Secrets to Good Copywriting

Secrets to Good Copywriting


As small business owners, you utilize copy in many different ways. Whether in advertising or marketing, on websites or blogs, in emails, newsletters or brochures, your copy is a direct reflection of you as a business.

Good copy does three things:

  1.    Engages the reader,
  2. Speaks your message in an

intended voice and,

  1. Provokes a call to action.

Creating provocative messages in everything you scribe may seem intimidating, but there are a few tricks of the trade that you could utilize if having a full time copywriter on staff is not an option.

First and foremost, define your audience. Without a specific market in mind, you will not be able to cater your language to said audience, and you will be missing out on a marketable opportunity to “speak to their needs”.

Get inside their head, speak to what their needs are and use “you” whenever possible, avoiding “we”.

There are also two common acronyms employed by copywriters when developing content:

  1. AIDA- Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
  1.      KISS- Keep it simple, stupid!

Professional copywriters spend a majority of their time crafting headlines. It is a common thought that a headlines has 3 seconds to engage the reader, and trying to pack a punch into what can effectively be read in 3 seconds is harder than it sounds.

Put careful thought into your headlines, once you have them on the hook, you have made the rest of your job easier.

Another strategy is to act as a reassuring voice- make promises and back them up. Without a solid feeling of trust, a consumer is likely to look elsewhere. Your voice should be one of reliability and comfort to the potential customer.

In terms of marketing copy, it is advisable to speak in the present tense, avoiding the passive voice, to best engage the reader. Need a brush up on simple grammar? Spend a few minutes researching online- there a many resources out there to assist.

Finally, be sure that you are defining and selling a unique proposition. Do your research on your competitors, avoid creating content that sounds stiff and worse, mimicked. The more original your voice and proposition, the more likely it is to catch a customer’s attention.

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Employee Feedback

Getting the Most Out of Employee Feedback


It is not complicated- successful small businesses breed a culture in which employees feel valued and comfortable speaking up. If they feel valued and comfortable voicing opinions, they are more likely to offer honest, useful and intelligent feedback.

That being said, all feedback will not necessarily be positive feedback, though as with any customer complaint, all feedback can be useful whether it be positive or negative.

So how can you get the most out of your employee feedback?

  1. Ditch the stereotypes. Suggestion boxes, surveys and comment cards may provide a level of comfortable anonymity though they work counterproductively when it comes to providing an open and honest environment. Your company culture should encourage employees to speak openly, without fear of resentment, or worse, punishment. If they cannot say it out loud, they do not feel comfortable, and this in itself is a problem.
  2. Identify coaches or representatives to be open to commentary. Select a respected and likeable employee to be open to feedback at all times, like a counselor or coach might be. As the boss, you may be intimidating to employees, they may feel more comfortable talking to a peer. You may collect more honest and useful feedback this way.
  3. Set the standard for valuable input, as opposed to input. Of course, being objective and fair means hearing out each and every opinion, but consequently some will be more weighted in importance then others. Establish boundaries by creating a specific scope to focus on certain areas. All feedback welcome, though all feedback may not be pertinent to your specific focus at that time. For example, feedback on the vending machine prices would not be suited to a conversation regarding teamwork and group project assessments.
  4. Ask the right questions. Much like above, the more specific you can be, the better. If you want the information to be useful you must have an idea of what it is you are looking for. Make your question goal-driven and actionable, this way you produce feedback that is also goal-driven and actionable.
  5. Don’t forget the follow up. Some call it “closing the loop”, no matter what it is called, it is an important step when it comes to effective feedback. Once you have gathered the information, made it applicable, made adaptations, changes or amended procedures based on said feedback, be sure to share the information with your employees, and thank them for their time and energy in providing you with effective feedback.

BLURB: Price is not the only way to compete!

When assessing competition, small business often gets dwarfed by the capabilities of the “big guys”. It is not always possible to offer competitive or matched prices, but that is not the only way to attract a customer. Be creative and come up with offers and packages that are equally attractive, regardless of price matching. Keep your customer satisfied- price won’t be the only factor!

Conquering Fear of Failure

Conquering Fear of Failure


Truth be told- fear can be immobilizing, crushing and can impact our decision-making at every level. Remember though, fear can also be highly motivating, inspirational and completely exhilarating when overcome.

Starting a small business carries fear at every step of the way- just getting the thing from conceptual to actualization can be mortifying. Fears are simple obstacles yet to be overcome, especially in business management.

There are many tools and tips and tricks of the trade that can minimize debilitating fears and help you to leap over the obstacles, footloose and fear-free!

Start with a strong foundation based on eloquent and in-depth research. Similar to the drilling down of a business plan, the more knowledge you can build up, the more prepared you will feel. Preparation and readiness limit fearfulness.

