How to make more impact in less words and time

With limited time and shortened attention spans, it is becoming increasingly important to get to your point across quickly and concisely to make an impact with your audience. 

From the home page on your website and the first email you send to a lead, to the tweet you post, the infomercial you recite or the quote you give a journalist, you need to be able to get your message across quickly, powerfully and succinctly.

So to help you make more impact in less words and time, here are three steps to follow when creating your message.

Step 1 – Think it through

Whether you are preparing for a media interview, planning your website copy or writing a social media post, think about the most impactful message you have to share.

Do you have compelling statistics, interesting information, key industry insight, knowledge of upcoming trends, impressive results, powerful testimonials, or a great emotional pull?

When you have identified your message, write it down without worrying about how long it is or how many characters you are using. It is more important to get the message right before making it concise.

Step 2 – Revise and Refine 

Once you have brainstormed your message, take a break. Come back with a fresh perspective and evaluate as objectively as possible. 

Is this really the best message to us? Does it address a problem or frustration? Does it give value? Does it solve or start to solve a problem? Does it make your audience smile, laugh or become engaged? Does it appeal to emotions making your audience scared, uncomfortable or motivated? Does it intrigue your audience? Does it leave them wanting more?

While your message objectives will depend on the channel you are using, it should have some purpose and lead towards the goal you want to achieve by undertaking this specific marketing activity.

Step 3 – Sharpen and shorten 

Only once you have refined your message should you be concerned with sharpening and shortening it. This time when you read over your message look to eliminate words that over emphasise your point or don’t need to be there like ‘very’ or ‘actually’.  Even words like ‘that’ can be used when not needed. 

Also look for different words that can simplify or shorten your message. Let’s use “it is becoming increasingly important”, part of my opening statement as an example. Before I chose the word ‘increasingly’ I had the words ‘even more’, while it says the same thing increasingly was more concise and one less word. 

If my focus was on the amount of characters though, and I had the choice of these words I would use ‘even more’, which has one less character despite being two words. 

However, if I was really concerned with word count, amount of characters or time I could shorten it further to “it’s crucial” turning five words into two. 

Give it a go next time you need to create an infomercial, post or marketing message. You will find by following these three steps you will cut the waffle and create more strategic, sharper and shorter messages that will carry more impact with your audience. 

Amanda


Four tips to increase newsletter opens and clicks

With over 100 billion emails sent last year alone, and many of us receiving tens if not hundreds of emails a day, it can be easy for your newsletter to become lost in a sea of your readers emails. 

But before you start waving the white flag, regular newsletters and emails are still a great way to create another touch point with your customers and build your profile and sales. But how do you stand out in a crowded inbox and keep readers opening? Here are four tips to increase your newsletter opens and clicks.

1. Never underestimate the power of your subject line

Your subject line is the headline of your newsletter and in many cases the only opportunity to capture your readers’ attention. 

For best results don’t just go for a generic ‘[Month] Newsletter’ subject line, include an incentive or information teaser. It could be to address a challenge or need, or include a desired benefit, a sneak peek of the tips contained within, an emotional pull or special offer.

2. Personalise your newsletter

General statements like ‘Hello Business Owner’ immediately rid your newsletter of the personal touch and people are less likely to read on. Readers want to feel like you are talking directly to them so where possible personalise your newsletter by using their first name.

If you don’t have the names of the people you are emailing, or a program that will insert their names for you, consider using a pain or benefit driven headline that will appeal to most if not all readers. A targeted headline like this, despite not being personalised is often more effective then a group greeting.

3. Value your reader’s time

People are busy and inboxes are crowded. Value your reader’s time by keeping your newsletter brief and relevant. It is not the place to waffle about everything you’ve done for the month; it is another touch point to connect with your readers, so think about what they will want and need.

If you do have long articles and detailed information you want to share, publish them as a blog post on your website so you can provide a short sentence or two with a link to “read more” this not only saves space and time, it also increases your website traffic.

4. Prioritise your content

Keep in mind that the majority of your readers will be scanners looking to see ‘what’s in it for me’? They will scan until they find something relevant or of value to them – and if they don’t your headed for deleted items.

To appeal to scanners outline the key selling points of your newsletter early and link to each area where possible. Also make sure that the most interesting, relevant or hard-hitting information is at the start of your newsletter.

How do you keep readers opening your newsletter?

