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Matthew Brennan Marketing Writer Blog

Great Copy: The 11 Commandments For Producing Content That Sells

Great copy is more than just an afterthought. We all want a website that truly works as your always-on-duty sales partner. We all want marketing materials that truly resonate with your audience. That means your messaging is more than an afterthought. Too many business spend thousands on website redevelopment, only to populate the pages with a message that misses the mark, for one reason or another. Great copy is what keeps people invested. It’s a headline that convinces them a click, and a call to action that convinces them to buy. It’s a compelling message between those two points. The commandments of great copy ring true whether you are in the b2b or b2c niches. The 11 Commandments of Great Copy It Provokes Emotion – We all fancy ourselves rational people. We’re all logical and well reasoned. The truth is, we don’t buy a convertible because this one has parts that are built to structurally last longer. We buy a convertible because of the freedom. We buy a convertible because who wouldn’t love the wind blowing in your hair at 80 miles per hour on the Interstate? This goes beyond cars. We buy the computer that helps us get more done, the clothes that make us look better, and the coffee maker with the timer so that we can prep our morning drinks the night before. In other words, we’re not just buying a product. We’re buying how that product will make us feel. Emotion is also achieved through a masterful reveal of the benefits. We want to feel safe, fulfilled, happy, and empowered. Emotion is the key ingredient...

Other Ways to Create Valuable Content

Blogging consistently takes a great deal of time and energy, but fortunately there are other ways to create valuable content. None are meant to be a substitute for a strong blogging strategy, but instead they can enhance it. Where does your audience hang out? Make sure you are using those channels to get the message across. It doesn’t matter how large or small the piece of content is. It’s about finding alternative ways to help your message resonate. 6 Ideas for Valuable Content Newsletter People tend to overcomplicate the newsletter idea. It doesn’t need to be a printed brochure that is both professionally written and designed. Instead, it can be as simple as a generic, no frills plain text email if the message is sound. Maybe it’s linking out to five stories you found valuable this week, or this month. Maybe it’s including a meaningful quote, and what’s new in your industry, or in your business. The content doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be valuable. A newsletter can go out one or two times a month, and can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose to make it. Case Studies Do you have a customer who has used your product or service to overcome their problem? A simple case study highlighting their accomplishments, and how they were able to achieve success could do wonders for your business. This is an easy way to create valuable content. One-on-One Interactions If you are responding in email to a client or customer, make sure you take the extra step to provide value. Provide them with your...

Writing to Communicate: 7 Strategies for Marketing Success

Why businesses absolutely must understand writing to communicate, and how some get it horribly wrong.   You have the space and the freedom to completely market your business on your own. The newspaper, radio and television middlemen no longer dictate the size of your audience. This is both daunting and freeing, depending on the day of the week, and your perspective. We’ve all seen the marketing efforts that miss. We’ve seen the ones riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes, and the ones that don’t at all resonate with where you are as a potential customer. Writing to communicate is not hard, but it requires a learned skill set. It’s a necessary skill for any small business. Strategies for Writing To Communicate Consider Your Audience – It sounds basic, but many businesses overlook this step. What do your customers actually want to know about? There are several ways to find this out. What is the product or service that they ask for the most? What questions do they ask of you or your sales team the most? What questions or phrases are they searching for online the most? What posts of yours have garnered the most traffic? Some simple keyword research using Google Keyword Planner can tell you what they are searching for the most. A look through your Google Analytics can tell you what posts of yours received the most traffic. Understanding these elements should dictate the direction you go with your marketing and your blog. If you still don’t know what your audience is looking for, you could also go directly to the source, and ask them. Write How...

Before You Start a Blog (the 2017 edition)

A list of considerations you should make before you start a blog in 2017. A website without a blog is essentially a home without windows. At the minimum, it is an under-lit home that allows very little light in. It’s a simple analogy, really. People have questions regarding your industry, whether it’s b2b or b2c. They search for answers. Your blog post may just be what they find – your window. You have the ability to lure customers in with a limitless amount of valuable content. This creates an audience for your business you otherwise would never have. This allows you to publish work that establishes you as an expert, and works to build trust between you and your reader. I still see businesses that haven’t yet started blogging. While the competition is a little more fierce now, it’s not too late. Below are some considerations you should make before you start a blog. Before You Start a Blog, Platform Strategies All That Hype About WordPress, That’s Real A self-hosted WordPress.org platform is really the way to go for your blog in 2017. With this set up, you will have complete branding control and design flexibility. You will have the ability to create a search (SEO) strategy that can truly benefit your business. Other blog platforms like Blogger and Tumblr, or web-building platforms like Wix, limit your ability to market your own website or blog – making it virtually impossible to see the full benefit of your efforts. More than a quarter of the web is built using WordPress, and that number continues to grow. That’s because of the...

