Guest post by Janet Aronica
Creating consistent and helpful blog content is a great way to build community and trust around your brand for your prospects.
It's how you draw the right potential customers to your website.
But cranking out daily content is challenging.
How can you keep the blog post ideas flowing? How can you keep the content fresh and prevent yourself from re-hashing the same old thing?
Here’s a brainstorm of some ideas to get you started, or just keep you going...
Multi-media and Visuals
1. Do a screencast with Screenr of your product and share it on your blog.
2. Show a step-by-step guide on how to do something in a screencast, how-to video, or show the steps in a series of photos.
3. Create a music video for your company and post it on the blog.
4. Share a cartoon or create an original one.
How-to’s and Tips
5. Write a how-to article. Give instructions with screenshots or photos on the steps someone needs to take to do something.
6. Point out common mistakes in your industry and offer solutions on how to fix or avoid them.
7. Offer a list of benefits for doing something.
8. Share a list of some things to avoid.
9. Relate your how-to content to a current event or a celebrity. Example: “Five _____ Lessons from Lady Gaga” or “What the Election Teaches Us About ____”
Use Existing Content
10. Take the contrarian position – Find someone else’s article that you agree or disagree with. Introduce your blog post with what you specifically agree or disagree with it, and support your argument with a few concise points.
11. Do a weekly or daily links-roundup of relevant news for your community.
12. Find tips in other content, create a list of those tips and give links to those articles as the sources.
13. Share an excerpt from an ebook or white paper with a call to action to download it for the rest of the information.
14. Share an excerpt from an upcoming webinar with a call to action to get the rest of the content in the webinar.
15. Share your slides from a recent presentation.
16. Share conference takeaways.
17. Do a round-up of last year’s/last month’s/last week’s most popular posts.
18. Re-interpret existing content: Collect the top motivational YouTube videos for your audience, top ebooks, top webinars or infographics.
Incorporate Other Platforms
19. Create a Slideshare presentation of new statistics related to your space and share that in a blog post. Tag the Slideshare presentation with relevant keywords for your company to leverage SEO benefits of the platform.
20. Ask a question on Twitter and share the results with a Storify embed.
21. Collect Tweets from a webinar or conference hashtag, show them off with Storify and offer your own takeaways in the blog post.
22. Respond to industry research with your own perspective. Offer a fresh angle to spark conversation.
23. Do a survey with Survey Monkey among your community members and create an infographic based on the results.
24. Do a poll of your Twitter community with a Twtpoll or your Facebook community with a Facebook Question and post the results on your blog.
25. Do an in-depth case study about one company, or offer a few examples of how other companies do something successfully.
26. Record an interview with an expert in your field and post it to your blog.
27. Get experts to offer a tip and do a round-up of their recommendations.
28. Feature guest posts from industry experts.
29. Publish responses to frequently asked questions about your industry.
30. Create a list of trends to watch.
31. Compare and contrast: Different products, different approaches, different companies, different people, different places, etc.
32. Do a review of other non-competitive products or services that your community cares about.
33. Be a journalist: Be the first in your space to offer industry takeaways about breaking news.
34. Explain what a current event or topic in the news means for your industry or community. Example: “What ____ Means for ____.” “Why _____ Matters for _____.”
35. De-bunk common myths.
Make it About Your Community
36. Interview your favorite customer.
36. Post a Flickr slideshow of pictures from a recent event.
37. Run a contest and give away something relevant to your community.
38. Ask for guest posts from community members.
39. If you have company news to share, talk about it in a way that makes it about the reader. Example: If someone gets promoted, talk about how why were successful. Inspire your audience.
40. Publish a post relevant to the current season or holiday.
41. Outline the top practical use cases for your product, service etc.
Originally posted by our partners at Hubspot on the HubSpot Inbound Marketing Blog.
What do you think? How do YOU generate ideas for your blog? Use the COMMENTS area below to share your advice, questions or opinions...
You'll remember from yesterday's introduction to this Business Blogging 101 series, I mentioned the three BIG problems keeping you from doing a better job of leveraging blogging into business:
1. You are unable to write QUICKLY.
2. You are unwilling to write BRIEFLY.
3. You are inefficient at IDEA CAPTURE.
Good news for you - #1 and #2 are related and we'll solve them both for you before you're done reading this post...
Business Blogging 101: 7 Ways to Write Less and Say More
- Think fortune cookies - you don't need to write an essay to share a key nugget that occurred to you while you were driving or in the shower.
