How a Twitter Experiment Landed Me a Guest Writing Blog Opportunity, plus other meaningful tips on Landing Your Own Guest Writing Opportunity
March 28, 2012 § 2 Comments
I often read other marketing blogs. You never know when someone or something will spark your creativity or address something that you hadn’t considered. In my research I came across a blogger, Kelly Kautz, who writes a blog titled One Woman Marketing. Kelly has a great blog targeted to marketing savvy solo entrepreneurs. Perfect.
I sent a note to Kelly asking if she would be interested in my twitter experiment on ‘buying Twitter followers.’ Before long, I was off writing my first guest blog entry. Boy, was I excited when my post appeared on Kelly’s blog in late January. I felt good about it. It really wasn’t hard.
If you are considering guest blogging as an option to promote your business, I’ve gathered a few tips to help you jump into guest blogging.
Blog owners who are willing to allow guest bloggers to write for them will want valuable, well-written, original content written by a knowledgeable source. As a guest blogger, you are representing the blog through your own words.
To be an expert in anything, you have to know a bit about the subject. Just saying. I don’t know much about a lot, but I do know about marketing. I’ve been doing it for 18 years and it still excites me. The problem lies in that I write my own blog on marketing, so coming up with something original that I am willing to give to someone else to publish was difficult for me. I have enough problems coming up with my own content.
Coming up with my content ideas was just the beginning of the journey. I also needed to find a blog that was not only willing to take a guest blog article, but also interested in the same topic that I write about. At this point, I hope you are wondering how to get started with your own guest blogging opportunity.
Guest Blogging Tips
• Find blogs that up your alley. Start with the blogs you read often and find valuable for your business. Do they accept guest bloggers and would your expertise fit along their themes. Also look at the writing style. Would your writing fit into their style?
• If you are struggling to find blogs related to your particular topic, try this little Google search trick: ‘your niche’ + guest post or ‘your niche’ + inurl:”guest post”
• Before you send a note to the blog owner, read through their blog. Look at recent and archive articles. Take note on what and how the blog positions certain topics. Identify if you can add additional value and what might be an interest to the blogger. In my case, I chose something that hadn’t been written about specifically.
• Subscribe to the blog, if you haven’t already. Feel free to add valuable comments as it relates to the posts and don’t be pushy by adding a sales pitch. No one likes that.
• Once you feel comfortable with the blog, send the blogger a personal note. To break the ice, I try to compliment the blogger on something I liked about their blog.
• Just like any sales pitch, don’t talk about yourself right away. It isn’t about you; it is about the blogger and his/her readers.
• Once you get to the point of what you can offer, be sure to explain your idea in a way that won’t offend the blogger, but show how you can add value. Then ask if this might be an interest to the blog’s readers.
• Don’t forget to share links to sample writings. This is completely appropriate when you are trying to sell your writing.
• Once you have identified interest, be sure to identify specifics such as deadlines, content review options, and your bio preferences. Most bloggers will allow the author to write two or three sentences about themselves or business and a link to their own website or blog. This is important because this is what drives traffic back to your own site.
• Keep in mind that the blogger ultimately has the right to edit your copy and if you’re not comfortable with that, then this may not be a good option for you. I believe most bloggers will work with you and not step on your toes.
• Be sure to do exactly what you say you’re going to do on time. This is without saying, but thought I should mention it.
• Once your blog posting is accepted and posted, follow the comments and jump in when you can answer a question. Also, make sure you share the blog with your followers by using the sharing tools on the blog site. This will help drive traffic to the blog where your article appears.
• I probably don’t have to tell you this, but I will anyway. If the blogger chooses to accept and publish your work, that work cannot be published elsewhere. It needs to stay an original piece of work.
Guest blogging is great for a number of reasons. If you are toying with the idea of blogging, guest blogging is a great opportunity to get your toes wet without jumping completely in.
