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Matthew Brennan Marketing Writer Blog

How to Find New Clients

The best way to find new clients is to keep trying new methods and find what works for you. Are you still looking for ways to grow your business within the New Year? Any service-based business runs the risk of being a little feast or famine. But the good news is there are more tools out there than ever for you to find new clients. Many are effective whether you are a b2b or b2c business. The goal is to find the right combination that works for you. If you diversify your strategies for finding work, when one stream dries up, it’s possible to lean harder on the others. Overdependence can create problems down the road. Below are some of the methods to find new clients that I’ve tried at some point or another. Maybe you can find a way to take, and adopt for your own situation. Get to Know Your Power Partners Last year I found myself in a situation where I needed to re-grow my freelance business as quickly as possible. I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for leads to roll back in my direction. I needed to go out and find them, and fast. I needed to be reaching out to my power partners, the people who have a steady stream of potential clients. For me, that partner is marketing agencies. So I went on a research mission. I opened up an Excel document and I started collecting the contact information for advertising and marketing agencies in Chicago. I chose Chicago because it seemed natural to start in my local area. But really, this...

Don’t Be Afraid to Publish

The words aren’t perfect. The message doesn’t reflect exactly what I wanted it to say. I need to spend more time on it before I publish. Is that you? If variations of the above phrases are constantly swirling around your head, you may need to stop listening to them. Here’s why… Perfectionism is a form of procrastination…so don’t be afraid to publish! You have to be the judge of your own situation. Your gut – your intuition are the best tool that you have for a path forward. But if you’re constantly tweaking and never publishing, it may be time to put your words out there for all to see. Here are a few questions you can answer, in order to know if you should publish… Is the writing clear? There needs to be a clear point to your writing, and everything on that page or post should support that point. Otherwise, delete. Are you confident in your spelling and grammar? It doesn’t have to read like a grammarian wrote it, but it should be as close to error free as possible. Is it aimed at your audience? Your readers need to care about what you have to say. If it’s genuinely aimed at making your readers’ lives better, it’s coming from the right place. Have you spent time on your headline? Your headline is the single biggest factor in whether someone will click on your link. Make sure that you make them a promise, and deliver. You have to quickly convey how your post will improve their lives. Did you keep it casual? The temptation is to make it...

What Great Copywriting Looks Like

Great copywriting does a lot. It can help you get more out of your website. It helps you convert more leads, make more sales, and develop a wider audience for your business. Design pulls people into your website, but it’s your message that will cause them to click. The right words make all the difference when it comes to getting people to “buy now” versus close the browser window. What does it look like? 3 Tips for Great Copywriting and More Sales: Make it conversational Part of increasing the conversions on your website is getting your audience to like you. If you’re always wearing your professional sales hat, it comes off as stuffy. So, to increase likeability, make the copy sound more like you. How would you talk with a client if you were at a coffee house sharing a cup of coffee? Make it authentic. Mention a few of your interests here and there. Personally, I’m excited to see who’s going to make it to the Super Bowl. The conference championship games are always some of the best football all season. Past that, use contractions. I know it might drive your English teacher a little batty, but it’ll make things easier for your audience to read. Whenever possible, mash those words up. Also, if you have to use an acronym, spell it out on the first reference. If you don’t need to, avoid it. Avoid all that stuffy industry jargon where you can, as well. The goal isn’t to sound smart. The goal is to get your audience to authentically like you, and then sell stuff. Spend Some...

What Can a Marketing Copywriter Do For Your Business?

A marketing copywriter can help your business immensely – especially in a digital world.   Most businesses face an intense level of competition, especially online. Unless you’ve stumbled onto something truly special, chances are you have competition. A marketing copywriter can have a positive impact on your business in a number of ways, and help you differentiate yourself from your competitors. The online marketplace allows people from all over the country and world to buy from you, but it also creates a more crowded market. 5 Ways a Marketing Copywriter Can Help Your Business Focus on Audience Experience As the owner of a business, or even as an employee, sometimes you are too close to the situation. Sometimes it is tough to step back and take an impartial view of what you are trying to do. Let’s take the process of writing a press release for example. A marketing copywriter can help you determine when the flowery, glowing language surrounding your news item may be too much. At a certain point, the press and your audience simply won’t care. A marketing copywriter can help you craft something from an impartial perspective, and when you are aiming to create something for your audience – that is exactly what you will need. Tell Stories Your content needs life. As I mentioned earlier in the post, a potential customer’s Google search may have called yours up in a pile of hundreds – or thousands – of competitive websites. You need a way to stand out. Maybe there are some powerful numbers that support your argument for why people should go with you. But...

