Why would you ever pay someone to write?

Writing is a skill most of us learned in the early days of grade school—and one that we practice every day writing emails, notes and LinkedIn status updates. So why would you ever pay someone to do it for you?


Well, if you’re writing to a b2b audience, there are plenty of reasons. Today, an increasing number of clients are finding their next vendor online. This means your web content is making your first impressions for you, before you even have a chance to say two words to a potential lead. For this reason, it not only has to be informative—and answer the questions they need answered—but it needs to establish your company as the best in its field. You can’t do that with typos, grammatical errors or language that puts your audience to sleep.


When you hire a professional writer, you’re not only getting higher quality writing in a quicker timeframe. You’re also gaining access to that writer’s experience—which can translate into valuable insight and innovative ideas that can drastically improve your content marketing strategy. They’ll also be able to introduce you to current content marketing trends—and find ways to help you adapt these trends to your marketing needs.


If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of hiring a professional writer—and how to find a good one—download our ebook, The Right Fit: How to Outsource Great Writing.


The Loyalty Effect

Back in the day, Fred Reichheld, a strategy consultant at Bain & Co., wrote a seminal book on retaining customer loyalty called The Loyalty Effect. In it, he explains how most corporations lose 50 percent of their customer base every five years—a fact that severely stunts business growth. Reichheld determined that to acquire customer loyalty, you have to follow eight steps:


  1. Build a superior customer value proposition (think better quality service at each touchpoint of customer contact).
  2. Find the right customers.
  3. Earn customer loyalty (sounds simple, right?).
  4. Find the right employees.
  5. Earn employee loyalty.
  6. Gain cost advantage through superiour productivity.
  7. Find the right investors.
  8. Earn investor loyalty.


This notion of building loyalty from all angles—employees, customers and investors—is still relevant in today’s digital age, and provides a basis for many other loyalty strategies. This article offers up 17 killer strategies for establishing audience loyalty , that are all based around a holistic foundation that prioritizes a company’s reputation, credibility and integrity. Similarly, this Hubspot piece, which addresses the idea that B2B marketers need to focus on customer retention rather than loyalty, suggests prioritizing customer orientation, education (on your product or service) and communication—things that are difficult to do without a strong relationship with your employees.


What success have you seen in generating customer loyalty? In your experience, what works—and what doesn’t?


You made that up!


As writers, we often get attached to the way words work. So the idea of making up new words doesn’t always sit well with us. But should it? According to Erin McKean, who’s a lexicographer, language is meant to evolve—and part of the way it does this is through the invention of new words.

In the past few months alone, Oxford Dictionaries and Merriam-Webster have added a range of new words into the English lexicon, including:
twerk: v. To move (something) with a twitching, twisting or jerking motion.
crowdfund: v. To fund (a project or venture) by raising money from a large number of people, each of whom contributes a relatively small amount, typically via the Internet.
selfie: n. a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

And here’s an entertaining list of words that aren’t yet in the dictionary—but maybe should be. Our personal favourite? Nomonym. Definition: A food that tastes like another food.

What do you think about making up words? Do you have any made-up words that make it into your regular rotation?

photo credit: Twenty-eight points via photopin (license)

Combatting MAS: Mindless Accept Syndrome

It’s true that our “day jobs” here at AR Communications are as writers but, in many ways, we’re kind of like hairdressers too. Okay—maybe in just one main way.

People tell us about their challenges. What’s hard about their jobs. What makes their days inefficient. How they struggle to find time to get everything done. And, sometimes, they ask for advice.

I’ve shared a fair number of recommendations on this over the years—everything from how to organize your schedule, how to delegate and how to say no. In this TED Talk, though, David Grady provides some advice that I think is worth a listen: how to save yourself from bad meetings.


In the video, he discusses how Mindless Accept Syndrome (or MAS) has become a global epidemic. People across the world are accepting every meeting request that comes their way—and ending up losing hours of their lives in the process. He also offers one, simple way to free yourself from this vicious syndrome.


Are you suffering from MAS? Do you think you could put Grady’s solution to work to stop the spread of it?


Three simple steps to create a quick-and-easy company video


The thought of integrating video into your company’s marketing strategy can be daunting—and it’s easy to see why. From the creative concept and storyline through to original footage and hiring talent, suffice it to say, they take work. Yet, in today’s age of rapid content consumption—and rapid content creation—not all videos have to be award-winning productions to be successful. Depending on your audience, sometimes quick and easy is all you need.


Nothing is truer than in the B2B space. In most cases, B2B clients aren’t looking to be wowed by high-quality graphics and polished production footage. They’re watching videos from their favourite vendors—or potential vendors—because they crave information. And providing them with what they want can pay off. Consider these stats:


  • 92% of B2B customers watch online video.
  • 75% of execs watch work-related videos on business-related websites at least weekly.
  • By including a video in their emails or e-newsletters, companies can increase their open rates by 5.6% and increase click-through rates by 96%.
  • Businesses enjoy an 80% increase in conversions when video is added to a landing page.
  • YouTube is the second largest search engine—bringing in more than 4 billion views per day.


With this information in mind, it’s clear that B2B clients want to learn more about a product or service before investing in it. They want to see, first-hand, how a new upgrade will work. They want to hear from subject matter experts that can answer their burning questions, or help them troubleshoot a problem.


