Last Monday you came up with ideas for content by thinking outside of your company. This Monday you can find ideas for content copywriting by looking under your hood, so to speak.
But let me digress for second. In creative writing classes, to get people warmed up, the teacher often offers the class a writing prompt. This could be a word or a short phrase: something like “telephone rang” or “the last thing I remember.” From there the writers have 6 to 10 minutes to write the first things that come to mind, and if possible to make a story out of it. They can use the phrase at the beginning, middle or end. It’s a lot of fun, and once you get over the initial panic, you would amaze yourself with what you can write in such a short time.
Taking this notion of the writing prompt to copywriting for your business, I suggest you look at your keywords for your prompts.
Behind (or under) every search optimization strategy there are your keywords – those words or phrases that you want to be found by. Most SEO specialists that I know recommend inserting keywords into your web text, whether that be a product page, about us page or a blog. Pretty basic stuff.
What if you looked over your keywords and thought about making them the subject of your blogging? Here is what I mean.
Let’s say one of your long-tail keyword phrases is ‘natural products for anxiety.’ Since you don’t want to focus too much about your products when writing your blog (remember valuable content is not about “me” but about the interests of your customers), think about the problems that your customers might have when looking for you. So here are a few prompts that can get you started:
Now pick one and write as fast as you can for 7 minutes, and then stop. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or anything else. Just write.
By doing this you’ve put yourself into the head of your consumer. You may have a paragraph or a page of rough copy, which you can now craft into a more coherent blog post that:
A) Includes keywords that help your search optimization
B) Focuses on addressing a consumer problem
C) Probably offers your product at the end as a solutionNot bad for 7 minutes of work.
Next Week: Recycling content.
Everyone in the natural products industry seems to be on the social marketing bandwagon. They have their Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and YouTube videos. But what seems to be missing are their blogs.
I did a preliminary scanning of 20 fairly prominent natural products companies (products that I have in my home) who all had Facebook pages, looking for their blogs. I won’t mention the 18 that didn’t have any blog. The two that did were Tom’s of Maine and Stonyfield Farms. Tom’s posted periodically (3 times in one month, once in another etc.), while Stonyfield posted regularly, at least once a week.
So I ask all the other 18 natural products companies – what is a social media program without a blog? Haven’t you heard about the hub approach to social marketing, where it all begins with the website and a blog and feeds out from there to the social networks?
I realize that these companies do direct their social postings back to their websites, but to where? Probably to their home page, which rarely changes, or to their product pages, which pretty much ends the social dialogue.
What puzzles me is that if there ever was an industry that could create useful, meaningful, emotional, and interesting blog information, it’s the natural products industry. Most of what they create is for the wellness of people and the environment – topics that are of great interest to their constituency.
I realize blogging takes time, and coming up with content copywriting ideas can be hard, but the loyalty it could engender could be huge and long lasting. It would also give more meat to their social networking efforts. And it would help their organic search immeasurably (and anything organic to this group is usually highly appealing).
Am I the only person who can’t stand it when I get a Facebook post from someone, and they sent it from their Tweetdeck? When that happens my first reaction is to think of all of the ways I hate social media marketing.
The fact of the matter is that Facebook language is different from Twitter speak. When I read my Facebook, I don’t translate twitter speak very well. It’s jarring. It feels like the difference between a soothing cup coffee and a one that’s super caffeinated. It’s like the difference between French from France and French from Canada. I’m not making a value judgment – it’s just that they are different enough to jar my brain momentarily.
I know it makes the life of marketers easier to send the same post throughout their social broadcast network, but let me ask you this. If you went to a party, would you scream at the top of your lungs, “Hey everyone! I don’t want to have to repeat this to everyone when I meet them, so here’s what I did and who I am!”
I think there’s a place for automation in social media. The headline of this blog post gets sent automatically to my Twitter feed when it’s posted. Since I’m cognizant of this, I try to make my headlines read well on Twitter so it resembles a twitter comment.
So come on folks. If you want to contribute to the social media dialogue, learn the language of each social media channel, and then speak it. You’ll get a much better response.
It’s Monday. And you have no idea what you’re going to write about in your blog, newsletter, etc. You could hire acopywriter and hope that he or she will provide you with an ongoing stream of content that will be useful to your prospects and customers, while at the same time making you more search engine food. But at the end of the day, you – the person in charge of marketing your company – have to come up with the ideas.
So how do you get that brain of yours churning up ideas?
Think Outside Your Company
My friend Jeanne Hopkins, Director of Marketing at HubSpot, is probably the best idea generator I’ve ever met. She talks about looking outside the company for inspiration. Don’t just think about what your products can do for people, but look at who those people are and what other interests they may have outside the solution you offer.
For example, your company offers a natural product that provides wellness to indigestion. You can talk all you want about the digestive system (and several of your posts should be about that), but your customers have other interests. Maybe they are drawn to you because of their interest in organics and the environment. If that’s the case, then give them an “inside scoop” on organic agriculture.
Basically, use the data you have about your customers and create a profile or persona of several different types of customers. List all of the interests that these ‘types’ might have. Then pick a few of those interests and write about them from your perspective.
For example: One persona could be female, age 34-44, mother, lives in suburbs, works full-time, feels her life is stressful, prefers organic food, goes to the gym, likes good food.
From this you can write about the following:
All of these posts are something you can write about. There’s plenty of information out there on the web that you can easily access for your research. The key, however, is to believe what you write. When you provide content for others to read, you are trying to build trust with your prospects and customers. You want to give them something useful that you can stand by.
So shake out those Monday morning cobwebs and come up with at least 3 blog post ideas.
Next Monday: Creating content using keywords as inspiration.
Sometimes a case study inspires. This happened to me on Tuesday of this week, when Eric Majchrzak, Marketing Director of Freed, Maxick and Battaglia (FMB) presented at the B2B Marketing Summit in Waltham, MA.
Eric was speaking on a social media panel about his Buffalo-based CPA firm’s outdoor interactive Facebook billboard. Basically, this billboard projects for all the drivers and pedestrians who pass it by, the most current posting on their Facebook page. But unlike so many other corporate Facebook pages that just talk about themselves, this Facebook page promotes non-profit community events. Genius.
The billboard is set up as follows:
It also embraces social media best practices: creates community, encourages dialogue, stimulates interest.
By integrating one classic marketing tactic (billboard advertising) with another (social marketing), FMB has more than doubled the impact of both these tactics. A great example of how to integrate social media into the broader marketing context. Furthermore, I'm betting this not only gets them more new clients, but it makes their current ones happy they have FMB as their accountants.
Who would have thought that an accounting firm could have thought of this? I just wish I had. Hats off to Eric and the folks at FMB who gave him the green light!