What is Creativity?

After developing hundreds of ideas for a project, a client made the comment that  they weren’t creative enough. While the comment stung for a second, I realized it was important to consider, what is creativity? What does that mean to this client? And what does it mean to me?

Creativity is a term that comes loaded with your own baggage. For me personally, creativity is marked by the freedom to generate ideas without judgment. Professionally, creativity mingles with — and is limited by — time, an essential ingredient of the professional creative process. It’s also peppered with audience awareness, which enhances marketing magnificence. When it comes down to it, it means very little to bring creative ideas to the table if they aren’t targeted at some audience with a clear goal in mind.

I believe that part of the issue of undervaluing the creativity presented to this client was that he was not clear on his goal for the project. He was still undecided on what he liked and what he wanted from the project. He wasn’t yet prepared to accept ideas that met his initial criteria.

Even if you’re not a creative type, as a business owner, it’s good to think about the type of creative work you like before you take on a marketing project working with freelancers or a creative firm. What are you drawn to? Which ads or designs drive you nuts? And what are your goals for a creative project? Put some of your own thought into it first, and write those ideas and goals down. Then, you’ll be better poised for a successful creative marketing venture.

3 Tips for Better Email Marketing

Email. Seems like we’re all on email overload these days, but it’s still an inexpensive marketing option, and one of the most flexible ways to communicate with your audience. Emails can be fairly straightforward or very creative.

After hearing DJ Waldow speak at a social media conference last year, I read The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing by Waldow and Jason Falls. Being used to the rules surrounding email marketing, but having a rebellious nature at times, this book unveiled a few myths about emails that I intend to break.

It drove home a few basic points that I’d like to share with my clients:

Set goals. What do you want to accomplish with your email marketing? It’s better to have a strategy and set up a regular schedule than to be sporadic or haphazard. With email as one channel you can use for education, think of themes you can use to educate your clients. Set it to the ups and downs of your business and take it from there!

Build your list. Get a signup form on your website as soon as humanly possible. It’s one of the most effective ways to develop a strong list.

Set up a welcome message. Most email providers have a way of setting up an autoresponder, so when people sign up for your email, they receive a welcome message. This is a brilliant idea that enhances the perception of your customer service. Even though you don’t have to do a thing after you set it up, it makes a good first impression. Take advantage of it!

Email marketing can be fun, creative and educational. Start with the basics and see where they lead!

Are You Friends with Facebook?

Love it or hate it, Facebook has become a go-to spot for DIY marketing, particularly for consumer-focused businesses. If you’re looking to dabble in this realm, take some time to think about these key issues.

Be prepared for change. One thing you’ll learn about Facebook very quickly is about their propensity for change. They are constantly changing the look of pages or the way your Facebook posts are shared with users. Tune into the websites that talk about social media marketing so you can keep up with the changes.

Show and tell. People love to watch, so give them what they want! Photos and videos make for popular posts. Think about the opportunities to show people what you do instead of just telling them about the latest sale. People buy from people, so show your people working on projects. Your Facebook friends will love it.

Be consistent. When you’re just starting out with Facebook postings, plan to put some time and effort into it. You can’t build a following unless you do. Also, be consistent with the language you use in terms of spelling and the overall feel. I find it very useful to create posts in word processing software so I can take advantage of spell check.

Make it about your friends. It’s not all about you. Do your best to make your page about your friends. Share testimonials, tips and ideas that they will find riveting. Share other content that is interesting. They say you should share other content of interest several times for every one promotion you post. So, connect to your partners and clients in your industry and see what’s worth sharing.

Remember, if you find yourself short on time or the skill to put together short posts that engage customers, don’t be afraid to outsource the work. You could work on messaging with a writer or editor, or, if you have the budget, you could contract a social media agency to make your Facebook approach more strategic and comprehensive.

While I don’t consider myself an expert in Facebook, I have worked with several clients to develop plans for posting and to write and schedule posts. Feel free to check them out:

I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions about writing or editing posts and finding ways to make Facebook feasible for your business.

The Benefits of Web Copy Edits: BizSAVVYleaders.com

Sometimes clients just need a good editor.

