Tag Archive | "Master"

The need for speed in search: 5 speed types to master now

To be competitive in search, you must audit and optimize desktop and mobile page speeds while also making data ready for real-time personalization.



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Master the Part of Editing that Has Nothing to Do with Grammar, Spelling, or Punctuation

If you want your content marketing team to run like a well-oiled machine, there’s one factor that matters more than…

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Copyblogger Book Club: Master Content Strategy

You might have noticed that we tend to be pretty big on content marketing strategy around here. “Throw a ton…

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Master This Writing Practice to Find More Loyal Readers

"In order to work, pre-internet writers had to follow a publication’s editorial standards." – Stefanie Flaxman

If you want to write about anything you’d like, as often as you’d like, there’s a place for that: your own website.

It’s a modern privilege that gives writers the freedom to digitally publish their work publicly, with the potential to reach any reader with an internet connection.

Can you imagine going back in time and telling that to someone who only wrote on paper? Someone whose only readers were those in physical possession of their writing?

We’re so lucky.

But we may miss out on ways to spread our writing, because we’re not as accustomed to the practices our writer predecessors needed to implement to get their work in front of new readers.

I want to show you how to seize more contemporary opportunities with classic grit.

And the practice I’m going to talk about is guest posting.

While I know you’ve heard the benefits of guest posting before, I don’t think it’s often discussed as a practice.

A lot has to happen before more readers discover your writing, and one big obstacle blocks many internet-era writers …

Has our entitlement cup runneth over?

Since we’re so used to writing on our own sites, it’s natural to think our own style is acceptable on other sites.

The misconception is that once you find a site that has an audience you want to connect with, you can offer that site a typical article you’d write and lock down a publishing spot on their editorial calendar.

While it’s certainly possible to have that experience with guest posting, many large publications aren’t interested in publishing a post that would appear on your blog.

Instead, they may be interested in your expertise and point of view, but they need you to craft an article that honors their editorial standards and would appear on their blog.

In order to work, pre-internet writers had to follow a publication’s editorial standards.

They didn’t have the luxury of publishing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted; they had to learn to trust an editor’s vision for their writing in order to get their articles in front of new readers.

An example: monster truck racing for ladies

I want to demonstrate how the practice of guest posting — or contributing to a publication other than your own — can help you both grow your audience and grow professionally.

In this scenario, monster truck racing has recently surged in popularity among women. Women can’t get enough information about monster truck competitions, so Edith Editor at Cosmopolitan magazine gets a pitch from Frank Freelancer.

Frank regularly contributes to The Monster Truck Times and runs his own blog, Big Wheel Freaks, where he specifically writes about monster truck races.

Edith likes Frank’s article idea, but she needs to educate him on the type of content that is the right fit for Cosmopolitan. She’ll give him their writer guidelines so he can match the tone and style of his article to the publication’s specifications.

Since Frank is a pro, he knows he needs to be flexible. He understands that Cosmopolitan subscribers aren’t used to reading the usual content he writes for The Monster Truck Times and Big Wheel Freaks.

If he wants to connect with Cosmopolitan’s audience (which he does), he has to adapt his writing based on Edith’s guidance. Frank knows that working writers don’t always get to write exactly what they want, and he welcomes the opportunity to strengthen his creative muscles.

Plus, he understands that if Cosmopolitan publishes his writing, he gains authority and validation as a trustworthy source of information. He has a chance to capture the attention of new people who aren’t familiar with his work and then direct them to his typical articles.

If he didn’t view the situation with that attitude, Edith wouldn’t be able to publish his article and she’d find another monster truck writer with more experience working for a professional publication.

Practice the process of guest posting

So, as you can see, my view on guest posting is more involved than simply getting another website to agree to publish one of your articles.

It’s a process of finding publications that are looking for what you offer and collaborating with them.

Successful guest posting consists of:

  • Building relationships
  • Learning and following rules
  • Adapting your writing to become a regular contributor

Let’s look at each one …

Building relationships

"There is only one reason you should initiate a relationship with a content publisher — you genuinely enjoy their work." – Sonia Simone

The way two people connect and bond may look nothing like what another two people experience, so I think it’s best to view relationship-building as an art form with a variety of factors that are different for everyone.

But that also makes the process a bit difficult to describe.

First, accept that every relationship develops differently. You’ll rarely be able to duplicate something that worked for someone else and get the same results — your copycat version will seem forced and inauthentic.

Second, relationship-building needs you to detach from possible outcomes. For example, when you have an authentic interest in talking to a blogger whose site you enjoy, you’ll genuinely enjoy chatting with them in blog comments or having a quick email exchange.

The experience of connection is the reward.

On the other hand, if you contact someone because you want something from them, you’ll be preoccupied with getting that person to agree to your request. You might even feel entitled to their time and attention.

Your agenda is always more obvious than you realize — and it’s not attractive.

Connect with people you want to meet without needing anything from them. If a relationship grows naturally, somewhere down the line you’ll probably both be happy to help each other out.

Learning and following rules

"That's why they call it work." – Robert Bruce

The first “rule” on your radar should be familiarizing yourself with what certain publications are looking for, or not looking for …

Now’s a good time to mention that Copyblogger does not currently review unsolicited guest post pitches. However, many publications do review them and display guidelines on their sites to help you shape your submissions.

Those guidelines aren’t arbitrary. They are what the publication wants you to submit to optimize your chances of getting the “yes” response that you’d like, so study and follow the instructions.

You want to be intimately familiar with any site you pitch to (like how Frank Freelancer knew Edith Editor would be looking for a monster truck writer), so even if pitch guidelines aren’t available, you’ll naturally know how to grab their attention.

For instance, some publications prefer receiving a full article for consideration while others want to see an outline before the author finishes writing.

Regardless of your publication’s preference, demonstrate that you can offer their readers a new perspective, but that you’re also a professional who will meet their standards.

Pitching to smaller publications is a great way to practice guest posting.