How to Start a Successful Blog

It takes creativity and motivation to start a successful blog… The Internet is a crowded place. New blogs are launched on a daily basis, and there are hundreds of millions of blogs on the Internet. This means two things: People still read them. You have to do something original to stand out. There are a number of factors you’ll have to consider if you’re looking to start a successful blog in 2017. Blogging and online marketing are not really things you can do and achieve immediate results. It’ll take some persistence and planning… Make this the Year that You Start a Successful Blog…  Take a Deep Dive Into Your Industry – You’re going to want to take a look around and see what kind of posts your competition is publishing. Find out what the industry leaders publish as well. Make sure you know what the hot-button conversation topics are, and get a sense for what your future audience might want to read. Many businesses fall into a bit of a trap here. Following competitive blogs doesn’t mean you have to print your version of everything they print. In fact, you don’t want to be a blog copycat. But… “Every idea is a juxtaposition. That’s it. A juxtaposition of different concepts.” – Steven Grant So, if you see a concept or an idea that resonates with you, or that you want to share with your audience, do it. Take an idea and own it. But don’t just recycle. At best it’s boring. At worst it’s plagiarism. Find A LOT of ideas – If you’re looking to start a successful blog,...

Kickstart Your Blog in the New Year

As the year winds down it is important to remember that sometimes the best intentions get derailed. Sometimes nothing really goes the way you intended after the morning coffee. That’s ok though – it may not be as hard as you think to kickstart your blog. Your blog can be closely tied with the vitality of your online marketing efforts. Your website is “home base” for your business and the blog offers hundreds or thousands of windows into your site for your customers to find you – depending on how many posts you have. So if you’ve been sidetracked by client work, new projects, or life in general – try a few of the below strategies. Kickstart Your Blog in the New Year   Carve out the time Businesses that blog receive 67 percent more leads than those that do not. The growth your business will see from increasing your blogging efforts is worth a few hours a week or month. But you’re busy, and that’s how you got sidetracked to begin with. You can set the alarm clock earlier. You can call put your blogging time on the calendar as a meeting with yourself. You can shut the office door, put on headphones and close out of your social media and email tabs. Whatever it takes for you to find the necessary blocks of time, it can help you to reprioritize your marketing efforts and kickstart your blog in 2017. Know your goals  What are your blogging goals? Are you looking to become a top-notch industry thought leader? That might take blogging nearly every day. Are you looking...

3 Ways to Improve Your Skill Set in the New Year

What are you doing to improve your skill set?  In order to thrive in business, one thing we have to do is keep learning and improving. Luckily, there are more ways than ever to take in added knowledge, and some of them don’t require a significant time commitment. The first step to improve your skill set is to identify the specifics of what you want to learn. How does having that added skill set benefit your business, or benefit you personally in the future? The knowledge is better retained when there’s a practical use. I’ll give you a recent example out of my personal life. I’ve been learning a lot about dog training. It always goes better when I intermittently put the knowledge to use by working with my dog. The same is true with any new information. Practical use helps you retain. We adopted our dog Captain about a year and a half ago. He came very well trained, but I’ve been able to teach him a few new things, and reinforce some behaviors in our home. For instance, I taught him to drop it while playing fetch. I taught him to shake. And I’ve also taught him to stay sitting until I release him – which is extremely helpful after walks in the messiness of winter. Back to how to improve your skill set. 3 Ways to Improve Your Skill Set in the New Year: Ask someone who knows – Sometimes the most direct ways to improve your skill set are the best. It might be time to find a mentor or a coach to help guide...

