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Case study – creating new content ideas for Birkett Consulting

Case study about coming up with new blog topics.

I first met Ros Birkett via a networking group (which is pretty much how I meet everyone these days). She’s utterly lovely and a brilliant person to have a coffee and a natter with. When it comes to branding and marketing, what Ros doesn’t know frankly isn’t worth knowing. She’s the owner of Birkett Consulting, working with a range of clients to deliver adverting and marketing that gets results. In a nutshell, she knows her marketing onions, which is why it came as a bit of a surprise to get an email asking if I could help her to come up with some topics for her blog.

The challenge

When Ros got in touch, Birkett Consulting was in the midst of a website makeover. All of this was happening alongside the day-to-day work involved in running a busy agency and serving clients. There was also the small matter of getting to grips with an in-depth SEO analysis report for a client that ran to over 100 pages. Ros was faced with two main challenges. Firstly, that she was struggling to find blocks of time that would allow her to focus on website tasks. Secondly, all the topics she was reading about seemed a bit predictable. She wanted some fresh ideas that would help her to get the messaging right as we emerged from lockdown.

The solution

To start the process, Ros and I arranged a Zoom call to talk through Birkett Consulting’s marketing basics. She described her customers and the services that she wanted to focus on in the blog. Ros’ awareness of her customer base meant that I could focus on the topics that would have most impact. We also talked about bringing a bit of humour back into marketing to lighten things up after lockdown.

After our chat, I went away and came up with four possible topics using a combination of tools, including my own random marketing thoughts. I’m looking forward to seeing the results when the new website launches.

Could a fresh pair of eyes on your business help you to speak more effectively to your audience? Get in touch and let’s have a chat.

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Your marketing: do you know who’s watching?

Someone who's watching your marketing without you noticing.
Image by Daria Shevtsova via Pexels

That sounds a bit creepy, doesn’t it? Like you might have a stalker. In a sense, you probably have, just in a good way. I’ve been in business for over 5 years now* and it’s taught me a lot about the way people respond to marketing. Here are 5 types of people that are watching your marketing – whether you know it or not…

*I celebrated the anniversary in January, with home school and weeping.

The ones that make a lot of noise

There are two kinds of noisy person on social media. There are the ones that comment on your posts without really saying anything useful.  Then there are the ones who share your posts, offer insightful comments, or say thanks for a helpful tip. Both will potentially increase your reach, but I prefer the latter. They don’t just help me; they often add something for my other followers (or their own). Some of them even turn into customers.

The ones that act on your marketing

I’ve got to admit, this is a relatively rare experience. Everyone has followers who never really engage with anything. Then suddenly, something hits the mark and they become a customer. Even more rarely, you might get someone that hasn’t even followed you, but they respond to a post and turn into an instant customer. I have no idea how this works unless they’ve been lurking so stealthily that you haven’t noticed them at all.

The ones you meet networking

I love networking and it has helped my business to survive lockdown. I’m not exaggerating – every customer I’ve had over the past 15 months has been someone I met networking. That doesn’t mean I stop marketing online. When I meet someone networking, I still go and check them out online. It helps me to learn more about their business and whether my first impression was the right one. The same is almost certainly true of your networking contacts too.

The lurkers

Lurkers are the people you get rid of when you have a follower cull. They don’t leave a like or comment. Maybe they don’t even see your posts. Yet I’ve heard tales of people who lurk on other business owners’ pages because they want to know what they’re doing without supporting them. That bothers me. None of us are a good fit for every customer and if I can send someone to a writer that will do a better job for them, I’ll do it.

The quiet ones

I love the quiet ones. I still see you, reacting to my posts (but hardly ever commenting) and I’m so glad you’re there. Sometimes you’re the ones who tell me face to face that you enjoy my blog.  My favourite thing about you is that you’re the people who turn up just when I need you. I’ve had plenty of those moments where I wonder why I bother marketing because everything’s gone quiet. Then one of you appears out of the woodwork because you’re ready to work with me. It’s like a little bit of magic.

