One of the first jobs of communicators is to know their audience. The more we can understand about the audience, the more effective our communication will be.

This is why public speakers often conduct some "intelligence" work before giving a speach. I have known some presenters who will ask all kinds of seemingly unnecessary questions about who will be in an audience, what they do, what they all have in common, and what kind of peeves or problems they all face.

One particular speaker I know, who is known for his humorous speeches, will then weave that information into his speech to make his audience roar with laughter.

Writers too can use this same technique to better connect and communicate with readers. The more a writer knows about the audience, the writing can be targeted to that particular readership.

Here are a few questions to ask about your readers the next time you sit down to write for them:

  • What things do your readers have in common with each other? Are they in the same profession? Do they work for the same company? Do they live in the same community?

  • Is there a common interest or problem that makes them your readers? Will they be reading what you write to solve a particular problem or achieve a certain goal?

  • How much prior understanding do they have on your topic? You will lose readers if you write significantly over or under their heads. Advanced readers do not want retread information on a topic they've read about many times before, and novice readers will get lost if your information assumes too much background knowledge.

  • Are they looking for condensed information on your topic or are they looking for in-depth analysis?

  • Do they share a common vocabulary on the subject?

  • What demographic information is available on this readership? (Tip: If you are writing for an established publication that sells advertising, you can count on the fact that it knows what the demographics of its readers are. Just ask.) What is the age range of the readers? Do they mostly live in one geographical area? Do they have a common education level?

COPYRIGHT © 2007, Charles Brown

freelance copywriter, ghost writer, lawyer marketing, lawyer advertising, web content writer, white papers

I read Jonothan Leger’s blog,, every day and always find new and useful information on his pages. His advice ranges from how to get more traffic to your website, how to improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how to make more money with adsense ads.

Recently, he wrote an article called, Should You Hire People To Write Your Articles For You? on his experience hiring a ghostwriter to write online articles to get more traffic to one of his websites. He placed a project on eLance and got three bids for the five article project.

The lowest bid, was for a mere $10 per article and that is the one he chose. Not that Jonathan was being cheap, but the other two bidders neglected to provide any feedback or ratings to justify their higher prices. (This should be a lesson for any freelancer, provide credibility information when you solicit new work)

The ghostwriter got the work done quickly and emailed the five finished articles back to Jonathan within 48 hours.

Problems With Cheap Ghostwriting Work

But, it didn’t come without a few bumps in the road. As Jonathan puts it:
”But the articles were clearly written by somebody who did not speak and write English as a first language, and so there were little grammatical issues that I would have to go in and fix. Having to go in and fix these grammatical errors takes time, and the whole purpose of hiring a ghost writer is to save time, so this extra step took away some of the value of hiring out for the job. However, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and I hired the cheapest group to write the articles.”

Hiring a ghostwriter is a viable way to publish online articles that will drive traffic to your site if you do not have the time or skill set to write them yourself. But as Jonathan Leger’s experience shows, hiring the cheapest writer may cause problems. You do not expect to have to rewrite something you have already paid for.

Moreover, as I mentioned the other day in my article, 10 Tips For Choosing A Ghostwriter For Your Online Articles, it takes a certain skill set be able to write a good article AND write HTML code AND know how to include your target keywords in order to produce online articles that drive traffic to your website.

I’m curious to know if any of you has had experience either doing ghostwriting work for others or hiring ghostwriters to get a project done on your behalf. Send me your feedback and comments.

COPYRIGHT © 2007, Charles Brown

More and more businesses are discovering that hiring ghostwriters to write online quality articles for them is one of the fastest and best ways to drive traffic to their websites and enhance their professional reputations.

For your own business, you might want to consider this: These online articles, written by ghostwriters, are possibly the best types of links you can get to point to your website. Because the readers have read the articles and clicked on your link, they are highly targeted visitors who want more information about what you can do for them.

In other words, not only does your ghostwritten online article lead visitors to your site, it also pre-sells those visitors by giving them a reason to find out more.

Here are some tips to help you choose the right ghostwriter to help you build your online presence with quality online articles:

  1. Make sure your ghostwriter knows how to incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) techniques with your article. This means the writer must have an understanding of how to include your targeted keywords into the text so that your articles will be picked up by search engines like Google and Yahoo. There are many ghostwriters who know how to write, but know nothing about how to get high search engine rankings. Choose a writer who can help you get more traffic in addition to writing your article.