That’s the case with www.BizSAVVYleaders.com, the latest site update by Paarlance Creative Writing in conjunction with our friends from Amy Belice Graphic Design and Brown Wing Studio.

Editing is a service I enjoy almost as much as writing from scratch. I receive requests for it when clients want to spruce up their copy without making major layout changes, which can become costly. I help clients organize their thoughts and keep their copy short and to the point for the web audience. I also insert search terms and revamp the title and description metatags when it’s appropriate to do so. It’s good to review these every couple of years, as the search engines have changed what they view as important to their search engine results. While this site wasn’t that old, the page titles did need updated to current standards.

This site is still a work in progress, with plans to break the copy into more organized buckets so visitors can find what they are looking for more easily. Watch for an update in a couple of months.

Do you need an editor for your website copy? If you answered yes, or even maybe, let me know. Email or call me at 319-362-0777 for an estimate and to discuss what I might do to enhance your website copy.

New Nonprofit Website Copy


Nonprofit Website Sample

Here’s a look at the all-new donations page for JuelFairbanks.org.

Juel Fairbanks Chemical Dependency Services, a nonprofit organization located in the Twin Cities, sought a new website that was modern, uplifting and hopeful. Working with my friends at Windmill Design in Minneapolis, we developed copy and design that provides an inviting introduction to their programs and services.

As is the case with many nonprofits I’ve worked with over the years, the overscheduled staff needed outside assistance organizing and writing copy for this important communication piece. I kept in mind that their audience for the site varies from potential clients and their families and friends to county partners.

I wish Juel Fairbanks the best as it moves forward with a wonderfully functional site, complete with the online donation capabilities that are so important today!

Writing for a Variety of Industries

Writing for a variety of clients makes my days faster, shorter and better. I was thinking about how many industries my copywriting has intersected with over the years. It has been quite a few! With each one, I’ve been challenged to learn about the businesses and translate their features into unique and compelling benefits stories. Here’s a sampling.

On the consumer side:

  • Banking
  • Education, K-12 – marketing to teachers and administrators
  • Event Venue
  • Health care – dentists, podiatrists, etc
  • Insurance
  • Legal
  • Life Coaching
  • Higher Education – marketing to prospective students and alumni
  • Nonprofit – fundraising, recruiting volunteers
  • Restaurants
  • Telecommunications
  • Wedding Boutique
  • Women’s Clothing

On the business to business side:

  • Telecommunications
  • Office Space
  • Banking
  • Business Coaching
  • Higher Education
  • Legal
  • Manufacturing
  • Photography
  • Technology

Whether the business I’m writing for is small or large and the subject matter is challenging or straightforward, I appreciate them all and thrive on making their content a unique reflection of their business.

A Fresh Rewrite

In life and business, change is the one constant. When the chef/owner of Miss Mamie’s Restaurant & Pub in Moline, Illinois, decided it was time to change up his restaurant’s menu and decor, he worked with Media Link, Inc. to redesign his logo and provide rebranding services. In turn, Media Link called on Paarlance Creative Writing to create a fresh approach to the website content for http://www.missmamiesrestaurant.com.

Miss Mamie's Restaurant and PubSeveral years ago, Paarlance Creative Writing wrote the original copy for this website, which was Southern themed. It was fun to revisit it to meet the new branding goals and SEO (search engine optimization) guidelines. Following review of the new designs and a brief interview, we served up fresh copy to match the more modern, coastal approach.

When it serves your best interests to update your website, remember that help is just a phone call away. Paarlance Creative Writing will keep you in the game!

A Long Overdue Welcome

Welcome to my new blog, which I’m launching in conjunction with my website relaunch. In case you don’t know me, I’m a freelance writer celebrating more than 10 years of solo copywriting, project management and marketing consultation. I have had a website over 10 years now, and it’s always exciting to give it a facelift and add new features like this blog. I hope you’ll join me in exploring writing, advertising, website innovations and the like through my posts here. When you have a chance, please also remember to find me on LinkedIn and Twitter (@paarlance)!