Example: 101 Success Tips in 3 Words
- When you have a lot to say, say it in shorter, sharper chunks. Like a series. Call it something snappy like "Business Blogging 101." See?
- Use quotes, stats, visuals, videos, and graphics. These are not only easier for your blog readers to absorb, they're MUCH more likely to be shared, thus driving more traffic and Google juice back to YOU.
Example: Marketing Concept: 12 Home Page Must-Haves
- Great blogs do NOT persuade, explain or convince. Put your opinions out there - the sharper, the better. Give your readers something to agree or disagree with.
Example: The (REAL) Idiot's Guide to Social Media Marketing
- Stop being so nice. It's OK to piss people off. Too many blogs take both sides of any given argument and end up sounding like a high school essay instead of a pointed, share-worthy piece of thought leadership.
Example: 5 Signs that Your Prospect is Giving You Too Much Bullsh*t
- Master the 20-minute blog post. Give yourself 20 minutes on the clock. Set a timer. Write. Revise as you go. When the bell goes off, hit publish. Truth: Even if it sucks - which it won't - you're better off posting it than if you had posted nothing that day. Honest.
- Steal these blog titles: 7 Ways to... 5 Keys to... Top 10 Strategies for... 3 Biggest mistakes of... 11 Secrets of [topic] revealed... 7 Questions to ask yourself... 13 Quick tips on...
- (Bonus) Use numbers in your titles
Example: Marketing Coach: 17 Ways to Drive More Traffic FAST
- (Bonus) People love lists of key points, mistakes, lessons, examples, templates, strategies, tactics, tools, secrets, and so on.
Example: 23 things to say when you're asked for free consulting
- (Bonus) People love free resources. People love when you point out other cool people, other great blogs, and things they need to know about, use, read, or buy to make them more successful in your area of expertise.
Example: Why Your Business Needs to FLOP
- (Bonus) People love bonuses. Underpromise and overdeliver and you'll keep folks coming back for more. Like sharing 11 points when you initially promised just 7. Priceless!!
What do YOU think? Use the COMMENTS area below to share your business blogging advice, inights or questions and...
I am leading an ExecSense webinar on “How to Get Published as CEO of a VC-Funded Company and How to Make it Work Towards Your Company's Success” on Friday September 28th.
Shhhh... it's NOT just for venture-backed CEOs. It's for YOU!
What we'll talk about:
• Everything you need to know in 60 minutes about publishing options, content sources, writing strategies, marketing with a book, and creating a platform-building action plan as a way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field, with customers in your industry, and within your business community
• Five tips and strategies to reference when entering into the publishing arena, including collecting insights, advice, and recommendations, developing your content voice, on-ramp publishing strategies, how to get help from colleagues, customers, and outside experts, and how content marketing will build permanent assets for your company
• Essential do’s and don’ts when it comes to getting published – such as calendars, time and prioritization, gathering feedback and advice, and how to write a book that will best serve your customers and clients
• Case studies of other CEOs who have had success establishing themselves as thought leaders through their book, their best tips and techniques, and important lessons learned that will help you land your best book deal
• Ten FAQs in regards to the publishing arena that are guaranteed to turn you into a better writer, as well as recommendations for how to write the book in the most efficient amount of time
Upon registering, you will immediately be emailed the access information. If you are unable to attend the live event, you can instantly view the recorded version after the program has aired.
ExecSense has also extended a crazy good discount for you - 50% off the entire she-bang. Join me for the Live Webinar Friday -- How to Get Published as CEO of a VC-Funded Company Register Here: http://dld.bz/bMPN5 and make sure you use the Discount Code Newman50
Hope you can join us!
One of my marketing coaching clients asked me last week, "David, are there rules for writing copy? I've written a ton of material about what we do and I never know what's going to work..."
This is like asking, "Are there rules for romance?" YES, as a matter of fact there are. Check out http://1001waystoberomantic.com/
Are there rules for writing marketing copy? Hell yes. My go-to guy on this is the incredible Bob Bly. Check out http://bly.com/
And the best book on the subject is The Copywriter's Handbook.
But I'll do you one better - you don't even need to buy a book.
Here are 17 rough and ready rules that will make you a better copywriter in 10 minutes or less.
Zero guarantee of completeness. Your mileage may vary. Proceed at your own risk...
1. Write like you speak.
2. Speak like a person, not a marketing moron or a sales robot.
3. As you write, ask yourself - if this next sentence is the last thing they read, is it worth writing or do I have something more important they need to know? (You can write a 3-page sales letter this way that will sell like crazy!!)
