January 11, 2010

Blog has moved

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:17 am by Write Associate

Good morning! I just wanted to drop a quick post to let you know that The Write Associate blog has officially moved…to the home of our freshly-renovated website! We’ve got a new look, new feel, and plenty of new content each week. Be sure to check out the new Write Associate blog, browse our article library, register for our info-packed teleseminars,  or sign up for our free, bi-weekly email newsletter called Copywriting to Get Clients (bonus: just for signing up, you’ll get a free copy of our special report, “7 Simple Techniques to Turn Your Website into a Client-Attracting Machine“), all of which will give you tons of great info on compelling copywriting techniques and effective marketing methods.

Got questions? Please contact us today…we’d love to hear from you!

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August 21, 2009

“How you do anything is how you do everything”

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:02 pm by Write Associate

Have you ever received a free report or purchased an e-book that was riddled with typos and grammatical errors? How did that shape your impression of the author? Regardless of the topic or the author’s profession, you probably began to question their professionalism, right? Maybe you wondered if the products and services they were trying to ultimately sell you would be full of errors as well. You might have felt like you couldn’t trust them to provide quality products or services.

The overall impression was that the author of the free report or e-book provides sub-par work, based on your readings. Even if they’re not a professional writer or editor, you still expected a certain level of professionalism and quality. Which leads us to the quote in the subject line: “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

I stumbled across this prolific quote yesterday, while I was listening to a very informative tele-seminar that was hosted by Linda Clair Puig of Claire Communications and Linda Dessau of You Talk-I write. It was all about the concept of using ‘pink spoons’ (a.k.a. free reports or other special offers that you give away in exchange for your potential clients’ contact info) to make your website more effective. (As I said, the call was very informative, and while it’s over now, you can still check out their ‘pink spoon tele-camp’ that will be hosted this fall.)

At one point, Linda D. was talking about 6 mistakes that people typically make with their pink spoons, and the final mistake talked about sending ‘pink spoons’ that are full of errors. She made it painfully clear the true impact that the simplest of errors can have on your business. These errors can be in your website copy, your free report, your e-mail newsletters…anything that you send to current and potential clients.

Trust me, they will see errors as a reflection of your professionalism, and your ability to perform the work they need done (even if it has nothing to do with writing or editing). If you do anything that requires any level of attention to detail (which is just about anything when it comes to client work!), you need to be very aware of how you’re presenting yourself.

Because “how you do anything is how you do everything.”

And this doesn’t just apply to your writing, either. Readers are also scrutinizing the format of your products (formatting that seems ‘off’ can be distracting and reek of unprofessionalism) and even the ease of delivery. If you make it too hard to sign up for your newsletter or download your special report, you’re going to lose a lot of people who don’t have time to bother with difficult processes. I speak from experience here. I had some major troubles with the newsletter sign-up form on my website for a few months, and by the time I figured it out, I’m sure I’d already lost out on numerous potential clients – and possible sources of income for my business. It definitely helped me learn a valuable lesson about testing out the sign-up process!

If you find yourself trembling in fear at this point, don’t worry: I had some major troubles with the newsletter sign-up form on my website for a few months, and by the time I figured it out, I’m sure I’d already lost out on multiple potential clients. It definitely helped me learn a valuable lesson about testing out the sign-up process!

If you find yourself trembling in fear at this point, don’t worry:

There are a few steps you can take to ensure that your potential clients have a memorable (in a good way!) experience with your special reports and products.

  1. After you finish writing, let the report/e-book/whatever sit for at least a day. Put it aside and focus on something else. Then come back to it with fresh eyes and read it cover to cover, with a red pen in hand (or Microsoft Word’s Tracked Changes feature turned on).
  2. Save any changes, and set up the sign-up process on a non-live page of your website. Sync it with your autoresponder and everything…the whole nine yards. Then enlist a trusted friend or two to visit that page and walk through the entire sign-up process, noting any difficulties along the way.
  3. Have your partner(s) in crime also review the report or e-book, noting their own questions or suggestions as they go. It’s amazing how easy it is for others to catch simple typos that our eyes miss because we knew what we meant to say. Ask them about their first impression of the report/e-book and what they took away from the content. Did it raise additional questions that you should consider addressing? Ask them to be brutally honest with their feedback (or, better yet, choose people who are known for their straightforwardness).
  4. Consider their suggestions and implement the ones you like or that make sense for your product. Then go through and read it again.
  5. Think about hiring a specialized marketing writer to review your work from a marketing standpoint. He or she will see if it includes such things as a compelling title (without which, no one will download or buy it), a soft sell throughout the content (to help establish your expertise without seeming pushy), and a call-to-action at the end (to give readers a reason to buy another product or contact you about your services). Such editing services can start as low as $3 per page, so don’t let the fear of huge fees stop you from checking them out. (In fact, you can head to my site, www.writeassociate.com, now for more information on editing services or to contact me.)

