Building Trust Through Your Content

Rarely do we do business with someone we don’t know or never heard of. Usually, especially if it’s a big purchase, we’ll ask for recommendations from our contacts, testimonials of happy customers, examples of their work, or a satisfaction guarantee. We want to get to know the person or business we’re dealing with. We want to trust them before we make a purchase.

I love Bob Burg’s quote: “All things being equal, people do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust.”. Being liked and being trusted doesn’t happen over night. It takes a lot of work, patience and follow through. There are many ways to build trust, and one of those ways is through your content.

How Does Content Build Trust?

The information you write about your business, your voice and your consistency all contribute to building trust. You can earn and build trust with your customers through:

Your website. When a customer is shopping around for a product or service you sell, one of the first places they will look is your website. They will want to learn more about you, what you offer, and the perceived level of professionalism you portray. They will learn these things through the content on your website. Does your content make sense? Does it speak to them? Does it sound like you are trying to help them, or does it sound like a sales pitch?

Your blog. Potential customers will also learn about your company through a blog. They may find your blog from your website, or they may find it because the topic you have written about comes up in their Google search. Either way, the blog articles you write, if written correctly, will be giving them advice or information related to your product, service or industry. By writing about it and offering information, you gain credibility.

Your email marketing. Your monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly newsletters or e-blasts are another way to build trust. Email marketing is powerful, because if you’ve been given permission to email them or they’ve opted in to your list, your message is sent straight to their email inbox. When these emails offer information that will help them, or offer a promotion of a product they’ve expressed interest in, you build trust.

Your social media. Everyone is on social media today, and it’s important that your business has a presence. Social media offers unique opportunities to connect with your potential customers personally, through likes, comments, shares and direct messaging. But if you’re going to be there, you must commit to it. Unanswered customer comments is like locking your door during business hours – or worse – slamming the door in their face.

Tips for Creating Trusted Content

As you are creating content for your business, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Be helpful. Always look for ways to solve a problem in your content.
  • Be knowledgeable. You have industry experience and expertise that your customer’s don’t have, but need. Share it with them through your content. Let them know you know your stuff.
  • Be consistent. Being consistent means doing what you say you are going to do. If you’ve committed to sending out a monthly newsletter, then do it. If your customers expect that you’ll be on social media three times a week, then do it. If your last social media post was dated two years ago, or you suddenly stop sending your monthly emails, your customers may wonder if you’re still in business. Inconsistency casts a shadow of doubt that you don’t want your customers to have.
  • Keep your content updated. Take promotions, sales or events off of your website the day they end. If you’ve hired a new team member, add him or her to your website and remove the person who was replaced. Having outdated information on your website leaves the impression that no one is working, or no one cares that the information is old.

Like any other relationship in your life, building trust with your customers is a process. And creating valuable content gives you the opportunity to earn it. Once you have it, treasure it and grow it. Your business will grow too.

If you need help creating content for your business, please feel free to contact me.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Features of Quality Content that Attracts and Engages Your Audience

Have you ever spent hours writing a blog post for your business, only to discover that few people read it?

Have you created and sent out an e-newsletter, then later learned it got an open rate of less than 5%?

In an effort to engage your audience, have you posed a question on social media that no one answered?

If any of these situations have ever happened to you, you are not alone. Creating content that is received well by your intended audience is a challenge, and its not because what you are writing is “not good enough” or “poorly written.” Your content simply has a lot of competition.

Most companies use content marketing as a way to reach their audiences. This means they are pumping out countless articles each day (blog posts, e-blasts, social media updates) in an effort to brand themselves and become perceived as an expert source. You have to compete with all of this content. Your chance of rising above your competition and being noticed by your audience is in the quality of what you create.

