If your website sells stuff or promotes a service, the words you use have to be focused in a way that works in cyberspace. It’s totally different to writing a hard copy brochure or article.
For a start, your writing should be short (some people say make it short, then go back and edit it back 50% shorter again!), clear and benefits-focused. Below are links we’ve compiled to some knowledgeable people who explain it clearly.
So, you have decided to commit to writing a blog for your business. A blog can be a great tool — it lets you communicate directly with your customers and can really boost your online presence.
But it does take time and effort, like all good things; and I know well that it’s not always easy coming up with fresh ideas.
I’ve been writing this blog for four or so years now. I don’t update it as often as I should but it is an important part of my communicating with clients about what my business does, what we know (this is important for a service provider) and a bit about who we are.
So, where can you get ideas for regular and effective content? Brainstorming will bring up a few, but it pays to have some resources on hand for when you hit ‘blogger’s block’.
Here are some thoughts on what to do to keep those creative juices flowing and to stop you heading off on the wrong track.
See the title of this post? And see the date of my previous post? Yes, I know!
One of the big problems for small business owners is the time and thought involved with keeping social media fresh. Without dedicated comms staff to do the leg work, social media participation can easily become a burden on top of managing clients, staff, bookwork, etc.
If you don’t have the time to do it well, or the budget to outsource, an option is to have a website purely as a static brochure (as, otherwise, you will be totally invisible online) but to forgo the blog or the Facebook or Twitter account. A poorly maintained social media account is a worse marketing strategy than no account at all. You may have more targeted methods for reaching your clients.
Having said that, a regularly updated blog does show you as a thinker, a knowledge centre and a communicator in your industry and is very helpful for giving potential clients some idea of your expertise and suitability for their projects.
It also lets customers build a relationship with your organisation by posting comments under your original post and so starting a dialogue with your business.
On top of that, search engines love blogs, they are always looking for fresh content. The more you blog, the more search engines will index your site, giving it potentially better visibility in search results.
Communication is good … just don’t wait 13 months before before writing your next post!
Just back from the TCANZ 2012 conference in Auckland where it was good to have two overseas speakers pushing us to consider ‘technical communications’ as a brand, even if most of us are so deep in the trenches doing the work that we don’t get often a chance to consider how to market our ‘profession’.
But that was their main argument — that we can’t really call technical communications a profession just yet, as it lacks the infrastructure that professions require, especially the standards, independent certifications and professional development that established ‘professions’ (law, accounting, architecture, for example) have. And that having that type of infrastructure is the best base from which to build the brand.
TCANZ this year has started a process to see what steps could be taken to introduce such measures in NZ and Australia. And, with training fairly ad hoc for most practitioners in New Zealand, I am very supportive of this work. I think with measurable standards we will be more clearly able to articulate our value to employers and clients.
The working party has though decided that the sector may be too small to support a full-blown certification programme but it is continuing its work to see what would work in a market our size.
A mentoring programme is one initial suggestion — so senior practitioners would help newcomers to the sector; and that sounds a good start.
Headlines may be the most important words on your website.
No matter how great the content of a web page or blog post, if your headline doesn’t grab people’s attention, you’ll lose them.
Promise a benefit
“A compelling headline must promise some kind of benefit or reward for the reader, in trade for the valuable time it takes to read more,” says Copyblogger’s Brian Clark.
Read more from Brian at How to write headlines that work.
Researchers from Marketing Experiments have a similar view: “All marketing messages must be centered primarily on the interests of the customer. Therefore, when it comes to crafting headlines, emphasize what the visitor gets rather than what they must do.”
Plus “the goal of a headline is similar to the goal of the opening scene of a movie — to arrest the visitor’s attention and get them into the first paragraph” so “place the value at the front of the headline”.
Details on the Marketing Experiments research is here.
Write for search engines as well as humans
Tips for writing headlines that appeal to search engines are at How to write web headlines that catch search engine spiders.
Writer Shawn Smith says make headlines clear, concise and short, and have them include keywords and phrases relevant to the article and what people are likely to search for.