Yes, it may seem like a time-consuming process. That’s because it is. But if you spend one or two days per year reviewing and publishing great reports or e-books, the results will speak for themselves. More credibility, more clients, more fulfillment…what more could you ask for?

August 14, 2009

In order to get more clients, you have to “get” your clients

Posted in Marketing advice tagged , at 11:37 am by Write Associate

A few weeks ago, I was playing around with my e-newsletter software, and I stumbled across a feature that allows users to create and send surveys to their email list.

The wheels started turning, and I thought, what better way to find out exactly what my target market really needs?

So I put together a short survey of 7 questions, some multiple choice and a few open-ended, thought-provoking goodies.

In exchange, I offered to enter all respondents into a drawing to win two free hours of my services (specifically, they will win two hours of marketing consultation and website copywriting in the form of a home page makeover).

So far, I’ve gotten quite a few takers, and I’ve been soaking up the answers to their questions like a sponge. Not only have I been given insight into the type of services they’re considering so I can focus on those in my promotional materials, but I’m also learning more about what’s holding them back from working with me, which will help me address (and hopefully overcome) their concerns.

The key here is that I asked very pointed questions. I listed out my main services and asked them to check off each one that they would consider (or have considered) outsourcing. Then I asked them to tell me why they would (or wouldn’t) consider working with a professional such as myself. Finally, I asked them what they struggle with when it comes to internet marketing (my specialty as a service provider).

The answers to the last question really excited me because it’s given me ideas on new article topics and potential e-books that I can put together for potential clients on subjects that most concern them. Now I don’t have to guess about the information they’re looking for…it’s all right there in front of me!

Any service provider can use this tactic to get to the meat of what their potential clients really want, and then you can use that information to position yourself as the answer to their problems.

If your e-newsletter program doesn’t have a survey feature (or if you don’t have an email list full of your target market), you’re going to need to do a little leg work. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!

I won’t get into too many technical specifics here, but you might look into a feature like JotForm, a free service that lets you create surveys and then input the HTML code right onto your website. I actually use this service to allow potential clients to contact me with details for quote requests, and it’s great; I get a nice, organized email with all of their answers and contact info so I can back in touch with them quickly. If you go this route, you can dedicate a page on your site for the survey and then market the heck out of it, linking to it from Twitter, Facebook, networking forums, etc. etc.

Don’t forget to include an incentive for respondents, whether you offer free services to one lucky winner or choose another promotion that works better for you. Just know that most of your potential clients are too busy to fill out your survey out of the kindness of their hearts…so you need to give them a reason to take a few minutes out of their day.

If you go the survey-on-your-website route, feel free to let me know in the comment section below – and don’t forget to link back to your survey!

August 10, 2009

Say yes to the possibilities

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:30 pm by Write Associate

So, my husband and I were flipping through On Demand last night looking for something interesting to watch, and we finally decided on Yes Man with Jim Carrey. We’re both fans of good ‘ole Jim and figured it would be a light, funny flick. Little did I know that I’d actually take a valuable business lesson away from the viewing.

If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a man named Carl (Jim Carrey’s character) who is constantly turning down opportunities in his personal and professional life. As a result, he watches his wife walk out the door, begins to lose his few remaining friends and misses out on a promotion, keeping him stuck in a dead-end job for another who knows how many years. He finds himself dejected, bitter and hopeless.