So what makes content interesting to your audience? Try making a few simple tweaks to your content by adding the following five attributes:

  1. An attention getting headline. Your headline or title of your content may be short, but it has an important job. Its job is to entice the reader to continue reading. From the headline or title, the reader decides if he or she is interested enough to keep going, hit the delete button or close the browser window. For this reason, the headline or title of your content needs to be interesting, raise curiosity, or ask a question your reader wants the answer to.
  2. A valuable message. The momentum you develop in your headline must continue into the opening paragraphs of your content. Your words should be enticing, and the first few paragraphs should get and keep your audience’s attention. The message you deliver in your content must bring value to your audience. It must be something he or she wants to know more about, or can use to help solve a problem or question they have. Simply writing about your product or service is not enough. You must tell a story of how and why your product is the answer your audience is looking for.
  3. A powerful image. A picture is worth a thousand words, and that saying carries over into your writing. An image, photo, graphic, or infographic goes a long way in not only attracting your audience’s attention, but also keeping it and helping them to remember your content as well.
  4. Readable text. Online readers generally don’t like to read a lot of text. Text-heavy paragraphs on a fuzzy computer screen, a small mobile phone, or a tablet will cause most readers to give up before they really get started. For that reason, you must make your content readable on these platforms. Use short paragraphs, subheadings to break up text, bulleted or numbered lists, bold words, or images and graphics. These make your content easier to skim, allowing your readers to find the information they are looking for quickly.
  5. Call to action. Your call to action is your request or suggestion to your reader to take a particular action. There should be a call to action on every piece of content you write, even if it is just asking them to comment on your post or sign up for your email list. Having a call to action helps you identify your target audience, because those that take you up on it are showing they are interested in furthering their relationship with you and learning more about your business.

So the next time you are writing content for your business, refer to the attributes above and incorporate them in to your writing. Getting your audience’s attention, delivering readable, valuable content, and encouraging them to take an action will increase your engagement, and turn your audience into long term, loyal customers.

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image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/4460976042/

Promote Your Business With the Spirit of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all we are grateful for, and it’s a great opportunity for businesses to show appreciation for their customers.

This Thanksgiving, take a few moments to add that personal holiday touch to your marketing efforts. Here are five suggestions that can get your name out in front of your customers and also promote goodwill and the spirit of the season:

#1. Add a Thanksgiving image to your website and social media accounts. Updating your website, Facebook cover page or twitter profile picture with a holiday graphic is a great way to show your holiday spirit. You are also demonstrating that you are updating your website regularly and are active in your social media accounts – all things your customers will benefit from. Don’t forget to change it to something else on Black Friday!

#2. Ask your employees to add a message to their email signatures. Ask each of your employees to write a short sentence about what they are grateful for this season, and add it to their email signature. Every email they send will include this personal message that customers will read and appreciate.

#3. Send out Thanksgiving cards, e-cards or emails. Whether paper or electronic, a Thanksgiving card is a nice gesture, and not many businesses send them. Your customers will appreciate that you took a moment to thank them for their business this year. You could also remind them of any sales or special hours you have over the holiday weekend.

#4. Free giveaways. Everyone likes to get something for free, so develop a business related e-book, white paper or helpful checklist that your customers can download as your gift to them – just for being your customer.

#5. Run a food drive that benefits a local charity. Organize a special food drive where every can your customers donate to your business will earn them $1 off the purchase of a product or service. This is a great way to support local charities, gain exposure for your company and increase the traffic into your business.

Customers like to feel appreciated, especially by businesses they frequent and support on a regular basis. Be sure to incorporate special giveaways, sales, recognitions and other customer service strategies into your overall marketing plan. Reward your customers for their business, not only at Thanksgiving, but also all year long.

If you need help with your content efforts or would like to learn more about how it can benefit your business, feel free to contact me, or join my email list below.

Marketing Lessons from Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, and soon (if we haven’t already), we’ll be shopping for costumes, planning parties and buying candy to give out on one of our kids’ favorite holidays of the year.

As I reflect on the traditions and customs that come with this time of year, I’ve identified some parallels between the fun events of fall/Halloween and the marketing of our businesses.

Here are a few business and marketing lessons we can all learn from the fun, scary and sugar-filled holiday of Halloween:

Being present makes a difference. If you have multiple kids going in different directions, you may have to chaperone the beggar’s night and leave a bucket of candy on your front porch. It’s better than not participating at all, right? You may include a note that says something like, “Happy Halloween! Take two treats!”