March 21, 2012 § Leave a Comment
We can agree that in every business, customers are crucial. How you reach and talk to your potential customers is crucial to your success. There isn’t a magical answer to follow to gain more customers. Sometimes marketing is trial and error. Hopefully at the end of the day your wins overcome your mistakes.
When you pour your heart into something, like your business, it can sting when a customer chooses another product/service over yours. Sure many seasoned business owners are used to hearing rejection. It is all part of the game. However, for a rookie, it can sting.
Overcoming the rejection is important. Whether your intention is to move to the next project, not make the mistake again or try it again with a particular customer/group, it is important to learn from our mistakes. Before you move forward, quickly figure out what went right and what went wrong.
Earlier this week, I wrote an introductory proposal letter to a potential client. I did it quick and was multitasking at the time. I ended up not getting the project, but what hurt was the way I was rejected. The potential customer was rude in his response back to me, literally tearing me apart for my opening salutation. This may seem silly, but he is right. Though it stung a bit, I should have written a better opening that addressed his needs.
Writing Content for your Audience
• Identify who you are really targeting – it is incredibly important to write your content specific to your audience, no matter what media you use. Not identifying specific target audiences and understanding how they tick will take away from your efforts.
• Understand your media – how does your audience uses a certain channel – as internet, email, social outlets, mail, etc. Are they heavy users of the medium? Many companies are diving into social media, for instance, but may not know how their target audience uses social media and why.
• Know your audience’s needs and wants – identifying why a customer may want to use your product is an important step before you write your content. What problems do you solve and how can you make your customer’s life easier.
• Personalize your messaging will resonate with your audience – I get very aggravated when I get an email or direct mail piece that is either addressed to the wrong name or when the product they are selling has nothing to do with me or my family.
• Interesting content retains audience’s attention – you can entertain or stick to the facts, whatever your style, make sure your audience finds it interesting.
• Write to your audience’s level – You may be question this with a “duh,” but it is worth mentioning. Write your content at the audience’s reading level and level of understanding a particular topic.
• Always check your facts and grammar – nothing more to say on this point.
The biggest take away is testing your content. You may not have the time or expertise to test your headlines or content against a second version, but you do know when something is working or not working. If your content isn’t doing the job it was designed to do, then step back and reevaluate your efforts.
March 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
You think you know it all. In reality you may, but no one cares. When searching for new customers, your priority should be the customer. Period. Bombarding the conversation will not win new customers and here is an example.
As a marketing consultant, I read many marketing and business blogs. This helps me stay on top of my craft, but also shows me how others are succeeding. A few months ago, I happen across a marketing agency and I signed up for email updates. It looked interesting after I read a couple blog posts.
It turns out that every email starts with “Let me tell you why I am great and you are not.” It doesn’t actually say that, but it is how I felt after reading a few emails. For instance, the agency offered a webinar on “how to write like me.” Really!?! To me this is horribly cocky. Every week, I receive several emails stating why they are so great. Maybe it is professional ego, but this company turns me off.
Here is my point. Your customers need to know you know what you are doing. However, your customers aren’t dummies. So when writing for your audience, don’t blow yourself up to appear bigger than you really are. It isn’t about you, but rather how you can help your customer with his problem.
February 6, 2012 § Leave a Comment
My new pet peeve is a blog that doesn’t say anything and here is why.
As marketing is an ever changing entity, I spend much of my time reading blogs on different strategies and tactics. Reading what other people are doing and finding successful helps me generate new and fresh ideas for my clients. Where many years ago, we turned to books and encyclopedias to research topics, we now turn to the Internet.
Recently, I posted an article on why short copy isn’t always better. I addressed how our attention spans have greatly reduced and what impact that has on the information delivered to us. With good intentions, many companies reduce the number of words shared through collateral, newsletters, or other media knowing darn well that they only have a very short amount of you attention. The thought is not to bore you with lots of details, but just get you interested so you will call them. This same philosophy is mimicked through many corporate blogs.
