I’m Guilty Of It, Are You?

Are you guilty of walking into a shop, seeing something you really liked, maybe photographing it, then leaving to search for it online? I am embarrassed to say, this week I have done it, twice. I can’t imagine many of us haven’t done it, it seems foolhardy not to.

Example 1

We are having the garden landscaped. nothing too flash, just creating a more usable space that adds value to our lives. Phase II includes a summer house, office space for me to provide a pleasant working environment free of distractions. As usual, we chose to support our local businesses and off we went to browse around the summer houses. I thought I had found it, the perfect one. It was my husband who had a look online that evening for other options, only to find the exact same one, £300 cheaper. What would you do?

Example 2

I need a new laptop. Yesterday I had a 5pm meeting in Cambridge so used the opportunity to speak to the team at John Lewis. The young lad (who looked about 15 to me) knew his stuff, he gave helpful advice but here it comes…I found myself online within hours, checking prices. As it goes, I think I will stick with John Lewis, for the guarantee and the service, it seems apposite given the product I am buying.

So What’s The Future?

I have long been a supporter of small businesses, it is what I do. Have a look in my Blog section, ‘Small Business Support‘ to find posts providing support. I am also, like most small businesses, very concerned about the future. The Future of Our High Streets  and Adopt, Adapt Improve both spring to mind as having particular relevance. The truth is, we are all looking for the best price, why would any of us pay more than we need to for an identical product? I will always support small businesses, I am one, but I know that I need to offer great service at a fair price in order to sustain My Words Work For You.

What is the way forward? Any suggestions?

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Marketing – What Makes You Take Notice?

Manic Marketing

Are you finding this?  Every minute of the day you are bombarded with information, coming at you thick and fast from every angle. Snapchat, Whatsapp, Instagram, email, text, Messenger, radio/TV,’snail mail’, telephone…the list goes on. If I switch devices on before getting out of bed in the morning I could find myself lying there an hour later.

Too Much Information!

Now, more than ever I am frequently unsubscribing in order to clear space and time and minimise interruptions. Businesses face the biggest challenge yet to reach customers and get noticed, it is like wading through treacle. If you are a small business or a ‘Marketeer’ trying to reach customers, you are up against it. Here’s my theory

You are in a frenzied ‘triathlon style’ swim across a sea of treacle, why wear the same wetsuit as everyone else? STAND OUT, GET NOTICED

What Works For You?

So your day has begun, do you check emails? If so, do you open the promotions or do you delete/ignore? In terms of marketing, what grabs your attention most successfully? Is it the content or the platform that it is on that impacts how likely you are to notice it? I created a little survey asking that very thing…

Small business marketing Content writer for small businesses My Words Work For You

What works for you?

Think Like a Customer

When content writing for any business, small or large, first I think like a customer. If I was a potential customer, what would ‘do it’ for me? What would, a. Grab my attention and b. make me click buy now/call? Your aim is to get found and once found, be trusted enough to be chosen.

My Words Work For You has been helping SMBs achieve their aims since 2013. Contact me here for more information.

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5 Tips For Search Engine Optimisation – Part 2

Continuing from my previous article ‘Search Engine Success – Content is King’ I am adding more essential  search engine optimisation tips for success. With each new Google update, and with the ever-changing rules of the game, playing wisely is not only important, it is essential.

5 More Tips For Search Engine Optimisation

SEO is a dark art indeed. The rules are often swathed in secrecy and are ever-changing. Largely, Google is constantly striving to improve the user experience. No-one has time these days to waste on fruitless searches for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

In no particular order:

