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All of Your Words are Important

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But all of our marketing words are not important in every context. We have to pick and choose.

When I first started my business almost 15 years ago, I remember struggling with the distinction between features and benefits, and with talking about my potential clients' pain. Years later my collection of words and phrases has grown to include keywords, calls-to-action and testimonials. This month I've been working with The Phone Lady to develop a plan and process for prospecting... even more words!

It can be confusing to know... what are the best words to use when?

A website is a great example of seeing our words in action (or inaction as the case may be). It will contain features and benefits, pain points, broad and specific solutions, calls-to-action, keywords and testimonials. But we should never just toss them in somewhere and hope they'll work. Think alphabet soup.

We need to use our words appropriately to lead our visitors to take some action. It might be a small actio…

What Name Are You Using?

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This morning I deleted an email from a good friend and past client. I didn't realize it was from that wonderful lady because it didn't show up in my inbox from her name or her company's name. I only dug it out of my trash after deleting because the wording of the subject line seemed familiar.

42% of people check out the sender name when deciding whether to open an email.
- source: https://litmus.com/blog/6-shocking-myths-about-subject-lines

My own newsletters, my blog posts and my weekly event list all go out from my own name - Linda Daley - and have for years. I absolutely know that if I suddenly changed the sender name on my emails, to say Daley Progress, my open rate would drop significantly. This is an experiment I don't need or want to try.

Personal names often do better as far as email opens go but it can depend on how well you know your subscribers. More importantly, don't switch the sender name once you're well established. You want your subscribers to re…

Good Marketing Practices Wear Out

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Is this you... ?

When you watch TV, you can't wait for the ads. On YouTube, you let every ad play fully. You open your email inbox eagerly every morning, anticipating all the emails with this week's sales or next week's webinars. You read the newspaper for those big black and white ads. You check out every promotional link that Google places in your search results. You go for the ads first when you log into Facebook. You're entranced by the billboards on the Bedford Highway.

So, is this you? No? It's not anybody.

There is no one eagerly anticipating your sales pitches. (Your mother doesn't count.)

We keep on doing these things, even without an eager audience, because they work sometimes. That perfect timing, or perfect graphic, or perfect wording, sometimes gets people's attention. So we keep doing what works sometimes.

Eventually, though, what worked sometimes starts to work even less frequently. As more and more marketers adopt the same strategies, it'…

The Difference Between Editing and Proofing

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We often use the words editing and proofing interchangeably but there is a significant difference. If you're not aware of it, you could be failing at both. Editing is big picture or 'zoomed out'; proofing is detailed or 'zoomed in'.

Editing is about the overall structure and flow of the article. Are the introduction and conclusion supported by the content in between? Are the paragraphs organized well? Is it easy to read and digest? Are the sentences structured well? When you're reading something and you have to pause to reread a line - that's a signal that editing is needed.

Proofing is about grammar and spelling and punctuation. It's often about the little words, like 'of' instead of 'if'. And about missing words, like 'the' or 'an'. It's hard to proofread our own writing because our brains follow the same pattern as when we typed it. Reading out loud, or printing to proof with paper and pencil, are both good ways to …

Being Seen = Being Remembered

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Isn't it amazing that it's now so easy to keep in touch with people we met years ago? Social media has allowed me to reconnect with old friends and work colleagues from long before social media existed. (Yes, I'm that old.) It has also allowed me to stay connected with people I've met along my small business journey.

Many people have come and gone but I remember the ones I'm connected with because I "see" them sometimes on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn. But I don't see them all and I don't see all their posts. My life gets in the way and sometimes days or even weeks may go by with me paying little attention to social media. I bet this happens to you too.

Then there are the people I remember well, those who come to mind when I stumble upon an opportunity that might suit them. Those people are actively staying in touch with me in a way I can't ignore - by email. And I open my emailbox every single day... many times.

There is huge value in hav…

Does Your Writing Pass the $1-A-Word Test?

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Guest post by Neil Everton, Podium Media & Communications Coaching

If you are looking for a quick and certain way of giving your words more impact, look no further than your purse or wallet.

Take a look at the last thing you wrote. It doesn't matter if it's a letter, email, report, newsletter, web content or promo script.

Look at it with a critical eye, and with this question in mind: "Am I prepared to pay $1 for every word I've written?"

Go through the script slowly. Strike out every word that isn't working hard to convey meaning.

Make sure you use the active voice. 'The man opened the door' is active. 'The door was opened by the man' is passive (and two words longer than the active version). A $2 saving in one short sentence.

Look for any of those phrases that slip into our writing unbidden. 'It's my considered opinion' is $3 more expensive than 'I think'. 'At this moment in time' is a long-winded way of sayin…

Being Found vs. Getting Found

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Did you realize there's a difference between being found and getting found? The words suggest a subtle difference but, really, there's a huge distinction when it comes to online marketing. Many new and experienced small business owners make critical -- often costly -- mistakes by not understanding the difference.

I'll start with 'being found' because this is my own strategy (and my area of marketing expertise) so it'll be easier to explain. Also, I think you'll be able to appreciate the difference more when you read down to the 'getting found' description.

Being Found Someone searches for your name or the name of your company because they know you in some way or have heard about you.

These people already know something about you or your business. They have a perception that you might be able to solve their problem and they are looking for evidence. Hopefully, they are also looking for how to contact you.

In sales lingo, these are warm leads. In my …

What's Your Stumbling Block? Blogging Survey

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Ever since I wrote this article -- Where Do You Get Stuck? -- a couple of years ago, I've been on a mission to come up with solutions to content creation obstacles.
coming up with ideasadapting your ideas for writingstarting to writefinishing writingediting and proofingfinding or creating graphicskeywords and publishing Aside from talking about this a lot with small business owners, I've also been circulating a survey on my social media feeds. If I know where people most often get stuck, I know where to focus my problem-solving efforts.