6 Website Copywriting Tips to Make Your Presence Pop

Has your website copywriting lost its luster? Does it not sing your song the way you want it to? It may just be that your marketing isn’t connecting with your audience the way it should. A little brush up may do the trick. Try these 11 ideas to improve your presence. Website Copywriting Tips   It’s about them, not you – If your website is 100 percent about how great, smart, or perfect you are, you may be doing it wrong. Sure, you need to strike a confident tone, but you also need to address customer needs. Your website is about how well you meet your customers’ needs. It’s about serving. Not taking. Strike a conversational tone – Your website doesn’t need to sound like an academic dissertation. Write it like your talking to a customer over a cup of coffee. That conversational tone sets up a level of authenticity. Go ahead and use contractions, spell out your acronyms on first use, reduce the geek-speak, and simply write how you talk. Keep it updated – Have your offerings changed? Make sure that you are updating your product and services pages to reflect the current state of your business. An outdated web presence can send readers the other way. This goes for your blog as well. If you blog less than once a month, you should probably pull the dates off your posts. Spend more time on your headlines – It’s the smallest piece of real estate on your page, but it’s what the reader uses to determine just how far they want to commit. Make a promise in your headline....

Writing Home Page Content That Converts

Writing home page content is a crucial part of your marketing process. It used to be that when a potential customer had questions they’d pick up the phone. If they liked what they heard, they may get in the car and drive down to your business to find out more. Impressions were made on the phone and in the store – where business took place. Now, there’s another layer to the process. Instead of going through the trouble of talking with someone, when a potential customer has questions, they’ll go to your website first. That’s where first impressions take place. 3 Key Components to Writing Home Page Content   Go ahead, Tell Them What You Do – Now is not the time to be shy. Your reader is in investigation mode when they click on your website. They’re still not 100 percent convinced they’re in the right spot. The easiest way to keep them reading is to tell them what you do. When you network, do you have a 30-second elevator speech? Do you know how to cut to the chase and tell people how you help in the most concise way possible? That quick hit explanation should be front and center on your home page. It eliminates any confusion, or any potential thought from your reader that they might not be in the right place. A few more thoughts on that explanation: Eliminate the geek speak. Your customers probably don’t understand your industry the way you do. Eliminate business jargon and acronyms. There’s also no need to use words that would otherwise belong in a doctoral dissertation. This...

Giving Your Audience What They Want

Are You Keeping Your Audience Happy? Your audience has pressing questions they want answered. People have problems they want solved. By the click of a mouse, they chose you. The words you give them matter. Do you spend high valued blog real estate easing their pain, or do you spend it talking about yourself? There’s a big difference. Understanding your audience and providing the type of content they’re looking for is a big part of online marketing. People new to your website will literally spend a few split seconds determining if it’s the right location for them. If what they see is more about you than about them – they are likely going to move on to the next search result. What can you do? Create a Valuable Blog Let’s spend a quick second establishing what your blog is not. It is not a place to hammer home why people should buy your product 1,000 words at a time. It’s not a place to carry on in the same tone as a television commercial. It’s not a place to be you-centric. Instead, it’s a place to: Address the most common customer questions. You can think back to think back to the questions you’re asked in person, ask your customers, or conduct some simple keyword research to determine what your audience wants to know. Give away your best content. Routinely offer tips, tricks, strategies and how-to’s designed to make your readers’ lives better. Make your posts easy to read. This means reading and copy editing your work before you publish it. It means making your posts visually friendly with great...

Developing a Successful Content Marketing Plan

Developing the right content marketing plan can play a significant role in the success of your marketing and business. Let’s back up for a minute and define content marketing, and talk about why you need it in your business. From Content Marketing Institute: Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. Now, the way your customers consume is changing. The buying process within your industry probably looks nothing like it did five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. They have questions. They’re seeking the right information as much as they are the right business. They want to know how your product will improve their lives. They want to know what makes your service different and better than the other people who do what you do. They’re online, sifting through competitive websites, and they want to know why they should buy from you. This is where your content marketing comes into play. Website content, blogging, infographics, social media, brochures, and other potential avenues for reaching your customer can all become part of your content marketing plan. Questions to ask as you create your content marketing plan: How often am I going to blog? Your blog should be the cornerstone of any content marketing plan for a few reasons. The goal is always to attract more readers and potential customers to your website. Each blog post that you create serves as a window to your website. If someone Google’s the...

