presentation

A Guide on Creating a Powerful Presentation for Your Company

Now is the time to kick start your marketing strategy. It’s time to decide on the smartest, most cost effective means of improving your presence and drawing in more customers. If you engage in online and in-person marketing, or intend to do so this year, a great way to accomplish this is by creating a powerful, amazing presentation for your company.

Where to Begin: Determining the Purpose of a Company Presentation

Company presentations are designed for multiple audiences: the general audience, senior management, even venture capitalists. They are effective tools for reducing internal conflict and increasing external sales. While many of us see such presentations as powerful internal tools, not many recognize them as potent external marketing tools.

A company presentation is more than a compilation of PowerPoint slides; according to eHow, a commanding business presentation can be a useful tool designed to inform, persuade, motivate and even celebrate a brand or company. Sounds a lot like the key points of your best marketing campaigns, doesn’t it?

When a Presentation Goes Viral…

…magic happens! Well, let’s be more specific: magic in the form of comprehensive, hard hitting marketing to a potentially enormous audience occurs. We experienced the fruits of a presentation uploaded to Slideshare going viral. Thousands of views equaled thousands of new and potential customers reading about a topic concerning them, all while taking in a memorable image of our company and services.

If our experience has taught us anything, it’s that creating and showcasing an influential company presentation is a huge marketing tool too many companies fail to tap into. Don’t make that mistake in 2014. Instead, tap into our guide to creating a powerful company presentation:

Step 1: Establish Credibility

Wikipedia defines credibility as believability. In fact, Wikipedia states, “Credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise, which both have objective and subjective components.” The faster you establish credibility, the more likely your audience is to listen or continue reading. It’s important to understand that credibility doesn’t need to be displayed in lengthy and overly detailed career or industry highlights. Instead, opt for a short story or experience highlighting a selection of your background related to the presentation’s topic.

Credibility is incredibly vital online. It has become an increasingly covered topic since the mid-1990s when the web began growing in leaps and bounds as an information resource. This is why Forbes encourages you to “make a point of establishing credibility—don’t just hope it happens,” as one of several essential tips to creating more powerful business presentations.

Step 2: Include a Goal

What’s the purpose of your presentation? What can the audience expect? How is it relevant and useful to them? Your presentation should spotlight this goal right from the start. Think of it as establishing common ground with your audience. Once you’re both on the same page, motivating them to specific action will become much easier.

Step 3: Sprinkle in Supporting Material

Supportive material helps hold credibility throughout the presentation. It lets the audience know you’re presenting facts, not biased opinions. References needn’t be included in the slides themselves if they threaten to clutter the visual esthetic of your presentation. However, they should at least be found in your speaking notes. You can sprinkle supporting material throughout your presentation by:

  • Telling a story or real life experience.
  • Giving statistics or referencing a supporting case study.
  • Referencing research material.
  • Providing a quote from a well-respected figure.

Step 4: Wield Quotations and Images

Quotations and images have the ability to make a memorable impact. Wield them to separate each topic or idea within your presentation. These tools are ideal for evoking a topic without defaulting to boring title slides most viewers will rarely, if ever, remember.

Visualization is one of the key qualities that set a presentation apart from word-based, content marketing strategies (such as Whitepages). A picture can be worth a thousand words, and it often leaves an emotional impression on the audience, linking them more intimately with the content. Never skimp on images when creating your company presentation. If you find yourself struggling with the visual aspect of your presentation, then take a close look at our “How To” on adding visualization to content.

Step 5: Leverage Questions

Questions are powerful. They can be thought-provoking tools that encourage your audience to draw guided conclusions. A rhetorical question is the perfect tool to leverage when launching your presentation. It gets the audience thinking, putting them in the middle of the action from the get go. Leveraging questions at intervals throughout your presentation will keep the audience involved, and this tactic will help motive action.

As you create your presentation, think of your audience. What questions are they likely to ask? What questions will hold or pique their interest? Always be sure to answer the questions posed. If you dangle a question and fail to provide a satisfactory answer, you will quickly lose your audience.

Step 6: Startle Your Audience

Failing to create a powerful presentation can damage your business’ content marketing strategies, leaving you with an untapped pool of potential business.

This statement just grabbed your attention, didn’t it? Suddenly, you’re rethinking the last PowerPoint presentation you created. You’re analyzing its effectiveness and trying to determine if this startling statement is true. Did you lose a prime marketing opportunity because of a poorly put together presentation?

One of the most effective ways to grab attention is to present your information with a startling statement. Such statements carry a twofold benefit of demanding attention while driving your point home with the supportive information we discussed in Step 3. Together, a startling statement and supportive information create the perfect catalyst for keeping audience attention, delivering your message and motivating action.

Step 7: Prepare for a Q&A

If you’ve inserted a clear goal into your presentation, wielded quotations and images, leveraged questions and startled your audience with shocking statements, you’ve successfully kept them engaged. You’ve guided them to action and motivated them to actually take that action. But your job isn’t finished quite yet.

It’s important to prepare for a brief question and answer segment following the presentation. The key to a successful Q&A session is to prepare for the tough questions:

  • Consider the questions that may arise, particularly the hard to answer ones, the ones that will threaten to knock your presentation off course and sabotage your goal.
  • Think about objections the audience might raise or how they may question your main points and the information you present.
  • Be prepared to justify statements, address concerns, and reinforce your most critical points should an expert question your subject matter.

Step 8: Prepare Your Own Set of Questions

When subject matter is questioned and proven, the audience develops a stronger appreciation for it; its value increases. The ability of your subject matter to withstand pointed objections increases your credibility, and therefore the image projected by your company is one of trust and expertise. Regardless of whether your presentation is geared toward a public or focused business clientele, you need to block out time for a Q&A segment. We discussed a basic Q&A strategy in Step 7, but what if no one poses a question?

On the rare occasion that your audience is too shy to present questions (and rest assured, this is rare), be prepared with your own set of questions. You can ease into the Q&A with leading statements like:

  • “You might be wondering…”
  • “I’m often asked…”
  • “A common concern is…”

Be sure your questions are directly related to your message and achieve your presentation goal. The Q&A portion of your presentation is a strategy that should seal the deal with your audience, giving them that last push to take the action you desire. And remember: even if your audience jumps right into the Q&A, don’t be afraid to conclude it with your strategic questions if they haven’t been addressed.

Step 9: Conclusion, conclusion, conclusion!

You wouldn’t dream of skimping on the opener to your presentation. You know how vital it is to hook the audience immediately. Likewise, don’t dream of skimping on your presentation’s conclusion. Once the Q&A has finished, have a second closing statement ready. It should be short and concise, something of an encore. Summarize your main points and drive that key message home, especially your motivating call to action. You can use a slide for this conclusion, but many presenters find it more effective to look their audience right in the eye as they deliver it, providing a personalized and powerful touch.

A Presentation to Be Proud Of

By following the nine steps we’ve just outlined when creating your company presentation, you can be sure you’re creating a tool to be proud of. But before we set you lose on your next creation, here are some important closing tips to ponder:

  1. Practice Delivery. Awesome business presentations, the ones that knock it out of the ballpark, are presented with a captivating aura that makes the speaker and their message absolutely unforgettable. How do you achieve this aura? Practice! It really does make perfect. Practice the presentation until distractions don’t faze you, nervous tics don’t stand a chance of creeping in and those boringly long pauses are nonexistent. Practice in front of a mirror and examine your body language. Don’t let your gestures become overly flamboyant or disinterested. Be natural.
  2. Forget comedy. Your audience isn’t sitting there expecting to see a comedy act. So, resist the urge to turn the presentation into a standup routine. It’s fine to use a few natural, off the cuff laughs if your subject matter lends itself to it, but do not overdo it. Your audience didn’t come to laugh, and your presentation is for generating business.
  3. Go beyond the obvious. A knockout presentation isn’t a factoid in PowerPoint format; it’s going beyond the norm of your topic and giving the audience something unexpected and memorable. About.com says it perfectly: you’re searching for that “one obscure and contradictory piece of information” that holds the power to “raise heads and stimulate discussion.”
  4. Keep it simple. It’s all too easy to clutter a slide with images, jamming in a thought-provoking quotation and then overloading the viewer with a seemingly unending list of bulleted material. Creator, beware! About.com points out a stunning fact, more than “400 million desktops…have the PowerPoint application.” Don’t make the most common user mistake: creating slides on information steroids. Instead, use your slides to highlight and emphasize your key points. The meat of your presentation will be in your speaker notes.
  5. Avoid information overload. This is a tip that applies to any content marketing tool, but it is especially important for presentation. The goal of any well written presentation is to highlight useful points regarding a pristinely focused topic. Cluttering, or overloading, the presentation with a plethora of information shuts the dialogue down. Your audience will be stuck in processing mode, trying to make sense of the metric ton of information you just unloaded. This will stall their decision-making process, and as a result you’ll lose the ability to motivate the audience into taking action. Cliff Atkinson, author of Beyond Bullet Points, brings this jaw dropping fact to the table, “When you remove interesting but irrelevant words and pictures from [the presentation], you can increase the audience’s ability to remember the information by 189 percent and the ability to apply the information by 109 percent.”
  6. Avoid overcomplicated technobabble. Never underestimate the intelligence of your audience. You needn’t “dummy down” your information or “spoon feed” it, but it’s important not to go overboard with big words. Overcomplicated technobabble or use of fancy words not often seen in everyday speak can leave your audience feeling alienated. If you use acronyms or terms, briefly explain them. Nine times out of ten, your audience will understand the explanation immediately and you’ll have just taught them the latest terminology.

