Small Business Marketing Blog

April 23, 2010

4 Tips for Writing Blog Leads that Work

Filed under: Blogging,Business — Robin Witt @ 8:47 am
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When writing a small business blog, pay special attention to your very first sentence. This sentence is called the lead and after the headline, an interesting lead makes the biggest difference between someone reading your post, or moving on to something else. Here are four different types of lead sentences to try out on your business blog:  

Delayed Identity.  In this type of lead, the writer keeps the identity of the subject a mystery until later in the paragraph. Here is a successful example from Jay Baer’s Convince and Convert Blog

 I’m sitting in a restaurant in Cincinnati recently, surrounded by  televisions with the sound turned down. The bartender approaches, and asks if I’d like to hear the TV. I say “sure” expecting him to saunter over to a monitor, and turn up the volume. Instead, he reaches under the bar, and pulls out a Soundog unit.

Scene Setter.  Painting a picture, or creating a state of mind for the reader is the hallmark of this type of lead. Do it in a succinct manner and include emotional triggers like anxiety to create tension, momentum, or anticipation. Here’s one from a recent HubSpot Marketing Blog.  Notice how you feel like you are right there trying to solve the problem.

You’re sitting in front of your computer, trying to come up with a fantastic lead nurturing campaign.  You know you need to provide value.  You know you need to drive these early funnel leads to later…

Shocking Statement. Write a sentence that goes against popular belief, or has a bold opinion. This is from the Church of the Customer Blog talking about South by Southwest (SXSW), a wildly popular, interactive conference featuring music and film held in Austin, Texas each year.

The panels at the SXSW Interactive sucked.

Question. Asking a question can sometimes be the simplest way to get the reader thinking and engaged in a short period of time. Here is an example where a question is used effectively in a recent Duct Tape Marketing blog post.

Why are you captivated by some people, but not others? Why do you recall some brands, yet forget the rest?

Give leads the special attention they deserve by keeping them fresh. Don’t be afraid to try different types. You’ll be rewarded by readers that are more engaged and more likely to recommend your writing to others.

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April 17, 2010

3 Journalism Tips for Writing a Better Business Blog

Filed under: Blogging,Business — Robin Witt @ 8:33 am
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Many of the same foundation principles apply to writing bogs for your small business. Although the style of writing a blog for your business is different than writing a traditional news story, they both share the goal of communicating important information. To make sure you are writing clearly and with purpose it is a good idea to have a checklist of key questions to use as a guide. In journalism these are known as the five W’s: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.  Using that same idea, here are three essential questions to keep in mind when writing your business blog:

Who am I writing for?  The answer to this question is your customer, of course. It’s funny how easy it is to get off track on this one and write about what is of interest to us or our peers. Remember to keep your ideal customer in mind at all times and write in a manner that makes sense to them by avoiding “insider” jargon.

Why is it important?  Share information that will help your customers with their issues. Answer the question, “Why should my customers care?” Also, be sure to write about what will happen if they don’t adopt what you are proposing.  

What do you want them to do next? Put action into your writing by sharing tips with your readers on how to get started or how to get more information. After all, what is the point of information if it doesn’t change what you are doing or the results you will get?

Writing a business blog is an effective way to position yourself as a trusted expert in the eyes of your customers.  By answering the three essential W’s for business blogging you will ensure your content is appealing and helpful to your target client.

For more information about blogging or social media marketing for your business, contact Robin Witt: robin.witt@yahoo.com

April 9, 2010

Don’t Let Writer’s Block Derail Your Small Business Blog

Filed under: Blogging,Business,Marketing — Robin Witt @ 7:45 am
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Writer's block  is a problem when writing small business blogs. Writing blogs is one of the best marketing tools small business owners can use to attract customers. Posting  on a consistent basis is essential to getting the best results.  One of the biggest stumbling blocks is not being able to remember any of your good ideas when you finally sit down to do the writing. The secret is to have a steady supply of story starters at your fingertips so your time can be spent on the writing instead of generating ideas.  Here are four tips to get you started. 

Make idea generation and blog writing two different activities.  When you sit down to write your blog posts for the week, your time should be spent on just writing not looking for ideas. If you try to do both activities at the same time it will take too long and there is a risk you won’t get it done. 

Have a way to capture ideas.  Finding ideas is an ongoing process and you don’t always know when inspiration will strike. Find a reliable way to save these ideas to be used at a later date. Some people write down ideas while other people like to store ideas in their phone or leave themselves a voice message. It doesn’t matter what you come up with for a solution. The important thing is that it works for you and is easy to do, otherwise it won’t be successful. 

Constantly be on the look-out for possible ideas. Great blog ideas can come from a variety of different sources.  For example, clients have questions, concerns, and issues that make excellent blog posts. When you are reading articles, ask yourself, “Is there something here that would valuable to share with my customers?” Just add your own point of view and link back to the original source.  Other sources of inspiration could be movies, books, or your life experiences. 