How to Recognize and Recover from Burnout

Blogging and producing content can be a time-consuming business task – being able to recognize and recover from burnout will help.   Small business owners and freelancers should be commended. There is a misconception that they go to work, and from the moment they walk in the door to the moment they leave, they are doing what they love. Then when 5 p.m. rolls around, they are able to put their work aside, go home and enjoy some of that freedom that became the reason they left the workforce in the first place. The truth is that most small business owners and freelancers started doing what they do because they love it. But turning that hobby and passion into a professional path brings other responsibilities with it. There’s the accounting piece. It’s crucial to understand how to assess profits and loss. Of course, there is the marketing and relationship building. This includes everything from building a website to writing blogs to weekly networking obligations. There’s payroll. There’s management duties. There are long days that can take an early detour into the unexpected, not to return. In short, it becomes critical to learn how to recognize and recover from burnout. It’s the only way you will ever be able to show up to a dinner party without mentally working through your project while the other guests are trying to carry on a conversation. Recognize Burnout First, there are the obvious signs. Maybe it’s been a little too long since you experienced a real day off. Maybe your toddler decided to empty every toy he has on the floor right before...

The Value of Stories in Business

Stories in business give people a reason to choose you, versus the hundreds of other options that are all a click away. Throughout my young adulthood I wanted to be a reporter or columnist for a large daily newspaper. I wanted to experience city hall, and talk with the people who shaped our local and national policies. It’d be an honor to show the public how government impacts their lives on a daily basis. It’s a noble task to keep the public informed – especially in these times. I wanted to experience the noise and hustle of a loud urban newsroom. I wanted to write amongst the clickity clack of other reporters (even though I know it’s computer work and not typewriters), and the adamant telephone conversations as they collect the days news. The romanticism of the job swept me away. I spent much of my 20s working for some medium-sized weeklies and dailies. I discovered I had a passion for in-depth feature work, and I began to win some awards for it. And for awhile, I kept the dream alive. Then I begin to hear stories about 100 reporters being sacked from a newspaper over here. Another 100 over there. A few large urban newspapers stopped printing their paper edition. The truth is that journalism was dying before the housing market crashed in 2008. I began to realize that my dream job barely existed anymore. If I worked hard enough to land a position in an urban newsroom, they’d be working equally as hard to lay off the reporters with little seniority. Why fight the vicious circle? Some...

Choosing a Technology Copywriter

If you have a high tech business, you need to hire someone who understands what you do to tell your story, and that’s where an experienced technology copywriter comes into play. The person you hire to write copy for your brand and for your business should not only understand what you do, but also have a keen understanding for how to convey that knowledge in a way that will be receptive to your audience. This is true whether you have a b2b or b2c business. Below are some factors you should consider when you look into hiring a technology copywriter for your business. What to Look for When You Need a Technology Copywriter  Can they translate? Not everyone knows as much about your industry as you do. You have passion. You spent a lot of time learning. So when you speak in 6-syllable industry lingo, and riddle your post with acronyms, it becomes a turn off for your audience. A good technology copywriter understands this, and can translate your industry lingo into a language that your customers can understand and benefit from. He or she will help you produce content that carries your company’s voice, but speaks to your audience at the same time. Do they understand the benefit? A good technology copywriter will understand how your industry, business and product can benefit the audience. They will be able to see what you do, how you help, and convey an emotional appeal. It’s important that the writer see and demonstrate this, so that they can turn around and convey that benefit to the audience in a meaningful way. Can...