4. Use short paragraphs.
5. Use action words, not learning words (nobody wants to learn, find out, or get information... they want to BUILD, BOOST, CREATE, INCREASE, SLASH, REDUCE, ELIMINATE)
6. If you start to sound like a late-night infomercial, stop. Ease it back just about 10% - that's where you need to be. 70% substance with 30% sizzle. Articulate your value, your outcomes and your benefits assertively - not aggressively.
7. Take them on a journey - your copy should have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
8. The four most powerful words in marketing are:
d. SO THAT
9. It is TOTALLY impossible to overuse testimonials and third-party social proof. Do you have 100 written testimonials? Great - find a way to use them. Do you have 50+ video testimonials? Ditto. Do you have two fistfulls of scanned in endorsement letters on letterhead? Post them. (Examples of each are here for you.)
10. Engage, engage, engage... appeal to the senses. Make the experience of working with you as 3-dimensional as you can. What does it smell like? Taste like? What's the overall experience when people walk in to your store? Hire your accounting firm? Bring you in as their architect?
11. What frustrates the hell out of your prospects and clients? Talk about that - show that you understand their heartaches, headaches, pains and frustrations at the deepest levels.
12. Your copy needs to convey TWO and only two ideas:
a. You know what they are up against
b. You can fix it
13. Stop selling YOUR crap and start solving THEIR problems. Yes, even before they buy.
14. Call to action is key. What's the very NEXT step you want them to take? Is there a free offer? A bonus gift to download? A free assessment? A no-strings phone consultation?
15. Make sure your call to action is a GIVE and not a GET. An example of a GET is "Click here and a member of our sales team will contact you within 24 hours." Stupidest damn thing I've ever seen. Useless.
16. Show them how to go from ZERO to HERO. Paint the picture of the current gap - the missing piece - the shortfall - the misfires - the problems - the glitches. THEN show them success stories, solutions, fixes, wins PLUS the specific ways that people who bought from you are better off, richer, smarter, happier, sexier - or all five.
17. Your copy should deliver three things at the end - the acronym is giving your prospects a big HUG:
a. (H)ope - to improve their condition
b. (U)rgency - to solve their problem
c. (G)ameplan - to start exploring your solution
You can do this - it's a lot easier than you think. (H)
In fact, if writing copy is a challenge, you may want to join our next SIMPLE MARKETING SUCCESS 10-week program which starts September 26. Early bird savings are still on - but not for much longer! (U)
If a group program is not a fit for you, I totally understand. Let's start with a no-strings, no-BS Marketing Assessment. We'll talk for 20 minutes and you'll get 2-3 ideas you can use right away to grow your business whether we decide there's a next step or not. (G)
There - you've just been hugged. See what I mean?
What do YOU think? Share YOUR advice and experiences with writing marketing copy for YOUR business in the COMMENTS area below...
Guest post by Sandy Barris, Fast Marketing Plan
Marketing Concept: Start writing like people talk or even better the way your prospects talk:
1. Use plain talk when writing your marketing, advertising or PR:
Please don’t try to be your fifth grade teacher or your college English professor.
Forget everything you ever learned in school about writing.
Fancy writing (big word writing) only draws attention to itself and not to the benefits you are using to persuade.
2. Try using short sentences and vary their length:
Don’t try to stick two thoughts into one sentence.
Use two short ones instead.
3. Use simple language:
Use the familiar word to the far-fetched.
Use the concrete word to the abstract.
Use the short word to the long word.
Examples of simple language:
Instead of this: Use this
- Encourage: Urge
- Continue: Keep up
- Supplement : add to
- Acquire: get or gain
- Along the lines of: like
- As to: about
- For the reason that : since
- In order to: to
- In the event of: if
- In accordance with: by, under
- Prior to: before
- With regard to: about
- Accordingly: so
- Likewise: and, also
- Nevertheless: but, however
You get the idea. KISS
4. Use personal references:
Examples: names, pronouns & human interest words.
The best words you can use are… "YOU" and "YOUR"
5. DON'T USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
People recognize words based on their shape, not the actual letters in the words. All caps are harder to identify immediately.
6. Use a Headline
Your Headline is your Ad for the Ad.
The headline should invoke a "reflex reaction" from the reader.
Stop them dead in their tracks.
The reader should instantly understand what you're trying to say, and have enough information to qualify or disqualify himself from reading the rest of your marketing.