Many companies think they should start a blog, but aren’t really sure how to truly deliver meaningful content. Falling short by only covering a very high level can leave the reader wondering or needing more information. This happens to me every day. As I research topics, my search engine results give me lots of options, but as I click on the links, I find the information I link to falls short.
Trust me when I say, you do not want your customers to feel the same way. The point of blogging is to share valuable information with your audience in a near instant medium while allowing the reader to engage by sharing their point-of-view or ask questions. Engagement is a two-way conversation and blogging allows that two way conversation with your prospects or customers.
With that said, failing to deliver detailed content that is thought provoking or entices someone to take action, is useless. I think as business leaders there is a fine line between sharing too much and not sharing enough.
One of my favorite quotes is by Ben Franklin. It reads:
“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.”
I just love Ben. He was an amazing leader. I share this with you so that as you develop a blog for your company, you will remember these words. If it isn’t worth reading, don’t write it. If you aren’t going to truly share your insight and your company with your reader, don’t start a blog. You will be wasting your readers’ time as well as your own.
January 27, 2012 § 3 Comments
Many moons ago, I graduated with a degree in Journalism and I walked out know that readers will only read the first few paragraphs of a story, so I better make it good. It is referred to as the inverted pyramid. As a writer, I need to tell you the who, what, when, how, and why within the first and possibly the second paragraph. If I don’t, I was taught I would lose my reader’s attention.
Before the internet, a paper newspaper would show up on our door step every morning. Well, I assume it showed up on the door step, by the time I woke up, it had made its way to the kitchen table. I would actually look through the paper while I ate my cereal. Occasionally, I would read an article and get frustrated when the story continued on a different page.
Similar to today’s media, this was done so that the paper could entice the reader with several splashy headlines and a brief synopsis of the story. Once they hook you, you would open the paper to the rest of the stories, passing tons of ads along the way.
140 Characters or less
Many of us have moved to reading our news online. Twitter has transformed tidbits of information to 140 characters. Anyone can share their point-of-view through blogs, websites, pictures, and videos. The newspaper and magazine businesses are drowning a slow and miserable death.
With all these changes, has anyone noticed that the delivery of information has shortened considerably? Apparently, as we are bombarded with information and delivery options, our attention span is shorter than ever. But before you go chopping out copy from your collateral, website, blog, or e-newsletter, it might be worthy to have a quick conversation on whether that is the best solution.
I spend a lot of time reading. One, I enjoy reading and two, my work requires it. Lately, I estimate that 90% of the information I read doesn’t give me enough information. As a marketer, I see a huge opportunity wasted. Don’t take me wrong, I am not condoning you spew every little detail about your product or service. However, I do believe you should give the reader enough information that it will provoke action. Skipping key details will not provoke action, rather irritate the reader.
Don’t Fall Short, Literally
Using the inverted pyramid concept, nearly every marketing piece should summarize the basics up front, but don’t just stop there. Don’t just bring up an area the reader is interested in; rather give them enough information that they won’t go elsewhere to buy. This happens to me a lot – I get a piece of information that only gives me enough to spark my interests, but not enough to create a desire to buy from that particular company. Many times, I buy the product or service elsewhere. Sad, I know.
By no means, am I telling you that your email copy should equate to 3 printed pages. Nor does this mean your collateral should be 10 pages long. Here are a few tips to help you with copy development.
• Write concise copy, don’t mix words, and don’t repeat yourself
• Avoid being coy, cleaver, or secretive. I really hate this style
• I love funny, but done wrong, it will flop every time
• Over communicate and don’t expect your reader to know what you know
• Don’t leave your reader hanging
• Use “We are Great” sparingly – don’t go overboard on why you rock
• Keep it simple and factual
In my reading for this topic, I came across a fun visual representation of how our attention span as dropped from 12 minutes to 5 seconds all as a result of social media.
What do you think? Has our attention span reduced to the level that marketers should stick to three paragraphs or less?