Many won’t have as many rules as larger sites, so getting your writing published is sometimes a quicker process. Even though their audiences may contain fewer people, those individuals may be highly engaged with the site’s content, which helps you initiate new relationships and invite those readers back to your site.

Adapting your writing to become a regular contributor

"'Link building' is something I’ve never done in my 19 years of publishing online." – Brian Clark

It’s definitely an accomplishment to have a site other than your own publish your writing. But guest posting will be the most beneficial to your writing career if you aim to become a regular contributor — to one site or several.

Guest posting can help influence your area of expertise. Keep learning about the topics that the sites you’ve contributed to want to share with their readers.

For example, Frank Freelancer might enjoy writing for Cosmopolitan and continue to perform detailed research on relevant subjects for the magazine. He’ll treat his Cosmopolitan articles with great care and submit his best work.

As you grow a long-term relationship with a publication, they’ll get to know you better as well and appreciate your professional attributes, such as meeting deadlines and submitting drafts without typos.

When you contribute value over time, the publication will also be much more willing to help you out with a favor, if you ever need one.

Finding loyal readers requires the same persistence writers have needed since the birth of the first writing instrument … but I think those ancient writers would have preferred to have access to new audiences on the internet. Don’t squander your upper hand.

Want to grow professionally as a writer?

Our Certified Content Marketer training is a powerful tool to learn new writing strategies and position your business for greater success. Add your email address to our waiting list below to be the first to hear about when we reopen the program to new students.

Find out when our Certified Content Marketer training program reopens:

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3 Resources to Help You Become a Master Content Marketing Storyteller

how to tell a compelling marketing story

How would you answer the question, “If you were stranded on a deserted island — and could only have five books with you — which five would you choose?”

I’d choose my favorite stories to help me feel less alone and remain motivated.

If stories are powerful enough to bring a sense of belonging to someone subject to the ultimate level of isolation, think of the effect they can have on your clients and customers who are (presumably) integrated into society.

This week’s Copyblogger Collection is a series of three handpicked articles that will show you:

  • How to build an audience with story
  • How to identify the most important element of your marketing story
  • How to use storytelling to create an irresistible content series

As you work your way through the material below, think of the following lessons as a mini storytelling course for content marketers.


How to Build an Audience with Story (From America’s Greatest Living Playwright)

Information is simultaneously too much and not enough. Information is impotent to reach the hearts and minds of those who want to run with your idea, product, or service.

Story, on the other hand, is virile, rare, unforgettable. And when well-crafted, more true than the mere statement of plain facts.

If you think theater and drama have nothing to do with business, Robert Bruce will surprise you in How to Build an Audience with Story (From America’s Greatest Living Playwright).

Without dramatic tension, your content may only pack as much punch as your Aunt Gertrude’s dull, chewy holiday fruitcake — it’s predictable and you’ve seen it before.


The Most Important Element of Your Marketing Story

After you’ve studied Robert’s lesson about dramatic tension, Sonia Simone says:

Whether you want to make a sale, gain an email subscription, or motivate a change in behavior, your dramatic story will fail if it doesn’t have one thing:

A relatable protagonist.

When I become disinterested in a television show or movie, the first thing I notice is that I don’t care about the characters. They could succeed or fail, and it wouldn’t make any difference to me.

In The Most Important Element of Your Marketing Story, Sonia helps you avoid this pitfall when telling your marketing story. She explains how to build a memorable protagonist who your readers become emotionally invested in, so that you can persuade them to take the action you want them to take.


Master This Storytelling Technique to Create an Irresistible Content Series

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Jim Pennucci.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Jim Pennucci.

Next, get ready to lift your prospects out of their ordinary worlds and invite them to consider a journey that ultimately leads to a transaction.

Demian Farnworth is here with a step-by-step tutorial on how to create that journey. Master This Storytelling Technique to Create an Irresistible Content Series is an in-depth lesson about storyboarding.

Since your competitors are likely writing about similar topics, storyboarding is a technique you can use to craft a special experience readers won’t find anywhere else.

Tell your compelling marketing story

We all have thoughts about what makes our products and services special; the challenge is transforming those ideas into an intriguing narrative that others clearly understand and care about.

Use this post (and save it for future reference!) to help you tell your marketing story to the right audience.

About the author

Stefanie Flaxman

Stefanie Flaxman is Rainmaker Digital’s Editor-in-Chief.

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Updated! A Master List of Social Media Marketing Management Tools

TopRank-Social-Media-Marketing-Tools

Social Media Marketing Management Tools

Tools make reaching social media marketing goals possible. Whether you’re a soloprenuer or a multinational enterprise, it’s nearly impossible to manage a social media marketing program without using 3rd party tools.

During your journey through the 3D chess of social media tool options, you’ll have many decisions to make: Which tool should you start with? Should you use specialized or multi-purpose tools? What features distinguish basic from intermediate to advanced and when should you upgrade?

With the help of Emeric Ernoult (CEO of AgoraPulse, which is included in the list), we’ve updated our list of social media marketing management tools to help lead you in the direction of answering those questions. The list below contains information on 22 of the best social media marketing management tools, platforms and services to help manage and scale your online marketing efforts on the social web.

How to use the list: To help you navigate the list, we’ve split it into two segments:

  • Self-service tools (between $ 10 to $ 200 per month, many of which offer free trials)
  • Enterprise tools (typically starting at $ 1,000 per month, that require a demo with their team to get started)

Which is the best tool for you? Typically, self-service tools are best suited for small and medium businesses and enterprise tools are best suited for large organizations. However, there are exceptions to every rule, so we urge you to research and tools that best meet your company’s needs.

SELF SERVICE SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TOOLS

1. Sprout Social

Sprout Social 0714
Sprout Social provides great reports for social accounts and shows social content and monitored keyword searches in one stream. You can schedule content on all your accounts with a convenient publishing system and manage your Social messages on the go with a mobile app available on iOs and Android. Supports Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
Pricing starts at $ 59/user/month.