PowerPoint presentations are all too often seen as internal burdens for presenting quarterly progress reports. It’s time to see them in all their glory, as a cutting edge marketing tool for both internal and external use. General audiences can glean pointed information about the benefits of your company from a well written, well formatted presentation. They’ll be motivated to ask questions, take action and seek out further information about your business and—most importantly—bring their business your way.

ebook writing

2014 Success #2: How to Write a Great Ebook for Conversions & Customers

The New Year is here! It’s day 2…and we have another idea to improve your company revenue: a well-written, visual and content-filled tool that has multi-purpose uses. If you invest in an e-book for your company use, to market your company and offer to your customers as a free download, offer, informative guide, or printed resource, we promise it will be completely worth your time. And the cost of having an ebook created won’t break your bank—you can get a comprehensive 10-pager written and formatted for under $250.

 

The Secret: Creating Ebooks That Work

A lot of companies write ebooks solely for the purpose of improving online conversions. An ebook is the perfect candidate to share a free download, email campaign, or seasonal offer. But how do you write one that people want to READ and download, for those conversions to actually happen?

There’s a lot to it…let’s delve in…

 

3 Tips for Choosing a Sellable Topic

The most important step to creating a great e-book is choosing a topic people crave. It’s best to ensure an audience and a genuine demand exists before investing countless hours and energy into creating your ebook. A sure way of choosing a killer topic lies in these 3 tips about research and testing:

  1. Use social media. According to Social Media Chimps, a great way to research the demand for popular ebook topics is by pitching your ideas to your Twitter followers and Facebook fans. See how they react! Are they excited? Which idea(s) seemed to generate the most value and interest?
  2. Use surveys. A short survey is a noninvasive way to research audience reaction to your topic. Share the survey with your social networks. Ask questions that will help pinpoint your core audience, their needs and the benefits they are seeking from reading an ebook. Two of the most popular free survey providers are SurveyMonkey and Twtpoll.
  3. Test the market. You have a couple testing options at your fingertips. 1) Release the first chapter of your ebook as a free giveaway to your subscribers or social media network, or make your ebook available before you write it as a pre-sale. See how much response is generated, and watch for feedback. 2) Use a Kickstarter campaign to pitch your ebook project. The amount of support generated will help you gauge interest in the topic while also generating a small amount of funding to lift your ebook project off the ground.

A lot of companies use ebooks as a successful marketing tool. The content of their book often suggests their product or service to the reader. For example, a personal trainer seeking to gain exposure might write an ebook about their top five ways to stay in shape in spite of a hectic schedule. Their book will deliver the kind of information a large audience seeks while steering them toward the services and/or products the personal trainer offers. The point of an ebook is not to create a literary masterpiece; it’s to share useful and helpful information on a topic you’re an expert on.

 

8 Tips for Writing an Amazing Ebook

Ebooks have revolutionized the publication industry. According to the Personal Branding Blog, before the advent of digital publication, “it could take years to locate and convince a traditional publisher that you had a sellable book.” The editing, production, printing and distribution phases would take even more time.

The introduction of ebook printing sped the process up exponentially. However, planning and writing a polished book should not be sacrificed for the sake of speed. Yes, you can publish your book in record time and gain explosive exposure. But a poorly planned book riddled with grammatical errors will reflect poorly on your brand and the product or service you hope to steer readers toward. Keep the following 8 tips in mind as you dive into writing an ebook:

  1. Limit your focus. Your ebook can be an all-inclusive project or a brief presentation of helpful and useful information. Aim for the latter. One of the benefits of an ebook is the ability to easily modify and update the book later down the road.
  2. Write about what you know. The worst writing strategy is to write about a big market topic you have little to no experience in. Just because self-help books are a huge market, this doesn’t mean your self-help book will turn a profit. Large markets are often saturated with copy and only established names manage to sell. Opt for a topic you know a lot about and that you enjoy writing about. Not only can you become a credible writer, but you will also increase your chances of completing and successfully marketing your ebook.
  3. Read similar books. This might seem like an obvious tip, but a lot of first time writers overlook it. Don’t rely on short articles and blog posts to guide your creative process. Read ebooks and hard print books on the topic you’ve chosen. Pay attention to format, organization and subtopic choices. You’ll spark your own ideas for a fresh perspective while picking up on the standards readers interested in the topic expect.
  4. Research facts and statistics. You’ll no doubt sprinkle facts, statistics and even a case study or two into your writing. After all, this adds authoritative references and credibility to your book. This is the sort of information potential customers live for! It’s vital you ensure every fact, statistic and case study you present is factual because a minority of published authors simply create these “facts” to suit their needs. Look for original studies, credible publications and reputable sources when researching facts and statistics.
  5. Never underestimate the power of an outline. Outlines are one of the most simple and useful writer’s tools. They provide direction, which can save you from hitting unexpected dead ends or losing the main point(s) of your project. Your outline should include a working title for each chapter, subtopics for each chapter and a list of points you plan to cover broken down for each chapter and subtopic.
  6. Find a distraction-free writing environment. Even for the seasoned author, writing is a demanding, high-energy task. It can be easy to lose concentration or get distracted, especially if you’re in an environment filled with possible interruptions. Stifle temptation before it smothers the writing process by creating a distraction-free work environment. Turn off your phone. Close any social media pages and apps. Mute or disable pop-up alerts. Use a full-screen writing program. If the television distracts you, move to a room without it! Eliminate distractions and you’ll find that words will flow.
  7. Don’t chase perfection. New writers often strive for perfection when writing their first ebook. Don’t waste your time, but don’t output bad work. Perfection will never happen, especially if you’re creating your first ebook. Instead, aim to produce a crisp copy free of grammatical and spelling errors. Seek feedback from your readers, and use it to improve you next project.
  8. Plan to leverage your ebook as a cornerstone of your career. As you write your book, consider how you can use it as more than just a marketing piece. Leverage it as a core element to your personal brand and career. As your brand grows and expands, your ebook can follow. Plant breadcrumbs throughout the book. Later on, you will use these crumbs to expand and update the book as your brand evolves.

 

6 Tips for Formatting

An ebook can be created and formatted in any word processing program. Two of the most commonly used include Microsoft Word and Open Office. As long as your program can export your finished project in PDF format, you are set. Remember:

  1. Keep it simple. Readers are interested in words, not fancy formatting. Ebooks are quick and easy to produce because formatting is kept simple and straightforward.
  2. Decide on a format style. Your book can cover a step-by-step approach or be organized like a case study. It can house best practices or a question/answer format. Page orientation can be vertical (portrait) or horizontal (landscape).
  3. Tabs and spaces. It’s best to stay away from tabs and extra spaces in your ebook manuscript. Once you’ve hit the editing stage, you can quickly remove unwanted tabs or extra spaces that crept in by using the find/replace command in your word processing program.
  4. Customized headings. Sometimes the presets in your word processing program are not recognized when your file is converted for publication. A simple solution is to manually set your heading font, size and weight.
  5. Images. Images can be tricky if you’re converting from a standard word processing file to an ePub or Mobi file. Simply centering or justifying the image might not work. Instead, right click into the style or format of your image and set centering or justification from the image itself.
  6. PDF format. The PDF file format preserves your ebook and ensures the recipient cannot edit it. Never giveaway or sell your ebook in a raw word processing file that can be edited.

 

Self-Publishing and Marketing

Once you’ve written and polished your ebook, it’s time to move on to the publication and marketing process. Publication is easy. Once your ebook is in PDF format, you can effortlessly self-publish.

According to AWeber Communications, the quickest way to get your ebook off the ground is to self-publish by hosting your own website. If the PDF file is less than 10 MB, you can simply upload the file via most blogging software and share the link for downloading. If the file is over 10 MB, you might consider using a service like Dropbox to upload and share a permalink.