  1. Is your site mobile friendly? By now, most of us have made the change or started afresh. I rebuilt my own site. Check your site here if you are unsure.
  2. P U R E – (I love an acronym) Is your content Purposeful, Useful, Relevant and Engaging? Step back, try to look at it as a customer, ask straight-talking contacts for honest feedback.
  3. Build quality links – within your site and more importantly from relevant high authority sites. Give Google’s spiders every chance to discover your own particular web. Links within your site need to include links to your home page where relevant (see what I did there?).
  4. Play down the pop-ups! Think about the user experience. Are your pop-ups annoying? Do they get in the way? Are they irrelevant? If the answer is yes, lose them! Google doesn’t like it, neither will your customers. Pop-ups need to be useful and help the customer journey.
  5. Natural Content Writing – Keywords are no longer the power tool they used to be. Google’s RankBrain is an artificial Intelligence System that knows what we mean, we no longer have to ensure that we are writing the precise keywords that potential customers are likely to search for. It is far more important to write naturally so that you users have the best possible experience.

SEO Content Rules Content Writer for Small Business My Words Work For You

As a content writer, I feel strongly that quality content is THE most important thing to put in place. I have seen the massive difference it can make to a business, I have watched small businesses enjoy dramatically increased custom, revenue and profit as I transformed their content. If you are a small business owner, play to your strengths, ensure the content writer understands the rules of the game and can write in a way that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Get in touch if you would like to chat about your content.

 

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Does Marketing Work For You?

I had a 3pm call scheduled with a client yesterday, he is contemplating a ‘pivot’ in his business. Business is good; his aspirations have shifted. After discussing the potential mission statement and manifesto of his idea we moved on to the marketing of it. We had a great conversation, batting backwards and forwards and then out it came. I found myself saying…

“You know, marketing today is just noise, people tune out”

Marketing, Is It Just Noise?

It’s true, isn’t it? How much marketing do you actually take notice of? What percentage actually sinks in? Let’s get down to it, how much of it makes you act? There is so much information out there, bombarding the senses on every forum. Banner retargeting, clever search capabilities and spiders that watch your every move mean you can’t even browse without being found out, then stalked. Are we all just ‘switching off’?

Let’s Get Back To Basics

In all of my work, I try to think like the customer. What do they want, I mean really really want (Thank you Spice Girls). The conversation with my client was no exception. The reality is, even the cleverest SMART mission statement and manifesto may not make me buy in. What would? Here is the answer… If a trusted friend told me how great it was, how amazing it really really was, then I would prick up my ears and take notice.

An Example of Marketing That Works

I gave my client an example. My dogs are fed on a raw diet, once we had ‘made the leap’ we have never looked back. It costs more but the gains outweigh the losses and I don’t think my dogs would want to revert to kibble. After a long dog walk with a friend who was sceptical but curious, I took around a doggie bag of raw treats. There I was, doing the marketing for my raw food supplier, Naturally Healthy Dog. My friend is far more likely to trust me than to trust any marketing techniques. Nothing is more powerful than word of mouth. Haddock cube anyone?

Goodie Bag marketing Marketing Startegy My Words Work For You

Our Marketing Strategy

So I suggested that my client, a fitness coach, could very easily get his clients to do the marketing for him. Once a week he could invent and ‘give away’ a free one minute exercise to each of his clients, all they have to do is teach five friends and get them to do it. Show them doing it on social media ‘kerching’. He is demonstrating his knowledge, his expertise and his ethos of caring for his clients. Potentially thousands of clients are experiencing the benefits of exercising the ‘Innerfit way’. They are already hooked, and can see it works.

What could you do to encourage your customers to do your marketing for you?

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No Direction? Set Goals

To ‘kick-off’ the weekend we joined a group of friends at a ‘pop-up’ restaurant that we love, The Little Piggy Supper Club. I love the concept, ‘foodies’ open their homes to food-lovers and offer an exquisite, home-cooked menu, we rock up with wine to match, a perfect night.

Set Goals Small Business Support My Words Work For You

Good Company

We opted for our usual seating arrangement whereby nobody was allowed to sit next to their partners, ‘mix it up a bit’. I found myself between two friends who happen to be successful businessmen. One asked the other if he had collected his new Range Rover yet, which sparked a conversation between us.