But hey, if your professionaly written and perfectly edited marketing is working, making you a small fortune, ignore this and keep doing what's working.
That's your quick marketing tip for now.
Use them and profit.
About the Author: Sandy Barris is the creator of Fast Marketing Plan which provides any business owner, executive or manager a simple, fast, easy and affordable online marketing and business management tool to create unlimited and complete Marketing Plans, Marketing Calendars and Marketing Roadmaps for use by almost any type and size of business.
Guest column by Nick Usborne
The Rule of One falls into two areas...what you write about, and who you write to.
Here’s the first part of the rule...
Confine each communication to a single topic
This is a battle that has been raging between copywriters and their clients for a very long time.
Twenty years ago I remember trying to discourage clients from wanting to say too much in a single ad or direct mail letter.
I think they felt that if they were going to pay the media costs, they would get “more for their money” if they used every opportunity to say as much as possible about their products, services and company.
My counter-argument was that they would communicate much more clearly, and with better results, if they stuck to a single topic and a single message. The same problem persists today on the web.
Too many web pages try to cover too much ground.
Think of it this way. Very few people arrive at your site wanting to hear about all of your different products or services. Most will have used a search engine to find information on a single, clearly defined topic.
Whether you bring them to a specific landing page or some other interior page, build your pages so that they focus on just one topic at a time.
Do that and you will stay focused and please your visitors.
As a side benefit, you will also please the major search engines, which consistently reward pages that are confined to a single topic. The more clearly defined the page topic, the higher the listing.
And now for the second part of the Rule of One.
Write to one person at a time
You have probably heard this advice before. But as I read web pages across a variety of industries, I see little evidence of writers following this simple rule.
Basically, you will write more clearly, more personally and with better results if you picture an individual prospect or reader as you write.
Don’t write to some amorphous demographic group. Write to one person within that group.
Don’t create a mental picture of “that kind of person”. Picture a real person with a real life. Think about that person’s life. Think about what they want out of life.
Now think about how your product or service fits that person.
If you do this well, if you can truly see an individual prospect in your mind, it will have a profound impact on what and how you write.
Your text will read and feel as if it is being written to a real person. The corporate-speak jargon and biz-speak nonsense will disappear, and you will suddenly begin writing more clearly, with a true empathy for the person who will be reading your text.
Keep one thing in mind. This is not a “copywriting trick”. This is writing pages in a way that corresponds to how they will be read. It may sound obvious, but so many people lose touch with the fact that every page you write WILL be read by individuals with unique lives and needs.
No “group” will ever read your page. No “industry” will ever read your page.
The web pages you write will always be read by individuals, one at a time.
Stick to one topic and write to one person.
It sounds easy, but very few people do it. Sometimes copywriters fail to write in this way because they haven’t thought about it. Sometimes it happens due to unrelenting pressure from above.
Either way, sticking to the Rule of One will always help you. Discipline yourself and fight your clients and managers if you need to.
In the end, the results will speak for themselves.
Note: Nick Usborne is the leading advocate of good writing on the Web. He is an
author, copywriter, consultant, speaker, and the publisher of the Excess Voice
newsletter for online writers. Read his articles at http://www.excessvoice.com
Even the best of us will sometimes run out of things to say.
As a marketing speaker and marketing coach, I have found 14 things that most of my clients (professional speakers, consultants, and professional services firms) can turn to that will keep your e‐zines and blogs timely and fresh.
Here's the list for you - and please use the COMMENTS section below to add your own great ideas...
1. How‐To Tips. Everybody loves to read “how to’s.” A very short pithy practical tip your reader can use that day. For example, say you were writing to employers interested in OSHA regulations. You may have an article like, 10 Tips You Can Use to Pass Your Safety Inspections.
2. Dialogue with the Reader, Soliciting Feedback and Participation. I love this; it works equally well for an ezine or blog. This allows two‐way communication with your reader. You get to build a real bond with your readers. Your readers can be your best source of material. Pose questions to your readers and promise to publish the answers. For example: In one of my e‐zines I asked my readers to tell me some of their success stories, involving giving out free information. I told them that if I used their information I would give them full credit in my e‐zine.