Amanda


Seven tips for writing content quickly

Sometimes in business we are presented with opportunities that require us to produce a lot of content quickly. It could be for an editorial, a guest contribution to a blog or e-book, an awards submission, a presentation or pitch or even our own book or e-course.

While you can know your topic inside out, putting it down on paper can trigger all sorts of procrastinating behaviour and overwhelm, slowing down or stopping the writing process altogether resulting in lost opportunity or revenue.

To help you overcome distractions and package up your knowledge easily here are seven tips for writing a lot of content quickly.

1. Decide on your topic and audience

The first step in producing content quickly is to work out the audience you are writing for and the topic you will be writing about. In order for your writing to be successful, from a sales and public relations perspective, you want to have the two well aligned and write about a relevant issue that is of interest to your target audience and the media.

2. Map out chapters, pages or sub-headlines

Depending on what you are writing, do up a quick mind map of your chapters, pages or sub-headlines and then break it down further again to include the main points under each. Structuring your writing like this will give you more clarity around your topic, ensure you stay on target to achieve the outcome you want and help you avoid overwhelm.

3. Start anywhere

Once you have your content mapped out you can make a start in the area you feel most inspired. You don’t need to start at the beginning and work through in order. In fact as a copywriter I can tell you that 99% of the time I start in the middle. I prefer to do the introduction last so I can make sure the beginning sums up and leads into the rest of the writing project. 

4. Use anecdotes

Stories, examples and case studies not only create an emotional connection with your readers, they also make your points more memorable, easy to understand and your content more inspired and fun to write. 

5. Use a voice recorder

While sitting down and writing can work for some of us, for others it can stifle creativity. If you recognise that you are more creative standing up, walking around, speaking or being in front of the white board jot down brief notes and speak into a voice recorder. Leverage your creativity by finding the process that works best for you.

6. Record all ideas

Once you start the writing process you can find yourself being inspired at all different times throughout the day and night when you least expect or want it. For this reason make sure you have a way to record your ideas keeping a notepad and pen or your phone near you at all times.

7. Edit upon completion

The biggest productivity killer in writing isn’t procrastination it’s perfectionism. Give yourself the freedom to write the entire first draft before you start editing and critiquing. Editing as you go can slow the process down (or bring it to a halt) and waste periods of inspiration.

Have you had to produce a lot of content quickly? How did you go about it?

Amanda


It’s all in the name: Five considerations when naming your business, product or service

Creating a name for a new business, product or service can be an overwhelming task, particularly when it can determine the identity, personality and the perception of your brand. 

With this in mind you need more than a trusty thesaurus and clever word play, you need to think about the end result, the ultimate brand you want to create and then work backwards. 

So here a five considerations to take into account when naming your new business, product or service. 

1. Know your target markets and what they want

The first step in creating a great name is to know who you are targeting. While it won’t impact the name in every case, it can be a way of appealing and positioning your business, product or service in a way that easily identifies through name or slogan who it will benefit. 

2. Research keywords

Research what words and terms your target market is searching for when trying to find your industry, products or services, and see if there is way you can use these keywords into your name. 

By incorporating keywords into your business, product or service name, slogan and domain names you have a slight edge when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as it is an easy and natural way to incorporate them into your copy. 

3. Be mindful of spelling and phrasing

While it can be fun, and advantageous for trademarking to invent new words and phrases, or change the spelling of existing words, be mindful of how your potential customers may spell it or search for it if they were to only hear your name. 

Potential customers won’t always see your logo or the spelling of your name the first time they are introduced to you. They may hear it mentioned in an infomercial, be referred to you while talking to a friend or colleague, or perhaps even hear it on the radio or a podcast interview.

With this in mind, it is wise to make the spelling clear while it becomes established and also take precautionary methods (if possible) with domain names for instance in order to pick up potential searches and enquiries that may spell it incorrectly. 

Also think about your name in terms of a hashtag. If you have multiple words in your name could they be interpreted as something else if you were to run them all together as a #hashtag on social media?

4. Use or create a verb

Using a verb or creating a word that could be used as a verb can be a great way to make your business, product or service stick in the mind of your customer and make it appear to be the best or ‘in’ thing to do. For example how many times have you said or heard someone say “Google it”. 

5. Incorporate the problem you solve or benefit you provide 

This can be a powerful positioning strategy that can set you apart from the very beginning. 

Be mindful though that when you incorporate the problem you solve or benefit you provide in your business, product or service name you are making a promise to your customers. So whatever you say, you need to make sure that you can (while thinking of all ‘what if’ scenarios)  live up to it and maintain it over the course of your business. 

