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Writing as a Designer

desk-and-penIt is ironic that a time when we have so much content in various formats and on different forums, there remains a vacuum in information.  It would appear that instead of sharing knowledge, there is a lot of noise generation.

The herd mentality has taken over the content creation arena.

People seem to think that throwing around popular (often misunderstood) terms such as “personae”, “editorial calendar”, and “reciprocity”, they can magically transform poorly researched article into insight.  Not so.  The truth is that no matter how many catch phrases they mimic, the underlying shallow creative process shows through.  This begs the question:  why do content marketers bother investing time and financial resources in a strategy that will not deliver on business integrity and growth?

As business writers and content creators, we need to drop the charade.  We need to invest in more credible motivation.  If we can’t find it within ourselves, we can borrow from other practitioners.  I have looked around and I’m happy to say there is an abundance of good practices business writers can adopt to nurture our skill.

My latest source of inspiration is the design field.  Somehow we all know when things are “designed right” – they give us a glimpse of what makes good design.  It turns out that it is no accident; there are fundamentals of good design.  I imagine all good designers know them and consistently deploy them in their craft.

I think good business writers need to define and commit to some fundamentals.

Before we begin stringing together our words, we need to start with basics like questions.  What is the problem? Why is it important? Why is it important that we understand it correctly?  What are the consequences of addressing the wrong issue or providing the wrong answer?  Is this a ground-breaking topic?  Is there a current consensus on solutions?  The more questions we raise, the more open we are to critical thinking.

Questions help us clarify.  Questions help us uncover what we might otherwise miss.  They help focus on the essentials.  They help us define the parameters of best solutions and write convincingly about them.

My search has shown me that good designers are skilled at asking questions.  For them, no question is silly if it helps the design process.  I am honing my question-asking skill and learning some of the basics of design, which might help me do a better job as a business writer.

Here are 3 things I have learned so far:

  1. Design is truly a process; not a task.  Process denotes a method, intent, a procedure, a course of action while a task often denotes a chore or an assignment.  The way I see it, adopting a process approach is more likely to expand expertise and efficiency.  It is more likely to diminish reliance on rote mentality inherent in a task approach.
  2. Even if the project is not an original idea (it may have been done a million times before), it is important to find a way to instill some creativity.  I agree that it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel.  However, it is important not to simply echo others.  Good designers replicate purposefully.  The challenge is to make each final product memorable.
  3. You are on the right track if your process includes these 3 fundamentals:
  • Looking        →  see/prioritize/understand
  • Thinking      →  research/sort/organize
  • Doing            →  informed action/draft/edit/finalize/share

It is fairly obvious that skipping any of these basics undermines the design process.  In terms of good business writing, failure to pay proper attention to the LOOK, THINK, DO aspects weakens the impact of the content we create.

My challenge to my fellow business writers is to toss that template that promises to help you generate a-hundred-and-one unique articles and white papers effortlessly.  Sounds great, but (always) true.  Let’s spend a little more time (I know, who has more time?) on the fundamentals.  It may mean that we write less volume, but it could mean that what we do write will be a cut above the rest – and memorable.

 

 

©Rachel Agheyisi, Report Content Writer, Report Content Writer’s Blog

Social Media Marketing Conference 2013

Social Media Marketing World 2013 is a special conference designed to help you master social media marketing (brought to you by Social Media Examiner).

 Make this one of your must-attend business conferences in 2013.

Experts from eBay, Sony Electronics, Zappos and SAP will reveal their social media marketing tactics at this premier live conference taking place in San Diego, California in April 2013.

 Here’s a sample of the speakers scheduled for this event:

  •  Guy Kawasaki (author, What the Plus),
  • Mari Smith (co-author, Facebook Marketing),
  • Chris Brogan (author, Google+ for Business),
  • Sally Hogshead (author of Fascinate),
  • Dave Kerpen (author of Likeable Business),
  • Michael Stelzner (founder of Social Media Examiner),
  • Amy Porterfield (co-author, Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies),
  • Jay Baer (author of Youtility),
  • Mark Schaefer (author, Return on Influence),
  • Jesse Stay (author, Google+ Marketing for Dummies),
  • Brian Carter (author, The Like Economy),
  • John Jantsch (author, Duct Tape Marketing) and
  • Jason Falls (co-author, No Bullshit Social Media)

 REGISTER TODAY and secure your seat for this conference.

