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.

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Tips for No-Pressure Content Writing

Sidebar:  I read the following article, titled “An Easy, No Pressure Way to Make Your Copy Sell More”, written by Roy Furr, a contributor at the AWAI.  He makes some solid points about the value of intelligent content marketing.  When we give our audience beneficial information, we create opportunities for mutually rewarding interactions.  So, let your readers know you took the time to research their needs and designed your piece just for them.  Read Roy’s helpful suggestions, and go try them!

Education is a powerful form of salesmanship!

Okay, okay … I’m going to have to explain a couple of things here. Because I’m not saying you could take any good high school teacher and put them out on the street and they’d be a star salesperson automatically. It takes a bit more than that.

But there is a way to sell more by taking an educational approach – if you have the right steps to follow.

And I’d like to give those to you today.

Probably a lot like you, I never really wanted to “sell hard.” And because I didn’t, I unintentionally shifted my approach to finding out what a prospect would want to know about my product and offer, and then simply shared that information with them.

In other words, I figured out what they’d want to know before they made the purchase, and then I told it to them.

And surprise! Prospects actually liked the approach – and would buy as a result!

Because I had thoroughly researched the answers to their buying questions and was upfront in presenting to them without any hard sell, they were happy to have a conversation with me that frequently resulted in a sale.

There was no pressure. No hype. I wasn’t seen as a huckster. Or a used car salesman.

I was just a guy who had some valuable information for my prospects … And a good offer to boot. I was happy to explain it all. And inevitably, I’d give them a chance to buy.

Now I apply the same approach in my sales copy, and it’s leading me to writing promotions that break clients’ sales records and earn me great royalties, too.

5 Places to Use Education in Copy to Boost Sales

So you get it. You can sell more, without hype or pressure, by adopting a more educational approach to selling. That’s good news. Now let me show you how to put that lesson into practice.

There are actually five places in your copy where you want to use education to increase sales. And here they are with a “how to” description for each:

1.   Educate about the problem.

Your prospect has problems. Tons of them! (Don’t we all?) And it’s your job to help them find the solution. (Wait! Before anybody throws a fit: I’m classifying unfulfilled needs, wants, and desires under “problem” here. So if your product fulfills a desire, it’s solving the “problem” of an unfulfilled desire.)

Your first educational goal in making the sale is to make clear what the problem is – and why it’s such a big problem.

So, for example, I used to sell newspapers. One problem that can be solved, or eased, by a newspaper subscription is the high cost of groceries. You could lead off in selling a newspaper by saying, “Did you know you’re paying too much for groceries? That’s right. In fact, the average resident of Lincoln, Nebraska, could save at least 10% off their weekly grocery bill while eating the same foods.”

Well now, that’s a problem that wasn’t at the front of my mind, but now that I’ve been educated that it’s a real and solvable problem, I’m sure interested!

2.   Educate about the solution.

Now it’s your job to educate the prospect that a solution exists and specifically what the solution is. Continuing with the newspaper example, you could reveal that using grocery coupons and specials could save the average local resident 10% or more off their grocery bill every week.

So you’d say … “That’s right. You could be paying 10% less every week for your groceries, and it’s easy, too. A recent Wednesday issue of the Lincoln Journal Star ran ads from five different local grocery store chains with an average total of $543.73 savings PER AD.

“Now sure, you’re not going to get every deal or use every coupon. But the average savings per item was actually 11%! So by simply reading the ads, using the coupons, and buying what you were going to buy anyway when and where it’s on sale, you can save more than 10% – $15-$20 or more per week – off your weekly grocery bill.”

(Note, I’m making up these figures, but I’m sure the average town newspaper has similar figures. Sure makes a $3.00/week newspaper subscription seem cheap, doesn’t it?!)

3.   Educate about your company and methods.

So you’ve presented the problem and the solution – educating the prospect about the benefits they’ll receive by following along with your solution. Now it’s time to demonstrate your credibility in providing the solution by educating about your company, methods, and anything else that proves you are best equipped to solve their problem.

Continuing the newspaper example, using stats from Wikipedia … “The Journal Star is uniquely equipped to bring you Lincoln’s best grocery deals, along with everything else you care about that’s going on around the capital city. Serving over 80,000 households every week, we’re the leading newspaper in the city and have relationships with the community going back decades. Whether it’s grocery deals or local news, you can count on us to bring it to you in the comfort of your home.”

