Shake up your business network.

IF everyone in your business network is just like you then you risk discovering only what you already know. As a business owner you should surround yourself with people who challenge you, not try to please you. After all, you don’t want to be right, you want to be effective. So, reach out and invite people of different ages, gender, beliefs, ethnicities, and background into your network. Look for the ‘courteous contrarians’ – people who are not afraid to speak their minds or to challenge you, whilst remaining polite, courteous and respectful. Challenge dominant thinking. Deploy different eyes. Don’t be afraid to bring outsiders in to help you tackle challenging business issues!

Does your business image need a makeover?

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A study in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that people on diet have learned to avoid some foods by name. So, they will skip a milkshake and have a smoothie instead. The researchers also found that “when a food is identified by a relatively unhealthy name (e.g., pasta), dieters perceive the item to be less healthful and less tasty” than when it’s given a healthy name (e.g., salad). So words matter. A LOT. Business lesson? Let me ask you. Do you like potato chips? Chances are that you’d crunch-crunch way more if it wasn’t for the high carbs and fat! Well, studies show that if you simply change the name from ‘potato chips’ to ‘veggie chips’ then more people will have them. What is it about your product name or product category that turns your customers off? Change it. But, don’t ‘promise’ what you can’t deliver.

Don’t pitch your product–tell the story of why it matters.

Stories involve people at the deepest level. Great storytelling inspires and moves customers to action. A well-told story paints a clear picture of your market’s principal desire, a life goal, and the events that block that desire. Great storytelling highlights how you remove the pain. Your goal is to show how you can clear the way, remove the obstacles and help your clients achieve their life goal. Ask yourself: What do you stand for? Why do you care about helping customers solve their problem? Tell the story. Paint a clear picture of the struggles your customers have to overcome and how you can make their lives more enjoyable and rewarding. Story is the key to people’s hearts. Don’t pitch your product or service–tell the story of why it matters.

A credibility-boosting idea for your business!

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A history timeline is a chronological order of major (business) events. It’s an innovative and impressive way of highlighting your achievements and business milestones. There is something magical about showcasing most impressive business milestones in such a concise and compelling way. Done correctly it builds credibility and reassures potential clients that you’re a reputable company. What impressive snippets of information about your business can you share with clients and prospects? Here’s a professional graphic showing the history of Canon, the world’s leading imaging brand. Instead of saying our history goes back to the 1930s… they use the timeline to show and communicate their history. That’s impressive.

history-of-canon

What is content marketing?

Smart marketers know how to get in front of their prospects without annoying them. Instead of spraying out information they use their knowledge and expertise to share valuable advice with the people they want to reach. That’s why content marketing works so well. Mark O’Brien, author of ‘A Website That Works,’ says content is “the currency of the modern marketing platform. Content marketing is creating educational content that’s focused on the overlap between your expertise and your prospect’s pain points. It’s the fuel for attracting, informing and engaging prospects, no matter where they are in the buying cycle.” And that’s great advice a smart marketer can receive. Look for great content ideas. A good question to ask is what do you know that could get your customers really excited? Another great question, what aspects of your product or service do your prospects complain about? Why not turn that into educational material and get it in front of your clients and prospects. Good content is targeted, fresh and original. It helps you to focus on what your prospects need to hear. It can position you as an expert. It also develops trust. Content marketing works, but it needs to be consistent.

Uhm… What do you do?

Trying to sound impressive can be… well, confusing. It’s also frustrating.

Consider the following example of how not to pitch your product or service:

elevator-pitch-bad-example

As you can see big and intelligent words are often meaningless and ineffective–especially to a hurried prospect.

So when someone asks about what you do, keep this example in mind, and let go of buzzwords and industry jargon.

Embrace colloquial expressions… or should I say: speak in plain English!

How To Improve Your Elevator Pitch.

How do you communicate your business message in a way that will catch the attention of prospective customers? You need a good Elevator Pitch. A compelling Elevator Pitch can turn passive listeners into interested prospects and perhaps even eager buyers. But you only get a few seconds to pin their attention. Erm, uhmm, ahem…you lost them! You need to be a bit quicker next time.

If you don’t have a concise and compelling Elevator Pitch or are looking to take your current one to the next level then here’s a process that you might find useful:

1. What are you offering? Can you explain what product/service you offer in plain English? No technospeak. No industry jargon … acronyms, buzzwords–put all of them aside. When you tell a typical prospect what you do, you will be more effective if you use words they readily understand. And don’t just stick a label on your product or service. Communicate clearly the end outcome to the customer.

2. Who needs it? Don’t try to be all things to all people. A good Elevator Pitch is targeted to a specific audience. There are many methods and tools you can use to identify your ideal customers. In Discipline Of Market Leaders Michael Treacy says some customers want performance and results above anything else; others, appreciate personalised service and advice; still others, the cost of a product is a primary consideration for this group. What category appears to be the best match for your business?

3. Why do they need it? Why specific someone needs your product or service? Because it’s remarkable? Unique? The right fit for his/her needs? Can you help your target market get the results they want easier, faster, cheaper? Don’t keep that to yourself!

Your next challenge is to translate all of the above into a short, punchy and compelling 30-second pitch. You thought answering those questions was a pickle? Have fun!

Elevator Pitch Template!