How Come a Range Rover?

Knowing he could have any car of his choosing, I asked what made him choose a Range Rover. He told me the story. 11 years ago he sat down with a piece of paper and wrote down where he wanted to be in 10 years. One goal was to be able to walk to work, one was to be driving a top of the range Range Rover. He explained that he is goal driven. He went on to explain that it had actually taken 11 years, he ‘needed all of his ducks in a row’, the extra year didn’t matter, achieving the goal did.

Why Goals Work

From the point of writing down those goals, this businessman  knew the direction he was heading, and could work out the steps he needed to take in order to get there. He moved his business into the town he lived last month, he no longer has a 45 minute commute. It took analysis, planning, strategy, and sagacity, it was a clever move. So if you sat down right now and listed how you want your life to look in 10 years, how would your list look?

The real value of setting goals is not the recognition or the reward, it’s the person we become by finding the discipline, courage and commitment to achieve them.”

~ cia catsmiley.com

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Website Overhaul

The Situation

My client is an established heating and plumbing merchant supplying trade and public with quality plumbing and heating equipment. The business is generating a solid turnover from a loyal customer base. This is a competitive industry and margins frequently have to be cut in order to gain and retain custom. This business is known for its knowledge of the industry as well as its quality parts.

The Brief

To provide a website overhaul. The outdated website was not adding value to the business. The site had been set up three years before on a platform that had e-commerce capabilities but an online business had never been created. My brief was to re-write all of the content in a voice that was appropriate for the business and the audience. I also highlighted other aspects of the website that would need attention to improve SEO and overall performance of the site.

The Action

After meeting with the client and familiarising myself with the business I took a holistic (or an holistic if you prefer) approach to the project. There was great potential, the website had been neglected since being set up. As ever, the audience are uppermost in my mind when writing content. For this website the audience are primarily from the plumbing and heating trade. I need to ensure I am not excluding the general public who form a fair percentage of the customer base. After an assessment of areas for improvement I created lists for the business owner and myself then worked through them.

My List:

  • Write unique content for every page in an appropriate voice
  • Champion the USPs of this particular business
  • Add Alt text and optimise every image
  • Add images to specific places in the website where they add value
  • Update keywords bearing in mind Google’s latest algorithms
  • Create and add a Favicon
  • Alter structure of existing colour scheme to create a more dynamic, modern looking site
  • Change an obsolete services page to a more purposeful ‘Products’ page
  • Enter products for sale in a logical, categorised list
  • Update meta description

Business Owner’s List:

  • To ask customers to provide testimonials and reviews for the website and for use on social media
  • To provide a list of products stocked
  • To speak with suppliers about providing inbound links
  • To ask a family member who is a photographer to take new, good quality photographs for use on the site. We decided on the specific photographs required.

 

The Result

Trade has been flourishing, August was ‘the best month we have had for ages’ according to the client. Google’s ‘Bots’ will crawl the site and detect updates so will pay more attention to it in the future. The regular and frequent changes will all have a positive impact on rankings. The content has been completely re-written and now sits on a site that looks modern, dynamic and successful. The new colour scheme is easier to read.

The client is ‘loving the new website’. I am meeting this client to discuss future plans. This is a small business and the owner is time poor. We need to consider carefully the impact and the added value of creating an e-commerce revenue stream. Normally I would advise this is beneficial and essential for a business but the reality for this business is, most of its customers are trades people who come and collect the supplies they need as they need them. Online shopping is not necessarily what the customer base requires. We will look at comparable businesses and survey existing customers to decide if this is a viable business decision that will add value when factoring in the additional time and resources that would be required to implement it.

I shall continue to make changes to the site in the future.

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Happy 19th Birthday Google

Today is Google’s 19th birthday. I don’t know about you but I am a Google ‘frequent flyer’, I use it all the time, for almost anything. 20 Years ago we would have reached for the Yellow Pages, or the Thomson Local (remember them?). Today, the answer is at our fingertips, in an instant. Google has evolved into a finely tuned, high functioning service that leaves us feeling we cannot live without it. Hats off to Google!