Then he runs into an old friend who introduces him to a program that touts “Yes” as the new “No.” On a whim, Carl goes to a seminar and, eyes rolling the whole time, laughs his way through the presenter’s speech. Until the presenter hones in on him as a new guest and pinpoints exactly how pathetic his life has become. In a nutshell, Carl walks away with a new lease on life and begins to turn his “no’s” into “yes’s.” He takes it a bit to the extreme, saying “yes” to every single opportunity that comes across his path, from the slightly uncomfortable to the wildly outrageous (and I’ll just leave it at that…). He finds new friends, rekindles old friendships, gets promoted at work (twice!) and meets a new love interest. He also finds himself in some sticky situations.

In the end, he learns that you have to find a balance between the two, learning to embrace opportunities that are right for you and pass on those that aren’t. But the key is that opening your mind allows you to be open to the possibilities that exist around you so you can make those educated decisions, instead of leading a life that is boxed into the corner, with no hope of going anywhere.

The same is true of business. If you have a rigid set of ideals and never even consider taking risks that fall outside of your comfort zone, you’ll go nowhere fast. At best, your business will remain static, leaving you with enough money to pay the bills but not much else. At worst, you’ll become dissatisfied with your business and your life, leading to career burnout and possibly business failure.

The lesson that I took away is that you have to give yourself permission to take chances and say “yes” to those opportunities that could lead your business to unknown lands. You never know…one of those chance encounters could skyrocket your business to amazing proportions!

August 4, 2009

Dare to be different…dare to be successful

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:57 pm by Write Associate

The Universe must be trying to tell me something today. Not only did I feel compelled to start reading a book by David Tyreman called World Famous: How to Give Your Business a Kick-Ass Brand Identity, but I also happened to read the feature article of an e-newsletter that I regularly receive but hardly ever take the time to read (for no other  reason than that there just aren’t enough hours in the day…). The subject of both the book and the e-newsletter? Letting your brand differentiate yourself in the mind of your target market.

The e-newsletter feature article can be found on the author’s site under the blog title, Does your brand differentiate your organization? In this intriguing piece, author Marcia Hoeck talks about a neurological study that tested the impact of brands on the human brain. Apparently, strong brands evoke positive emotions and have a bigger impact on consumers than lesser-known alternatives. Makes sense, but how in the world do you create a strong brand?

I’m still on the learning curve myself, but according to David Tyreman, the first step is all about daring to stand out from the crowd, daring to discover (and then communicate) what makes your business unique, and overall daring to be yourself. Such a simple concept, yet it goes against everything we were ever taught…which is typically how to go with the flow of society and do the “normal” stuff that everyone else is doing. I personally think it’s time to give the status quo a nice shove out of the way…and make room for bigger, better things in my business. (World fame, perhaps?)

Stay tuned…the full book review of World Famous will be posted on the Virtual Assistant Forums within the coming weeks. I can’t wait to learn more about how I can make my business world famous…how about you?

Update: I don’t know if it’s just because I’m more aware of it or what, but now I’m seeing branding advice all over the place! Check out another related article: How Successful Brands Live Their Difference. And here’s the link to a FREE tele-seminar called, “The Top 7 Secrets Behind Today’s Top-Earning Brands:” http://www.brandu.com/rd.cfm?id=811&af=239. I’ll be there, pen in hand and ready to learn!

I’m pumped to start creating a stronger brand that will make clients sit up and take notice! If you have more resources, advice, or questions on the subject, please share in the comment section below. I want to hear from you!

July 28, 2009

Let your clients sell your services for you

Posted in copywriting tagged , , at 11:23 am by Write Associate

Using testimonials on your site is a great way to boost buyer confidence and let your customers do the selling for you. But not all testimonials are good testimonials…in order to be effective, they have to address specific issues that your products/services solved or benefits they provided to the customer.

Bad testimonial

“Jim’s great! I loved working with him!”

Jane Doe
ABC Company
www.abccompanywebsite.com

This testimonial is too vague to convince anyone to buy from you.

Good testimonial

“Tammi,

You must think, ‘How easy was that?!’ I love all the changes you made on both web pages and could never have done it at all, no matter how simple it may have been for you. I don’t even know how to describe what you did, You made it more active, more engaging, and more personal, while omitting the boring. How can you do that?

I’m happy.”

