Broomfield Chamber of Commerce

Master the Basics of Good Content to Increase Sales

150 150 Pat Monacelli

 

By Christina R. Metcalf

Writing is difficult for a lot of people. You may worry about your mastery of grammar or vocabulary. Maybe you just don’t think you have anything interesting to say. But if you have something to sell, you need to learn the basics of good copy, at least until you can pay someone to do it for you.

These basic tips can (and should) be used when writing your web copy, social media posts, newsletter, emails, or anything you’re using words to grab attention. Keep in mind that whatever you are writing you should always aim to be at least one of the following:

• Interesting
• Entertaining
• Educational/informative

Copywriting Tips for Beginners

1. Get Human: share what’s going on in your life
You are interesting and someone out there can identify with you and what you’re doing. Even if it’s just that you burned toast this morning, there’s someone who is nodding their head as they read your post. These types of human connections make people want to read more and get to know you which leads to potential sales.

2. Tie Your Product/service into Your Narrative
As you are “getting human” and sharing your stories, think about what types of skills or qualities go into making a good <insert your type of business here>. For instance, I follow a writer on social media. I didn’t follow her because I read her books and loved them. I followed her because her daily life stories are so funny and mirror mine that I wanted them to show up in my stream. She never even mentions her books. But because she entertains me, I am going to buy her books because I can tell from her posts that she’s very skilled at what she does.

Look for ways you can exhibit the skills people would associate with the type of business you’re in and tell stories around those things. Don’t tell people you are those things. Show people you are.

3. Ask Questions
The easiest thing you can do to get people talking is to ask them about their own experiences. It makes them feel valued and it may help connect your audience to one another as well as to you.

Use Assumptive Agreements and “Are You with Me’s”
I know, right?

This is an example of a popular assumptive agreement. So is “Nobody wants that, right?” It invites people to agree with you and leaves little room to do otherwise. These types of phrases are also good ways to break up paragraphs, create white space to make pages scannable, and keep your reader with you.

4. Good Visuals
Good visual aren’t words, but they draw people to read your words. In those cases, pretty pictures are nice but interesting is better. An interesting image forces people to read the text around it because they are trying to figure it out. A pretty image can stand alone; no further explanation is needed.

5. Notice What You Like Online
If you are in your own target demographic, pay attention to all the “junk” marketing you get and all the social media business posts you see. What do you like and what doesn’t work? Make a note of these things and use them to shape your own posts. The other day, just before lunch Chick-fil-a sent me a notification asking me if I wanted some of their golden nuggets. I thought about it for several hours. Guess where my kids ate last night?

6. Spend Time on the Headings and Titles
These lines are valuable. Titles will convince people to read. Headings break up text and are excellent places for keywords. Creating these is not a timed race. Since there are very few characters (you want to keep them short and punchy, for the most part), you want every word to serve a purpose. Headings and titles should:

• Tell the reader what the writing is about
• Use powerful words that are in keeping with your business’ personality (don’t use “awesome” if you’re a conservative investment firm, for instance)
• Use keywords
• Spur interest

Write your title. Then ask yourself, “so what?” or “and.” Revise to add the “so what” and ask it again. Eventually, there will be nothing left to ask. At that point cut any extra words, switch out boring words or add some exciting ones, and you have your title.

For example:
5 ways to make people like you
-So what/when?

5 ways to make people like you during the hiring process
-So what/why should the reader care?

5 ways to make people like you so you get the job
-And?

5 ways to “win the work” at your next job interview

Writing does take time but if you think about your audience, their needs, struggles, and interests and how your own might mirror those, you will always have content topics and intriguing angles.

3 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid as We Move Toward Recovery

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

COVID numbers seem to be going down and vaccine administrations are going up. That’s allowing people to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. If you have weathered the storm so far, you know your business is not completely in the clear. There are always unexpected challenges like freak snowstorms and mass electrical outages that are keeping us all on our business toes, regardless of where you sell or operate from. Nothing will tell you faster how interconnected we are than understanding how weather in one part of the country can stimy business operations in another.