So how do you use the power of video to satisfy your target audiences’ needs without breaking the bank? Here’s a step-by-step guide to achieve just that:


Step 1: To reach your audiences in the most time- and cost-efficient manner possible, take your existing digital assets—like lower res videos, photographs, voice recordings and audio files—and assemble them into professional videos on the back-end.

Step 2: Supplement this existing framework with elements like storyboarding and scripting. Add some royalty-free images and music, using stock footage and audio files, and then liven things up with some location shooting around the office and embedded interactive elements (like click-through or other calls to action).

Step 3: Distribute it. Upload your video to YouTube, post it on your company blog and send it out in your next e-newsletter.

Wondering what the final product will look like? Check out our corporate video  which we assembled in just this way. If you want to know how we did it, just give us a call!


Are you vlogging yet?

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If corporate trends follow personal ones—and there’s plenty of evidence that they do—it’s time for large corporations to get more serious about vlogging (video blogging). To be sure, lots of companies are using video to liven up their web content, marketing campaigns, product launches, event communications and—yes—their blogs, but vlogging offers an additional benefit.

In the B2B space, vlog posts allow companies to showcase the expertise of their subject matter experts, communicate with their audience at a more intimate level and share content in a format that’s more interesting to consume—making it a popular medium both on desktops and devices

Creating a successful vlog doesn’t happen without effort, however. Here are a few tips to get it right:

  1. Determine, upfront, how much time you’re willing to commit.

While your vlog itself doesn’t have to be long (two to three minutes is plenty), it will take time to find things to vlog about, figure out what you want to say and record a few takes. Knowing this going in will help you determine how frequently you want to vlog.

  1. Make it a group effort.

One of the best things about a company vlog is that it doesn’t have to be the responsibility of just one person. Different members of your team can offer different expertise, insight and subject matter—and spreading the responsibility around increases the chances that episodes will be recorded regularly.

  1. Set a budget.

A vlog doesn’t have to break the bank. Depending on the level of professionalism you require, sometimes a smartphone camera is all you need. That being said, if a DIY look doesn’t exactly mesh with the rest of your brand, you may want to invest in a higher quality mic, camera or recording studio to give your vlog a more polished look.

  1. The message matters just as much (if not more than) the medium.

Yes, videos are cool. And yes, pictures are worth 1000 words. But the words you say while on camera matter. A lot. Your video can include Oscar-worthy special effects, but if you’re not offering insightful, useful or informative content to go along with them, your clients are going to stop watching. For this reason, it’s important to brainstorm what vlog topics will be of interest to your target audiences, create a content calendar and take the time to write a script (even a rough one) ahead of time to keep you on point.

While these tips should help get you started, they’re definitely not the be-all end-all. Throughout your vlogging journey you’ll undoubtedly uncover systems, processes and formats that fit your company tone and style, and allow the personality of your vloggers and business to shine through. Which, ultimately, is the point—isn’t it?

Have you started a company vlog yet? What are some things you’ve learned along the way?

photo credit: camcorder via photopin (license)

4 ways to keep the content flowing

writers block

So you’ve set up a blog for your business—congratulations! With content marketing picking up steam, and client hunger for insightful content growing, there’s definitely no knocking the benefits of these marketing tools. Blogs establish credibility, get your name out there and remain excellent search engine fodder. The only trouble? Finding a steady stream of content to publish.


If you’re having difficulty posting regularly because you’re not sure where to find appropriate content, here are a few tips:


  • Research competitive sites. This doesn’t give you a license to appropriate other people’s ideas. But it can give you insight into what other industry players are talking about. Armed with those basics, chances are you can spin off their original ideas with opinions, insights or an angle of your own.


  • Ask your experts. Find people inside your company that are very good at what they do and interview them about it. This not only lets you profile your people, it’s also an authentic way to share the expertise residing within your company.


  • Ask external experts. Guest blog posts are always popular, particularly if you invite posts from people who are well-known and/or well-respected in your industry. Yes, this sounds easier than it is. There’s an art to identifying and lining up guest bloggers—including finding people already writing on the topics of interest to your audience, determining if they’re available to write for you and deciding whether or not you want to pay them. As a rule of thumb, professional bloggers typically charge—but it’s a fee that may be worth paying if you’re getting access to regular, on-point content. On the flip side, some of your vendors, distributors, suppliers or business partners may be willing to blog for you without charge in exchange for exposure or an affiliation with your company. This is particularly true if your organization has clout—and a large distribution list. The best way to find out is to ask. You may be surprised by the people you can attract as guest bloggers by simply giving them a forum to write about the things they know best.

Not every blog post has to be an original masterpiece. Sometimes, the best posts are those that direct readers to relevant content on related sites, such as industry associations, magazines or research companies. You don’t want all your posts to be curated, but it’s entirely valid to share relevant data with your readers on topics of interest to them. In addition to saving your readers time, linking to other sites improves your searchability as well.

What tactics do you find particularly useful in keeping the content flowing?
photo credit: Day 220: What the heck am I writing via photopin (license)

How strictly should you stick to a content calendar?

When it comes to content marketing, a calendar is essential—but how often should you stick to it, and when should you stray?

There are certain events in business that are predictable and, as such, ideal for a content calendar. For example, accounting firms know that RRSP deadlines, income tax filing deadlines and tax refunds are going occur year-in, year-out. Mark them down, write the articles in advance, schedule them into your blogging software and you’re set. Read more