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An elevator pitch is a concise, compelling and targeted 30-second advertisement. This personal pitch lets prospective clients know who you are, what you could do for them, and what makes you unique. You don’t have to sell your services or products in half a minute or less but you need to arouse serious interest and lay a foundation for the next step.

The problem with most business owners and even seasoned marketers is that they don’t have a clear elevator pitch. Give them five or ten minutes and, on a good day, they will hit you with a few powerful benefits that are truly exciting. But, try finding an audience this patient!

I found this elevator pitch infographic that should give you some ideas and help you create an effective elevator pitch. It identifies 4 pillars of great pitch delivery and six steps to success. Here it is!

Crafting-an-Elevator-Pitch-infographic copy

Since the elevator pitch template is targeted at venture capitalists and angel investors you might need to make some ‘customisation’ if you want to use it for your business or entrepreneurial idea.

Just remember, you need to start off with a hook; make your audience aware that they have a problem; communicate your uniqueness; establish credibility; build traction; and give them the next step. Sounds easy in theory!

Why is copywriting for the web different?

We’re a society of skimmers, not text connoisseurs, and so your business message needs to be skimmable or easy to digest. Having easy-to-digest copywriting is important. Your web copy needs to be neither long nor short–just relevant. You might want (need) to read Long Or Short Copywriting–What Works Best? post as there is a lot of speculation on the topic.

So, people tend to skim content rather than reading it word-for-word. That doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate good content–they prefer the content they need when they need it.

No more no less.

That’s especially true when it comes to reading from a computer screen. Most people skim-read main points and that’s why copywriting for the web needs to be different.

It needs to be clear and concise.

Joseph M. Williams researcher of English language and the author of Style Toward Clarity And Grace advised that whenever possible you should try to compress several words into a word or two, and be on the alert for opportunities to do so.

In the book he provided the following examples of common phrases and expressions that can and should be compressed to achieve a clear and direct style (I want to add, this would especially apply to web copywriting).

Don’t use the words on the left when the ones on the right will do!

 

  • the reason for
  • for the reason that
  • due to the fact that
  • owing to the fact that
  • in light of the fact that
  • considering the fact that
  • on the grounds that
  • this is why
because, since, why

 

  • despite the fact that
  • regardless of the fact that
  • notwithstanding the fact that
although, even though

 

  • in the event that
  • if it should transpire/happen that
  • under circumstances in which
if

 

  • on the occasion of
  • in a situation in which
  • under circumstances in which
when

 

  • as regards
  • in reference to
  • with regard to
  • concerning the matter of
  • where___________is concerned
about

 

  • it is crucial that
  • it is necessary that
  • there is a need/necessity for
  • it is important that
  • it is incumbent upon
  • cannot be avoided
must, should

 

  • is able to
  • is in a position to
  • has the opportunity to
  • has the capacity for
  • has the ability to
can

 

  • it is possible that
  • there is a chance that
  • it could happen that
  • the possibility exists for
may, might, can, could

 

  • prior to
  • in anticipation of
  • subsequent to
  • following on
  • at the same time as
  • simultaneously with
before, after, as

 

  • increase
  • decrease
more, less/fewer; better, worse

 

In summary, stop arguing about long and short copywriting–make sure your copy is clear, concise and relevant. Never confuse your reader with wordiness or muddy abstraction.

How to create a good about us page.

how-to-create-a-good-about-us-pageWhat makes your business different and unique?

Why not use your About Us page to advertise your business to your prospective clients. Your About Us page is like a sample of who you are – here you can highlight your uniqueness, achievements, values, and tell a compelling story.

If you’re looking to create a good About Us page or tweak your current one then here are some tips to get you started:

  • Share your business story, show how your business was created and how it exists to make this world a better place. (Assuming that it’s true)
  • What is your point of difference (think pricing/fee structure, location, product, service, availability, positioning, organisational structure, expertise)
  • List your goods, products and services and provide links to other relevant pages for those who want to learn more.
  • If you have a physical location then why not stick a Google map and provide prospective clients with the reassurance that you are a real business.
  • Connect with visitors. Show a photo of your team members and/or yourself.
  • Post client testimonials, case studies and relevant endorsements here.
  • Do you give back to the community? Are you a green business? Well, you know what to do…
  • Show awards, recognitions and certifications that you have received over the years.
  • Are you a member of any trade organisations or industry groups?
  • Provide links to relevant information like your FAQs page, contact us page, blog and any other support pages.

Remember, people form impressions of your business quickly and unconsciously. Your About Us page is your best place to help you make a positive first impression, broadcast your pre-eminence and brag a little but don’t get carried away.

Creating Killer About Us Pages is filled with time-tested techniques to help you transform ordinary ‘about’ pages into effective marketing tools. It contains practical step-by-step instructions to help you build your credibility and establish your expert status…plus, learn effective strategies for self-promotion and to help you create a powerful brand identity. Creating Killer About Us Pages shows how to produce engaging about us page content in the following areas:

  • Corporate
  • Organisation
  • Business
  • Sole-Proprietor
  • Professional
  • Online
  • E-commerce Sites

It’s the ‘super guide’ to creating powerful, compelling and effective About Us pages quickly – endorsed and recommended by Dr Marc Dussault.

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