6 Blog Mistakes That Can Turn Your Audience Away

These blog mistakes can turn your audience away and cost you business. Blogging can be a great tool that expands your audience and creates additional business for you. Whether you are in the B2B or B2C industries, it can be an immense help in finding new business for you. Success with your blog can lead to additional clients, and help fuel your business for time to come. But if you routinely make these blog mistakes, they can dampen your efforts and turn your audience off. 6 Blog Mistakes You Should Stop Making Lack of value – People read a blog when they have questions, or they are looking to improve. With the internet, there’s no shortage of valuable information online. If you are holding your most valuable content back for pay, or recycling the same trite talking points as everyone else in your industry, it could spell trouble. The solution is to find new ways to convey value within your industry. Put your stamp of originality on it. It can be counterintuitive at times, but make sure you are putting your best information out there. When it feels like you should be charging for that information, what you’re really doing is establishing yourself as an expert and building trust. Your writing is like a stiff suit – There is a difference between formal and professional. You can be professional, and be casual as well. Feel free to ditch the corporate speak and the 5-syllable Ivy League words. A lot of great brands have capitalized on a more casual approach. So don’t set out writing to prove how smart you are....

Why You Should Care About Your Writing Style

Your writing style says a lot about who you are. It either draws people in and compels them to read more, or it chases them away. People on average are reading 19 minutes a day. That includes blogs, newsletters, emails, books or any other content. Now I read more than that, and you may as well. But the point remains that while the amount of content in existence is skyrocketing, people’s attention spans are shortening. Now, you’ve probably been told 100 times why it’s a good idea to have a business blog. You’ve been told that in order to reach a larger audience for your business, you need to be publishing content on a regular basis. That’s all well and good, but how do you get people to actually read it? You have to solve pertinent problems and answer questions. It has to be relevant and it has to relate. To attract attention amongst thousands of competitors, your blog has to stand out, as well. That’s where developing a unique writing style comes into play. The freshness of your language can either overtly or subliminally cause your audience to want to continue reading. Developing Your Own Unique Writing Style Below are some tips that you can take to vary your posts up from everything else that’s published online. It doesn’t matter if you are b2b or b2c. Your marketing needs to help you grow your audience. More Diligence Think of each blog post or piece of content as an argument you are presenting to the reader. The theme of your post is the position that you are taking in...

How to Write Faster (and Still Turn Out a Better Product)

Some days begin with the best intentions. We wake up. We go to work. We begin the process of tackling our to-do lists. That one item that was supposed to be the easy item to check off never is. I can’t tell you how many times something I’m supposed to write takes longer than anticipated. The good news is there are plenty of tips and strategies out there for how to write faster. Sometimes when we do something faster, we don’t put as much care into the end product. That’s not what I’m talking about here. Speed doesn’t have to be equated with haste. There are plenty of ways to improve the product you put into the world, and do it in less time. Your blog posts and website content are worth it. Your emails are worth it. All that quality content is working to help you engage with your audience. It’s working to help you establish trust and likeability. Even if you’re in b2b and you don’t think you need to relate on a human level. Even if you’re in b2c. Even if your audience isn’t banging on your door for sales immediately, it’s you they’ll think of as they shop in your industry. Learning how to write faster will give you a leg up on the competition. It will help you become more prolific, and increasing your output. It will help you have the time to concentrate on the aspects of running your business that drew you into your industry to begin with.   Some Tips and Tricks on How to Write Faster Don’t Succumb to Writer’s Block Are...

11 B2C Copywriting Tips To Resonate With Your Audience

Your B2C copywriting probably falls a little flat. It’s not an easy thing to do to take your business and your passion, and convey it in a way that resonates with your audience. But that’s exactly what you have to do to resonate with your audience. Take your passions and your livelihood and be able to relay it in a way that entices your audience. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Business blogs have a high propensity to be boring. They are frequently poorly written and thinly veiled attempts at advertising that fall flat on their face. The truth is that both b2b and b2c copywriting could be a little livelier. Here’s 11 B2C Copywriting Tips to Help You Succeed Locate Your Reader’s Problem – Your reader found your website and your blog because they have some kind of problem they are exploring. They are asking questions about your industry, and looking for the efficiency to make their lives easier. If you can position yourself and your business as the solution to that problem, your b2c copywriting will be working in your advantage and positioning your company for success. Tell a Good Story – People remember stories. If you can make them laugh or cry, they are far more likely to think fondly of your business and buy from you when they are ready. Do you have a good origin story? A designer I work with talks about the early days of his passion, beginning in childhood. People love hearing about the curiosity of children, and his story is compelling. Ask yourself how your b2c...

