Five Copywriting Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

copy-squareI love the fact that WordPress allows people to update their own websites without calling a web designer. If you are someone who is responsible for putting words on a website, here is a list of common website copy mistakes to avoid so that you look good and get better results.

Too Much Text

Presenting your visitors with a wall of text is a sure way to have them not read any of your content. Some people are very attached to all of their words, while others simply don’t know how to write for the web. You really don’t want your website to look like someone copied and pasted text from company documents right onto the web pages.

Another instance of too much text, is the use of long form sales copy on a website. Well-crafted long form copy does work for product launches, but taking too much of an old school sales approach on your website can boomerang, and make your visitors angry.

Too much text on a website is not necessary or helpful. Do people a favor and edit it down to just what you need to say. [Read more…]

You’ve Launched your Website Now What ?

What's next after website launchYou’ve launched your business website. You like how it looks, your home page messaging seems on target and then crickets……

“Build it and they will come” is a nice idea but I’m afraid it’s going to take a bit more work than that.

Seems silly to say, but I’m going to say it anyway, to grow your business online, you’re going to need to do some marketing. The good thing is that these days, it takes time rather than money. You will need to figure out what actions you need to take that are right for your business, then do those things – consistently. When you begin to take the right kinds of actions you will start to see the magic.

So what exactly will you need to do?

First, you will need [Read more…]

Effective Websites Require More Than a Pretty Design

effective websites require more than a pretty designOne of the hardest challenges web designers face is helping clients create effective websites that actually convert users into customers.  It is not enough for a site to have a nice design. Our real work is to provide a platform that will build interest in the company, instill trust in what they do and that allows for the development of ongoing relationships that will eventually generate business.

People who build their own sites or have a friend do it, are at a serious disadvantage since they don’t usually have the background in website marketing and usability needed to create the proper web presence. Even us professional designers and developers have our work cut out for us in educating our clients and steering them towards best practices.

Clients fall on a continuum of preconceived notions about marketing and personality styles from narcissists to introverts. Web developers working with clients who are entrenched at either end of this continuum have to overcome their biases and inclinations to create effective websites.

On one end of this scale are people who [Read more…]

How to Hug a Porcupine: Tips on Dealing With Difficult Clients

how to hug a porcupineSometimes in life we brush up against people who are hard to get along with. And since business is no different, we need to figure out how to deal effectively with more difficult clients.

One of my favorite little books on the subject, How to Hug a Porcupine?  poses the question like this:

How do you hug some billy goats?
Entice them with a bag of oats.

And surely you can hug a pig,
just spread your arms out extra big.

Hugging bunnies is just divine,
But how do you hug a porcupine?

Every industry has their version of the difficult client. When you’re looking back on your interactions with these difficult clients you can usually spot the red flags that were there from the beginning.

Seeing these signs in a prospect, doesn’t necessarily mean you should avoid taking on that particular person as a client, but you need to understand upfront who it is you are dealing with and make clear agreements ahead of time.

[Read more…]

Love Letters to Your Company

Love LettersWhether I am thinking about working with someone, or looking for an AirBnB, I always read their customer reviews. I often ask my guests at the Urban Oasis Bed and Breakfast to go on TripAdvisor and leave a review after their stay. But today I am asking for a testimonial from you, my Just a Digital Minute reader.  I would greatly appreciate your feedback about the JADM or about working with us as a client of New Tricks.

To help you along, I have included some sample prompts to help you organize your thoughts; that would be beneficial for our prospects to hear, but hey, feel free to go off script:-) [Read more…]

What Your Social Media Images Say About the Brand of You

Judi Knight Selfie

My latest selfie

This probably comes as no surprise, but “selfie” was the Word of the Year in 2013 according to the Oxford English Dictionary. A selfie is defined as “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”.

Lately, as a part of working on branding, I take a glimpse at client Facebook images and what they reveal about that person. I find that people don’t really think about how they may come across to others on social media, sometimes at their own expense.

Your employer, your customers, interviewers and even your friends are looking at your pictures and making their own assessments. Have you thought about what they would see and think about you? [Read more…]

Stop Flying Under the Radar: The Importance of a Social Network

The importance of a social networkIt may come as a surprise that many of our clients are not very technical, and some even go as far as to pride themselves on their resistance to using LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media sites to stay connected.