Marketing is one of the most fun aspects of creating and promoting your own ebook. You may have written a fantastic book, but that’s null and void if it doesn’t reach your target audience. The following 5 tips summarize quick and easy techniques for launching a high exposure marketing campaign at a minimal cost:

  1. Create a sales page. A popular technique for marketing niche nonfiction ebooks is to create a powerful sales page on your website. You can also market via an online store, such as Amazon. Online stores allow you to craft a sales page designed to promote the sale of your ebook. Be sure to include a blurb that grabs attention, a brief summary of your credentials and an excerpt of any good reviews your book has received.
  2. Let book bloggers sing your praises. Countless blogs with dense fields of subscribers are manned by enthusiastic readers who read and review books. Many of these readers live for independent authors. Get copies of your ebook into their hands. A few good reviews can launch a buzz about your work.
  3. Build your own audience. If you run your own blog or an e-mail list, chances are you already have a sizeable potential audience. Once you control your own blog or list, you can go wild! Create podcasts, videos or even giveaways promoting your ebook.
  4. Tap into Twitter and Facebook. Chances are you did preliminary topic research and testing via your social networks. Your followers and fans are anticipating your ebook release. Start conversations, showcase your finished project and direct these folks to your website, blog, e-list and ebook.
  5. Use reader oriented sites like Goodreads and Shelfari. Social networks open the door to a large, diverse audience. Sites like Goodreads open the door to a specific audience: avid niche readers. You can create a reader account for free and later upgrade to an author account once your ebook is ready to release. You’ll be able to take advantage of tools that include groups and giveaway.

 

Break Into the Kindle Marketplace

If you’re looking to publish on the Kindle Marketplace—and you absolutely should be—you need to review Copyblogger’s ultimate guide to Kindle platform publication. The Kindle Marketplace houses one of the largest ebook marketplaces, ever!

Ebook creation takes time and effort. The only con to producing and marketing an ebook designed to gain your brand exposure is not doing it at all. Regardless of whether you choose to self-publish and self-market or take advantage of the Kindle Marketplace and online store marketing, once you finish your ebook your journey will have just begun. After publication it will be time to start creating your next ebook designed to wow an expanding audience as you successfully promote your brand and land both conversions and customers!

 

 

whitepaper writing

2014 Success #1: 20 Tips on How to Write a Whitepaper For Your Business

For the next 7 days, at Express Writers, we’re going to be blogging on 7 successful content tips, marketing ideas, and hot products for you, your company, and your online website in 2014. Time to roll out additional plans for new ways to improve company revenue this New Year! For the next 7 days, we’ll be offering a few guides in our blog to cost-effective, easy solutions for easy company growth that will be worth it for the entire year. From writing a whitepaper to SEO keyword research, our solutions won’t break the bank and will probably cost less than those holiday parties you’ve spent some dough on.

 

The New Year is Here! Success #1 For a Great Year: Whitepapers

 

Have you written a whitepaper for your company yet? This year, in 2014, whitepapers will be a great marketing tool—another content piece that will be favored by Google, downloaded by your customers, and a tool in your arsenal that will never expire. You can print a whitepaper, email it to clients who want to be further impressed, offer it as a free offer to get your leads’ names and information, etc.

 

Content Marketing: The Whitepaper

Content marketing is more than a great business idea, it is an essential plan you simply cannot ignore. Whitepapers are rapidly becoming an effective way to boost your content marketing efforts. DirJournal: Small Business Blog revealed these marketing gems as capable of driving both leads and sales, which makes them a marketing-must. Instead of influencing people through flamboyant sales copy, whitepapers provide the opportunity to deliver informative content to your readers—potential customers— who will flock to read. As you can imagine, learning how to write great whitepapers is an absolute must for all businesses.

 

What is a Whitepaper?

You might know whitepapers are trending in the world of marketing, but what exactly are these new and improved selling tools? Whitepapers are essentially publications used by a business for a specific marketing need. Most companies publish them to raise awareness of their presence in their industry and to educate consumers about their product or service. The goal is to describe the product or service in a manner people can easily understand. They are often used to spotlight the benefits to choosing a specific product or service, but what makes them incredibly useful and sought after is their provision of unbiased information to the reader. Think of a whitepaper as a persuasive, educational publication.

 

6 Tips to Get You Started

Let’s be blunt. Do you remember the motto, “No pain, no gain?” Well, writing a whitepaper is not the easiest task in the world. It takes preparation, motivation, determination and the drive to follow through. It just might be more painful than you anticipate, but the gain is absolutely worth any pain. According to a Contently piece on how to write a whitepaper, these documents are a very effective way to “stand out as an expert in your field.” Here’s what you need to know to get started:

  1. Pick a strong topic people will rush to read. Picking the perfect topic is a real challenge. It needs to be relevant to your business while current and sought after by your audience. You must be able to provide quality content minus the sales fluff. Remember, the idea is to sell through informative content, not hype. Consider your target audience and choose a topic or issue that actively concerns them.
  2. Know your audience. This involves more than choosing an on-topic subject. Knowing your audience means understanding the problems they experience, the language they speak, the technical details they understand and what points and sources will steer them toward purchasing your product or service. WhitePaperSource offers some excellent insights into climbing inside your audience’s head, which is a key to whitepaper writing success.
  3. Use an outline. Do you remember struggling with the creation of an outline years ago in a high school or college English class? You probably thought you would never guess to use it in the future.  But guess what? An outline can help you create a stellar whitepaper. Use it to flesh out every point you plan to cover, dividing them into sections or chapters. Insert statistical information or case study information you plan to present. Organize the information and play with the order until it makes good sense. In essence, you are creating the skeleton of your paper. It will be your guide as you write and will keep you on course.
  4. Put your own spin on it. An audience is much more likely to enjoy a piece you were excited to write. As you sculpt your whitepaper, put your personal spin on it. Let your passion and excitement shine. Avoid copying other authors’ work.
  5. Hook your readers quickly. In sales we often use a common fishing metaphor: hook the customer and reel them in for the sale. The same basic idea applies to writing a whitepaper. It is vital to write a captivating introduction; snag the attention of the audience, keep your content interesting and preview just enough of the information to follow to make them incapable of tearing their eyes away.
  6. Write first, edit later. Once your outline is complete and you’re excited about the topic, it’s time to write. Get your thoughts down on paper quickly. Don’t worry about errors. Just write. Write without interruption. Attempting to edit as you write will only slow the process, it can even give writer’s block a chance to creep in! Once your first draft is complete, edit out errors and fix any lapses in the flow.

 

3 Tips about Style Because It Matters

Now that you have an idea of how to begin writing a whitepaper, let’s talk about something that can make it sink or swim: style. What exactly is style? It’s more than the tone of your paper; it includes formatting and design:

  1. Choose the proper tone. Take a moment and think back to when you were a kid. Do you remember an adult, maybe a parent, getting on your case about your tone? At the time, you thought they were crazy, but as a business-minded adult you realize that tone can make or break reputations and sales. Whitepaper writing is no exception. Write with a serious and professional tone. Your goal is to be informative and educate, never to talk down to or belittle your readers.
  2. Pay attention to formatting. Your whitepaper will represent you brand. It must be on the same level as your best marketing and brand material. There is no set rule for formatting a whitepaper, but you should strive to create a crisp, clean appearance. The information covered should be organized and flow from start to finish. As a general rule of thumb, start with an abstract, discuss a problem, provide a little background, introduce how your product or service works, explain your solution(s), offer factual evidence supporting your product or service and finally, explain why you are the reader’s clear choice.
  3. Material should be well written and finely edited. If you’ve ever taken a debate or speech class, the teacher no doubt emphasized the importance of proper pausing when speaking. For example, read the following out loud, pausing at the question mark, “What’s that on the road? Ahead.” Suddenly, “ahead” sounds like “a head!” Silly as this exercise is, it carries a relevant point regarding well written and finely edited content: a single misspelling or incorrectly used punctuation mark can dramatically change the content. In fact, it could destroy the credibility you’re seeking to build as an expert. What’s the solution? Consider using two writers and/or an editor. A second and third pair of eyes can help make the content perfect.

 

Avoid Information Overload

One of the most common pitfalls of whitepaper writing is overloading the reader with dull or lengthy information. The point of a whitepaper is to educate and persuade at the same time. You don’t want to smother the reader with overly technical or statistical information. It can leave them confused or discourage them from purchasing your product or service. At the same time, you don’t want to burden the reader with irrelevant information because you’re shooting for a high word count. Learning how to write great whitepapers involves mastering balance. Here are some tips to live by:

  • Write for people. It’s easy to get lost in factual and statistical information that shows why our product or service is vital and well above our competition. You have to remember you’re writing for an audience of people, and people want to know how or why a product or service applies to them. Credible facts, statistics and case studies add needed weight to your paper, but be careful to balance these with why people love your product or service. Tap into the human aspect and infuse emotion into your writing.
  • Less is more. Word and page counts are great, but they shouldn’t be set in stone. Chances are you’re writing for a crowd with hectic schedules. They don’t have time to read a novel. They’ll likely skim a 3 to 5 page paper, stopping to read the headings that apply to their needs or pique their interest. If you can accomplish your goal of educating and persuading the audience in 4 pages versus 5, don’t sweat it. Your reader will likely thank you for respecting their valuable time and not bogging them down with unnecessary information.
  • Benefits Sell. Obviously, you need to dedicate space to explaining your product or service. What does it do? How does it do it? It’s important to state the benefits unique to your business because those sell. What makes your product or service better? What are the perks? Why should the consumer choose you over everyone else?

