Posts made in May 2018

Hiring a Copywriter – 5 Sure-Fire Tips to Retain and Acquire Customers

Content Is King—That Makes Copywriters the Rulers of the Universe.

Hiring a copywriter can be a daunting task. Content is king—and copywriters own the kingdom. Copywriters are the experts—the rulers of the universe—who can deliver your brand message on point clearly and consistently to retain the customers you have and acquire new customers through online and offline marketing communications campaigns. Hiring the right copywriter that seamlessly integrates with your organization is the challenge. But finding the right copywriter that can tell your brand story effectively can be done.

Continue reading

Copywriting – 3 Powerful Branding Techniques That Can Double Your Sales

Simple. Clear. To the Point. Copy that Sells.

The best way to tell if your copywriting is effective—check your sales figures. If your brand messaging is resonating with your customers and prospects—you’ll see it reflected in your bottom line. If your sales are flat or dipping—you should take a look at how you’re communicating what your organization does and why it is the best provider in your market niche. You have to tell the right brand story to the right audience to get the right action: getting the sale.

Person with Dollar Sign

Good copywriting and branding requires consistent review and analysis—to ensure that messaging is on point—as the business climate changes and needs shift. It’s not always necessary to rebrand, including a new name, logo and a full-on messaging change.

Sometimes a brand just needs to be refreshed—with a tagline rework, a tweak here and there to the visual identity and a new brand positioning with updated copy and content.

Copywriting Technique 1 – Start with a Brand Messaging Audit

An assessment is required of the current brand messaging. Is the copywriting reaching your target buyer? Does the content offer relevant information in an engaging manner? Is the message strategy on point?

Multiple People StandingThe answers to these questions come from communicating with your customers—for a viewpoint on your brand image, identity, positioning—and your employees—to address the opinions of the people who act as brand ambassadors when interacting with customers. The assessment phase of a branding project is critical.

Like any sound business plan, the objective in building a strategic branding campaign is to determine where the company is today and identify growth objectives to increase sales and brand awareness.

A refreshed or relaunched brand goes to market with the goal of building a positive perception in the minds of customers to influence purchase decision. It’s all about making the sale—and effective copywriting plays a major role.

Copywriting Technique 2 – Align the Brand and the Business

Man Lifting WeightHow is your brand different from your competitors? What are your brand attributes? Do you deliver on your brand promise? You need to define what differentiates you in the industry and then create a brand messaging platform that communicates the benefits of your brand—why your organization is the right choice—for employees and customers. The brand must align with the business goals.

An organization’s brand message touches each customer and prospect with every communication across all media channels. The foundation of a well-defined, well-positioned, strong brand is the value proposition, mission, vision and values that blend to influence employees and customers to think of an organization in terms of positive brand attributes: quality, trust, reliability. It is the reason why employees and customers feel connected to an organization.

Persuasive copywriting that has impact and targets pain points requires a keen understanding of business goals and is created only by listening to what customers are saying.

The ability to manage data-driven marketing and the advent of social media have added the voice of the customer into every marketing communications strategy and decision—but it hasn’t eliminated the need to persuade and it requires a writing expert who understands the power of communication and how to influence people. You have to choose your words carefully to make a point.

Copywriting Technique 3 – Communicate Your Message to Your Market Niche

Circle of People Holding Hands in CircleAll effective—read copy that sells—content marketing is based on delivering a clear and consistent message targeted to the buyer through innovative and persuasive copywriting that tells your brand story through all online and offline channels: websites, videos, brochures, ads, email campaigns, case studies, white papers.

When done right, effective branding—read copy that sells—delivers a strong brand message that:

  • Drives profitability
  • Increases customer retention and loyalty
  • Lowers new-customer acquisition costs
  • Provides organizations with the ability to hire and retain qualified and talented employees

There are many theories about the best way to reach an audience…how to write the most persuasive and effective copy…and which techniques to use to develop engaging customer-centric content. Messaging success is measured by the results the copy and content deliver—always written with the intent to drive revenue.

Building an effective brand messaging platform is a creative process that flows from developing brand awareness to establishing brand recognition to fostering brand preference through delivering on a brand promise, which leads to brand loyalty that translates into brand equity.

The point is to …

  • Get Your Brand Message Out
  • Generate Leads
  • Increase Revenue
  • Deliver Value
  • Acquire and Retain Customers

It’s copywriting that moves the audience to take action. The key is in what you say—and how you say it. Make your point—and you make money.