If you’re worried your marketing isn’t working, keep going. Get help if you need to, but don’t give up. If you’re one of my quiet ones, thank you. I hope I’m helping you. If you’d like to stick your head above the parapet and let me have your email address, I send helpful hints and tips out once a month. If you’ve been biding your time and are ready for a chat, here’s the link to book a Zoom chat. I’d love to see your face!

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Want more website visitors? You need to speak your customers’ language

Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA from Pexels

You’ve probably gone to a lot of time and effort creating a great looking website for your business. There’s a lot of technical work you can do if you want more website visitors but one of the most important bits is the one that’s overlooked most often. The words. If your website copy (the technical term for the words) doesn’t tell your visitors that they’re in the right place within a few seconds they’ll bounce off to another site and you might have lost them forever. Then you have to work on attracting more website visitors rather than deepening the relationship with the ones you already have. The great news is that the words you use can help you to attract more visitors and impress them when they get there. How do you do it? I’m glad you asked…

Know your customer

When someone lands on your website, it’s because they were looking for something. You need to show them that they’ve found it. Say they’ve found your shop by typing ‘gifts for Mother’s Day’ into Google. The page they land on should tell them what gifts you’re offering, whether it’s jewellery, chocolates, or something else. If you offer a service, sum it up in a couple of sentences, or with a question they’ll answer yes to if they’re in the right place.

Apply the ‘so what’ test

It’s important to remember that your visitors don’t really care about you. Your credentials are important in that they help you to build trust, but your customer is only really interested in what you can do for them. If you’re an accountant helping small businesses with their tax returns, make it obvious. This can just be something like ‘Want to make your next tax return quick and easy? We can help.’ Yes, it’s really that simple.

What if your visitor isn’t ready to buy?

Sometimes you’ll get a new visitor, but they’re not ready to make a decision yet. They might just be doing some research or perhaps they need to talk to someone else before they decide. Inviting them to sign up to your mailing list or follow you on social media gives you the chance to stay in touch and remind them why they were looking for you in the first place. Then when they’re ready to buy, they’ll remember you.

Are you making it easy to buy?

If you’ve got a website visitor who’s ready to give you their money, make it easy for them. If you sell products online, you know that good photos and clear pricing are both essential, along with a quick and easy checkout. If you offer a service and need to talk to the customer before they buy, show people how to make an enquiry or book a call. Give them a button to click or a form to fill in so they don’t have to go searching.

What do you want to be found for?

If you’ve done any work on your SEO, you’ll know how important key words are. Yours might be easy to identify, particularly if you offer a service in a particular location. It’s worth thinking about the kind of terms your customers will understand. Most people know what a hairdresser does, but a copywriter like me? Not so much. My customers are more likely to look for advice on how to write a blog so I talk about that.

If you want to attract more website visitors and you think your website copy needs an update, let’s have a chat. Email me or book your free discovery call here.

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Case study: a content repurposing collaboration

Photo by Gabriela Palai from Pexels

One of the best things about working in a creative industry is the fact that it gives me opportunities to work as part of a team. The other one is working one to one with clients, but they’re vastly different experiences. A collaboration for me often comes about when one of my website designing friends creates a new website (or redesigns an old one) for one of their clients. They don’t do the wordy bits so if the client doesn’t already have someone in mind, they send them in my direction. I love it because I know there’s already a clear vision for the site so I can jump straight in. It’s brilliant when another creative brain has already got things started because it sparks so many ideas in me.

All of which brings me to another kind of project. When I first ventured out of the (frankly boring) world of corporate networking and into drinking coffee with creatives I hadn’t considered working with people who make films for businesses. I kind of assumed that they’d already have people who are good at that sort of thing. What I didn’t expect was a collaboration that took video and turned it into something else.

The project

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’re probably already familiar with local initiatives that encourage business growth. I’ve seen everything from funding schemes to education projects. Beyond the obvious benefits to local businesses and regional growth, projects like this have one other massive advantage. It gives the people offering the scheme the opportunity to shout about how great they are. A Leicestershire based agency had been offering grants and loans to local businesses. The funding enabled them to secure premises or buy new equipment that allowed them to grow. There were lots of positive stories. Clearly, everyone involved wanted to get the word out.