But as we begin to see COVID numbers drop and (eventually) restrictions loosen, there are several common marketing mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

Just Getting the Work Done by Putting Out Fires
“The world hates a vacuum.” Have you ever heard that phrase? Said another way…wherever there is emptiness, it will become full. The same is true of your business day and marketing. You can be busy putting out fires, doing the busy work, or you can grab command of your day and insist on purpose.

If you come up with and commit to accomplishing 2-3 things for your marketing each day, you’ll get more done each week and start to really see a difference in your business. Many people will argue that they come up with goals but are then derailed by more important things that need their attention.

If you find this to be true, you’re either not prioritizing well or you’re letting the demands of others derail your business goals. Always ask yourself with each activity you take on during the day, “Is this moving me closer to where I want to be in my business or is it setting me adrift from my goals?” Once you begin framing everything that way, you will find it easier to stay on task.

That is not to say, your marketing goals never need to be adjusted. If there’s one thing COVID has taught us, it’s agility. We need to be able to bend and redirect. But always do so with the business in mind. If you’re going to rebalance your goals, do so with the destination in mind, not as a reaction to a “squeaky wheel.”

Being All Things to All People
“Everyone” is not an ideal customer. Even if you think “everyone” loves your product and service. Case in point, let’s say you’re in the business of making really wonderful coffee, and you charge $6 a cup for it. First, everyone doesn’t love coffee. Secondly, not everyone sees the value in a $6 cup when there are options at lower price points. Yes, some people understand that you roast your own beans and that makes a difference in the flavor and some people will love you have six different types of organic creamers. Those people are your ideal customer, not people who buy $.59 cups of coffee at the gas station.

But if you think all coffee drinkers are the same, you could spend a lot of money trying to reach the economy buyers who will never spend anything with you. Instead, focus on reaching people who will appreciate your home-roasted beans and fancy creamers. They’re more likely to convert when you get your messaging in front of them.

Ignoring Analytics
We get it. Numbers are scary. But you’ll never know how you’re doing if you don’t look. Check out your Google Analytics but don’t get fixated on today’s (or even yesterday’s) data. This resource is most effective when you use it to track changes and notice what moves the meter over time.

You can use data to tell you what content topics resonate with your audience, what referral sources are your most lucrative, and whether you’re spending your ad money wisely. Let’s face it, no one has money they just want to throw away, especially now.

So, take a look at those numbers and the trends. They’ll become a good road map for you going forward.

 

6 Email Subject Lines That Get Clicks

150 150 Pat Monacelli

 

by Christina R. Metcalf

Your email content can be the best ever but if people don’t open your emails, the emails might as well be blank.

Two things make recipients click: who it’s from and how appealing the subject line is. In that order. That’s one reason I advise businesses to send their emails from a person (or at least an email that resembles one), not “no-reply@biz.

But how do you make your subject lines more irresistible? How do you inspire clicks and drive them to open your emails? Try these types of emails.

6 Types of the Most Clickable Emails
Think of your own inbox and how many emails you receive during the day. Most of us are on fast delete or swipe when we’re clearing out emails. You need to grab the recipient’s attention quickly. Here’s how:

Solve a Problem
What does your product or service help people do? Or what is this email designed to do for them? What value do they get from opening and reading it? Be specific and brief.

Example: Get more sleep with Comfy Blanket or
Say good-bye to restless nights with this easy solution

Or solve a problem they haven’t considered yet.

Example: Get mom’s gift yet? Mother’s Day is next Sunday.

Add the Color
While simple vocabulary is important in a subject line, that doesn’t mean you give up painting a tantalizing picture. Use evocative imagery and appeal to their senses. Don’t hesitate throwing in an emoji or two (unless your subject or business is incredibly serious).

Example: Warm cinnamon apple pie is calling 🥧

Invite Curiosity
We’re naturally curious and when you factor in the fear of missing out, it can be a powerful motivator of clicks. If you’ve had a recent event or launch, you can use that to your advantage.

