SCML 08: A Content Marketing Love Story by Mutual Rescue

My animals and a great love story. Two things I adore. That’s why the short films produced by Mutual Rescue drew me in like a moth to a flame. They tell the stories of humans and the shelter animals they adopt. And they do it in such a beautiful and moving way. In my opinion, these films are content marketing at its very best. And here’s why:

  • At approximately six minutes each, they’re engaging from start to finish
  • They harness the power of storytelling so perfectly
  • They have a clear and meaningful message
  • They accomplish the marketing goal of the organization in such an authentic and effective way

The first of the films was “Eric and Peety.” According to Carol Novello, co-creator of Mutual Rescue and president of Human Society Silicon Valley,  it’s been viewed more than 88 million times since its release in 2016. Here it is:

After seeing this, I knew I had to find out what the thinking and strategy were behind this film and the others Mutual Rescue has produced. And, thanks to Carol Novello, I now know. And you can, too. Listen to the podcast to hear all about it. I hope you’ll be as inspired as I was.

To find out more about Mutual Rescue, connect with the organization here:

Website: http://mutualrescue.org/

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SCML 07: Ending Content Chaos with Laura Creekmore

How can you determine if content marketing is right for your business? And, if it is, where and how do you get started–especially if you have limited resources? These are just a couple of the MANY topics I discuss with Laura Creekmore, owner of Creek Content and a widely-respected expert in all things content marketing. Her agency focuses on ending content chaos–and that’s what she helps us do through the advice and insight she provides in this episode of The Smarter Content Writing Lab.

What You’ll Learn

Laura graciously shared her expertise on SO many interesting topics, including:

  • The missed opportunity of NOT considering content marketing to grow your business
  • How you can learn about content marketing and start doing it without experiencing overwhelm
  • How content marketing can be used to effectively educate your audience about what you’re selling
  • Why content marketing isn’t about “sales with more words”
  • How content marketing can be used to turn you into a trusted advisor in the eyes of your target audience
  • The long-term benefits of a consistent content marketing effort
  • How matching your customers’ problems with your offering or product can help you shift your mindset about selling
  • The importance of being intentional about your content marketing efforts
  • Why you might want to consider bringing part of your personal story into your content marketing

Links to Cool Stuff We Talked About

Some of the following links are  affiliate links. By using them, you don’t pay a penny extra. But I get a very small–yet HUGELY appreciated–payment that helps keep this podcast going!

Creek Content: Laura’s agency that focuses on “ending content chaos.”

Follow Laura on Twitter at @lauracreekmore

They Ask. You Answer. A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer by Marcus Sheridan and Krista Kotria

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content
by Ann Handley

Also, be sure to connect with me at Michele@smarterwritinglab.com and at The Smarter Writing Lab. I’d love to hear from you!

 

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SCML 06: Winning the Case for Content Marketing with a Law Firm’s Website

What type of content should a law firm’s website contain? That’s what we’ll be looking at in this episode of The Smarter Content Marketing Lab. We’ll look at a law firm’s existing site and explore ways to add new, more dynamic content that will help this firm attract more of it’s ideal clients.

What You’ll Learn

We’ll look at several different areas of the website and discuss the following:

  • How to use the “hero” section of the home page more effectively–including how to make it a stronger navigational element for website visitors
  • The use of video to make an about page come alive
  • How to use a blog (or vlog), webinars, white papers, etc. to establish thought leadership status
  • Using imagery to communicate more clearly about who you are and what you do

Links to Cool Stuff

Here are the links to what was discussed during the show:

The law firm where Nick works

Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC™: LOVE the videos on this law firm’s “Our Team” page!

Also, be sure to connect with me at Michele@smarterwritinglab.com and at The Smarter Writing Lab. I’d love to hear from you!

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SCML 05: Jon Nastor, Host of the “Hack the Entrepreneur” Podcast

 

If you’ve been thinking about starting a podcast to help build an audience for your business–or even if you haven’t (yet)–then you’ll LOVE this week’s episode of The Smarter Content Marketing Lab! My guest is Jon Naster, host of the incredibly popular Hack the Entrepreneur podcast and co-host of The Showrunner podcast.

