The four-step formula for more powerful marketing and advertising

Every day your customers are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages and advertisements. They are there when they turn on the television, listen to the radio, drive past a billboard, wait at a bus stop, go to a public bathroom, search online, open an email, read a magazine or newspaper and even check their letterbox. 

As a result the customers you are targeting are smarter, more informed and value driven, they research their purchases and tend to see through the marketing hype and the manipulative, pushy sales tactics. They are time-poor, have shorter attention spans, scan more than read and want to know what you can do for them before they give you any more of their time or money.

To reach them, your marketing approach needs to be different, strategic, targeted, customer-focused, value packed and concise. Not always the easiest feat, but here’s a little helping hand, a four-step formula you can follow to help you create more powerful marketing campaigns, advertisements and copy.

Step One – Know who you are marketing to and why 

High conversions and great results come from strategic and targeted marketing campaigns where you truly “get” your customers and what they need or want.

To do this effectively you need to be revisiting and redefining your target market regularly. Your customers needs, problems and priorities can change, and who you want to target can change based on your experience, price increases, product changes, the campaigns you are running and your customers’ willingness and ability to spend.

Drill down as specifically as possible so you can find the commonalities in the group of people you are targeting. This will help you uncover which pain point, solution and incentive will be the most effective. I can’t stress enough how important this is to establishing a personal message, the kind that makes your customer feel that you are talking directly to them, even though you may be targeting thousands. 

Step Two – Identify what you are really selling

In order to market your business effectively you need to know what you are selling. This doesn’t just mean being an expert in your products and services, it means becoming very clear on what benefits you are offering your customers. 

To give you an example, let’s use an accountant. Service wise an accountant may offer customers tax returns, bookkeeping, BAS lodgment and structuring, but what they are really selling is peace of mind and security. Their customers can feel at ease knowing that their financial obligations are taken care of and their assets are protected if worse ever came to worse.

In the same way, a mattress store is selling comfort and a good night sleep. A fencing company is selling safety and security for your family. When you find what you are really selling, you can find the emotional pull, motivator or persuader that will most appeal to your target market.  

Step Three – Work out how you do it differently

When you know what you are selling and the benefit it supplies, you need to work out how you do it differently to everyone else. This will allow you to shape a more powerful outcome or result that people will receive simply by choosing to work with you.

Look at what your customers want and need, and then look at what your competitors are doing and not doing compared to you. What is different? What makes your product, service, business or you as a provider different and of more value to your potential customer?

Do you have more experience or expertise? Do you have better processes or follow up? Do you have a guarantee? Do you have consistent or unrivaled results? Do you use higher quality products? Do you have a wider range of colours shapes or styles? Do you have a more personalised service or a quicker turn around? 

Step Four – Stop marketing your product, start marketing your value

Good marketing is not about you, what you do or even what you want to market; it is about your customer, what they need and what is going to most appeal to them in order for them to hand over their money to you. You need to get out of your ego, and into theirs.

Be the solution. Look for ways your products or services and what you are really selling can help your customers solve what they need to solve or achieve what they want to achieve. When it comes to sales and marketing “nice guys” who have a genuine interest in their customers and a desire to help them, finish first. 

Amanda


Three tips to help you build your email list

With so much focus placed on how many likers, followers and connections we have on social media, it can be easy to lose sight of the most important number – your subscribers. 

As business owners we often spend so much time, money and effort building our databases on someone else’s platform, but what about our own? If you could no longer access your social media accounts or blogs, would you have a way of staying in touch with at least some of your likers, followers, readers and connections? 

It can be a scary thought can’t it? To make sure you are building your list while leveraging social media and blogging, here are three tips to turn your likers, followers, readers and connections into subscribers.

1. Create a killer opt-in

In order for a potential customer to give you their contact details willingly, you need to give them value and incentive. It could be a checklist, cheat sheet, fact sheet, list of resources, strategy session, ideas, a gift certificate, newsletter or a whole host of other ideas.

The key is that you need to make it relevant, desirable and where possible shareable, so there is no doubt in your potential customers mind that they (and others they know) must give over their details to get it. To do this you need to be generous. You need to give enough away so it is easy for them to see the value, yet still enough mystery that they need to buy from you. 

A good opt-in, depending on your product, service and industry of course, should inspire your potential customer, challenge the way they think or do something, solve a problem or at least start to solve a problem and/or appeal to their ambition or desire to reach their goal. Emotional engagement is key for high performing opt-in.

If it is a newsletter that you are using as an opt in, instead of saying the usual “sign up for our e-news” say what someone will receive from reading your e-news. Will there be tips, hints, ideas, and deals? Look closely at what value it provides, what will your reader be able to do or know as a result of your information? 

