The 5 Things Every (Great) Marketing Story Needs

Here on Copyblogger, you’ve seen us talk many times about how to tell a terrific marketing story. Why? Because stories are fundamental to how we communicate as human beings. Tell the right story and you can capture attention, entertain, enlighten, and persuade … all in the course of just a few minutes. Stories are memorable and shareable — and those are two of the most important aspects of the very best content. So we can all agree that stories matter … but how do you tell them? What, specifically, makes for a good marketing story? Here are five critical components, and how they fit into your marketing and your business. We’ll start, as every good story does, with the hero … 1. You need a hero All good stories are about someone (even if that someone is a professional monster or a talking toy). The biggest mistake businesses make is […]

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3 Simple Steps to Get to the Point with Your Content

Ever have a friend who tells stories that never seem to go anywhere? It sounds okay at first, then it spins off to a tangent about how they met their spouse, then we go into their first college dorm room, with a side trip to that deeply formative event that happened in third grade, then … There might be a point in there somewhere. But by the time it’s arrived, your eyes have rolled back in your head and you’re hoping to get struck by lightning so you can get out of this conversation. It’s boring. And it’s annoying. So let’s make sure that your audience never feels that way about your content. In the work I do with our content marketing students, I’ve critiqued hundreds of blog posts. One mistake I see over and over is content that’s interesting and well written, but that wanders all over the place […]

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A 7-Point Plan for More Shareable Content

Content marketing is a beautiful thing — a great way to build an audience and grow your business. That’s if your content is actually getting found by the folks who might buy your product or service. Most of us would love to have more people reading, listening to, and watching our content. And one of the smartest things you can do for your content is to make it easier and more fun to share. Even better, as long as you’re starting with high-quality work, you can do it without spending a lot of time or money. By the way, I’m including links from other websites as “shares,” as well as the usual assortment of retweets and likes. If your audience is helping you get the word out about your content, we’re counting that as a share. Here’s a straightforward plan to format and present your content so that lots more […]

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Are Sales Slipping Through Your Fingers? Close the Deal with Logical Benefits

Emotional benefits of your offer trigger the “me-want” response. They create desire — but creating desire isn’t usually enough. Unless you’re selling a purely emotional product like fashion or music, you also have to give your reader enough logical ammunition to justify the purchase to himself. This is where logical benefits come in. These are all the rational, intelligent reasons we have for buying the stuff we want. You hook prospects with the heart, but you close the deal with the head. Logical benefits aren’t necessarily about logic The funny thing about logical benefits is that they’re often important for a very emotional reason. Your customer’s “me-want” reaction is warring with a “what if I’m an idiot?” insecurity about buying the wrong thing, spending too much, or outright getting scammed. Most people are terrified of feeling foolish. They’re anxious about the possibility of spending money and later feeling like a […]

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Take 15 Minutes to Find Your Winning Difference

A unique selling proposition (USP) is the reason people do business with you and not someone else — a winning difference that sets you apart and makes you the only real choice. Traditional marketing advice will have you lock yourself in a cave for weeks listing all of the features of your business, translating them into benefits, then somehow finding that one compelling point that will differentiate you from everyone else you could possibly compete with. These days, your winning difference depends more on who you’re selling to more than the features of what you’re selling. You need to stake out a favorable position in the minds of those you’re trying to attract, even while turning the wrong people away. If you have a firm grasp on what your ideal customer looks like, then you can do some simple exercises to discover your own winning difference. Three five-minute exercises to […]

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How Introverted Writers Transform into Business Professionals

There’s a well-loved myth out there that if you do something reasonably remarkable and distribute passionate content, you’ll automatically have an audience who will support you in style for the rest of your life. You don’t have to do anything scary. Like sell, for example. Now if that works for you, that’s terrific. So does it? The painful truth is that there are lots of trusted, loved, and wildly influential smart people out there who are working like maniacs creating amazing content. And who are nonetheless still broke. It’s easy to think that if your audience loves you, all that love will translate automatically into paying customers. But if one of your goals is a financial payoff from your content, you still have some work to do. You have to offer something they want Your Aunt Frances loves you very much, but if you’re a Prius dealer and she’s more […]

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The Betty Crocker Secret to Email Marketing that People Want

You’ve heard it a thousand times: The money’s in the list. If you’re serious about your digital business, you need to build a list of people who are paying attention to you, typically an email list. So, how do you get people to sign up for your email newsletter? You probably already know the answer to this one: Reward them. Give subscribers something great as a “thank you” for signing up. This is usually some form of content — a useful video, a killer ebook, or an exclusive podcast episode. Sure, everyone else does that. Because it works. It works … if you do it the right way. Giving away something good will get people to sign up for your email list, no question. The problem is, what email address will they sign up with? It’s not like it’s hard to find an email address. Gmail is just one of […]