Do you have a process behind choosing names for your businesses, products or services?

Amanda


Three sales writing mistakes that will lose you business

Sales letters can be an extremely effective way to generate new business. Whether it is sent via email, social media or good old-fashioned snail mail, when you get the right message, to the right people with the right call to action you can generate a great marketing response.  When it’s wrong however, it can be uncomfortably quiet.

The good news is that the common mistakes people when writing sales letters are easily avoided – when you know what they are. So here are the three most common sales writing mistakes to avoid so you stop losing business and start winning sales. 

Mistake #1  – Appealing to the wrong ego

Ego is an important part of sales writing, but not your ego. Too many people make the mistake of thinking sales writing is all about them, they build their ego through the text, when really they should be appealing to their reader’s ego.

How you appeal will obviously depend on who you are targeting and what you are selling, but comments like “as you would know” or “from your experience” can be a great start. You don’t want to be blatant with your ego stroking as people will become highly suspicious of what you’re doing or selling, being subtle is crucial. 

Mistake #2 – Selling first instead of relating 

The fastest way to turn people off is to go straight into a sales pitch. Think about it in terms of a networking event, you’ve just walked in the door and someone comes straight up to you, shoves a business card in your face and starts selling to you. What are you thinking? Chances are you want to get away from them as quickly as possible. It’s no different in writing. 

You still need to build rapport and find common ground as you are writing. Get people nodding in agreement. Be relatable and friendly. Then once you have done that while telling the story, go in with the pitch in a way that adds value.

Mistake #3 – Calling your reader to act without incentive

While you need to call your reader to act, there is a difference between a passive “call us today on [number]” and a more active incentive like “call us today on [number] and receive/save [x]”. 

An incentive doesn’t always need to be a discount, special offer or free checklist, e-book or report. It could be an emotional pull, creating urgency through a time sensitive promotion or appealing to our sense of competition by “not missing out”.

Just keep in mind that the less you know the person you are targeting, the stronger your incentive needs to be.

Do you use sales letters as part of your marketing strategy? What has or hasn’t worked for you?

Amanda


The biggest point of difference you are underselling

If you are like most business owners your biggest point of difference comes not from what you do or even how you do it, it comes from what you know.

The knowledge you have around your industry, products and services, your customers needs, problems and challenges, the lessons you’ve learnt and the formulas, templates, processes and systems you’ve created based on your knowledge and experience is all extremely valuable. 

What’s more it could be what influences a potential customer in doing business with you over your competitors. Yet most of us undersell it. 

So if by chance you are underselling your knowledge, here are four reasons why you should stop doubting and start sharing.

1. Your industry knowledge isn’t “common sense”

When something comes easy to you, it can be easy to think that it comes easy to everyone else too – but it doesn’t. The truth is you have distinct skills and knowledge that most people will never have. Even the most researched customers won’t come close to what you know.

2. You may share the same expertise, but not the same experience

While you may feel that the industry knowledge you have isn’t unique, that it is shared by anyone working in your industry, your experience is. The experience you have gained from working in your industry day in and day out can’t be replicated.

No one has been exactly where you are today. They haven’t had the same life experiences, the same customers, learned the same business lessons, or had the same setbacks and wins. You are far more knowledgeable than you realise.

3. Your explanation and application could be just what someone needs

Each of us respond better to particular communication and learning styles and build rapport quicker with specific personalities. 

While you may not be the most knowledgeable person in your industry – or even close at this stage, how you explain, implement or package your knowledge could be what spurs a customer or potential customer to finally take action on something they have “heard a hundred times” before.

4. Every great expert started as an amateur

Remember that every great expert and every successful entrepreneur and business leader started out as an amateur. The only difference is they kept learning, growing and sharing what they knew with their staff, customers and the world.

Are you underselling yourself?

Amanda


Three ways to be more compelling in your sales and marketing

Your ability to compel your customers, readers and followers to read on, act or buy, directly determines your leads, conversions and business profits. 

So how do you become more compelling in your sales and marketing? Here are three ways to get you started.

1. Keep a little mystery

In the same way you wouldn’t tell your entire life story in the first few dates with someone, don’t feel you need to inform your potential customer, reader or follower of every facet of your business, industry or topic in the first few touch points. Leave a little mystery by informing them slowly.

Mystery leaves your potential customers wanting more, providing of course that you give away the right details to begin with. To use mystery effectively you need to know who you are targeting and what key selling points will most appeal to them.

