Web Content That Sells

Sooner or later, those who want their Web sites to produce must recognize that it's not all about code and algorithms -- it's about persuasive, targeted content.

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Location: Cocoa, Fl, United States

U. of Miami grad, journalism, NCAA basketball scholarship, advanced studies at MIT and Boston University Graduate School of Mass Communications, right brain creative, love to explore the human condition, 10 years as senior staff writer, hi-tech Fortune 500's, 5 years marketing communications manager, 7 years freelance copywriter, former reporter in Germany, sailing instructor in the British West Indies, professional jazz/classical guitarist, articles/essays published in national magazines, currently specializing in optimized content for Web sites. Email me at woods.lee1@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

No Strategy? No Sale

Your competitors are cooking up ways to beat you. You can count on that. So don't make the common mistake of thinking that a simple description of your product or service will be enough to sell it. You've got to have a "sell" strategy, one that will showcase your product or service in a light that will keep customers clicking again and again on that "Order Now" button.

One way to create a working strategy is to challenge your thinking with a marketing communications strategy checklist, one like this:

1. What is the purpose of this product/service/Web site?

To convey information?
To sell a product, service, or philosophy?
To establish your company name or brand?

2. Who is your audience(s)?

Do you have more than one?
Are they local, national, international, or all three?

(a) What professionals, by job title, do you want to reach?

(b) What do they want? Keep in mind the story of the man who walks into a hardware store, looking for a quarter-inch drill bit. Does he in fact want a drill bit? No. He needs a quarter-inch drill bit because he wants a quarter-inch hole.

(c) What do you think their underlying fears or worries might be as they search for a supplier?

(d) Do you think they are biased in any way? If so, how?

(e) Do they have a problem they want someone to solve?
(f) What is their core concern, need?

3. Any specialized terms or concepts that need to be defined or explained for your audience?

4. What is your primary message in one sentence? (This statement may be similar to your mission statement.)

5. Do you have competitors?

(a) Who are they?

(b) Do you know their strengths and weaknesses?

(c) What are your strengths and weaknesses?

(d) Who is dominant in this market?

6. Can you offset your competitors' strengths with those of your own?

7. Features vs. Benefits

The fact that a marina has a boat-lift is a feature. The fact that the lift can extract a boat 60 feet in length is a benefit.

(a) What are your features?

(b) What benefits do your features create?

8. What is your company history?

9. What related experience do you have?

(a) Number of years in business?

(b) Can you list relevant specific projects or contracts that you have completed? Any case histories that would amplify your capabilities?

10. What personnel, credentials, awards, equipment, or facilities do you have that will lend weight to your qualifications?

Finally, make every effort to establish your niche in your chosen market. Set yourself apart from your competitors by creating and promoting the unique features and benefits of your product or service.

(C) Lighthouse Communications 2006

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Making Words Work in the Marketplace

I go to workshops. I talk to people. I listen. I make notes. And every time I do I walk away with the same belief: far too many professionals do not realize how important good writing is to their image and success. Rushing through emails, memos, and correspondence, they haphazardly throw words together with little or no thought to the outcome.

They unknowingly fill the page with abstractions, jargon, cliches, gobbledygook, faulty composition, and poorly chosen words -- each and every one a highly visible soiling of the writer's image. In a way, it's like the fellow who doesn't see the mustard stain on the lapel of his $800 suit. Everyone else sees it, but he doesn't.

The point is....Bad writing makes smart people look dumb.

"I hadn't learned yet what I know now -- that the ability to communicate is everything." Lee Iacocca, former Chairman, Chrysler Corp.

But should we indict the professional who has not yet acquired the skills of a professional communicator? Should we scold someone who has not yet studied and practiced the craft of effective communication? Probably not. After all, rarely did teachers of long ago shake their fingers in our faces and bellow: "You had better become good writers if you want to succeed in your field." We had a steady diet of Shakespeare and Mark Twain, but did anyone teach us how to write for the many demands of the business world? No...no they didn't.

So, do we live with it? Do we live with the flaws, the goofs and the gaffes? Also probably not. If we can, we should work toward becoming better speakers, better writers, better communicators.

In this blog, I hope to pass on a few things I've learned through the years about writing in the workplace -- especially the marketing/sales workplace. You see, I belong to the "snake oil" crowd. I'm the one who says, "Step right up, have I got a deal for you!" Well, maybe not that corny, but you know what I mean. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, "Everyone is trying to sell something." Stick around, or come back when you've got a moment. It might even be fun.

Email me at LBW10@gnc.net , and don't forget to stop by my blog on general business writing strategies at: www.smartpeoplewrite1.blogspot.com

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