What we’ve learned

December 9th, 2014 Posted by Uncategorized 7,713 comments

It’s our first birthday here at SmartScribe and we wanted to take a moment to reflect on what we’ve learned over the last year. Here are the top three pieces of advice we have found ourselves dishing out since our start.

Find a balance. You want to be simple with your copy, but not vague. When communicating your value and offerings to prospects, it’s vital to keep it simple at first. Visitors to your website or those that come across your materials will usually make a judgement in a matter of seconds. If explaining what your company does is too convoluted, they are likely to move on and not see any connection to their pain points. On the other hand, be careful when being too vague as well. Find the balance between being specific but not overly detailed.

For example:

We provide high quality solutions that solve your needs.–Way too vague!!
We provide friendly,  24/7 IT managed services for growing technology companies.–OK, now that makes sense.

Be yourself. Maintain consistency in language, tone, voice and style. When creating copy for your website, sales materials, newsletters and other marketing assets, it’s important to remember that you are essentially further illustrating your brand identity. Just like look and feel through consistent colors and fonts help your prospects and customers identify you, so does your copy. When strategizing your brand identity or when rethinking it, take time to decide on your voice and style. If you’re using the first-person in your copy, stick with that as much as possible. If you’re going for an informal, casual tone, let that tone guide you when writing all of your materials so you maintain a consistent tone, voice and style with your audience –they’ll appreciate this.

Give back. Generate value through information. When writing content for email campaigns as well as newsletters and blogs, keep in mind that this is your opportunity to generate leads, nurture your prospects and lead them down the sales funnel. No one wants to hear a sales pitch over and over, so if your materials lack more that that, you’ll lose the interests of your target. Instead, try forming your content strategy around providing valuable information or interesting thoughts to your community. It helps establish your brand as a thought leader and positions you as an advisor in your space. Take a look at the newsletters and resources of your competitors. What are they missing? What kind of information could you provide that they are overlooking?  Most busy professionals appreciate learning something whenever they can. If you provide that on a regular basis, chances are your pipeline will benefit.

What have you learned about your content marketing over the last year?

How well are you telling your company story?

December 3rd, 2014 Posted by Copywriting Tips 7,529 comments

Have you read your ‘about’ page lately? Chances are, it could use a review to make sure it is sending prospects and customers the right message. After all, it is one of the most commonly visited pages of a company’s website.

When getting ready to take a look into your ‘marketing mirror, I would first encourage you to take a look around. Pick 2 or 3 of your competitors and check out their ‘about’ pages. As you read through, jot down some notes on the following:

  1. How is your company different, and what sets you apart from them?
  2. Does their story really convey who they are as a company?
  3. Does the tone and style of their story make the experience personal, and create a P to P (people to people) connection?

Now, take a look at your own website and read your ‘about’ story. What is your initial reaction? This is often the moment of truth for many companies and lately we’ve been hearing a lot of concern about the messaging on this page in particular.

Read through another time, and take out the notes you took from the earlier exercise, are those points shining through here? You may also consider asking a trusted colleague to give an honest assessment and tell you about their takeaways. Did they really get a sense for who you are as a company?

If not, rethink it!


Your move: Chess strategy for your content marketing

October 17th, 2014 Posted by Copywriting Tips, Top 10 7,066 comments

Even a single pawn’s move in chess requires strategic thinking about the overall game. Nothing is ever a one-off, or done in a vacuum. Chess is an exercise of the mind and requires knowledge of the game and a comprehensive understanding of your opponent’s goals. Content marketing works a lot like chess when executed properly. Copywriting and content marketing can also learn a thing or two from chess, as great copy should also be a strategic exercise for any business.

Here are three chess principles that can help keep your content in check:

One bad move can ruin many good ones.

In chess every move counts and even one bad move can ruin every good one before it. Your content should always be focused on providing value to your prospects and customers instead of pitching a hard sell. If a customer comes across your asset looking for educational information, and it’s just another version of your sales brochure, they’re unlikely to engage with your published materials going forward.

Control the center.

Make sure your content has a clear, central focus and is interesting to read. Hooking your reader is important, but clearly stating the value and learning from your content will make sure it’s memorable and reflects well on your brand. Take a good look at the type of business content you enjoy and refer to when considering purchases, and attempt to emulate that. Research brands you admire and take a look at their content strategies and the tactics they use to keep customers close.

Work your pieces.

In chess, you have to move your pieces around the board to win. You can’t just focus on a few key ones in the middle. With content, it’s important to mix things up with various forms of deliverables. Try case studies, white papers, blogs, videos, poll results and infographics that all tie in with your overall business objectives and industry.

What’s been the most effective piece of content for your business?

What’s in it for me?

October 10th, 2014 Posted by Copywriting Tips, Top 10 7,430 comments

What’s in it for me?

That’s the question that we all ask ourselves in almost anything we do. If you are not asking this, then perhaps you are the pope or the last boy scout.  When we are listening to others speak, scouring the internet, watching movies, listening to music, we are all seeking something – entertainment, knowledge, a product or the best deal.

So how do you use this tidbit to capture your audience and give them what they want? Well, when it comes to your blog or website copy, you need to embody the WIIFM attitude, but from your reader’s perspective. Here are 3 simple concepts to keep in mind as you put together your message.

Keep it simple — This means delivering the message to your reader in plain and simple terms. If a reader has to wade through a lot of details, or re-read sentences to actually figure out what you are saying, you’ll lose them fast.

Location location location — The WIIFM statement should be the first thing the reader sees. When you are structuring a phrase or sentence or paragraph, lead with your strongest statements and don’t bury it end of a sentence. The reader is likely scanning, and will focus on the firsts (first word, phrase, sentence in each paragraph….) It’s ok to have support details, but be sensitive to how many and where they are placed. Consider what details are important from your audience’s perspective and leave out the rest.

Read it out loud — After you write your message, read it out loud to yourself. Did you fumble over the words? Did you notice any run on sentences or run out of breath? Then grab a friend and read it aloud to him/her. Ask them what the message was. Ask them if they can regurgitate the main points. If they can’t understand it, then your audience likely won’t either.

Here’s an example of how not to write to illustrate the importance of these points. Let’s suppose I am the owner of a small retail company and am searching the web for a new software solution for keeping up with my inventory and I come across this website. As I read through this intro, the WIIFM thoughts are popping up and you’ll see them in bold.

CTB Solutions was founded in Cleveland Ohio in 2006 by 2 hardworking graduates from State U. Not important, don’t care. Since then we’ve grown into a company of more than 30 teammates located all over the US. Ok so in 8 years you’ve only added 28 people, I’m not impressed. We have found that our clients want to best products and services and we focus on delivering just that. Ummm what does CTB Solutions do exactly???.  At CTB Solutions we provide services in data migration and software implementations for small business retail inventory management. This sentence should have been first. But my eyes have glazed over now so on to the next website.

Ok, now you have an idea of why it’s important to always keep your audience in mind and apply the WIIFM attitude. Good luck!