Some of these people do it the old fashion way, being diligent about manually keeping up with personal and professional contacts over the years. They immediately send an email after meeting a new acquaintance, add the person to their contact list, and send cards or articles of interest to that person upon occasion. I admire that practice, but most people who eschew the use of social media don’t even do that.

Some people just aren’t focused on adding new contacts to their social networks. People who are currently [Read more…]

Goals are Dreams with Deadlines

goals are dreams with deadlines“Since you‘ve not been meeting your goal of 25 referral development contacts a month, lets just bump it up to 50 a month.” That is what my corporate boss said to me a few months into my first job as the director of an addiction treatment program.

I knew that these marketing calls were spelled out on my list of things to do to get my yearly bonus. But not being money driven, and not liking marketing calls, I just sort of ignored the seemingly impossible numbers. But, my boss explained to me that his bonus was tied to me meeting my goals, and he cared about getting every bit of his bonus.

Whoa. Once I learned that, I had to really step it up and follow our marketing plan. And, it worked. We did well, became very well respected and I ultimately got a promotion to the corporate office helping other hospitals around the country establish thriving clinical treatment programs. [Read more…]

Go Ahead and Start Somewhere

Start SomewhereWhether or not your business is perfect, or even where it needs to be, I want to congratulate those of you that have gotten yourselves and your businesses out there. What sets you apart from the crowd is that you took action, and got the job done. And done is better than perfect.

One of my recent clients needed everything from a business name to branding, logo, and website design.

His goal was to get his products out to test them, and he was very excited about taking a big step from being a cubicle dweller to starting his own business.

We designed his website with a beautiful gallery to display the products, and when the time is right, he can easily transform the gallery into a store for people to purchase items.  He had us design a logo, and we began to piece the website together. [Read more…]

Develop An Online Presence Before You Need One

Starting on online presenceI know a lot of people, with a full and and rewarding careers, who are not ready to stop working completely but are ready for a change to do the work they want to do on their own terms.

Although you might think I tell everyone to start a blog, that’s actually not true. I do however, promote blogging as a strategy for people who have something to say, who want to build up their reputations and who have a lot to gain by getting themselves out there with their own website.

Whether you are a corporate executive who will be noticed for his or her thought leadership, or a college student diving into the job market for the first time, having your own website is a great way to help position you to succeed. [Read more…]

Getting Organized, the Sequel

insightly_logo-1It’s a miracle! I finally found a project management program that fits our needs, and that everyone on the team actually enjoys using.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about my efforts to get reorganized. I say reorganized because when I first started my business I had all of our collateral documents, bios, product descriptions, client processes and such up to date in their proper files. Over time, these documents have been revised and rewritten, and lets just say without version control, it is a mess.

We have been using DropBox for quite some time, but my team doesn’t like to download DropBox to their desktops since it slows their computers down when it syncs. It’s also awkward to use from the cloud since you have to download a file to work on it and then upload it again. [Read more…]

The Secret to Great Content and Developing a Following

SecretGreatContent2The secret to getting traffic to your website is providing content that is in sync with your brand, and valuable to your customers.  It’s important to write content that shows your expertise, is entertaining, or develops a relationship between you and your people. You will notice a couple issues arise: first, how to find valuable content and then, how to make it your own.

In order to develop a content strategy, you need to know your right customers and what information they will value receiving from you. Who are they? What are their pain points, where are they coming from? What is the best way to communicate with them? What do they really want to know? How can you be the source of making that content accessible to them? [Read more…]

Advice to Desperate Small Business Owners

Website PresenceI’ve spoken to a lot of small business owners about their websites these past few weeks, and I can tell you that there are a lot of people desperate for information about how to get an online presence.

It’s not enough just to be online. Your site should be designed, and the content written, in a way that demonstrates your expertise with a particular kind of client/issue and gives them the information they need to do business with you.

