Blogger’s Blog – part 3

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And another blogging thing

OK, let’s pretend three things. Firstly, that you’re not busy and have nothing better to do. Secondly, that our copywriter’s time is worth more than yours. Thirdly, your blog isn’t that important to your marketing effort.

You can see where we’re going with this, but you’ll probably resist our point about calling in the professionals anyway. And so you should. If you have a unique viewpoint and like the idea of writing your own blog you should go for it, especially if you know how to turn a nifty phrase or two. It is, after all, fun.

But the real idea is to produce results. So here are some tips.

Blogging-It-Yourself

Before you start, make two quick lists. The first list should be a roll call of the things you want to achieve with your blog; ending with a brief description of how the reader should feel when they’ve finished it.

The second should be a list of the things that you need to say that will make the readers feel that way. So if, for example, your subject is kitchen taps you’d probably want your readers to think that you were the kitchen tap expert and they should consult you at kitchen refurb time. You’d reinforce that impression with a para or two on tap design, then underline it with a bit of light tech-talk about reliability. Why the porcelain disc, quarter turn will resist dripping longer than the brass barrel, crush washer. But, unless you’re talking to tap anoraks (are they called Tapsters and is the collective noun a ‘trickle of Tapsters’) you’ll want to keep the tech light and involving. Good luck with that.

Once your two lists are complete, you’re ready to blog.

How’s your belly for spots, Aunt Thora?

A great blog talks directly to the reader, so to speak. So you have to use exactly the right sort of language. Consider how your content, pace, texture and vocabulary effect your tone of voice. The right tone of voice is vital because it engages the reader and helps keep them with you till the end. It also creates a telling impression of you, in their minds. So if your target audience is Aunt Thora it might be best just to enquire after her health in general terms.

The two, top, tone-of-voice tips are this; before you start writing have in mind a clear picture of someone you actually know, who personifies your reader. Write as if you were speaking directly to her/him. And then, when you’ve finished, give your work to a sulky teenager to read and ask them to describe the person they think it’s talking to.

After a couple of rewrites you’ll be ready to publish. The penultimate check is to run through your original lists and tick off the items as they appear in the blog – if you have the full set you’re good to go. But before you do, recheck your spelling and grammar. Really. A literal mistake, an inadvertent Americanism or a malapropism will have everyone writing you off as educationally substandard.

You know what…

Why bother? You’re a busy exec with 100 more valuable things to do with your time. Hiring us is cost effective and could actually save you a fortune if your DIY blog misfires somehow and drives customers away. And we must know what we’re doing – you read this far, after all.

For professional blogs please talk to Michelle on 0330 088 9277 or contact Ketchup Marketing here

 

Bloggers part 1 can be found here.

Bloggers Part 2 can be found here.

Blogger’s Blog – part 2

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It’s like reverse Tourette’s

If you read the first part of the Blogger’s Blog you’ll know we posed the question “Should agency copywriters be employed to write ‘personal’ blogs?” You’ll also know that – hardly surprisingly since we’re an agency that writes blogs for our clients – we were in favour. If you didn’t read that blog you’ll have to take our word for it.

This blog is about why. This is why

Blogs aren’t supposed to be polished pieces of marketing speak. They’re supposed to be personal views. They supposed to be valuable insights delivered as conversations. They’re supposed to be witty, informative and – above all – entertaining. That’s why people bother reading the blighters. Yes, people are interested in what you have to say, but they’re even more interested in enjoying themselves. Selfish beggars.

And that is why a huge proportion of company blogs fail to deliver readership. They’re like chewing a legal document. Or straining wet muesli to find the almonds. In short, they’re boring.

Colourful language, you blue-nosed radish

At last; the reason for the reverse Tourette’s reference in the headline. Too many blogs randomly abuse readers, by wasting their time and boring their pants off. Instead of using colourful language that interests and exhilarates, they trot out the same old clichés and pre-chewed, officially approved corporate guff. How many times have you seen these pieces of bad language popped unthinkingly into blogs?

‘Quality of service that is second to none…on time and on budget…leveraging core competencies…tailored to suit your specific needs…dedicated, specialised teams with the expertise and experience…our commitment is caring for you…’

Do they mean anything? Difficult to tell; we stopped reading after the first ten seconds. Actually they mean nothing because they slip over the reader’s consciousness like a wet squid over warm blancmange. Without ever engaging their audience.

So we’re still of the opinion that, unless you’re a natural, you should use a trained person to write your blogs. Or at least read the Blogger’s Blog part III, which will give you a few BIY tips of the trade.

To be continued. Look out for the Blogger’s Blog part III – And Another Blogging Thing.

 

For more information regarding our copy writing service or blogging workshops in 2013 contact Michelle on 0330 088 9277 or use the contact form here.

Bloggers Part 3 can be found here.

Bloggers part 1 can be found here.

 

Blogger’s Blog – part 1

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Writer’s blog

A couple of years ago a client of ours was heartily pooh-poohing the idea of blogs. “Who the hell has time to read all that guff?” he said with more than a hint of exasperation. “No, forget about even reading it all, what pancake actually sits down and writes it all?” he added with growing – and growling – disbelief.

That, of course, was a couple of years ago. Nowadays the blog is an accepted communication tool, transcending the marketing speak of adland and talking to people as if they were, well, people. Never a bad thing. Blogs are seen as a proffering of opinion. A forum. An insight that goes deeper than any formalised communication.

There’s something earnest and honest about a blog. Written by one party with a knowledge and an enthusiasm for a subject. And so it should remain. A blog should never be written by, say, a Lincolnshire copywriting agency with their eye on the main chance and pen bent towards consumer persuasion, should it? Or should it?

