What is Your Story? And How Should You Tell It.

We all have a story. Each one is unique and dynamic and tells the world who we are, what we believe and why we do what we do. As a business professional, your story is extremely important, and not just from a credibility standpoint. Your story is what you relay to your clients, explaining why they should do business with you and not your competitor. Your clients need to hear, absorb and connect with your story and make it theirs.

Some Stories Others Have Told

Here are some examples of stories I’ve heard over the years from others in business. They all tell why someone got involved in their current profession, whether it was due to tragedy, passion or a sense of duty.

· One estate planning attorney tells how his parents ran a restaurant and his mother was unprepared when his father suddenly died. Neither of his parents had made any preparations for who would take over and what would happen with other financial holdings they had. He is passionate about helping families create documents with their future in mind.

· A financial professional spoke about how her parents divorced, and her mother almost lost the family home. Her father had always taken care of the finances, so her mother was entirely out of her element after the divorce. The result: She went into financial planning to help women like her mother succeed.

· A real estate agent took his passion for real estate investment and turned it into his profession. The result: He now helps other find the homes of their dreams and invest in other properties.

· A former nonprofit executive traveled the world helping those in need and wanted to continue her work after she left her job. The result: As an entrepreneur she started her own coffee company, exporting beans from Asia and Africa, and sending money back that helps improve the lives of farmers, widows and orphans. She still lives her passion to help others, while providing a quality cup of coffee to the public.

· A former teacher who loved helping her students untangle their family issues eventually became a marriage and family therapist. The result: She now works with youngsters and their parents and can offer more options than before.

How to Tell Your Story

Now that you have a better idea of others’ stories, here are some tips on how to tell yours.

• Frame your story. Your audience (customer) has to understand why you’re sharing this story.

• Understand your audience and what their wants and needs are. This will help frame the story.

• Tell it with feeling. Your audience needs to connect with your message on a visceral level.

• Keep it concise. It’s easy to go off on a tangent. To avoid this, make your story as brief as possible.

· Include some details.

• Listen to what others are saying. How are they presenting their stories? What tips can you pick up from them?

How you present your story matters. You don’t have to be a great writer to tell a good story. You, do, however, have to believe what you are telling your audience and say it with conviction. People want to know that they have a connection with you. Once you establish that connection it’s up to you to fin

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Focusing on Your Perfect Client

 

Who is the perfect client? That depends greatly on your industry and business model. Often business professionals, particularly new business owners, mistakenly believe that everyone is their customer. They are not nor should they be. Additionally, your profile of the perfect client will change as your business grows.

For example, “Kate” has just opened a print shop. This is her first time as a business owner. She wants to provide quality customer service to everyone and anyone she can. Currently, her clients are people in the neighborhood who need small print runs of one to 25 pages. That’s a good way to get the buzz started and to cultivate a base of customers. But Kate can’t exist on just the work she gets from residences in the area. She needs to take a look at the local businesses and keep expanding that radius outward. She might consider looking to see if there is a particular industry that prints more forms than others, such as medical groups, or that needs booklets or pamphlets, such as a community college or human resources firm.

How to ID Your Perfect Client

Kate needs to determine who her audience is and what their needs are. To do this, she may need to speak with:

  • Other printers about their experiences and possibly creating a mentor/mentee relationship
  • Professionals who have similar clients to hers such as copywriters and graphic designers
  • Organizations such as the local Chamber of Commerce or a networking group
  • Current clients and how she can better fulfill their printing needs

 

Besides getting advice or support from others, Kate must also factor in where her passion lies and determine which industries those talents would best serve. Once Kate can give a face to her perfect client, then she can begin to cater to that individual or industry. That doesn’t mean she can’t still work with residents in the area. She still can as long as she has other clients who can bolster the workload.

 

How to Market to Your Perfect Client

How should Kate market to this base? It depends on what their needs are. For example, if they are continually feeding projects through her print shop, maybe she can develop a package plan that will save them money in the end, or offer special, limited deals for clients with larger jobs. The idea is for Kate to get clients to value what she can do for them so that they won’t look elsewhere to have their printing done. Her objective is to:

  • Gain their loyalty
  • Get them to appreciate your expertise
  • Be more than willing to pay her for that expertise
  • Get them to recommend her to others who can help grow her business
  • Proceed with projects they have put on hold due to cost effectiveness, etc.

 

Kate can create a successful business by developing a variety of customers—some her ideal clients and others as a supporting cast, each bringing different demands to her business, but all contributing to its overall growth.

 

Robin Kellogg is a local writer and owner of Robin Kellogg Associates, which helps businesses with their marketing and communications. She is the author of “12 Easy Steps to Better Business Communications”, available on Amazon.com. Robin can be reached at robin@yourwritingresource.com or via her website at www.yourwritingresource.com.