What You’ll Learn

Jon talks about a wide array of interesting topics, sharing things like how:

  • He came up with the engaging hook that has helped him EXPLODE the growth of his Hack the Entrepreneur podcast
  • He uses content marketing—including writing for various publications like Entrepreneur—to build his business and scale up his podcast
  • He’s using using content marketing to build trust with his audience and promote sales of his products
  • He balances podcasting and writing and product creation
  • The podcast is the reason he gets to write for such high-profile businesses and publications
  • The podcast has transformed his life
  • You have to be patient and consistent when it comes to building an audience
  • To get clear about the focus and purpose of your podcast before getting started
  • To repurpose content—and why you should do it
  • Entrepreneurs are using podcasts to funnel audiences into their businesses
  • To monetize a podcast directly and indirectly

He also describes the four things that are essential to building a successful podcast.

Links to Cool Stuff

Here are the links to what was discussed during the show:

Hack the Entrepreneur Podcast

The Showrunner Podcast

The 9-Step Beginner’s Guide to Launching a Podcast (FREE at The Showrunner)

The Showrunner Podcasting Course

Recite

Also, be sure to connect with me at Michele@smarterwritinglab.com and at The Smarter Writing Lab. I’d love to hear from you!

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Kevin Appleby: Building a Consulting Biz with Content Marketing

In this episode of The Smarter Content Marketing Lab, we go to the lab to look at the website and content marketing for Kevin Appleby’s business–Appleby Consulting. We also take a look at Neil Patel’s post, 8 Content Marketing Tricks That Helped Dollar Shave Club Go Viral.

As always, drop me a line at michele@smarterwritinglab.com and visit me at The Smarter Writing Lab to learn more about how to write better to go further with your business.

FYI–Since this episode was recorded, Kevin contacted me and let me know that he’s in the process of making some fantastic changes that will optimize his main site–Applebyconsulting.co.uk.

 

PJ Aguilar: How The Yoga Biz Coach Uses Content Marketing to Position Herself for Success

In this episode, I talk about how to use content marketing to bring value to our current and potential customers. Because if we don’t do that, what’s the point–right? And I also take a look at what Yoga Biz Coach PJ Aguilar is doing with content marketing. (HINT: She’s ROCKIN’ it!!)

Here are the sites and resources mentioned in the podcast:

www.YogaBizCoach.com

The 30 Elements of Consumer Value (article from the Harvard Business Review)

The Copywriting Crash Course 

Shoot me an email at michele@smarterwritinglab.com and let me know what’s going on in your world.

And, as always, be sure to join me over at The Smarter Writing Lab for more info about writing smarter so you can go further!

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Gareth Naylor: Painting a Brighter Future with Content Marketing

In this inaugural episode of The Smarter Content Marketing Lab Podcast, we’ll look at watercolor artist’s  Gareth Naylor’s website and give him some tips about how he can improve its content and maximize that content to help him accomplish his business goals.

I talk about specific things, including the site’s:

Home page structure

Lead magnet

About page

Blog

Gallery

I also provide some tips about ways to get the word out about the great work he’s doing.

 

Episode Takeaways

  1. Be sure your home page makes what your business is all about COMPLETELY CLEAR! Site visitors won’t work to figure out what you do or why they should care.
  2. Create a compelling about page–because this is often where people make the decision about whether to do business with you. But don’t just talk about you, you, you. Show how what you offer will positively impact your customers’ lives.
  3. If you’re selling something, make it easy for people to complete the purchasing process. And include interesting descriptions about products so that potential buyers will understand the value they deliver.
  4. Build your email list! Develop a lead magnet that provides enough value that people will want to give you their email address in order to get it.
  5. If you’re going to blog, then blog about things that captivate your audience’s attention And then PROMOTE YOUR POSTS. Push them out through social media and other venues so that people will find your content.

If you like this podcast, AWESOME! Be sure to check out more great content marketing tips and info at The Smarter Writing Lab!

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5 Signs You Might be a Marketing Scaredy Cat

"You're going to have to do things differently."

Hearing this is enough to send cold chills up the spines of many business owners. They want more customers. They want to be noticed. They want to increase sales. They want to make a difference. But they want to do it by marketing their businesses in one or more of the following (and very PREDICTABLE) ways:

  1. By being cautious so that they don't risk any negative perception.
  2. By going broad in an attempt to appeal to EVERYONE.
  3. By talking about EVERY. SINGLE. FEATURE. their product or service offers.
  4. By talking about what THEY do, what's important to THEM, what THEIR focus is and freakin' awesome THEY are.
  5. By doing what their competitors are doing.