 

Infuse Authoritativeness into Your Work

A cornerstone of every well written whitepaper is the infusion of authoritative references. What exactly are they? According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, an authoritative reference is a citation “to specific authoritative accounting literature…derived from various authoritative sources…and used to help define an element.” Simply put, do your homework. Avoid using questionable sources or references. Your goal is to deliver the freshest insights as the latest expert.

 

Provide Examples

Examples and illustrations are powerful tools that allow the writer to paint a picture. They can make a point while hitting a personal chord within the audience. Often the examples and illustrations woven into your writing are what stick with the reader. Be sure to infuse your paper with descriptive situations in which your solution is especially valuable. Give real life success stories and give your audience the ability to connect with customers who swear by your product or service.

 

Cut the Fluff

Your potential customers aren’t reading for entertainment. They have a problem. They’re looking for a viable solution. Your whitepaper isn’t a billboard to spotlight your business. Cut the fluff and focus on what your read wants:

  • Facts, not opinions.
  • Tangible solutions, not outlandish promises.
  • Remember the fishing metaphor we discussed earlier? Hooking the reader and reeling them in is a strong strategy, especially as your writing persuades the reader to buy from your business. However, here is a sales related fishing metaphor or avoid at all cost: the bait and switch tactic. Readers are quick to pick up on this tactic, and it’s a sure fire way to lose potential customers.

 

Drop a Breadcrumb and Pave the Way

One of the best pieces of advice when writing a whitepaper is to treat it like a breadcrumb. This goes right alongside the strategy of breadcrumb marketing, which is a proven way to lead potential consumers back to your home base (your website or other primary hub). Simply put, your whitepaper should always lead to your next piece of content. Each morsel will lead your customers to arrive little by little to the place where the purchase will take place.

Follow ups are vital to most sales and marketing plans. When you release a whitepaper, your focus should be more on leading the read to your product or service versus finding a way to instantly follow up. The idea isn’t to apply pressure and generate a lead, but to instead let the reader know your business has more useful information for them. Encourage them to contact you.

 

Hire a Pro

If you find yourself uncomfortable with the basics of how to write great whitepapers, hiring a business writer is your best Plan B. Some writers and businesses specialize in nothing but whitepapers, while others handle everything from press release and brochure copy to marketing campaign copy and whitepapers.

The only disadvantage to using whitepapers is not using one at all! Regardless of how you go about creating it, the end product will be a marketing tool well worth every ounce of blood and sweat squeezed into it. Studies show customers respond to informative material more favorably than hyped advertisement campaigns or blatant ads. The trick to successfully using this tool to generate more business is creating an organized, well-planned, well-written and finely polished document that sparks a genuine interest in your product or service.

 

 

Back to the future

Back From the Future: Content Marketing in 2014

Over twenty-something million pieces of content are shared every single day on the Internet, so there is no doubt that content is truly King and content marketing is its most trusted advisor. When it comes to creating web content, more is not always essentially better. You need to know that creating QUALITY content is way more important.

 

Good Content Marketing is Vital to Building your Business

Since the dawn of the Internet, content marketing (also known as article marketing) has been one of the most vital tools used by companies for Internet marketing. Many individuals use web content to tell their stories and reach out to as many people as they possibly can, thereby changing lives one post at a time. There are those who believe that imagery will overshadow content, but these people are dead wrong. Website content will become even more vital in the future. Harnessing the sheer power of words is important for creating long-term success for any company with an established Internet presence.

 

The Truth about Content Marketing

Unlike a good number of marketing efforts used by online marketers, content marketing is not mainly about driving sales (although that is DEFINITELY going to happen with quality content marketing). It is important that you understand that the first, and major, goal of all web content is to build relationships with clients, customers, or readers. For example, posting exclusive information on top social media platforms will help followers feel totally connected to your brand. You can take that step further by simply following up and directly interacting with readers through the site’s comment section. This will make your readers feel like you are giving them special one-on-one attention – this will require major commitment on your part.

 

Having a good quality website or blog content will make readers want to visit your site again, and share the content with the people they know. When building relationships with your readers or clients/customers, it is vital to make use of different kinds of quality content so that potential customers can interact with your brand on a regular basis. It is of the utmost importance for every company or individual with an online presence to build SEO pages that focus on people over keywords and rankings.

 

The 5 Most Popular Types of Content Marketing

A couple of the most vital trends in content marketing involve technologies and tools, which were not even in existence a few years ago. One of the smartest things business owners need to do is to make sure that they keep abreast of the most recent types of web content, and then utilize them correctly to woo potential customers.

 

Here are the 5 most common types of content marketing:

 

1. Blog Posts – Business blogs are becoming more and more popular and are a requirement for any business to become successful on the Internet.

2. Electronic mail (email) Newsletters – Clients expect to get top quality content from businesses they are doing business with. Delivering valuable information about the brand via email is an effective way to meet clients’ expectations.

Please Note: It is important to send quality written, error-free, email newsletters. Poorly written content just screams “unprofessional.”

3. Video – Video is a cool way to communicate with your target audience.

4. Podcasts – The great thing about podcasts is that it offers companies the opportunity to speak to their clients or customers in a more personal way than an impersonal advertising medium.

5. Social Media – Facebook posts, Tweets, Google+ updates, and other social media platforms are a wonderful way to interact with target audiences. You can utilize TrendsMap in order to know what is trending on Twitter within your city or in other top cities in the country. These social media platforms allow for a two-way interaction between your business and your customers, which is a really great way to develop strong relationships.

 

Providing Value to Target Audiences

The biggest trend to expect in 2014 and beyond when it comes to every type of content marketing is the value of the content created. A few years ago, it was possible to write total nonsense, publish it online, and get away with it. Currently, more and more people want to get great value for the time that they invest in reading online content. In other words, people do not have the time or the patience to read content that they consider absolute “garbage.”

 

As a business or website owner, it is your responsibility to find out what questions your target audiences need answered. Take advantage of the top content marketing tips in order to create content that is engaging. Then use content marketing to provide the answers to their questions or offer solutions to their problems. This could be as easy as providing information about the best coupon code websites for highly coveted products or services. Providing target audiences with the information that they need is exactly what content marketing is about.

 

When content marketing is done properly, you can count on creating a customer or client base that is not just loyal, but also assists your business with word of mouth advertising. There is no doubt that this is THE most effective and powerful type of marketing, so business owners will need to develop and implement a valuable web content marketing strategy for the future.

 

Amazing Content Marketing Information You Should Know for 2014

It’s no secret that content marketing is here to stay. In fact, 93 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing. A large number of marketers also have plans to increase their budget for content marketing in 2014. Nonetheless, there are still some challenges faced by many marketers as they struggle to generate interesting, quality, and engaging content. Many buyers become irritated when they see content that they consider just self-serving, unashamedly promotional, and not filled with valuable information. In addition to this, a considerable amount of marketers say that they are not able to assess how well their content marketing effort is helping their business grow.

 

Check out these amazing content marketing truths to help you find out which web content marketing strategies are very popular, which ones are underused, and how businesses can make their content marketing efforts much more successful.

 

Is Content Marketing Popular?

  • Oh yes, content marketing is popular! As mentioned earlier, 93 percent of B2B marketers use content marketing. However, just 44 percent of these marketers actually have a well-documented content strategy.
  • Over 50 percent of marketers have said that content marketing will be their top social priority for 2014.
  • According to eMarketer, a study showed that 35 percent of marketing experts across the world mentioned that content marketing would be their major focus for 2014, followed by social media and search engine optimization (SEO).
  • A large percentage (87 percent) of B2B buyers believe that content plays a huge role in the vendor selection process.
  • 82 percent of business owners have plans to spend more on content marketing in 2014.
  • 25 percent of marketing budgets in B2B firms are spent on developing, delivering, and promoting content in order to drive leads.

 

Content Marketing – What is the Return on Investment?

  • The great thing about content marketing is that it costs way less than conventional marketing and helps businesses generate thrice as many leads – if this is not a great ROI, then what is?!
  • Just 10 to 20 percent of a business’ web content drive 90 percent if its website traffic!
  • Nearly half of the United States’ business organizations turned to social media in 2103 in order to boost brand awareness.
  • The 3 web content marketing tactics known for delivering a high return on investment are: featured articles, video, and white papers.

 

Top Challenges in Content Marketing

The 3 major challenges when it comes to creating content are:

  1. Lack of time
  2. Incapacity to create sufficient content
  3. Failure to create quality engaging content.

 

Although, other studies revealed that the 3 major challenges that hamper content marketing are insufficient budgets, limited number of staff, and the stress of generating new content.

 

Knowing the answers to the questions of target consumers is one thing, being able to create content that will engage the readers and provide them with the solutions to their problems is another thing entirely. This is where experienced and skilled writers come in. They know how to create compelling content that will rank high in search engine results.

 

How Important are Blogs in Content Marketing?

In plain English, blogging involves putting your views, advice, thoughts, memories, secrets, or anything that you feel like writing on an online-based journal where visitors to your web page can see it, read it, and possibly share it with others. Unlike the conventional way of writing a journal where you keep your thoughts in a little book, blogging is simply the idea of making your journal public – online. Many online-based business owners are seriously taking advantage of the blogging power. Yes, more companies all across the world use blogs in order to connect with their target consumers and create significant brand awareness. You need to understand that the Internet is filled with bloggers. If you want to draw-in readers, you will need to ensure that you establish some sort of credibility.

