Posts tagged content marketing
Branding Authentically: Learn from others without losing your voice

You would think authenticity in a marketing message would be one of the most natural skills for a business owner. Simply write like you talk. Convey a thought or idea the way you would standing in your kitchen or brainstorming with your team. 

But how many of you girl (and guy) bosses are with me when I admit to serious struggle in this area? Especially in those first few months of my business' launch. All day long I'm watching and learning from those more successful than me; studying their Instagram feeds, reading their LinkedIn articles and listening to their podcasts, thinking, "oh, okay, that's how I should do it."

mom boss marketing

Sure, we need training to improve how we lead, manage and move our companies forward, but all this absorbing others' material can also cloud our communication. It can become very tempting to take on someone else's tone, style, word choices and methods, to our own detriment. Your audience doesn't want another so-and-so, they want you, and the special way you can serve them. Your business will never stand out if you don't decide what's going to set it apart.

I'm still learning this myself, and I'm sure I always will be, but I can tell you what has helped me in this area - and if you'll let me preach for a moment - stress to you that I really, truly want you to fight for authenticity with your business and brand messaging. The world needs your way of doing something that is a little - or a lot - different from the other companies in your field. Learn best practices, but don't be afraid to put your own spin on what that is for your small business. Here are a few ways you can make sure you're branding authentically.

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Write your first draft from the heart

Sometimes, when I begin a blog or content piece, I can't get past the first couple sentences without second-guessing myself. Is this what I should say? Is this how I should say it? Oh shoot, is that even grammatically correct? 

Brand owners, I give you full permission to toss all the rules out the window and let your heart guide your first draft. Just let those thoughts and fingers fly. Who cares about proper punctuation, how someone else may read it or if the sentence is perfectly formed? First drafts are the best time to put your spirit into your words. You can worry about all that fine-tuning after you feel that what you're saying and how you're saying it is truly a reflection of you. 

Learn from your own successes

Hopefully, after you've been at it a while, you can shift your attention off other business owners and focus more on what's worked for you. Gradually decrease the amount of time you spend following your favorite branders and devote more time to what you love about your own branding. This will help you build off what's been working and stay in tune with how you should come across to your specific audience to create more successful leads. 

Create your own stylebook

If there's any point here that I feel equipped to speak to, it's this one. I began in the magazine publishing world, worked at a newspaper, blogged for businesses when it wasn't cool yet and just crossed three years as a full-time copywriter for a mortgage company. Style, grammar and the English language have been my world for about 15 years. 

When it comes to brand messaging, advertising and marketing content, style guides and grammar rules can be held loosely. It's a different type of communication, and you can absolutely feel free to create your own style guide.

What you don't want to do is be inconsistent. Choose how you're going to write a term ( pluralize business' or business's?) or punctuate (do you like more or fewer commas?) and stick with it. Sure, it may not pass a college essay, but college English wasn't about branding your business. In marketing world, your grade is about consistency.

Be firm with your business boundaries

If you hate blogging, don't blog. If you prefer to podcast over owning a Facebook business page, then put your time and creativity into a podcast. You don't have to do all the types of messaging you see others doing - especially in the early years. It's okay to choose the type of marketing you prefer, and what works best for your audience - it's your brand!

Keep putting yourself out there

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When it comes to writing authentically, repetition is the best teacher. I felt super awkward those first couple months trying to "be me" with my own brand. Years of helping other business owners and companies find their voice didn't mean my own came instantaneously. You're entitled to a few awkward social posts, blogs, videos (have you visited my YouTube account lately? Me neither, lol) and emails. 

Don't let those uncomfortable first few hold you back. Keep posting, recording, emailing and captioning. Your voice will come. 

 

Maybe you've been in the biz a while and you've established your authentic brand conversation. Now, your problem is you simply don't have the time or desire to take your marketing to the next level with strategic, lead-creating website writing or email campaigns. That's what I can help with. And please, if you simply found this blog super helpful, leave me a comment because I'd love to know! 

Until next time, bosses!

When hitting delete could save your brand.

We've all had those moments when saying something out of turn, inauthentic or unchecked damaged our personal reputation. Sometimes, in an effort to sound smart, voice an opinion or have the last word, we end up immediately regretting what and how we said something. The same applies for your brand messaging. 

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Writing social posts on the fly, tossing up a blog or creating a hasty email can often do more damage than good to your business' reputation. Sometimes, hitting the delete button is the wisest marketing move you could make. Here are a few examples of when your best content strategy is voiding content altogether. 

When there's no time to edit.

