4 Responsible Ways to Communicate Data

Of all the persuasion tools content marketers have in their toolkit, data is one of the strongest. According to a 2014 study by the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, people were 40% more likely to believe a drug would work if they learned about it through a chart instead of only reading text. See what I did there? 😉 But data is also tricky. It’s easy to see patterns where there aren’t any, or to skew the presentation to make your point. And if that happens, even unintentionally, it can undermine the trust you’ve built with your audience. So, how can smart content marketers learn to use data effectively and responsibly, in a way that builds trust instead of eroding it? To be clear, learning to notice and correct your own bias in interpreting and presenting data can take a lifetime. But fortunately, there are guidelines that can keep you […]

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The “Niche” Myth and How to Define Your Audience (FS238)

The audience we aim to capture and the potential clients we go after are ultimately what make a business stay afloat or sink, without an audience you are not really an entrepreneur, right? So how do we find that particular section of the market that is right for us? How wide or narrow should we cast our nets and what are the indicators we can follow in this regard? In this episode we break down the battle for your products; how niche is too niche and how general is just way too general. We pull apart the considerations that go into shooting for the stars and an audience, emphasizing how this process evolves and changes over time! Today on the show we are joined by Justin Jackson, old friend, host of the Build Your SaaS Podcast and cofounder of Transistor! Our special guest shares his expertise in the space, unpacking […]

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3 Content Marketing Don’ts from a Grocery Store Solicitor

A grocery store solicitor is a nuisance because grocery shopping isn’t typically a leisurely activity. The shopper needs to get down to business, because there are many other tasks to perform when they leave the grocery store and carry on with their day. However, some people might treat grocery shopping as a more casual activity, perhaps time to explore new products or even meet new people. Those are the ideal prospects who are more open to grocery store solicitors. So, the solicitor does have a chance, but I recently witnessed one blow his opportunity … twice. The Meditation Table On this fateful day, a table with a sign on top of it that simply said “Meditation” was adjacent to the front of the organic grocery store I walk to regularly. Not a terrible start. The location has potential. Not all people who buy organic groceries care about upping their zen […]

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17 Perceptive Ways to Persuade with Modern Copywriting

Fads and platforms come and go, but one fact endures: Copywriting is the mechanism that allows businesses to make money online. Which means that if online sales matter to your business, copywriting is a really smart place to invest your time and attention. This week, we offered 17 different ways you can boost the effectiveness of your copy for better business results. On Monday, Brian Clark covered the five distinct types of prospects we attract with content marketing, and how to speak to each of them in order to further a business relationship. This advice is more nuanced than the usual “never sell on your blog” or “always sell on your blog” … and it works a lot better than either extreme. On Tuesday, Stefanie Flaxman dived deep into eight different business-building calls to action you can use in your copy and content. If you’ve struggled with giving your content […]

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How to Win Over New Kinds of Readers

Ever notice that your content tends to really resonate with some people, and others don’t have any interest at all? You might shrug your shoulders and just decide “that’s the way things are,” but in fact, educational psychology shows that there are four distinct ways of taking in information. Each of us naturally tends to speak most effectively to one type, leaving the other three out in the cold. But a basic understanding of those four types can actually shape your content to connect with a greater range of people. You’ll radically increase your fan base, and also make a more powerful connection with the readers you have today. Let’s dig into the four styles and how you can create content that resonates with each of them. Cats The biggest question for your Cat readers is, “What’s in it for me?” Their driving question is Why? This learning style is […]

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8 Calls to Action that Initiate New Relationships with Customers and Collaborators

I know. I know. I know. “Viral” is an actual term people use to describe wildly popular content that has spread across a variety of distribution channels, landing in our Twitter feeds, Apple News updates, text messages, and emails from Uncle Sue. But I still don’t like the word. When “going viral” is a goal for a piece of content, it puts me a little on edge. Viral content may feed your ego, but it doesn’t necessarily feed your business. Business success without “going viral” I understand it’s frustrating if no one knows about your products or services. That’s why you want a lot of people to see your work. But sustainable success stems from your dedication to produce one great line at a time and consistently publish your content. One article or podcast episode or video is not going to change everything. Plus: Many smart content moves have nothing […]

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The 5 Types of Online Prospects, and How to Sell to Each of Them

If you’re producing content to promote your services, physical products, or digital offerings, obviously you want a return on investment for the time and effort you put in. On the other hand, you’ve probably noticed that if you spend all of your time relentlessly selling, you’ll alienate a good portion of your prospective audience. The tricky problem for content marketers is that various readers are at different awareness levels, depending on how long they’ve been reading and how much exposure you’ve provided to your offer. And the way you approach your offer will change, depending on which stage your prospect happens to be in. Eugene Schwartz tackled this issue in his classic book Breakthrough Advertising back in 1966. Schwartz broke down prospect awareness into five distinct phases: The Most Aware: Your prospect knows your product, and only needs to know “the deal.” Product-Aware: Your prospect knows what you sell, but […]