The Ultimate Copy Editing Checklist for Publishing The Best Content

Why do you need a copy editing checklist for your marketing?  With WordPress it has never been easier to publish your own content. This opens up the gates for small to medium sized businesses with little marketing budget to be able to reach large amounts of people. This new capability is inherently a good thing, but great care has to be taken in the message. The whole time you’re writing, that publish button looms on the right side of your screen. It’s easy to just forgo the time and effort, and hit publish, pushing your writing out to the world before you’re ready. But publishing too early is a recipe for publishing material that is less than professional. Keep in mind that everything you publish represents your business to a new potential customer. Great care should be taken to make sure it will represent your business in a positive light. Below is a copy editing checklist with all the steps you need to produce top-notch content. Save a copy on your desktop. Print a copy. Refer back to it as you write your blog posts in the future. You don’t have to be a prolific writer, but you do have to take the time and make sure you are representing your business the way you truly want to be seen. Your Content Copy Editing Checklist It may take more than one read through of your content to ensure it is publishable. This is normal, especially for more in-depth pieces. Read for structure Your headline, lead paragraph and body content should all be in-sync. Your call to action should make...

9 Tips for Becoming a Better Blogger

Becoming a better blogger requires discipline and a commitment to change, but it is possible. Blogging can sometimes feel like an endless cycle. You work and work, and the results don’t always occur fast. Below are 9 tips for seeing those results. Make sure you are seeing results come into fruition. How to Become a Better Blogger Develop a Plan – What are your blogging and content marketing objectives? What do you hope to accomplish by consistently creating more content? If you are looking to truly stand out in your industry and become a thought leader, you may have to blog somewhere between 3-4 times a week and every day. If you are looking to provide your customers an answer to their questions, and create a better resource, once a week might be enough. Your content can also help with your larger marketing objectives. Now for instance, might be the time to start writing about your holiday offerings. Blogging requires a significant amount of effort. Make sure that your hard work is helping your larger business objectives. A few things you can do include: Brainstorm blog post ideas, do some basic level keyword research to understand what people are searching for, ask your customers and readers what kinds of topics they want to know about, and use an editorial calendar. All of these things can help keep you organized in your quest to become a better blogger.  Isolate Your Brain – We live in a world of distractions. At the end of the day, the process of sitting down at the computer and committing your ideas to the screen...

The Necessity of Flexible Marketing

Here’s how flexible marketing can dictate your level of success. Hopefully you have some marketing goals. Hopefully you keep generating ideas on how your marketing can improve your business. But here’s the thing. There are so many platforms out there, it is tough to know what is going to work. What became a successful method for someone else’s business may not work for yours. It doesn’t mean your toast. It means you have to step back and look at the whole board. An Example From Politics   Are you completely sick of politics yet? Me too. But. Here’s a reminder. In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote. Hillary Clinton won it this time. I don’t want to travel down the rabbit hole of what that means, but the electoral college is the reason neither of these two became president. So what can we as marketers take from this? It is always important to step back and look at the whole board. Don’t get caught up in the idea that there is only one pathway to meet your goal. If you want to make $100,000, maybe it’s time to supplement your hours with a product. Maybe it’s time to up your social media game in addition to blogging and search engine optimization. All these things can help you get to your goal. So make sure you don’t get trapped in “needing” false metrics in order to attain the one thing that ultimately matters. Flexible Marketing in Practice It’s always a good idea to evaluate the competition. It’s good so that you can figure out what’s worked for them, and...

8 Blogs About Blogging That Will Help You Write to Sell

If you’re feeling a bit stuck as a digital marketer, it may be time to check out a few blogs about blogging. Sometimes you know what you need to do, but you just need that gentle nudge. There are a lot of resources you can turn to, in the quest to become a better writer and digital marketer. Last week I published a list of 25 marketing influencers you should be following. This week, I wanted to give you more direction on places you can turn for learning and inspiration. Whether you are b2b or b2c, there are certain traits that are consistent across all successful blogs. Make sure that you are spending your time in the right places. These blogs will help you become a better writer, and understand what’s necessary in using your website and blog to grow your business. These Blogs About Blogging Improve Your Digital Marketing Skills Hubspot – Hubspot covers nearly everything about becoming a better digital marketer. Much of their blog is dedicated to why a business should blog, and how to do it in a way that will be productive and grow your business. If you’re trying to understand what your strategy should be with your website and your blog, give these guys some attention. Copyblogger – This blog is one of the first to cover how to apply traditional writing techniques in the digital space. Copyblogger is a great place to start for anyone looking to become a better writer, as they delve into telling their business story. This is a great place to look for finding winning strategies with your...

