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Friday, July 19 2019

July 17 2019

Greetings!

Here are a few basic guidelines I find useful and that I keep coming back to:

  • A clear subject line. For me, the subject line is the reason I open an email or not. So Instead of saying “follow up to our conversation” it might be better to be more specific like “questionnaire attached” or ‘the proposal you requested".

  • A greeting such as “Hey", "Yo" or "Hiya" may not be professional, depending our your audience. Try using "Hi" or "Hello" instead. Or if you need to be more formal you could use “Dear [Name]",

  •  Beware of humor: it doesn’t translate well onto the page. Often a humorous effect comes from tone of voice or body language, in addition to the words. Without those clues, your reader may misinterpret the humor, not realize it’s a joke, or think it’s cynical or sarcastic. And that doesn't serve anyone.

  • Proofread before you send the email. A message full of spelling errors makes you look sloppy or careless. Sure, a mistake can slip in now and then but if you constantly send out messages with mistakes, it can damage your image.

  • Don’t send an email when you’re angry. You can write the message, but save it and read it again and make adjustments when you’re calmer so that the message is neutral.

Do you have other favorite tips that help you present yourself professionally and encourage people to read your emails? Let me know!

Posted by: Maggie AT 12:37 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, July 04 2019

July 3, 2019

Greetings!

I got an offer for a website review from a business owner who specializes in website design, development and maintenance. I’ve been on her list for a very long time because she delivers good content. She's helped me personally too and I've always liked her down-to-earth, compassionate approach to service.

She prefaced the offer by saying that she normally only does this for her clients, not for the general public. OK. So this is a steal. I can accept that.

I read on and the message was connecting and engaging. Her offer sounded great. 

Until the end.

You could click on a link to be added to a separate list if you’re interested in this offer. Good idea, so those who aren’t interested in this offer aren’t being bugged with unwanted emails.

And then came the warning:

“WARNING...if you say NO, I will not send you any more reminders and NO Website Review Special deals, which you might regret.” 

And the part that that bugged me was those last few words: “which you might regret.” The friendly, respectful tone of the email up to that point was instantly negated by this not-so-subtle pressure, by tapping into the guilt or fear of missing out (FOMO) in a way which was inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the email.

From a place of respect and softness and helpfulness, it suddenly transformed into a do-what-I’m-suggesting-or-else-there’ll-be-consequences kind of tone. I have nothing against people using this kind of tone if it fits their personality and the tone of what's around it.

However, in this case the lack of consistency between the bulk of the email and this “warning” damaged the impression I had of her offer and how she operates and created niggling doubt in my mind.

I’m interested in your opinion. Do you think that last sentence is too pressuring and hypey compared to the rest of the email? Or am I overly sensitive?

Posted by: AT 12:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, June 19 2019

Greetings!

Lots of business owners write their own materials. There’s nothing wrong with that - but here’s what can go wrong.

You want it done quickly. You want that website content TOMORROW!

The problem is that writing is a process. We understand that it takes time to develop a website, it takes time to learn a language, it takes time to plan and cook a meal. Yet somehow we assume that because we use words all day long and we all learned to write in school, writing will happen in a heartbeat without much effort.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Here's how to break it down into doable portions.

When you’re writing, there’s the creative part and then there’s the editing part. They’re different.

In the creative part, let the ideas flow even if they seem totally off the wall. Get them on the page. Don’t censor. Otherwise you’ll start second guessing yourself and that stops the creative flow of ideas. And you’ll end up doubting yourself and your ability to get it done.

Then start editing, organizing the words in the right sequence, refining, deleting, adding.

As I heard on a webinar recently: “go slowly to go quickly.” In terms of writing, this makes total sense.

The more you’re willing to take the time to go through the process, the more likely you are to end up with words that create the impact you want.

The two broad steps above will get you started on the right track.

And as always, if you get stuck and need help go here to contact me. I can write, edit, or if you really want to learn how to do it yourself, I can teach you that too.

