Tag Archive | "don’t"

These 4 Copywriting Techniques Work Really Well … Right Up Until They Don’t

Search on Google and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of pages devoted to copywriting secrets, tips, tricks, and techniques. Go…

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SearchCap: Google doesn’t personalize SERPs, don’t fixate on CTR, Google sub-images & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.



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Easy Email Inbox: Reply to 3 Types of Messages (and Don’t Sweat the Rest)

When you run a content marketing platform, you’ll get other types of messages from your audience in addition to blog comments. You’ll get emails. Many people have a love/hate relationship with email. When it’s good, it’s really good — but when it’s bad, managing your inbox feels like a huge waste of time. But like
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How to Craft Question Headlines that Don’t Flop

During last week’s Editorial call here at Copyblogger, we had a lively discussion about ham. But that’s not the H-word I’m going to talk about today. More commonly, we analyze headlines. There’s nothing more disappointing than a unique, thoughtful, and helpful piece of content that has a headline that doesn’t do it justice. Great content
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Law firms spamming Google My Business: Don’t trust your money or your life to them!

Many local businesses are guilty of violating Google My Business guidelines to game the system, and columnist Joy Hawkins has observed rampant problems within the law vertical.

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Killer Resources for Freelancers … and an Option for Those Who Don’t Want to Go It Alone

This week, Stefanie Flaxman and I yielded the floor to a pair of smart gentlemen who we don’t hear from quite as often as we used to. And we featured a writer you haven’t seen on Copyblogger before. Her debut post for us is a must-read for writers who like being able to pay their
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Why You Don’t Need to Be a Thought Leader

"Saying 'thought leadership' instead of influence has always reminded me of Homer Simpson calling his garage a 'car hole.'" – Sonia Simone

We all want to get traffic to our websites. We want to build audiences who are interested in what we have to say and responsive to our offers.

And so it’s natural to think that we should become “thought leaders.” (Or, to push the expression a little further down Jargon Lane, “thought leaders in our space.”)

Perhaps even more coveted than “going viral,” thought leadership is that elusive, glittering prize — the Golden Snitch of web publishing.

Most of us (I hope) know better than to self-identify as thought leaders. But we think it would be kind of great if other people started calling us that.

I’m not buying it. And here’s why.

First, the petty part: I just hate the term. It’s a clumsy verbal construct that has no need to exist.

Saying “thought leadership” instead of influence has always reminded me of Homer Simpson calling his garage a “car hole.”

But I have real reasons, too.

Let me be clear: I think it’s smart to publish the kind of content that people pay attention to. I think it’s smart to publish good advice. I think it’s smart to be smart.

But thought leadership implies that you have some kind of shiny, new insight that no one has articulated before. To be a thought leader, what you’re saying can’t just be interesting, well-reasoned, and useful — it has to be new.

Novelty is not wisdom

Allow me to propose a radical notion:

We don’t actually need a bunch of new thoughts. We need to pursue and implement the existing thoughts that make sense.

I’m not talking about innovation in technology … that’s going to happen whether we have “thought leaders” or not.

I’m talking about people who claim completely new insights about how the world fundamentally works — whether it’s health, business, the environment, or anything else we care about.

Most thought leaders create novelty in one of two ways.

The first is to repackage old advice in a sparkly new wrapper. Marketers have done this forever, and I don’t actually have a problem with it. New wrappers make things more interesting, and that gets us to pay fresh attention to those darned fundamentals.

But don’t kid yourself and think it makes you a thought leader. It makes you a good teacher. Which is better, because it’s useful.

The other way, of course, is to make up some nonsense.

Tell us all about how the future will belong to left-handed people, that in 2030 the global economy will be based on bacon, or that you’ve identified breakthrough, new research showing that eating nothing but transparent food will make you 17.684 times more intelligent.

If you are in possession of special, unique wisdom that no one else knows about, either you’ve dressed some old wisdom in a new suit or you are pushing a great big pile of BS.

And by the way …

Every expert you know is wrong about something

My other problem with thought leaders is that their audiences start to see them as cult leaders.

I’ll never forget reading some guy’s 50-line-long comment on a Tim Ferriss blog post, asking about what and when he should eat to correspond with variations in the timing of this person’s bowel activity.

This is literally a person asking Tim Ferriss how often he should take a shit.

We expect an authority to be smart about their topic. Economic authorities should be smart about the economy. Nutrition authorities should be smart about nutrition. And so forth.

We expect thought leaders to be quasi-religious figures, blessing us with their deep thoughts and profound insights, and showing us their unique sacred path to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Implicit in this idea of a thought leader is the notion that you need someone to tell you how and what to think. And that, frankly, is a terrible idea.

