Sustainably Yours, Tim King. Marketing Writer | Communications Specialist

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Nature’s Concierge. Seeing Maine in a whole new way…through the eyes of a Guide.

For this article, I interviewed several Registered Maine Guides who described some of the many benefits of exploring the outdoors with the “eyes of someone who knows what both of you are looking at.”

Brought to you by The SunriseGuide, the Green & Healthy Maine Visitor’s Guide is unlike any other tourist guide on the shelves

This was a lot of fun to write and I hope it shines new light on the idea that Registered Guides are more than just a great resource for hunting and fishing trips.

Check out the story below and you’ll “see” what I mean.

TK

20160425_143644.jpg

“Eh, What’s up, Doc?”

Green & Healthy Maine. Visitor’s Guide.

Nature’s Concierge: Finding your way with a registered Maine Guide

Green & Healthy Maine is available for purchase at newsstands throughout Maine and New England. In addition, it can be found at major tourist hubs (including the state-run visitor’s centers in Kittery, Yarmouth, Fryeburg and Hampden, airport, train & bus stations, and the Ocean Gateway ferry terminal); cottage rental agencies; at select restaurants, hotels, and retail stores; and at Chamber visitor centers throughout Maine.

 

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A Social Media S.O.S | Why Marketing Fundamentals will ALWAYS Matter

On the surface, the use of Social Media as a new way to influence buyer behavior may seem positively revolutionary. Sadly, it’s not…and the content creators that realize this will be the only ones who will succeed in making a name for themselves, and the products/services they hawk.

While it can be said that Social Media marketing is a faster, flashier and more intuitive way to communicate with customers, it’s only one part of the equation…and believe it or not, it’s not even the most important part. [Gasp!]

Yes, today’s consumers are purchasing different products, from different places, in different ways than in the past.

However, the reasons WHY they buy ‘Brand X’ or ‘Brand Y’ have remained constant for as long as people have been buying and selling things from each other.

Marketing - Same as it ever was.

Marketing – Same as it ever was.

OK. So why DO customers buy?

Anyone walking into The Apple Store (or going online) to buy the latest and greatest iPhone 6,7,8… has very likely gone through the same internal, emotional decision process that my parents did when they bought their first microwave oven.

….which is the same emotional decision process that my grandparents used to buy their first color TV.

….which is the same emotional decision process that my great-grandparents used to buy their first car.

Someday, my kids will go through the same internal process when choosing their first virtual-reality vacation package.

To be effective, all marketing – meaning everything that a customer reads, hears, experiences, shares and believes – must tap into something more than just whatever the functional purpose of the product or service is. In the past, this meant paying attention to the packaging and the promotion of a product in newspaper and magazine ads.

Today, those communication channels may have shifted from paper to pixels, but the marketing messages that successful brands are using to connect with their customers online have not.

 

Instead of newspapers and magazines, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and dozens of other online social media services are where people turn today for information and entertainment.

The good news (for marketers) is that because of social media, there are now more opportunities than ever to communicate directly with customers and prospects.

The bad news is that there are also many more ways companies can screw that up, including by not having an online presence at all.

(Coincidentally, it would appear that this dilemma is nothing new. Check out – New Ways to Reach Your Customers – Harvard Business Review, July 1981) 

Marketing Motivators: Learn them, know them, live them.

Customers make purchased based not only on what the product can do (rational) but also because of how it makes them feel (emotional).

marketing-schools.org

It’s what’s inside the customers head that really matters.

The proportion of one to the other depends on the person and the specific product.

For example the emotional appeal of one brand of cooking oil over another is probably much less than it would be for one type of car, article of clothing or brand of cell phone that one chooses over another.

Marketing pros have labeled these emotional triggers as the “5 Marketing Motivators” and they include (1) Fear, (2) Greed, (3) Guilt, (4) Exclusivity and (5) Need for Approval.

Here are few well-known examples of ad copy that set these motivators into action.

The 5 Marketing Motivators 

  • Fear – “Supplies are limited. Call now!”  “Don’t leave home without it.” “For a   limited time only.” “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
  • Greed – “You deserve a break today.” “The best a man can get.” “Don’t just buy a car, invest in a Volvo.”
  • Guilt – “Every Kiss Begins with Kay.” “Choosy moms choose Jiff.” “It’s 8 pm, do you know where your children are?” “Juicy Juice. All natural.100% Juice.”
  • Exclusivity – “Membership has its privileges.” “Custom made.” “Limited edition.” “Hand crafted.”
  • Need for Approval – Fueled by celebrity endorsements, expert reviews/recommendations, peer pressure, word-of-mouth and the ‘wisdom of crowds’.