Here are the survey results so far:


If you haven't yet responded to this survey, I'd sure appreciate it if you would -- it's only one question. You can click here to do that now.

If you're suffering from any of those first three obstacles, using writing templates will help enormously. You can get a workbook here that includes 10 templates.

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One Word for 2020

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I'm not sure what I was thinking when I decided on my one word for 2019. It was a week after my husband had told me he wanted to split up... and I chose EMBRACE as my guiding word for the coming year.

At the time, I had good intentions about business development, embracing and growing several different initiatives. Optimism is a good thing but, looking back... well, duh! It was more of a year of shedding: my 16-year marriage, my house and garden, and lots of things I'd accumulated.
It wasn't all bad -- I taught three 11-week courses, partnered in the second successful Social Media Day Halifax Conference, moved myself and clients to a new bulk email service provider, built nine websites, and supported clients with their ongoing marketing. But I didn't really embrace anything; in fact, I turned business away several times.
All is not lost. The word embrace has served me well for the last month of 2019. I'm settled in a new place with a lovely new office. I finally r…

That's Not What I Wanted to Hear

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The best boss I ever had told me I was a crappy listener. Those weren't the exact words he used, but Carlos was always blunt and to-the-point during performance reviews. I was young and confident... and completely surprised to be told I had this failing. After surprise came denial, reluctant acceptance, and finally, a desire to learn to do better.

Twenty-five years later, I recall that discussion with both chagrin and fondness. I'm still not a great listener but I'm a better listener than I was then. And I'll continue to improve.

Now, as a small business owner, I'm so very fortunate to have a few strong people supporting me who have no fear of telling me when something is not so good. Feedback and advice are both important for doing good work and continuing to improve. Whether it's what we want to hear or not, honest, thoughtful feedback comes from people who truly care about our success.

Whether you are a new business owner or an experienced pro, invest time …

Get Read to Get Ranked

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Years ago when I first started doing email newsletters, each new client had questions about writing the introduction to their very first issue. Eventually, I prepared a tip sheet for new clients and also posted the info on my blog thinking it might be useful to others. That was in 2012.

Three years later I realized 2 things: the advice I was giving needed to be refined/updated and this was the top-performing post on my blog (by far!) so others were indeed finding it useful. I published a refreshed version with a similar subject line. That was in 2015.

Now you can see that these two posts account for a huge chunk of the traffic:


And you can see what that organic traffic is searching:


These readers didn't come to my blog because I did something magic to get Google to rank the posts. People came (and still come) because it's a topic they're interested in and the information is useful. (If you search 'write newsletter introduction', you should find me on page 1 right …

Pantone Colour of the Year for 2020

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Now, this is a colour I can get behind - Classic Blue. This shade of blue is great when "any shade of blue will do", which happens more often than you might think. Did you know blue is overwhelmingly the world's favourite colour?
"We associate blue largely with the sky and water (as well as more mundane, but neutral-to-positive, items such as ballpoint pens and blue jeans), raising the average preference for blue higher than the remainder of the rainbow."
Why Blue Is the World’s Favorite ColorPANTONE 19-4052 TCX Classic Blue colour values:
RGB 15 76 129HEX/HTML 0F4C81CMYK 100 76 25 0Will you be using more blue in your marketing in 2020?

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We Must, We Must, Increase Our Trust

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You may not often think of trust in relation to productivity but there's a very direct correlation, especially for small businesses.

What is trust in a business relationship? It can be quite different than in our personal lives, of course. I've recently weathered the end of a 16-year marriage which was quite a life lesson in trust. And, while we can certainly have business relationships longer than this, the trust element is not all-encompassing - it's limited to delivering on work-related promises. This means things like having clear expectations, establishing goals and deadlines and meeting them, respecting each other's time, being honest about feedback, keeping communication open and relevant, and, of course, doing good work or selling reliable products.
“Trust is your willingness to be open, vulnerable and courageous based on positive expectations.”Lea BrovedaniHaving established trusting relationships helps us be more efficient because our customers will know we…

Editing Checklist for Your Marketing Content

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Whenever you write something, it's always a good idea to wait a while before editing - later the same day or the next day. You'll have a fresh perspective and it'll be easier to pick out what can be improved upon.

Here are a few things to watch out for when you're editing:

Brevity: Cut out every word that adds nothing to the meaning or flow. Each word should be working for you! Read Slice Words to Save Money for examples.

Clarity: Use specific adjectives instead of vague ones to increase understanding and interest. Instead of "We received numerous applications to volunteer at the conference," say "We received 33 applications..."

Paragraph length: Each paragraph should deal with only one topic or idea. Short is always better.

Tone and style: Don't write like a business; write like a human being and use your normal conversational style. Try the "Hi Mom" test.

Variety: Avoid starting each sentence or paragraph with similar words or phrases...…

How to Make Smart Marketing Decisions

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Small business owners can spend a lot of time and money on marketing initiatives. Sometimes we're successful and sometimes not so much.

I think of marketing as an experiment because - really - there are no magic bullets. There are best practices, there is good and bad advice, there are lots of experts and gurus. But we, the business owners, have to make the final decisions and... live with the results.

Marketing isn't cheap (even if it's our own time) and poor decision-making can hurt more than our wallets - our reputation may also be at risk.

So, how do we make decisions about things we have little experience with? How can we possibly know what all of our options might be when it comes to getting a new website? Or knowing which social media platforms will work best? Or building a content strategy? We can't... unless we put some extra effort into it.

Step #1: Clearly identify the decision that needs to be made. Sometimes it'll be staring you in the face but other t…