Simplified analytics for the non-IT user

Imagine, for a second, that all the pertinent information gleaned from your organization’s data was accessible to everyone—not just IT gurus.

The ‘no more excuses’ social media plan

Social media is a phenomenal way to connect with customers—but a consistent, effective strategy can also be a drag to maintain. In an ideal world, you’ll have someone to manage the day-to-day tasks for you. But if you don’t, you’ll be happy to hear you can do it yourself—in just 18 minutes a day. Hootesuite recently set out a great 18-minute social media plan for businesses. Basically, the minute-by-minute guide breaks down the social media experience into five easy steps: browse and engage; monitor; post; analyze; and schedule. It also gives you advice about how to apply the five steps to the various social media channels. In our opinion, it’s […]

Do copywriting formulas work?

I hate it when content takes longer to write than anticipated—especially when my calendar is overflowing with deadlines. So when I recently came across a website that offered a complete handbook of copywriting formulas—a handbook that promised to drastically reduce the amount of time I spent writing content—I felt like I hit the jackpot.

 

Right there in front of me were standard formulas for writing tweets, headlines, blog posts, web pages—virtually any form of content you could imagine. But, once I had a chance to really look at them, I have to admit—those formulas made my head spin. Honestly, I think it would take me longer to force information to fit into a template than it would to simply write that same content from scratch.

 

The entire experience got me thinking—is there really such thing as a copywriting formula? Judging from personal experience I’d say yes—but in very rare situations. If you’re sending out a standard press release—say, announcing the opening of a new office—then sure. Certain types of speeches could probably benefit from a fill-in-the-blanks approach also. But things you write in abundance—like blog posts? Personally, I think you need to freestyle those.

 

My reasoning is simple. The whole POINT of content marketing is to write pieces that will capture the attention of your target audience, and you can’t do that if all your content follows the same, predictable formula. Writing a boring, run-of-the-mill press release is fine if you just need something—anything!—to post in your website’s ‘news’ section. But if you want to really capture the attention of the media—and gain some coverage—you need it to stand out.

 

To do that, I suggest ditching the templates and, instead, trying some of these time-saving techniques:

  • Put the most interesting/important/eye-catching messages at the top of the page. Not sure what those messages are? Try implementing some tried-and-true journalistic rules—sourcing out the 5Ws, the news peg, the inverted pyramid—to help you organize your thoughts and find the nugget of information that will really speak to your audience.
  • Stop thinking so much. Can’t get that first paragraph perfect? Jot down the first thing that comes to mind—without worrying if it’s good or not. Revising it later is so much easier than getting it perfect the first time.
  • Tell the story. When verbally telling stories to others, we tend to naturally offer up the most interesting information first. It’s a great way to determine what’s really important about your piece—and also offer some clues on how to arrange your thoughts.
  • Glance at some precedents. When all else fails, look at a similar, previously-written piece of content. Pay close attention to how the information is arranged and copy that “formula” (in your own words, of course).

 

What do you think? Is there a time and a place for copywriting formulas? What tricks do you use to write efficiently? Please share—I’d love hear!

Finding your writing soulmate

Finding the right external writer to handle your b2b writing needs is a lot like dating—you have to know yourself first before you’ll even have a chance at finding your perfect partner. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of questions you may want to consider before beginning your search for your business writing soulmate.

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?

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

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.

4 ways to keep the content flowing

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.

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?