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Matthew Brennan Marketing Writer Blog

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...

The Importance of Testimonials

As a business owner you can do everything else right, but if you don’t have some form of third party social proof, it might just cost you the sale – that is the importance of testimonials. Testimonials are significant. They shouldn’t be underestimated as you construct the content and layout of your business website or brochure. They are a powerful marketing influence that can draw people in, and cause them to convert. Think about it this way. You can talk until you are blue in the face about how great your company and your product or service is. You can write at length about how you solve a business’s problems. It will never have the same level of influence as a previous customer or client saying it. The Power of Social Proof Your customers want to know, like and trust you. They may like your message, but want to know that you’ve helped people in a similar situation before. A testimonial can help put them at ease. You can handle testimonials on your website in one of two ways. You can either create a testimonial page within your website, and load that up with your best and most current testimonials, or you can sprinkle them across the bottom of each page. Both ways allow potential customers to see who you have already helped. Who Can Write a Testimonial For You?  Any satisfied customer or client. Anyone who has heard you speak about your industry. Anyone with a positive story about interacting with you and your business. These are all potential sources for testimonials. After you wrap up a project,...

5 Blogging Mistakes That Can Cost You business

Are these blogging mistakes dooming your efforts from the start? Most businesses have heard the buzz generated about the benefits of blogging. While blogging can be an immense help to finding new customers and generating new business, there needs to be a strategy in place. It’s imperative to understand what success looks like. This may seem funny, but there are a lot of gray areas. For instance, how quickly are you expecting to see a traffic bump? With blogging, it can take awhile to grow a steady stream of traffic to your website. Avoiding these blogging mistakes can help you maximize your writing efforts, and connect with your audience. No one wants to be leaving money on the table. 5 Common Blogging Mistakes to Avoid: Your writing is too stiff – The purpose of your blog is to inform and to entertain. You want your reader to find value and take action. You want your reader to like you and trust you. Stale writing void of any personality will fall short of that goal. It won’t do much to set you apart from the competition online, and it’ll be tougher to build your community that way. The alternative is to liven it up. Throw some personal detail in every once in awhile. This will serve as an icebreaker with new clients and customers down the road. Write how you talk. Your writing can be informal and conversational, while still being professional. Picture yourself at coffee with your ideal customer, and write how you’d talk to him. There’s not enough value – Businesses still err on the side of not...

11 Steps for Writing Copy That Sells

Writing copy is an investment in time. But when you learn how to produce the type of content that sells, you can truly improve your business. You have to learn how to value your content, and understand its significance when it comes to engaging your readers, and creating new business. This is What Writing Copy That Sells Looks Like… Know Your Benefits – Writing copy that sells means understanding its value. What are the ways you are making your customers’ lives better? What does your product or service do that your competition does not? Your website copy is kind of like those persuasive essays you used to have to write in school. You’re convincing someone that they need to take action. The best way to do that is hit them with the strongest benefit (also your strongest argument) right away. Understanding the difference between features and benefits is crucial. Listing features is what you do when you talk shop with other industry geeks. It’s the computer processor components, or the makings of a car engine. You want to focus your energy not on the V8 engine, but instead on how your buyer will feel cruising down the highway at 70 miles per hour with the top down. Write Conversationally – Your reader has options. Your content is not the only thing that popped up in the search results. In order to convince them to pull the trigger, they have to like you. It always helps to make them feel like they are doing business with a friend. How do you accomplish this? Write how you talk. Picture your customer...

46 Tips to Create Killer Web Content

Killer web content involves considering your customers’ experience at every turn. After all, your readers sought you out, and not the other way around. They found you in an attempt to have key questions answered. They found you in an attempt to alleviate their pain point. Their questions and concerns should be addressed high within your copy. Your website is not the place to sound like a used car salesman. It’s not the place for unprofessional and half-baked content. It’s not the place to make your customers fill out expansive questionnaires, or follow a convoluted trail of clicks to simply do business with you. It’s the place to distinguish yourself from the competition and develop your business’s voice. It’s the place to establish trust with your customers and build relationships. Creating killer web content is a big part of making your web presence a success. Here’s How to Create Killer Web Content Every Time STRATEGY  Understand Your Audience – The people who land on your website are going to have specific characteristics. The more you know about the people shopping for your products and services, the easier it is to market to them.  Make a Promise – What will people get from reading your page? What will they get from your product or service? Make a promise in your headline and lead sentence, and then deliver in the body copy. This concept is key to creating killer web content.  Put Benefits on Display – Make sure you understand the difference between features and benefits. Features are product specifications. Benefits outline just what somebody is going to get from using...

How to Write a Blog Post that Engages Your Audience

How to write a blog post may not be immediately obvious, especially if you are fairly new at it. If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you’ve probably been told that you need to blog. It seems like a significant added task, and how do you know that you’re doing what you need to be doing? When it comes to how to write a blog post, there are a few strategies to keep in mind for continued success. It’s not like any other form of marketing or sales. The goal is to push value and create something your audience will want to read, since they are arriving voluntarily at your station on the Internet. How to Write a Blog Post: 5 Tips for Creating Content Your Audience Will Want to Read  Come at it from their perspective – Writing a good blog post isn’t about you. It isn’t about what you want them to know. It’s about your audience, and their pain point. What do they want to know when they are conducting research within your field? If you can answer their common questions, you’ll have a much better chance at gaining traction. There are some steps you can take to make sure your blog will serve your audience in the best possible manner. Consider the questions your customers frequently ask in person. People online are probably going to have some of the same questions, giving you a built in audience. You can also ask your readers or customers directly what they want to know. You can use Google Keyword Planner to conduct some basic level...

5 Writing Mistakes for Business Owners to Avoid

Don’t let writing mistakes drag down your business’s marketing efforts. Many small business owners are being thrust into a new role, writing content for their business’s marketing campaign. This is inherently a good thing, setting your business apart from the competition. However, if you are new to writing, there are some fairly common writing mistakes you’ll want to avoid. Don’t Commit These Writing Mistakes The Temptation to Simply Sell – People don’t sit down at their computer to consume hours of commercial content every day. They have questions. They want answers. They are curious about your industry, and are possibly doing some research before they buy. Forge that connection. Be helpful. The rest will come. Wanting to Sound Smart – Your business or industry may be somewhat complicated. Maybe you went to school or underwent some sort of professional training to get where you’re at. When it comes to your marketing, none of that matters. If you can’t explain your point in a way that your customers understand, they will search for the answers to their questions elsewhere. Avoid advanced industry terms if you can. Spell out acronyms. Explain things in a way your readers will understand. Not Connecting With Your Audience – Your audience came to your blog for a reason. They picked up your marketing materials for a reason. They have a question. They have a pain point. Do you know what that is? Are you creating the right kind of content to meet your readers where they are at? It’s important that you are creating the type of content that will get read. An Unwillingness to...

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