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The Simple Way to Get Everything You Want

I want to tell you a story about two women. One is my hairdresser and the other is my massage therapist. Of the two, I have a stronger connection with my massage therapist. I see her more often, she’s closer to my age, and well, there’s just a certain bond that develops when you get naked that often with a person. But my hairdresser once asked me to recommend her for a “best of” list our local TV station was running. She didn’t cajole, bribe, beg, threaten, or promise me a free haircut. She just said, “Hey, if you think about it, would you mind logging into this site and giving me a review? I like her, so I went home and did it. Took me about three minutes. A few weeks later, I noticed that my massage therapist had a banner over her business saying that she was mentioned […]

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7 Steps to Grow a Blog Post

Sometimes it seems like writers are magicians, because we have the power to create something out of nothing. An important point to note about magicians, though: They don’t really do magic. 🙂 Instead, they study and practice specific behaviors until they can create that illusion of creating something out of nothing. And of course, all creative people do the same. We study and we practice our craft, making consistent improvements and (if we’re lucky) building habits that lead to more consistent output. Today’s post will help with the “consistent output” part. I don’t think I’m alone in finding Starting the hardest part of writing. We don’t know what we’re going to work on. We’re not sure what the structure will be. We don’t have the first sentence yet. The ideas are all running around in our heads like kittens with ADD, and we have no idea how to get them […]

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A Farewell and Some Advice to Keep You Moving Forward

Well, our big news this week is that I’m going to be moving to a more solo career. The ultra capable Darrell Vesterfelt will be taking over my partnership interest in Copyblogger Media. It’s a huge step for all of us, but it also feels like a natural evolution. It helps a lot that I think Darrell is going to crush it. 🙂 But Copyblogger has never been about only one person. (OK, apart from those very early days when Brian kept it all afloat himself.) And we still have advice and strategies for you! On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman helped us through a painful moment — when a prospect chooses a competitor over our solution. And she explores the ways we can build trust in our prospects, becoming a complete package that they prefer over any other option. On Tuesday, Robert Bruce talked about a brutal problem that writers face […]

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Life After Copyblogger for Sonia Simone

I still remember the first time I asked Brian Clark if I could write for Copyblogger. I had been an enthusiastic Teaching Sells student and Copyblogger rabid fangirl reader, as I was getting my freelancing business off the ground and preparing to leave my corporate job. I was so nervous and intimidated that I gulped a glass of wine. (Since I’m not much of a drinker, this resulted in my being slightly but decidedly drunk.) The wine bolstered me enough to send Brian Clark a DM on Twitter asking if maybe, some time, kind of sort of, if he was desperate or something, I might be able to write a post for him. His reply was along the lines of, “Sure, what do you think of writing for us every week?” And so it began. After some time, I became a partner in Teaching Sells. Then a founding partner of […]

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Changes You Can Make in 10 Minutes for Exceptionally Effective Copy

Sure, professional writers spend a lot of time on our craft. As we should. But it’s also nice to have a few fast tweaks to make your content and copy a lot more effective. This week, we offered three ways to make your persuasive writing work a lot better … without spending a zillion more hours on it. In fact, you can implement all three of these tweaks in about 10 minutes, every time you publish. (You can also spend a little more time and really make them sing … it’s up to you.) On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman shared a foundational technique every content marketer should be using — strategically managing your internal content links. It seems simple (and it is), but it has outsized benefits for the time you put in. Typical time investment: 3 minutesPayoff: Improved authority, significantly better audience experience, SEO benefits On Tuesday, Brian Clark reminded […]

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The Brilliantly Sneaky Trick You Must Learn

Are your readers doing what you want them to do? Are they signing up for your email newsletter, registering for your membership site, or downloading your ebook? If not, you need to learn a master craftsman’s copywriting secret. This technique acts like a remote control to get your readers to take action. Press this “magic button” and you’ll see your results improve dramatically. The secret, masters-only technique to compelling your readers to act is to … Ask them. Annoyed? Think I’m pulling your leg? There’s nothing magical or tricky to getting someone to do something just by asking them, right? That’s completely obvious. And most copy doesn’t do it. Which is why most copy gets weak results. Persuasive writing needs a strong call to action The advice to “always ask them” has been turned into a heroic-sounding marketing term called the call to action, as if trumpets were sounding and […]

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When It’s Time to Get Serious about Your Content and Copywriting

We write a lot about the importance of creativity in content marketing. Generic, flavorless content has very little chance of getting noticed in the sea of content that’s generated every day. Pros know that creativity needs to be harnessed to professional discipline. Creative work is work, and it calls for a serious mindset. And when your creative work is directly tied to a company’s revenue (and the grocery bills and mortgages of everyone who works for that company), there’s no time for self-indulgence. This week, we offered three posts about the power of creative discipline. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman talked about how people perceive the writing life, and what it’s actually like. While from the outside, professional writers sometimes look a little fuzzy, working writers know what it’s like to keep wrestling with a piece when everyone else has gone off to hit Happy Hour. On Tuesday, Beth Hayden shared […]

