Spin doctor, truth teller or corporate communications ace? Here’s why your business needs one.
Even the most incredible business leaders have felt anxiety about corporate communications – writing on behalf of a company, nonprofit or small business. For many, the process of writing is filled with roadblocks and uncertainty, which can lead to overall avoidance.
In these situations, hiring a locally based public relations pro who is experienced with corporate communications can be your best bet.
The secret to error-free marketing content
Unlike a published blog article, there is no “undo” button; you can’t edit what has already been sent via email. You get a sinking feeling knowing that hundreds of consumers have received an email from your business that had several errors.
This was not the impression of your small, local business that you wanted people to have when they received your email marketing campaign. You are embarrassed and worry that you may be doing more harm than good with email marketing, but you aren’t sure what a solution might be.
Copywriting tip: Pivot marketing messages in positive ways
There is incredible power in the use and arrangement of words.
The way you use and arrange words when copywriting for marketing can create different moods. Copywriting can make readers feel calm or irritated. Copywriting can provide clarity or cause confusion.
The way you string words together – forming social media posts, letters, promotional flyers, job descriptions and recruitment ads, website copy and blog articles – has the power to inspire or to offend.
Grammar: It’s all about me (and whoever else is reading)
This grammar lesson is all about personal pronouns in the form of objects. They can be tricky to parse, but a little understanding of how they’re supposed to be used should help.
First, let’s look at the word “me,” which always acts as an object, or the thing that something is done to. Consider these examples:
- “The world seems out to get me.”
- “She gave the book to me.”
- “He gave a smile to John and me.”
Tips for better grammar and error-free writing
Effective business communication is clear and concise. Whether you’re writing emails, marketing material, ad copy or blog posts, professional writing needs to be free of errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling.
When mistakes slip in, the credibility and professionalism of the writer are hurt. Errors can make clients, business owners and managers think that the writer did not consider attention to detail or was not careful enough to proofread the content before sending or publishing it.
The value of writing fresh content
Are you a leader or a follower? If you’re not sure, just check your website and social media. After all, that’s what your customers are doing — and it’s easy for them to tell whether you’re an authority in your field or if you’re the type to piggyback on the expertise of others.
Any company’s Facebook page or Twitter account can be filled with links to tips, resources and articles created by others — and there’s a place for that, to be sure — but those practices don’t really show that you’re knowledgeable in your industry. Ideally, you want a mix of your own content (to show that you’re an expert) and a few curated links from others (to show that you can appreciate the value of others’ work, too).
Better writing for the web: Part two
Quick question: You’re writing an email to your mom. Which of these two sentences do you type out?
- “Good morning mom.”
- “Good morning, mom.”
Which is right? Could it be either one? Does it even matter?
It does. No matter what your friends might tell you, commas are not arbitrary.
Better writing for the web: Part one
Writing. It may not be your strong suit, but odds are you’re having to do it anyway. Perhaps your boss has asked you to take over the company blog. Maybe you’re running a small business and you’re in charge of all email correspondence and social media posts. However you’re writing, you surely know by now that it’s more than just dumping words onto the screen and moving on. Good writing is an art, and it takes time and focus to do well. You are doing the best you can, but perhaps there are some basic issues that you weren’t even aware existed.
Is it time to quit Facebook marketing?
What would it feel like to break up with Facebook?
Sometimes, breaking up is hard to do, especially when you’ve been together for such a long time – we all used to be in love with Facebook – but it’s possible! You could ease in, considering it a trial separation for the next three months.
During that time, you can explore and test one other digital marketing platform to see if it generates more activity on your website and brings more customers to your door than Facebook has been doing.
Facebook contests: What are the rules?
Back in the day, Facebook contests were a minefield so fraught with danger that many companies — especially small, family-run businesses — didn’t even bother. Thankfully, today’s rules are much simpler. Companies can actually run contests on Facebook the simple way, without awkward integrated apps.