Infomercials and your answer to the common question “so what do you do?” are great places to practice a little business mystery.

2. Offer information teasers

Key information like statistics, industry insights, inside secrets, usability tips, and handy hints on areas your target audience are interested in can spark interest and get them to take a level of action like giving over their contact details to you.

Knowledge is power, and in this day and age it is our most valuable commodity – not to mention our biggest point of difference. Sharing relevant and interesting information builds your credibility and positions you as an expert in your field, giving potential customers the confidence in doing business with you.

The trick here though, is in knowing how much of your knowledge to give away, as it will depend on the action you need a potential customer to take. Being a ‘teaser’ your information should be limited, but at the same time it needs to be enough to build trust and leave potential customers, followers or readers feeling like you’ve given them real value.

Always keep some information under lock and key for your paying customers, or to get potential customers taking bigger steps of trust with you.

Social media, newsletters, website opt-ins, blog posts and advertisements are great places to tease with compelling information. 

3. Limit options and choices

While potential customers want to feel like they have a choice in what they do or buy, too much choice can overwhelm your buyer and cause you to lose control in the sales process. 

Before you do any sales or marketing you should map out the steps you want to take each customer through. While not all will follow and some will jump ahead, having this planned out allows you to guide potential customers to the decision you want them to take.

In a service-based business it could be having a few core packages, memberships or services with the ability to customise or value-add further should you need too. For online product-based businesses it could be having a clear category headings and links to the most popular products from your home page as opposed to listing all products immediately.

By having limited choices buyers can quickly determine the products or services most relevant to them, or what their next step needs to be without being overwhelmed by information. It also means you can use sneaky call to action tips to help boost your conversions.

Keep in mind that too much information or too many choices can stall the buying process and even drive them to a competitor who keeps choices simple. This is particularly important for websites and sales meetings.

What are some ways you can be more compelling in your sales, marketing and copywriting?

Amanda


Five sneaky call to action tips to boost conversions

Your call to action is one of the most important parts of any copy you write. While your words may be clever and compelling, and your images eye catching and engaging, if you aren’t calling people to act, you won’t get the results you want.

So how do you make sure you are calling your potential customers to act effectively? Here are five sneaky call to action tips to help boost your conversions.

1. Map out your sales process

The key to an effective call to action is to know what actions you need your potential customer to take. While it would be nice for a potential customer to go from not knowing you to spending thousands with you instantly, and yes it does happen, in most cases though trust and rapport need to be established first. 

This is where your sales process comes in, working out each step that needs to be taken to build trust and turn your potential customer into your ideal customer.  

For each marketing piece you write, whether it is a sales letter, brochure or website think about the very next step they need to take. Is it to call you? Answer your phone call? Sign up to your mailing list? Go to a landing page? Download a free resource? Make a small ‘teaser’ purchase that will lead them to a bigger purchase? 

Break each step down, giving clear instructions as to what needs to happen next.

2. Create urgency

The whole point of a call to action is to get your potential customers acting now, not saying, “I’ll do that later”. But to do this you need to communicate the urgency. 

You can do this by using scarcity and competition to hint at what they could miss out on if they don’t act quickly, and/or using urgent language like “try it now”, “immediate access” or “call today”.

3. Use triggers

Sometimes you need to give potential customers a little extra help to get over the line, that is where sales triggers, little messages that motivate, come into play. 

It could be a testimonial with results you know they will want, a risk minimising message like a guarantee or even some bullet points that overcome common objections and establish your value all put near your call to action to ‘seal the deal’.

4. Make your ‘buy buttons’ green or bright coloured

We have been programed in society that green = go and red = stop or a hazard, are your buy buttons giving off the right signal? 

While green is a good idea for your buy button, bright colours, particularly against duller colours (if you were wanting to highlight a particular package, membership or option for instance) can also draw the eye and send the right signal.

5.  Get rhyming

While it may sound funny or corny, research has shown that rhyming phrases are perceived to be more truthful and accurate. Get a little creative and give rhyming a go for one of your calls to actions and test your results.

Hopefully this has helped you a fraction, what tips will you use in your next call to action?

Amanda


How to identify what your customers love about you

While you know exactly what you love about your business and what you think are your biggest selling points – do you really know what your customer’s value and love about you?

More often than not business owners are selling what they want to sell rather than selling what their customers want to buy. To make sure you’re not one of them, here are four quick checks to ensure you’re not assuming what your customers want, but rather listening to what they value.