And while it does the job, it’s not quite the same as being there personally handing out candy. It’s much more fun for the kids to say, “Trick or Treat!” and watch as you place a few pieces of candy in their plastic pumpkins or pillowcases. There’s always the conversation, comments about the costume and other personalizations that make it fun for the kids.

The same holds true for your business. When you, the owner, are personally present in the day-to-day operations, it makes a difference to your customers. You are the one they deal with. You are the one that hears their needs or concerns. You are the one that helps them solve a problem.

Employees, managers and buckets of candy with notes all serve a purpose, but they can’t hold a candle to your personal involvement with your business.

If you have a unique or quality product, people will talk. One of our old neighbors used to wheel a movie-theater style popcorn machine to the end of their driveway and pop fresh popcorn as a treat on Halloween night. The warm, buttery smell called trick or treaters (and parents) from blocks away. Everyone talked about it how good it was. All the parents would ask which house was giving away the popcorn they saw everyone else walking around with. There was often a line of kids and parents all the way down the sidewalk waiting for their small bag. It was popular because it was delicious and it was different.

If you have a product that stands out in front of your competitors’ products, customers are going to talk about it and they will come back for more. How can you make you product different? How can you entice your customers to walk past the other businesses and stand in line on your sidewalk?

Make it easy for your customers to find what they are looking for. A corn maze at a local pumpkin farm is fun to get lost in, but no one wants to struggle to find what they are looking for in your business. Whether you have a store with products on shelves, or you rely on your website to provide information for your customers, they won’t tolerate dead ends and walking in circles.

Be sure the information in your business and on your website is presented in an organized, intuitive manner. Don’t make your website copy so heavy that they have to read long paragraphs to find what they are looking for. There should always be a call to action and an easy way for your customers to contact you, ask questions and get more information. Your customers are busy people, and they need to get their information as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Who knew there were so many marketing lessons in Halloween?

If you need help with your content marketing efforts or would like to learn more about how it can benefit your business, feel free to contact me, or join my email list below.

 

Study Shows That Spelling Still Counts

LOL, IDK and BRB mean more than just “laugh out loud,” “I don’t know,” and “be right back.” They are symbolic of the shortcut to communication many millennials are using in their text messages and emails. But as it turns out, these trendy communicators have little tolerance for spelling and grammar errors.

In an online Harris Poll conducted from July 31 to August 4 of 2015, Dictionary.com reports that responders in the 18-34 year age group were bothered – more than any other age group – by spelling errors on social media.

The study cited the types of misspellings, commonly confused words and grammar rules that bothered respondents of all ages the most.

As a writer, it’s nice to see the value of the written word hasn’t diminished by the shortcuts and abbreviations most of us use today to communicate. In our world where cell phones and tablets are with us 24-7, responding to messages or posting updates has never been faster and easier. We are always reachable, and replying is as quick as a few finger strokes. With that kind of volume, speed, and accessibility we are bound to make mistakes.

Mistakes make an impression about you and your business, so when you are composing or responding on the go to text messages, emails, or messages on social media, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Slow down a little. Devoting a few extra seconds to composing a message isn’t going to take up that much of your life. Editing will go faster if you haven’t made any mistakes to begin with.
  2. Proofread everything at least once before you send it. Even the shortest texts and emails. Be on the lookout for spelling errors, grammar errors, and words that auto correct guessed wrong. The Internet is full of embarrassing examples of auto correct’s well-intended suggestions that changed the meaning of a message entirely.
  3. Don’t rely on spell check. It’s a good first line of defense, but it’s not foolproof.
  4. Read each word individually. This will help you identify words you have left out because you couldn’t type as fast as you were thinking.
  5. Don’t get comfortable. While texts and emails can’t be retracted, most social media outlets allow you to edit your post or update. Don’t slack off on composing or proofreading because of this. You may not catch the mistake before someone else does.
  6. Be polite. Don’t forget your manners when you’re in a hurry. An abbreviated “pls” or “thx” for please and thanks goes a long way toward making an impression with your recipient.

Technology is a wonderful thing that allows us to be connected to each other and our customers more than ever before. The study proves that no matter what the age, most people still value accuracy when it comes to the English language. So get back to the basics. Proofread your work, even your shortest and fastest compositions, and make sure your message is received the way you intended it.

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