Look out for the ‘some’ word

Now that small business owners, manufacturers, retailers, service providers, public and third sector organisations have cottoned on to the idea that they should learn how to use a blog as part of a marketing strategy. More power to them. The result is, of course, blogs that contain some really witty views, some real insight and some fascinating glimpses into the minds and behaviours of business leaders. Well, some do. Unfortunately, most don’t.

It’s like making candy floss out of bran fibre

What most amateur company blog writers have forgotten – or maybe never realised to start with – is that blogs are voluntary reads. Unlike commercials levered forcibly between programmes, people elect to open and read blogs of their own volition; and they expect to be amused, entertained and inspired, as well as informed. Company doggerel, corporate speak, lecturing from on high and windbag self-puffery just spoil the treat. If there’s no candy floss, no will be bothered to read your guff.

So, to answer the early question. Too right, old bean, you should definitely get a professional copywriter to fizz up your blogs. Because if no-one reads them, there’s no point in writing the damn things in the first place.

Look out for the Blogger’s Blog part II – Reverse Tourette’s; Part 3 of this blogging special can be found here.

Don’t let anyone pretend otherwise...

Did you pack the case yourself, sir?

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Don’t let anyone pretend otherwise. No matter how sophisticated marketing techniques become, no matter how accurately the latest techniques can target potential customers, no matter how many customers are attracted by the most advanced SEO…nothing beats word of mouth for generating sales.

A friend of ours recently ignored millions of pounds worth of iPhone advertising – not to mention Apple’s impeccable brand credentials, superb product design and ultra-cool image – and bought an HTC phone. The reason, apart from the desire to wilfully fly in reason’s face? “Well, my mate Dave has an HTC and he says it works quite well.”

What happens when you have no mouth and no word?

Without speaking to each visitor to your company’s site personally and recommending they talk to the equivalent of your mate Dave, its difficult to harness the power of word of mouth to sell your company, products and services. But not impossible.

Remember the first two words of this paragraph

Skilfully written case studies are a fantastic form of word of mouth, provided you follow some simple rules. The first of which is to employ a professional. Of course, we have a vested interest in saying that; we do, after all, write successful case studies for a number of our clients as part of our comprehensive web design, copywriting and building service. The cost is minimal (compared to having one of your senior execs waste a couple of hours hacking away at the language) and the end result is a study that showcases the company’s abilities whilst containing a near-subliminal but extremely effective recommendation from a respected third party company.

Packed? This case study is stuffed

Of course, if you’re not busy you might as well have a go yourself – what could possibly go wrong? Well, you could follow the client/the problem/our solution/the result formula. That goes wrong because it’s so dated it makes your company look antediluvian. You could pack the piece with so many details that the reader falls asleep halfway throu..zzzz. You could bury the salient selling points in a welter of worthiness. You could sound too stiff, or too flip. Or you could bore the pants of everyone. No-one was ever bored into buying a product remember.

In short, you could waste hours and end up with word of mouth that no-one was listening to. If we’ve made our case, talk to Michelle about your studies on 0330 088 9277 or make contact here.

 

Business Blogs – 10 Top Tips

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… from Ketchup Marketing

In 2012 Ketchup Marketing have designed, built and launched 24 websites (another 9 are pending pre Christmas Launch), of these bespoke business websites 22 have an integrated WordPress blog, so we are often asked “What makes a good blog post?”, of course the answer will differ depending on your business sector and your marketing strategy, but as a starter for 10, here are our top ten tips for the business blog writer:

1. Talk to your audience

Who is your audience? A big part of marketing strategy is knowing: who is my website’s audience? Who is reading your blog, have you looked at your web stats?

2. Keep to one audience.

You are likely to have more than one target audience, so keep your brand message and tone consistent throughout your blog, whether you are writing about new products / services or recruiting. A good idea is to lead the blog with a question and then answer it within the blog post, for example How do I write copy for a website?

3. Think word count.

A good blog article should be between 250 and 400 words easy and quick to read to keep the reader entertained and to read your full message and any call to action.  If your article needs more words then consider splitting into in to  2 or 3 parts, and then use links to drive the visitors to these other article.

4. Good blog posts are easy to read.

Use lists or sub heading to make for easy reading.

5. Good blog posts actually say something.

Of course it is ok to comment about a recent event or news within your industry, for example commenting on the Christmas advertising of the big brands, but ensure that your blog starts and ends with a story or reason, plus reinforce this with a call to action, for example “hey John Lewis give Ketchup a call next year we will help you spend your marketing budget” 🙂

If you are unsure of the content ask a colleague or a friend to sense check it.

6. Good blog posts don’t have to be works of art.

You are unlikely to win any literary awards for your blog, but as long as you keep to our top ten tips people will come back for more.

7. Good blog posts show your expertise, they don’t yell at you.

Show your readers you are a great company, showcase your expertise, don’t tell them you are great at designing websites or creating email campaigns, build up trust, show expertise, use testimonials.

8. Good blog posts use a headline and sub heading.

Remember your keywords, use interesting language or question to encourage readers. You can look back over past blogs and see what have been the most successful headlines.

9. Good blog posts use keywords and are SEO optimized

See point 8, for further information on SEO can be found here

10. Good blog posts include a call to action.

A blog should avoid a hard sell, but include a CTA, this could be to another related blog post or to leave a comment, or to take the reader to twitter / facebook or linked in.

Well, there are my top 10 hints and tips for a new blog writer, please comment, please add more.

Happy Blogging.

About the Author: Michelle Jones is the owner, founder and steering force of Ketchup Marketing. Established in 2009 and based in Long Clawson, near Melton Mowbray Ketchup delivers full branding and strategy to local SME’s. A selection of recent work can be found here.

 

 

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