  2. Does the writer know HTML code? Can he or she embed your key words into links in the article so that they point to several different pages on your site? Is that writer’s HTML proficiency enough to make the article’s layout look appealing to a reader’s eye and to avoid making it have a “big block look” with lots of unbroken text. Remember, just publishing the article is not enough if readers don’t read it.

  3. Make sure your ghostwriter has a track record and samples of articles you can see and read. Has this writer published his or her own articles online at sites like ezinearticles, searchwarp, articlecity, goarticles or any of the other big article banks? Not only will reading this writer’s own articles give you an idea of that person’s writing skills, it will also show that the writer understands the concept of article marketing.

  4. Can the writer write like a native speaker of the language? Most of the time you will want these articles written in English because this language still dominates most of the article banks and newsletters. Of course a writer does not have to speak English as a primary language in order to write flowing prose. But many people have paid low prices to have an article written by an inexpensive ghostwriter only to receive an article that is written in a choppy, awkward syntax. Again, you can avoid this by seeing the writer’s own articles if he or she has a website and has written articles for the online article banks mentioned above.

  5. Is the payment arrangement reasonable? The common practice is to pay half the writer’s fee up front and only pay the remaining half after receiving the articles. Understand that the writer still holds the copyright to these materials until you have paid the entire fee, and it only transfers to you when the final payment has been made. But be wary of someone who wants it all up front, just as a writer will understandably be wary of you if you only want to pay after the articles are written.

  6. Are the ghostwriter’s fees ridiculously cheap or outrageously expensive? You get what you pay for in all areas of life. You should expect to pay a minimum of $50 to $75 for a well-written article with SEO techniques. On the other hand, for a very technical article that requires a lot of research, you should expect to pay as much as $150 or more. Even at the high end of these ranges, you are still getting a very good price for an experienced writer who can often get $1 per word for commercial writing work (these online articles average about 500 words so at these rates you are paying between 10 cents to 30 cents per word). If you go after the bargain basement writer, you will get bargain basement results.

  7. Does the writer finish the project in a timely manner so you don’t have to wait weeks and weeks for your finished articles? Another reason to check the writer’s status on article banks like ezinearticles is that you will see if this writer is prolific enough to write quality articles quickly and have them back in your hands in time to do you good. Check to see if the writer has achieved special status with the article banks like Platinum Writer or Expert Author. These designations will help you determine if this writer can produce the output fast enough, without sacrificing quality, to suit your needs.

  8. Does the writer’s fee include re-writing? As long as you gave the writer clear directions about the content you wanted, reasonable rewriting should be part of the fee. As a writer however, I have had to put my foot down on a few occasions when the finished article came back meeting the original instructions given to me and the client just changed his mind and wanted a whole new type of article written. In those rare instances (it has only happened to me twice) I insisted on a new fee for a totally new article. But ordinarily, you should not have to pay more for a little rewriting within the scope of your original instructions.

  9. Does the writer package the work in a reasonable number of articles? This means, writing several articles on the same topic all at once. I generally feel that a minimum of ten articles on the same topic is needed for the project to pay off for me and for the price to be reasonable for the client. This way, all my research is spread over ten or more articles and I can price my work accordingly. Besides, writing one article at a time will not make a significant impact on the amount of traffic you get to your site. Depending on how much competition you have for that keyword, you will probably need 20 or more before you start seeing significant gains in the number of visitors coming your way.

  10. Does the writer have an online presence other than just an email address? You want to avoid someone who can only be contacted by email. So you should be able to see an actual website owned by the writer, have a telephone number and be able to read samples of this writer’s other articles. When someone actually has a website, you have more assurance this person is a committed business person who is not likely to take your up front money and disappear. A well thought out website indicates someone who takes a professional approach to being a freelance writer.

Online articles are powerful and fast ways to drive traffic to your website. Working with a good ghostwriter can greatly improve the process and deliver results to your bottom line faster.

COPYRIGHT © 2007, Charles Brown

freelance copywriter, ghost writer, lawyer marketing, lawyer advertising, web content writer, white papers

Here is an excellent article by Elaine Berry that provides a different spin on why a copywriter must give customers a reason to act. Often we assume readers of our delightful prose will just fall into our laps by the sheer beauty of our writing. Not so. If we are in the business of getting people to take action, we must spell out a clear reason for them to do so.
Charles Brown

Have you ever had this experience?

