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A tagline has always been seen as an important part of your brand’s marketing, regardless of your company’s size. In a few short well-chosen words, it sums up your brand’s promise, but is it still relevant today? Just look at some of the biggest companies around like Amazon, Apple, eBay and Google, they don’t rely on taglines, their logo is enough to instil the values they hold dear. OK, the chances of your business commanding the same kudos in your industry is unlikely (you don’t have their marketing budget for a start), but if they can go tagline-less can you? More and more companies are moving away from them, but is that because the vast majority of taglines are, well, not to put too finer point on it, bad? Is there a value in taglines? Look at is this way, advertising is moving away from selling. Overt ...

As a copywriter I'm not an SEO expert, but have a rough working knowledge of how to go about it to help my site rank well. The world of search engine optimisation is constantly changing and keeping pace with it can be a real challenge for people like me. That's why I regularly trawl the internet for expert advice and opinions on what works and what does't work (anymore). One thing I always struggle with is link building so I was pleased to come across one of Rand Fishkin's Whiteboard Friday's on Moz.com in which he talks about why the links you've built aren't helping your page rank. I'll let him tell you all about it in a moment (the video is 9mins 40), but here's a quick round-up to give you an idea of what might be going wrong. You don't have the right type of links Being the wrong link ...

A Very Quick Guide to Email Salutations

  This won't take long. Email marketing is rife. Every business is doing it. Some are better at it than others. Let's get one thing straight, if you're sending unsolicited emails to people, think carefully about how you greet them. Today I got one that started: "To Whom it May Concern."     It failed before it even started because is shows that: It was on obvious mass mailing, i.e. spam They couldn't be bothered to research the people they were contacting Another greeting doomed to failure is: "Dear Sirs"     For the same reasons. Also, stop addressing me as "Dear Briar," "Dear Briar Copywriting" and "Dear briarcopywriting.com". Be professional If you're sending out emails... Address the recipient by their first name, it at least shows you've done some research Don't start with "Thank you for taking the time to read this email" Stop using multiple font sizes and colours Don't promise what you can't deliver (I'll get you ranking 1st on ...

Do you sell exclusively through your website? It’s tough selling to people you don’t get to meet, isn’t it? If they came into your shop you have the opportunity to greet them, chat with them and answer any questions they may have. You can tell them how your product will help them and help them choose which model is right for them. You can talk through their concerns and reassure them, constantly building and strengthening your relationship with them. Then finally, you close the sale. In the e-commerce world all that has to be done by your website, its copy and its functionality. That’s a big ask. So if I were to tell you there are 3 small things you can do to boost your sales rate, you’d probably want to know what they are. OK, hold on to your hat, here we go. Scarcity  Tell them your ...

What Should You Be Writing?

Your website needs content. You know that and you have every intention of writing regular articles, but what are you going to write about? Your products and services? You know a lot about them. Your company? Now there’s nothing you don’t know about that. How great you are? You are, aren’t you? Forget it. If any of those ideas ever cross your mind, banish them to its darkest recesses never to be thought of again. Why shouldn’t you write about them? If you do you’ll end up writing a sales pitch. You may argue against the fact that it is a sales pitch, but once you’ve stripped back the hyperbole, army of adjectives and fluff that’s what you’ll be left with. OK, so you can’t write about your business, your products or services, or about how great you are – what does that leave? How about your niche? You ...

Can I Read Your Email on My Mobile?

A few days ago Google cracked down on websites that weren’t mobile friendly. Business owners around the world were frantically trying to bring their sites into line with the search giant’s exacting demands. If you beat the deadline you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief and relaxing feeling smug. What about your newsletter? Is that mobile friendly too? Today, about 66% (source: emailmonday.com) of emails are opened on mobile devices so if yours isn’t optimised for mobile the chances are it will be deleted immediately. The good news is that unlike your website, fixing your email readability is relatively straightforward. Make people open your emails You have 3 bites of the cherry when it comes to convincing someone to open your email: Subject line – 28 to 39 characters long, personalised (use “I” and “you”), emotive language First line – make it sound friendly, as ...