The marketing

The marketing plan had several different strands, taking in both online and offline marketing. A video agency had already interviewed businesses who’d benefitted from funding and creating short films to share online. They just needed to turn the stories into a form that would also work in print. That’s where I came in. I took the transcriptions of the interviews and turned them into good news stories that could be shared online, via social media and even in printed mail outs to other local businesses.

The whole initiative was so successful that it’s happening again. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I get to put together another collaboration and share some of the stories again this time round!

If I can help you to share your story in a new way, book your call here and let’s have a chat.

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5 quick ways you can create marketing content

Woman at desk writing marketing content.
Photo by Judit Peter from Pexels

Creating new and engaging marketing content for your business can feel a bit like living on a hamster wheel. You might be dizzy but you can’t seem to stop moving. I’m not going to pretend that creating marketing content doesn’t take time. It does. What I will tell you is that it doesn’t need to take you as long as it is right now. Here are a few of the ways that I save myself time when I’m planning my own marketing content so you can swipe them for yourself.

Reuse your blog

I see lots of business owners who think that every post needs to be unique. They spend hours planning and coming up with ideas before creating brand new copy and images for every single bit. The truth is that your audience won’t see everything you post. Sharing the same message more than once keeps your marketing consistent and means that it’s more likely to sink in. If you’ve spent time crafting a good blog post, (or if I’ve written one for you) recycle it as much as you can – there’s more on how to do that here.

Choose a theme

When it comes to marketing, consistency is key. You might offer a lot of different products or services but if your marketing flits between all of them your audience will just get confused and back away. Choosing a theme for each month makes planning easier as your posts can talk about different aspects of the same thing. Your theme might be seasonal, for example winter sun holidays or summer skincare. If your business is in health or wellbeing you could focus on a particular problem. You could simply focus on a service that you want to promote.

Create a content calendar

I have a monthly content calendar that sets out the type of post I’m going to create. It includes things like videos, blogs and posts on different platforms. I share my blog at the same time each week and have regular monthly posts on things like business buzzwords or good copy that I’ve spotted online. It acts as a template, which means that I don’t have to spend loads of time pondering what to share, but I can still change things if I need to.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

You don’t have to create absolutely everything from scratch. I have lots of resources that other people have created and which I use in my own marketing. If you’ve got something similar, share it. Your audience will remember that you were the person who gave them that useful thing so they trust you more. Sharing popular social media posts also helps you to increase your reach. Just make sure that it’s relevant to your audience and that you credit the person who created the original.

Use a scheduler

Scheduling tools are a massive time saver because it means that you don’t have to find time to post every day. You can just block out content creation time and create everything in one go. Put it in your scheduler and you don’t have to think about it until next time. You could break your time down into planning, writing and image creation (or even smaller blocks than that). Doing it this way means that you don’t have a last-minute panic where you end up posting something random because it’s better than nothing.

If you really want to speed up your content creation, I can do it for you! Book your no-obligation discovery call here or sign up to my mailing list for hints and tips straight to your inbox.

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How you can use your blog to create more content

Create new content from your blog
Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

Creating a blog can feel like a lot of hard work, especially if you spend hours on it and end up with something that feels a bit underwhelming. Paying someone else to do it for you can also seem like a lot of money for one piece of content a month. The good news is that your blog can go a lot further than that. Get into recycling and your blog could help you create a whole load of new marketing posts. Here’s how to get started.

Break it down

A good blog should have a few subheadings so you don’t end up with a chunk of text that your audience will struggle to read. Each subheading, or even each paragraph, could be a social media post on its’ own. You can post a section with an image or create a graphic with text on it. The copy might need editing a bit but it’s quicker than creating something from scratch. You can also add a link to your blog so more people find it.

This works really well if your blog is a series of tips (like this one). Write a blog with five tips and you’ve got five separate posts.