1. It’s in their frustrations

If you want to know what your customers and potential customers value, look at the common frustrations and stereotypes of your industry. What do people groan and complain about? What are the common bad experiences?

Now that you know what people don’t appreciate, list the opposite and you will start to see what your customers and potential customers will really want.

2. It’s in their objections

Don’t be put off by objections, objections are your potential customers way of voicing their concern and when handled right they give you the opportunity to make a more personalised sales pitch to get them over the line.

Though in saying this it is important to pay attention to them and make a note of the objections that keep coming up. Is there something that your customers and potential customers need that you aren’t providing? Are there benefits or features that you aren’t promoting that you should be? 

Through objections your potential customers will tell you what is important to them, what they need to know and give you insight into how they make their buying decisions.

3. It’s in their testimonials

Look over the testimonials you’ve received from your past and current customers. What have they praised you for? What have they valued? What are the common themes through all of them?

Chances are that the key features, benefits and results that your past and current customers loved are also the same features, benefits and results that will appeal to your future customers.

4. It’s in their introductions

Referrals and introductions are also a great way to gain insight into what your customers and business associates value about you. More often than not when someone introduces you in business they will lead with what they see to be your biggest point of difference, key area of expertise or your top benefits. 

So the next time someone introduces or refers you, don’t just focus on the new contact, focus on what they have said to get the new contact interested and wanting to talk to you.

When all else fails remember you can ask!

Amanda


Five ways to make your marketing more strategic

Too often businesses take an unplanned approach to their marketing, either following the crowd or acting on a hunch they decide to “try it and see”. But it’s the fastest way to blow your marketing budget. 

True marketing magic happens when the right product or service, with the right message meets the right people, at the right time, on the right marketing platform. Though, to do that you need a strategy, and you need to test and measure your results. 

So stop doing what you think you should be doing, what the company down the road is doing or what you heard would be good to try and start strategising the best way to create the marketing magic for your business. Here are five tips to get you started. 

1. Qualify your marketing efforts

In order to make the most of your marketing campaign and investment you need to:

  • Check there is a need for your products or services
  • Craft messages that are relevant and emotionally engaging with the audience that have the need
  • Ensure the platform or strategy you use will reach a large amount of the audience you are targeting 

When you start to evaluate your marketing efforts, strategies and opportunities even on this simple criteria, by asking is it relevant and targeted to your audience and reaching a high percentage of those you are targeting, you can quickly protect your budget from marketing strategies that “everyone is doing” and start to see what to say yes to and try, and what to say no to or stop. 

2. Know the purpose 

Whatever marketing or advertising you do, there needs to be a clear purpose for it. You need to know what you want someone to do after reading or hearing the specific message you have created, as this will impact the call to action you use. 

Is it to call you? Go to your website? Sign up to the mailing list? Buy immediately? Once you know what you need them to do, you can then make sure your copy, call to action and incentive all work together to make it happen.

3. Ensure there are real benefits or an opportunity to get a return

It sounds obvious, but many marketing campaigns have been done under the guise of “increasing brand awareness” (sponsorship can be an ideal example of this) which is fine if you have brand awareness to start with, have a large marketing budget to play with or if it’s a highly relevant and targeted opportunity, but it’s impact is very hard to measure. 

Whatever you look to invest your marketing dollars in, there needs to be real benefits and return. So, to use the sponsorship example, find a way to proactively reach your audience in a measurable way like sponsoring a prize and getting the business cards of those who enter. 

4. Test your message on a smaller campaign 

Before you embark on a larger marketing or advertising campaign test your headline and message on a smaller one. 

It could be through a focus group, survey, Facebook advertising campaign, a Google Adwords advertisement or a smaller mail out to test and measure the results. Better to find out a message doesn’t work on a small scale with a small investment rather than a large one. 

5. Don’t confuse persistence with foolishness

While you need to allocate a set amount of time to tell if a product, message, platform or strategy is working, you don’t want to keep wasting time, money and effort on something that isn’t. 

To prevent this from happening, set a cap or measurement on your efforts. It could be a time limit, or a set amount of mail outs you do to in order to test the product or service, message or platform to see if it is getting a response. 

As entrepreneurs we need to be mindful that sometimes business ideas, products or services and marketing campaigns don’t work the way we think, want or hoped they would. 

When this is the case, it is important for your business and your bottom line to stop instead of persisting, put it down to education and move on to the next project, idea or strategy.

How do you ensure your marketing is strategic?

Amanda 


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