Any of these sound like you? (Don't worry. No one's looking--so you can nod sheepishly to yourself.) If they do, then you (da-da-dum) might just be a marketing scaredy cat. And THAT can hold your business back from reaching its full potential.

Truth be told, most of us have been marketing scaredy cats at one time or another. It's hard to do things differently--because with that comes risk. Risk of missing out on perceived opportunities. Risk of the unknown. Risk of failure. But here's the thing:

Marketing courageously--daring to do it in ways that are more thought-provoking, more awe-inspiring, more head-turning--is what will get your business noticed in our very busy and very noisy world. And that will put you on the path to the success you're seeking.

If you don't believe me, then maybe you'll believe master marketer Steve Jobs. Check out this 1997 commercial that featured one of his most famous quotes about the power of thinking differently:

Approaching marketing differently doesn't mean that you do it without thinking or by ignoring proven fundamentals. That's not being a fearless marketer. That's being a careless one. Instead, the businesses out there who are ROCKIN' it are differentiating themselves and winning against companies MUCH bigger than they are by doing doing really smart things like this: 

  • Knowing what they stand for and not being afraid to go with it. Think Quest Nutrition. The protein bar industry is HUGE and packed full of major players. But this company--one that wants to make "clean eating fun" and whose focus is on ending obesity--is doing protein bars differently. Customers responded (in DROVES!), sales increased and now Quest is expanding its offerings to other food choices.  Check out the Quest story:
  • Focusing on serving a specific audience EXTRAORDINARILY well, instead of underserving an audience that's much too broad. Think Blue Apron. So, do you have any idea what the significance of the name "Blue Apron" is? Well, according to the company's website, "chefs around the world wear blue aprons while learning to cook." And that's PERFECT for this company, considering that it's mission is to "make incredible home cooking accessible to everyone." It's not trying to put itself out there as the food home delivery company for everyone no matter how well you can cook. Instead, it's focusing on those who probably aren't going to be hosting their own show on The Food Network anytime soon. Check out what some of their raving fans are saying:
  • Refusing to be like everyone else--and having fun in the process. Think Ben & Jerry's. When I was growing up, the most "out there" ice cream flavor was Rocky Road. And when you bought ice cream, well--you were just buying ice cream. But Ben & Jerry's changed all of that back in 1978 when they opened up their first scoop shop. They made buying ice cream an experience. Personalities were defined by what flavor you liked. Cherry Garcia®? (YES, thank you!) Phish Phood®? Chocolate Therapy®? And Ben & Jerry's also became known as a company with a conscience.
  • Avoid "feature fatigue." (Seriously. It's a thing. Check it out here.) Think Uber. Here's what Forbes had to say about it: "When the service launched, would anyone had cared if they had a slightly better taxi experience, but could also make deliveries? No, that would have just been them trying to do too much and, most likely, doing it all poorly. Instead, people care about Uber because it is way, way better and way, way more convenient than riding a taxi. Uber focused on one thing—being a great transportation app—and devoted all its resources into doing that one thing really, really well." The lesson here? Find your one thing and do it better than anyone else.

If you have a great product or service or cause to sell, don't shortchange it by being a marketing scaredy cat. Be brave. Be bold. And be willing to push beyond what feels comfortable. That's where you'll stand out from all of the noise--and that's where the world will be waiting for you.

START TELLING THE WORLD ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS MORE EFFECTIVELY TODAY--FOR FREE!

Take the guesswork (and PAIN) out of writing great copy that sells what you're offering! Get this easy, step-by-step FREE guide that teaches you a simple and proven formula for writing copy that sells whatever you're offering. All the cool kids (and REALLY successful businesses) are using it! So get it today!

Are Your Words Lightning Bugs or Lightning Bolts?

"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter--'tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."

Mark Twain

We've all been there. We know what we're trying to say--but we just can't figure out how to say it. So, how do we go about finding those words--those lightning bolts--that make the hair stand up on the back of the reader's neck? That are so powerful they leave us awestruck? That elicit a desired emotion with surgical precision? And that--far too often--seem so very elusive?

I wish I had a magic something-or-other to give you that would be a foolproof way of grabbing the right word out of thin air every single time. But I don't. What I CAN do, though, is suggest two different--yet complementary--approaches. One is practical. And one is tactical. So, here goes:

PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR LIGHTNING BOLT HUNTERS

Explain It to a Kid (or Your Grandmother)

If you have a child or if you're around children for any length of time, then you're very familiar with questions like these:

"But, why??"

