriously folks, you won't get quality content - marketing focused writing that will make a real difference to your business profits - for €5 or even €10 per post. Or from a writer who's native language isn't the same as yours.
Effective, game changing, quality business development copywriting costs money. It comes from your marketing budget, the same as the print or radio adverts you run in traditional media.
The good news is it usually costs less than your traditional media ad campaigns, and is much more effective. People switch off from ads - if you run 10 adverts, you're lucky these days if your brand name sinks in by the 9th or 10th repetition.
When you run a Professional Blog, people are ACTIVELY LOOKING for your content to help them solve their problems, and are grateful to your brand name for doing that, rather than irritated by the intrusion on their media enjoyment.
If it was quick or easy to achieve, why aren't you doing it yourself? If it didn't work well, why would Coca-Cola or Apple be moving in this direction with their marketing?
3. Invest Some Time in Your Freelance Employee
Your Professional Blogger knows how to write, but doesn't necessarily know you or your business at first. Taking a little time to communicate regularly (if it's a medium to long term arrangement) will pay dividends.
Providing in full any relevant materials your copywriter requests is very important. Being available to chat or brainstorm, or ensuring your employees are, is essential for your copywriter to learn your business brand 'voice', and remain true to your business goals and ethics.
4. Review Blog Posts Efficiently
You're looking for correct use of industry specific terms, or any similar mistakes. Unless the posts are truly badly written (it's a good idea to check with a trusted friend or colleague, if you think this is the case), there is no need for you to re-write or edit.
Trust that your copywriter knows what she is doing, even if you don't understand why things are a certain way, or even why they are necessary on the blog. She is an experienced professional and this is why you hired her. DON'T NIT-PICK!
5. Establish a Regular Blog Schedule
Whether your copywriter will be writing for you long term, or simply establishing a pattern for your regular employees to take up at a later stage, be sure there is a regular schedule for your blog, and STICK TO IT.
Take your copywriter's advice on frequency, length, and timing. She has done this before and knows what's best for blog scheduling. Do not deviate from it once it is established, or you will lose your following - and the business profits you are building towards will not come to fruition.
6. Ensure that Engagement is Accounted For
A big part of the usefulness of Content Marketing is tied up in customer/audience engagement - building relationships and trust for your brand.
You will want to be certain that somebody is directly responsible for answering comments and checking feedback on your blog, keeping an eye on post traffic, and reporting regularly on what's working and what's not for your audience or industry.
This is not a standard part of the copywriting contract, so if you want your professional blogger to take care of this, it will have to be negotiated and paid for separately.
If you feel confident doing it yourself though, or delegating to a staff member, the data collected will be useful to provide to your copywriter on an on-going basis, to ensure she stays in touch with your developing business needs.
7. Promote Your Blog in Every Way You Can
Unless you have negotiated (and paid for) public relations and social media management as part of her contract, it is your job, not your blogger's, to promote your blog through all available channels.
Encourage people to read or subscribe to your blog with contests and free gifts.
Spread Blog Posts through your Social Media channels, eg Facebook & Twitter.
Tell your customers about your blog in any way you can - in your premises, at point-of-sale, email signatures, printed on receipts and invoices, etc.
Make sure your staff are all doing the same thing!
The more enthusiastically you spread the word about your fabulous new blog, the more value you get for your clever content marketing investment.
If you want some help with your business blog - Talk To Me Today for your Free Consult & Quote
Most of us will have thought about a Marketing budget for our business, however big or small it may be, because we know we need to advertise to get customers and clients for our business. But, where do we start?
Newspapers are considered the primary advertising medium by 99.4% of all US retailers. Newspapers have been there in every step of the typical shop owner's life from the very beginning. Newspapers covered his birth, his marriage, the death of his parents and everything else. There's a big number circulation to go with the big number price tag, so you're sure your advert will be seen by many new customers. Sounds good right?
HOWEVER... there's a few problems. Newspaper ads are great, and an effective part of a larger marketing strategy. But less than half of readers will read an entire paper. Most are skimmers. How many times looking through the paper does it take for you to find your own ad?
Over half of every newspaper is advertising. Almost as bad as TV where commercial breaks now last longer and longer, unless you have Sky Plus and can forward through the ads. More than two-thirds of the huge and heavy Sunday brick is advertising.
Newspaper rates are climbing faster than any other advertising media. The smallest of ads in the smallest papers can cost over €100. One time, one shot and BAM!, it's at the bottom of the bird cage or spread out for your doggy's toilet training.
Now, what would a quarter page advert in your local newspaper cost you? (Hint: it's currently €9,440 for a colour quarter in the Irish Times). Newspapers have a wide circulation, certainly. But... how many people will even see your advert, or notice and remember and ACT ON IT if they do see it? How many of those people are your existing customers, who already like and trust your business?
Do You Want to Get More Customers & Grow... Without Spending A Fortune On Advertising?
53% of marketing professionals agree, email is the most effective Marketing tactic. (source: Asend2 Industry Research, 2013)
A well written, reliably delivered, target market focused email newsletter will:
Complement your website and increase your business' online traffic
Provide interactive client/customer engagement in a no pressure, familiar and easy form
Encourage and enable word of mouth marketing - your clients will sell your business and products for you!
Provide measaurable, specific reporting on a month by month basis
Facilitate consistent improvement and refinement of your marketing strategies
Ensure excellent value for money, and Marketing Budget ROI (return on investment).