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Cultivate Your Independence with Smart Strategy and Thoughtful Action

It’s Independence Day in the U.S.! Wherever you live, this week we invite you to take thoughtful action that promotes your own independence. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman outlined a plan you can follow to complete a project that matters to you. It might be an ebook, a course, cornerstone content for your website, or anything else that’s seemed a little intimidating. It can be comfortable to stick with the daily content grind. But a bigger, more ambitious project is often the path to your most powerful growth. If you want some company while you work on yours, we’ll be planning out our milestones, setting our deadlines, and tracking our progress as a group inside the Killers and Poets Facebook group. Join us if you’d like some motivation and accountability to get that project finished! On Tuesday, Brian Clark highlighted a key to keeping your content and copy focused on what […]

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3 Tips for Creating Your Own Independence Day

Tomorrow is Independence Day here in the States, which, for most of us, entails the risk of losing: Your fingers to cheap fireworks Your waistline to hot dogs Your liver All of which, as a red-blooded American, I support wholeheartedly. But if you’re spending tomorrow celebrating the country’s independence, how about giving some attention to your own personal independence? It might be independence from a day job, financial stress, or even a mindset that’s keeping you from making things happen. Here are three of my favorite tips for declaring your own individual independence. 1. Expand your audience Andy Warhol had it wrong. Now that we’re living in the future, everyone isn’t famous for 15 minutes. We’re each famous with 15 people. Each of us has our own village of customers. And most of us would like to expand that village, at least by a little bit. Especially if we want […]

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Does Your Copy Pass the ‘Forehead Slap’ Test?

One of the most repeated rules of writing compelling copy is to stress benefits, not features. In other words, identify the underlying benefit that each feature of a product or service provides to the prospect, because that’s what will prompt the purchase. This is one rule that always applies, except when it doesn’t. We’ll look at the exceptions in a bit. Fake benefits The idea of highlighting benefits over features seems simple. But it’s often tough to do in practice. Writers often end up with fake benefits instead. Direct-response copywriter Clayton Makepeace asserts that fake benefits will kill sales copy, so you have to be on the lookout for them in your writing. He uses this headline as an example: Balance Blood Sugar Levels Naturally! That sounds pretty beneficial, doesn’t it? In reality, there’s not a single real benefit in the headline. True benefits Makepeace advises to apply his patented […]

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A Simple, Two-Month Plan to Complete a Content Project

At the end of June 2009, I was reading Copyblogger and I got a new idea: I should write an ebook. My writing and editing business was less than a year old, and I had never written anything that resembled a book. Could I actually do it? I knew I wanted to try, so I established a plan on July 1 that would help me write, design, and self-publish an ebook on my website by September 15. I’m going to share that plan with you today, so you can adapt it to any type of content project you’d like to finish by the fall (in the Northern Hemisphere). Select the right topic Writing an ebook could easily take a year or two … or five. But launching it as soon as possible was an important step for my business. The ebook would help: Establish my authority as a writer and […]

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Amplify Your Content Production … and Have Fun While You’re At It

Publishing a good volume of excellent content can be a tough game. And if you don’t keep it fun, you’re never going to stick with it. In the words of 1930s heavyweight champion Primo Carnera, you want to look for that elusive balance: “So many money, so many fun.” This week, we have advice on making your content and production processes more fun — without sacrificing the “so many money” part. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman gave us four steps to working steadily on smaller, satisfying projects rather than making ourselves miserable with lofty goals that never get met. On Tuesday, Karine Bengualid made her Copyblogger debut sharing why B2B marketing needs to be “funner,” and how to make that happen without tipping over into hot-mess territory. And on Wednesday, just for fun, I talked about when to be repetitive, redundant, and say the same thing twice. The Copyblogger FM episode […]

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When to Be Redundant, Repetitive, and Say the Same Thing Twice

Remember your fifth grade “What I did on my summer vacation” paper, where you used the words “pool,” “baseball” and “bike” 100 times apiece? And your English teacher dutifully marked your paper up with her red pen. Redundant. Don’t repeat yourself. Choose a new word. Content marketers sometimes get so fearful about repeating ourselves that our messages can get completely lost. The truth is, after fifth grade is over, there are times when you want to repeat yourself to make sure your point comes across. Here’s how you can tell if your content could benefit from a little strategic repetition. Repeat for clarity Like it or not, your readers skim. No matter how clearly you expressed yourself the first time, your words may have literally not been seen. Remember that your content needs to cut through your reader’s dense fog of information clutter and chronic interruption. If it’s important, it’s […]

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It’s the 21st Century: B2B Needs to Be Fun(ner)