Fill in the blank. Simple  phrases  or fill-in the blank sentences can help jolt the creative juices. Here are some universal themes to get  you started: 

  • Avoid this mistake at all costs.
  • Do this to be successful.
  • What your _____doesn’t want you to know.
  • How to _______.
  • Thinking about______? Why that is the worst idea ever.

Writing blogs is one of the most valuable activities you can do to establish credibility and trust. Don’t let the pressures of time or an occasional case of writer’s block keep you from making the most of this marketing tool.  With a little bit of planning and attention to a couple of simple strategies you can have a large pool of ideas to choose from.

March 30, 2010

Small Business Blogs: Make Your’s a Tiny Treat

Filed under: Blogging,Business — Robin Witt @ 8:34 am
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Blogs are like tiny candy treats.Creating too much of a good thing is one of the mistakes I see small business owners make when they start writing blogs for their business. In their eagerness to provide good information for prospective clients, they often go overboard with content. While more can be better in some cases, with business blogs you’ll be more successful if you portion out your information as a small bag of M&Ms rather than the whole candy store. By “fun-sizing” your blog entries you’ll keep readers interested and wanting more.  Here are three tips to get started:

Limit your blog posts to 500 words. Make your entries the right size. A small size is not less delicious than a bigger size; it is just easier to consume. If you really can’t cut it down to less than 500 words you probably have enough information for more than one post. The good news is longer posts can be made into a series which is a great way to get return readers. 

Be fun and creative.  Readers want important and useful information, but they also want to be entertained.  Make your entries delicious with a dash of personality. Also, don’t forget to use pictures. Many times the right picture can say more than words alone.  

Make your entries easy to consume. Get to the point in your writing.  Ask yourself, “What am I trying to say and why should anyone care?” Also, make the key thoughts easier to identify by breaking up text with bullet points and numbered lists when appropriate. After reading your post the reader should be able to easily tell someone else what it was about.

Business blogs are a great way to show your expertise to new and existing clients. Just keep it short, sweet, and to the point to invite readers back for another piece the next day.

January 6, 2010

Small Business Marketing: Do You Really Need a Blog?

Filed under: Blogging — Robin Witt @ 2:22 pm
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Balance between website and blogging.Small business owners are constantly on the lookout for ways to be more effective in generating business. One of the questions I am frequently asked is, “Do I need to blog if I have a website?”

Blogs and websites are different.

A website is considered an essential resource. You might think of a website as an online brochure that tells what your company does and what you are about.  The information on a website, for the most part is set in place, and updated only as needed or as the budget allows. One of the disadvantages of websites is once a potential customer has looked at it, there might not be a reason to visit again anytime soon. This is bad news if you were not successful in getting them to buy on the first try because off they go looking somewhere else.

A blog on the other hand provides a way to add new content on a more frequent basis. Many bloggers write entries several times a week—some as often as every day. This is a nice complement to the static nature of a website.  In some ways, a small business blog can be thought of as an expanded Frequently Asked Questions page with blog posts often answering questions and concerns readers might be thinking about. Another way blogs are different is the style of writing tends to be quick and informal. Not only is this an engaging way to convey information, it also encourages frequent visits to see what the new developments are.

Both are important.

Having an online presence is essential for attracting customers today. Websites and blogs are both an important part of that equation.  While websites do a great job of serving as your home base, blogs really get into the nuts and bolts of what customers are looking for.  Do you need both?  You bet.  Use your website to provide a grounded presence and use your blog to provide some color and personality.

December 24, 2009

Don’t Give Out Fruitcake on Your Small Business Blog

Filed under: Blogging — Robin Witt @ 4:38 pm
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Good blogs and good gifts have common qualities.Gifts are a big part of the holiday season. Some gifts are personal, thoughtful, and just what you needed, while others are exactly the opposite.  My grandmother routinely gave me an itchy and ill-fitting sweater while my favorite aunt seemed to find something really special that I hadn’t even thought of. This got me thinking. What is the difference between gifts that are highly prized and ones that are destined for re-gifting? When I listed the qualities, I noticed the same could be said for blogs. So what do good gifts and good blogs have in common?

They are focused more on the receiver than the giver or writer. A cherished gift is personal and just what the receiver wanted. A valuable business blog is customer-focused, rather than product or writer focused. It’s not an advertisement, but rather information that is valuable and interesting to your clients and customers.

They anticipate the needs or desires of the receiver. A good gift giver finds something for you that you didn’t even know you wanted.  A good business blog writer does the same. For example, a potential customer might be considering doing a mail piece for their business and you are a provider of printing services. Instead of writing about your business, the quality of the paper, or how fast and accurate you are, write a blog on 10 ways to use direct mail more effectively.

 A good gift creates an enduring memory. It’s the thought that counts. Gifts given with little thought are quickly forgotten.  In contrast, when a gift or blog site is found to be valuable, not only is it used and enjoyed at the moment, but it is saved, remembered, and passed on to others. Good blogs, like good gifts, bring a smile to the face of readers.

This season show people you care about them and that you are thinking of them.  Take the time to choose thoughtful gifts that focus on them and what they most want. When someone gives you something that is of value, whether it is a gift or information, you think highly of them.

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