Posted by: AT 12:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, May 02 2019

A while back, I wrote an article about hype in marketing. As I wrote I was thinking mainly of the ‘gurus’ who use exaggerated language and wild promises to get people excited about buying what they’re selling. 

That’s where I was coming from when I wrote it.

One of my subscribers wrote back and said how sick she was of the political shenanigans etc…

And yes, her underlying assumption was correct: what the candidates do to persuade people to vote for them is also marketing.

The email from my subscriber reminded me once again how important it is in marketing to be aware of what the people you want to attract to you are thinking about so you can tailor your words to them.

They are reading your message through THEIR lens, NOT yours.

What do they WANT? What are the problems they face daily that you can help solve?

One of my mentors put it very succinctly when he said: “You have to join the conversation that’s going on inside the head of the person you want to attract.”’

With that approach you have a better chance of connecting in a way that makes sense to them.

If you'd like to learn more about creating a profile of the clients you want to attract, so that your words resonate with them, go here to get in touch with me.

Posted by: AT 12:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, February 28 2019

Which is most important in selling your services or products: WHAT you're offering or WHY someone would need it?

About a hundred years ago, a famous copywriter called Claude Hopkins wrote that the WHY of what you're selling matters more than the WHAT. And since human behavior and psychology doesn't change that quickly, his words are still very valid.

He was a huge proponent of 'reason why' words and he turned out to be one of the most influential marketing and advertising writers of all time.

I can say: "I write marketing materials.' That's WHAT I do. But if I say: "I create words for your website, flyers and postcards so they get the attention of your ideal clients" I'm telling you WHY the service would interest you.

Or if a Search Engine Optimization specialist says: "I do search engine optimization", that's different from saying: "I make sure your website comes up on the first page of Google so people can find you easily."

What would excite someone about what you sell? With that focus, your words have more power to connect and engage, and you have a greater chance that someone will respond to your message.

If you'd like to dig more deeply into the WHY? of your message, go here to get in touch with me. and let's talk.

All good wishes, Maggie

Copyright 2019 Maggie Dennison

Posted by: AT 12:48 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, February 25 2019

I read that recent Microsoft research shows that that we have shorter attention spans than a goldfish! I don't know how true that is, but it does tie into the trend these days towards limiting the number of words you use to get your message across. When I'm talking to a client about a writing project, I often hear that they want very few words, and the reason they give is that no-one reads long messages.

My take on this is: It takes however many words it takes to get your message across succinctly and persuasively and so that it fulfills your purpose. If the message is compelling, interesting and relevant to the person reading, they WILL read it.

However, that doesn't mean you can ramble! Your message still needs to be on point.

Think about it this way: if we only wanted really short messages, no one would ever read a book, watch a movie, listen to a lecture or even read a newspaper article.

The key is to make your message engaging so the reader keeps reading because they want to find out more.

That's the art in good messaging.

For a message that keeps your audience engaged, get in touch with me

Copyright 2019 Maggie Dennison

Posted by: AT 02:38 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, September 14 2018

Last Friday evening I was in a tizzy and very scared about a gnarly, personal situation I had to deal with urgently. I called a friend to talk it over.

First she asked what happened. Then she started offering me solutions.

A few minutes into the conversation I was feeling squirmy even though her solutions were very practical and doable.

My unease was because she jumped right into the solution without any empathy or understanding of what was going on with me. I didn't feel heard and because of that, it was hard for me to consider her ideas.

That's what happens in our marketing messages too when we jump right into offering a solution without taking the time to acknowledge what's really going on a human level. Then things go wrong because we miss making the deeper connection that lets people know we care about them.

One of Stephen Covey's 7 habits of highly effective people says: "Seek first to understand and then to be understood." The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi expresses a similar idea. One of my mentors said: "Join the conversation that's going on in the heads of your potential clients."

Empathize. Show you understand. Then offer your solution.

Connection first.