Also try teaming it with a great offer “Sign up for our e-news and get a $5/$10/$50/$100 (depending on what you sell) voucher to use with your next purchase” or “Sign up for our e-news and receive the [x] game-changing tips/hints/questions to ask/habits to achieve [x]”.

2. Capture details with competitions

We all love the chance to win something, particularly if it is something really relevant, desirable, luxurious or expensive (even if it is perceived value) so use a competition as a way to grow your list. Again, look closely at what your potential customers may want or need to make their life or business easier, more enjoyable, fulfilling or profitable. 

While the prize doesn’t need to be directly linked to your business, keep in mind that the more general the prize the more general the people will be who enter it. You don’t just want to grow your database for the sake of growing it, you want to attract targeted, interested people, so take your time when thinking of a prize.

3. Be an information tease

We are really lucky to have tools like blogs and social media at our disposal, so why not put them to good use by doing a little information teaser campaign. 

Once you have identified information you think your audience will really value (think golden nuggets of great wisdom, serious money saving or making tips, a step-by-step process or formula, or anything else you can think of that really gives your audience the opportunity to “peek behind the curtain” of your knowledge), do up one or a series of blog posts or status updates incorporating them. 

Ideally you want there to be at least 5-10 tips/steps/pearls of wisdom in order to get the most impact. But here’s the catch, you only release half – and not the best half, into the public domain the rest you have under lock and key available only to those who join your mailing list. 

Keep in mind though that this only works when the information is relevant, valuable and when done sparingly, when used all the time this tactic can lose its impact. So time it well, after a social media advertising campaign for instance, in order to turn those likers and followers into subscribers.

Do you have any tips for building your mailing list?

Amanda


Marketing words that boost engagement and conversions

Words are powerful. They can move us, engage our emotions in ways we don’t even realise and persuade us to take a course of action we may not have ordinarily taken.

That is why the words you use to help you tell the story of your products and services are so important. They can be the difference between telling and selling, and someone browsing or buying.

Fortunately, there are some words and phrases that have been tried and tested to help boost engagement and conversions regardless of your industry. So to help you, here are seven words I’ve found as a copywriter to be extremely effective, regardless of who or what I’m writing about.

1. “You”

No word in marketing is, or ever will be, as powerful as the word “you”. The more you can make your marketing about your target audience, and their needs, their problems, their desires and their frustrations the more effective it will be.

Remember your potential customer doesn’t care about you – at first anyway, they want to know what is in it for them and how you can solve their challenges and meet their needs like no-one else can.

With this in mind, one of your main objectives when writing your marketing material should be to use the word “you” as many times as possible. Customer focused words like “you” should appear at least twice as many times as self-focused words like your business name, “we”, “us”, “ours”, “me” or “I”. 

2. “Guarantee”

When you are willing to back your own product or service with a guarantee, particularly a 100% money back guarantee, you minimise the risk for your customer and give them a sense of safety and security at the time of purchase.

Offering a guarantee can also help you persuade your potential customer into feeling like they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by buying from you.

3. “Free”

While some marketers over the years have questioned whether the word “free” is still effective in marketing, the fact remains that we all love freebies. The impact of the word, however, depends greatly on what it is linked to.

“A free quote” for instance, isn’t a good “free” incentive. Let’s be honest, would you pay someone to come and give you a quote for a job if a quote was all they were giving? I know I wouldn’t, it’s just something we do in order to generate business.

The key is to offer something that is relevant and of value to your audience. So if you were looking at offering the ever popular “free consultation”, instead of leaving it at that, articulate what value they will receive in a consultation with you (and FYI a sales presentation or the opportunity to come and “find out how we can help you” isn’t value). What will you give them, or talk about in the consultation? What will they have or be able to do by the end of it?

When you start approaching your free offers like this, you will start to see just how powerful the word “free” can be in your marketing.

4. “Instant”

Let’s face it; given our lifestyle, most people you market to will have a short attention span, little patience and a growing desire for instant gratification. You only need to look at the growing credit card debt to see this is true. We don’t want to wait, we want it now and, while some of us may meet it with some scepticism, we are, generally speaking, intrigued by anything and anyone who can deliver us the instant results or changes we are looking for.

If you can build an instant element into your offering and marketing, whether it is instant access, download, delivery, implementation, value or results, it can be incredibly rewarding.

A word of warning though, when you build up a customer’s expectations like this you need to be 100% confident that you can deliver on it. If there is one shadow of a doubt – or you have to rely on someone else to fulfil your “instant” promise (like a third party or supplier) think about what else you could do instead.

5. “Easy”, “Quick” or “Shortcut”

We all want to know the easiest option or the quickest way, it forms part of our desire for instant gratification. We’re willing to look at whatever will speed up the process of being, doing or having what we want, or make the process that much easier.