Thought leadership is a bubble

My other issue with thought leadership is that it’s a catchphrase for a bubble that doesn’t need to be reinforced.

The world is made up of a lot of different kinds of people. They come from different places; they look different; they do different things on their days off; they have different family lives and social circles and work histories.

But thought leaders all look eerily alike.

Do we really need more Business Insider types telling us how the world works? Could we maybe hear from some people who don’t have the exact same CV, the same vocabulary, the same haircut, and the same sports jacket?

Might it not be useful to determine our paths for ourselves, based on our own observations and intelligence, reflecting our individual experiences, striving to see the larger picture, and weighing the informed opinions of actual authorities who back their assertions with credible evidence?

We don’t need thought leadership … we need leadership

Thought leaders strive for new ideas. Leaders strive for good ideas.

You don’t need someone to tell you what to think. I trust you to have that covered.

Your audience doesn’t need it, either. They’re smart. But they have questions, and you can help with that.

I believe it’s useful to step up and share your experience. I find it’s massively useful when someone who has done something difficult talks about what they’ve learned along the way.

I believe in expertise. Some people are better at a given skill than others. Usually because they have a lot of practice doing it.

I believe that most of us have days when our confidence fails, and we can use a pep talk.

And I believe that it’s powerful to let people know what you believe in. Not because you’re telling them to believe the same way, but because you’re inviting those who do to walk with you.

So, what if you actually come up with a new idea?

New ideas do actually come up sometimes. Maybe you’ll come up with one of them.

If you have a new perspective or insight, and it’s supported by credible evidence, that can be a powerful thing.

Write about it. Question it. Investigate it. Teach it. Promote it.

Just like you do with all the good advice you offer. Whether your idea is good or bad doesn’t depend on an overused label.

The world doesn’t need you to chase after some empty notion of thought leadership.

Leading your audience with your expertise, your confidence, your integrity, and your passion for their well-being is enough.

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Don’t Get Flattened on the Attention Superhighway

"Lots of sites are desperate for traffic. But traffic is just the start of the story." – Sonia Simone

When we talk about content marketing strategy, it’s amazing how often people think that means:

Can I Haz Moar Peoples!!!

(English translation: How can I get more traffic to my site?)

That’s not new — the quest for eyeballs is as old as online business.

And it does matter. It’s important to have a critical mass of folks who know you exist. Ask anyone trying to get a business off the ground with an email list of 34 people, 8 of whom they’re related to.

You need a big enough audience to allow for a meaningful response when you try out a new content idea, or craft an offer for your product or service.

But there’s no shortage of online publishers with big audiences and tiny businesses. If all you do is stand on the Information Superhighway trying to flag people down, you’re going to get flattened.

Instead, craft a thoughtful, well-designed path. Lead prospects from the noise and clutter of the larger web to a sustained and valuable connection that solves the problems they care about.

Smart business isn’t about gaining a massive amount of attention. It’s about gaining the right kind of attention from the right people … and continuing the journey from there.

Copywriting formulas

When you want to persuade, it’s useful to take a look at the classic “formulas” of copywriting — because copywriting is simply persuasion that takes place (partly or completely) without the help of an individual human salesperson.

Most of these formulas begin with the letter A — which stands for attention. And that’s what most marketing strategy tends to focus on: how to get the attention of all those distracted folks zooming around the web.

The granddaddy of persuasion formulas is AIDA. That stands for:

Attention — Interest — Desire — Action

Back when copywriting was very, very hard, you had to do all of those steps with one piece of content, often something printed on paper and delivered by post.

Today, we get a lot more shots. We can handle each of those elements with individual content. Even better, we can craft multiple pieces of content to serve different functions.

So if you need to spend more time addressing a topic that interests your audience, you can craft a content series, or even an entire content library.

Another time-tested formula is P-A-S.

Problem — Agitate — Solve

This one doesn’t start with A, but it does kick off with a compelling audience problem, which inherently tends to grab attention. Agitation means getting into the problem in a deeper, more emotionally resonant way … and then the business can step in to solve the problem.

These are good formulas, and they still have their place. But in a content marketing environment, they tend to dramatically underestimate the complex role of those middle letters.

What happens in the middle?

Attention strategies are fun to learn about. Potent headlines, exciting images, killer hooks.

But when you’re working on a landing page, a video sales letter, an infomercial, or a 15-second radio ad, the middle can be the toughest part.

The middle starts to look like actual work.

You’re cultivating the relationship. That means a significant part of the “middle” of your content marketing is about offering value generously and being a decent human.