Example: Be the first to see our new spring line
See what our opening day participants did

Explain the Send
If your audience is similar to most people, they often sign up for things and forget them. In their defense, a lot of businesses sell contact info and then the new businesses claim you signed up for the list. While that may be true, the list you signed up for initially was not their list.

To differentiate yourself from these businesses, be specific when the information was (actually) requested by the recipient.

Example: Your requested newsletter from <business> or
The <download> you requested from <business>

Detail Benefits
People want to know why they should click. Tell them. If there’s a deadline, communicate that too.

Example: Today’s top deals under $100 or
Unlock access to free delivery or
How to get a FREE <product or service>

Give Them Something They Dream About
Everyone wants something but they may not feel like they can or should. They may view your product or service as a splurge or something they need to put off. Give them a reason to feel otherwise.

Example: Treat yourself to a luscious cake or
Reward your hard work with a new look
Cover the COVID grays with our newest treatment

Finally, keep subject lines under 41 characters (not words) as often as possible and consider how they will look on a phone. Figure out what words will be cut off. Sometimes the cut can make your message more evocative and interesting. Other times, it can look sordid or mean something you didn’t intend. Keep the message short and get right to the benefit. After all, that’s what people are most interested in.

Why You Need Someone in Charge of Employee Engagement Immediately

150 150 Pat Monacelli

 

By Christina R. Metcalf

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, engagement is critical to your business. Now more than ever. It’s so important that I wish I could create a new name for it so people would pay more attention. Being told you need to engage your audience is not new, but the pandemic has created a bunch of new reasons why it’s incredibly important, especially with employees. If you don’t have the time, you need to make it or hire someone who does.

Engagement Is Important Because…

Your Employees Are Hanging on by a Thread
A few things are going on in the employment sector these days. In most areas, there are more open positions than people looking. That means successful employers of choice are paying solid wages and not making their employees feel like a number.

You might be surprised that many employees working remotely (68%) are admitting they are interested in freelance work on the side. This can be a gateway to them starting their own business or going out on their own in some capacity. Unless they are completely enamored by your company (engagement can accomplish this), it’s only a matter of time before they build up savings, clientele, or secure healthcare to take the leap.

For employees who are not remote, the number of available jobs in most industries could be causing disengaged employees to consider other options. A certain amount of attrition is not always a bad thing but when it starts affecting your top performers, your business will feel it.

If you engage them now and help them feel like they are bringing something meaningful to your business, they will be less likely to leave. And…

They’ll Talk About You
Whether it’s your employees or your customers, you want them to talk about you (in a good way) and refer others to you. Engaged groups do that. People who see you as simply meeting their expectations (or writing a check to them every two weeks) won’t.

They Could Become Your Next Competitor
Another thing COVID did was invite people to reevaluate their jobs and lifestyles. This has caused some to think about starting their own business. In fact, 63% of employees think they could quit and start their own. So, it could be only a matter of time before the proper alignment of the stars occurs and they become your newest competition.

Take Action Today
It doesn’t do you any good to hear how important engagement is without getting some tips on how you can start engaging. Ideally, you will commit to employee engagement at your business and doing so will affect every decision made. However, there’s no time like the present. While you’re working on the larger commitment to employee engagement, here are a few easy ways to start engaging them immediately:

• Ask your employees’ opinions or views on things concerning your business. Getting feedback from them can be invaluable.
• Give constructive criticism on the job they are doing. Don’t wait for an annual review.
• Review salaries to ensure they are keeping up with the recent rise in cost of living. A surprise increase can make people feel really good and valued.
• Tell them you value them for their specific achievements. Giving details on what they do well will drive them to do more of it.
• Compliment them in front of others. Correct them alone/individually.
• Find out where they want to be in the future and help them chart a path for that.
• Encourage growth and learning. Reward them for pursuing those things.
• Encourage sharing ideas for innovation, market expansion, and cost-savings. Reward employees for the ideas that you use.
• Look for ways to surprise and delight them just like you would your customers.
• Find out what work obstacles they face and remove them.
• Encourage employees to share stories and comment on social media.
• Help them understand your mission and why your company does what it does. Why is the mission important and what does it mean to people who do business with you?
• Ask your customer-facing employees to share stories of success with the rest of the business.