How to use LinkedIn to market yourself or your business
How much attention do you pay to your LinkedIn profile? Probably less than you should. Often described as “Facebook for professionals,” the platform’s utility is obvious: Ninety-four percent of job recruiters turn to LinkedIn in their hunts for candidates. And even if you’re not looking for work, LinkedIn is a haven for professional development and networking. It’s also a place where potential customers seek out advice from others who’ve used your company’s products or services. But how do you use the platform? And what makes your profile stand out? Here are three things you can do to get started.
Are you one post away from an Instagram shadowban?
You’d think that with all this technology at our disposal, everything would be automated. You’d think that businesses would be able to enter a few phrases into a chatbot, flip a switch and watch the engagement happen all on its own, as if at the hands of an automated (but organic-looking!) fairy. The truth is, businesses can do all of that. It’s just an awful idea.
Facebook tips for building community
Facebook has always been about community, with particular focus on connecting friends and family. Now, that focus has swiveled toward connecting the world. How do businesses fit into all this? The same way as ever: by providing value. Let’s look at a four specific examples.
How to run a small business without running yourself into the ground
Maintaining health and wellness while being self-employed takes effort!
Self-employed myself, consulting alongside local business leaders and entrepreneurs since 2009, I’ve seen that those three expectations can be quite difficult for entrepreneurs. The reality is that it can be stressful to generate enough work to pay the bills. Not to mention managing people, staying on top of taxes, making sure business-development and growth plans stay on track, keeping up with marketing—all challenging parts of entrepreneurship.
Self-employed individuals also can have trouble disconnecting from work. They work long hours and sometimes put their own health and wellness on the back burner. Been there, done that myself! For many, successful self-employment takes a continuous effort to manage work-life balance, stress levels, and our own health, because business matters often take priority over any or all of those ideals.
Carve out more time with three simple tips
Sorting through unwanted emails is a huge waste of time, even if you’re just scanning the sender’s name, email subject line and then hitting the delete button. It’s a task that distracts or delays us all from taking care of meaningful activities every day.
Recapture valuable time by taming your email inbox.
Pushing past fear
Fear gets in the way of life and business.
We’re afraid of people seeing that we are not perfect. We’re afraid of trying to learn something new. We’re afraid of going to new places and meeting new people. We’re afraid of people knowing that we are not a mirror image of all things perfect as seen on our friend’s Facebook timelines, in advertising campaigns, on television and so on.
It’s time to stop that way of thinking!
Options for free small-business brainstorming in Whatcom County
It’s a rare business owner who founds a business solely to market to customers. There’s usually something more immediate on their minds: making delectable food, designing useful products or performing top-notch service. But eventually, business owners realize that they need a plan of attack for getting their products and services in front of more people. And that usually means seeking out professional advice.
Build your team, get stuff done
As a small business leader, you wear many hats – business development, sales, marketing, accounting, and more. You’ve probably noticed that some of those tasks are challenging, like you’re not naturally good at them. That’s totally normal; you’re not alone with those feelings!
Or, maybe you have a team of employees who do the core parts of their jobs well, but there are skills they’re not quite good at. This happens all the time. It’s hard (OK, nearly impossible) to find one person who is good at everything.
If either of these situations sound familiar, now is a good time to explore expanding your team, delegating or collaborating with a local service provider who can fill skill gaps or manage specific tasks for you.
Key to long-term marketing: Be consistent
The simple truth is that marketing happens every day, whether we mean it to or not. A stagnant Twitter account and an inactive blog can speak almost as effectively as well-crafted content that meets the needs of your customers.
What works? Drip marketing. Just like it sounds, drip marketing is the practice of engaging with your customers a little bit each day, spreading your marketing efforts evenly over a month to ensure maximum benefit without exasperating customers with floods of content. Just like drip irrigation keeps the water coming a little each day, drip marketing keeps your brand fresh in the minds of customers through small, regular effort.
How to save money on marketing: Be nice!
How do people describe you and/or your business when you’re not around? Do they use words like friendly, warm and inviting? Or, do they use words like arrogant, frustrating, swindler?
