Planning Pays Off

BFH Blog screenshotWant to send out an email or post a blog? Take the time to plan your content for several months before you begin. Planning in advance pays off by reducing your stress! It also provides a map to make things easier down the road. Be sure to revisit your plan on a regular basis, as it’s easier to stay on track when you have your eyes on the prize!

Three Tips for Effective Direct Mail

Direct Mail Postcard

The folks at MCG BioMarkers recently contacted us, as they were thinking of buying ads for garden trade publications. In reviewing the expense of these ads, Paarlance Creative Writing and Amy Belice Graphic Design recommended direct mail instead. The cost of design, printing and postage may be more overall, but the message goes directly to decision makers, making it a better investment than shotgun-style advertising that may get overlooked.

Here are three ways to make your direct mail message more effective.

  1. Write a strong headline that appeals to your audience. In this case, the target audience includes educators at botanical gardens and nature centers. The main benefit of the product is that it is a more sustainably made plant marker. The two points become one with the chosen headline.
  2. Include a testimonial. A good testimonial from the right source can garner a lot of the right attention for your product or service.
  3. Include an offer. Direct mail is more effective when accompanied by a percentage off or something free with purchase. MCG BioMarkers loves to send out samples of their product, as there is nothing like it on the market. They also offered a percentage off to entice new orders.

We have also written postcards that serve as newsletters on a quarterly or biannual basis. Contact us to learn more about direct mail marketing, and see both sides of the postcard here!

Newsletters Serve Many Masters

There has been an uptick in newsletter interest from clients of all industries. When they are done correctly, they’re well worth the investment. Email newsletters are especially cost effective, thanks to a variety of good email marketing tools that are free. The secrets to a good newsletter that people will open and read are to have a strong purpose and to take the time to set it up properly.

Define Your Purpose
A newsletter can serve a lot of masters. It can keep people informed about events. It can tell people about new services and equipment that can be beneficial to them. A really good newsletter also provides tips and ideas that make your clients’ lives easier. In providing these types of information, you form a bond with clients. Clearly define what you want to communicate in your newsletter, and it will have a greater impact on your business.

Give it Some Thought
A thoughtful approach to creating a regular newsletter will help you manage the time it takes to create it. Sit down with your select team of potential contributors and discuss who is best suited to provide certain content. If need be, decide who will be the editor. This person needs to make decisions and gather all articles together.

Think about when you’d like each issue to come out. Monthly is usually frequent enough. While it seems like it might be too frequent for you and your staff, take the time to plan out a few issues in advance. This becomes easier! Within a couple of months, you will likely be breezing through the content, or sitting on a pile of articles that you have to save for next time. The latter is a great problem to have! A quarterly schedule may be better suited if you don’t have a lot of regular content, or if you have less frequent, seasonal messages to convey to your audience.

Be on the Customer’s Mind
If you think you’d like a newsletter, or any other type of communication piece to enhance your marketing, think it through, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you get stuck. I have seen clients wait months or years and miss out on building a connection with their audience that builds loyalty. The most important thing is to keep in touch with your customers so you’re always on their minds.

A Bold Brand & Website for Manufacturer

It had been a few years since M’s Machine had updated its marketing materials, and they knew they needed a new website and brochure. We took the extra time to introduce them to Amy Belice Graphic Design to create a new logo that would work in many formats and media, from shirts to print materials to their website. We also recommended high quality photography by John Thomas of fisheye to ensure their brochure and website would accurately reflect services they offer and their current equipment.

Paarlance Creative Writing not only wrote the content, but also managed the project to ease the process for the client. The copy was written from scratch to better represent this manufacturing company, which works with Fortune 500 OEMs, or original equipment manufacturers.

The resulting materials make a bold statement and modernize their marketing to the next level. Click below to check out these samples!

M's Machine website screen shot

 

3 Tips for Avoiding the Copywriting Dead End

dead end signHas your road to content development come to an impasse? Are you stuck, either dreading the copywriting process or simply drawing a blank on what to say? Take a moment to consider these three tips for kicking off your copy!

  1. Take a deep breath. One of the first steps in writing copy is simply thinking it through. Generally, what do you want to say? Outline your thoughts mentally. Sometimes, a short, mindful walk will shake some new thoughts loose. Then, return to your desk and document the thoughts in a simple bullet list.
  2. Do your research. It’s possible that lack of information is holding you back from collecting your thoughts into a cohesive form. Search your files for information about your content expertise — study it and see where it leads. Who is the ultimate guru in your company on this topic? Have coffee with him or her and talk about the topic at hand. You might be surprised how inspiring even the dullest topic becomes when the most passionate employee starts talking about it!
  3. Put the topic down and step away. Sometimes the reason you have difficulty with the topic is because you’re too close to it. This is common and often one of the greatest challenges to overcome. Of course you know your stuff, but organizing it into a cohesive marketing package isn’t your expertise! Consider hiring a copywriter who will listen to your needs, seek out the details and put them all together in an engaging, audience-focused package.