The Power of Google

As a content writer, I need to consider Google’s algorithms whilst creating content. If I ‘play the Google game’ the content stands far more chance of working harder. Google doesn’t make this particularly easy and much of its hidden gems are deeply buried. Pleasing Google by ticking all of its boxes is nowhere near enough to get you on the first page now as there is so much competition, content marketing needs to be far more savvy. To create successful content I take a much more holistic approach. Ultimately, Google is the ‘be all and end all’, it provides a service used by the global community every day.  If we want to be in the game we need to play by the rules.

How to Keep Google Happy

Number one – Unique page content. 

Number two – User experience

Optimise your website including structure, images and content to make the site load quickly and provide a superb user experience. Offer products or services that provide value  to your customers. name and describe them accurately, descriptions need to be relevant, purposeful and unique, most importantly, it needs to be natural.

Happy Birthday Google

So on your 19th birthday Google, I salute you. You are getting better at:

  • Understanding what we are looking for
  • Helping us to find people, products and places
  • Allowing honest businesses to thrive
  • Preventing crooked businesses from thriving
  • Making the world a ‘smaller and more accessible place’

Happy Birthday Google Content writwer for small businesses My Words Work For You

 

 

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The Princess Bride For Want of a Better Name

Today marks the 30th anniversary of The Princess Bride. WIlliam Goldman’s 1973 novel (a great read)  hit the big screen in 1987 with an impressive cast and some cracking cinematography. Cameos from Peter Cook, Mel Smith, Billy Crystal; the best fight scene that ever there was; humour for everyone at every turn…What’s to not like?

Content Remained Hidden Treasure

The grand opening was followed by a frankly ‘not so grand following’. This wonderful, funny, warm, magical film just didn’t get noticed. It had all the elements, and the cast to be an all time great, yet, people just didn’t notice, inconceivable! 

Choose Your Titles Carefully

If you are not familiar with the film, what does ‘The Princess Bride’ mean to you? Does it conjure up images of humour, adventure, nostalgia and piracy? Let’s be honest, probably not. Since its release, researchers analysed the reason for the initial ‘failure’, and it was all down to the title. ‘The Princess Bride’ just doesn’t describe what this film is all about. The audience couldn’t find the film and the film didn’t find its audience.

Slow Burn to Success

Perhaps we can say, 30 years on, that The Princess Bride has enjoyed a greater, longer-lasting success. It has enjoyed a cult following that will live on for years to come, well deserved. Thank you Rob Reiner for the joy you have brought to my family for the last 30 years.

The Moral of the Story

If you want your products and services to be found, name them something that tells your prospective audience what they are. Searching the internet is like wading through treacle, name and describe your products/services in a way that will stand out and capture the attention of potential customers. Words matter.

The Sword Fight, Enjoy!

That scene I mentioned earlier, would you like to see it?

As you wish

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Do ‘Special Offers’ Really Work?

Today I have been writing content for a client’s website. Their existing ‘Special Offers’ page has not been touched for over a year. I have added content explaining that this is a company that is special consistently, all year round. This business is already cutting margins to a workable minimumin in order to survive the competition, if they get much more ‘special’ there will be no point in trading, it is just not sustainable.

Special Offers

Speaking from experience, I have received emails from companies offering me amazing offers:

  • £48 down to £12 – WOW!
  • Buy one get TWO FREE – Spectacular!
  • Today only, £10 instead of £42 – Incredible!

And it really is, incredible. I might even fall for it, get sucked right in and buy that bargain item, even knowing that the company have captured my data, dammit. However, I will only buy if I needed it anyway, or if I know I will use it in the future. Quite probably, I will then unsubscribe from the mailing list.

What Messages Do Special Offers Send?