 

Do not make the mistake of blogging about just anything; ensure that you choose a topic that you are very passionate about – a topic that you have a lot of experience with. According to Heidi Cohen, headlines are important when writing blogs that will make your copy stand out, arrest the attention of your target audience and compel them to read your posts. Are you wondering what the most important elements to include in your blog titles are? Well, most readers just love headlines or titles that contain numbers such as “Top 10 Ways to Lose Fat in 72 Hours!” some readers prefer blog content titles that literally addresses them by including the term “You”. “How to” titles are also a big hit with readers all over the world. A good example is “How to Get a Loan with Bad Credit.”

 

Creating Web Content that Ranks in 2014

The cardinal rule of online business is to make sure that you market your website aggressively, especially if you are in a highly competitive industry. It is only natural that you want your website to be on the very first page of search engine rankings when people search for the product or service you offer online. This will require a lot of perseverance on your part and a commitment to ensuring that you produce quality content.

 

Content marketing is no doubt the effective technique that has been developed to help you market your brand effectively and to gain a lot of exposure. This technique means that you will need to churn out articles around a keyword or key phrase that is connected to your site. Although, this tactic is quite effective, it will require you to submit a large number of quality articles that people would actually want to read. This way, steady targeted traffic will be directed your way.

 

It is important that you only post website, SEO, or blog content that is well written. Your website or blog page is like the window through which readers see your business. If you post poorly written articles peppered with misspelled words and grammar errors, you will only be sending your readers the wrong message. It would shock you to know the level of damage poorly written content can cause. It is in your best interest to seek the services of experienced and skilled writers who know what to do with an idea and a blank sheet of paper. SEO copywriting experts generate content guaranteed to get past Google’s picky search engine robots. These robots are designed to weed out poorly written content and send them where they belong – a long way down the search engine rankings.
 
Image Credit: greenbookblog.org
 

content marketing 2014

Content Marketing in 2014: 11 Predictions To Expect

Whether they realize it or not, a large number of businesses are already using content marketing strategies. Because some companies are still not familiar with the term “content marketing”, let’s water it down. Content marketing is basically all about providing helpful information to existing and prospective customers for the main purpose of increasing brand awareness, encouraging customer loyalty, driving website traffic and attracting new customers. New websites are launched every second, so you will need to employ top content marketing strategies that will ensure that all virtual roads lead to your website.

 

Predicting The Winds of Change For Content Marketing in Twenty Fourteen

How will all this change in 2014? There have been several predictions. Which ones are the focus? Let’s take a look at the top content marketing trends to expect in 2014.

 

1. Website Management Will Improve with Advanced Technologies

Every single year the content marketing industry is greatly impacted by new technological advances. In 2014, experts have predicted that there will be more advanced tools that website owners can use to effectively track the progress of their website – this is the part where you scream “yeah!!!”  Currently, it has been quite cumbersome, time consuming, and expensive for a large number of businesses to monitor and use the analytics for every piece of content on their website. However, with improved online resources, you will be able to analyze every single piece of content on your site for popularity and usefulness.

 

2. Content Will Start to Change

Search engines are going to relegate poor-quality content to the nosebleed section of the page rankings. Quality content will be tailored to suit the requirements and answer the questions of target audiences (this is the time to seek the services of a reputable content provider if you want your site’s content to stand a chance in the highly competitive internet world). Currently, a lot of companies are creating content the wrong way. The content found on most company websites are written solely for the company, its employees, suppliers, business partners and not for the audiences that matter the most – the customers/clients! Experts predict that in 2014, a considerable number of businesses will start to understand the significance of customer-targeted writing and their content will start to change. If you are a small business owner, you should learn how to build content strategy for your small business website.

 

3. Every Company will Know the Importance of Content

According to the 2013 State Inbound Marketing Report, 60 percent of businesses know the value of inbound marketing and are making use of content marketing strategies to boost their sales. In other words, the remaining 40 percent are clueless as to the importance of content marketing and are dangling at the bottom of the internet-food chain. It has been predicted that by the end of 2014, all businesses will become very familiar with inbound marketing and content marketing and will utilize these strategies to drum up more business.

 

4. Social Media will Certainly Play a Bigger Role in Content Marketing

Though a considerable number of businesses are starting to familiarize themselves with social media popular platforms, very few companies actually know how to use these awesome platforms to properly boost sales and promote higher web traffic. By 2014, there will be a big trend in content marketing to social media platforms for specific targeted audiences.

 

5. There Will Be a Huge Demand for Top Quality Content

HUGE. Why? As mentioned earlier, top search engines will be relegating poor-quality content down the search engine rankings with absolutely no hope of being seen – oh yes, search engines mean business! In 2014, smart business owners will recognize the importance of quality content and the need to have quality, well researched and written content on their website. As the demand for top-notch content increases, so will the demand for experienced and top quality content writers. Since experts have predicted that all business owners will understand the value of content marketing by the year 2014, this means that content writers will expect higher standards from clients, as more clients will know precisely what they want for their website.

When you take a good look at the previously mentioned predictions, you can start to understand the increasing need for well researched and well written content delivered through the right platforms for your business. There is certainly no doubt that content marketing will always be regarded as a vital component of any B2B marketing tactic and its use will always keep growing. Having a highly successful content marketing campaign will certainly establish you as a professional in your field and lay down a foundation for a long-term, healthy business relationship. In order to make sure that your website remains attractive and relevant to your target audience, you will need to stay on top of the content marketing strategies. It is important that you know how to deliver useful content for your content strategy audience. Doing a lot of research and investing time in reviewing content marketing blogs can help you to know the value of top-quality content and how the trends in content marketing keeps evolving.

Next, let’s talk about the top major uses content will have in 2014.

6. Personal Brand Growth with Content & Content Strategizing

It is no secret that content marketing is a tested and trusted way to build links for improving search rankings and website traffic. If you are employed in a large organization, personal branding is a focus. It’s essential in building a strong presence in your industry. This will not only be beneficial to the organization, but also to you. Having a great personal brand can help you acquire a wealth of new opportunities that stretch way beyond existing alternatives. Personal branding has assisted professionals like Chris Guillebeau, Brian Clark, and Seth Godin. These professionals built a strong personal brand together with their existing companies to make themselves a solid resource for marketing, entrepreneurship and originality.

 

These innovative professionals built their enviable personal brands through sheer hard work. They wrote awesome content on a consistent basis that clearly displays and shares their wealth of knowledge. All these professionals have blogs that they update on a regular basis and they also foster online communities filled with interesting discussions.

 

But a large number of search engine optimization (SEO) experts engage in content marketing strategy with only one aim in mind: to build only inbound links. Although inbound links are all right, using this strategy without having a much higher goal in the picture will cause you to leave opportunities and money on the table – and that isn’t right!

The most vital lesson to take from all this is that although the pros we talked about are wonderful content creators, the posts they write are not meant for getting links, but to basically share information. When organizations and writers know that the sharing of information should be the major purpose of content creation, personal branding and exposure are also naturally generated.

 

7. Creating a Good Reputation

Well-written content that wins over the heart of the reader will definitely help you build a good reputation. Writing insightful content that helps readers to solve problems and learn new skills will establish you as an expert in your chosen industry. Having the status of a an “expert” or “guru” bestowed upon you is actually what opens windows and doors of opportunities for you such as consulting contracts, speaking engagements, guest posting invitation and so much more!

 

Aside from posting content on your blog, you can also build a solid reputation from sharing content in several different ways such as social media, podcasts, vide blogs (or vlogs) and speaking engagements. The more time you invest on having a strong presence with your content, the bigger your chances and the sooner your reputation will grow.

 

8. Building Relationships with Your Readers and Content Audience

Those who have built a solid personal brand realize that most of the people who refer their services or products to others are people who they do not know personally, but who have read their content and recognize them as professionals in their industry. Words are very powerful tools, and can be used in order to connect with others. A gifted writer can craft words to tug at the heartstrings or simply create content that people are excited about reading because it offers them valuable information.

 

Note: If your target readers cannot learn one or two new things after reading your content, then you cannot count on building a personal relationship with your readers, period.

 

Believe it or not, readers get to harbour feelings of a close connection to content from authors they read on a regular basis, and this is a great benefit for those who want to establish a solid online presence. Through online discussions (via emails and posts), you will be able to develop a really strong relationship with your readers, and this leads to other business opportunities as mentioned earlier. For example, if you are passionate about helping people “find themselves” and know their true purpose in life, use well-researched and well-written content. Do not be surprised if you are asked to come and deliver a lecture to high school or college students on how they can find themselves and know their true purpose in life. One of the best things about doing what you love is the part where you get paid for it!

 

9. Building a Business Voice, Tone and Message with Your Brand

As soon as you have become successful at establishing yourself as an expert in your chosen filed, you will begin to get business opportunities in a variety of ways. You can get opportunities to do radio or television interviews. It is important to understand that brand building is an ongoing process, so it would be completely crazy not to take advantage of the several interesting opportunities that may come your way.