2. Hootsuite

Hootsuite 0714
Hootsuite is the leader in the Social Media Marketing Management space. It offers everything a Social Media manager needs from publishing, to monitoring, including reports and team collaboration features. Contrary to Sprout Social, it displays all your Social Media accounts in multiple streams. Some users prefer the unified stream approach of Sprout Social and Agorapulse, some like the multiple stream approach. Really a matter of personal preference. Hootsuite also provides a mobile app to manage Social streams on the go.
Hootsuite offers a free plan, paid plans start at $ 9/month.

3. AgoraPulse

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Agorapulse is a social media management toolkit for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, supporting contest applications, monitoring, CRM and one-click, customizable ppt reports. All social content is funneled into an ‘email-like’ inbox feature and syncs accounts in real time while retaining past conversations and social data from fans & followers.
Pricing starts at $ 29 per month.

4. Buffer

Buffer 0714
Buffer is the pioneer of Social Media publishing. It was the first software to introduce the queue publishing system allowing its users to schedule content accross most social networks without having to individually schedule them. It covers all Social Networks except for Instagram, and is definitely the best publishing system out there. Buffer offers a free version.
Paid plans start at $ 9 per month.

5. Sendible

Sendible 0714
Sendible is a Social Media marketing platform supporting 30+ networks with services for accounts/profiles, messages and social content, social contacts, content discovery, engagement, blog content and promotion, monitoring, and analytics. Sendible also provides a white label version for agencies.
Pricing starts at $ 59 per month.

6. Post Planner

Post Planner 0714
PostPlanner is a publishing solution for Facebook and Twitter. It allows to schedule posts at specific times or add them to a queue. The most unique feature of PostPlanner is its “viral content” feature. In a nutshell, you can see the most viral photos, videos and linked from pages in your industry and use them on your own Social accounts to increase your engagement.
Pricing starts at $ 9 per month.

7. Edgar

Edgar 0714
Edgar is a social media scheduling tool that allows you to recycle categorized social media updates and re-post them later automatically to reach more fans & followers.
Pricing starts at $ 49 per month.

8. Rignite

Rignite 0714
Rignite is an all-in-one social media management platform, covering daily posting, goal-based campaigns, and analytics data. Its unique staple†is the campaign based posting feature that allows you to set a specific set of posts to promote a product, an event or a promotion and track the results of that campaign.
Pricing starts at $ 28 per month.

9. ScheduGram

ScheduGram 0714
Schedugram is an Instagram post scheduler, with support for multiple accounts and bulk uploads. Schedugram is one of the very few apps that make it possible†to schedule posts on Instagram via a web interface.
Pricing starts at $ 20 per month.

10. Oktopost

Octopost 0714
Oktopost is Social media management platform for B2B marketers, focused on delivering and measuring clicks and conversions for lead generation campaigns.
Pricing starts at $ 55 per month.

11. Communit

Communit 0714
Communit is a Twitter CRM that provides support for community management, influencer identification, customer communication, multiple profiles, tweet scheduling, and more.
Pricing starts at $ 25 per month.

ENTERPRISE SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TOOLS

12. Shoutlet

Shoutlet 0714
Shoutlet manages social media marketing communications- building, engaging, and measuring, support for multiple accounts and platforms, social CRM and e-commerce for Facebook, and email marketing.

13. Spredfast

Spredfast 0714
Spredfast is an enterprise social media management system for managing, monitoring, and measuring across multiple social media channels, with a white label option for agencies. Recommended for large enterprises and large agencies.

14. Sprinklr

Sprinklr 0714
Sprinklr is a Social media marketing platform and consulting service for marketers and agencies in B2B and B2C markets. It provides social media audience research, acquisition, content promotion, and measurement tools. Recommended for large enterprises.

15. Oracle SRM

Oracle 0714
Oracle SRM is Social Relationship Management platform offering a suite of tools- Oracle Social Marketing Cloud Service, Oracle Social Network, and Oracle Social Data. Oracle SRM was started after the acquisition of Vitrue and Involver by Oracle. Recommended for large enterprises.

16. Janrain

Janrain 0714
Janrain is a customer Identity Management platform that supports customer acquisition across multiple devices, recognizes customer profiles wherever they are, and provides accurate customer data for highly targeted marketing campaigns. Recommended for large websites needing to manage social logins at scale.

17. SocialFlow

Social Flow 0714
SocialFlow is a social media management platform that handles content publishing schedules, goal-oriented social advertising, and intelligent reporting and licensing. Recommended for mid-size enterprises.

18. Engagor

Engagor 0714
Engagor is an enterprise class social media management solution, which enables posting and scheduling on every major social network, real-time monitoring, team performance tracking, legal compliance assurance,†and analytics. Recommended for mid-size enterprises.

19. Falcon Social

Falcon Social 0714
Falcon Social includes the usual social media management features, along with team tracking and permissions, competitor listening, and more. Designed for large enterprises.

20. Viralheat

viralheat 0714
ViralHeat is a content marketing and social media management platform, supporting digital marketers with social media monitoring, publishing, analytics, content intelligence, and reporting.

21. Conversocial

Conversocial 0714
Conversocial is a Cloud-based solution for managing social media customer support across multiple networks through multiple teams as part of a larger customer service channel. Recommended for mid-size enterprises needing a solid social media customer service tool.

22. Sysomos

Sysomos 0714
Sysomos is a social media business intelligence tool, monitoring social networks, blogs, and forums to analyze how brand and products are portrayed in them. Recommended for large enterprises needing a comprehensive listening solution.

Getting Started with Social Media Marketing Management Tools

Although the most robust platforms – the ones with every kind of tool imaginable – might seem like the best, that’s not always the case. Tool selection should be entirely dependent on the unique needs of your organization.

What social media marketing dashboards, software and management tools from the list above have you tested or used? Reviews, observations, insights and questions are greatly appreciated!

Obviously, tools are only as good as the expertise of the people using them. TopRank Marketing is always interested in helping companies develop their social media marketing strategy and as part of our consulting services, we can help identify the right tools for implementing a successful social media marketing program.