Never proceed without a back up plan. Yes, this may sound counterintuitive- aren’t you supposed to believe in yourself and your idea whole-heartedly and without doubt? Sure. But with a contingency plan.

Think of it as a safety net under a tight rope- you may not need it, but you will be damn happy in the event that you do fall!

As an entrepreneur, you should be ready to fail early and often. Its part of the job description- remind yourself of the ramifications of inaction whenever you feel fear or doubt weave their way in and concentrate on the limitations you would suffer if you didn’t push through. Use this as motivation to overcome the fear.

Going outside of your comfort zone is also a common arena for fear to breed. Overcome this by revamping goals so they feel more ‘in the zone’. Don’t drop them entirely, just modify them.

Many experts say that asking yourself these three questions in the face of perceived failure can help:

  1. What lessons did I learn from this?
  2. How can I grow from this situation?
  3. What are some positive things that came out of the situation?

Failure often feels incredibly personal- as if it was a reflection of who we are and whether we are “good enough”. Asking these questions can help to redirect the fear of failure in future, as you will learn to recognize these obstacles as learning and growth opportunities, rather than personal disappointments.

Is Thank you, Thanks Enough – Customer Rewards

Customer Rewards


In many ways, yes, a simple and genuine thank you can do the trick. But in what is being referred to as “The Thank You Economy”, experts are claiming that the power of a significant (and consistent) thank you can make or break a business.

In this case, it is authenticity that really makes the difference. It is easy to say it, but how do you show you mean it?

Creativity is your friend here- never skip the verbal thank you, but always try to implement a unique way of showing appreciation. This helps you stand out among competitors and allows you build upon customer loyalty.

Shy away from financial loyalty rewards whenever you can. They may seem like a great idea at inception, but the crux here is the possible perception that the monetary value doesn’t match the efforts made to remain a loyal customer. Too much personal speculation- steer clear.

Instead, try a small-personalized gift, reminding the customer that you are invested in them as a valued customer and a person with interests and hobbies. Capitalize on the sales small talk to gather information and remember to keep the gift light hearted and simple.

With so many social media outlets these days, endorsements, ‘likes’, ‘follows’, etc. are also a valuable form of thank you. If your customer runs a business consider how you could endorse them via their social media sites in return for their contributions to your own success.

While it could be a lot of time-consuming work there is always something to be said about the old-fashioned hand-written thank you note. Most people pass on this option because of the time commitment, but because of this, you could reap the benefits of being the only one doing so.

Other popular options include customer appreciation day, offering deep discounts for loyal customers or rewards club memberships, only offered to those who purchase over a certain dollar amount, or sign contracts for specific amounts of time.

Free shipping, online giveaways, raffles and ‘bonus dollars’ are also great methods of employing the ‘actions speak louder than words’ method.

Referrals are also another traditional (yet effective) strategy for saying thank you through action. Much like online endorsements, personal referrals and positive feedback can go a long way.

Remember to always strenuously thank your most difficult customers or those who have complaints. Going out of their way to express ways in which you could improve their experience is invaluable- make sure they know you think so!

Tips to Become a Better Negotiator


Negotiation means getting the best of your opponent.” –Marvin Gaye

We do it all day, every day at home, at work, in our heads – negotiating is an inherent part of our lives. So who wouldn’t want to become better at such an integral skill?

First off, let’s be clear. Negotiation does not equal confrontation. Many people prefer to avoid difficult or uncomfortable situations. However, negotiating is an art, not a fight tactic – it is nothing to be scared of when you are skillfully prepared!

1. Know What You Want From the Very Beginning

Never enter into a negotiation without knowing the exact outcome you desire. For example, homeowners list their for-sale houses at asking prices deliberately priced higher than they really want. This is a negotiation tactic – setting up the situation so that the buyer and seller must do a dance, with the seller’s odds of actually getting what they want already significantly higher. Then they can

employ various tactics to help ensure that they get it in the end.

2. Be Prepared – Don’t Be Sidetracked By Unpredicted Offers

Appropriately assessing your competition is vital. Much like knowing what you want; do your best to find out what they want in advance, so that you can predict their moves. The best chess players are always three moves ahead of their opponent mentally, predicting the opposition allows for appropriate retaliation. Avoid surprises!

3. Timing Is Everything!

Make the first move – it’s imperative. It gives you some standing ground, sets the stage for the opponent and allows you to guide the course of the negotiation. Set aside more time than you predict necessary, as haste weakens the outcome. Some experts say that the time of day and even day of the week can also affect a negotiation.

4. Active Listening.

When you are only talking, you are most definitely not listening. Active

listening means you are engaging with the speaker, giving them room to speak and following up with questions. It shows you were paying attention, respecting their time and boundaries. Never forget to use silence as a powerful tool as well!