Perhaps your product or service is easy to buy, easy to use or implement or has the potential to make your customer’s life easier (be specific with how). Or maybe it’s the shortcut they’re looking for that will deliver what they want in record time. The easier and quicker something is, the more desirable it becomes in the mind of your customer.

6. “Never”

The word “never” can be incredibly powerful when you are pointing out the negative benefits of your product or service. If you’re wondering what a negative benefit is, it’s something your customer will avoid (and want to avoid) by buying and using your product or service. Essentially it demonstrates how you can help them avoid pain.

Obviously how you use it depends on your business and what you sell, though some examples are “never miss a payment again”, “never worry about a deadline again” or “never pay too much in tax again”. The key is to make the negative benefit realistic, of high importance to your customers and for ultimate impact something that is weighing heavy on their mind or keeping them up at night.

7. “Proven”

By having a proven system, formula, methodology or product, or a strong track record of generating results, you take the risk and fear out of buying from you. It’s one thing to say that you are great, it’s quite another to be able to back your claims up. The effectiveness and credibility of your message amplifies when you prove you can do what you say you can.

Don’t just make “proven results” or a “proven formula” another claim though, say how and why it is proven or draw on testimonials and case studies to show that it is proven.

So there you have it, seven words that when used right can generate great results in marketing. The next challenge is to find which words will work best for you and your business.

Have you found certain words work wonders in your marketing?

Amanda


Five questions to help you tell the story

Stories are powerful. We not only remember them long than we remember facts, they engage us, appeal to our imagination and when done right, cause us to become emotionally invested. 

Imagine if you could cause this same reaction in your target market after they read your website or promotional material? How many more enquiries would you get? How many more sales would you convert? To help you, here are five questions that once answered will help you tell the story of your products and services and emotionally engage your target market.

1.    What is your target market’s biggest need, frustration or problem? 

People always move faster away from pain then they do towards pleasure, so pain is a good place to start your story. What problems do your target market experience without your product? What limitations do similar products or services have (without naming and shaming) that could be causing your target market frustration? 

What is keeping them up at night? What is costing them money, time or limiting their growth that can be related to not having or using your product or service?

2. Why haven’t they been able to solve it? 

Once you’ve established their pain, look at why they haven’t been able to solve it until now. Was it due to a lack of time, money or knowledge? Have options or availability been limited until you or your new product or service has come along? 

3. What would their life be like if their problem was solved?

Paint the pleasure. Describe the life of your target market once their problems have been solved, their ideal “imagine if…” scenario. How much more effective, efficient or profitable will their business be? How much easier and happier will their life be? 

4. How does your product or service solve their need? 

Once you’ve taken them to a place of pleasure and hope, show them how you or your products or your services make it possible. How are your products or services different? How have they helped others achieve the same ideal scenario? 

5. What do they need to do now? 

Now it’s time for your call to action. What steps do they have to take now to start making their ideal scenario a reality? Is it to call, email or buy now? Do they need to go to another web page, book a consultation, request a quote or download something? 

Work out exactly what action you want them to take then call them to do it while offering them an incentive or emotional pull.
 
By taking your target market through this process, you allow them to have an emotional experience with your product or service before they even try it, a very powerful marketing technique that will result in more enquiries and conversions.

Amanda


Questions to ask when writing or reviewing your website copy

The words on your website can be the difference between a website browser and a new customer. With more and more potential customers heading online to find and buy products, your website copy has never been more important.

To make your words count, here are seven questions to ask when you are writing or reviewing your website copy.

1. Does your copy appeal to your target audiences?

Are you writing for your target market or about you? Good copy is all about your target market, it addresses their frustrations, solves their problems, gives them the benefits and answers their question “what is in it for me”?

Once you have written your copy, read through it and count how many “you’s” you have versus how many “we’s”. You should be talking about your customer at least twice as many times as you are talking about your business.

2. Is there a benefit driven or emotionally appealing headline on each page?

Don’t underestimate the power of headlines. With 5-10 seconds to capture the attention of your target market, your headline will help you make an impact and connect with your reader, and if done correctly, encourage them to keep reading.

3. Are sub-headlines easily identifiable and do they guide readers through the page?

Most of your website readers aren’t readers at all, they are scanners. This means they will be scanning through parts of your copy to find what is relevant or of interest to them. Sub-headlines are great for drawing attention to certain parts of your copy and make it easier for scanners to find what they are looking for.

4. Is the critical content above the fold?

In sales copy your most hard-hitting, benefit-driven information needs to be first, with as much appearing above the fold (where your reader doesn’t have to scroll down) as possible. When your reader lands on your website they want to know “what’s in it for me?”, good copy will always give them the answer straight up.