Employee engagement is about helping employees feel they are a valued part of something larger, seeing themselves aligned with your operation, and feeling like they contribute to the success or failure of a project or the company as a whole. You want to cultivate a culture of caring, one in that employees care about customer outcomes and they feel like you care about them.

3 Solutions to Common Hiring Problems

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

Some businesses are saying we are in the midst of a secondary pandemic. But it’s not the kind that requires masks and handwashing. No, this one is harder to control.

There is a dearth of people willing (or able) to work for a multitude of reasons. Employers across the country are posting signs asking for patience with their existing employees because the business is understaffed. In fact, there are hiring managers who are scheduling interviews only to have no one show up! You can’t hire people who don’t even come to an interview.

So what’s a business to do?

Some people blame the business. They believe that the average person wants to work but can’t afford to because of minimal wages and expensive childcare. But the numbers don’t entirely speak to that. 30% of US households are “married without children” in 2020. Single-person households are 23% of the population. So for over half, children aren’t a concern.

So, what can you do to combat the 3 common hiring problems these days? Here are some ideas.

Employment Hiring Challenges Post-COVID
If you brush wages aside as the main reason people don’t show up for interviews or first days for that matter, what are you left with?

Working from Home
It’s the elephant in the room. Why would a worker want to work behind a counter when they can sit at home and work (or sit by the pool or in a coffee shop, etc.). An unparalleled number of businesses created work from home scenarios, and many will stick to those protocols long after COVID. Work at home is no longer a perk. It’s an expectation and it’s hard to compete with that.

Solution: If your business is entirely in-person, it’s not like you’ll never be able to hire again. But it may take some creativity to appeal to workers. Things you might be able to do include flexible shifts (such as working around a child’s schedule) or floating start times within a window of time. The clue here is to get creative with the allowances you can make.

Ghosting Is the Norm
Ghosting has become the norm in relationships. Don’t want to deal with a difficult situation, ignore it and disappear. We’re starting to see this trickle down into our workforce. It’s acceptable to just not show for an interview, first day, drug screen, etc.

Solution: This is difficult to do when you’ve only had minutes of interaction with a candidate. However, people are more likely to ghost when they don’t feel a connection or don’t think of the employer as a person but rather a large corporate structure as in the “they won’t even notice I’m not there” scenario.

In order to avoid being ghosted, you have to do your best to connect with them in the short time you have. Share details about your life. Maybe you’re interviewing them on a special day and “fitting” them in or “clearing” your schedule. Do it respectfully and don’t force the guilt but try and make an impression. You may still get ghosted, but it will be less likely if they see you as a person with needs and feelings.

Reevaluating the Same Old, Same Old
With our forced downtime this past year, we were exposed to a LOT of marketing messaging and frankly many people are just burned out. They may find it hard to believe the claims of some companies.

Another thing people may have done is reevaluating things in their lives that just aren’t working. Some people may have decided that life is too short to work at an unfulfilling job. Others may have seen this pandemic as a kick in the pants from the universe to start their own job. Maybe they saw how being a loyal employee can still result in a lay-off or furlough. Whatever the cause of their employment ennui, people have changed, and you’ll need to too.

Solution: find out what your existing employees want (and what makes them stay with you). Use that in your job marketing. Ask employees for referrals. Reward them for their loyalty and they’ll talk about how great you are to their friends.

Employers are facing an unparalleled time right now, finding it very difficult to recruit good people. For many businesses, it’s difficult to get interest let alone keep someone after their first day. In order to be competitive in the job market, you need to stand out. These tips should help you do that. But you’ll need to go beyond them to think of some creative experiences for new employees. While you’re at it throw a few in for your customers. You never know. A loyal customer may just want to become part of your team.