You are selling what you believe is a very valuable product. You are marketing it for $97 and have written a brilliant sales letter. But sales aren’t what you hoped. So you step up your sales pitch: “Order by midnight tonight and this $97 product is yours for $47!”

You sit back and wait for the sales rush. But it doesn’t happen.

Why not? Almost certainly, because you haven’t given a REASON! If it cost $97 yesterday, how come I can get it for $47 today?

People are suspicious. And the more seductive the offer, the more suspicious they are. They want to know:
· WHY should I buy this product?
· WHY will it work for ME?
· WHY are you reducing the price?

There is one word above all that you need to include in your copy. This word alone has been shown to have a massive impact on sales. This word is “BECAUSE”.

· WHY should I buy this product? Remember BENEFITS sell products. Tell people that they need to buy this product BECAUSE this is what it will do for them or this is the problem it will solve for them. If you are marketing a hair-restorer, emphasize that the customer needs to buy it BECAUSE it will improve confidence, end embarrassment, help in attracting the opposite sex, lead to a happier life and so on.
· WHY will it work for ME? Give very specific reasons. If you have a scientific-sounding reason, so much the better – these are always very reassuring. For instance, you should buy this hair-restorer BECAUSE it contains the brand-new product “X” which has been scientifically proven to be effective in 99.9 percent of cases.
· WHY are you reducing the price? Remember that the most potent “reason why” is always the TRUTH! If you are reducing because you are experimenting with prices, say so! If you need to raise some cash in a hurry, say so! If you are aiming to build a relationship with your customers so that they will buy more of your products in the future, say so! People will respond.

There was a famous social psychology experiment in which the experimenter, standing in a line to use a copy machine, requested people ahead of her to allow her to get to the front. A much larger percentage of people agreed when she gave a reason, than when she did not. But, remarkably, in a third experiment, she simply asked, “Could I use the machine first BECAUSE I need to make some copies?” A full 93 percent agreed, yet this time there was no reason given – the effect was achieved just by the inclusion of the word “BECAUSE”!

If you haven’t been using this secret weapon, you’ve been missing out on what has been found time and time again to be one of the most powerful triggers for massively increasing sales. Try it – BECAUSE it works!

Elaine Berry is the owner of Bizwrite, the only one-stop-shop for help and tuition on all aspects of writing. Come and find out about our copywriting, ghostwriting and article-writing services and get a FREE 12-part e-course on copywriting!

Article Source:

COPYRIGHT © 2007, Charles Brown

One idea a lot of marketers have never tried is writing articles for trade publications.

If your business serves a particular industry group, chances are that industry has at least one trade magazine that needs good articles to publish.

This is one more reason to target a niche in your marketing efforts. Everything seems to go so much more smoothly when you zero in on a group of potential clients who all have similar needs.

The easiest way to find these trade publications is to go to your local library and look through the Handbook of Associations. Under almost all of these associations is a trade publication and a description of this magazine’s focus and mission.

Next, subscribe to the publication and join the association. If you are serious about targeting this industry group, this fee is simply the cost of doing business. Then, as a member and subscriber, approach the editor with some article ideas.

You will find that you have a very good idea of getting your idea accepted by these editors because trade magazines are often in dire need for quality articles.

If you have the writing skill, write and submit your article. If you do not, hire a ghostwriter to produce these articles for you with your byline (did I mention that I do a lot of ghostwriting?).

After getting a few of your articles published, you will have earned the status of a regular contributor. You may then wish to propose a column idea.

But by virtue of being a regular contributor of this trade publication, you will now have a certain cache when you approach the association’s members.

Writing articles for trade publications is an excellent way to make inroads into a certain industry group or clone your best clients who belong to that industry.

freelance copywriter, ghost writer, web content writer, lawyer marketing, lawyer advertising, white papers

COPYRIGHT © 2007, Charles Brown

A significant part of this blog’s focus is to help law firms and other service businesses develop new business. But getting an entire organization aligned with marketing goals is no easy task.