Content Marketing Solutions – The #1 Low-Budget Strategy to Promote Your Brand and Generate Leads

How to Increase Business with Content Marketing Solutions.

Content MarketingIn the Mad Men days, the best way to market a product was through advertising—it was king in the 60s. Marketing back then focused on print ads, radio and TV commercials. Four decades and a century later, we all know that content is king. And that makes content marketing solutions the lead channel in today’s marketing mix for generating leads and building business. Current industry data supports this trend: 82% of B2B companies have a content marketing strategy in place compared to 32% that are marketing with a print, radio and TV advertising campaign.

What are Content Marketing Solutions?

Content marketing is delivering information to your customers and prospects that provides ongoing value. The key is the value. Businesses share their perspective on industry pain points, establishing themselves as an authority, while at the same time introducing their products and services that can solve the challenges customers face through their brand story. Content marketing solutions are communicated through various media that keep your company top of mind when prospects are ready to make a purchase. The bottom line is to build qualified leads to acquire and retain customers, increase sales and brand awareness.

Some definitions of content marketing eliminate the fact that it is selling, based on its indirect approach. I disagree. All marketing is selling. And content marketing is just doing it in a different way. When we publish a brochure or fact sheet, which can be print or
digital—we’re looking to get business. These marketing communications tools focus on product and service benefits.

Within content marketing solutions, product and service benefits are embedded into the copy that provides the company’s thought leadership position. It’s delivering an industry perspective and reinforcing it with a brand message. When a brochure is a PDF on a website, this brochure marketing tool becomes a content marketing tool.

Blue People with Throught BubblesThe goal is to build brand loyalty through information distribution channels—to have the prospects who read your content marketing solutions choose your business to help them with their business because what you are saying resonates with them and they have learned to trust you.

It’s critical to get your message out regularly—through every channel possible, consistently. The challenge is always how to get through the clutter to reach your targeted audience and get them to take action by deciding to get more information or make the sale on the spot. You have to keep the conversation going. Content marketing solutions demonstrate an understanding of industry issues and present how they can be solved.

Content Marketing Solutions Aren’t New

Content marketing solutions have been around for centuries. It’s just being done differently today because of the online and mobile technologies we have in place.

Board with Post it NotesCase studies, articles and white papers are content marketing. Webinars and blogs are content marketing. Email and newsletters are content marketing. Even videos and images are content marketing. All of these content marketing solutions are designed to:

  • Generate qualified leads
  • Position the organization as a thought leader
  • Build brand awareness
  • Increase sales

Through content marketing solutions, you push information to your targeted audience when and where you want while at the same time expand your database of prospects. Once you have an interested business community of contacts, you can continue to communicate your brand message through a strategic mix of marketing distribution channels: website, blog, webinar, video, e-newsletter, email, social media—focusing your communications through online content marketing solutions—because that’s where the bulk of customers spend their time.

Another plus for content marketing solutions? They are cost effective to create and get the most bang for the buck.

Discover How Corporate Identity Can Help Your Customers Find You

Differentiate Your Business with a Unique Corporate Identity.

Collage of Logos

This image is testimony to the importance of establishing a unique corporate identity in the marketplace. The Coca-Cola brand alone is worth $79 billion. Of course, the product has to be top notch to have such brand equity, but the point is that Coca-Cola is known throughout the world by its corporate identity—as are all of these brands. A unique corporate identity differentiates your business.

Whatever industry you’re in and whoever your target audience is—all organizations need to strive to be the biggest and the best within their market niche. Corporate identity is only part of a brand image—but it’s the part that customers connect with first. The name of your company is the first step. Then there is the visual representation, the logo. With the logo in hand, a masterful copywriter can craft a brand story about what each of the logo elements represent and how they relate to the business, the brand and your customers.

It’s an absolutely fun process to create a brand story based on corporate identity. It can be done for organizations that love their logo but haven’t yet built the brand story around it, as well as those who are starting new or rebranding. Your company is different from your competitors and your corporate identity should reflect that individuality and market positioning. The point of your corporate identity is to have it stand out from the crowd and easily found by your customers.

Corporate Identity Brand-Story Case Study

Corporate Identity Challenge

Rebranding of KPMG Consulting to BearingPoint with a project timeline of 90 days. The rebranding worked in parallel tracks to accomplish the broad range of content to be developed. All teams had one thing in common: They needed the logo and corporate identity.