I’ve struggled with my weight ever since I can remember. Diets and fads and pills and boot camp and CrossFit and TRX and and and … The truth is, there are a million solutions for weight loss, because everyone’s body is different. What works for you may not work for me. For example, I’m a vegetarian. So a Paleo diet (one that consists largely of meat) isn’t even an option. At this point you’re thinking, “Karine, WTF does this have to do with copy, content, and marketing?” Well, the short answer is … everything. The long answer is that in this day of technology, there are almost as many ways to market your business or brand as there are to lose weight. And what works for one company may or may not work for another. B2B, B2C, and a few tomatoes We all know that a company that sells its […]

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4 Steps to Finish a Practical Project Instead of Fantasizing about a Lofty Idea

If I set out to practice yoga for an hour each day, I would practice zero hours of yoga each day. Something else would always take priority over that hour of yoga. We all have other things to do. Instead, I consistently practice five to 20 minutes of yoga Monday through Friday. I had to find a routine I could fit in regularly — without making a big production of it. What have you turned into a big production? The long-term goal. Where you want to go. An ultimate objective. All of those thoughts can serve you well. The problem occurs when those thoughts stay thoughts because meeting your goal requires too much time or energy — time or energy you don’t realistically have. Overwhelm and disappointment cloud your hopes and dreams because you haven’t actually done anything related to them. Here’s a quick litmus test: You know you’re wasting […]

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Smart Choices that Lead to Impressive Content and Copywriting Results

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J.K. Rowling That Albus Dumbledore was a pretty wise fellow. And you’ve probably experienced that some choices you make accumulate into rich, productive experiences … and others tend to roll up into a doughy ball of disappointment. There are a million ways to write copy and content — but the choices you make and the priorities you set will determine the results you see. This week was all about how to make the smartest possible choices when you sit down to write. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman uncovered the magic of a micro audience. She highlights the choice of action over perfectionism, and making the decision to treat a small audience as a priority, even before you see the big wins that will come when that audience grows. On Tuesday, Loryn Cole explored the […]

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A Micro Audience: Your Macro Win

I finally did it. After years of presenting examples of great content I’ve found while feeding my YouTube habit, I stopped only consuming and started producing. In the beginning of May, I launched two YouTube channels. I have very few subscribers. And I’m over the moon about it. Here’s why. You’re not entitled to anyone’s attention Just because you’re excited about something you’re doing, it doesn’t mean anyone else is. It doesn’t mean they’ll pay attention. It doesn’t mean they’ll share it. So, when someone does care — even if it’s one person — it’s a reason to celebrate. Everything has a micro start. The content creator who’s preoccupied with 100, 1,000, 10,000, or some other magical number of subscribers, takes what’s right in front of them for granted. And reaching some ideal number is never as satisfying as you think it will be, so you’re forced to begin a […]

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For Courageous Content Creators Who Want to Do Epic Work

When I started blogging, a little over 10 years ago, one of my then-colleagues mentioned that she “didn’t have the software to read blogs.” Today, the landscape is a little different. Blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, and other content formats are being consumed at an astonishing rate — and an equally astonishing volume of new content is being generated to fill that demand. The content landscape isn’t some mythical blue ocean lacking in competition. It’s a teeming jungle — with plenty to eat, and plenty that wants to eat you. To make it in the content jungle, you need courage. The courage to stand out, the courage to get real about your values, and the courage to create over the long haul. This week, we’ve got fuel for your content courage. One reason creativity and self-expression are difficult is that we’re afraid someone will be mean to us over what we […]

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Why You’re Missing Out if You Save Your Best Content Ideas

Imagine this, if you will. An old woman, near the end of her life. Shivering in a fleabag apartment without heat in the winter. Walking four miles each way to the food bank, to carry home unmarked cans of mystery meat. Not even a cat to keep her company, because cat food is expensive. Then one day she dies, and the neighbors find $2.7 million wadded up in her mattress. It’s a natural human impulse to hold on to what we have. We figure we can handle whatever discomforts we might be facing now, and who knows how bad it could get down the line? So we hoard, saving up our riches for some mythical later time. What does this have to do with writing? Everyone who writes faces this at some point. We come up with a powerful idea, something we think will capture a lot of attention. This […]

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Is Podcasting Still the New Blogging?

Odds are pretty good that you’ve listened to a podcast or two this week. They’re even better that you’ve listened to a baker’s dozen or more this month. It’s not just you; podcasting has finally crossed into the mainstream (especially here in the U.S.) and firmly planted a flag in our zeitgeist, delivering self-curated, on-demand, exclusive, spoken-word content in a far more intimate and less distracting manner than traditional media like TV and radio. Listeners have more high-quality programs and formats to choose from than ever before, and they can dive deep into any niche topic they desire at the push of a “Subscribe” button. If you’re a podcast junkie like me, you’ve got a number of podcasts queued up on any given week — everything from post-apocalyptic fiction, up-to-the-minute political reportage, self-publishing advice, an NPR show or five, and even an exploration of Hollywood’s forgotten history. Are you still […]

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