 

It is of the utmost importance that you write about what you know. People want to purchase products or services from businesses that have a reputation for being good at what they do or producing items that actually work.

 

For example, if you have travelled across the world and know all there is to know about travelling on a shoestring budget, you can create content that will help budget travellers find hotels and restaurants that offer great deals.

 

10. Using Relationships to Further Opportunities

Using your new relationships and content in order to further your business and career can offer you wonderful opportunities. For example, there are bloggers that have gotten publishing deals based on their widely read content. Some have turned to motivational speakers or provide special consulting services to interested organizations.

 

A large number of professionals think that they need to acquire some type of education or many years of experience to be regarded as a professional in their field. But the beauty of the internet community is that you can be seen as an expert in your field when you generate really AWESOME content. A well written content is typically an indicator of your expertise and your wealth of knowledge. There are so many bloggers who are regarded celebrities in their own right!

 

11. Lastly, all these tips will be done best if you seek the services of a professional!

Most times, great content comes in the form of providing the answers to the questions of readers. You need to first identify your true passion or you will find it extremely hard to keep up.  Let’s face it; in order to create content that ranks, you will need the help of an SEO professional. What? You think all the great speeches you have ever heard were actually written by the famous speakers?! Two words – Speech Writers! These writers know how to take a client’s idea and thoughts, and craft it into compelling words.  Reputable SEO-copywriters have the tools that are essential for a killer content strategy.

 

By providing useful answers to what prospective clients are searching for on the internet, you will not only be contributing your quota to making the world a much better place, you will also be creating your personal brand as well, which will lead you to new opportunities. From hence forth, you should not think that content should ONLY be created for building links. You should create content that will provide value to readers, and build your personal brand.
 

writing content that ranks

New Year Resolutions: 6 Steps for Writing Content That Actually Ranks

The New Year is almost here and while you might be writing down some personal resolutions, how much effort have you put into some website resolutions? Let’s face it; Google has practically demanded all website owners to beef up their quality and stop fooling around, so your #1 resolution this year should be to take your website’s content seriously. Well, if you want to rank high that is.
 

Content Strategies that Rank Websites

We’ve drilled this concept into your head time and time again: content is crucial. But for the sake of being consistent we’re going to do it again. If you don’t have high-quality content, Google won’t rank you period.

So if you’re ready to boost up your rank and (hopefully) increase your website’s earning potential, it’s time to take New Years to a whole new level with these critical steps for writing rankable (and bankable) content for 2014.

 

1. Create a Content Strategy…We’re Serious

How many times have you seen the words “content strategy” from us? Well it’s clear: you need one. Everyone needs one. Even if you’re the best writer there is and you have the juiciest topics and greatest content, you still need a strategy.

Think of it like you’re going to war. The search engine is the enemy, the competition is teaming up with the enemy, and now it’s time to find a way to take them both down. In a battle, would you just run full speed ahead and hope for the best (hopefully you don’t lose a leg…kind of like losing your search engine rank) or would you strategize so you keep your limbs (and your rank)?

We’re thinking a strategy might be a good idea. We personally like our limbs…and our ranking.

 

All right, so what’s a good strategy? A good content strategy is well thought out and it’s certainly not something you can write up in a day (if you did, you might want to review that one more time). Your website is unique, so we cannot give you the golden formula that tells you exactly what your strategy should say, but we can tell you what it should at least entail:

  • You need goals. If you don’t have purpose when you write your content, you’re not really going to get results. Think of what you want before you write.
  • Your unique selling point. Think about it. What makes your products sell? Why are you awesome? Only you know the answer to this and you had better use it to your advantage in your content.
  • A defined target audience. If you don’t know whom you’re writing to, you’re not really going to reach them on a personal level now are you? We know you, that’s why you’re still reading this.

 

These are the three critical things every content strategy needs. Audience Bloom has an article about how to write a
Kickass Content Strategy” and we highly suggest you breeze through it.

 

2. Show Your Audience You Actually Care

Today’s audience is selfish and that’s OK. You should write to the audience and show them you actually care about your content. Be unique, fresh and actually give them something. When you dribble on and regurgitate the same old content out there already, you’re just telling your readers you’re too busy to show them you give a darn. It’s true.

Sit down and take some time to write out your content. Give your readers some valuable insight that no one else has. You’re the industry and business expert, right? You know your products and you know stuff that the Average Joe or Jane doesn’t. Share it! Internet users want to learn and walk away from their computer screen feeling savvy.

So, again, how do you show your audience you care?

  • By writing high-quality, unique content
  • By giving them something other than what they’ve already read 500 times
  • By offering some real insight and value

 

Think of the websites you follow. Do they teach you something? Do they give you something to walk away with and implement right away? You want your site to be just like that, so create content that gives to the reader and you will do just that.

 

3. Long-Winded is OK, If You Do It Right

By long-winded we aren’t talking going on and on about nothing. That’s not good. However, the length of your on-page content needs to get a little fatter. Not just in quality, but in length too.

Google wants more words on the page. While they’re not advertising how many words (keeping to their notorious reputation for being vague), the length seems to correlate with how Google ranks authority.

Now, before you go off and write a 2,000-word blog about nothing, stop.

Google feels a longer article or blog post showcases authority only if it has quality writing, value, and research. Filling a page with a wall of useless text is not authoritative and will not get you a high ranking with Google. According to WebDesignLedger.com, content with more than 1,000 words has a better chance for ranking higher.

We think this is because Google looks at time and effort. When you take the time to do in-depth research, analysis and write up something that offers a multitude of value to the reader, it shows Google you’ve gone the extra mile. Since Google is all about quality, quality, quality, that extra mile means a higher rank.

So, in 2014 try to sprinkle in a few longer posts — we’re thinking over 1,000 words will certainly do the trick. But, make sure each post is well researched, thorough and gives readers in-depth knowledge.

 

4. Stop Using Vanilla Headlines

You obviously cannot smell through the computer screen, so we’re not talking about vanilla extract. What we’re talking about is boring, usual headlines.

Headlines are in bold, but if the text isn’t as equally eye-catching, it won’t do your site much justice.

Now, you’re probably asking what a headline has to do with your rank. Headlines influence traffic. In fact, according to SocialMediaToday.com, only 20 percent of the people who see your headlines will actually read much further than that — that means 80 percent of Internet users glance and move on.

However, if you can grasp the attention of a reader with that single one-liner, you’re in.

When your website shows up on a search engine result page, the headline, and your brief description is what a reader sees. Therefore, it’s rather important. Whether a headline influences your rank or not (it does, but we’ll deal with that in a minute), it’s important that the reader actually wants to click on your page when it shows up on their results page.

The research is clear on what attracts readers to click and what doesn’t. For your 2014 content strategy, don’t forget that the headlines do matter and include some of these ideas:

  • Lists and Numbers – You’re reading this blog, aren’t you? Lists tell readers exactly what they’re getting. For example, “10 of the Best Vacation Spots” tells you you’re about to find out the ten spots you’ll have the best time at.
  • Defining Headlines – You need to explicitly tell the reader what he or she is getting. Instead of saying “Writing Compelling Content” you should say “10 Ways to Write Compelling Content” — see the difference?
  • Add a “You” In There – When you call out to the audience, you instantly spike a little interest. For example, instead of saying “10 Ways to Earn More Money” you could say “10 Ways You Can Earn More Money Now”
  • Optimized Headlines – A headline still needs to be optimized. Adding a keyword, naturally, will help with that. For example, your keyword or target phrase is “Increasing Rank” so a good, catchy title might be “10 Ways For Increasing Your Rank”

 

5. Don’t Be a Keyword Diva

Yes, keywords still have their place, but they’re not as important as they once were. It’s time to quit being a keyword diva and drop the act. Having perfectly optimized content that targets every keywords interferes with your ability to meet Google’s other expectations — quality, natural flow, etc. So, you need to go about your keywords right.

Utilize page titles.
Page titles are a great place to drop a targeted keyword. The closer you get it to the start of the page title the better.

Use it in your headline.
If you can naturally put a keyword into your headline, then do it. Don’t force it! Now, if you’re going to use a keyword in your headline, make sure the content under that headline is relevant. There is no bigger error you can commit than using keywords and irrelevant content on the same page.

Use it in your content.
Primary, secondary, and other keywords can be used in your content a lot more naturally than they can in headlines and page titles. There’s no real density recommendation that we can give you, but we can tell you what not to do: cram every keyword in there. If it doesn’t read naturally or sound right, take it out. Keywords should be used in a natural-flowing manner. If it doesn’t flow, it goes.

Add it to your images.
Using keywords with images is a good idea. While you’ll not see a significant spike in traffic from image search, it’s still good to use keywords on the image’s title, surrounding text and in the attribute if you can.

Put it in the Meta description.

Before you gasp and say that’s wrong, listen.