All good wishes,
Maggie

Posted by: AT 07:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 15 2018

A swipe file is a file where you keep marketing materials you've 'swiped' from someone. And before you ask: no, that doesn't mean stealing.

The purpose of your swipe file is to keep examples of materials that worked for you because they connected with you and engaged you.

Then you can use your 'swiped' material to figure out what caught your attention and why, and how someone achieved the effect that pulled you in. And those insights will help you when you're creating your own materials.

A swipe file can be online or offline. Online can include items like website copy that made you want to take action; a promotion for a webinar that you signed up for; a page that enticed you to download a free ebook or video; a social media post that caught your attention; or an email that you found particularly effective.

An offline swipe file can contain brochures, catalogues, postcards or other printed marketing materials. Even the junk mail that lands in your mailbox daily. You may not be interested in what they're offering, but that missive was probably written by a professional and can be useful.

All this does not mean that you copy someone else's material. Absolutely not! That would be violating copyright laws. You're simply collecting examples that worked for you and keeping them as reference material.

And of course, if it seems like too much time, effort and energy to figure it out, you can contact a professional such as myself and I will apply the same techniques that helped get your attention, to writing or editing your materials.

Email me at Maggie@MyMarketingMessage.com or call me at 805 965 9173 and let's talk.

Copyright 2018 Maggie Dennison

Posted by: Maggie AT 10:45 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 07 2018

This week and last painters have been at work in my apartment complex. They're sanding the windows and doors, scraping the walls and power-washing the whole building in preparation for repainting.

It's noisy, dusty and distracting.

I knew I couldn't do my writing work during the hours I'm at my best because I need quiet surroundings to concentrate. But I found a way to rearrange my writing schedule so that I'm still getting my projects done.

Then I started to play a game with myself. I asked myself these questions:

  • How would I describe the sounds the painters are making?
  • And the smells?
  • What ideas best capture how they treated myself and the other tenants (which by the way has been highly professional)?
  • How would I talk about how they interacted with each other?
  • What words best describe how the other tenants responded to the disruption?
  • What does their equipment look like? During the day while they're working? And at night when they stack everything at the back of the building?

What could have been a huge annoyance became (at least for part of the time) a way for me to exercise my word muscle beyond what I would normally do. It was a learning opportunity that pulled me in a direction I would otherwise have ignored.

Are there unusual or unexpected situations in your daily life where you could get new perspectives on your area of expertise even if they don't seem obviously connected to your business? How would you describe them? And how would you talk about them to other people?

And of course, you can always contact me if you'd like feedback on your words.

Email me at Maggie@MyMarketingMessage.com or call me at 805 965 9173 and let's talk.

Copyright 2018 Maggie Dennison

Posted by: Maggie AT 04:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, July 31 2018

It's normal to ask for feedback when you've written a piece for your marketing.

Whether it's a website home page, a postcard or an email, someone else's perspective can be very helpful. It can even point out blind spots you don't see yourself because you're too involved in your words to be objective.

That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. Even though I'm a writer by profession, it happens to me too.

Yet the feedback doesn't always give you the type of response you're looking for. Often this is because of how you phrase your question.

When you ask someone "what do you think of this?" they're likely to come back with what I call "editorial comments." By that I mean things like "I don't like that word" or "this sentence could be shorter" or "there's a typo in the second line."

Those may be valid comments but don't really help you understand whether your words are effective or not.

I've found that a better question to ask is along the lines of "does this get your attention?" or "would this encourage you to want to find out more?"

This addresses the bigger picture and the impact of your words, rather than the nitty-gritty of grammar. Not that that's not important. It is. But first the content has to work and have impact on the people you want it to appeal to.

Try changing your question next time you need input and see if it makes a difference.

And of course, you can always contact me if you'd like feedback on your words.

Email me at Maggie@MyMarketingMessage.com or call me at 805 965 9173 and let's talk.

Copyright 2018 Maggie Dennison

Posted by: Maggie AT 04:52 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
 

 

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Maggie Dennison, M.A

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