These days, by the time someone contacts you from your website, they have done a search for your services and are 70% of the way to making a decision to work with you. If your site does a good job, when someone calls, your job will be to close the sale. [Read more…]

Practice What You Preach: Website Do-over

Last week, I did website evaluations in a Workshop at the Food and Wine conference in Orlando. As I was telling them what could be improved on their websites, I realized that the same could be said for my old Urban Oasis Bed and Breakfast website. I told them that I really had no room to talk since I was guilty of the same infractions, and that I was going to go home and fix my site. I always say that my Bed and Breakfast site is my step-child website; the one that never gets enough attention from bad mommy.

When I got back to town, my team went to work to change that. Michael put together a site design with an updated look and feel. I hate to admit it, but he had to fight with me tooth and nail about a lot of the changes. I understand how my clients feel about changing their sites, it is hard to give up things that you’ve lived with for a while, but it becomes necessary to give up our blankies to keep up with the times. [Read more…]

Twenty Tips for a Scrumptious Food Blog

pot and spoonEveryone and their sister has a blog these days, and what better thing to blog about than food? Food is one of the highest searched content areas on the web. I tried to find how many food blogs there were but the only figure I could find with real numbers was from a 2012 post on a site called Taking back the Kitchen that quoted Technorati saying there were 16,588 Food blogs at that time. I could not update or even verify that information with Technorati since in May of this year Technorati removed all of their pages of their blog directory and associated information and hasn’t replaced it.

The thing about blogging is that it is hard to do. At least it is hard to do for the long haul. Many people start and then abandon their blogs like gym memberships in July when they find out that to blog on a consistent basis is a JOB. [Read more…]

Spread Love with Blog Posts and Emails: Get New Clients and Keep the Old

SPREADLOVEAccording to HubSpot, “Customers who write just 3-4 blog posts per month get 20 more monthly lead submissions, 800 more monthly site visits, 60 more Twitter followers, and 50 more Facebook Likes than customers who only write 2 blog posts per month”. I’d say that those are pretty impressive statistics.

This week the New York Times posted an article, For Email Newsletters, a Death Greatly Exaggerated.  As part of their premise that Email Newsletters are not actually dead, they went on to say that they can provide a sort of intimacy between a company and its clients.  I like how they put that since I think that is the best reason for a newsletter. [Read more…]

Collect Testimonials on Your WordPress Site Using Gravity Forms

Collect Testimonials on Your WordPress Site Using Gravity FormsCollecting testimonials from your clients can be a time consuming and slow process, so why not automate the process and let Gravity Forms do the heavy lifting?

After working with a client, there is a good chance you send them some sort of invoice or thank you email. What if you could insert a link in that communication to a form that allows your clients to compose a WordPress testimonial post and does everything but publish it? You can, and it’s easy! Using Gravity Forms you can have your clients fill out a form that automatically creates a WordPress post categorized as “Testimonial” with a picture they’ve uploaded. Here are 7 simple steps to automate your testimonial process: [Read more…]

WordCamp Asheville Keynote: How did we get here?

When I started thinking about what I might say in this keynote address, the song, “Once In A Lifetime” by the Talking Heads kept popping into my head.

“And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack

And you may find yourself in another part of the world

And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile

And you may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife

You know that song?

So how did we all find ourselves here today, on this beautiful weekend in Asheville, when you could be doing any number of other things?

Can you think of a time in your life when you [Read more…]

Naming Your Business

Name your businessOnce you have done a little branding homework, it’s time to choose a name for your baby business.  You don’t need to pay big bucks to a naming firm to help you choose a name for your business. On the other hand, it is important to spend the time to find the right name for your business and make sure there are no issues with it.

There are several directions you can go to find a name:

1)    A proper name. Using your own name works for a single practitioner or a professional service but for other businesses it can limit you later if you ever want to sell. Another problem with it is that it puts too much focus on one personality. Using a made up person’s name is not recommended unless you have a really good reason, since it is not authentic. You must have a story behind the name that reflects your brand. Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium actually works since it definitely has a story behind it. [Read more…]

Creating a Brand Strategy for Your New Business

Brandind-Just do it!People are always so eager to start their new business that they often overlook the important process of deliberately defining their brand identity. When they do take the time to go through the steps below it will help in every step thereafter. Naming, content development, website design and all other brand messaging will flow from the information that you develop during this process.

What is your product or service?

First you must know what the purpose of your business is. What products and services are you providing? Why are you going into this business? What is the story behind your [Read more…]

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