You nurture the relationship with the audience by offering:

  • Interesting educational material that helps them do things they want to do
  • Content that shows your audience who you are and what you believe
  • Opportunities for small, low-risk commitments, to test the waters and experience what you have to offer

Where are the rough patches?

Most paths have some rough spots — places that aren’t as easy to navigate.

When we’re talking about your content marketing path, these include the objections your audience will have to moving forward with your offer. These are things like:

  • It seems expensive.
  • It seems complicated.
  • It seems like it only works for other people.
  • It seems hard to get started.
  • It seems like a long time before I’ll see results.

A smart, well-structured content path will include work that speaks directly to these objections.

You might tell stories that show the audience how someone else wrestled with the issue. Or offer clear, simple explanations of product features — perhaps an infographic or explainer video — to show how your solution overcomes the problem.

If I were going to write a persuasion formula

If I wanted to craft a persuasion formula for the 21st century, what would it look like?

I’d need to start by knowing who I wanted to speak with. What do they care about? What kinds of problems could I help them with? So the first letter might be K for Knowledge or E for Empathy.

From there, I think I’d go to Connection rather than Attention — simply because attention today is so fleeting. I’d try to spark a moment of connection instead, to have some chance of a more enduring relationship.

In my experience, building connection usually combines speaking to a problem the audience cares about and speaking from a position of shared values.

That kind of principled problem-solving constructs a content path that is marked by Usefulness. What kinds of content could I create that my audience would find valuable? What problems could I solve? Is there some “low hanging fruit” I could help my audience pick?

What Objections could I address? What risks could I manage for my audience?

Along the path, I’d try to craft some introductory Offers that helped people try my ideas out for themselves. In other words, some inexpensive ways they could pick up products or services — maybe even free products or services — that would help them get something they want.

If there were key Beliefs, assumptions, or convictions that the audience needed to adopt to go further, I’d also talk about those. For example, at Copyblogger, we believe it’s unacceptably risky to put your entire business on a platform someone else controls, like Facebook or Tumblr.

I’d use my useful content path to make the Case for my solution to my audience’s problems — keeping an eye open for the audience’s responses and desires, not just my own assumptions about what they need or want.

Along the path, I’d remember to Ask for the audience’s action on a more significant offer and Measure how they respond.

Put another way, I’d measure their Engagement by seeing if there’s a product or service they feel ready to buy.

Did they like the offer a lot? Did lots of folks complete the transaction? I’d Iterate and craft more offers like that one. Did they hate it? Did just a few or no people take me up on the offer? Again, iteration would lead me to put something together that was better aligned with the audience’s desires.

Finally, I’d work on Sustaining the relationship. It’s great to do business once — but it’s more satisfying (and makes better business sense) to create long-term relationships in which the audience and the business grow together.

To that end, I’d make a commitment to Delivering value over time and keep looking for new ways to serve that audience.

That leaves me with something like ECUOOBCAMEISD. Hm.

ECUBED?

OK, how about ECUBED?

  • Empathize
  • Connect
  • Useful, make myself (Yoda-talking I am)
  • Beliefs, speak to
  • Engage audience action by making an offer
  • Deliver value over time

I definitely had to massage a few things to come up with a decent acronym. So, how would you tweak it?

Let us know your thoughts and suggestions on what this kind of “formula” might look like in the comments. :)

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Don’t get duped by duplicate content: 8 quick checks for every SEO

Duplicate content can often arise without our knowledge, despite our best efforts to prevent it. Columnist Stephanie LeVonne shows how you can identify and fix it.

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Why Don’t Some Online Courses Sell?

un-sell-online-courses

Online courses are a great way to build a business. They’re also a great way to get better-qualified clients, or build an additional revenue stream by providing an alternative to your services.

But sometimes, things don’t go as planned. Your course isn’t selling as much as you’d like, or worse, it’s not selling at all.

There’s a methodical analysis you can perform to see if you can spot the problem. Of course, this is the same analysis you should perform before you create a course.

In this episode of Unemployable with Brian Clark, Brian discusses:

  • How to be absolutely sure what works
  • Why re-examining existing market demand is step one
  • How incorrect pricing can kill your sales and profits
  • What to do to increase your targeted reach
  • Copywriting techniques that work for courses
  • Testing demand with the MVP process
  • How split-testing reveals the truth

Click Here to Listen to

Unemployable with Brian Clark on iTunes

Click Here to Listen on Rainmaker.FM

About the author

Rainmaker.FM

Rainmaker.FM is the premier digital commerce and content marketing podcast network. Get on-demand digital business and marketing advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

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