If there is an enterprise level tool dedicated to social media marketing management that you feel we’ve left out, please be sure to share it in the comments.

Top image via Shutterstock

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Here’s How Master Brand Storyteller Bernadette Jiwa Writes

Bernadette Jiwa, Authority Rainmaker 2015 speaker

Not many people can claim they single-handedly created the new marketing model for the 21st century. And did it simply with a five-column graph called The Difference Map.

Well, Bernadette Jiwa can.

Which is one reason why we are so excited that she will be a featured speaker at Authority Rainmaker.

But her list of achievements doesn’t stop there. She has created brands and unique innovation strategies. The products and ideas she has touched range from football boots to a medical journal, businesses to blogs, books to Kickstarter projects, non-profits, and more.

And she does it with stories.

Mrs. Jiwa grew up in Dublin, Ireland, the capital of storytelling, and carried that gift with her from a grocery warehouse inventory counter all the way to her current life as a branding consultant living in secluded Perth, Australia, where she has managed to write — not one, but four — Amazon bestsellers in the categories of marketing and branding.

In 2012, she was named one of the top 100 branding experts to follow on Twitter. She has also shared her secrets on spreading ideas at TEDxPerth.

Seth Godin calls her “the master of making organizational change around marketing.” And she makes it a matter of principle to help professionals and businesses tap into the essence of their ideas, uncover their unique abilities, and tell the story of how that translates into value for people in a marketplace.

She’s an amazing writer who said the best business lesson she has learned in more than three decades is to look people in the eye and see them for who they really are.

That’s not surprising coming from such a generous person.

It’s certainly a gift that we now get the chance to look into her life and see who she really is. Thank you for sharing with The Writer Files, Mrs. Jiwa!

About the writer …

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am a business author, who leads organizational change around marketing and brand story. I consult with and speak to global brands, business leaders, and entrepreneurs from Sydney to New York, helping them intentionally craft marketing strategies and design their difference so that they can matter to their customers and build meaningful brands.

What is your area of expertise as a writer?

I am the author of four number-one Amazon bestsellers on marketing and brand storytelling: Make Your Idea Matter, The Fortune Cookie Principle, Difference, and my latest book, Marketing: A Love Story.

My blog The Story of Telling was voted the Best Australian Business Blog in 2012 and chosen by SmartCompany as one of Australia’s Top 20 Business Blogs in 2013 and 2014.

Where can we find your writing?

On my blog and in my books.

The writer’s productivity …

How much time, per day, do you read or do research?

I’m researching wherever I go — while standing in line waiting to go into a class at the gym, or shopping, or ordering a coffee.

Before you begin to write, do you have any pre-game rituals or practices?

Sit in the chair, open the laptop, shut down email, and start.

Do you prefer any particular music (or silence) while you write?

Silence and a completely empty place, or, alternatively, a café in the middle of a shopping center where there is a lot going on. There is no middle ground.

How many hours per day do you spend writing (excluding email, social media, etc.)? What is your most productive time of day?

Two hours. Mornings are best, the earlier the better.

Do you write every day or adhere to any particular system?

Yes, I write something every day. My system is not to think in terms of “how to” but to think about “who for” and why the writing will matter to them. Their story always comes first.

Do you believe in “writer’s block?” If so, how do you avoid it?

I don’t. I think it’s possible to write something even on a bad day. It might not be your best work but it doesn’t have to be. You’ll get another chance tomorrow to say what you wanted to say.

Mostly, I think we are scared of putting our ideas out there and not being good enough.

How do I avoid it? Watch what people do. Notice as much as possible and think about how what I notice and write about might impact or change just one person.

The writer’s creativity …

Define creativity.

Tapping into your soul and your intuition and allowing them to guide what you make.

Who are your favorite authors, online or off?

Seth Godin, Allan Ahlberg, Dr. Seuss, James Victore, Dan Ariely, Aaron Dignan, Malcolm Gladwell, Paul Arden, Kevin Roberts, Roddy Doyle, and Jane Austen.

Can you share a best-loved quote?

You don’t need more time, you just need to decide. ~ Seth Godin

How would you like to grow creatively as a writer?

To speak with the same clarity and brevity as I write.

Who or what is your Muse at the moment (i.e., specific creative inspirations)?

My readers, without them there is no reason to write.

What makes a writer great?

The ability to notice things other people forget to notice.

The writer’s workflow …

What hardware or typewriter model do you presently use?

MacBook Air.

What software do you use most for writing and general workflow?

WordPress and Microsoft Word.

Do you have any tricks for beating procrastination? Do you adhere to deadlines?

Start the next book or project before the one you’re working on ships. I start working with my designer on the book cover as soon as the idea is fully formed and I have an outline. Then, I know I am committed and that it will be a real thing that exists in the world.

I post to a blog three times a week — rain, hail, shine, or holidays.

How do you stay organized (methods, systems, or “mad science”)?

Google calendar. I draft every post idea as a headline in WordPress. I can also hold mountains of stuff in my head.

How do you relax at the end of a hard day?

Cooking dinner. Catching up with my boys. Going for walks along the coast with my husband.

A few questions, just for the fun of it …

Who (or what) has been your greatest teacher?

Not being picked.

What do you see as your greatest success in life?

My boys.

What’s your biggest aggravation at the moment (writing related or otherwise)?

Not a single thing.

Choose one author, living or dead, that you would like to have dinner with.

Only one? That’s tough. Allan Ahlberg.

If you could take a vacation tomorrow to anywhere in the world, where would you go (cost or responsibilities are no object)?

New York.

Can you offer any advice to fellow writers that you might offer yourself, if you could go back in time and “do it all over?”

Don’t wait for permission to start.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

You don’t need to know how others do it to be able to do it.

Please tell our readers where they can connect with you online.

The Story of Telling.

And, finally, the writer’s desk …

Every serious writer builds a shrine of some sort with hope to entertain the Muse, whether she carefully selects the perfect table at a coffee shop or carves out a quiet nook in her home.