I'm soooooo guilty of this, so let me be the first to say, I GET it! You've gone a while without posting or emailing or making some sort of connection, and you suddenly feel the pressure to put something up. Anything seems right in that moment. You hit upload, post, send, whatever, and now that it's too late, go back and do a quick read-through. Crap. Typos, confusing messages, lengthy paragraphs, broken links or hashtags... Slow down. Breath. Write it, then proofread, then wait a few minutes, then proofread again. Make a commitment to no more hastily published content!

When you didn't do your research.

Yep, done this one too. In fact, these are all from personal experience so, yeah, between the two of us, I'm cringing more than you. Here's how it goes: You try to build your brand authority by linking articles or writing a blog post about the latest industry news. Suddenly, your readers are pinging you with corrections, questions, confusion. Uggghhhh...totally your fault. You didn't read the articles thoroughly, check for verification or bother to get an expert to back you up and now you look like a fool in front of your entire audience. The. Worst. Always take the time to properly research before you post on complicated, lesser-known and especially controversial subjects. 

When it's not "you".  

I love authenticity. I preach authenticity. But why, oh why, is it so easy to try and be like someone else in your branding!? I am all for being inspired by other successful girl bosses or entrepreneurs but you don't have to sound like them. Please speak from the heart in your brand messaging. That's the core, the secret sauce to creating a loyal following!

When you're angry or offended.

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You do not want to become known as that emotionally reactive business boss. If, in the moment you're writing, you're feeling anger, offense, are high on emotion, be mature enough to test it for recklessness. If it's therapeutic, go ahead and type something out, but don't publish immediately. Take a couple days to revisit your words, get a trusted friend's advice and then publish.

When you're unfocused. 

I kind of want to say this...and this....and this....oh, and also I feel very strongly about this... An all too common habit in content writing is trying to say everything at once. Readers like specificity, not generality. Your brand is more interesting when it can provide narrowed points. Do a whole blog on one part of a larger message. Do a social post on a single tip. Narrow, narrow, narrow. That's how you become so practically helpful that people can't help but want to follow you more than the competition. 

So now after writing all this, I'm like, uh, you need to take your own advice, Lindsey *buries face in hands*. I hope this was helpful and please tell me I'm not the only one! Comment your most common delete-button-needing tendency below.

Four reasons your website is killing your business
website marketing

Fellow bosses, let's have some real talk about your website. It may be killing more business than it's producing. 

I know that's harsh, but here's what I mean: I was recently on the hunt for a hardscape company that does outdoor kitchens (not for myself, for someone else :) and man, the websites made my decision for me.  A couple were atrociously bad. Fuzzy images, cluttered text and buried contact information. Based on their website, I felt like that company couldn't possibly be run well, regardless of how much more skilled the owners were at hardscape than digital marketing.

A couple other sites were decent, but as soon as I pulled up the single site that was actually attractive and well written, I forgot about the others. My decision was made based on the impression I got from their websites. And it turns out the company with the best website has a great reputation and does a lot of business - I get the feeling more than its competitors with the poor websites. Case-in-point why our online marketing is a reflection on the standards of our business overall.

If you're thinking; hmmm, is my website a business killer? I can help you determine that. Here are four reasons your website may be stopping people from contacting you.

1. It's too much information. Probably the biggest mistake business owners make with their website is plastering way too much information there - particularly on the home page. People don't care to read about the 10-year history of your business, or the endless description of how you do what you do. All they want from your website is to learn what you can do for them, if you're up to the task and how they can get it done. If you want to test whether your site is information overload, I explain how in an earlier blog

2. It's ugly. I'm no design pro but with the help of a Squarespace template and some stock images, I managed to make my website look fairly nice. Trust me, if I can do it, you can too. It's going to cost you a little dough (my investment was about $200 total) but when you're attracting more customers, you'll know it was well worth it. If you've been at it for a while and you really want to take your business to the next level, it may be time to hire a web designer and get that thing customized (I'd love to write the content, btw). 

3. It's a conversion black hole. The whole point of a website is to convert visitors to buyers. So often, however, we get really amped about convincing someone to use us and neglect clearly explaining to them how they can do that. You may have a strong "pick me!" message there but are losing people when they're like, 'uh, ok great, so how do I do that?' Make sure your contact info, email form or scheduling link aren't buried and that the path to using your products is spelled out clearly. This is a good point to use my advice in this post on. 

4. It's out of date. Serious pet peeve of mine. Update your information! Websites are great at delivering your marketing message for you, but only if that message is current. If there are references to 2010 or images with out-of-date trends on there, it screams 'my website is neglected and I may or may not still be doing business.' Yikes, huge turnoff. 

Hey, way to care enough about your brand to pay some attention to the quality of your website. If you're ready to add killer writing that will attract - not kill potential business, I'd love to help you do that. Pop over to the contact page and send me an email. Oh, and if you're pretty proud of your website, leave the link below in the comments. I'd love to check it out!