At the time the project started, the name of the company was unknown. That means that the corporate identity logo design had to be able to work with the short list of names, which were all completely different. The goal was to differentiate the new company from its KPMG legacy and communicate the unique way the company intended to do business. The end result was BearingPoint. The brand story explains what the graphic elements, name, colors and tagline mean and how they represent the firm and their positioning in the marketplace.

Corporate Identity Solution

Visual identity is a major component of a brand image. By communicating a brand consistently, brand recognition is reinforced in the marketplace. It is the responsibility of all associates to ensure that all internal, and especially external, communications are consistent with the brand image by using the correct and current logos, tagline and color palette. As you read this case study, picture how your brand story can be told to support your corporate identity.

The BearingPoint Brand Story

Bearing point Logo

Business and Systems Aligned. Business Empowered.

The look and feel of the logo supports the definition of BearingPoint. The name BearingPoint means setting direction to achieve end results. As integrators, we help our clients align business and technology to achieve their desired goals.

The logo design establishes the corporate identity and emphasizes the unique position in the unique marketplace category, presenting BearingPoint as:

  • Connecting with clients • Flexible • Focused • Setting direction
  • Getting the job done • Smart • Honest • Empowering • Strong

The new logo says a lot about the firm: One line represents client business; the other represents their systems. The BearingPoint commitment is to bring clients’ business and systems into alignment. We carefully chose the primary colors of our visual identity: black, signifying strength and stability; sandstone, representing empowerment; and white, reflecting clarity of purpose.

The new tagline, “Business and Systems Aligned. Business Empowered,” further clarifies the way we do business: We give our clients access to the right information that empowers them to align their business and systems. Because the right information brings knowledge. Knowledge is power. And sharing it is empowerment.

Unique Corporate ID Builds a Connection with Your Employees and Customers

People on a GridGetting connected to your employees and clients depends on how they feel about the organization. How they feel about the organization depends on the emotions evoked from the corporate identity—the logo, color(s), tagline, and messaging that positions the brand.

Building the brand internally first cements loyalty and brings the message externally, organically. How your customers feel about your organization is based on the identity you portray in the marketplace, how your employees feel about working at the company and how you deliver on your brand promise.

A Corporate Identity System (CIS) protects and reinforces your brand. It ensures that whenever anyone is looking at any content marketing issued by your organization, they can be easily identified—as yours.

Corporate Identity and Branding – How to Build a Winning Brand

Why Corporate Identity and Branding Matter.

Corporate Identity and Branding work hand in hand. Some people even compare them to the chicken or the egg conundrum—which came first? Both corporate identity and branding are necessary to attain the critical business goals of increasing market share and generating revenue. Sometimes you can’t tell one from the other. Building a brand that makes people want to do business with you is only accomplished by communicating a clear and consistent corporate identity and brand message. It requires listening to customer needs and responding through persuasive copywriting and content marketing that addresses industry pain points and provides the product, service or solution to solve the problem. What’s the best way to know if your corporate identity and branding are effective? Track your sales and assess your brand equity.

Baby Chick with EggSo, is it: First, you define your identity—then you brand it? Or is it: First, you define your brand—then develop your corporate identity? It really is like the chicken or the egg. You’ll get as many answers as there are corporate identity and branding professionals. So how do corporate identity and branding diverge and how do they merge?

Corporate Identity and Branding—the Chicken or the Egg of Marketing

Corporate Identity

How your employees and clients feel about your organization is based on the identity you portray internally and in the marketplace through your communications. A corporate identity represents who the company is—it’s the company’s personality—like opening a Coke makes you happy, there is no substitute for driving a Porsche, and you’re in good hands with Allstate. Three brands whose personalities stand for quality in different industries that are embedded in our lives through on-point, strong brand messaging. Corporate identity—brand personality—is what makes a company unique. Shaped by senior executives through a corporate mission, vision and values that are aligned with the business goals, the corporate identity also takes on the characteristics and values of its employees. Once a corporate identity is defined and established, a system of Corporate Identity Guidelines is put in place to ensure that all brand communications in all media are clear, consistent, and on point with the business strategy and sales goals.

Business People Standing An effective corporate identity is the result of exploring all aspects of the business and taking into account every department’s viewpoint. According to an article on corporate identity and corporate branding in the European Journal of Marketing, a corporate identity is a mix of identity types. The authors define business identity as the combination of “tangible and intangible elements that make any corporate entity distinct.” British and North American corporate identity and branding consultancies concur that traditionally corporate identity and branding programs have been narrow in scope, and to counter this situation five corporate identity types should be defined and closely aligned to each other to ensure that all organization perspectives are part of the corporate identity development process. The point is that corporate identity is complex: It is an amalgamation of many identities defined within an organization.