Bernadette Jiwa is no different. This is where she parks it to write those award-winning books and blog posts. Of course with the obligatory mug of black coffee and pad of paper.

And rumor has it when it’s time for a break, she can slip down to the beach and slide her toes into the Indian Ocean. Nothing like crashing waves to clear the mind.

Bernadette-Jiwa-Desk



Ready to take your content marketing to the next level?

Bernadette Jiwa is among the powerhouse lineup of speakers who will be presenting at Authority Rainmaker May 13–15, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. It’s integrated content, search, and social media marketing for real-world results.

Click here for all the details and to register before we go to full price.

About the author

Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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Master This Storytelling Technique to Create an Irresistible Content Series

man telling a story at a cafe

In this cold, hard, commercial world, everyone is looking for answers online.

We are all “searchers” looking for the best way to solve a problem or satisfy a desire.

And we are ruthless …

We make split-second decisions about clicking a headline.

How does your website look at a glance?

If you try to consummate the fragile exchange of attention and education too quickly with a “buy this” button, you’ll likely lose long-term prospects and lifetime sales.

The reality is — whether you sell garden hoses or reputation management services — you have to master the know-like-trust factor first.

How do you accomplish this vital component of content marketing?

You educate people step-by-step.

And, if you ignite a feeling that inspires a commercial transaction, then you’ve created successful content marketing.

You lift prospects out of their ordinary worlds and invite them to consider a journey that ultimately leads to a transaction.

This article is all about how you create that journey.

Welcome to storyboarding

One idea we are quite fond of around here is the hero’s journey. It’s content marketing that educates your audience through the storytelling arc, and it works best with a blog series.

For example, last year I wrote a series on Google Authorship and Google+. It was a six-post series.

I could have approached the task by simply gathering and presenting the facts. Unfortunately, there were smarter people than me who’d already done that. I needed to give our audience something they couldn’t get elsewhere.

You, as you probably know, have the same problem. Some call it content shock.

It’s just reality.

The same was true this year when I tackled native advertising. I was late to this party, but we wanted to create a resource for our audience that added value to the current conversation. So, among other things, I used a special technique to create that content.

Storyboarding.

Radio commercial advertisers, television directors, animators, and screenwriters all employee this technique. And it’s something that content creators like you can use, too.

Here are six steps to help you storyboard an irresistible content series.

1. Discover your ideal audience

Do you even know what your audience looks like?

Keep in mind, this step is not about drafting a buyer persona. Instead, we want to figure out who your ideal audience is.

Fortunately, you can discover the answer by using an empathy map.

empathy-map

An empathy map is a simple tool that helps you crawl into the shoes of your customers. Here’s how you create an empathy map on your whiteboard or large sheet of paper:

  • Draw a large square.
  • Divide that square into four quadrants.
  • Label the quadrants “Think and Feel,” “See,” “Say and Do,” and “Hear.”
  • Create two boxes below labeled “Pain” and “Gain.”

Ask simple, open-ended questions to your audience:

  • What do you want to know?
  • Why?
  • What keeps you up at night?

On the diagram, fill in the responses, especially the ones that challenge your assumptions about what you thought you knew. Then, you begin to empathize with your ideal audience.

Empathy is really understanding, seeing, and relating to a person’s views. When someone has a certain belief about the world and you confirm it for him, that’s a very powerful psychological connection.

One of the beautiful benefits of the audience-first approach is that when you create content that resonates with people, and it’s well-organized and easily discoverable, then it gets shared and you get the links you want.

2. Inform your hunch

A good blog series starts with a hunch. A theory. An idea about how you think the world works, how certain problems should be solved.

This hunch may be fuzzy. It might just be a word or two. Whatever it is, use it as a stepping stone.

This will get you started in the right direction. Next, do this:

  • Exhaust the search engine: Jump on your favorite search engine and pull up all the articles on your topic. Follow links, take notes, recognize where people are going, trends that are developing. If you don’t find much material, you may be onto something rare. That’s not a bad thing. But it hardly happens. Keep digging.
  • Expose the keywords: Keyword research helps you see where your root idea branches off. Google Keyword Tool or Scribe can help you see how topics are related. You’ll discover new connections. You might want to take a look at Neil Patel’s article on semantic research to learn how to group these keywords.
  • Conduct interviews: Reach out to people who advocate for and against your position. Adding quotes from authorities to your articles adds a depth and freshness that people appreciate. This is good journalism. This is good content direction.
  • Survey: Both readers and Google are looking for original and fresh content. One of the best ways to produce it is to develop an idea out of an original survey. This was the approach I took with the native advertising series. I had a hunch about native advertising — namely, it was a hot topic inside the industry, but everyone else (including many marketers) was clueless. The results from the survey helped inform the direction and content of the series.
  • Eavesdrop on the competition: The next step to understanding topics and language is to get out there and see what else there is. Don’t be intimidated by the level of competition. Find the holes. Find out what you can do differently. Find out what people complain about.

It’s “marketing research tough love.”

As Brian Clark said:

You effectively need to grill yourself on your own assumptions and expectations of how you think this particular idea or industry or content marketing approach is going to go. Then you need to effectively try to disprove yourself. There is no fault or crime in being wrong, as long as you find out you’re wrong before it’s too late.

baked-potato

3. Compile

Next, gather all of your material.

How you compile depends upon your style. I prefer a large whiteboard.

I collect all my notes on Evernote and then list them on the whiteboard. This is where the story of your series starts to take shape.

whiteboard-storytelling

You make categories, and then drop related notes beneath the labels.

At the compilation stage, you will discover holes in your research. More questions will be raised. Make notes about these questions and gaps.

You’ll come across further questions later in the writing process, as well. That’s fine. Repeat Step Two as many times as needed.

4. Create a narrative

This is where you bring it all together. One way to think about this process is episodic education. We are taking a playbook out of cable television, motion pictures, commercials, radio, and animation.

In other words, storyboarding is a technique that visualizes the sequence of a story.