Time and time again, we help entrepreneurs, corporations and nonprofits write the copy they need. Don’t like to write? We love it and can extract the info we need from you and your staff. Don’t have time? It’s our full-time expertise, and we can quickly complete news releases, website copy, blog posts, brochures and more when time is of the essence. Please contact us today for an affordable solution to your copywriting dead ends!

5 Quick Ways to Update Your Website

Did you know that the more frequently you update your website, the more attractive your site becomes in the eyes of search engines? And did you know that even minor changes count towards Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Currently, many business owners are scrambling to make their older websites more mobile friendly due to changes in Google’s search algorithm. While this is important, it’s also important to freshen up your website to make it shout, “Look at this site! I’m up to date!” Here are five quick and easy ways to modify your site that provide the freshness that Google craves.

  1. Update your services, credentials and experience. If you have new services, training, credentials or skills, be sure to add that to your site’s About page. Remember to update your experience if you list it as “more than X years.”
  2. Add new testimonials. One of the best credibility builders is to show how you’ve helped other people. Consider replacing or adding to the feedback you receive from your clients. However, don’t copy and paste it from another site (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn), as search engines will dock you for duplication.
  3. Enhance your contact page. If you’re like most business owners, the contact page is probably the page that wins the prize for “Most Taken for Granted.” You have to remember that Google looks at it even if you don’t! Include a sentence or two that explains how you can help site visitors or ask a question they can answer with “Yes!” And be sure to include your address (if important to visitors), city and state.
  4. Revise the home page text. Think about changing up your home page to really get peoples’ attention. This may not be the fastest of these suggestions, but the help of a copywriter or even a friend can help you develop a strong statement to lead into your home page content.
  5. Write a blog post. If you have a blog, take a moment to write a couple of paragraphs about recent successes. Or post a photo of you at a function. Better yet, post a short video if you can.

One more thing: Remember to update your social media presences, as well. We recently added a Facebook presence to our social media mix. Be sure the About information there accurately reflects your current business practices.

When was the last time you updated your website?

Editing a Manufacturing Website & Blog

Pickwick Manufacturing Services, a longtime client of my writing and editing services, contacted me to update and align the website better with their ideal customer and their current service offerings. Their WordPress site needed some visual punch, too, which our friends at Firespike achieved.

PickwicIn collaboration with the client, we worked to edit the copy into an approach that helps other manufacturers realize the benefits of working with Pickwick’s expert custom manufacturing firm. We also turned on their blog and assisted them with writing short blog posts based on the manufacturer’s many success stories.

One of the best things about a blog is its ability to enhance SEO. Feel free to contact us should you need assistance with writing or editing, planning and implementing a blogging strategy.

The Audience Drives Website Copywriting & Editing

One of the things I live for is writing and editing for the web. I was in the industry when this medium started to lead the marketing pack. At that time, I was somewhat reluctant to write web content, as I knew I had a lot to learn. I proceeded to bone up on what it meant to write quality web copy. Today, I am still learning, mostly due to the steady changes to Google’s search engine as well as social media such as Facebook.

Today, as we approach Google’s 16th birthday, I still don’t call myself a web writing expert. “Expert” is a mighty strong word. “Web writing specialist” seems more on point. Take a look at some of the web writing and editing projects I’ve had the opportunity to work on:

These writing and editing samples demonstrate how web copy can be tailored to the entrepreneur or corporate voice while always keeping the audience in mind.

Let the Blogging Begin: Postings Keep Website Fresh

For several years, we have worked with Pickwick Manufacturing Services on their web content and online marketing copy. The client always talks about recent success stories in specific detail, and while metal manufacturing services may not sound fascinating, I knew this client’s richly detailed stories would make fantastic blog posts to complement the more static content on his site.

Pickwick BlogThis spring, we started editing content and scheduling posts for the Pickwick blog. We’re working on postings of information about their services and stories about how Pickwick truly is a problem-solving service company rather than a manufacturing job shop.

These posts are another example of effective collaboration with a client on developing and organizing web content. The client provides much of this information in one form, and I make it blog friendly. Some posts need only minor adjustments, others require expansion of the verbiage gleaned from conversations with the client or from materials he provides.

Blogging is great for SEO and helps clients convey more information that may be too cumbersome or conversational to include on their website.When it’s clear that a client can benefit from telling more stories beyond the info on their site, it’s time to blog!

As a side note, this client’s website was designed by one of our design/development partners, Firespike. They also converted the site to WordPress in very timely fashion.