4.   Educate about your product.

The more complex your product, the more valuable it is to educate your prospect about it. I recently watched a 90-minute DVD before I bought a home beer brewing setup. I was happy to sit down and be educated as part of the sales process.

While a newspaper may be fairly straightforward and well understood, it may be worth educating about what sections it contains (besides the ads in this example), who it features, and especially about delivery services offered.

5.   Educate about your offer.

After you have gotten your prospect excited about your product, it’s your responsibility to educate them as to how they can get it. This is where you have to put on your salesperson’s cap, but don’t worry because you don’t have to sell hard. Simply describe the terms of your offer in a clear, direct, and easy-to-understand way that makes it hard to say no. And don’t forget to include a guarantee or risk-free trial period.

So your newspaper sales pitch may conclude with, “You can take 21 days to try our home delivery service at no risk. Just say ‘Yes’ today and we’ll start your delivery 7 days a week. We’ll also send you a bill due 21 days after your subscription starts. If you’re not completely satisfied – and haven’t saved at least double your subscription price off your weekly grocery bill – you can simply write CANCEL across your bill and send it back. Otherwise, send in your payment and you can enjoy our daily delivery service for just $3.00 per week for the next 13 weeks. We make it risk free to try so it’s easy for you to say ‘Yes’ today.”

Try this on the next piece of sales copy you write. Instead of upping the over-the-top promises and using far too much hyperbole, up the education factor. Make sure you take your reader through the natural educational points outlined above. And see what kind of sales results it generates.

  

Endnote:  This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) The Golden Thread, a free newsletter that delivers original, no-nonsense advice on the best wealth careers, lifestyle careers and work-at-home careers available. For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/.

 

  

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009-2011.

 

The Wisdom of Idioms

Hand Around the GlobeIdioms are handy things, not just because of their ability to sum up complex thoughts, but often for their deeper meanings.  Every culture has them, and knowing them adds a certain level of belonging even to a non-native speaker.

Growing up in Africa, I learned the value of idioms early.  Well, you couldn’t be around adults and not get earfuls of idiomatic expressions.  Quite simply, idioms laced good conservations.  They educate, advocate, and entertain.  You name it, there’s an African idiom for it.

That early exposure got me interested in English idioms.  My motivation was simple.  As a non-native speaker, I wanted to acquire the liberty to toss these gems around – in context, and with relevance.  So in my spare time, I collect idioms, including English idioms.

Quirky?  Yes.

Wait until you’re at a fancy party or important business meeting and you come face-to-face with an idiom you don’t recognize.  Awkward, is when you don’t have the timely feedback expected from you.

So I consider my collection of idioms part of being ready for a rainy day – well, there’s an idiom for you!

I thought I’d share a dozen of my favorite business-related English idioms, with definitions, courtesy of the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms.  I’ve also added my take as they relate to business applications.  See if you agree.

 

Idiom #1Keep one’s eye on the ball.

Meaning:  Keeping one’s attention on the matter at hand.

Business Application:  Focus on what’s important to your goal.

 

Idiom #2Know something like the back of one’s hand.

Meaning:  Be entirely familiar with something.

Business Application:  Expertise built on a learner’s mindset.

 

Idiom #3With bated breath.

Meaning:  In great suspense; very anxiously or excitedly.

Business Application:  Enthusiasm adds a refreshing touch to all business tasks.

 

Idiom #4Back to basics.

Meaning:  Abandoning complication and sophistication to concentrate on the most essential aspects of something.

Business Application:  Keep it simple and efficient.

 

Idiom #5Beat someone at their own game.

Meaning:  Use someone’s own methods to outdo them in their chosen activity.

Business Application:  Adapt creatively.

 

Idiom #6If you can’t beat them, join them.

Meaning:  If you are unable to outdo rivals in some endeavor, you might as well cooperate with them and gain whatever advantage possible by doing so.

Business Application:  Strategic alliances build strength.

 

Idiom #7Bite off more than one can chew.

Meaning:  Take on a commitment one cannot fulfill.

Business Application:  Scheduling is a vital business skill.

 

Idiom #8Bleed someone dry.

Meaning:  Drain someone of all their money or resources.

Business Application:  Fair pricing builds clientele and trust.

 

Idiom #9Give someone a break.

Meaning:  Stop putting pressure on someone about something.

Business Application:  We’ve all been there.  Easy does it.

 

Idiom #10Bury one’s head in the sand.

Meaning:  Ignore unpleasant realities; refuse to face facts.