January 25, 2012 § Leave a Comment
As I wrap up this five part series on case studies, I want to cover a few more points. Before you throw budget dollars toward creating a vast number of case studies, take a few minutes to think through a few points.
Don’t forget to ask yourself:
• What do I want to get out of a case study project?
• Who is my target audience and how will I reach them?
• What are my goals or objectives as it relates to this project? How does that match up to my overall goals?
• What is my project strategy and how does this effort affect my overall strategy?
• What’s relevant to my market? What problems am I solving?
• How am I going to share the case studies? Online, Print, Email
• How am I going to measure success of the project?
• How am I going to share the case studies internally? (important thought that many marketers forget about)
Increasingly important, especially if you aren’t the top dog, is buy-in. If you management team isn’t on board or if your sales people don’t see the point, then you may want to think twice about starting the project. It sucks when you pour your hard work into a project that falls flat. Without buy-in, your project will fall flat. Start with building a strong strategy, outline your process, and share with many within your company. It is well worth the extra time to gain supporters.
Don’t Forget to Measure
Ah, the land of marketing now requires you to measure every tactical. In measuring any marketing effort, there are qualitative and quantitative measurements. For big corporations with large marketing budgets, they typically measure sentiment of branding and campaigns to determine the qualitative aspect along with quantitiative.
For the rest of us, our budgets are limited. This is what I recommend:
• Measure how many visitors view the case study page by creating a landing page rather than a PDF document. (You can also use a registration page, but I don’t recommend this unless you have proprietary information included.) Measure how long did your visitor stay on the page.
• Add a special offer that is not available anywhere else; this can help you evaluate how many prospects read the case study and took action.
• Review where website visitors go within your site after landing on the case study page. Do they go into the specific product landing pages that are highlighted in the case study?
• Talk to sales representatives or customer service reps about how often they share case studies and which ones are their favorites?
• If you include case studies as offers within your email campaigns or within e-newsletters, you can see how many clicks the links generate.
• Social media also opens up opportunities to measure. How many followers retweeted your case study link or shared it with others? After sharing the case study via social media channels, did you see an increase in followers?
With most of my posts, I look for related articles. I found two that reminded me to cover a few more topics than I originally thought.
5 Steps to Craft a Case Study’s Content Strategy
How to Measure a Case Study’s Performance
As always, feel free to share your thoughts on case studies.
Just tuning in, check out:
Part 1: What is a case study? Opening Doors for More Sales
Part 2: Creating Case Studies Starts with Research and Recruitment
Part 3: Case Study Process – 12 Steps to a Finished Product
Part 4: Case Studies – 15 Writing Tips for Effective Case Studies
January 23, 2012 § 1 Comment
Poor writing will reflect badly on your company. So don’t think good enough is really good enough. Follow these 15 simple tips and you will be on your way to creating an outstanding piece that will help you sell more products and services.
1. Case studies should be short, concise, candid, and revealing – keep word count around 500 words or two pages with graphics
2. Start with a compelling headline that entices the reader along with clearly showing them what the piece is about
3. Simply cover who, what, when, where, and why in the lead or introductory paragraphs
4. Use meaningful sub-headlines to break up blocks of text – also leads the story for readers that scan
5. Tell a story and make it interesting
6. Don’t forget keywords – most likely your case study will be available online, so use keywords that will help with search optimization
7. Slash the marketing verbiage
8. Stick to the facts – don’t use puffery or exaggeration to make your point
9. Use customer photos or relevant photos. Also good are graphs or charts
10. Avoid technical jargon and be sure to explain Acronyms clearly on first reference
11. Give credit where credit is due
12. Think like your reader – what is important to them and write in their language
13. State measurable results and stay away from broad statements
14. Consider a side bar to summarize to case
15. Proof read, proof read, and proof read
Need grammar help, check out Grammar Girl. She rocks. Also check out How to Write an Effective Case Study by Andrew Neitlich.
Want to catch up on the series, don’t forget to read: