Thought Leadership-A Crash Course

man playing chess
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Preparing to Build Authority

Do you want to be a step ahead of your colleagues and competitors? Do you want to be recognized as an expert inside and outside of your organization? Most people would answer yes. Unfortunately, many individuals today do not take the appropriate steps to become an authority in their area of expertise. Being that person that does put in the extra effort to become the go-to member of the organization will put you ahead of the game and in a better position to further your career. We will refer to this as being a thought leader throughout this paper. Thought leaders are especially effective when it comes to leading decision-making. Generally, people in your field will respect your decision-making and advice and mimic the way you operate in order to achieve the same status as you. Being a thought leader, the information you hold is invaluable. When preparing to build authority, it is imperative that you plan. According to Dave Crenshaw of Invaluable Inc., you should focus on the talents you already have. A talent is “an activity where you are gifted, that you love to do, and where you’ve developed skills.” (Crenshaw, 2012). Next, you want to list some of your most valuable activities, or MVA’s. These are activities that you are extremely well versed at, and if you were to pay someone else to do the same work, you would have to pay them top dollar. Once you’ve compared your talents to your MVA’s, you can determine in which areas you want to be an authority. If your talent and MVA happen to be the same, you are already a step ahead in becoming a thought leader. The next important piece of the thought leadership puzzle is ensuring you set aside enough time to develop your authority. You don’t have to go crazy, starting with a half hour to an hour a week is fine (Crenshaw, 2012). Once you develop a rhythm, you can increase the time or decrease, as you feel necessary. Just remember to make it a habit and pencil it into every schedule you use so you don’t forget. Lastly, choose a mentor that is successful in your field, whom you trust. For example, my cousin is a master at personal branding. His personal brand is quite broad, but his main focus is real estate in Edmonton. Currently, he has over 7000 Facebook friends, so other real estate agents in the city will pay him hundreds of dollars per month to post their listings with his name on them on the Facebook platform. This is just one example of how he markets for other agents. As someone who wants to build my own personal brand in real estate and be recognized throughout the city, I would select my cousin as my mentor. Think of this as the master/protégé relationship.

Building Authority Within a Company

When attempting to build authority within your organization, start with being a systems expert. Be the employee that other employees can run to when they need advice operating within the organization. I previously held the position of sales consultant of an ultra-luxury automotive dealership. Although I was in the sales department, I was an expert in all departments due to my previous position as a lower level employee. If a client had an issue with servicing their vehicle, I could help. If a new employee didn’t know where certain supplies were, and nobody else in the dealership did, I was the person they came to. When new managers started, I was the one showing them around the dealership, explaining how we operate. My general manager loved me because I was able to train others, and he was able to focus on running the business. For example, in other organizations, you could master the primary software you and your colleagues use, and come up with best practices to share with the rest of the organization to improve efficiency. Many CEO’s believe that one of the things that makes an employee invaluable is that they know a system so well they can teach it to others (Crenshaw, 2012). Just remember, when attempting to improve implemented systems, you have to have your management team on board. You don’t want to be overstepping boundaries by trying to improve processes if you have no business actually doing that. Management will notice quickly if you are a systems expert, so simply discussing areas of improvement with them before trying to make those changes is a naturally a good idea. Best practice for improving systems is to create a quick outline of how the system works, what the end result will be, and the new steps to get there. Leave out fine details, because as an expert, you can teach those from your knowledge. Once you’ve completed the outline, submit it to higher-level management; whomever that may be. Once management formalizes these improvements, you can start training others on the new processes. Throughout this entire process, you are actually improving your skills as a system expert within the company (Crenshaw, 2012).

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Building Authority in the Public

 Now that you’ve become an authority in your organization, the next step is to branch out and become an authority in the public. Dave Crenshaw began as a small business trainer/coach, became an authority within his organization, started his own coaching business, wrote two books, and was featured in various world famous new outlets and magazines throughout North America (Crenshaw, 2012). The transition from being an authority in his field to being an authority in public happened when his first book gained notoriety and slingshot him into the public eye. Now, anyone who performs a Google search regarding his field of expertise is likely to read a piece of literature he has written. Clearly, for Mr. Crenshaw, this took multiple years. In 2018, we can try to achieve public authority status quicker by using social media and building a social network. Remember, you want to be the person in your field that your colleagues and competitors look up to. By publishing helpful articles or blog posts and building a library of your own content, you will draw in others that want to learn from you. Also, by having a heavy social media presence, you will improve your recognisability, therefore improving your reach/impression. Also, building an offline network within your industry is highly recommended. For example, if I was a driving instructor, I could start the Driver’s Training Association. I would invite all owners/trainers in the city to a meeting and we could discuss our best practices and come up with ways to improve our businesses. Not only am I recognized as the individual that brought everyone together, my status as an authority is now solidified in the public because I can call myself the president of the group.

Conclusion

 The goal when becoming a thought leader is not to gain celebrity status. You want to be recognized and respected because of your body of work and your expertise. As mentioned previously, my cousin is a master of personal branding. He is in the top 5 for real estate agents in the city, and his competitors actually pay him for his advice. This did not happen over night, however. He had multiple jobs over the course of 20 years, where he was able to make connections that have proven to pay off in recent years. His network runs so deep that I meet people every week that know of him or have done business with him, or would do business with him simply from his track record and client testimonials. He is a true authority in his field, tried and respected.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

References

Crenshaw, D. (2012). Final thoughts. [online] Lynda.com – from LinkedIn. Available at: https://www.lynda.com/Business-Skills-tutorials/Final-thoughts/88535/105359-4.html?autoplay=true [Accessed 5 Nov. 2018].

 

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Parents, Pop, and Chips….A party guide to AdWords

Pay-Per-Click Advertising 

Google AdWords is an online advertising platform that recognizes key words in a Google search, an

d displays advertisements relevant to that search. One of the biggest benefits of using this platform is it is a Pay-Per-Click model, meaning you are able to control your budget because you will only be charged when someone clicks on your advertisement. Many businesses use this platform because of the simple fact that if anyone searches a topic relevant to your business, your product advertisements will be in front of them. Paid advertisements can be displayed at the top of the search results, bottom of the search results or to the side of the search results. The most effective advertisements grab your attention and prove that they meet your needs.

Google is also able to link your advertisements to websites that have relatable content to whatever you are selling

When you use AdWords, you are gaining access to the Google Network. It reaches more than 80% of all Internet users worldwide in more than 30 languages and 100 countries (Brad Batesole, 2018). Aside from advertisements being shown when the search results are displayed, Google is also able to link your advertisements to websites that have relatable content to whatever you are selling. Imagine being on a baking website reviewing different recipes, and seeing a banner ad for a 25% discount on the newest Kitchenaid bread maker. This function is part of the Google Network, called the Display Network.

The most popular ad types are:

  • Text ads
  • Ads with extensions
  • Responsive ads
  • Shopping ads
  • Image ads
  • Video ads
  • Call only ads

Text ads are the most effective and easiest to set up.

Benefits of using this platform:

  • Everybody is on it.
  • The ability to target your ads, you can customize who will see your ads, when they will and where they will. Also, on which device they are using.
  • Control your budget, no minimum amount you have to spend.
  • Easily measureable, Google tracks every action for you.
  • Easily manageable and easy to monitor for free.

Before Getting Started

Figure out what your business goals are before getting started. Your goals should be objective, specific and relevant. Pretend you own a massage clinic. Your goal should include a clear objective, for example to increase phone calls. You want the audience to be motivated to call you or visit your business. The effort is to book new massage clients, and it should be specific and measurable, such as booking 15 new massage clients in January.

Your goals should be objective, specific and relevant

Your advertisements should be focused on what your product is and how it can be delivered to the consumer. Successful businesses focus on specific campaigns for specific products, not a broad ad that is focused on all your products. Next, you want to define your customer by developing three to four personas that you think would be likely to search for your product. By personifying them, you are able to give them real life attributes and life situations as if they are real individuals shopping for your product. This will help you to ensure the specific ad campaign you are designing includes the right information to reach the broader side of your target audience. It is also effective to create a persona for each product, as this will help you to begin to create a refined targeting for your advertising campaigns (Brad Batesole, 2018).

Remember to set realistic expectations with your ad campaigns. Typically, the first couple months will be rough because you are figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. After refining your campaigns throughout the first couple months, the third month is when you should start seeing some positive results.

Getting Started with AdWords

Getting started with Google AdWords is extremely easy and straightforward. Simply visit adwords.google.ca and hit the Start Now button. Now, follow the steps carefully and you’ll have an AdWords account! If you already have a Google account for a separate service, it will pre-load your information and make it even easier to get started. The interface is very straightforward to use and navigate once you’ve run some campaigns. All the relevant information and data for each campaign will be at your fingertips, making it easy to refine and change if necessary. There is a substantial amount of data produced, however. If you are unsure about using AdWords, because lets face it, it can be complicated, there is another option available. AdWords express is a service that is a limited version of AdWords. Think of it as a test pilot for using AdWords, you simply design the campaign, and Google does all of the managing, measuring, key search word analysis etc.

Researching Your Keywords

it is imperative to use language that your personas are most likely to use

Keywords will be the main method of attracting your customers when using AdWords. Keywords are words or phrases that are used to match your ads with the terms people are searching for (Brad Batesole, 2018). Remember how we discussed designing personas for our target audience? Now, it is imperative to use language that your personas are most likely to use. In order to generate a deeper reach or impression, you would use common keywords rather than euphemisms. For example, an individual may search Google for “fancy watches for sale.” As the owner of a jewellery store, I would use the keyword(s) “fancy, watches” so my paid ad would be displayed when that search is performed. Although on my website I would refer to them as “luxury timepieces,” it is extremely unlikely that the general public would use that same terminology. You must know what your personas are calling your products and services and use those phrases as keywords to ensure your targeting is specific and the right people are seeing your ads. Research and identify keywords and phrases for each campaign you are running. Take your time, as keywords are one of the most essential elements to this process (Brad Batesole, 2018). You can also include keywords that relate to other areas of your business. If you own a painting business next to your local stadium with a nice sized parking lot, you could use “stadium parking” as a keyword that can drive traffic to your ads. You are now extending your reach beyond your targeted audience. It is also a good idea to look at your competitor’s keywords, so you are able to differentiate yourself and make your ads standout from theirs. To ensure success when researching keywords, use Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner.

Five keyword options to focus on are (Brad Batesole, 2018):

  • Broad match
  • Broad match modifier
  • Phrase match
  • Exact match
  • Negative match

Creating Your First Campaign

The first step in creating your campaign is to open up Google AdWords and choose a campaign type. There are several to choose from, ranging from search and display to videos. The most common is search and display. The reason for that is your ads will show up throughout sites on the search network. Remember to utilize the keywords you determined in the last section! When working out the details of the campaign after choosing the type, you must name it and also indicate the details from the goals you set previously. Now, you will select your audience. You will do this by selecting which location(s) you want to reach. If you owned a bed and breakfast in Banff, you might want to choose an audience that is within driving distance. I would make my ad accessible to all of Alberta and BC. If I owned a luxury hotel in France, I’d want my PPC ad to be seen in Google searches across Europe and North America, in fact, worldwide. You can also choose what language it will be in for the appropriate demographic. There are also limitations available, such as limiting your content to devices that are physically in your audience demographic. Next, you want to make sure you do enough research to determine what amount you should bid for your PPC ads. Take into account the profit your business generates, and how much of that profit should be allocated for PPC advertising. Ensure the daily amount you are spending is providing a feasible ROI and generating traffic and sales. Lastly, you want to consider including ad extensions. A few ad extensions that are available are a phone number, address, or price extensions. All of these would be displayed in your ad, for example, if you searched for “north Edmonton Steakhouse,” a restaurant like The Keg may have a PPC ad, headlining their specials, with a phone symbol near the bottom. You call, and make a reservation. From a business perspective, your phone lead generation just went up exponentially! Remember to use as many ad extensions as possible for best results.

Creating Your First Advertisement

Effective ads contain two headlines and a brief description, as well as a website URL

Text advertisements are the most common type of ad you see and will use in the future. Effective ads contain two headlines and a brief description, as well as a website URL. Please see the image below as an example.

ppc

(Brad Batesole, 2018)

When designing your first ad campaign, it is very important to focus on headlines that will grab the audience’s attention. By including the keywords you’ve chosen as part of your headline, you automatically make your ad relevant to the audience and drive traffic to your landing page. Make sure your description area includes an offer, such as “20% off this week only,” and an immediate call to action. The call to action should directly match what they will find on your landing page. If you owned a shoe store, you would include a phrase such as “shop now!” When an individual clicks on the call to action, it will bring them to a landing page full of the different styles of shoes you offer. Using AdWords, you can create 3-4 different ads for the same campaign, and Google will rotate them accordingly. These are called ad groups. You can include different keywords and information for each ad group. You are always able to go back into each campaign you’ve designed and modify the settings and make edits, as you feel necessary.

If you owned a shoe store, you would include a phrase such as “shop now!”

Monitoring Your Advertisements

Using the tools available in AdWords, there is a plethora of different ways to monitor your advertisements. When selecting one campaign to monitor, you are able to determine a fair amount of data that will tell you how your ad is performing. You can determine how many clicks it is getting per day, how much it is costing you per day, how many keywords impressions lead to clicks and so much more. You can also create segments, for example, you can determine how much of your audience is clicking on your ad via tablet, smartphone, or desktop computer. Once reviewing the segments, you may realize that most of your clicks are from smartphones; so optimizing your landing page for smartphone capability is probably a good idea. AdWords also has the capability of running reports for your campaign and providing you with data, giving you specific insights on your campaign performance. These reports are even customizable, for example, you can generate reports for the extensions you are using or for the geographic data of a certain area. You can even set them to run during specific time intervals to get even more specific data. It is also very effective to setup a Google Analytics account, and link it to your AdWords account. Although AdWords throws a ton of data at you already, Google Analytics is like a supplementary service that will track the useful data AdWords doesn’t. Lastly, the most important thing to monitor is your ROI. You want to ensure the net profit you are making is greater than the amount you are spending on advertising costs.

 Key Optimization Strategies

A fantastic feature of AdWords is that you can test out modifications you are thinking of making to your campaign. Without overhauling the entire campaign, you can test out different keywords or increase your bids, or even modify the placement of your ads. The way you do this is by creating a draft including the modifications, and testing it out on a small group of your original campaign’s traffic. This method allows you to determine if the modifications will prove to be effectively increasing your ROI, or perhaps decreasing the effectiveness. Either way, it will not affect your original campaign, therefore taking out most of the risk associated with reengineering the ad. If your test proves to be profitable, adjust bids accordingly to increase your reach. In AdWords, you can actually make bid adjustments that will automatically increase or decrease how much you want to pay when certain factors are at play. Bid adjustments are effective for optimizing the performance of your campaigns.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Google AdWords is an excellent platform for advertising your products or services. I frequently search Google for different products and services that I am interested in using and now have an understanding of why there are paid ads on every search. I am including a screen grab of a search I performed earlier this week to demonstrate the PPC ads that local business are using to generate leads and drive traffic to their landing pages. I searched for a pre-owned 2014 Dodge Ram for sale in Edmonton Alberta, and this is what it looked like:

ppc2

Retrieved from https://www.google.ca/search?q=2014 dodge ram for sale edmonton&oq=2014 dodge ram for sale edmonton &aqs=chrome..69i57.5310j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

 

When I performed this search, I was looking for links to Kijiji.com and Autotrader.ca, but before I was able to find an organic advertisement, I was drawn to the Londonderry Dodge website because of the “Dodge Challenger from $31.9K” line in the description. Although it’s not the car I am pursuing, it is in my budget and peaked my interest. Once on the landing page, I might decide against the Challenger but continue to comb through the inventory for the truck I am actively pursuing. Through using Google AdWords, Londonderry Dodge now has the opportunity to earn my business and generate a revenue and profit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Batesole, B. (2018). Google AdWords Essential Training 2018. Retrieved October 21, 2018, from https://www.lynda.com/Google-AdWords-tutorials/Next-steps/693109/747559-4.html?autoplay=true

 

   (2018). Retrieved from https://www.google.ca/search?q=2014 dodge ram for sale edmonton&oq=2014 dodge ram for sale edmonton &aqs=chrome..69i57.5310j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Content Marketing 101

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is the process of creating valuable and relevant content in order to attract, acquire, and engage an audience (Lynda.com, 2018). In this day and age, businesses have to be familiar with content marketing because of the abundance of information that is available across the online platforms individuals use each and every day. Not only do businesses have to customize their content for the different channels and devices being used (think video’s for Instagram), they have to make it unique enough that it stands out against their competitors. The main goal is to provide effective thought leadership (a thought leader is focused on best practices and sets a course that others will follow) and generate brand awareness.

When attempting to be a thought leader, it is best practice to focus on educating and drawing customers in, rather than pushing sales content.

Content marketing is beneficial to organizations because they are able to own their own attention, create their own thought leadership and build brand awareness (Lynda.com, 2018). When attempting to be a thought leader, it is best practice to focus on educating and drawing customers in, rather than pushing sales content. Also, if the content being produced is informative, educational and trustworthy, brand preference is created. When the audience trusts the information they are being provided with, they are more likely to select that product/service.

Get the right people for the job!

Creating effective content marketing is no easy task. By selecting the right content marketing team, organizations are far more likely to succeed in this space. The content marketing team is the foundation for all of the marketing efforts of the organization. The internal team you choose will help create content internally for the business.

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Retrieved from: https://www.nme.com/blogs/tv-blogs/best-mad-men-episodes-don-draper-2113114

 

When hiring this person, they should possess a passion for content and excellent project management skills as well as communication skills

There are two main positions, the first being the managing editor. They are in charge of coordinating and strategizing the different assets that are can and will be used. When hiring this person, they should possess a passion for content and excellent project management skills as well as communication skills (Lynda.com, 2018). The associate editor will create content and manage projects, as well as edit all content as well. Other internal team members can be any employee contributor, subject matter experts for the detailed, specific content, and content requesters that request different types of content and provide ideas.

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Retrieved from: https://www.benzcommunications.com/blog/solve-employee-benefits-engagement-challenges-through-better-brainstorming

Developing a buyer’s journey will help the marketing writers determine which content is appropriate for each stage of the buying process

In order to determine the most effective and relevant type of content to publish, a writer’s creation must speak and be relevant to each individual. This is called creating buyer’s personas. Buyer’s personas help one to choose the type of topic to focus on and also set the tone for the different content assets. Developing a buyer’s journey will help the marketing writers determine which content is appropriate for each stage of the buying process, ensuring consistency throughout the various stages.

Plan Plan Plan!

When creating a content plan, the main focus is to brainstorm new ideas and create content arcs. Always keep the business’s priorities front and center by considering new markets, product launches and brand initiatives. Always consider the buyer personas and whom the business wants to sell to. Differentiate from the competition by consistently following up on the competition’s content and doing something different. It is a good idea to be pro-active and know what is coming down the pipeline to ensure the content will be aligned properly with products and services.

Image result for sales funnel
Retrieved from: https://chatbotnewsdaily.com/how-to-escort-a-visitor-through-the-sales-funnel-via-live-chat-70a57040afcf

 It is best practice to align the content with each stage of the sales funnel at this point

When creating content arcs, an individual may organize them into monthly, quarterly, bi yearly or yearly content themes (Lynda.com, 2018). It doesn’t matter which interval is chosen, as long as the message is consistent throughout. It is best practice to align the content with each stage of the sales funnel at this point. For the top of the funnel (clients who are aware of the product but are not ready to buy), provide the most educational content and thought leadership. Try not to overwhelm with information that is too product specific. The middle of the funnel is where the engaged, potential customers live. Provide them with third party reports and buying guides to turn the heat up on them and move them along through the process. At the bottom of the funnel, content should reassure that your product is the correct choice and the offers available are very specific and promotional. This is where the customer gets closed.

The middle of the funnel is where the engaged, potential customers live

At this point, content types need to be chosen. Blog posts, cheat sheets, E books and videos are just a few examples of the content available for publishing. Once content types are chosen, an editorial calendar must be created. This will reduce redundancy because all parties involved will have access to the information being put forward by key stakeholders. Organize this calendar to clearly distinguish content mix, different teams involved, ongoing campaigns and strategic initiatives. Ensure marketing, sales and customer service departments all have access, as well as any other stakeholder.

Now…create!

Writing content can be extremely hard work, but if one can build a repeatable process all of the content published will reflect the brand and be engaging. Search for a subject matter expert who knows about the topic that is being created. Schedule a meeting and do some digging and try to collect as much raw information as possible. Next, create an outline that will keep you organized and on track. Include a thesis and setup the different sections that will be included. It is an effective practice to socialize your outline to make sure it makes sense. Have it proofread a few times before writing the initial draft. Now, produce the first draft.

Use lots of bullets, lists and numbers, because the audience won’t read everything

Make sure your thesis is clear, break your content up with h1 and h2’s and other headers. Use lots of bullets, lists and numbers, because the audience won’t read everything. This is called making it easy to scan. Make sure what is being written has an easy flow to it. Always review each draft personally but also have 1-2 people review it to catch mistakes and grammar issues. Refer to the style guide to ensure it is in the correct tone and reflects the guidelines set. Copyedit the first draft for grammar and structure. Edit for content and concepts to make sure it aligns with corresponding content. Write a second draft, and incorporate all of the edits made.

Image result for create
Retrieved from: http://codefoster.com/createsomething/

This is extremely effective when there is a tight budget

The other part of creating content is to curate. Marketing writers curate so they do not have to create absolutely everything they publish. This is extremely effective when there is a tight budget. One can curate articles, “best of” lists, etc. that can be found on social media and websites that share an audience with the organization. This content can be reposted to blog posts and social media sites as well.

Get your content in front of your audience!

Gating is an effective way to promote content. Gating is an optional form in front of a downloadable content asset that is meant for lead generation. The goal is to collect lead information each time someone downloads a content asset (Lynda.com, 2018). It’s very effective when creating a database. One can choose to not gate at all in order to promote thought leadership or educational material if the buyers are new or uncomfortable giving up their information. Gating based on buying stage enables the business to gate only the assets that shows buying intent when downloaded.

Gate the content in the middle stage of the buying process, because it shows intent to buy

Marketers can determine what stage the buyers are in in the buying process if they download certain content, which helps score and rank leads. Also, by gating content, it enables it to be premium content that is not available unless there is an initial commitment by the buyer. In the early stage of the buying process, do not gate content because it is meant to draw buyers in and educate them. Gate the content in the middle stage of the buying process, because it shows intent to buy, but only if the form is filled out and the potential buyer exchanges personal information. At the last stage, again do not gate the content.

 

 

Social media is one of the most important channels one can promote on. Used paid boosts to get the content in front of more eyes (Lynda, 2018). Always provide value, and always listen to audience feedback. Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. The more shareable, the better. Increase reach of content by promoting by email. Make sure emails are engaging and relevant, and include bullet form so it’s easily scan-able, and remember to always include an aggressive call to action.

Always be sure that the vendors being considered align with the businesses views

To expand reach, businesses promote through content syndication. Syndicating content consists of choosing appropriate third party vendors to host the content. Always be sure that the vendors being considered align with the businesses views and share the same audience. When clicking on syndicated content, prospects will be redirected to another webpage where they will find a form (gate) that they can input information into to receive the content.

Always measure your content’s effectiveness

Marketing writers must establish their goals and measurement estimates up front. Remember to define what should be measured for each content asset, and consult with all key stakeholders to get their input. Be budget conscious, and have an idea of what the return on investment will be over time. First, start tracking with early stage metrics. Look at the traffic being generated by using Google Analytics (Lynda.com, 2018). Focus on the top traffic generators because that’s what most people are looking at. Also track social media activity such as likes and comments, or followers depending on the platform. When tracking mid and late stage metrics, focus more on revenue. There should be an explicit focus on moving customers through the sales funnel. The biggest factor is recognizing if the content being published is generating leads and opportunities.

To end with…

Content marketing is critical in today’s noisy world. By creating valuable, educational, and engaging thought leadership, you can create the type of relationship with potential buyers to move them through your sales funnel, to ultimately become loyal customers (Lynda.com, 2018).

 

References:

Lynda.com. (2018). Content Marketing Foundations. Retrieved from: https://www.lynda.com/Marketing-Lead-Generation-tutorials/Content-Marketing-Fundamentals-2015/369044-2.html?srchtrk=index%3a1linktypeid%3a2q%3acontent+marketing+foundationspage%3a1s%3arelevancesa%3atrueproducttypeid%3a2

Writing Marketing Copy

First, let’s go over the basics!

Marketing copywriting or writing copy is writing text in order to persuade an audience to take a particular action. It is used in advertising and other forms of marketing and aims to increase brand awareness. Good copywriting deliver’s value when needed, sells, is strategic and includes a call to action (Lynda.com, 2018). When communicating your call to action, it must deliver significance, appeal to a niche audience and provide value. Important elements of good copywriting are writing (text), visual (images etc.), and lastly it must be an attention grabber.

There are three classes of copywriting. They are as follows: by collateral, by medium, and by style. Collateral is the type of distribution you will use for your copywriting. Some examples include brochures, letters, direct mail marketing and posters. In the automotive industry, many dealerships will mail out a letter showcasing their new models with an offer attached to it. This is a great example of using direct marketing and including a call to action by offering an incentive at this time. The next class is medium. Think of medium as the pipeline that you are using to get your message across (Lynda.com, 2018). This can include online content, radio, video and text. Your medium can be online and your collateral a website of social media page, for example. Lastly, style is important. Remember to use a style that is centric to your audience. If you are marketing a new flu vaccine, you will use the teaching style, where you educate your audience before offering a call to action. Your audience would want to know the benefits and risks associated before making a decision; therefore using the straight shot approach would be much less effective, for example.

To end, when writing copy, you must be prepared. Avoid all distractions, isolate yourself, write in 45-90 minute intervals, and use an easy word processor.

Get your pen, we’re about to get writing!

According to Ian’s teachings, it is best practice to assemble your tools before sitting down to write copy. Think of a chef, preparing their mise en placeHis recommendations include a timer, a glass of water, a notebook, some type of gadget or software in case you want to type and not hand write, auto backups for the software, and some pens and pencils (Lynda.com, 2018). Next, it is time to create a plan. It should only take about 30 minutes, and is not always mandatory. You should not get hung up on your plan, and you can even make it as you go along (Lynda.com, 2018). Always consider who your audience is going to be, the collateral you will need, and the style that will work best. If I was marketing home theatre systems, a quick plan would include the following: my audience would be entertainment centric homeowners, I would likely use a website as collateral and a straight shot style, explaining what my product is, why it’s the best, and then my call to action. From that plan I can develop my writing further, using the plan as a guideline. No one plan is going to be set in stone. It will change a bunch of times, so it is a good idea to keep notes on your audience, brainstorm a few different collaterals available that you can use and a list of styles that could work.

Once the plan is done, you can begin composing your first draft. Try to write the draft all in one shot without taking any breaks. Always consider your audience and make sure the style you are using reflects the audience. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, getting someone else to proofread your draft can uncover some errors you may have missed or never caught. Make sure your writing is clear and does not include any tacky clichés or vernacular. Include a headline that is driven by the copy and pulls the reader in. According to the video, a clear headline will outperform a mysterious headline two times to one (Lynda.com, 2018). Your headline should be descriptive, and is crucial to effectively writing copy.

Tips for structuring for print copy (offline, magazine or brochure) (Lynda.com, 2018):

  • Think about the context you need to use
  • Once you publish print it is final, be 100% it is exactly how you want it before publishing it
  • Use lots of images
  • Include an immediate call to action with contact information for best results
  • Don’t use too many words, short and to the point is most effective

Tips for structuring online copy (Lynda.com, 2018):

  • Don’t use too many words
  • Use an effective, tested headline
  • Include useful links
  • Use bullets and numbering for lists, not commas

Uh-oh,  nobody said anything about rewriting!

When rewriting someone else’s writing, the main goal is to improve the writing without restructuring it. Make sure you get the correct context from the original writer and confirm the structure. Check for unnecessary words, edit it to use active voice and lastly, proofread it yourself and ask someone else as well.

If you are rewriting copy for a webpage or a product description, be sure to get clarity on the call to action. Don’t be redundant; use one word if you don’t have to use two. Make sure it can be easily read and scanned.

If you are called upon to rewrite social media copy, remember to keep the message brief. 300-400 characters is plenty long for social media. Always pair this content with images, be sincere and do not be offensive (Lynda.com, 2018).

Lets wrap it up…

When managing a copywriting team, keep the following in mind (Lynda.com, 2018):

  • Organize your team, mentor them and be their advocate. There is nothing worse than a leader who does not know how to lead.
  • Respect the craft, respect the schedule and be empathetic.
  • Keep a list of freelancers you love. If you are slammed, outsourcing work to a trusted source is a great option.
  • Force vacations so your team can get a mental break and come back refreshed and more creative.
  • Avoid binge-writing sessions. This will result in sub par work and limit individual creativity.
  • Make editing part of the schedule.
  • Remember, each writer has his or her own voice.

 

When managing a team, it is very important to be able to have a viewpoint from your employee’s perspective. An out of tune manager will not effectively gain the results that they potentially could if they were more empathetic and understanding.

Next, always set an editorial calendar. This calendar must be flexible and structures your content in an understandable way. This calendar should list specific titles to write, which individual will write them, the content type and the structure (Lynda.com, 2018). Lastly, maintain a brand voice. Have a list of words that your writers will use to refer to certain things. Consider your audience, and have a persona they can relate to.

 

 

Marketing…in the real world?

When working in the automotive industry, I was never directly involved in marketing copywriting but I did see how it played out first hand. As sales associates, my colleagues and I were often asked for suggestions on different collateral, medium and styles when preparing advertising for an event. Our most successful campaign was a print copy. Management developed a post card sized print out that was direct mailed to roughly three thousand individual households. The medium used in this campaign was text. On the post card, there was a short pitch which was the call to action, because our goal was to persuade our previous clients to re-purchase vehicles from us. The collateral used was direct mail. It was effective because we hand wrote the addresses on the envelopes, we did not use a label. Lastly, the style was straight shot. The pitch was “our used car managers are paying 120% of market value for trade-ins this weekend only, take advantage of this exclusive offer by this Saturday.” In conclusion, marketing copywriting is an extremely effective technique to creatively advertise your products or services, and when going through all the necessary steps there is little room for error. If done properly it can increase sales and effectively make a business more successful.

References

Lynda.com. (2018) Learning to write Marketing Copy. Retrieved from: https://www.lynda.com/Business-Online-Marketing-tutorials/Welcome/149250/175041-4.html

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