But…doing business is different today, isn’t it?

There’s no doubt that many aspects of running a business today are very different than they were just five or ten years ago. If you were ask anyone walking down the street today, they’ll tell you that “things change” all the time and that “the world is a different place now” – they are right.

Holding on to a customer’s loyalty today – and ideally encouraging them to bring you more customers – requires more than just providing a good quality product or service. Customers today want, and often expect, to be treated with common courtesy before the sale, respect during the sale and appreciation after the sale.

Check out the McKinsey paper on customer lifecycle management  (CLM) best practices.

Successful companies are accomplishing this by communicating with their customers on a regular basis. And social media channels are allowing them to do it more effectively than ever before.

These businesses are educating customers about the benefits of buying their products, congratulating them when they do buy, reminding them when it’s time to buy again, rewarding them for doing so and encouraging them to tell all their Friends along the way too.

Are you talking with customers or @ customers?

Thanks to the speed and power of mobile devices and the Internet, this truly is the age of “what have you done for me lately” when it comes to keeping a customer happy and coming back for more.

Remember, its called Social Media not SELLING Media. Here’s Hubspot’s take on ‘Social Selling’ during the Buyer’s Journey.

The bottom line: If all you ever say to your social media audience is BUY-BUY-BUY, be prepared for them to say the same thing to you:

Attention All Online Marketers: Act now…or it’ll be Bye Bye Bye! for you.

The sooner that companies not only accept, but also engage withByebyebye their customers’ praises and complaints, the sooner they will be able to understand what their customers really want – and what they really don’t.

If not, the competition is only a click away.

~ TK

 

 

The last word –

File this little nugget of wisdom away into the back of your mind. When you’re struggling to decide whether or not you should be engaged with customers on social media, ask yourself “Do my customers want me there?”

The Purpose of ANY Business is to create and keep a Customer. To do that, companies must do the things that make people want to do business with them. All other truths on this subject are merely derivative.

Ted Levitt, author, editor and professor at the Harvard Business School penned these words in his book, ‘The Marketing Imagination‘ way back in 1983. IMHO, truer words have yet to be published on the subject since.

Marketing imagination book cover

 

Check who learned how to create memes…

Scott Adams Kindness quote Sustainably Yours

Via Seth Godin’s Blog: Does “stationary” matter?

Of curse they do! There’s simply no askews for not paying attention to each and every interaction that prospects and customers have with your brand…from the moment just before they walk in the door, until they’ve purchased and used your product or service with 100% satisfaction.

Pay attention people. When in doubt, simplify the message to avoid misteaks.

Otherwise, you risk creating a shadow of doubt in the back of a customers mind – a doubt or uncertainty that a competitor will be more than happy to exploit – for their benefit.

Remember, even if you’re on the right track, you’re still gonna get run over if you’re only standing still.

Read Seth Godin’s post here:

Seth’s Blog: Does “stationary” matter?.

Duvet or Not Duvet? Eh? Just say Quilt.

I’ve always said that the ability to ‘do’ marketing well is both a skill and an art. It’s a delicate balance.

To be effective, marketers must communicate features and benefits in a way that is accurate and truthful but also emotional and exciting enough to attract attention and influence behavior.

When opposing (selling vs. telling) messages are communicated in precisely the right balance.

When opposing (selling vs. telling) messages are communicated in precisely the right balance.

When it’s done correctly, this is what I call marketing nirvana – the right message gets in front of the right person in the right way at the right time. A perfect match.

More often however, these contradictory communication goals will morph into materials and messages that actually accomplish neither one. We’ve all seen ad material too boring to read, too sensational to be believed, or worse too confusing to understand.

Recently, I spent the night in a well known, middle of the road type hotel chain and noticed this curious Post-It (R) note on my bed’s headboard. At first, I was intrigued/impressed to believe that the cleaning staff had left me a personal note welcoming me to rest in their comfy clean room.

Almost immediately though, that thought disappeared after peeling off the note and confirming that in fact the message had been pre-printed on the sheet of paper…and not hand written as I was lead to believe.