Business Application:  Don’t ignore what’s not working; fix it, revise it, or discard it.

 

Idiom #11Let the cat out of the bag.

Meaning:  Reveal a secret, especially carelessly or by mistake.

Business Application:  Confidentiality builds trust; promise it to clients.

 

Idiom #12Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Meaning:  If too many people are involved in a task or activity, it will not be done well.

Business Application:  Learn the art of beneficial delegation and coordination.

 

There are, of course, many more of these gems to explore and assimilate.  But, a word to the wise – I just had to throw that in.

I hope you’d share some your favorite idioms.

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009

Listening – A Critical Business Skill

exclamation-markKnow how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly.

– Plutarch, Greek biographer and moralist.

 Experts may differ in their definition of business essentials.  I doubt many will dispute the importance of good listening skills to business success.  We live in an era of talkers, among people who love the sound of their own voices and those who see their vocal prowess as their ticket to fame.

However, every successful entrepreneur knows that business communication goes beyond talk to include listening, evaluation, response and action.  If your business involves any negotiation or sales then it is imperative that you make the effort to hone your listening skills.  Given the time constraint faced by busy clients, it is critical to maximize the contact time with them, and listening well is essential.

One of the challenges I face as a white paper writer and consultant is ensuring that I have a clear understanding of my client’s needs.  While research is important to obtaining project information, conversation with the stakeholders is still my preferred way to get the best “feel” for the client’s expectations.  The more my client can tell me during a conversation, the better my chances of matching their project objectives.  For me, active listening is mandatory.

I have found a few practices helpful in improving my one-on-one information gathering time with clients.  I hope you find the following tips beneficial to your business.

1.  Be prepared.  I have found that the more prepared I am before my conversation with a client the better I am at listening.  Being prepared helps me focus on the needs of the client and how best to serve them.  Prior preparation makes the conversation less of an effort and more of an opportunity for me to:

  • Clarify the objectives of the project
  • Fill any gaps in my research
  • Reinforce my company’s readiness to handle the tasks
  • Build rapport with the client.

2.  Ask questions.  Part of being prepared is to have enough information to fuel your inquiries.  I like to write out my questions in longhand and in the sequence that clarify and augment my research.  Writing out the questions saves me from worrying about impromptu phraseology.  I can then focus on speaking in an unrehearsed, natural tone during the conversation.  This works well especially for telephone conversations.  Here are a few other reasons why I prepare by asking questions:

  • If the meeting is about a favorite/familiar subject, having a set of questions handy keeps me from being overly talkative and getting off track.
  • If the topic is technical/complex,  questions help focus the discussion on fundamentals.  I have learned, over time, that practically all topics can be reduced to the “what”, “how”, and where” basics.
  • If the topic is controversial, then asking questions is an efficient way to manage the conversation along productive lines.

3.  Take notes.  This is probably a remnant of my graduate school days, but I am a self-professed list-maker.  It is a habit that has served me well in many situations.  Earlier on in my career, I learned that I could help my brain along by writing things down.  Equally important, in a face-to-face meeting with a client, note taking is an easy way to show the client that you are interested in the conversation.  I can also recall a few situations where the notes I took in a meeting came to my rescue (literally) in resolving project issues.  However, you cannot take useful notes unless you are a good listener.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but the louder the noise level in our social and business world, the more advantageous it is to be a good listener.  Honing your listening skills will improve your ability to serve your clients better and enhance your profile.

Just remember:

No man ever listened himself out of a job – Calvin Coolidge.

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009.

Blogging and Listening

building-blocksThese days gurus abound.  One look at the multiplicity of blogs, forums, and other social networking media, and you get the impression that everyone is an expert.  There is so much talk (and some noise), I sometimes wonder if we are running the risk of losing the ability to listen.  I hope not, because listening is essential for good communication.

In the spirit of good communication, welcome to Report Content Writer’s Blog.  This blog is one way of adding our voice to the chorus.  The face behind the voice is Rachel’s — the executive director of RCW.

We  focus on adventures in white paper writing and b2b lead generation.  Occasionally, we might wander into other areas of interest — but never too far from topics relating to creativity and writing.

In the coming days and weeks,  I will share tales from my neck of the woods.  Hopefully, you’d find some of the conversation interesting enough to join in.

Here is to our collective wisdom — one blog at a time.

© Copyright Rachel Agheyisi and Report Content Writer’s Blog, 2009.