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Meet the Lazy Marketer’s Best Friend: The Email Autoresponder

No one loves blogs more than I do. They’re a great way to attract an engaged audience, develop trust and rapport, attract links, and stake your claim in search engines. I love blogs. But like babies and kittens, two other things I love, they’re also a lot of responsibility. Blogs take time. You’ve got to write terrific content that stands out from the general noise, promote it intelligently, and cultivate reader relationships. And that’s in addition to everything else you do in your business, from producing your product to getting your taxes filed. That’s why there’s another content marketing tool that I always recommend having in place — ideally before you write your first blog post. It’s the email autoresponder. What is an email autoresponder and why do I want one? An autoresponder is just a sequence of email marketing messages that gets sent to subscribers in the order and […]

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The Copyblogger Guide to Managing Your Professional Overwhelm

Overwhelmed? Anxious? Stressed out? Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around. Daily life is difficult enough. And when you layer business and marketing challenges on top of that, it can seem really inviting to stay in bed and watch cartoons for, say, about a month. Since that’s not an option for most of us, we have several solutions for your creative, marketing, and business anxieties. There are a lot of problems we can’t help you with, but we can try to take marketing worries off of your personal “scary” list. This week I’m switching things up a bit, recapping our posts in reverse order to get more and more specific about how you can Do All the Things even when you’re overwhelmed. On Wednesday, I sent a shout-out to all of my fellow business owners (and other humans) who are anxious, stressed, and freaked out. No matter how intense […]

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Join Sonia Next Month for a Transformative ‘Slow Business Adventure’ in Norway!

Looking for a break from the stress and overwhelm of your business? Want to make some amazing connections with your fellow entrepreneurs? I’ll be keynoting and leading a workshop at the “Slow Business Adventure” festival in Norway, September 9 – 12, 2019 and we’d love to see you there! We’ll spend three days together taking walks, talking about business, inspiring one another, and learning how to grow our businesses sustainably, ethically, and enjoyably. This intimate event will connect entrepreneurs in a meaningful way that goes beyond the conference room. The festival is about the farthest you can get from the usual crowded convention center experience. You’ll be able to catch your breath, to stay centered, and to really think about what matters in your business. All while enjoying the stunning backdrop of the Jotunheimen National Park in Norway. The event fee is surprisingly reasonable for such a transformative and intimate event. […]

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Overwhelmed by the Complexity of Online Business? This May Help

A whole bunch of common issues arise once you start working on Your Big Idea. “I’m getting a little freaked out because …” “I feel like everyone has already beaten me to the finish line …” “When I look around, I feel behind …” And they all boil down to this theme: “I’m scared.” Well, here’s the good news. If you aren’t at least a little freaked out about your business (whether it’s a thriving concern or something you’re just getting off the ground), you may not be paying enough attention. It’s okay to be nervous, worried, anxious, or just … confused. Guess what? It’s overwhelming Website design, content marketing, social media networking, product design, audience development, payment gateways, security, sales letters, launch plans, evolving technology … Overwhelmed yet? Well, of course you are. Because if you try to tackle all of those things at once, you’ll choke. No human […]

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Not Getting Business Results? Try These Content Tips from Professional Artists

A lot of people think that artists create work when they feel inspired, spending the rest of their time drinking tiny coffees in quaint cafés, or something similarly poetic. Nope. Real artists are craftspeople first. They work in a disciplined, methodical way (although that method can vary hugely from person to person), and they don’t wait around for inspiration. This week, we offered three “serious artist” approaches to your content production. Try these out to become both more creative and more productive — without letting your blog or podcast take every minute of your life. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman talked about the value of establishing editorial standards for your content. It might not sound sexy at first. (Unless you’re us, because we’re weird.) But pinning these down will let you serve your audience better, focus your content authority with both audiences and search engines, and can even help reduce writer’s […]

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How to Beat the Boring Content Blues in 30 Days

Have you ever reached a plateau with your content? You come to a point where you have a predictable amount of traffic, that traffic creates a predictable level of response (comments, clickthroughs for your product, number of backlinks, whatever), but your response doesn’t seem to budge past that point. It’s fun climbing to that spot, but less fun to get stuck there for weeks or months on end. I’m going to share a painful secret with you. It isn’t your layout or your banner. It isn’t your SEO. It’s your content. Specifically, your content has become flat and routine. You’ve found a modest audience that likes you, but your ideas and your writing aren’t sharp enough to pull in, energize, and keep new readers. Over 30 years as a professional writer, I’ve developed a method to take my writing to a stronger, deeper level. I originally got this process from […]

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