John M.T. Balmer defines the five identity types in the AC 2 ID Test TM that every company must closely align when developing their corporate identity. Each type is based on different criteria:

  1. Actual Identity – values, behavior, activities, market scope, performance and positioning
  2. Communicated Identity – organizational messaging conveyed
  3. Conceived Identity – impression held by stakeholders and communities
  4. Ideal Identity – optimum positioning in a given timeframe
  5. Desired Identity – vision articulated by senior leadership

Corporate Branding

Branding is more than the selection of a new company name and logo. A well-defined, well-positioned, strong brand influences employees and customers to think of a company in terms of positive brand attributes: quality, trust, dependability, reliability—defined from the corporate identity. It is the reason why employees and customers feel connected to a company. Not all organizations can make it to the Top 100 Global Brand List—but all organizations face the challenge of being seen and heard through marketplace clutter. The challenge is to communicate a corporate identity and brand that resonates with your customer niche, influencing them to convert their interest into sales.

White Balls and 1 Red BallWriting a brand story starts with understanding what makes the organization unique through its corporate identity. The next step is to meld the core brand messaging creatively into persuasive, succinct, clear and consistent copy that builds a strong corporate identity and brand image. This is accomplished through an on-point brand messaging platform, copywriting and content marketing that increase sales and brand awareness.

Branded Content – The Key to Position Your Brand Message for Success

How Branded Content Increases Business and Brand Recognition.

An organization’s brand message touches each customer, prospect, and employee with every communication across all media channels. The best way to get your message out to your targeted Branded Contentaudience is through branded content. That means that everything you want your customers, prospects, and employees to know, you have to generate.

All marketing communications must deliver a consistent message and visual identity that promotes the benefits your business provides and positions your company as an authority, industry leader and unique service provider. The messaging you generate is your branded content.

Effective content marketing and copywriting is based on consistent, targeted, innovative and persuasive messaging that tells your brand story. When done right, branding drives profitability, increases customer retention and loyalty, lowers new-customer acquisition costs, and provides organizations with the ability to hire and retain qualified and talented employees. When a strong brand is built, it can sustain itself through an organized program for updating and refreshing branded content.

Branded Content for All Media

Brand in Big Letters

The foundation of all branded content is the brand messaging platform. This is developed from the value proposition—which identifies why your company is different from the competition and is the best provider of services in your market niche. Once the brand message is developed, you create branded content by weaving the messaging into every tool in the content marketing program for each media channel.

 

 

  • Websites
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Printed Collateral, e.g., brochures, fact sheets, case studies, white papers, etc.
  • Email and Direct Mail Campaigns
  • Social Media
  • Advertising/Public Relations
  • Internal Communications
  • Presentations
  • Corporate Identity

The core brand message is communicated with a slight difference in each channel—the adjustment is made depending on how the audience is receiving the information. Yet all brand messaging is designed to achieve the same goal: to get the audience to take action to make the purchase … invest … join … contribute … be loyal. Through brand recognition, business increases along with profits.

Branded Content Is Created with On-Point Copywriting

The brand messaging platform describes what the brand is. The next step is taking this brand essence and creating the brand story through on-point copywriting that increases sales and brand awareness. The copywriting brings the brand to life while reinforcing the brand benefits without ever losing site of the goal: writing to sell by getting the point across that you can’t get any better product, service or solution—and you better act fast.

All branded content must have a point. Buy now … Get the best … Sign Up.

Copywriting & ContentBut it takes more than just using active verbs. The point is to make a point that makes a difference—with innovative, persuasive copywriting that always delivers the brand message and addresses how the brand can deliver on its promise.

When you’re writing to sell, each message must make a point in a short timeframe within a small space to catch a prospect’s attention. To get people to take action, branded content must have clear, concise, compelling, consistent copywriting and corporate identity. The power is in the communication—Promotion, the 4th P of marketing.

You can have the best product in the world placed in the best market at the best price—but if no one knows about it, it won’t sell. Branded content is a sales agent.

Successful marketing communications—that is, branded content—can work for you. The time invested on the front end to create branded content pays off through increased business and brand recognition.

Follow These 3 Critical Editing Steps to Build Customer Relationships

3 Colors of PeopleThe Editing Process Is Critical to Gain Brand Loyalty.

Editing, you say? How can editing be critical to customer relationships? Every communication that comes from your organization should go through the editing cycle—an iterative cycle. That means that there are rounds of revisions and versions that are reviewed by all interested parties and this cycle continues until the final is approved.