CLICK HERE to learn more.

Learn How To Master Facebook Marketing

Facebook Success Summit 2012

I wanted to let you know that Social Media Examiner has announced its newest online summit. It is the Facebook Success Summit 2012Act now and save 50% (offer expires on Thursday, September 20, 2012).

This is a fully online conference designed to help your business quickly implement effective Facebook marketing strategies and tactics so you can gain more exposure, build a more loyal following and grow your business.

The lineup of instructors includes the world’s top Facebook marketing experts and authors such as:

  •  Mari Smith (co-author, Facebook Marketing),
  • Dave Kerpen (author, Likeable Social Media),
  • Amy Porterfield (co-author, Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies),
  • John Haydon (co-author, Facebook Marketing for Dummies),
  • Brian Carter (author, The Like Economy),
  • Mark Schaefer (author, Return on Influence),
  • Chris Treadaway (co-author, Facebook Marketing),
  • Jesse Stay (author, Facebook Application Development for Dummies),
  • Andrea Vahl (co-author, Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies),
  • Phyllis Khare (co-author, Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies) and
  • Experts from Campbell’s Soup, Intel, 24 Hour Fitness and Autodesk.

JUST SO YOU KNOW —–

These events bring the best of physical conferences (great learning and networking) directly to your computer.

  •  This means no travel and none of the expenses you’d expect with most events.
  •  We spread the live event over four weeks (to accommodate your schedule) and
  •  You’d get all session recordings AND transcripts.
  •  And the cool part: These summits are very affordable!  You can get in on the 50%-off sale if you act now.

Here’s what Facebook Success Summit 2012 will cover:

  •  Facebook marketing strategy
  • Growing and managing a Facebook following
  • Generating leads and selling with Facebook
  • Newsfeed optimization, metrics and analytics
  • Facebook promotions and advertising
  • And much more!

Go here to see all the details.  . Get a free sample class from our last summit by clicking here and looking for the yellow box in the sidebar.

Remember,

 You can get in at half price if you register early.

This event does not require any travel.  You simply attend sessions and network with peers from the comfort of your home or office!!

REGISTER TODAY!

Upcoming Business Blogging Workshop

Heads up!  Here’s info about an upcoming, informative workshop: Blogging Fundamentals for Business

This fully online event will help you master the fundamentals of successful business blogging and is taught by the founder of one of the world’s largest business blogs — Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner, author of the book Launch.

He will cover a broad range of topics, including:

•How to implement a blogging strategy that helps you attract quality prospects, elevate your industry prominence and improve your sales

•Creative ways to craft content that your readers will love to share and you’ll enjoy creating

•Unique tactics to launch (or re-launch) your blog with the support of industry experts

•How to leverage social media to maximize the reach and influence of your content

•How to track, monitor and enhance your blog for a unique competitive advantage

Plus, you’ll learn in a live environment with the support of your peers.

If you want to make blogging work for your business, this hands-on course is just what you’ve been looking for. Click here to register at a 50% discount (this is a limited time offer!).

The workshop starts on July 10, 2012 and it is spread over two weeks to improve learning and accommodate your schedule.  All attendees will get recordings and transcripts of all live sessions.

Registration is limited. Click here to secure your spot at the limited-time 50% discount.

Best wishes for your continued success.

Social Media Success Summit 2012

You are invited to join 27 social media experts for the largest online social Media conference.  Social Media Success Summit 2012 is a special online conference designed to help you master social media marketing.

 This event is brought to you by Social Media Examiner.

