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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