"What does that mean?"

"How does it work?"

If you're like me, these moments often leave you saying something incredibly intelligent. Something like, "Well, uh, you see, it's like--uh..." It's not that we don't KNOW the answer. (Well, at least we know it MOST of the time.) Instead, we find ourselves struggling to explain something that seems so obvious to us--but so mysterious to this curious child standing there looking to us for the answer. But just because something seems obvious doesn't mean we understand well enough to explain it. A quote often attributed to Albert Einstein says:

"You do not truly understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother."

Regardless of who said it, the big idea of the quote is true. Sometimes when I'm having trouble finding the right word, it's because ​I'm not fully understanding the concept I'm trying to write about. It's not clear enough in my mind. But, once I gain a better understanding of WHAT I'm writing about, then I become much more clear about HOW to write about it--including finding just the right words to do it. 

Write Like You Talk

One thing I see when working with writers is that they often try to write in ways that sound NOTHING like how they (or their audience) talk. So no wonder they struggle to find the right words (or ANY words, for that matter)! It's almost like they're writing in a foreign language that they can't speak and certainly don't understand. They use a word like "notwithstanding" instead of just saying "regardless." Or "furnish" instead of just plain ol' "give." Or they've picked some word out of a thesaurus that sounds smart--but they flub up the usage of it. (Remember--just because a word is listed as a synonym doesn't mean it conveys the meaning you're looking for.)

When you write like you or your audience talks, words start flowing much easier. Give it a try.

TACTICAL ADVICE FOR LIGHTNING BOLT HUNTERS

The following are some free online resources that can help you track down that lightning bolt of a word  you're searching for. Check them out. Play around with them. And see which of them works best for you.

Thesaurus.com

You probably already know about this resource. If you do--GREAT! Use it. It's pulled me out of some tough spots on many occasions. If you're not using it, USE IT! Why sit there struggling with how to say something when the answer might very well be right at your fingertips. ​

One Look Thesaurus

Although this is a thesaurus, you don't use it in the same way as you do a typical one. Instead, you type in the phrase that describes what you're trying to find a word for and it helps you find that word. Pretty cool stuff!​

RhymeZone

In addition to helping you find rhyming words, RhymeZone can also help you find things like descriptive words, lyrics that include the word you're researching, and even PICTURES that represent the word. All of these are incredibly helpful in getting the creative juices flowing when ​you're looking for just the right way to say something.

Lexical FreeNet

This tool is great for helping you find connections between words. For example, when I type in "football" (the American version of the game), it gives me connections like "quarterback", "league", "players", "coach" and--yes--"soccer." 🙂

alphaDictionary

When you're writing about something in a specific area--like food or construction or even dinosaurs--this tool provides easy access to dictionaries for these various topics. Need to know the lexicon of parrots? Terms used in folk dancing? ​The name of a dress style from the Baroque period? I'd start with alphaDictionary.

Words by Grammarly

I really like the interface of this tool. You not only get synonyms and definitions listed on the same page, but you can also see the WordScore--which gives you information about how often a synonym is used in comparison to others.

Power Thesaurus

This tool is SO cool! It's a crowdsourced thesaurus built by writers for writers. ​And our fellow wordsmiths are adding to it all the time, so it's a living, breathing resource. You can also see what words people are looking for in real time--which is a fun feature in and of itself if you're a word geek like me.

We're All Storm Chasers

As writers, we spend a lot of time chasing down the right word. Why? Because we know the power it has to make a difference in the impact our writing will have. It can be SUCH a frustrating search, though. We KNOW it's out there--but where?

Being a great writer--not merely a good writer--means that we have to accept that we'll always be storm chasers. We'll always be on the hunt for that lightning bolt that will transform our writing into something magical. Something that people don't just read--but actually feel. And it's up to each of us to figure out the best way to approach the hunt. But, regardless how how you hunt, the most important thing is to never stop searching.

It's okay to have some lightning bugs sprinkled through our writing. Because, after all, great writing has a rhythm to it. But for those certain parts --only a lightning bolt will do. It's out there. Go get it.

If you like this, then you'll like the other stuff we're doing over at The Smarter Writing Lab! So, join us!