This is illustrated by an article Larry Bodine wrote about in his Larry Bodine’s LawMarketingBlog called, "Can You Beat This 25 –Question Sales Training Quiz?" A few of the questions on this quiz are:

  • Most of our rainmakers are over 65.
  • Few or no partners have individual business development plans in writing.
  • Most of our lawyers are active in only bar associations and lawyer groups -- not in any organizations of clients.
  • The firm does not premeditatedly identify industries where it has experience with the aim of pursuing potential business clients in those industries.
  • Business development time spent by lawyers is not tracked.
  • The firm has never broadcast a Webinar.
  • The firm has no blog.

These are all signs of an internal focus that is easy for any organization to slide into. A thriving organization, whether it is a law firm, a consulting practice or a service business, must have an external focus.

This means to have a real finger on the pulse of the marketplace. It is simply not that hard to find out what potential clients want and need. And it should not that hard to get out of the office and join groups of potential clients or take part in charitable causes that can bring your people into contact with potential clients.

If your organization does not track and reward it’s key people for getting actively involved in new business development, nothing will happen. In law firms, and I suspect many other organizations as well, key people are actually penalized for taking time away from performing billable work to get out there and meet new potential clients.

Check out Larry’s article and see if your firm needs to make some changes.

COPYRIGHT © 2007, Charles Brown

Do you want to drive more traffic to your website? Do you also want to build a reputation online as an expert in your field?

There is a very simple, low cost way to do both. Write and publish articles online. Hopefully you’ve seen sites like, or www.ideamarketers. These sites are places writers can submit short, 250 to 900 word articles and make them available for webmasters to use for their own websites.

This is the perfect win-win arrangement. The webmasters get free content for their sites, as long as they do not make changes to the articles and give the author a link pointing back to his or her site.

The writers, in my opinion, get a lot more. They get to include a “resource box” at the bottom of their articles that tells readers a little bit about themselves, a link back to the author’s site and the author keeps his or her copyright on the material.

A single article can become a viral marketing tool if it is picked up by dozens or hundreds of other websites. I have one article that is now posted on 167 different websites, and each of those websites now has a permanent link pointing back to my site.

The cumulative effect of writing a lot of articles is enormous levels of traffic to your site. Depending on how competitive your particular niche is, a critical mass level might be 50 articles, or it could be 100. But once you hit that level, you will never have to worry about getting enough traffic to your site.

But what if you have neither the time nor the skill to write these articles? The solution is simple. Hire a ghostwriter. For example, I have had several clients hire me to write articles in their names to post on these sites. I typically charge between $50 to $150 per article, depending on how much research I have to do. In a few cases, the cost has been higher, but those are rare occasions, and the work I had to put in to write those particular articles was quite significant.

If you choose to work with a ghostwriter, you will benefit from the economics of scale. Hire the writer to produce a minimum of ten articles. The research needed to write a dozen or so articles is often not much more than it is for one article. I have found that writing articles for a client in batches allows me to charge fees at the lower end of my fee scale.

COPYRIGHT © 2007, Charles Brown

I recently started reading an interesting book that, on its surface, has nothing to do with copywriting or writing web content. And yet, I think this book could have incredible value to those who must write any form of business communication.

The book I’m talking about is “Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire,” by Cliff Atkinson. This book is primarily designed to teach business people who to create better Microsoft PowerPoint presentations using a story-driven format.

Atkinson, who is a communications consultant for a long list of major U.S. corporations, confronts those typical, bland PowerPoint presentation we’ve all had to endure, that consist simply of long lists of bullet points. These kinds of presentations are not only marvelous cures for insomnia, they almost universally fail to get their point across (no pun intended).

Instead, Atkinson has adapted movie making and screenwriting techniques to tell a story with presentations (hopefully you are now beginning to see what this all has to do with copywriting and writing web content). He brings in the concepts of storyboarding and the three-act play structure to be used in communicating to audiences.

I see several applications here for copywriters and web content writers.

  1. The human mind tends to think in stories. Stories have been essential to our ability to understand new ideas and information. But even more importantly, stories make ideas more believable and persuade us to act on these ideas.

  2. Atkinson advocates beginning with the script or narrative text, just as a film company would begin creating a movie with the script. Many presentations (and websites) are created with the visual elements first. Instead, begin with the story or the message. A pretty website won’t sell, but the words written on that site can and should.