Here’s a classic example of a storyboard. In this scene, Forrest Gump compares scars with Lyndon B. Johnson.

forrestgump-storyboard

According to the DGA Quarterly, “Chris Bonura’s storyboards helped director Robert Zemeckis meld archival footage with new footage.”

As a writer, storyboarding helps you:

  • Define the parameters of a story within available resources and time
  • Organize and focus a story
  • Figure out what medium to use for each part of the story
  • Start and publish the first article without writing the remaining articles

Once you’ve compiled your facts, think about the narrative flow.

How is each individual article going to dovetail into the next? What is the central conflict? The main challenge?

This won’t be as neat as a novel, and you won’t use illustrations (unless you have the talent). You just need to arrange your ideas into a story-like sequence.

See, your story needs a framework, and this is where the idea of scaffolding is helpful. It gives dimension and direction to your series. Scaffolding helps you corral and streamline all of your research into one big idea.

This could be as simple as using the 5 W’s or the copywriting formula Problem-Agitate-Solve.

In addition, a framework builds anticipation into each article. With each article in the series, you program your readers to anticipate the next scene in the story. But you can’t storyboard effectively, however, until you have a hook that unifies the entire series.

5. Find the hook

The hook is the unifying theme. It could be a motif. A worldview. But it always involves conflict.

In the Google Authorship series, the hook was the shared fear of obscurity that most writers suffer. That concern was manifested in the opening article with the introduction of Hunter S. Thompson, an apt mascot for our series and our culture.

In 1959, before his fame, Thompson wrote:

As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I’m not sure that I’m going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says, ‘you are nothing,’ I will be a writer.

He wondered why he had to park his personality at the door. Why can’t he, the journalist, be a central part of the story? Thompson went on to challenge other journalistic conventions, and make history.

And that conflict — the fear of authorial obscurity — became the central motif behind the Google Authorship series. Thompson was the hero we were happy to follow.

His spirit remained throughout the series, but discovering that motif was not instantaneous. Hooks will hide from you. You must dig (see Step Two).

6. Repurpose

Finally, after all that research and note-taking and storyboarding, you’ll write that first article, and before you know it, six weeks have gone by and you are exhausted.

But don’t rest yet. There’s still something else you need to think about: repurposing your content.

Could your series work as a:

  • Podcast series
  • Book
  • SlideShare
  • Sequence of email autoresponder messages
  • Video seminar
  • Landing page

All of the above? Probably so.

You can put your creation in each new medium over a long period of time, always directing traffic to the original posts, giving life to your archives. And even make money from those old posts.

Let’s not forget, your blog series can also become cornerstone content.

Your turn

So, at the end of the day, if you want to capture the attention of a prospect hell-bent on finding what she wants, then create a content series that answers her most pressing needs or satisfies her curiosity — in a manner that appeals to the way she thinks, feels, and acts.

But storyboard it, like you were creating a cable television show or comic book.

This is a gentle, non-threatening way to open up the relationship — one where you respect your prospect, and, ultimately, your prospect recognizes and respects your authority. She views spending money with you as a sound investment.

And for one final example of a content series built like a story, check out our New Rainmaker podcast hosted by Robert Bruce and Brian Clark.

Let us know what you think here.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Jim Pennucci.

About the author

Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

The post Master This Storytelling Technique to Create an Irresistible Content Series appeared first on Copyblogger.

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The Super-Secret and Incredibly Complicated Master Key to Internet Marketing

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When I meet new folks, whether online or face-to-face, I often get a variation on the same question.

What will it take to make my business really successful?

What needs to go into it? What sacrifices do we need to make? What’s the magical secret ingredient?

I know you think I’m going to say, “There is no magical secret ingredient.”

But there is.

If you want to have a fantastic business — the kind that makes plenty of money, has really cool customers, and makes your life better instead of worse — you need my special secret.

You need to give it some G.A.S.

What’s G.A.S.?

It stands for (I hope you will forgive the plain language) Give A Shit.

To have a great business, you have to care. A whole lot.

You have to care about quality. You have to care about your audience. You have to care about what you do and how you do it. You have to care about your employees and vendors.

If you have a little G.A.S., you’ll have an okay business.

If you have a lot of G.A.S., you’ll have an awesome business. Because you’ll be able to take everything you learn about marketing, business operations, efficiency, productivity — and turbocharge it all with G.A.S.

G.A.S.-enhanced marketing education

When I sit down to teach people (like you) how they can find more customers online, I make sure I have plenty of G.A.S. in the tank.

Because the part that’s fun for me is when you knock it out of the park.

I know that marketing isn’t some kind of special talent you’re born with. It’s a collection of principles you can learn. I learned them, and you can, too.

I’m putting some of my favorite G.A.S.-friendly observations into a completely revised 20-part course we call Internet Marketing for Smart People.

(We call it that because Internet Marketing for Smart, Ethical, Cool, Passionate People We Love to Hang Out With gets a little unwieldy.)

You can get the course for free by dropping your name and email address here: Get started with Internet Marketing for Smart People.

So what’s in the course?

Well, I’m glad you asked. :) The course is about the most important things we need to know in order to find customers on the web.

  • The #1 simple headline “trick” that will get you more traffic
  • What we mean, exactly, by “high quality content” — and how to make some
  • How to make sure your site delivers a fantastic first impression
  • How to use a “content net” to boost your conversions and make more money
  • How to master SEO without turning into a creep

And 15 more lessons. These are the essentials that every online business needs to start working better — lessons you can implement right now, not months or years from now.

But wait, there’s more …

Yep, this sucker is better than a Sham-Wow super pack.

Internet Marketing for Smart People is delivered over time, to let you absorb the material and incorporate it consistently.

But we also know that you have pressing business and marketing issues you want to resolve now. So you get instant access to 14 meaty content marketing ebooks, on virtually any mission-critical topic you can think of, from landing pages to email marketing to SEO copywriting.