Marilyn Miller, MS, LPC
www.marilynmillerlpc.com

The testimonial above, on the other hand, spells out exactly how the services at hand (Write Associate website copywriting services) made this client’s website more attractive and engaging, which will lead to better sales.

So…how do you get good testimonials?

The best way to get great testimonials is to ask for what you want. Your clients are busy people, so you have to guide them into testimonials that will be useful for you (without putting words in their mouth, of course). The best way to do this is to create a short questionnaire (your clients are busy, remember!) with pointed questions that will hopefully elicit helpful responses.

 

I send out the following questionnaire on occasion to current and former clients:

1)  What benefits do you receive from using my services (e.g. save time, get better responses from potential clients, etc.)?

2)  What do you like best about my services (e.g. quality, turnaround time, etc.)? 
 
3)  What was your primary reason for seeking copywriting/editing services? 
 
4)  Why did you decide to use my services over other copywriters? Please be specific.

5)  Are you happy with that decision?

6)  Would you refer my services to a friend or colleague? Why or why not?

 

Then, with their permission, I turn their answers into a testimonial that outlines the specific benefits they received from my services.

If you’re trying to hone in on a particular benefit of your products or service, such as an affordable price, try to word your questions accordingly. For instance, one of your questions could be, “How would you describe my prices compared to other {copywriters, coaches, whatever it is you’re comparing yourself to}?” or maybe, “Did you find my rates to be affordable based on your expectations? Please explain.”

The key is to try and avoid questions that allow strictly “yes” or “no” answers. You want your clients to describe, in their own words, what makes your products and services so great.

If they’re happy with your products and services, they’ll be happy to comply, but you can also provide an incentive to give them an extra push. For example, offer them 15% or 20% off their next order (if you have a service they might need again in the near future) or promise to give them access to a special report or restricted area of your website for a certain period of time. What you offer is up to you, but if you make it worth their while, they’ll take a few moments to give you a glowing review.

Action of the day: Jot down 5 or 6 questions for your own testimonials questionnaire. Look them over, maybe sleep on them to make sure they’ll provide in-depth, useful responses, and then send your questionnaire out to a client or two. It may take a little time to put together good testimonials, but the results are well worth the effort.

 

What are you doing to get good testimonials from your clients? I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts. Please share them here or email them to me at tammim @ writeassociate.com.

July 23, 2009

Are you getting sales from your e-newsletter?

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 12:46 pm by Write Associate

When you send out your e-newsletters, do your subscribers take action?  Do they visit your website and show interest in your products and services? If not, it’s time to find out why! Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether your e-newsletter is working hard enough to sell your products and services. 

  • Is your e-newsletter subscriber list full of members in your target market or people who don’t need/want your products and services?
  • Is your e-newsletter’s subject line generic (ie. “XYZ Company Newsletter – Episode 10) or non-specific (ie. “Read my newest issue!”)?
  • Is your e-newsletter giving away useful information or just hard-selling your products and services?
  • Are you giving e-newsletter readers a glimpse of your personality that can help you build relationships with them?

For more detailed info on the above questions and why they’re important, check out my article, Top Five Reasons Why Your E-Newsletter isn’t Getting Responses.

Your e-newsletter should be a constant work in action. You can even make a game out of it by making changes, watching the results, and always striving to “beat your own record” of opens and click-throughs. Some newsletter programs, like Aweber, let you test out different e-newsletter subject lines by sending out half of your e-newsletters with one subject and half with a different subject. If you keep track of which subjects perform better, you’ll start to notice a pattern and can make changes to your subject writing.

Do you have any other tips? What do you do to improve your e-newsletter responses?

July 13, 2009

Marketing tip of the week: Beating writer’s block

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:33 pm by Write Associate

There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page and wondering when (or if) the perfect words are going to strike you, whether you’re drafting web copy, an article or that e-book you’ve been meaning to write. First of all, don’t beat yourself up; even the pros who write for a living (like me!) battle writer’s block. Here’s what I find works best for me when I’m sweating over words that just won’t come:

JUST DO IT!

(Okay, so I might have borrowed that phrase.)