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Five Reasons to Hire a Copywriter

One of the biggest barriers I face with potential clients is explaining the benefits of hiring someone to write their marketing and business communications materials. They often tell me that a) they write their materials, b) their teenage daughter or son is an ace at copywriting or c) they don’t want to spend the money to have someone else do it. I try to educate them on the difference between being a decent writer and being able to deliver a message to a specific audience in a way that is non-threatening, and touches them on an emotional, intellectual or spiritual level.

Luckily the majority of my clients are savvy professionals who realize that their time and energy should be spent on what they do best—running their business–and not on creating content for the website, blogs, brochures, advertisements, articles and so on.

Below are five reasons why using a professional copywriter to create content for your marketing and business communications will help to focus and target your message, increase your credibility, improve your ability to found online, and have a positive impact on your bottom line.

  1. Save Time, Save Money, Reduce Stress. How many hours, days, weeks and dollars have you spent trying to figure out what to say and how to say it? We all know what we want to communicate, but wording it so that others will feel a connection with our message is often problematic. I work with my clients on their message and how to present it to their target market.
  2. Create a Message that is Clear and Easy to Understand. How many times have you received marketing or business communications cluttered with industry buzz words or indecipherable acronyms? I write your message so that your customer will embrace your company, your product and your service.
  3. Be Found Online. I work with web designers and search engine optimization experts to make sure that your main keywords or keyword phrases appear in your title, subtitle and throughout your text, making it much easier for internet search engines to find you.
  4. Brainstorm ideas. When you hire a copywriter, you’ll be working with a professional with whom you can bounce off your ideas and receive sensible feedback.
  5. Make Your Company’s Image Shine. Your written business communications are your calling card. If they look amateurish, filled with typos and misspellings, so do you. To keep your level of professionalism high and your position as the expert in your field, hire a professional copywriter and have it done right the first time.

Visit my website at www.yourwritingresource.com or email me at robin@yourwritingresource.com. I’d love to hear from you.

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A Checklist for Better Business Communication

Proofread checklist and checked boxes next to the words spelling        I have always found checklists helpful, particularly when it comes to my business tasks. Below is a checklist of actions I’ve created over the yearsto help my clients communicate more effectively. In the following posts, I’ll speak to each point separately.

  1. Define your audience. How do you know what topics to address if you don’t know whom you are directing your message to?
  2. Ask your customers what they want…then LISTEN for their response. Don’t just ask a question, wait for their reply.
  3. Stay focused on your goal. If you go off on too many tangents, you will lose your client’s interest.
  4. Speak English (or at least some semblance of it). Avoid techie talk. We get so involved in our industry lingo that we start to believe these terms are universal. Newsflash: They are not. Write in simple, easy-to-understand English.
  5. Stay mum on the minute details. You may have a head full of information on your product or service, but that doesn’t mean you have to impart all that knowledge to your clients.
  6. Promote the benefits, not the features. Tell them what you can do to solve their challenges.
  7. Back up your statements with facts. If you state a fact, back it up with a quote or another source that says the same thing.
  8. Use positive words to sway them. Positive words and gestures will go farther in getting your customers to see your side of things than negativity will.
  9. Write like you speak. Make your text conversational so it sounds like you are speaking directly to that individual.
  10. Exude expertise. Remember, you know more about your product or service than anyone else. You are the expert.
  11. Make it easy on the eyes. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Your job is to grab the reader’s attention before they lose interest.
  12. Proofread, proofread, proofread…everything. Print your text out and read it aloud. Once you’ve reviewed it, let another person look it over. Avoid being your own proofreader. Your eye will skip over the mistakes.
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“Call to Actions” Sell Your Product or Service for You

As a professional writer, I am often asked to create text for client’s websites, brochures, press releases and other communications. I can always tell when someone has prepared their own press release, brochure or web content, as they are often missing several elements, including a “call to action.”

What is a “call to action”? It is what it sounds like. It’s a prompt for the customer to do something, whether it’s a “submit” or “contact us now” button online, or a sentence or two urging the reader to take action at the end of a press release or in a brochure because it will make their lives easier, less stressful or free of the challenges they are currently facing.

Why do you need “a call to action” for your website, brochures, press releases, etc.? That’s a good question. Here’s the answer. Most people—not everyone, but most—will not contact you unless they are convinced there is something in it for them. If they don’t get that message, then you’ve left  money on the table that could have been in your pocket.

Here are some examples of “calls to action”:

  • Discover how working with ABC Co. can eliminate your [challenge] forever.
  • Contact ABC Co. today and learn what our [widget] can do for your business’s bottom line.
  • Need help with your [crisis]? ABC Co. is only a phone call away.

Simple, right? Next time you send out an eblast, newsletter, press release or other marketing collateral, make sure to include your “call to action”. If it’s targeted properly, it can make all the difference in how someone responds to your marketing.

For more information about writing your marketing visit my website: www.yourwritingresource.com.

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