Create video content

I know that the idea of doing video causes a lot of you to have a wobble, but it doesn’t have to. There are ways to use video that don’t involve you being on screen. If you’ve already created images for individual paragraphs you can use them in a video. Just add some text if the image doesn’t already have it. I do this using Canva.com or try Ripl.com if you prefer a paid version.

If you’re up for doing a live or video with you in it, you can give a quick summary of your topic and send viewers to a link in the comments if they’d like to read more.

Use the theme as inspiration

Coming up with new things to say on social media can take up a ridiculous amount of time. Reusing your existing content will help, but you can also cut down on the thinking time by talking about your theme in different ways. You can share a motivational meme that’s relevant to your audience or choose a quote that gives a different perspective on the topic. Asking questions can be a great way to find out what your audience think, or what they struggle with. It can get people talking and give you insights that could help you to develop new products and services in the future.

Reuse your blog in your emails

You might think that your email subscribers will follow you on social media so will have seen all of your stuff already. Not necessarily. Nobody will see everything you post. Your subscribers have signed up because they’re interested in what you have to say so there’s nothing wrong with sending them something you think they’ll find useful. Just make sure you write something that’s just for them too. It’s also worth remembering that subscribers are more likely to buy from you than anyone else. Showing them content that shows them why a particular product or service is helpful means they’re more likely to become a customer.

Do you need help creating your blog or coming up with ways to reuse it to create more content? Book your discovery call now and we can have a chat. Alternatively, sign up to my email list for blogging and marketing tips straight to your inbox every month.

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Do you share your values in your marketing?

Woman smiling at phone. Sharing values in marketing.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Marketing (and especially the selling part of marketing) can make a lot of us feel deeply icky. We know we need to sell stuff to make a living but the idea of giving anyone the hard sell just feels wrong. There are lots of solutions to this. One is acknowledging that you’re offering your customers something they want or need and you aren’t forcing them to buy anything. Good marketing is persuasive, not forceful. You show your customers how you can help them in a way that makes it easy for them to say yes. The thing is, a lot of the time they aren’t just saying yes to your product or service. They’re saying it to you. When you share your values in your marketing you help them to make a decision. Here’s how it works.

Why you need to share your values in your marketing

Every successful business shares its values in its marketing somewhere. Even Amazon. They could be about pricing, service or product quality. It all means that when you buy from them you know what you’re getting.

The same applies to small businesses, but there’s a bit more to it. A huge corporation needs overarching brand values because of the number of people involved. When the business is just you it can be more about your personal values. Sharing those means that your customers can recognise you as one of their people. It just makes you more relatable.

What are your values?

What do you stand for? You might think that most of us have the same values – truth, justice… wait, that’s Superman. The values that matter to your customers might be closely aligned with your personal views. Maybe you set up your business to create cruelty free cosmetics or environmentally friendly products. Share what sets you apart.

Sometimes values are intangible. Perhaps the things you stand for are more about how you treat people. Maybe you’re great at going above and beyond in your customer service or at keeping in touch with your customers. It can be more difficult to share that in your marketing but it’s worth doing.

Sharing your values regularly helps you build trust

This is related to the idea that sharing your values makes you relatable. That could prompt you to say ‘right, I’m going to go and write a mission statement on my website and a blog about my values.’ That’s fine, but it isn’t the whole picture.

Giving your customers a regular reminder that you stand for the things you say you do them to believe it. Testimonials are perfect for showing future customers that your promises are backed up by other happy clients and you don’t have to write them yourself.

It doesn’t have to be a mission statement

A mission statement can work brilliantly if it’s something your customers will like. It sets out your values clearly and it can be a great thing to look at if you’re wondering why you started this business in the first place. I’d recommend putting it on your about page so people learn about you and what you stand for at the same time. If you do go for it, remember that you still need to talk about your values in other places too.

Of course, you don’t have to write a mission statement if you don’t want to. If you think they’re pretentious your customers will too.

Need a website that shows customers what you stand for? Or a regular blog where you can share your values? Get in touch or sign up to my mailing list for hints and tips straight to your inbox every month.