Quite honestly, if I am being offered a £48 product from a company for £12, it makes me wonder what their mark-up is. The fact that a company could sell me a product at such a huge discount fills me with mistrust. How much are they adding on to every other product? There begins the slippery slope, I am losing my trust for that company. It gets worse, what if I choose to stay on the mailing list? Is it out of loyalty, or is it because I am hanging on for more ridiculously cut price offers? Why would I pay full price if I know there will be regular discount deals?

Treating Customers With Respect

A few years ago one could telephone an insurance company (for example) and tell them you were intending to leave, you would be put through to a ‘Customer Retention Department’ and given a huge discount to tempt you to stay. What about the loyal customers who chose to stay anyway? How much are they paying? What do those kind of ethics say about the company?

A Sustainable Solution

If I am going to choose to give a business my custom, I would prefer to know that I am paying an honest price, the same price that every other customer will be paying. I will trust them with my custom then. Years ago I worked with a business that refused to have sales. It had plenty of loyal customers, great turnover and a sustainable profit margin, all built on trust; the formula worked. I know it is a competitive market out there and sellers like Amazon don’t help, but if you can’t compete with Amazon on price, or delivery in 4 hours, you need to focus on a different USP. What works for you?

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A Marketing Opportunity? Don’t Miss It!

Recently I spent time in Chicago working with a client. The usual early start gave us a chance to wander up the Magnificent Mile and ‘hit the shops’.  One day, I kid you not, there had been a duck invasion.

A giant yellow duck had appeared on the sidewalk and savvy retailers had ducks featured in displays. Slightly bemused, we entered the building we were working in and began our working day.  ‘What’s with the ducks?’ Who knew? I love Chicago.

Ducky Derby Chicago Small Business Content Writer My Words Work For You

Where did that come from?

And They Came in Droves

We emerged at lunch time into a sea of people, excited crowds lining the river, cameras and phones held aloft.

Duck Race Chicago Small Business Support Content Marketing My Words Work For You content writer

And they’re off!

“What’s happening?” I asked.

“It’s the duck race, they’re about to be released, look!”

 

And sure enough, over 50,000 little yellow ducks were poured into the Chicago river cheered on by a crowd of thousands, the world was watching.

 

 

The Rubber Ducky Derby is an annual event held to raise funds for the Special Olympics in Illinois, and raise funds it does! You can adopt a duck for $5 to be in with a chance of winning a Chevvy Equinox. I’ll let you do the Math, 57,220 ducks sponsored for $5 each; more than the cost of a Chevvy, and the profile of the special olympics is sky rocketed.

Ducy Derby Chicago Content Writer Cambridge My Words Work For You

And the winner is…

Taking Advantage of A Captive Market

So there we were, crowds of enthusiastic supporters at this tremendous event, all of us feeling good, many of us feeling hungry. My colleague and I strolled along the riverwalk in search of lunch. We joined the first café we found with a manageable queue. It was quite a wait. The management of this café (which shall remain anonymous) had forgotten it was duck derby day, their tables and chairs were stacked at the back of the building, only two staff were working and there was a limited supply of hot dogs, doh! What could most probably have been their busiest trading day of the year, probably fell short.

A Marketing Opportunity

The hot dog I had was awesome. How much more could have been on offer. I would have invented, and massively promoted a ‘Duck Dog’ available that day only, a percentage of the profits to be donated to the Special Olympics. I would have had ‘all hands on deck’ to sell as many as possible on the day, at the very least. I would have handed out flyers to the hungry crowds with an incentive to return in the future. I would have used the Ducky Derby as an opportunity to put my business into the race.

A Chance to Reach A New Audience

In previous work with clients I have aligned marketing activity with relevant local events, taking advantage of the marketing opportunity. Window displays, email marketing, special offers, in-store events, competitions, promotions… anything that would appeal to the target audience, who are all brought together and ‘delivered to the doorstep’ ready and waiting. Check local holidays and relevant events and plan your marketing strategy to include them. Your audience awaits.

A summary of what I do

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