"Great! Ummm...What's a duvet? "

“Great! Ummm…What’s a duvet? “

Of course, I never really expected it to be a hand written note anyway. But, taking a closer look at the piece also brought up another intriguing question, “So what the heck IS a ‘doo-vet’ cover and  why were they so proud that theirs’ were clean anyway?”

Had I been unknowingly exposed to dangerously dirty duvets in the past at other hotel rooms? I honestly had no idea how to answer my own question.

Soon after this realization, flashes of Bill Cosby’s classic “Noah” sketch came to mind.

In the sketch, the booming voice of God calls out to Noah and instructs him (in feature-rich, important sounding, glorious language) that he wants Noah to go out and collect all the wood he can find and then build an “Ark”. God rattles on and on about what the Ark is for, how big it should be and who should be brought to it, etc. leaving no detail unmentioned.

Noah, patiently listens and when God finally pauses to hear Noah’s response to the mammoth task he has just put before him, Noah disbelievingly says “Riiiiiight…What’s an Ark?”

The same thing can be said about this piece of marketing. The hotel was SO concerned about appearing to be clever, personable and reassuring that they went the extra mile to make sure my duvet cover was clean…they probably never took the time to think “Does the average person actually know what a duvet is?”

For one, I sure didn’t.

But I have absolutely no doubt that everyone in the room at the time this was created definitely knew what one was. I’m also sure that hotel industry veterans know all about duvets and have conducted all sorts of research to find out that guests overwhelmingly like their duvets to be clean.

I wonder though if they were to gather 100 random people off the street and bring them into the hotel room and ask them to “go over and stand next to the duvet” if more than a few would likely walk over to a picture on the wall, the small table in the corner of the room…or maybe even one of those funny European style toilets that the water actually shoots up? 

In other words, does the specific feature / benefit that you are spending so much time, effort and money to create really mean anything at all to your customers ?

Effective marketing communicates what matters to customers – not what matters to the people creating the marketing or what companies think customers should think matters.

The only thing that matters to customers should be the only thing that matters to you…and don’t use a 25 cent word when a nickel word will do.

So, what do you think matters to your customers? Now THAT is the question.

For those who are still curious…. via Dictionary.com

du·vet [doo-vey]
noun
Def: a usually down-filled quilt, often with a removable cover; comforter.

SEO Keywords – Just Bark? That Bites.

Remember walking down the midway at the carnival and hearing a man shouting about “THE most amazing, fabulous, stupendous, unbelievable sights” just waiting for you inside?

“Yes Sir ! Step right up, folks! There’s plenty of room. C’mon inside and see … you simply won’t believe your eyes!”

They call this guy a “Barker” and his (or her) sole job is to get passers-by to stop, listen and become SO captivated and curious about the attraction that they immediately feel compelled to willingly and enthusiastically hand over their hard earned money JUST for the chance to take look inside.

Step Right Up Folks !! We got your keywords right here !!

Step Right Up Folks !! We got your SEO right here !!

The time tested staples of the Barker’s verbal repertoire generally emphasize some one-of-a-kind variety, novelty, beauty, or perhaps some unusual or grotesque feature.

“One day only!” “Don’t miss out.” “The only one known to man.” “Never seen before.” “From the depths of the black forest.” “Amaze your friends and neighbors.”

Two tickets please.

Unfortunately, chances are that the amazing spectacle vividly described outside the tent will generally have little in common with the mediocrity found within.  

And, the Barker could care less. He got you in the door – butts in seats – and that’s all he really cares about. “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Today, the same can be said about building your business website strictly around certain “keywords” only to enhance the sites Search Engine Optimization (SEO) status.

Sure, barking out the right buzz words and phrases out into the cyber-world will certainly attract visitors to your site. What’s even better, the more you repeat these words over and over, the more Google and Yahoo will think that you are really something important.

Yes, their complicated algorithms may be smart, but the human intellect is still the only thing able to sniff out BS – both online and on your shoe.

The reality is that it’s not enough that web searchers are able to find your website. In other words, it don’t mean a thing if they don’t spend some bling.

Last I checked, you can’t pay your rent with “clicks” or pay your employees with “likes”.

You can't buy Jack with "likes" - unless you're Fonzie.

You can’t buy Jack with “likes” – unless you’re Fonzie.

