500 Posts!

500postsIt’s that time again! The time for a big Snoopy Dance as I celebrate 500 posts for our blog!

I can think of no better way to celebrate this massive content creation accomplishment than by offering a free chapter from my eBook which talks about how to get started on creating content.

A little back story here. I’m not a professional writer. I got my start as an artist and took up graphic design as a way of paying the bills. When I got out of college I realized there was an innate problem with being just a graphic designer. There were a lot of other things that were needed to make a successful design project work! Things like… photographers, writers, marketing experts, and proof readers.

Well in a small business chances are you’re getting to wear all those hats, I know I was! So if I can write a 500 post blog, so can you! Hope this helps. EVERYONE is a content creator! Without further adieu here is an excerpt from my book: Nuts & Bolts, The Absolute Basics of Building a Great Marketing Engine.

 

Chapter Four: Write, Photograph, Record – Make Content

Synopsis: Successful brochures, mailers, websites, SEO, social media all have one thing in common: lots of useful, relevant content.

 

Alright now that you’re all rested, maybe with a nice drink, it’s time to get back to some heavy duty thinking. It’s time to create some content. There are lots of ways to go about this and I’ll give you a few of my favorites.

The first is to open a Word document and start typing a letter to my customer. “Dear Jamie” or “Dear Ben” it might read. (This helps if you look over your traits and then give this ‘ideal customer’ a name.) By writing to a single person, you’re not trying to write promotional material to ‘the world’. This gives you a more focused message, takes the pressure off. What’s most amazing about this technique is you’ll reach people who will feel you wrote your text just for them.

Some people suggest writing to a family member you’d like to help. Remember to focus on the benefits and the Why first and only later explain how the features fit in.

A very short example with our chair company might read “Dear Jamie, Remember that fantastic dinner party you put on last month? I think I’ve found the perfect chairs to match the rest of your beautiful Victorian home décor. You might be interested in a place I’d heard of called Handmade Chairs Co. They’re dedicated to building chairs that are durable enough to last generations but beautiful enough to be considered artwork. Their high quality materials are long lasting and their craftsmen put every detail in with love. They’d be the perfect fit for your home and the home of your grandchildren some day, not to mention the focal point of you next party!”

That’s a first pass, it’s not great but it starts the creative juices flowing.

Another way to get moving is to write out some stories about people who’ve received the benefits of your products. Describe their problem, their solution and then the good things that happened as a result. Basing these on real case studies that you’ve helped would be ideal and won’t come off as fake. Be cautious here. You might write just about the ‘what’ and not the ‘why’ or the benefits. Asking yourself “So what?” will often help pull out the gold from each story.

Other promotional content could be frequently asked questions and questions people don’t ask but should. You could write about the common 10 pitfalls of substandard services in your industry or 7 tips to getting the most out of your service. Perhaps you could write a list of questions that customers should be asking your competitors as well as your own answers to those questions.

You could just go down your list of benefits and write an explanation of each benefit and start putting them together to make some very solid promotional text.

There are a slew of options for creating content, it doesn’t just have to be writing! If you’re more a verbal person, grab that camera and start recording yourself talking or sharing tours of your company. A great example of this would be the Blendtec company and their ‘Will It Blend?’ videos. They never even talk about the features because it’s so utterly clear by their ridiculous blending shenanigans. You can check them out at www.willitblend.com.

An excellent source for more quick and easy content creation ideas would be Content Rules by C.C. Capman and Ann Handley and Free Marketing by Jim Cockrum.

When you’re done creating your first set of content, it’s time to start putting it into whatever advertisement ideas work best for your prospects. Do you need mailers? Business cards? A website? Do you need a brochure to hand out? Start putting marketing materials together filled with compelling benefit-focused content.

Bring in other people to look over your content, brainstorm with you, or just ask questions of what you’ve made so far. If you can, it would be best to have people from your target audience look these over, but anyone with an eye for detail or at the least someone who isn’t involved in what you’re doing will give a fresh outsider’s perspective that will help polish and refine your material.

It’s important to note that working on marketing materials is an ever-evolving process. Just starting out will feel like trying to climb a mountain. However, if you stick with it, keep churning out material, looking at what other examples, and practicing, you will get the hang of it. You company will be better off for it, too.

Very often small business owners start seeking outside support for writers and content creators with more expertise. If you wish to go that route, then the lists you’ve made about your company and your ideal customer will be extremely helpful for whomever you bring on.

Whatever you do, do not disengage completely from this process. If you aren’t involved in the development of your marketing at least to some extent, you risk your marketing not fully representing your company.

Generic and forgettable is a marketing suicide.

 

Exercise Four:

•Write two or more pages of content. It doesn’t have to be great, just get something out.

•Create a video or take a photo and upload it to YouTube or your website.

•Bring one or more people in to look over your content and give you feedback.

 

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