  3. Don’t try to communicate with raw data. People are not computers. Craft that data around human problems, needs, goals, changes and experiences. People relate to those things on an emotional level. And they are more likely to believe and act on this information when they can emotionally relate to it.

  4. Make the reader the star of the story. Either literally bring the person into the copy by addressing him or her in the second person, or tell a story about someone who is similar to the reader.

    Think about all those commercials for weight loss products. They all use real people giving their testimonials. Potential customers for these products can relate to being overweight and unable to get the pounds off. Seeing someone like themselves who successfully lost weight with this product is strongly motivating.

Check out Atkinson’s book, Beyond Bullet Points. I think it has a lot of applications beyond just PowerPoint presentations.

freelance copywriter, ghost writer, web content writer, lawyer marketing, lawyer advertising, white papers

COPYRIGHT © 2007, Charles Brown

I think marketers and copywriters of all industries could benefit from a recent article in Binary Law,which discussed a survey conducted by Primary Research Group. The survey is called, "Survey of [US] Law Firm E-marketing Practices", and it shows how law firms are now marketing their legal services.

One statistic jumped that jumped out at me is 20% of U.S. law firms now have active blogs. Although the survey used a tiny sample of 46 law firms, which limits the applicability of it's results, I still found it exciting to learn that more lawyers are marketing their services with blogs.

Why lawyers should market with blogs

Blogging is one of the best ways out there to generate traffic to your website. Search engines love blogs because of the frequently updated material on the topic a serious blogger produces. A case in point is a recent article I wrote called, "Marketing For Law Firms" about a Kansas lawyer named Grant Griffiths who eventually stopped all his advertising because his blog on Family Law was pulling in all the new clients he could handle.

Another wonderful benefit lawyers can see from writing regular blog posts is the fact that over time, these blog articles become material that can become drafts for magazine articles, white papers, and even full-length books.

Many lawyers and other professionals I know want to write a book "someday" in order to maket their law practices or other businesses. But the project seems impossibly large to them and they are so busy.

Blogging just two or three paragraphs a day can quickly add up to an impressive amount of material. Include reader comments and questions, and the bloggers responses, and this material grows even faster and can soon become a book length manuscript.

The take away from all this is that lawyers are beginning to market themselves in smarter ways. Perhaps the days of inane and useless lawyer ads are beginning to wane.

This lesson is instructive for lawyers and non lawyers as well if they are looking for ways to market themselves and attract new clients.

COPYRIGHT © 2007, Charles Brown

This is the year law firms, professionals and service providers finally start seeing real results for their marketing efforts. This will be the year that their advertising, direct mail and websites finally start bringing them the targeted new business and new clients they really want to work with.

How? Because I believe those people who market professional services will finally wake up to the fact that "Multi-Step Marketing" is far more effective than "One-Shot Marketing."

Why One-Shot Marketingwhite Isn't Working For Law Firms or Other Professionals

As a former lawyer myself, most of my attention is focused on marketing ideas for law firms, but what I am about to say is equally applicable to other professionals, service providers and even sellers of products if their expertise is part of the package that comes with their products (large B2B computer systems or software programs would be an example).

One-shot marketing is when you see an ad or visit a website that asks you to contact the company for more information.....and that's it. That simple (and often understated) request for a contact is the only call to action such an ad or website makes.

One-shot marketing gets one, and only one, chance to influence the prospect to act. And if that ad doesn't dramatically reach out and grab the reader's interest, it will be forgotten in 2 seconds.

Look at most of the ads in the Yellow Pages or in business news publications. Do any of them just reach out and grab you that way? Do any of them offer anything really different from their competitors' ads? Rarely.

Why Law Firms and Other Professionals Must Adopt Multi-Step Marketing

As the name suggests, "Multi-Step Marketing" takes advantage of multiple contacts with prospects. When you see an ad, a website or a direct mail piece that offers you a free DVD, CD, white paper, report or ebook on a topic that is currently a source of problems for you, that is the beginning of a multi-step marketing program.

When you request that free information because it sounds relevant to problems you need to solve or changes you want to make, you are "opting in" to the marketer's mailing or email list. This is called "permission marketing" because you are giving that company permission to contact you again. In so doing, you have identified yourself as a prospect with at least some level of interest in what that company does.

