Introduction – Susan Rich/owner of RichWriting Inc. Marketing business writer. Degree in journalism, 20 yrs exp in print/pr/marketing. 2,000 articles; published about 1 million words. Owned RW 5 yrs. What we’ll cover: REVIEW THE SLIDE Before we get started – I want to learn about this group. ASK: What would you like to learn today?
We start with Little Red Riding Hood. (Talk through the fairy tale. Either in dialog or on the white board)
We have just described a classic fiction model: Beginning/Middle/End. It has an inciting incident/rising action/CLIMAX/resolution. Whether we are reading Dr. Seuss or Stephen King, every piece of fiction is written this way. So not surprising that when we start to write, this is the approach we take. If we are writing marketing copy, we wonder: How come it’s taking so long to get started? It’s boring. It doesn’t feel right. ASK: Does anyone have this problem? It’s a linear approach, and builds interest and action slowly. When it comes to business writing, we need to capture the audience’s attention quickly. Intuitively, we know that this model doesn’t work, but we don’t know what to do instead. Here’s what I want you to do: Think of LRH – and your business – as nothing more than a collection of facts: Facts that you can organize in any order you want, to tell any story you want.
And we do that by flipping the triangle over. Which gives us…the Inverted Pyramid. Used by jlsts in Civil War: Telegraph lines might go down/send first facts first/OR editor got in habit of cutting copy from the bottom up – still had essential information. How it works: Start with most important fact first. Arrange rest in descending order of importance. BENEFIT-BASED When you’re done, stop writing. Ending is call to action. We are “trained” to read headlines, first sentence, and bottom, so Call to Action at the end support reader behavior, not level of importance. You’re probably thinking: I have more than one idea/reason to talk to customer. You’re right. So keep track of all your ideas: Seasonal, Current Events, Media News good or bad. This is your opportunity to be RELEVANT with your target audience.
Now we’re back to Little Red Riding Hood. Do you see how this fairy tale is really a collection of facts? It’s just like your own business – a bucket of facts that you get to choose from to tell your story. It’s fun to look at this way – and liberating when you don’t have to lock down in traditional story-telling mode. Now you get to pick your own beginning – the single fact you think is most important. ASK: How they would tell this story if on the evening news/knife mfr/parent gp Talk about SPIN. Spin is telling our story in the way we want it told. All marketing is self-serving. If we don’t tell the world how great we are, no one will. The trick is to tell YOUR story from YOUR CUSTOMER’S perspective, and you use SPIN (the first main fact of your inverted pyramid) to get started. SPIN is also part of BENEFIT-BASED writing.
First the basics: Copy/Content/Content-rich website Content synonymous with Quality if writing for online audience (or anyone!) We’re all familiar with the idea of a brand and how we should all have one. We’re all individuals who started our businesses for a reason, etc. Talk about duplicated businesses/duplicated offerings. How you differentiate yourself is the MAIN IDEA of your personal brand. You have to answer this question: Why would I hire you? ASK some people this. But how important is that to your customer? The things that matter most to you (degree/exp) don’t always matter most to your customer. FIND A WAY to tell YOUR STORY from THEIR VIEWPOINT to show how you help them solve THEIR PROBLEM. BENEFIT-BASED Write to Resonate: Face-to-Face, we use non-verbal communication. We lose that online. Idea is to connect with a faceless crowd by putting a face on YOU.
Intriguing Headline – The first thing people see. Should be short, bold, and if possible, create a visual image. It should capture attention, offer a solution. Lists and Questions make good headlines. Compelling first sentence – Dramatic story-telling. 3 basic ways: You can make a statement, ask a question, or tell a story. This is an opportunity for you to resonate. It is also part of SPIN and BENEFIT-BASED writing – you start your story with what you want to talk about. Control the message, even if it doesn’t feel that way to the reader. Call to action. Think about what you want your reader to do. Then tell him to do it. And say how they benefit.
Include these ingredients: Simple language/avoid jargon, long words. Goal: Make the copy easy to read, to remember. Simplify complex ideas: Don’t make readers work hard. Use metaphors/analogies/alliteration to carry an idea: Metaphor : Step up to the plate (baseball/life) Analogy : The heart is like a pump; changing a tire is like putting on your shoe. Alliteration : Good for headlines, business names. Crave Catering; Deb Designs; RW USE THESE B/C THEY ARE “STICKY” and sticky is memorable Relate complex #s to everyday facts: 3oz of fish = deck of cards / 1 cup rice = tennis ball Use case studies, success stories to support message. This can also be an anecdote – tell how you solved a last-minute problem. Testimonials. Hire me and realize a xx% increase in traffic to your website. Emphasis is on communication. Keep it simple – 1 or 2 ideas; remember quick read. Goal is to make the phone ring. Don’t tell, compel.
Write in present tense. It won’t date your work, it will always make it read fresh. Use strong verbs that show action. Avoid passive voice: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been. Three trees WERE PLANTED in the garden (P) The gardener planted three trees. (A) Use white space: It makes it easier to read. It makes what is on the page more memorable. It forces you to carefully select what you want to say… Do unto others – however you behave online, it’s safe to assume others do as well.
Video is a great way to connect with an invisible crowed. It lets you reach more people – YouTube is the third-largest search engine in use today. Legitimizes your business – the fact that you invest in a QUALITY video says much about your intentions. Tell a better story – Show and tell, sells. You can demonstrate product or service – you can show your spa setting, a cancer treatment room, how a new gaming control works. You can show how a super blender consumes hard plastics… Use testimonials – amps believability, not just you talking/showing, but a credible sound bite can work wonders.
Good video content shares the same traits as good written content. It’s a chance for you resonate and build your brand It helps you describe/define/show what you are selling It helps you answer (through testimonials and other storytelling tools) why you are best It allows you to present a visual and audible call to action; You can hear and read address, phone number, special offers. Videos don’t close sales by themselves, they drive traffic to your website or phone. It’s up to you to make the sale.
Social media is the tool; Social networking is the activity, what you do with the tool You don’t have to be on EVERYTHING (who has time?) Choose wisely. Hobbies – ASK FOR A FEW– are legitimate ways to network for your business. The most important detail is your PROFILE, your bio. Every site requires one. Write a single, broad-based profile, then cut & paste. Participation is key…but if you get busy, then keep track of your chosen sites (passwords, too!) and update your main profile, then each one, every 3-6 months. This helps with your rankings, it helps boost your credibility. Reciprocal agreements. Own your message, spread your word.