How to Write Persuasively

You can write factually. You can write authoritatively. Can you write persuasively? Trying to persuade someone to see your point of view is tough. Some try the awful spam tactics you see that practically shout at the reader to make them take an action, but there’s a better way. Writing content that influences someone takes a bit of practice, but it’s something that can be mastered if you follow these simple tips. You are an expert If you show yourself as an expert people will listen. Granted, saying “I’m an expert” isn’t going to cut it so you have to show your readers your credentials by demonstrating your specialist knowledge. You will get straight to the point and not rely on gimmicks or fluff to get your message across. Stick to your niche and offer advice that’s easily understood – i.e. no marketing or industry jargon; just good old fashioned ...

Marketing on Mobile – Infographic

I love to search the web for the latest thinking in all things marketing, so was interested to come across this infographic on the Marketo blog. You already know more and more people are using their mobiles for search, purchasing, messaging and also Internet of Things devices that help them monitor their fitness, home heating and appliances. The infographic shows you how you can start creating a mobile marketing strategy to push your business forward. My only query is with the fact that 44% of smartphone owners sleep with their phones by their bed so they don't miss a message, call or update. Yes, mine is by my bed, but only because I use it as my alarm clock! Brought to you by Marketing Automation Software by Marketo

How to Cope With Mistakes

Mistakes happen. Everyone makes them, even you. Those who claim to never have made a mistake in their lives are, well liars quite frankly. How can I be so sure? You’re human. I’m human. To be human means we make mistakes, but how we deal with them defines the type of people we are. What type of person are you? Sweaty palms, the sudden sinking of your heart, that sick feeling in your stomach – are all signs of the realisation that something’s gone wrong. What do you do? Pass the buck and claim it was down to someone else? Hide and hope it blows over? Go to pieces, change your name and emigrate? Put your hands up and do what you can to resolve the problem? If you picked either a, b, or c, you need to rethink your attitude. I’ve made mistakes and I’ve worked with companies that have made mistakes. ...

Benefits. “We’ll save you time!” So long as you can back that up it’s a valid benefit. The problem is, most companies tout that as their main benefit. Is it though? Granted, your latest garden-digging tool will save time if it suggests that I can dig my garden in half the time. The thing is would that really matter? Surely the fact that it has a long handle, negating the need for excessive bending and therefore preventing back pain, would be of greater benefit? “We’ll save you money!” Fab, but the fact that your implement makes gardening easy meaning I no longer need to pay a gardener is meaningless because I never had one in the first place. It’s time to get creative. Creative, factual benefits I’m very aware that by writing “get creative” may encourage some of you to create benefits that aren’t real. Whatever you decide on must ...

The Etiquette of Typo Calling

You’ve settled down for a coffee break. Being the diligent, dedicated worker that you are, you’ve decided to spend your 15 minutes reading up on a subject that you’re work on at the moment. After a quick Google search you’ve found an article that looks as though it will tell you everything you need to know. As you settle down the writing engages you and you lose yourself in it completely, soaking up the knowledge from the screen. Just as you reach the final paragraph you notice a typo. It’s nothing catastrophic, there’s just a letter missing. It doesn’t detract from the information, but it stands out to you. What do you do? Skip over it, after all it’s not hurting anyone Slam your mug down in disgust and state you’ll never read any of their work again Send a DM tweet to bring their attention to the ...

Newsletters – Breaking the Content Curse

Congratulations. You’ve made the decision to send out a monthly newsletter to your customers. The idea of keeping in touch with them, sending them great information and offers appeals because you know it means they are more likely to come back to you when they’re in the market for your products or services. Your first two issues practically write themselves, but then something happens. Your ideas dry up. Your newsletters start getting stale and “samey”, your click through rate is dropping, as is your open rate. What do you do? Give up? No way. You just have to start thinking a bit more. Where do newsletter ideas come from? I have a particular client I write a regular newsletter for. It’s a bi-monthly production and usually I contact him with an idea for the lead story and then we work together to add in the rest of the information, such as offers etc. So ...

Is Your Web Copy Full of Holes?

Holes? Yes. Holes. If you've written your web copy without a single call to action, you've effectively filled it will holes. Just as a hole-ridden bucket will spill water everywhere, your call to action free website is haemorrhaging customers. It doesn't matter how much traffic you're getting to your website, sales copy without a call to action is like opening the door for them and sending them off in the direction of your competitors. Your call to action is your opportunity to build a relationship with a customer. It invites them to get in touch with you and talk to you about their problems, so you can show them how you'll improve their life. You may be of the opinion that your customers are bright enough to know that they need to get in touch if they want to learn more without being ...

The internet is a crowded place, so it's important your online profile is loud enough to stand out from all the others. As you know, content drives the internet, but it's only going to work for your marketing strategy if people are reading it. So how do you make sure you’re not talking to an empty room? Of course, there's SEO. That means your articles and blogs should include the keywords you are using to attract customers, but not so crammed with them they become meaningless drivel. Stuff’ your articles with keywords they will look and feel amateurish and no one will want to read them. If you're one of the dinosaurs who still hangs on to theban old days of keyword stuffing, here's what Google’s Matt Cutts has to say on the matter: “…We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people ...

  “Through our organisational changes we’ll strategically transition towards a more customer centric approach. Going forward, by leveraging KPIs this paradigm shift will cultivate a results orientated environment cultivating workable growth strategies.”   Well, that’s a few seconds of my life I’ll never get back. Marketing-speak, corporate jargon, or whatever else you care to call it should be banned. A staple of the corporate world, it seems to be their way of saying a lot without actually saying anything. The general census amongst the business world is that it: Sounds impressive Is a necessary part of doing business Is expected by their customers Wrong, wrong and wrong. Presenting your marketing in that style makes me (the reader) think that actually you have no idea what you’re talking about. Especially when I ask for clarification and your response is a barrage of alternative marketing terms that also mean nothing. The problem is that ...

In the ever-changing world of search engine optimisation the link remains a valuable commodity. As an internet marketer however, you’ll also know how frustrating the link building world can be. Day after day you spend hours crafting high quality content that really adds value to your audience (or pay someone else to do it for you). After a few days another site picks it up and they reference it in their article. Happy days. You sit back and wait for that wonderful follow link to take effect only to discover their policy is to add nofollow links. Pants. Now what do you do other than say “thank you” and sulk? Before you get too down hearted, it’s worth remembering that a nofollow link can be very valuable. No really, it can. Look at it this way, the website in question picked up your article because they thought it ...

Copywriting With Emotion Sells – Fact

  “Emotion!!!  “Are you serious?  “Our business is a serious one; we don’t want copy littered with emotional triggers for goodness sake.  “Our audience are professionals, well educated and intelligent. They want facts, facts, facts.” Are you sure about that? It doesn’t matter who you are, where you were educated or your socio-economic standing, emotion will play a big part in your decision-making. How do you write emotionally? You don’t. Eh? Your writing doesn’t have to be emotional, but your message must resonate with your reader to evoke an emotional response. No, that doesn't mean you want them to burst into tears, or jump for joy. It means your copy must empathise with them. Think about what you do and then think about how it affects your customer. I’m not just talking about in economic terms or business success (if you’re a B2B business), but in a wider context. For example, how will ...