If the free information piece you receive from that company is well written and seems to offer a solution to your problem, you may decide to do business with them on the spot. In most cases, this information will help you form the opinion that this company is an expert in this area. It may also position that company as the front runner in your mind in case you ever decide to do business with someone in that field.

But you may not decide to act right now. It is what happens next that truly delivers the remarkable success for multi-step marketers. Over time, you will receive occasional follow up mailings and information. If you weren't ready to do business when you first received the information, your circumstances may change over time.

The long term effect of repeated contacts by the company (because you gave them permission to market to you) is that this company increases its positioning in your mind as THE experts in their field and as THE company you are most likely to do business with when and if you decide to act.

Multi-Step Marketing Helps Law Firms and Professionals Measure Their Marketing Results

Law firms and other professional services have a very difficult time measuring how effective (or not) their advertisements, websites or direct mail really is.

How do you know which calls were produced by your Yellow Page ad, the ad you put in the local newspaper, from your website or from other sources?

Multi-step marketing gives professionals an instant tool to determine how well an ad or website is doing. The number of requests for the white paper, DVD or other information product is the measurement of how effective your ad or website is.

You can even give the same product different titles so you can test whether one ad generates more inquiries than another.

Multi-step marketing eliminates the feeling that advertisers often have of stumbling around in the dark.

Will my "prediction" for 2007 come true? Well I intend to do my part to get the word out to law firms and others who need to hear about multi-step marketing. I'd also love to hear from you. What experiences and recommendations do you have?

COPYRIGHT © 2007, Charles Brown

freelance copywriter, ghost writer, web content writer, white papers

Website Copywriting Designed To Focus on the Sale

I just read an interesting article by Todd Follansbee in Web Marketing Today. Todd is a website "Usability and Conversion Expert" who has conducted extensive research on what makes people buy when they visit a website.

Based on his research, he recommends that instead of following the traditional, "put up the home page and add other elements later" model, companies would do far better to design their websites backwards.

10 Point Site Design For Higher Marketing Results

Here are Follansbee's 10 points for designing websites backwards. You will see how this approach offers a much better chance of delivering higher sales than the traditional metiod:
  1. Interview clients to find out what they want and need.
  2. Brainstorm a list of everything a client would want to know in order to feel comfortable making a purchase.
  3. Organize this information into logical groupings.
  4. Visualize visitors buying process and construct a "sales ladder" that leads them along this process in sequence.
  5. Storyboard each page of the site to make sure it follows the sales ladder.
  6. Test your ideas with real customers to make sure your assumptions ring true in the real world.
  7. Navigation. Begin setting up the website so that it offers the design elements visitors will be comfortable with.
  8. Hire designers only after all sales ladder has been created and the sales ideas have been tested with real world customers.
  9. Build the site. Rather than build it first and add on later, the site is only built after a clear plan has been laid to take visitors through the entire sales sequence.
  10. Launch, monitor and refine. Testing never ends. Keep improving, keep checking your ideas against real world customers and how they behave.

This is a very informative article by Todd Follansbee. If you would like to read his entire piece, check out

freelance copywriter, ghost writer, web content writer, white papers

COPYRIGHT © 2007, Charles Brown

All of us in the copywriting trade come across business people who are shocked that we charge money to write for them. Check out Drew MLellan's blog, Drew's Marketing Minute, for an example of what happens when companies try to do their copywriting in house. This is a funny and sad example of why a good writer earns his or her fee.

The link to Drew's article is Do You Have Any Idea What He Is Selling?, and if you can guess what this company was trying to sell, you are far better than I am.

COPYRIGHT © 2007, Charles Brown

“It was a dark and stormy night….”

I'm sure you know how Snoopy's opus goes from there: “A shot rang out,” “a woman screams,” and “a pirate ship appears on the horizon.”

As far as communication devices go, it is hard to beat the old fashioned story. Opportunities for mixing stories with copywriting abound and some of them are pretty darn good sales tools.

I like to think of a story as a “before and after sandwich.” You start with the “Before” condition. This is where your customers have a problem. The problem produces pain. The customers try other solutions to no avail, but eventually the pain becomes intolerable and they seek you out.

The other slice of bread is the “After” resolution. The problem is solved, the pain is gone and the customers are grateful to you and your company for coming to the rescue.

The meat of the sandwich is how your product or service moves this person from the “Before Condition” to the “After Resolution.” This is where you show off your skill, expertise, benefits, quality, hard work and customer care. This is also where you show how and why you are unique from all the other solutions the customer tried before finding you.