5. Be bold, Be Fearless!

While you may have started the conversation “dropping anchor” and laying down your bottom line, do not be scared to be bold if the opportunity presents. Early assessment of risks and adversities will provide you with the tools necessary to be fearless!


Job Descriptions for Time Management

Feeling like there is never enough time in a day? This is common when you wear many hats as a business owner. Try writing out a job description to really nail down how you should be spending your time. What if you were to hire your own replacement, how would you accurately dictate their job responsibilities? Utilize this outside-look-in to reassess how you are scheduling your time and hopefully feel more focused.

Cracking the Code – How SEO Can Boost Your Business


With the global understanding that web-presence is no longer optional, small businesses everywhere are left to, once again, compete with the big boys and tackle the immense task of boosting search engine rankings.

Despite what feels like monumental efforts, are you still falling short of that number 1 Google ranking? We can help…

As many experts point out, this saturation of the web market, has allowed the big search engines (we will use Google for the purpose of this article) to drop organic results in favor of paying clients (i.e. the big boys!).

Despite paying or not, the factor that most determines Google’s rankings is in fact the “little blue links” found on websites.

Did you know that your votes are counted differently, whether the user is hitting, and We recommend a redirect code (talk to your IT specialist) to make sure all votes are counted together.

Link backs are one of the most essential SEO tactics. Contact other business owners and offer to trade testimonials, linking back to one another’s pages. Any way that you can cross-reference each other is an additional way to boost your ranks.

When tackling an SEO operation, always know your competition. Find out who IS ranked number 1 (and numbers 2 through 10 while you’re at it!). Know their content like you know your own – they are obviously doing something right.

Want better rankings on Google? Utilize their suite of SEO-boosting tools: Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools and Google+.

Considering a bigger investment into the SEO game? Include Pay per Click – it’s costly, but very effective. PPC, as it is known, is when advertisers pay the publisher, or website owner, when a user clicks through.

Think blogs – when you see an ad on a blog, it is likely those businesses are utilizing PPC, paying the blogger when a user clicks through to their own website. See? Effective, immediate, and yes, costly!

Know the basics when you implement an SEO strategy. Research keywords that relate to your industry, service, product, and/or business and remember that this includes phrases, not just words.

Optimize the entire user experience – load times, content relationships, design, keyword use and meta data. Also, optimize your categories – often times, you can apply 2-3 categories to your business; just make sure to choose wisely!

Finding Your Perfect Client – Creating a Client Profile

Client Profile

How would you like to know EXACTLY what to say in your marketing messaging? To know EXACTLY what brand identity you need? That’s right, you are getting the point – being EXACT is the key to drawing in the perfect client.

How can you be more exact? Create a client profile, of course!

Before you begin the search, set up a system for collecting data – utilize software programs to create a client database where you can store all the collected information.

While the type of information you begin collecting may differ from business to business, the general information will remain the same, for example: age, gender, spending habits, location, and income are good places to start.

Look up current and past clients – what did they buy, when, how did they pay, how did they buy? Analyzing purchasing behaviors of the past is a great indicator of future patterns. The more detailed your profiles, the more accurate your targeted marketing efforts will become.

This information will also allow you to discern ways to help identify similar clients and target them directly. It also points out ways in which you could up-sell or cross-market new products to current clients by identifying their unmet needs.

What if you’re struggling to build your database? Send out a survey to current and past clients. Post a survey on your social media outlets encouraging potential clients to provide feedback by offering incentives for completing the survey.

Once you have a solid database, group the profiled clients into market groups, to be targeted in different ways.

Client profiles, also known as personas, can help increase sales

through targeting niche marketing. When creating the profiles, consider using a three-step template:

  1. Create a wide-reaching description of your perfect client.
  2. Identify the perfect client’s goals and most prominent features. Ask what language they are using, what their hesitations might be and their preferred method of interaction.
  3. Identify and list out how this perfect client might find you – what website do they frequent, what search terms are they using, what content draws them in?

Each persona will start to come together within these parameters, allowing you to create market segments within the database.

Identifying these perfect personas allows you to assess the depth of the market, tweak your business plan, cater your products and services to their needs and craft the most appropriate and effective marketing messages.

5 Things That Keep Business Owners Up At Night


What Keeps You Up At Night


Sleepless nights are no stranger to the small business owner. There are some common issues that keep business owners up at night and we hope to provide some simple solutions to help put those issues to bed, so you can rest easy!

1. Overwhelming Workload

Lying down to rest can often be tough, especially when your brain is still whizzing and clicking away, even though you left the office hours ago.

Close the day by checking things off the list and moving unfinished tasks to the next days’ to-do list. Assessing accomplishments and reassigning uncompleted tasks will help you feel a sense of completion at the end of each day and may relieve the overwhelming feeling that you did not get enough done.