5. Are testimonials or case studies used to prove the value?

To back up claims you make in your copy, include testimonials that demonstrate benefits and results you have generated for past and present customers. Remember, no-one sells your business better than a happy customer.

If you claim your products or services can boost sales or minimise expenses by a certain percentage within a particular timeframe, provide a testimonial or case study that proves your claim. You will add credibility and build trust with your readers if you do.

6. Is there a call to action on every page?

Are you creating a sense of urgency by giving a compelling reason to act now on every page? Your website should be an extension of your sales team and be converting readers into leads and buyers. To do this, each page needs to have a strong call to action.

When establishing your call to action, ask yourself “what do I want my reader to do once they have finished reading this page?”

7. Is there a way to capture your readers contact information?

Have you provided an irresistible offer that compels your reader to give up their contact information? In addition to wanting your reader to respond to your call to action, you also want to get their contact details. This way, you are in control of how regularly they hear about your business.

To do this, you need to offer them something of value. It could be a checklist, an e-book, a cheat sheet or a template of some sort. Whatever you choose, make sure it is easy to sign up for, if there is too much effort involved you may limit your sign-ups.

Amanda


Six usability mistakes businesses make with their web copy

When it comes to writing for the web, to make your copy truly effective there is a lot you need to do in a small amount of time. You need to be compelling and establish your value quickly, though you also need to make sure your copy is easy to read, easy to understand and leads your web visitor somewhere – preferably to a sale.

Unfortunately for most businesses their web copy doesn’t even come close to doing this. To make sure you’re not in the majority, here are six usability mistakes most businesses are making with their web copy and how you can avoid them to make sure you get the results you want.

Mistake #1 – Choosing pretty fonts instead of practical fonts

With a wide range of fonts to choose from it can be tempting to go for a font that will look more attractive to make a statement or differentiate you from other sites. The only challenge is many of these fonts can be harder to read, particularly on a computer screen that is hard enough to read on.

When it comes to the web (and really the same applies across all your marketing material) fonts like Arial, Calibri, Tahoma and other smooth rounded fonts make your text easier to read for your visitors. Also keep in mind the size, colour and spacing of your text as this will impact readability too.

Mistake #2 – Not having critical content above the fold

The space above the fold (where people don’t have to scroll to down to see text or images) is prime real estate on your website so be sure to make the most of it. Instead of sticking a large image that doesn’t establish your value or what you do, place your most critical and compelling information there so your reader has incentive to scroll down.

It could be a paragraph, a sentence or a headline, there is no rule as to how much text there should be, just as long as it gives your reader a reason to read more. The less you rely on your reader scrolling the better.

Mistake #3 – Not giving mobile users access to your full website

You’ve no doubt experienced the frustration of using your mobile to access a website you regularly use on your desktop only to find you can’t access what you need to. So don’t disadvantage (or annoy) your mobile visitors by giving them a limited version of your website. Mobile users should have the same usability and search ability as desktop users.

It is important to check your website on your mobile and see what your website looks like to readers and what they can see above the fold as this can often vary depending on the device they are using.

Mistake #4 – Not having a clear sales process or navigational path

One of the first steps you should take when planning your website is to work out what you want your readers to do on each page and where you want them to go next. Do they need to be guided through a number of pages in order to make the sale or will they get everything they need to purchase off the one?

Ask yourself what path would you ultimately like them to take through your website? What page should they visit first? What page should they visit second and so on? Once you have worked out where they should go, make sure it is easily signalled in your copy along with a call to action that allows them to act now if they want to.

Mistake #5 – Not having website pages that are easily digested in 5-10 seconds

On the web you have 5-10 seconds to grab the attention of your reader – the time it takes to read a headline and maybe your first sentence. You don’t have long at all to establish what you do and what value you can provide, but you need to find a way.

It used to be just your home page you had to do this on as that was the main point of entry to your website, but now your reader’s search could land them on any page from your blog to your service page, your about us to your contact page, so every web page needs to establish your value, start solving a problem or provide the information your reader is looking for within 5-10 seconds.

Mistake #6 – Not making it easy for a visitor to get in contact with you

So many businesses are becoming faceless online, only allowing their web visitors to contact them through a designated contact form, while this can work with some industries and businesses, most consumers want to be able to get in touch with you in a variety of ways like phone, email, social media and a contact form.

Minimise your web visitor’s frustration by making it easy for them to get in touch with you. Where possible include your phone, email and social media contact details on every page or in your side bar so regardless of what page your web visitor is on they can get in contact with you easily. If you are worried about listing your email because of spam, then spell it out in full like amanda(at)velocitymedia(dot)com(dot)au.

Amanda


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