We’ve pulled the course and the library into something we call MyCopyblogger. It’s very cool (if I do say so myself), it’s very focused, and it’s totally free.

So go get it. Drop your email address here and you can get started right away.

You got this. We can help. And don’t forget to give it some G.A.S.

Free Registration

About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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Email Marketing: How to Master the Campaign Platform of Kings

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Persuasive email campaigns are a long studied art and science, of particular interest to copywriters.

If you’ve ever watched HBO’s hit series, Game of Thrones, you’ve seen key political figures try to outflank one another in bloody campaigns to win the highest office of the land, the Iron Throne.

In the show, based on the bestselling fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin, ravens are used as messengers between heads of military camps who all live in a land sadly devoid of the Internet.

In real life, however, ravens have never been used as messengers because they lack a strong directional sense (they’re great at cleaning up road-kill though).

It was homing pigeons that were used in real military campaigns as far back as the 6th century BC, and even as recently as World War II, to carry important information back and forth over enemy lines.

What on earth do pigeons have to do with email marketing?

Believe it or not, they are strangely tied to campaigns of influence that have been waged for the hearts and minds of the public for ages. Check it out …

Campaign [kam-peyn] noun

A concerted effort to accomplish a goal.

One early definition of the word campaign — as used by military generals — was a simple command to “take the field.”

Only later did it take on the more familiar political meaning of a set of organizing efforts of swaying public opinion.

Is it a coincidence that marketers use the word campaign so often, as in “ad campaign” or “email campaign“?

Absolutely not, since what we do as writers of “campaigns” is use our concentrated powers of the English language to persuade with words.

Nations have been won and lost with words, and great writers throughout history have paid close attention to this indestructible truth.

Philosophers, kings, and copywriters all use these methods

As attention spans shrink, we — the writers, the makers of the Internet — constantly seek more effective ways of connecting with our respective audiences.

But we often overlook the simplest and most effective means of communication we possess as online publishers: a direct, personal and valuable message.

I’m not arguing for a shift to a pigeon-fueled marketing campaign (too messy), but I am lobbying for the simplicity and grace of email for communicating effectively and efficiently with your clients and customers.

Fact: Campaigns of influence have been waged since the beginning of the written word.

Aristotle (circa 300 B.C.) was a pretty influential guy who wrote a little treatise called Rhetoric that pretty much changed the world forever.

Loosely defined, rhetoric is the art of one person trying to persuade another

And Aristotle classified the three most important things that all effective persuasive arguments should possess:

Ethos, pathos, and logos make up the backbone of any persuasive argument, and turn the wheels of the human mind, the language of desire.

Esteemed ad-man Eugene Schwartz wrote:

Advertising is the literature of desire. It is society’s encyclopedia of dreams … advertising gives form and content to desire.

We are all so wrapped up in the inner workings of our minds, our desires and problems, that we often lose sight of the basic building blocks of our civilization.

On each of the many screens laid out before us — desktop, notebook, or smartphone — stories are told with every click of the mouse, the very language of online persuasion.

Alexander the Great was a student of persuasion

What would one of the greatest rulers of all time have taken on his campaigns to win the hearts and minds of his vast empire?

Rhetoric, as taught to him by his famed teacher Aristotle.

Not only would the armies of Alexander the Great use war pigeons to communicate, but Alexander learned the basic building blocks of persuasion taught to all great leaders in perpetuity.

Is it strange that he went on to become one of the most-studied conquerors in history with an empire that stretched from the Mediterranean to Tibet?

No, because Aristotle prepped him well for battle with three secret weapons that all influential email campaigns should be equipped with:

  1. Ethos — Selling yourself: This is the first step of establishing your credibility as an online publisher. Someone who is an expert in their field or simply exhibits a vast amount of knowledge on a subject is considered trustworthy (you have perceived intelligence, reliability and authority). As a content marketer, job one is becoming the likable expert in your field in order create valued content that people click and share. Killer content builds your credibility over time.
  2. Pathos — Swaying emotions: Often achieved with metaphors, storytelling, or evoking strong emotions from your audience. Seen as the earliest breakdown of human psychology. When your readers are swayed by your powers of storytelling they are more likely to opt-in to your email list to deepen the conversation. This gives content marketers permission to offer even more valuable content, make offers, tell more stories, and share products and services with them to improve their lives. Just beware — Pathos without its companions Ethos and Logos can quickly degenerate into cheap hype.
  3. Logos — Advancing your argument through solid reasoning: Includes use of statistics, logic or specificity. Examples are often drawn from history (sound familiar?), mythology or hypothetical situations to create conclusions. Also deductive reasoning lets the audience solve the puzzle themselves by simply providing all the pieces for them. Cookie content that establishes a relationship of trust with your audience is built on the value of your expertise. Often this is in the form of social proof, testimonials, and lots of good ol’ bullets that nail down the benefits of your offer.

Was Aristotle the father of modern marketing? Perhaps. But he was also the progenitor of the modern political argument that has shaped much of the world as we know it.

A modern student of rhetoric takes the stage

Fast forward to the present, where a controversial president — well-versed in the school of rhetoric — hires a well-regarded copywriter to help retain his throne.

Did Obama use war pigeons? In a sense, he did.

He built his re-election around one of the most technologically savvy email campaigns in history.

And he hired a kick-ass copywriter to help it all come together, Jim Messina.

Messina in turn found another trusted ad-man, Joe Rospar, to spearhead an email marketing and social media campaign that would go into the record books by raising almost $ 700 million.

The team heavily A/B tested everything from subject lines to content strategies to hone their results to perfection.

Test, analyze, change, resend.

That was their email strategy, in a nutshell.

Rigorous experimentation and analysis revealed some pretty surprising things:

  1. Their assumptions about what they thought would be successful was usually wrong.
  2. A casual tone always worked best.
  3. The simpler the emails were, the better the result.

The results were unprecedented. One email alone raised $ 3 million.

Here’s an example of one of the Obama campaign emails:

Friend –

You’re in for 2012: Welcome, and thanks.