The point is that your first draft is just that…a draft. If you have a basic idea of what you want to write about, just start writing. Your first sentence might be so terrible that it ends up on the cutting board, but at least you’re getting the creative juices flowing. Nothing is ever set in stone…you can always go back and make changes later. I find that when I sit down to my computer, I often get hit with a vague sense of dread and a wave of questions:

  • What if I can’t think of the “right” words?
  • What if my writing is somehow “off” today?
  • And so on and so on…

But once I start typing, the words tend to find their way onto the page. So if you find yourself sweating over your next writing assignment (whether it’s for a client or yourself), remember those three magic words and just do it!

Bonus tip: Still stuck? Try putting your task aside and writing something just for fun. Add a post to your personal blog (could even be about your frustration over having writer’s block!) or put a pen to paper and jot down some thoughts about something entirely unrelated to work. Sometimes the act of writing itself can unlock your inner muse. Just be sure that you’ve got a fresh Word doc open and ready to catch the thoughts that are sure to start flowing!

July 6, 2009

Are you a workaholic?

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:19 pm by Write Associate

First of all, let me shout out a belated Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! I was so busy last week frantically finishing project work in preparation for a 3-day holiday weekend that I didn’t have a chance to wish you all a Happy 4th beforehand. And then come Thursday night, I logged off my computer and didn’t touch it all weekend, which was a definite first for me!

But let me tell you something…it was nice. I thought I’d have major email withdrawals, but instead I found myself having a great time in the “real world.” I spent my time enjoying my personal life and relaxing with friends who share common interests outside of work. Don’t get me wrong…I love each and every one of my virtual friends and business associates, and I can spend all day talking about the latest and greatest business tools and resources (actually, I just launched a new blog that offers free business tips – check it out here if you’re interested), but I can admit now that I was starting to become a workaholic.

So, in honor of National Workaholic Day, which was yesterday (7/5), I decided to write this post.

In case you’re wondering, a workaholic, as defined by dictionary.com, is “a person who works compulsively at the expense of other pursuits.” Read: a personal life.

Let’s be honest: have you ever jumped online on your day off “just to check your email” or “to see what’s going on with your Twitter pals” only to find yourself getting so caught up in work-related business that your free time wastes away? I know I have. It’s really easy to say you’re only going online for a minute, and then before you know it, an hour has passed, sometimes two…

Sure, it’s great to love what you do so much that you want to do it all the time…in fact, isn’t that the American dream? But there is a fine line between loving what you do and jumping into full-blown workaholism.

Which is why I’m such a proponent of outsourcing work. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do the things you love in your business, along with all of the busywork that requires your attention, and still have some semblance of a personal life (or your sanity!).

If you’re a service professional who either hates writing or constantly finds yourself without the time to put a proper marketing plan in place, now’s the time to hand those tasks off to someone who can handle all of your marketing needs. Someone like me, a copywriter with a flair for words, who can help you with everything from writing killer web copy to drafting well-crafted articles, press releases, and blog posts to drive traffic to your site. To learn more, please visit my site, www.writeassociate.com.

Together, we can fight workaholism – and win!

June 29, 2009

I love Mondays

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:26 am by Write Associate

As my subject line declares, I love Mondays.

Yes, okay, I know you’re really hating me right about now or, at the very least, willing to write me off as a crazy person, but please hear me out. I used to hate Mondays. Actually, I even hated Sundays because I knew Monday was coming!

But then I changed my point of view, and now Monday and I are fast friends.

Now I look at Mondays as a chance to start fresh with a clean slate. If I blew off my marketing goals last week or maybe wasn’t as productive as I’d like to be, every Monday provides me with the opportunity to make things right.

I can dust off the old treadmill and kick-start my exercise regime or I can stick to my marketing goals and really commit to growing my business.

If you’re like many people, you plan to make major changes once a year, right about the time that New Year’s Resolutions come around. But that just sets you up for failure, because if something happens to derail your plans (which is highly likely), then you wind up feeling deflated and defeated, and you may even wait another whole year to do anything about it.

But if you open your eyes to the opportunities that the start of each week presents to you, you just might find yourself making positive changes in your life.

Heck, you just might become a Monday lover yourself.

What are your thoughts? Do you love Mondays? Hate ’em? Please share!

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