25 of the Best Marketing Influencers, Copywriters and Bloggers You Should Follow

Learning about social media and digital marketing can be a little bit like taking a rowboat out into the ocean. It’s intimidating, and knowing where to turn for inspiration and knowledge can help. It’s important to have goals, and a plan to achieve them. It’s important to always be learning, and developing new ideas and strategies for success. With that in mind, I compiled a list of 25 copywriters, bloggers and marketing influencers for taking your business to the next level online. Some of these people are currently more active than others. But reading through some of the dated work can still be well worth your time. This list is in no particular order and could have easily been 10x as long. But there is value in what each of these people have to say. I included links to websites and books, as well as all the Twitter handles I could find. I hope you find something that helps! 25 of the Best Marketing Influencers for You To Follow: Jon Morrow – Jon is currently running the site Smart Blogger, which offers common-sense, actionable tips for growing your blog and becoming a better writer. His opt-in product, the book Headline Hacks, is a must-read for any content marketer looking to improve their headline writing. Twitter: @JonMorrow Brian Clark – Brian is the founder of Copyblogger, one of the original blogs dedicated to adopting traditional copywriting techniques in the ever-changing digital marketing world. This site is a wealth of knowledge for those serious about improving their website copy to maximize engagement and sales. Twitter: @BrianClark Demian Farnworth – Demian is another Copyblogger writer with an informative and entertaining bend...

3 Content Marketing Mistakes, and How to Fix Them

Don’t let these content marketing mistakes cost your business. Content is what convinces customers to take action. It’s what causes someone to click on a website or blog post. Ultimately it’s also what causes someone to buy, register, download or share. If it’s not connecting with your audience in a meaningful way, it’s hard to keep them invested, and even harder to convince them to read. Writing for the web can seem like a wide open, intimidating proposition. But your content may not miss by much. Below are three of the most common content marketing mistakes, and what you can do to fix them. Fix These Content Marketing Mistakes, and Your Results Will Improve Mistake #1: It’s Not Written to Your Reader You might have years of experience in your industry. You might even have a specialized education and an advanced degree. You know your stuff inside, and out. That makes you a valuable resource for your customers. Don’t forget that. It also makes you prone to some common content marketing mistakes. Now, stop writing above your customers’ heads. There’s a knowledge gap between you and your customers for all the reasons stated in the paragraph above. They don’t know what you know about your industry. When your reader stumbles while reading your marketing content, it doesn’t make you look smart. It drives them away. If you’re lucky they’ll go to a dictionary. It’s more likely however, that they’re going to the next search result. Here’s what you can do to fix this content marketing mistake: Stop using inside industry terms and acronyms. If they absolutely have to be...

How to Be Your Own Marketing Copywriter

A marketing copywriter can be hugely important for the success of your online content. Design helps dictate the customer experience when it comes to your website and marketing. However, it’s the content that determines whether your reader is actually going to buy. Your content plays a heavy load. Hiring a marketing copywriter can help. When that’s not an option, many small businesses make the determination to keep the content in-house. The good news is you don’t have to be an extremely prolific writer to sell a lot of copy. With a little bit of effort, you can act as your own marketing copywriter. It’s not overly complicated, but it will take some discipline and effort. There are times when businesses need to DIY, and reduce the number of vendors and tasks they are hiring out. Here’s how to make sure that decision isn’t going to cost you down the road… 9 Steps to Becoming Your Own Marketing Copywriter Study the Competition – The best way to develop inspiration for what you are writing is to understand what your competition is doing. Look for the ways that they are handling product, services and about pages. Determine what you like from the examples you’ve seen, and determine what could be done differently, or better. Plan your content, and make adjustments accordingly.  Differentiate your Business – As you study the competition and prepare to write your own marketing content, make sure that you do what you can to differentiate your business from the competition. There’s no point in clustering yourself in with businesses and people committed to doing things the same way...

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