Now forget everything you know about politics.

Because I can tell you that the coming months will be like nothing you’ve seen from a campaign. If we’re going to win, we have to be tougher, smarter, and more innovative than ever before.

The President has a job to do, so he’s asking each of us to take the lead in shaping this effort.

That work begins now in your community.

Sign up to volunteer today.

Your leadership today will help build this campaign over the next few months and right up to November 6th.

You may be asked to recruit other volunteers, register voters, or talk to your friends and neighbors about what they hope to see from this campaign. You may sign up to volunteer today and end up leading a canvass this summer.

I got my start empowering residents in mobile home communities in Missoula, Montana — a long way from Washington, D.C. As an organizer, I know it all starts in our own backyards. Committing to a campaign is a huge first step, but it’s the decisions we make from that point on that determine success.

Whether you’re a first-time supporter or a veteran volunteer, this campaign belongs to you. You own it, and you power it.

This is an exciting time to get involved — sign up to be a volunteer today:

Let’s go,

Jim Messina

Campaign Manager

Obama for America

Can you see why this would work?

Granted, that email was written for a specific audience regarding a specific political campaign, and probably vastly different than what would work in the context of your audience and topic.

But, Lisa Nirell broke down very well — in an article for Fast Company — how Obama’s email marketing pushed all the right buttons.

  1. He speaks directly to his ideal reader: Keep in mind, that email wasn’t written for Copyblogger subscribers. It was written for their list, an audience that knows, likes and trusts the candidate. Simplistically copying an approach that’s been crafted for another list will never get you the results you want.
  2. He gets to the point quickly: A good email marketer knows how to grab attention fast in order to capitalize on the short attention span of a reader. Copywriting 101 is in full effect here, and it’s pretty easy to spot.
  3. He tells a story that his audience can relate to: If you are making yourself a valuable and relatable friend in the inbox that readers want to connect with, you’re conveying authority and friendliness that builds that trust so that you can make an offer they can’t refuse.
  4. His message is succinct and to the point: Easy reading is really hard writing (said every copywriter ever). This was probably vetted and edited at least a dozen times before it was sent. You must editing and re-edit so that your message is crystal clear.

Joe Rospar was called the “Karl Rove of the internet,” and he was surely inspired by that Republican consultant’s own successful direct mail campaigns for President George W. Bush.

Together, the Obama re-election team constructed some incredibly advanced methods of persuasion, all built on a rock-solid technological platform that will probably change how campaigns are run in the future.

Their workhorse was the simplicity and effectiveness of the persuasive email campaign.

The thread from Alexander the Great to President Obama to you …

They both had access to cost-effective means of communication with their constituencies, and they both employed the foundational tenets of rhetoric.

The backbone of any great email (or content marketing) campaign is built on the framework of persuasion, a la Aristotle, and developed over thousands of years.

Brian Clark expanded on the 10 Timeless Persuasive Writing Techniques that can absolutely be applied to persuasive email campaigns today …

  • Repetition: Repeat but don’t be repetitive. Make your point in several ways (a well-known strategy of rhetoric).
  • State reasons why: The psychology of because primes your audience for action.
  • Consistency: Right in line with the ethos of establishing your integrity online. Show up and be useful!
  • Social Proof: The driving nature of acceptance and belonging.
  • Comparisons: Metaphors, similes, and analogies that relate to things generally accepted as true.
  • Agitate and solve: Describe the problem, then offer a solution. Classic Marketing 101.
  • Prognosticate: Give a glimpse of the future based on solid evidence.
  • Go tribal: Seth Godin’s school of giving someone an exclusive opportunity to be a part of something great.
  • Address objections: Rhetoric 101: Do your research so you know your audience’s objections before they do.
  • Storytelling: Sound like a broken record yet?

In Sam Leith’s short piece for the NYTimes on rhetoric he outlines the classic art of persuasion.

The persuasive technique of rhetoric that stands out to me the most?

Sprezzatura: The naturalness of a well-crafted argument

In other words, the more sentences relate to one another as a whole, the less likely your reader will notice the writing and be absorbed by the story.

Leith expands on his study of rhetoric in his book Words Like Loaded Pistols (a must for all word-geeks), and reminds us:

We exchange information because it is either useful or delightful, because it does something for us … language happens because humans are desire machines, and what knots desire and language is rhetoric.

As copywriters we strive for a naturalness that doesn’t distract, writing that is a clear pane of glass containing no smudges.

Good emails need to be seamless to work well

At a time when email is as prevalent as ever, its power is hard to ignore. According to recent marketing surveys:

  • 80% of us claim to receive marketing messages alongside our personal emails on a daily basis.
  • 70% of us make use of a coupon or discount we learned about from email.
  • 60% of us say that receiving special offers is the top reason for subscribing to an email list from a business.

Your influence is built on trust

At Copyblogger we harp on the first step in any effective email marketing campaign: establish your authority by becoming the likable expert for your audience.

With a commitment to building a relevant and targeted email list, you can deliver the authority and trust to your expectant fans, and develop a long-term conversation that eventually grows your business.

A new year always presents the opportunity to start fresh with more effective content marketing strategies.

With a solid platform to work on, and your own website that isn’t built on someone else’s soil, email is easily the most effective means by which to connect with your audience and grow your brand.

In my previous post for Email Marketing that Works I hit on just a few of the extremely successful email marketers who have sky-rocketed their businesses online.

In retrospect, the strategies for successful email marketing aren’t secrets at all, and the ROI is pretty irresistible.

Long story, quick takeaway …

We have a wealth of resources here on the site to help whenever you need it, starting with Email Marketing 101.

Effective email marketing campaigns begin with a kick-ass strategy and one other very important thing … your first email.

Get writing!

And if you spotted some examples of rhetoric in my arguments above, drop them into the comments.

Cheers to 2013, a great year ahead for online writers!

About the Author: Kelton Reid is a copywriter for Copyblogger Media, and an independent screenwriter, and a novelist. Get more from Kelton on Twitter and .

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