13 Copywriting Resources to Grow Your Business

There is a multitude of copywriting resources available for those businesses looking to produce their own content. You can choose a medium that fits your lifestyle and the way that you learn. Some of those listed below deal with the technical aspects of copywriting, and some deal more with mindset or Internet marketing on a whole. Whether you are in B2B or B2C, there are resources here that can help your business grow. Copywriting Resources to Grow Your Business Books The Copywriter’s Handbook (Robert Bly) – If you have questions about the nuts and bolts of copywriting, The Copywriter’s Handbook is a great place to turn. There are insightful chapters on writing for the web, communications and direct mail to name a few. This book has relevant information that ages well, and can help you keep your business top of mind amongst your audience. This is one of the best copywriting resources out there for learning the trade. Advertising Headlines That Will Make You Rich (David Garfinkel) – Fractions of a second. That’s how long someone is going to take, deciding whether they want to read your web page or blog. It’s the headline that does the hard work, attracting readers to your blog. Don’t just rush through it. Create something that provokes curiosity or makes a promise. Create something enticing. Advertising Headlines that Make You Rich helps with the how, and it will help you sell more. Trust Agents (Chris Brogan and Julien Smith – While this book isn’t necessarily a copywriting book, it will help you to understand the mindset of your online customer. Trust Agents offers a...

Writing a Sales Page that Converts

Writing a sales page can be a great way to boost your business. You don’t have to be an excellent writer, but there is a standard framework for realizing the best results. Below are some suggestions for making the most of your page. You Probably Need Long Copy Many businesses don’t want to produce long form copy on their sales page, because it’s a lot of work, and they don’t think it’ll be read. They don’t think it’s necessary for the sale. But here’s the thing… Your potential customer has questions. They’re not sure about your business, or how to shop in your industry. They don’t really want to be sold to, and therefore their guard is up. It takes long form copy to put them at ease. Your reader may have come in with some extremely valid reservations. There may be some reasons they’re unsure your product will work for them. It’s up to you to show them if and how it will. The purpose of your sales page is to convince your reader to take action. Use Your Persuasive Powers Writing a sales page doesn’t need to be complicated, even if the copy is long. Do you remember those persuasive essays from high school? The essence of a sales page is pretty much the same thing. Your reader has a problem, and you are using your persuasive powers to present yourself as the best viable solution. The tone may be a little different. With a sales page, it is important that you write conversationally, in a way that your potential customer will identify with. Another thing. People...

5 Ideas to Improve Your Website Content

Here’s why you need to improve your website content today.  Did you know that 71 percent of B2B researchers begin with a simple online search? The number of consumers who begin the purchasing process with an online search is staggeringly high as well, at 81 percent. What does this mean for you, the business? Quality, engaging content is more important than ever. 5 Ideas to Improve Your Website Content Tell a good story – As much as people think they make purchasing decisions using a rational framework, this isn’t always the case. While data and numbers are important, a compelling story can be exactly what it takes to trigger someone hitting the buy button. I’m aware of these emotional impulses and sometimes like to pride myself on my logical mind. Then I set foot in my office, look at my bookshelf and see all the books I’ve owned for years that I’ve not yet read. Alas, I’m not immune to this one. Solve your readers’ problems – Your reader is coming to you with a problem, and it’s up to you to quickly show them you are the one to solve it. So go ahead and give information away. It may seem counter-intuitive at times, but it will position you as the expert. If you can show them how to solve their problem, they’ll come to you when they need your services. Features vs. benefits – A product feature isn’t going to do a whole lot for the reader. The amount of RAM on your computer is a product feature. The number of windows you can have open, while editing video...