A carefully selected group of well-known social media experts will serve as your instructors.  The list includes:

 Jeremiah Owyang (Altimeter Group),
Chris Brogan (author, Google+ for Business),
Mari Smith (co-author, Facebook Marketing),
Brian Solis (author, Engage),
Jay Baer (co-author, The Now Revolution),
Jason Falls (author, No Bullshit Social Media),
Frank Eliason (author, @YourService),
Michael Stelzner (founder, Social Media Examiner),
Mark Schaefer (author, The Tao of Twitter),
Dave Kerpen (author, Likeable Social Media),
Jesse Stay (author, Google+ for Dummies),
C.C. Chapman (co-author, Content Rules),
Kipp Bodnar (co-author, The B2B Social Media Book),
Amy Porterfield (co-author, Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies)

 Other instructors include experts from LinkedIn, Dell, Ford, Citigroup and Citrix.

  Check the bios on these pros here.

 Here’s a sampling of the topics the summit will cover:

  •  Developing a social media strategy
  • Finding and engaging your target audience
  • Measuring success
  • Converting activities to sales
  • Social customer service
  • Google+ marketing, business blogging, Facebook marketing, LinkedIn marketing, YouTube marketing, Twitter marketing, Pinterest marketing and more!

 Go here to see all the sessions.

HERE IS ADDITIONAL GREAT NEWS

The conference organizers have just added seventeen great bonuses worth more than $990 for early registrants.  These are high-value video courses.  When you sign up for the event, you get all of these included at no extra cost!

Here’s a sample of the valuable bonuses they are giving away:

  •  7 Unique Blogging Strategies to Explode Your Company’s Traffic, Trust Factor and Brand
  • 5 Ways to Use Social Media to Drive People to Your Local Business
  • Proven Social Media Strategies to Rapidly Grow Your Business
  • How to Hug Your Calculator: The 6-Step Process for Measuring Social Media
  • How to Develop a Raving Facebook Fan Base for Your Business

CLICK HERE for a sample class – it’ll give you an idea of what’s in store.

 Plan to attend the full conference!

The Most Common Strategy Mistakes

I recently read this article from the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge newsletter.  It is an excerpt of an interview between the author (Joan Magretta) and Michael E. Porter, renowned authority on competition and strategy.

 Even though it is an excerpt, the Q & A format touches on the key mistakes we all can relate to as business operators.  They are the sort of missteps we wish we could avoid.  They are wasteful of time and other resources; yet we appear unable (perhaps unwilling) to remedy the situation.

 According to the interview, businesses make several common strategy mistakes, including the following:

  1. The biggest of all mistakes is competing to be the best, going down the same path as everybody else and thinking that somehow you can achieve better results.  This is a hard race to win.  So many managers confuse operational effectiveness with strategy.
  2. Another common mistake is confusing marketing with strategy.  It’s natural for strategy to arise from a focus on customers and their needs.  So in many companies, strategy is built around the value proposition, which is the demand side of the equation.  But a robust strategy requires a tailored value chain — it’s about the supply side as well, the unique configuration of activities that delivers value.
  3. It is a mistake to overestimate strengths.  This is indicative of an inward-looking bias observed in many organizations.
  4. A common mistake is getting the definition of the business wrong, or getting the geographic scope wrong. Are you really a global operation?
  5. The worst mistake — and the most common one — is not having a strategy at all.  Most executives think they have a strategy when they really don’t, at least not a strategy that meets any kind of rigorous, economically grounded definition.

 As I indicated in the opening paragraph, these mistakes are familiar.  We are guilty of committing some, or all, and know of businesses in the same trap. Why then do these mistakes persist?  What is responsible for the failure to strategize –in the economically meaningful sense?

 According to Porter, many barriers distract, deter, and divert managers from making clear strategic choices.  Some of the most significant barriers come from the many hidden biases embedded in internal systems, organizational structures, and decision-making processes.

 He sums things up as follows: “Strategy links choices on the demand side with the unique choices about the value chain (the supply side). You can’t have competitive advantage without both” – Michael E. Porter.

CLICK HERE to read the article.  There is a link to information about Joan Magretta’s book, which distills Porter’s core concepts and frameworks into a concise guide for business practitioners.

 

 

© Rachel Agheyisi, Report Content Writer, Report Content Writer’s Bolg, 2012

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