3. Tips from Friends and Colleagues. This gives you the opportunity to “be seen” as an unbiased source of information. I love to bring in experts covering all sorts of topics. Lets be honest: you and I don’t know everything. If you can bring in experts covering a wide range of topics you become a source of information that your reader can always look to. In one of my e‐zines my friend Paul Karasik gave a great networking tip from his new book “How to Market to High Net‐Worth Households”
4. Plugs for Friends and Clients’ books, e‐books, reports, products and services. Make extra money by creating affiliate relationships, or joint ventures. Becoming an affiliate for someone can be the easiest way to make money. All you do is promote their products for a commission. Alternatively, you can promote a friends product as a favor because you believe your readers would benefit from it. (I do this regularly with a lot of my NSA speaker buddies who offer excellent programs and products to the same target market that I serve. No money changes hands. Just love and referrals.)
5. Reader Feedback and Contributions. This gives you a chance to create a buzz, controversy and argument. There have been times I have posted information, only to be inundated by readers telling me they agree, or disagree. Either way that is good. It means people are reading.
6. Upcoming Speaking Engagements, Seminars, and Tele‐conferences. If you do any public appearances, some of your readers will want to attend. This is your chance to let them know where you will be and what you will be doing. It is also a great way to meet some of your most loyal readers. Include links to Websites where the reader can register for the event.
7. What I’ve Done Lately. Your readers will want to see what you have been working on; it is like reality TV. It gives them a sneak peak in to your life and lets prospective new clients see your work.
8. Recommended Vendors. Sometimes you come across a service provider that has helped you out, and you feel would be a godsend to your readers, why not return the favor and promote him in your e‐zine? A copywriter friend of mine recently had a problem with his computer, and a company called Rescue.com saved his bacon.
9. Useful and Relevant Websites. While you are cruising the net, you may find a Website others don’t know about, that you find useful. Let the world know, get the word out. For example, this ezine marketing course may be exactly what you need to get your ezine marketing back on track!!
10. Mini Book Reviews. If you read a book that you feel may be valuable to your readers let them know, post a link to Amazon and make yourself a couple of bucks if they buy.
11. News Nuggets of Interest. Clip excerpts from industry trade journals that you believe may be relevant to your readers.
12. News About Your New Books. Let your readers know about any books you might be working on.
13. Plugs for Your Own Products. This is where you get a chance to plug your own products. You do not have to feel guilty about selling your products and professional services; your readers want to know what you have to offer. Look at it as a fair trade. You give your reader valuable information, and in return he rewards you by purchasing some of your products. It is totally win/win.
14. Quotations. Many people love to read quotes. A good quote can be inspirational. If you find one you like include it in your next issue.
That's it - so now you have no more excuses NOT to crank out terrific, value-rich ezines and blogs with a lot less effort than you thought.
Got more ideas? Share them in the COMMENTS area below.
p.s. If you'd like some personalized help - and your very own customized email and phone outreach tools, social media scripts, a killer email signature file, a polished referral blurb and more, check out the Small Biz Outreach Action Packs.
Many people I speak to tell me they do not use e‐zines because they simply do not have the time. As a marketing speaker and marketing coach to very busy CEOs, business owners, other professional speakers, and consultants, I hear you.
Here's the secret: It only takes me two hours or less per month. And those two hours are some of the highest ROI hours I can spend.
You're getting my simple formula for writing e‐zines that will make your ezine much easier to write - and more profitable to send.
Write five to seven short stories about a topic, one to three paragraphs each. You want the reader to be able to get through each story in under a minute. You do not have an unlimited amount of time with your reader so make sure he can read your entire e‐zine issue in about five minutes.
The next little tip might seem insignificant but I think it is vitally important. Do not put any click links to your stories; you do not want to give the readers mind a chance to wonder, because they are waiting for another page to load.
Many Websites like to give you a brief description of the article and then ask you to click on a link to read the whole article. That is just too many hoops to go through to read the story. Do not have just a story title and first paragraph with a link to the entire article.
Write short articles and include the entire article in the e‐zine itself, not a teaser part.
So here, it is in 4 Simple Steps:
1. 5 – 7 stories
2. 1 – 3 paragraphs each
3. Maximum reading time < 1 minute per story < 5 minutes per issue
4. No click links to stories—the full story is in the e‐zine.
There you have it quick, simple, and effective.
BONUS: Here are 8 more tips for writing an e‐ zine, courtesy of Dan Ranly, www.ranly.com:
1. Write for surfers and scanners
2. Provide information quickly and easily
3. Think both verbally and visually
4. Cut copy in half
5. Use lots of lists and bullets
6. Write in chunks
7. Use hyperlinks
8. Give readers a chance to talk back (feedback)
Feedback from YOU is always welcome in the comments area below...