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A copywriter’s letter to Santa

Santa reading a letter from a copywriter
Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes struggle to tell people what I really want for Christmas. Mostly because the things I want always sound so boring when they come out of my mouth. “Oh, you know – books, gin, new slippers.” Yes, I have reached the age where new slippers or a nice scarf are the perfect present. But what if we had to be creative and write a letter to Santa as adults? What would you actually ask for? I started writing a list then remembered I’m a copywriter. The impulse wouldn’t be to just write to Santa. It would have to be a sales pitch. So, with that in mind, read on for my list. Then find out how the copywriter in me would pitch it to the big guy…

What I really want for Christmas

  1. A day to myself
  2. A big pile of books
  3. A day out that the grown-ups will love as much as the kids

The copywriter’s letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

How are you? I know it must have been a tough year – did you have to put the elves on furlough for a while or were you able to stay open as an essential service? Hopefully it was the latter because we really need some extra Christmas cheer this year. I know you’re busy and the elves are working their fingers to the bone making all the toys so I’m keeping it simple. That way you can just scatter some of your magic dust in the direction of this copywriter and her family.

The thing is, I’ve been really good this year. In fact, my whole household has. That’s why I’m not just asking for things for myself. I’m thinking of them too. That’s why I really, really want a day to myself. Yes, you read that right. I don’t mind where it happens. Truth is, it’ll take me from a stressed out and, frankly, irritable Mum to a person who’s lovely to live with again. Won’t that be great for everyone?

While you’re in the mood to give me some time on my own, I’d really appreciate a big pile of books to go with it. I know there’s a teetering pile of unread paperbacks by my bed and I’ll get to those, I promise. It’s just that I’d really love to read something that someone else chose because they thought I’d enjoy it. I always think that books are a portal into someone else’s world. We could definitely do with a bit more of that at the moment. If everyone does the same maybe you won’t have to deliver to so many war zones in the Christmases yet to come.

One final thing. I don’t know what it’s like for you up there in the North Pole, but down here in Leicestershire life gets busy. We spend so much time juggling that we forget to have fun. Either that or we find ourselves having the same days out over and over again until everyone is bored and grumpy. I know you’re a big fan of keeping the Christmas spirit going all year so here’s how you can help. Find us a new day out that we’ll all love. That way, when you settle down for your long winter nap you’ll know that there’ll be peace on earth (at least, there will at my house).

Thanks for everything Santa (especially the time off, books and family fun). There’ll be a mince pie and a dram waiting for you at my house.

Happy Christmas,

Love Kirsty x

Would you like to create a new pitch for your audience? (Or even Santa.) Get in touch and let’s have a chat about how I can speak your customers’ language.

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How I learned to be honest with my clients

How I learned to speak out and be honest.
Photo by Andre Furtado from Pexels

Starting out in business is a huge adventure. I was so excited that I’d finally get to work on my own terms and write for a living. After a while I realised that, while things were going well, I felt as if I was wearing a mask that didn’t fit. When I was a lawyer I started working part time after my children were born and I did the same in my business. But somehow, the way I talked about my boundaries had changed. As a paid employee I had no issue with saying “I don’t work on Fridays” but somehow I couldn’t be that honest as a business owner. It was as if I had to deny that my children had any impact on my working life. I felt as if I wouldn’t be taken seriously if I was a part-timer. Here’s what changed things.

Realising that my clients were parents too

When I started my business I expected to work with people who’d appreciate the expertise I’d developed in my legal career. I understood how lawyers and insurers think and knew how to translate that into language their clients would understand. As it turned out, that isn’t what my clients have in common. I certainly work with people who work in insurance and law, as well as loads of other types of business. A lot of them are sole traders. Even more are parents and that’s how the penny dropped. They chose to work with me because I understand the juggle. My client calls typically start with a chat about the family before we get down to business. If a wheel falls off somewhere we both know we can be open and honest about it. It makes for much better relationships all round.