2. Lack of Skills

This could be a couple of things: your own lack of skills needed in order to complete all said tasks or the lack of employees with said skills. Consider outsourcing as an immediate fix to such problems – instead of investing the time and energy in educating yourself or your team.

It is easier to find contractors who have the knowledge and put them to work. However, it should be noted that this is more of a temporary, Band-Aid like solution, than a permanent fix! In slower times, always consider adding to your skill set with courses, seminars, etc.

3. Slow Moving Sales

Sales result in profits. The stress of slow moving sales weighs heavily on the mind of a small business owner, especially when it creates a ripple effect on all operations. Alleviate the pressure by ramping up marketing efforts during slow periods and reaching out to loyal clients with great deals and incentives to increase their purchasing habits.

Add these tasks to your daily to-do list, so that you are actively working on them every day.

4. Managing Debt and Paying Creditors

Poorly managed credit/debt is one of the indicators of a struggling or doomed to fail small business. Tackling debt is always easier when you get out in front of it. Be in constant contact with your lenders, keeping them updated and exploring solutions together.

Lenders can help you restructure your debt, increase credit limits and lower interest rates to help manage your businesses finances. Of course, you should involve us in that process with you.

5. Managing Staff

Managing money is hard, but managing people is harder. A solid HR software management system that handles payroll, employee files, scheduling, etc. can help you breathe a little easier and help you catch more of those much-needed ZZZ’s!


Getting the Most Out Of Your Work Day

Getting the Most

So much to do, so little time…sound familiar? If you own a small business, then of course it does!

The constraints of time will always feel like a ball and chain, dragging even the most hardworking entrepreneur along with it.

What to do? Start on a daily basis, attempting the (seemingly) daunting task of time management.

First things first – no wait, big things first! Tackle the most stressful, bearing tasks first thing and you will save yourself valuable ticks of the clock by not worrying about them all day.

This strategy also helps to boost your energy – the rush of completing a challenge can keep you and your team’s motivation up for the rest of the day, increasing productivity.

Speaking of productivity, studies show most people are the most effective in the earlier hours of the morning. Test the theory by starting earlier a few days a week.

Allocate a period in the day in which you implement “Zero Distractions”. Close the door, send calls to through to voicemail, and do not open new emails. Use this time differently each day, but make sure it is undisturbed.

Create an activity calendar that begins with smaller, daily tasks. Even the smallest of tasks need a deadline. Build up to weekly, monthly and yearly tasks, but only once the dailies have been completed.

Remember the Five D’s: Do it, Delete it, Delegate it, Decide on it, Date it.

Each task can go through the process, making things move more quickly and preventing you from getting stuck.

Building a Community Presence

Web presence is crucial, but so is building a presence in a different kind of community – the one that you live in! Make a mark and become a brand and face that people relate to, and one that they look towards in the community to have their back. Join the local chamber of commerce or a board that supports a cause you feel passionate about. Attend community events, better yet, organize them yourself! The communities you live and work in form the backbone of a successful business.

Ideas to Boost Your Brand


For small business owners, creating an identifiable brand can be a challenge. But much like a fingerprint a brand is a unique, intricate identifier attached to your business only and therefore must be handled like a very valuable asset.

Creating a logo and establishing a look is just the first step. Once the brand has been created, you must actively work to continuously boost said brand.

You may not have the large scale marketing world at your fingertips but there is plenty that can be done.

Let’s start with the obvious, so that we can move on. Optimize your web presence.

The vast beasts that are search engines are your friend, embrace them. Utilize their powers and allow for some of the leg work to be efficiently completed by the computer.

Next, let’s tackle the physical world. Coffee mugs, key chains, t-shirts, reusable bags, wine topper, bottle openers, coasters, pens…the list is infinite.

Pick an item and slap your logo on it. Branding 101, give away free things – people love it! Just make sure the gift reinforces what you do. There has to be a connection.

With this strategy, you are constantly reminding them of your existence – sounds profound, doesn’t it? It’s not – it’s called repetition and recall and it is the foundation of a sound promotional campaign, directly related to boosting a brand.

Participate in charitable events and fundraisers. Donate products or services that reflect your business as prizes in silent auctions, networking events, galas, etc.

This is a low-cost, high-return strategy for brand awareness that innately allows access to both targeted markets as well as new niche markets.

Take it a step further and sponsor your own public event, using the opportunity to put your name and brand out there, on the shoulders of a great cause that will keep people talking.

Take a walk down memory lane and revisit the nostalgia of tradition – classic advertising strategies. Contrary to popular belief, print media is not dead!

Advertising campaigns in print, on radio or in any of those traditional channels can still provide effective results when it comes to boosting your brand – when they are done right.