Your page’s Meta description doesn’t influence your rank, but it can influence whether or a user clicks on your link. When a user enters a search term, they’re looking for something. They read the descriptions and headlines on a results page to see if a website is giving them what they’re looking for. Therefore, by adding in the keyword you might increase your visibility with the user.

 

6. Remember Changes Are Coming…

In HBO’s Game of Thrones all you hear every season and every episode is “winter is coming.” The same goes for search engine updates. Changes are coming and will continue to come. When they rear their ugly head, you must be prepared to adapt and stay up-to-date.

2014 is going to be the year of SEO for mobile. It has been said that Hummingbird was just the tip of the iceberg (the small snow flurries of winter that mean bigger storms to come). Google plans on adapting to the rapidly growing trend of mobile use.

Your site’s performance in the mobile sector could greatly impact your SEO rank. Therefore, start preparing your site’s content for mobile just as much as you prepare it for PC.

 

So What Have We Learned?

2014 is certainly going to spark some changes for everyone and it’s better to be prepared than be that guy (or gal) stuck in the past.

To recap what we’ve gone over, for 2014, your content needs to include these six steps:

  1. Create a Content Strategy – Without a strategy you’ll be that website that looks cool, but really doesn’t have any direction.
  2. Write for the People – No, not politically. We just mean write with the intention of helping your readers. Go the extra mile, do some research and really write like you give a darn about it. If you can’t do it yourself, hire someone.
  3. Write Longer, Researched Posts – You don’t have to make every post a 10,000-word book, but you need to add some real in-depth value to your site for your followers.
  4. Write Compelling Headlines – Not just for the search engines, but also for the benefit of the people you need to click on your site.
  5. Use Keywords Naturally – If it doesn’t flow, it goes. Enough said.
  6. Be On the Lookout for Changes – Stay up to date on the latest algorithm changes and make sure you’re always adapting.

 

Ranking high with search engines should actually be easier these days. Google is no longer rewarding the people who know how to trick their algorithms. Instead, they’re rewarding the people who take time, put in a little effort, and really work to create awesome content. By just doing that, you’re a step ahead and on your way to better rankings.

 

5 Tips for Maintaining Content Flow During the Holidays

You know it—these end-of-year holidays are some of the busiest times. From endless company gatherings to family events, you’re bound to be going from one spot to the next, and with very little breathing time in between. Here’s the conflicting part. As a website or blog owner, you know that content is important. Google demands website owners to take charge, publish on a predictable schedule and always keep up with quality.

 

Content Flow and The Holidays: Maintaining Your Flow

With the chaos surrounding the holidays, meeting Google’s demands and the demands of your family can easily overwhelm even the world’s best planner.

 

1) Holidays Aren’t Really Vacations

Let’s face it holidays aren’t vacations. Even when you go out of town, you won’t find much time to yourself. You have family to visit (remember your mother-in-law who has insisted you come out this year — even though “out” means 500 miles from home?); you have kids who want the perfect gifts; and you’ve got some decorations to deal with to bring up the spirit. There’s a dizzying array of demands on your plate — shopping, parties, cleaning, entertaining, baking, just to name a few.

There’s a heightened risk of anxiety during the holidays, according to the APA and while we cannot handle your shopping or baking, we can offer some insight as to how you can manage your content flow while you’re off dealing with the holidays.

 

2) Plan Ahead, Seriously

Once the holidays hit you’ll have little time to deal with much. So, a few months before the holidays you need to sit down and plan out at least two months of preset topics. If you already have a year-long content strategy, your topics should be already set and ready-to-go for the holiday span.

If you don’t have one, don’t panic. Instead, sit down (like now) and start writing out your topics for the next two months. Ideally you should have enough topics to go over Thanksgiving, Christmas and well into half of January (so you have time to recuperate and regroup). When you write out your topics, make sure to include:

  • A quick summary or bullet points about what you’ll cover in the post
  • Any links or photos you’ll use
  • Any keywords you plan on incorporating
  • Write out the title (if you can)
  • A posting schedule — when the blog will be posted

 

3) Wait, I Can’t Think of That Many Topics!

Yes, it can be hard to come up with a few months of topics on the fly, but the holiday season should be one of the easiest to pre-plan for. Think of the inspiration that is all around you — Thanksgiving gatherings, Christmas morning, fun treats to make with the kids, etc. Be fun, be holiday-inspired and just let the holidays guide your content. People around this time of year are craving holiday-themed posts, so feed their cravings. Need some more holiday marketing tips? Consider this article by the Small Business Association.

 

4) Now, Write Ahead

So you have a plan that covers the next two months. The next step is to write those topics up. Sure, that might require you to sit down and spend an entire week writing blogs, but by getting them done and scheduled you have one less thing to worry about this holiday season.

 

5) Consider a Managed Solution

Sometimes it’s just too much to plan it all out and write it up in a holiday crunch. If that sounds like your situation, a managed solution might be the optimum choice for you. A managed solution can be hosted in-house or outsourced to a content writing service. With a managed solution you can still remain in control of your blog topics or you can hand over the reins and let your content service pick the topics for you. While a managed solution might mean you’re paying someone else to manage your blog, there are some critical benefits that often outweigh the costs, including:

 

  • You’ll have a team of experts who know about blogs and content. They can devise a content strategy that keeps your posts coming regularly – which helps with your search engine rankings too.
  • You won’t have to worry about writing while you’re busy. A managed solution has a team of writers that whip up quality posts and keep up with your blog.
  • A content service is likely to have a team of editors, which means you save time on proofreading and editing.
  • Your content will be optimized with keywords, but also will be holiday-targeted, which means your content is more likely to be shared and go viral — double win for you!

 

Maintaining content flow during the holidays is crucial. Google expects you to publish on a regular basis and if you stop altogether, even to break for the holiday, you might notice a drop in your rank. Instead of risking the chance, add your blogs content to your to-do list for this holiday season.

 

 

stuffed content holiday turkey

How to NOT Stuff Your Content Like this Thursday’s Turkey

Thanksgiving is upon us. (Happy Thanksgiving, if you’re reading this!) While everyone else is dreaming about a succulent turkey with all of the traditional fixings, perhaps you’re dreaming about better SEO rankings. Okay, maybe you’re thinking about the turkey a little more.
 

No Content Stuffing, It’s Simply Not Allowed!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we felt it was time to talk about stuffing. But we’re not talking about Grandma’s famous stuffing – we’re talking about keywords and how stuffing won’t be as satisfying as your Thanksgiving meal.

 

Keywords Are Like Cranberry Sauce

We all know cranberry sauce. It’s tart, sweet and just the right amount on the plate amplifies your Thanksgiving dinner to the maximum. Now, add too much cranberry sauce and your plate is overwhelmed and all you taste is that tart, bitterness that too many cranberries can give. It ruins your dinner.

Keywords are like cranberry sauce. Stuff too much into your content and it comes off bitter not only to your readers, but search engines as well. Today’s Google looks at keywords like that red, iconic condiment of Thanksgiving: just the right amount to finish off your content is perfect.

So what is keyword stuffing? If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a practice of loading blogs and web pages with keywords in high volume as an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings. Often, these keywords are awkward, placed randomly and really don’t improve the content — sometimes they are not even relevant to the content, according to Google Webmaster Tools. Filling pages with rapid fire keywords won’t do you much good and will certainly give your readers a reason to move on to a different site.

 

An example of keyword stuffing:

“SEO, SEO services, SEO Los Angeles.” Notice how there’s no sentence structure? Just a bundle of keywords? This is an extreme example, but hopefully you get the point.

 

Here, read another, we dare ya!

“Here at SEO Experts in Los Angeles, we sell the best SEO services in Los Angeles. So if you’re looking for SEO experts in Los Angeles, be sure to check out our SEO services. We’re the best SEO experts in Los Angeles.”

It’s awful and quite painful to even read, right? Trust me, your readers will think the same, if that’s what they’re greeted with on your website.

 

So Keyword Stuffing Doesn’t Work Then?

Nope, not anymore. Google and other search engines have smartened up. Keyword stuffing no longer works because Google’s algorithms are trained to look over a site and determine if keywords are used improperly or in an unreasonable number. If you have an ultra-high density of a particular keyword, Google will drop your rank rather than increase it. If you’re a repeat offender you might notice your site is removed from the search engine index altogether.

 

What Happens If I Keyword Stuff?

Okay, so let’s say you add too many keywords to your content. Just like the cranberry sauce example, you’re likely to get:

  1. Less engagement and sharing on your site. No one’s going to rave about your turkey (content) when it’s smothered in cranberry sauce.
  2. You’ll be penalized by the search engines for keyword stuffing and recovery isn’t fun.
  3. Your conversion rate will drastically drop (or disappear altogether).
  4. No one will bother reading your content — would you?

 

So How Do I Avoid Keyword Stuffing?

It’s easier said than done. First and foremost, quit fretting about your keyword density — this isn’t as important as you think. Focus on long-tail keywords, as the Content Marketing Institute suggests. These are phrases with three or more words that offer a high volume of searches and are more relevant to your content — and also less likely to accidentally stuff.