At the end of the day, your website needs to be able to convince its visitors to take action. Trouble is, turning a visitor into a paying customer takes much more than a few strategically placed keywords and some SEO-friendly text.

As always, convincing a customer to buy takes trust…and trust is a very complicated thing to establish online, especially if your website is focused primarily on only telling YOUR COMPANY’S story and not the story of your customers.

Trust me. Customers won't buy without it. (Via DM NEWS)

Trust me. Customers won’t buy without it. (Via DM NEWS)

Effective, customer-centric copywriting should answer the questions that customers are thinking about and proactively address their fears, objections and uncertainties. The ultimate goal is not only getting them to buy, but to also feel good about the transaction, and maybe tell their friends too.

So stop barking and start thinking about what problem you solve for customers – then tell THAT story (over and over) in all of your marketing materials.

Otherwise, all you’ll get is a website full of unhappy people wondering how they let themselves get swindled into believing there was really something special behind the curtain.

#MARKETING #FAIL

#MARKETING #FAIL

Ransom Consulting – New England Environmental Engineering

Take a look at my latest web content writing project. I learned a lot about all the work that goes on – often behind the scenes – to make spaces and structures safe, clean and built to last !

Ransom Consulting

Orchestrating a symphony of change.

Ransom Consulting - Saco River Mill Project. Saco Maine

Ransom Consulting – Saco River Mill Project. Saco Maine

“Working in concert to confidently direct a diverse group of project stakeholders, including financial institutions, attorneys, developers, engineers and construction managers, Ransom Consulting has the experience and technical expertise to confidently and accurately assess the environmental concerns of any site – large or small.”

This was a great project to work on. The client had a good amount of information available – it just needed to be infused with a little life. Working with senior staff, I was able to decipher much of “science-talk” and distill some very complicated processes and services into language that was easier to understand.

Thanks to the clean design and thoughtful approach to page hierarchy from the web experts at iBec Creative the whole site came together right on schedule.

When iBec says, “We want you to have a great website — that works.”  They mean it.  Websites are not static advertisements that simply look over and over. They are responsive, dynamic entry points to your company and your brand promise.

Latest web project goes live – Residential Mortgage Services, Inc.

I am so glad to see this completely revamped website finally get launched !!!

It was a long road to get there, but I am proud to say that the copy writing, tagline and positioning work that I started the project with served as the framework that drove the communication strategy for the entire site.

 

Specifically, I hope the new tagline “We’ll guide you home.” is something that really connects with their customers and prospects. These folks are pros at what they do and it was a pleasure to learn more about them and the industry they are so committed to.

 

I also really enjoy getting companies out of their own heads.

They come in thinking “We just do mortgages” and don’t realize that people aren’t just  doing business with them because of this fact. That decision is both emotional and rational (in different percentages depending on the person – and the product) and therefore the messages that describe and promote this service must also have some emotional appeal as well.

 

I keep a note to myself visible on all of the writing projects I work on.

 

It says, “What are you trying to say? Can you feel it?” These are the words and phrases I brainstorm to begin every piece I write. These keywords become the soul or essence of what I want to communicate. The remainder of the process is getting the facts right and building a rhythm that keeps the reader engaged. I call this “putting the wood behind the arrow”.

 

bullseye!

bullseye! (Photo credit: happy via)

 

Arrowheads are great for making a point – but they still need good wood behind them to actually fly through the clutter and reach the target.

 

Of course, having great people providing truly exceptional service makes the job of a marketer / copywriter so much easier – just find the right words and tell the truth. I love it when a plan comes together…check it out here.

 

Residential Mortgage Services, Inc | Home.

 

HBWay Radio Show — Business, Bravery, and You!

Chris Brogan always has something interesting, entertaining and informative to say. He’s a Triple Threat Man. Check it out:

HBWay Radio Show — Business, Bravery, and You!.

Steps in Creating a Marketing Plan

Some clear, basic steps here for putting together a plan to drive business to your door. No, even when you build it…there’s no guarantee they will come.

The important thing to remember about marketing is that you need to keep doing it and refining your tactics and messages as your business and market evolves. Even if you are on the right track, you’ll still get run over if you are standing still.

Steps in Creating a Marketing Plan.

 A standalone marketing plan focuses on the target audience and the promotional strategies.”

 

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