Your reputation impacts how much money you must spend on marketing. Have a good reputation? Pay less. Have a bad one? Pay more.
How to successfully outsource marketing
Marketing is hard. Knowing which tools to use is hard. Finding the right staff with the right skill set is hard. Heck, sometimes all the things feel hard, right?
You are probably reading this article because you’ve found it hard to manage marketing tasks in-house. Now may be the right time to explore new systems and resources.
If you’re on the verge of hiring a marketing partner and outsourcing tasks like social media management, blogging, graphic design, website copywriting and more, you’ll want to make the best choice possible. It’s totally worth investing time upfront to understand the options, identify your needs and consider a realistic budget.
Whatcom County networking groups
Networking can be an important tool for small businesses, and it should not be limited to simply “connecting” with people on social media sites. Word of mouth referrals come from putting yourself out there, meeting new people and then forming business relationships.
Benefits of getting help locally with recruitment
What happens when one of your key employees gives notice, or when your business is growing and you need additional help? It takes time to write a descriptive and inviting job ad and manage the ad postings for online job boards, your website and social media platforms. All of this — in addition to reviewing the resumes and interviewing applicants — can be overwhelming. Where will you find the time?
Stop marketing so hard, start retaining!
Many major marketing campaigns are designed specifically to grab the attention of potential customers — discounts usually are reserved for new signups, and educational campaigns focus on introducing a business to its target market. Without a doubt, these are important things to do. Ultimately, though, they’ll be as ineffective as doing nothing at all, if the business ignores customers once they’re in the door. If you don’t know how to retain customers, they’ll leave.
Make time today for a marketing review
Don’t do things a certain way just because that’s how you learned to do it. Always ask yourself: “Why am I doing this? What is my goal, and is this the best/most efficient/most effective way to get there?” This is a major concept in marketing, and it’s particularly important because the rules and tools are changing all the time. For example: Niche social media sites are the new “in” platform (but so were Peach, Path and Ello). Should you sign up? No matter what marketing tools you use — social media, print flyers, Facebook ads, word of mouth, skywriting, whatever — it’s important to audit your business now and again to gauge the effectiveness of your methods and to consider new methods that you might not have fully considered yet.
Event marketing opportunities in Whatcom County
One solid way to bring attention to your small, local business is to become involved with events — as a sponsor, vendor or participant. There are many options to choose from, including small town parades, street festivals, business trade shows and educational conferences.
Start With Why
The One Thing
Work the Pond!
The Membership Economy
Patti: Listening to Hidden Brain has become part of my Saturday morning routine: Coffee and NPR. This is not an industry-related info source. The trending topics that are covered in these podcasts are so interesting; the subjects they cover are backed up by science and expert insight. I literally feel smarter when I tune in. Plus, the topics are great conversation starters at networking events. “I was listening to a podcast on NPR about XYZ…” gets the attention of most people. Experts used to say that if you want to be an engaging conversationalist, read the newspaper daily. A weekly dose of Hidden Brain does the trick for me.
Patti: These business and leadership podcasts from EntreLeadership have opened my mind to many, many new ideas. They have helped me be a more confident consultant and leader to PR Consulting’s team, which is something I work to continuously improve. Tuning into these podcasts has taught me the importance of communicating clearly and having hard conversations when needed — “To be unclear is to be unkind.” I listen to them when I’m walking; I listen to them when I’m driving. If I ever find that I’ve listened to them all I will start over and listen to them all again knowing I’ll glean new and relevant info out of each episode.
Customers are complaining about my business. Now what?
Customer feedback is an essential part of doing business. Feedback (both positive and negative) can help gather valuable insight – it allows companies to identify successes and failures. In fact, some business consultants urge companies to view customer complaints as a gift because complaints can show areas of weakness that employees and/or management can work to fix.
Graphic design tips for marketing your small business
With graphic design software easily available at our fingertips, more businesses than ever are creating their own marketing materials. If you are a small business owner or manager making your own promotional flyers, postcard mailers or brochures, consider these three design tips.