Focusing on Your Reader

(Note: This is a sample chapter from my recent book, Write Right-Sell Now. The Kindle version is now available! To celebrate, for a short time, the book is available for .99 cents.) As a business owner and an industry expert, you have a great amount of knowledge, which becomes a key asset as you focus on becoming a resource for your customers and clients. How you go about communicating your expertise will go a long way in determining your success. It’s easy to forget that your customers may not have the extensive background in your field that you do. It’s also easy to assume your readers know more than they do, which can lead to a knowledge gap. What does this look like as it’s practiced? Maybe you throw in phrases your reader won’t understand. You may communicate ideas that make more sense in an industry journal than a communication to your customers. All of this can lead to a disengaged reader. Keeping your readers’ engaged requires a simple adjustment to your mindset as you establish your marketing materials. Who are you trying to sell to? I know it’s tempting to answer, “Anyone who will buy.” But a general answer like that doesn’t help you in your endeavors. When you understand that you are trying to reach career-minded, college-graduate men between the ages of 30 and 45 with an average income of six figures, you can target your messages to the social media platforms the people in this demographic are most likely to use, the blogs they are likely to read, and the consumer goods they are most likely to...

28 Rules for Writing Copy for Websites

Writing copy for websites requires establishing a bond with your reader. It requires connecting on a deep, emotional level that leaves the reader enthusiastic to take action. There is an art form and psychology to doing this successfully. You have to be able step out of your shoes and consider your audience. Below are some methods for making the necessary connection for a successful website. The Rules for Writing Copy for Websites Write a stellar headline – When your page comes up in a search result or on social media, your potential customer will spend fractions of a second determining whether they want to continue. The Internet is a crowded place. You have to make people curious, or let them in a benefit. Make them want to read on. Your headline is the first thing they see. Be a problem solver – When someone clicks on your page, it’s because they think you’re the solution to what’s been bugging them. Make sure you understand your customers’ pain point, and how you can present yourself as the solution. Keep it punchy – It’s pretty hard to bore people into becoming a customer. Keep your sentences punchy. Use short sentences and active verbs to enhance the quality of your marketing message. Keep it conversational – The days of being able to clobber a reader with your advertising message are over. Your reader can respond by closing the browser window or moving on to a competitive page. Instead of aggressive and spammy, go for conversational. Picture yourself out for coffee with your prospect. Write like you’re talking to them. Be Yourself – While...

The Importance of Visual Content For Your Website

The visual content on your website plays an important role in keeping your customers engaged, and moving them through the buying process. Your readers are making decisions on whether or not they will read or take action on your post within a matter of seconds. If the topic doesn’t immediately appeal, they are likely to move on. This makes crafting a concise message important. It means keeping your website content on topic. But there is another way that you can get your story across. The use of powerful visual content can take your website to the next level. Sometimes, a visual element can be used to explain a concept better than words. Ideas to Improve Your Visual Content Compelling photos – We’ve all seen the stock photo of the suits sitting around a business table at a very important meeting. It’s trite and overdone. Stop using the same boring photos from the same places. There are some great stock photo sites out there now. Try sites like Unsplash or Pixabay. But whatever you do, try to avoid the stock photo clichés. They bore people, and they don’t do anything to help you stand out over the competition. Photos to support your products – If you are in the business of selling products, make sure your photos represent your products in the best possible light. This is true from real estate professionals to Amazon store websites. Your photos are creating first impressions of what you sell. Out of focus will turn people away. Even good enough might not work here. They need to be sharp, professional-looking photos to sell your product. Infographics...

What Expert Copywriters Know About Marketing Your Business That You Don’t

Expert copywriters know how to help you grow your business… I may not know you, but I’ll go ahead and assume the best – you’re probably really good at what you do. You make a top of the line (Fill in the Blank), and you’ve helped countless people in the process. There’s likely more you can do to connect with your audience. A quality product or service doesn’t equate to automatic success. An expertise and efficiency in creating your product or service doesn’t necessarily equate to a larger audience, or increased sales. Expert copywriters spend their day connecting with the audience. It’s their job to help businesses connect with their audience in a more meaningful way. It’s their job to help a client connect with their audience in a meaningful way. The secrets that expert copywriters employ to help their clients are freely accessible to any business. All it takes is some basic psychology, empathy, and persuasion skills to convert readers into customers. You want to know more? How Expert Copywriters Market Your Business Accentuate the Benefits – You don’t sell a product or service. You sell an experience. A car company sells the feeling of going down the Interstate at 80 miles per hour with the top down. A landscaper sells a healthy lawn. A plumber sells a system of running water that the homeowner doesn’t have to think about. You get the idea. This is far different than selling a product feature. No one outside of a few select loyalists cares how much RAM the computer has. They care how many browser windows can be open, what...

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