Review your keyword density before you publish. Less is always more with keywords so add a keyword or key phrase when it makes sense, but don’t focus on a density at a specific number. There is no magic number, but some say two to five percent is probably the safer goal to reach.

No matter what you do, don’t load your pages with irrelevant keywords. According to a recent article by WebProNews.com, using keywords that aren’t relevant to your content or brand marketing can be detrimental to your rank.

 

Some Tips for Success

  • Create a 12-month content strategy that has topics, titles and keywords that you will use (naturally) within the content.
  • Write to offer your readers value — don’t write for the search engines.
  • Create content that is practical and helpful. Be unique and show off your expertise — that’s why people are visiting your site in the first place.
  • Use title tags and descriptions for optimization.
  • Make sure your content is never duplicated.
  • Use spellcheck and grammar check — no one likes misspelled words.

 

deliver your content strategy

How to Deliver Useful Content for Your Content Strategy Audience

Knowing who is going to be reading your content is key when you’re planning a content strategy. Marketing these days is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s all about creating content that your audience will actually enjoy reading, continue reading, and even tell others to read. To make that to ‘die for content,’ you need a content strategy that dictates your voice and delivery, and this all starts with understanding your audience.

 

So Who Is Your Content Strategy Audience?

If you ask the average business owner to describe their target customer, you’ll often hear attributes of a too-good-to-be-true type of customer. Most target customers are based on assumptions and not facts, which is why a lot of great brands are never recognized — because they cannot create content that attracts their ideal customer
(because they have no clue what their ideal customer is like).

There’s no one-size-fits all audience solution according to Inc.com, so you can cross that off your checklist right now. Your customer type is as unique as your brand and the products/services under your brand. A legal client isn’t going to be the same as a wedding planner’s client list, now will it? Your content must be customized to your industry and the type of customer who is interested in what you have to offer.

 

There are three basic questions you should answer with your content:

  1. Who is your primary audience? Are you targeting teenagers? Retirees? Single mothers? You have a target customer and they can be somewhat categorized, so pick a category.
  2. What purpose will your content serve? How is your content going to help the target customer?
  3. What’s your typical customer’s attitude toward your product? Be realistic — not everyone is enthusiastic about every product or service out there, even if they need it.

 

Identify Your Target Customer

A good content strategy has mapped out the target customer. You should know the average age of your shopper, gender, race, etc. For example, a home loan agency typically meets with people between the ages of 25-30, probably both men and women, and ethnicity can vary depending on the region.

A company selling supplemental prescription coverage, on the other hand, might typically sell their product to retirees (above the age of 60) who need to supplement where Medicare and Medicaid lack.

 

Decide Your Purpose

Your content, service, brand, website, etc. serve a purpose. You are the answer to a potential customer’s issue — otherwise your business wouldn’t exist. What is your purpose? What are you solving for your target customer? According to the University of Maryland, you can’t write content without knowing what you’re solving for your reader.

A website designer, for example, helps companies and individuals set up websites that they couldn’t otherwise do themselves. Therefore, a website designer’s content should address the concerns of the average website owner, show the reader they understand the difficulties of building a website, and offer their services as a solution. You’re the go-to man (or woman). You know all the codes, the tricks and you have a portfolio of awesome websites to back it up. Use that to prove you’re the solution.

A personal injury attorney, for example, is there to help accident and injury victims receive compensation. Your content should be understanding, comforting and address the common concerns of your average client. You know your clients are probably worried about paying for their endless medical bills, getting their car back together, or paying for their mortgage. Address those concerns with a comforting, helpful tone.

 

Remember Your Target Customer’s Concern

Just because your services or products are necessary, doesn’t mean your customers are excited to buy them. Insurance, for example, is something everyone needs but no one wants to pay for or deal with shopping for. Address these issues in your content and call your customer out on their concerns. Have a valid argument against that issue so your customer has no excuse.

 

Remember the Viral Factor

Successful content is content that people want to share with others — and makes you go viral. It can be tricky writing that unique piece that people are compelled to share, but there are a few things that can increase the likelihood your content will go viral.

  1. Improve the Reader’s Social StandingMost readers only share something if it improves their personal image or helps forge relationships with others. So, share content that a reader would want to share with other people to establish a better relationship.
  2. Use Triggers There are things that can trigger emotions and emotions are popular in viral content. Use fear, anger, humor, sadness, etc. in your content (where applicable) to incite an emotion in the reader. One of the biggest causes for viral content is awe, second humor.
  3. Share a Personal Story People like to know that there is a human being behind your brand. Share personal stories or have touching customer testimonials on your blog or website that reach your readers on a more personal level.

 

Learn more about what makes content go viral in this article by Entrepreneur.

 

Bottom line: if you consider your audience in your content strategy, you’ll deliver a much more powerful selling message than if you address what you think is your “target customer”. It takes time to research your ideal market, but that research investment pays off when you convert over 80 percent of your readers into customers.

 

Content Strategy for Your Marketing Agency

How to Build a Content Strategy for Your Marketing Agency Website

As a marketing agency owner you already know why your clients are hiring you: they need you to get the word out for them. But if your website doesn’t market your own services effectively, why would a business want to hire you to market them? Marketing agencies must be good at creating effective marketing campaigns that catches the eye of potential clients and promotes their clients brands. Therefore, it only makes sense that your marketing agency has a content strategy in place to market yourself first.

 

Does My Agency Really Need a Content Strategy?

Bottom line: if your marketing agency doesn’t succeed, your clients won’t either. Having a clear content strategy for your agency is imperative for determining your own success as well as the success of your clients. After all, as a marketing agency you’re likely to take part in developing your client’s content strategy too. Content is crucial for any business and more people are starting to catch on.

 

So Where Do I Start?

If you’ve never developed a content strategy for your business, now is a great time to start. According to the Content Marketing Institute, there are seven initial steps everyone should take when developing a content strategy:

  1. Define Your Goals: Why are you making this content? What do you need from your website?
  2. Record the Metrics: Decide how you will track whether or not you’re achieving your results.
  3. Gather Up Some Research: Research your typical buyer and how you can market your services to them. Do you market to home care agencies only? Or do you accept all business and industry types?
  4. Decide on Content: Decide the type of content you’re going to write for your marketing agency.
  5. Create the Content: Get writing!
  6. Distribute Content: Whether that means publishing it on your site or distributing it through press releases, you have to distribute it somehow.
  7. Follow-Up: Review your content and measure its performance. If it’s not meeting your goals, it’s time for a revision.

 

Keep It Diverse—Like Your Customers

As a marketing agency, you represent a variety of clients, industries and brands. If your content focuses on only one type of industry or customer, you’re going to limit your acquisition capabilities. A good content strategy should be diverse, just like your client list. Make your services appeal to the little guys as well as the corporate bigwigs. Make your content fun enough for those younger entrepreneurs, but sophisticated enough to attract the long-term owners.

 

Press Releases are Crucial

You’re a professional marketer, so you need to market yourself like crazy—literally. One of the best ways to get the word out about your service is through press releases. A press release is a news-like piece distributed through top press release distributor sites, like PRWeb or PRNewswire. Today’s press release, however, is a lot different than the press releases of a few years ago. Press release distributors are no longer allowing poorly written press releases through, and the information must be newsworthy. You can include keywords and links, but don’t think because you’ve done so your rank is going to shoot through the roof. Instead use press releases as a stepping stone to get potential clients to visit your site.

Not sure where to start on your press releases? Here are a few tips for success. If you need more, read this article by Forbes on how to write a news worthy press release.

  1. Be concise. No one wants to read a 1,000 word press release and no one will read it if it’s a wall of text. Stick to 300 or 400 words maximum. Even better, use a numbered or bulleted list somewhere to drive your points home and sum it all up for the reader.
  2. Be newsworthy. Your story needs to sound like news and be something urgent. Whether you’re updating them on changes in-house or a new client you’ve acquired, it must be newsworthy. Consider the newspaper and what you read. You won’t see a post about a computer breakdown, but you might read about a company signing on with a new computer repair service to add to their pool of clients.
  3. Don’t sell. There should be no selling in a press release what-so-ever. Instead, tell the reader what news you have to share and redirect them to your site or blog for the sales speech.
  4. Release often. You should release press releases a few times per month (perhaps once a week).

 

Get Blogging

Blogging is critical. A blog gives clients a sense of your personality and your range when it comes to marketing. In fact, according to the State of Inbound Marketing in 2012, 56 percent of companies who blog at least once per month acquire a new customer. About 92 percent of blogs who post multiple times per day acquire a new customer. Blogs that are posted just once a day have a 78 percent chance of acquiring a new customer. So, if your marketing agency isn’t blogging at least daily, you’re halving your chances of catching new clients.

You market your customers and you know how to sell. Show potential clients your skills by marketing yourself first. Creating a killer content strategy can help market your services to a broad range of clients and ultimately increase your business. If you just can’t put it to screen the way you intend, consider hiring a professional content writing service instead. They can take your goals, help you with your content strategy and get you the large customer base your company needs to stay competitive.