What exactly is Social Media?
Explained in 2 minutes, using 10 key facts... why all brands and businesses need to implement social media marketing.
Why "Buy Local" ?
The words “Buy Local” are showing up in all kinds of marketing pitches. For food and farm commodities, the words guarantee fresher foods that have not traveled miles to get to the dinner table. For service work or contractors, the words guarantee that the provider lives in the same town or county. For the consumer, the words guarantee that the company is not only local, but available and accountable.
Many consumers have grown weary of dealing with impersonal, big box warehouse types of businesses. They still don’t want to pay a whole lot more for a product or service BUT they will if they think it will benefit them in the long run.
For instance, let’s say Jane Smith is looking for new carpet. She has an idea of what she wants and goes to Store A. The person in Store A can tell her about the products in stock, show her a catalog for special orders, and answer questions about delivery times.
Then she goes to Store B. The person in Store B can sell her the same products but also asks her questions. What room is she looking to carpet? Does she plan to live there for two years or 20 years? Does she have pets? Based on the answers to those questions, the person in Store B might recommend a carpet that is better suited to her personal situation. Jane Smith evaluates the information and decides to make her purchase at Store B because the person there was genuinely interested in helping her figure out what was best for her.
Running a business and marketing a business is always about more than the bottom line. It is about your knowledge, your reputation, and individualized customer service. As Bill Maynard and Tom Champoux, of The Effectiveness Institute say, “It does not need to be a choice between head decisions and heart decisions. An organization that balances head decisions and heart decisions has a far greater potential for achieving and sustaining success than an organization that doesn’t have heart.”
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I discovered a great list, called "Life's little instructions". A 95-year old, successful man named William Snell wrote it for a young friend in 1993 (the year I graduated from art school). This list speaks to me and I love it!
His words of inspiration:
Free Publicity for Your Business
It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are in. Whether you are a small business, single person shop, a growing family business, a successful employer of dozens of people, your goal is the same. You want to get the word out about what you have to offer. Obviously, you know about the importance of having business cards and a website. You might also need to have printed materials to give to customers to tell them about existing or new services. It might be to your advantage to have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, or paid advertising. As you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of various forms, don’t forget that you might be able to get some ** FREE ** publicity from your local newspaper.
Here are some ideas:
How do you introduce yourself? What information do you present in the first ten seconds? How do you finish? Making the sale is all about how you structure your pitch. Executive coach and public speaker Kathy McAfee explains how to properly construct an introduction to maximize your time efficiency. McAfee argues that while showing excitement for your product is important, it's paramount to show restraint and tease the audience into wanting more. Once you get into the conversation with the audience, McAfee shows how to keep potential investors interested without letting them dominate the discussion.
A well-written article can:
Let's assume that you understand the basics of constructing and editing an article (it has a beginning, middle, and an end and you know how to check the grammar and spelling.) Most of us can manage that. But if you're not content with simply "getting something out there" - if you want to WIN readers - then you need to start thinking about what they want to know, rather than what you want to tell them.
Put your readers first - every time. Give them what they want, and they'll be queuing up to read anything you produce. Give them something bland (or worse, blatantly self-serving) and they'll blast by you so fast you'll be spinning in the back draft.
The following four steps will give you a blueprint for writing articles that captivate your readers - whatever the topic.
1. Find Out What Your Readers Really Want
Sometimes you'll know what they want because you're an expert in the field, and understand the problems. If you don't know the subject area well, you'll have to do more research. Look for forums on your topic and see what people are discussing. What are the problems that need solving? Can you provide an answer? ("If they have a headache, give them an aspirin.")
2. Start With An Attention-Grabber
Spend time working on your opening. Try to avoid trite questions like "Have you ever wondered why so many people find it difficult to lose weight?" Firstly, it's dull. Secondly, it's not targeting the person reading the article - what do they care about the difficulties "many people" have with losing weight? They only care about THEIR weight problem!
Try to come up with an opening paragraph that gives the reader that warm "Hey, this is about me!" feeling right away. Better still; try to generate a rush of excitement - "This could be the answer I've been looking for..."
Example: "The diet gurus make it all sound so easy: to lose weight, all you have to do is expend more energy than you take in. Huh! If it were that simple, the "Big People" stores would be out of business in a heartbeat. Luckily for those of us who are tired of diets, gyms and dull group meetings, there is a back-to-basics way to tackle this. A way that won't cost you a fortune or leave you feeling deprived."
3. Write As You Speak... Then Edit!
The sample opening above also illustrates the importance of the tone you use in your article. You need 'meat' in each article, of course, to make it worth reading - but make sure it's not indigestible!
You're better off writing your article in a natural, relaxed style that's akin to normal conversation. It doesn't matter if the first draft is a little too informal - you can fix that when you edit. Naturally you don't want to irritate your readers with a too-breezy style, but too-formal is worse. Readers may want facts, tips, and strategies, but they hope to be entertained, too! Let your personality shine through.
4. End On A High
What's one of the biggest problems with most articles? They fizzle out! Writers often don't know how to end on an upbeat note. They either just stop dead or they come up with a trite ending like: "So what are you waiting for? Get started today!"
The beginning and the end of your article are the two parts that make the biggest impression. Start by creating a feeling of anticipation... and leave them feeling satisfied (or excited) when you finish.
If you are offering advice to help them solve a problem (like obesity) gives your readers a reason to feel optimistic and good about them. Don't make rash promises... but do offer hope. If you are giving hints on marketing or business, sum up the benefits of acting on your tips. You can also experiment with using a pithy/humorous quote, or giving readers a specific action to get them started. Be creative - and don't rush it.
Here's a final tip: create an article-writing cheat-sheet for yourself. Divide it into beginnings/middles/ends and add more useful strategies as you think of them. (For example, using the tips in this article, you might write: ENDINGS - end on a high, offer hope, use funny quote, suggest action to get started.)
Do this, and you'll be steadily cranking out articles that everyone wants to publish!
Article by Terry Jackson.