Video Marketing – Being a Great Interviewee

Video marketing should already be part of your marketing strategy. Engaging with your audience in an authentic way is vital for the success of your marketing, which is why you have to be sure you’re coming across the right way in your videos. Whether you’re presenting a new product, talking about a service or being interviewed as a subject matter expert you have to be able to showcase your company’s personality. So how do you do that? Why? Every video must have a purpose. Your audience are watching you because they have a need that has to be fulfilled, so make sure you give them what they want. A video that just talks about how great your company is will fall flat. Why? Your audience don’t want to know about that, they just want to know how you’re going to make their life better. So tell them. Be yourself Yes, you’re an ...

Writing for the web isn’t difficult, but it is something you need to get to grips with if you want your content strategy to be effective. Below is a list of the most important things to think about when writing for the web. Important information first Forget story structures, your readers don’t have time to wade through a load of fluff before getting to the main course. Kick off with the most important information first by adopting the inverted pyramid method. The first paragraph or two should contain everything they need to know with a more in-depth explanation coming further down should they want to know more. Who’s your audience? If you don’t know who you're writing for you won’t know what to write. Think about whether they’ll be interested in what you have to say. Will it add value to them? Will they want to share it with others? Simple English Please, please resist ...

How to Run a Successful Corporate Blog

Corporate blogs can be a nightmare. Why? One of the main reasons is that it involves multiple contributors. You might think that’s a good thing because it shares the workload. True, but it also means it can be a headache to coordinate. One poor sole will be tasked with chasing up the contributors to make sure a regular stream of content is published. Mind you, that’s not the biggest problem. That comes down to continuity. Speaking with one voice Every company has a brand voice. The problem with multiple contributors is that you’ll get a vast array of writing styles that can create a cacophony of noise that will put readers off. Some people are naturally gifted writers whereas others are not. Some people will be able to write in engaging, simple language that everyone can understand. Others only write in complex terms that result in a meaningless article that leaves everyone scratching their ...

Ask any freelancer what’s the most frustrating thing about their business and they’ll probably say the inconsistent level of work. One minute they’re drowning under an influx of projects and the next there’s nothing but tumbleweed blowing through their office. I’ve been there and I’m sure you have too. So what can be done about it? Can anything be done about it? Even if you're lucky enough to have a bank of retainer clients, sooner or later you’re going to hit a dry patch. Client churn is a natural part of business, so you can never rest on your laurels just because, at the moment, you have a healthy monthly income. Where do your clients come from? I’m sure you have a favourite way of attracting clients: Through website traffic By blogging and article marketing Through social media Face-to-face networking Those aren’t the only means of getting clients, but they’re certainly ...

As a company owner, you love to shout about the values you hold dear. You tell your website readers that you value your customers, go out of your way to provide the level of service they demand, your products and services are designed with your customers’ needs in mind… Pretty standard stuff. The problem is the rest of your website. Is it displaying those values? What is your website telling your customers? OK, a prospective client has just landed on your website. They navigate to your about page and read all about how you value your customers. Great. Then they head back to your home page to see whether you’ll be able to help them. Ah. Problem. Your home page content is telling them all about your company’s growth over the past few years. Apparently, your turnover is the fastest growing in your sector. In fact you’ve developed an award winning company ...

Failing to Proofread Could Cost You £8.8 Million

  Really? £8.8 million? I kid you not. A recent article in The Guardian reported how a simple proofreading blunder has cost Companies House £8.8 million. What did they do? Add an erroneous "s". In 2009, Companies House recorded information stating that Taylor & Sons Ltd (a 124 year old Welsh engineering firm employing more than 250 people) had been wound up. This resulted in orders being cancelled, contracts being lost and credit from suppliers being withdrawn. The error led to the company going into administration and being dissolved in 2014. Companies House should have recorded the information under Taylor & Son Ltd - a completely different company. Even though, 3 days after the error, Companies House corrected the information it was too late and the damage had been done because the information had spread across the internet like wildfire. Taylor & Sons Ltd obviously sued Companies House and were awarded ...