Needing to practice what I preach

The next thing I realised was that I was writing content telling people that they needed to be themselves in their marketing. Sometimes the thing that makes a new client choose you over someone else offering the same thing is, well, you. I once asked a client for some feedback to help me understand what they valued and what they thought my strengths were. In response to the strengths question they put “your personality – show more of it!”  That was ages ago but it’s stayed with me. I realised that while I’d relaxed a lot I was still afraid to show my full, slightly geeky, personality. It’s still a work in progress but I think I’m getting there. The main thing I learned was that I couldn’t ask my clients to come out of their shell if I didn’t do it myself.

Making honest connections

One of my favourite things about this job is learning new stuff. I’ve thought about focusing on one sector a few times but it never lasts. If you get a gathering of copywriters the conversation will often turn to the weirdest thing you’ve ever written about, or the most boring, or just the things you never expected to learn about.

Of course, when it comes to finding the right clients, that’s not the only important thing. I’ve wondered whether I needed to actively like my clients, but I don’t think I do. (Although it would be a problem if I really couldn’t stand them.) If I’m going to write in your voice, we need to have a rapport. That’s definitely not going to happen if we can’t be honest with each other about who we are and what’s happening in our lives.

Do you need some help telling an honest story in your marketing? Book a no-obligation call and let’s have a chat. Alternatively, you can sign up to my mailing list for hints and tips to your inbox every month.

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Is it ever OK to use jargon in your marketing?

Frustrated by too much jargon.
Photo by Yan from Pexels

When it comes to marketing, I’m a big fan of keeping things simple. Let people know that you understand the problem they’re experiencing and show them how you can help. Of course, there are loads of different ways to do that. That doesn’t just apply to the hundreds of platforms you could choose to share your message. It also applies to the language you use. Every business has its own jargon, no matter what industry you’re in. The real question is, how much of that jargon should you share with your customers? When you use insider language you run the risk of driving potential buyers away, simply because they don’t understand what you’re on about. Here are just a few things to think about when it comes to using jargon in your marketing.

Is it really jargon?

Firstly, let me be clear about what I mean by jargon. For me, it can be two different things. Firstly, there are technical terms that a specialist in your field would use. It could refer to a stitch you use when you’re creating something out of fabric or a silversmithing tool that’s designed to complete a gorgeous piece of jewellery. It could also be shorthand for a legal or accounting rule.

The second kind of jargon is the type that we all hear more often. They’re the kind of buzzwords that we feel we should probably understand but don’t. We might have a vague idea but not a detailed one. Some people love them, others find them annoying. If you follow me on social media, I share one of these every month to see what people think of it – I’d love you to join in if you’d like to.

Who are your audience?

There is one kind of audience where using jargon is not only fine but downright useful. That’s when the people you’re talking to are in exactly the same business as you. This can also extend to well-informed amateurs too, particularly if you’re talking about cake making or selling craft supplies. When I was a lawyer, having a shared language meant that you could get straight to the issues in a case because you both understood the rules. I didn’t fully appreciate how useful this was until I encountered lay people who were representing themselves. Everything took three times longer.

If that doesn’t apply, consider whether your audience will understand the terms you’re using. Get too technical and they may feel you’re blinding them with science. That only serves to make you less relatable. Use too many irritating buzzwords and they might feel you’re downright untrustworthy.

We’ve all had enough of buzzwords

Buzzword bingo can be an entertaining way to get through a dull meeting, but I generally feel as if we’ve all had a bellyful of them this year. There seems to be a new one every week. I shared my least favourite Coronavirus buzzword a while back (unprecedented, in case you’re interested) and asked people to share theirs. There were loads and every share made me groan. There weren’t just buzzwords but whole phrases that would once have seemed caring but now just make people want to vomit.

It’s made me question every single ‘I hope you’re well’ and come up with new alternatives to ‘in these strange times’. If I’m honest, I haven’t found one I’m completely happy with. It’s become even more important to use straightforward language that helps us to be understood.

If you need no-nonsense marketing copy that speaks your customers’ language, get in touch! Or sign up to my mailing list for handy hints and tips straight to your inbox every month.