You can incorporate stories on your website, direct mail or your advertisements. If you capture the emotional import of why your customers must solve these problems, your story will be powerfully effective.

Your stories can be true, as in the case of client testimonials or case histories, or they can be fictional as in the case of a “composite” character who is made up of several of your real customers.

In order to be truly effective, make sure both the Before” and “After” situations are full of emotion. This point was brought home to me yesterday when I saw Will Smith’s new movie, “Pursuit of Happyness.” In most respects I would rate this as an outstanding movie. Smith and his real-life son both gave the acting performances of their lives. The story was gripping as well.

But the one complaint I had about the movie was its ending. After going through all the trials and misery this man went through, and after witnessing his unshakable courage, the ending came quick and was over too soon, without giving me the chance to enjoy his triumph with him.

If you are going to make your readers/audience live through all the emotional pain of a story, you should also let them experience the joy and triumph that comes at the end. As a marketing message, a story without an emotional payoff, just doesn't deliver the goods.

I’d be very interested to hear about what your experiences have been in using stories with your copywriting and marketing efforts. Make a comment and tell us what you think.

COPYRIGHT © 2007, Charles Brown

What is the one thing your business cannot do without? What one single priority outranks all others?

Whether your business is a small one-man operation or a huge, Fortune 500 behemoth, generating new leads for new business is your single most important imperative.

Without customers or clients, you have no business. And without a constant stream of new leads, you will eventually have no customers.

According to a recent survey, lead generation is the number one goal for businesses in 2007.

Generating leads to acquire customers and drive sales will be top of mind for b-to-b marketers next year.

According to BtoB’s “2007 Marketing Priorities and Plans” survey, acquiring new customers is the No. 1 marketing goal for 2007, cited by 62.3% of respondents.

That said, how are you planning to generate leads for your business in 2007?

Two immediate ideas that can get your lead generation project off to a fast start in 2007 are:
  1. Create Free Information Products. These can be everything from white papers to tip sheets to ebooks to free DVDs. This strategy recognizes that all buyers go through an information gathering stage in their buying process (the exception of course is impulse purchases, which is a topic for another article). Think about the last time you bought a new car, new house or helped a child choose the right college to attend. You probably looked up a lot of information on the internet, possibly you questioned people who had direct experience with your various possible choices, or you asked the companies for information.

    The single caveat of this approach is to avoid selling for your competitors. Don’t just offer information that sells the entire category. If you do that, your reader may choose anyone who offers what you offer. You must sell yourself without being too self-serving in the process ( a fine balancing act, but one that can be done).

    Offering free information is a strategy that recognizes that each buyer has a unique buying cycle and procedure. This approach allows you to enter their consciousness at any point along that buying cycle and become a trusted resource for valuable, non-self serving information.

  2. Turn Your Website Into a Lead Generating Machine. It costs most businesses $10 to $20 for every qualified visitor that lands on their websites. I would argue that if you have a choice between getting a visitor to buy something now vs. leave his or her contact information, you are better off getting them to create a lead. When someone has opted in to receive future emails from you (ie “permission marketing”), you have multiple chances to sell and then sell again. This person can become a repeat customer for life. But if you try to hit the home run every time someone visits your site, you only get that one chance to sell and at best may only sell one thing.

Lead Generation is a huge topic and I will revisit this subject many times in the coming year. But for now, I would like to leave you with some resources you will find helpful.
  • Brian Carroll writes a blog entirely devoted to the topic of generating b2b leads. He offers a lot of great ideas that you can never keep up with. If you can only put one our of ten into practice, you will do well.
  • Michael Stelzner writes a great blog on marketing with white papers. He has also written an excellent book on the same topic called: Writing White Papers: How To Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged.
  • Anne Holland has written a very good article on Marketing Sherpa in which she offers some very practical insights and ideas on how to generate leads.
  • Another article by Anne Holland is about lead generation mistakes that get in the way of effective marketing. Anne is nothing if not candid, and her insights are always worth reading. They are also the kinds of mistakes we can all make, so her article is a good cautionary piece.

I’m interesting in hearing about your ideas and insights on the topic of lead generation. What do you think about this topic?

COPYRIGHT © 2006, Charles Brown

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