  Where did you start? If you want your digital marketing strategy to be effective you have to start at the right place. Where's that? Right at the beginning - how will you change your customers' lives for the better? What is that they really want? More money? More time? To be more successful? To be seen as a supporter for a cause? To be more stylish? You can't create a digital marketing strategy without knowing what your brand offers. The same goes for your brand's tone of voice. How can you know how to present your information without knowing what it is you're offering? The language you use is directly linked to your customers and how you will help them. A lot of companies will opt for flowery, descriptive language just because it sounds good, but what about substance? OK, let's say you've identified the benefits of your offering, you know who ...

How long should it be? That is a question people ask when planning out their copy. "I'm writing a sales letter, how long should it be?" "I want 3 pages of web copy, each 650 words long." "I'm writing an article for LinkedIn, how many words should I use?"         Do you really think authors plan their novels by deciding how many words it should be in advance? No. They use however many words they need to tell their story. The same goes for your copywriting. Stop planning your copy by the number of words it contains If you're writing an article, blog post, case study etc., (where there is no editorial word limit) use as many words as you need to get your message across. If you're hiring  a copywriter: You shouldn't be paying by the word (steer clear of anyone who charges that way) By imposing a word limit ...

What is the Ideal Length For Your Copy?

There is one question I am constantly asked: How long should my copy [insert "article", "blog", "newsletter" etc.] be? It's as if people expect a definitive answer that will result in a record number of shares, likes and traffic. The problem is it doesn't work that way. Your content should be as long as it needs to be. Mind you, having said that, for the world of social media the guys at Buffer and Sumall have come up with a spot of research to show some "ideal" figures that may help. Infographic from SmartInsights.

Managing Freelance Writing Help

The chances are you don't have the time or energy to produce all the content your company needs. Whether it's website copy or articles for your blog, writing and research take time so it can be more cost effective for you to hire in freelance help. Once you've done your research and found the writers you need you have to learn how to manage them. They will probably be working remotely, so your usual management style won't work. Plus, they are freelance and not permanent members of your team, which can lead to issues. If you want great work you have to manage your freelance writers effectively. Here are a few tips to help you out. 1.Phone To get the best work from someone you have to get to know them. You must also make sure they feel valued. The best way to do that is to ...

The Press Release Is Dead

Or is it? In the days before the internet, press releases were the main tool businesses had for getting their news out to where it mattered. It was the sole driving force behind brand awareness. They helped drive news (even if slightly skewed), get people and companies noticed and kept customers informed about what was going on. Then the internet came along. Now the marketing mill uses the power of blogs, social media and other real-time channels to get their news out. Newspaper circulation is dropping, TV audiences are diminishing and the reach of radio is contracting making the press release a less attractive form of communication. Then throw into the mix Google's assault on the humble release, in part caused by their over use by SEO firms causing the increase in low quality content and you've got a pretty strong case for their demise. So, ...

Complete Instagram Marketing Guide

Are you using Instagram as part of your marketing strategy? Do you want to, but are not sure where to start? Instagram is a social media platform that I've only dabbled in, but have been intrigued to see how other businesses are using it to promote their businesses. In my endless search for new ideas, I stumbled across this useful post on Social Media Examiner that provides links out to the most useful Instagram marketing information on the web. If you're interested and want to learn more, follow the link below. Your Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing    

Unless you’re living search engine optimisation night and day you probably can’t answer that question in any depth. The worrying thing is that a lot of “SEO experts” don’t seem to want (or be able to) answer it either. That makes is a tad difficult for you to sift out the good from the bad. Of course, one tip there would be to never respond to the small avalanche of SEO spam emails you get every day. So, what should your SEO be doing for you? Well, their job is to get your website visible, appearing in relevant search results. Note I used the word “relevant” – there’s no point in having top rankings for keywords that won’t bring in the customers. The things you’re looking for, from the top down, are: Improving your URL structure Your URL is the web address of your web page. For example, it ...