Editing is time consuming. But it is worth it. Because in the end, you have copywriting and content marketing that represents the high-quality of your brand. And that’s where the relationship with your customers comes front and center. If your customers and prospects are not impressed with the copywriting and content marketing that you publish, then they are not going to be impressed with your brand. And that translates into no sale.

Person with Pencil

Editing Step #1 – Consider the Audience and the Media

  • Who will read the copy? Tailor the words and style to capture audience interest.
  • What is the purpose? What do you want to accomplish with the copy? To get more info? Or sell? Identifying the goal helps to get copy on point.
  • Is the copy written correctly for how it is going to be received: the message in an email, website, and content marketing copy are adjusted for the medium to get the desired reaction.
  • Person holding Pen

    Editing Step #2 – Copy and Organization

  • Think about what is being said, and structure it as simply as possible. Clear thinking is the key to clear editing.
  • Use simple words and simple sentences. Vary sentence length and structure to create rhythm and keep your reader’s interest.
  • Choose words carefully. Use as few words as possible to get your message across. Use precise words that create imagery in the reader’s mind, are engaging and compelling. If you can leave out a word without changing the meaning, leave it out.
  • Use short paragraphs. Make the written page look as appealing as possible by using short copy blocks that will engage your reader.
  • Use subheads to break up long text.
  • Use the active voice—the passive voice tends to use more words and often communicates less strength.
  • Review the copy to ensure it flows in a logical and organized manner.
  • Proofread the copy.

Person holding Pen and Briefcase

Editing Step #3 – Revision Cycle

  • Editing on screen and hard copy are both important to the process. Seeing the words on paper helps find unnecessary words, spelling mistakes and, most important, determine if the text is organized and conveys its intended meaning. Reading on screen ensures line spacing is correct and copy is easy to read.
  • It also helps to read aloud to make sure the copy follows a logical pattern and is on point with the brand messaging.
  • Editing of each communication should be done a minimum of two times. Allow a bit of time in between editing rounds. When you come back to the copy later, you’ll have a clearer view and will probably find ways to improve it. Do this as many times as necessary.
  • Editing should be completed by the author, subject matter experts and stakeholders to ensure the message being delivered is accurate and in line with the business goals.
  • After editing is completed, once again proofread carefully for typographical errors that might have crept up during the editing cycle. Develop a habit of proofreading several times before declaring a document ready to publish. Have others proof it as well. Use the spell-checker one last time. Only then can you release it to the public.

Proofreading Checklist—What You Need to Check Before Publishing Content

Impress Your Customers with Professional Proofreading.

ProofreadingNow that the content is approved—it’s time to enter the final phase. This means careful proofreading of the content by a professional proofreader, making sure the content makes sense—by reading line for line—and checking to see what the printed copy will look like. To increase sales and brand awareness, you need to present your brand in the best light possible. The brand image must be professional. Any mistakes take away from your brand perception in your customers’ eyes.

Guidelines for error-free proofreading are detailed. The main standard operating procedure is that all content must be proofread several times. Never publish any content without proofreading it. Are the dates current? Is the phone number correct? Is the information up to date? Is the brand messaging consistent? Does the copywriting get to the point and deliver a call to action? The list can go on and on, which is why proofreading is such a critical step—but still more times than not, squashed for time. It’s up to the proofreader to be eagle-eyed and quick.

Proofreading Checklist for On-Screen or Hard-Copy Content

Check Mark in BoxThe Proofreading Checklist is comprehensive. If editing electronically in a Word document, use the Track Changes function to redline (add edits) to the document. If working in a digital PDF, select the Comments tab and then select Sticky Notes. Another option is to provide a list of the edits in an email. Decide on the method for sharing the edits before the proofreading phase begins. If working with a hard copy, mark up the document using professional proofreaders' marks.

Helpful Tips in Scrabble

On-Screen Review Proofreading Tips

  • Check in Normal View for visual effectiveness of content delivery
    and graphic balance
  • Check in Zoom View to ensure copy and graphics meet seamlessly and graphics are clean and consistent
  • Ensure graphics support the content regarding placement
  • Check all links
  • Run Spell Check
  • Before making edits electronically, review a printed copy

Hard-Copy Review Proofreading Tips

  • Mark up (or redline) the document with edits using professional proofreaders’ marks
  • Use red ink
  • Write legibly
  • If need to share the hard-copy edits off site in real time, scan into a PDF and email