Whether it is networking, general chit-chat or trade fairs, the “big boys” make all the noise whilst looking down their noses at the small businesses.
Just because they’re bigger than you doesn’t mean they’re better. To be honest, they’re way worse than you.
How do I know that?
Because you have the benefit of a human brand.
What is a human brand?
Large corporations have oodles of cash to chuck at their market place. They can afford the biggest marketing campaigns, sign up celebrities and bankroll peak time TV advertising.
You can’t do that, but you can do something else.
Being a small business, you have the ability to reach out and touch your audience. Not in a creepy way, but in a way that leads to trusting relationships. Your customers can get to know you – the face behind the brand. That’s something that doesn’t happen with large corporations.
That’s why it’s important to make the most of your human brand.
If you have staff, it’s also important to make sure they’re involved with the business and share your passion. Investing in them will turn them into brand advocates, so when customers interact with them, they’ll receive the kind of personal service they want.
Making the most of your human brand is essential, but there are also a few other ways you can out do the big boys.
The chances are, because you started up your business, you love what you do (otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it). That passion is infectious and will shine through in every interaction you have with your customers.
Large businesses don’t have that; they just have executives that are simply there for their fat pay check. Their main concern is that sales targets are hit and shareholders are kept happy. They have no emotional investment in the business.
If you’ve ever worked for a large company you’ll know how slowly they move.
There are so many levels of management and rigid procedures; any change in policy can take months or even years to happen.
For the small business change is easy. You have no red tape to dodge and no board of directors to appease. Decisions can be made quickly and changes implemented instantly helping you react to you market’s needs.
There are only a few large companies out there that give exceptional service, the obvious ones being John Lewis and Apple (from my experience).
The people that work for large companies, especially at the lower end of the pay scale, are just there to do a job. They are unlikely to go out of their way to help you because it’s no skin off their nose if you go elsewhere. But when it’s your own business, every customer is like family. If they’re unhappy, you’re unhappy so you’ll do everything in your power to make sure they fall in love with your company and come back.
After all, even if you’re a little more expensive, they’ll happily pay a premium for excellent personal service.
Getting your human brand out there
To make an impact, your online presence has to be every bit as chatty and warm as the service your customers receive.
That means one thing – getting social.
Although you must have a stonking website that’s full of useful copy that tells the reader the benefits of dealing with you, it’s also important you have an active presence on social media.
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc., must be used regularly and actively. Don’t just use them as a soap box from which you can promote your business; talk to your customers, build relationships with them and give them useful information.
This openness is what will set you apart from other businesses. Be yourself; if your avatar is your logo, make sure you sign off your update with your name to let your customers know whom they’re talking to.
When you’re competing with big companies you’ll never be able to beat them on cost. That’s why it’s important you concentrate on the level of service you provide because that’s an area they’ll never be able to beat at.
Treat your customers and staff like family and you’ll build loyal, trusting relationships that last.
Perhaps you’re none to keen on clowns, buttons or flying.
Whatever your fear, you’re not alone.
The funny thing is that if your fear is one of the above you’re quite happy to talk about it. But there’s one fear many SMEs and small business owners don’t like to talk about – the fear of writing.
Are you bothered about how your customers see you?
Everything you write reflects on your business.
Your customers will get their first impression about your company from your website, emails, newsletters, press releases, articles…I could go on forever.
What impression are they getting?
The words you use will influence their opinion of you so it’s essential you get it right first time.
Feeling the pressure now?
One of the main objections SMEs have about using the services of a professional copywriter is that the writer doesn’t know their business as well as they do.
That’s true, but that’s not why you hire a copywriter.
You need one because they know what words to use to reach out to your customers, engage with them and convince them to buy from you.
Through their expertise your company looks professional, caring and focused on your customers’ needs.
What a copywriter can do for you
The main task that many companies are happy to outsource is the writing of their web copy. After all, not only does that have to engage the reader it also has to work well in the search engines, so you have to know what you’re doing to get the results you want.
But other than website copywriting, a copywriter will also create:
eBooks – to build your reputation
Press releases – to boost your exposure
Blogs posts and articles – to bolster your online marketing
Landing pages – to give weight to your offers
Sales letters – to make sure they don’t get binned
Ads and product descriptions – to make sure they sell the benefits
Taglines – to get you remembered
Emails – to boost your sales and build customer relationships
Brochures – to make sure they sell and not just inform
Speeches and presentations – to drive your message home
Profiles and bios – to tell the world what you do and how you can help
Video scripts – to engage your audience
Re-purposing content – to reach all your customers
SEO copy – to boost your visibility in the search results
How to guides and tutorials – to help your customers’ understanding
How many of those could you do with to strengthen your marketing efforts?
The greatest strength you have is to know your weaknesses. Your business and your customers deserve the best. Finding a copywriter that you can work with will result in an exponential growth of your business and happy customers that will return time and time again (and bring their friends).
The following guest post was written by Luke Clum. The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of FreelanceCopywritersBlog.com. If you are interested in producing a Guest Post for this blog, please get in touch with your ideas.
Content marketing is a fertile field for freelance writers these days; in fact, it’s one of the few areas in which opportunities for writers seem to be getting better, not exploding in a newspaper-fueled inferno. But good content writing jobs won’t fall in your lap just because you woke up one day and said, “I’ve got it! I’ll be a writer.” Getting these jobs requires building a portfolio, being highly adaptable, recognizing promising opportunities, and getting your work into the hands of the right people.
In many articles on the subject, you’ll often find the suggestion to join a content mill to build your portfolio, despite the pitiful rate of pay. This actually is a good first step if you’re really starting from scratch (you need to have something professional to show potential clients). But to really stand out from the masses of people calling themselves writers these days, you’ve got to consciously create content that really brands you as an industry and creative leader. Here are our top 4 tips for doing just that.
1. Become an Informational Resource
By now, you’ve probably been told a million times that you should start a blog to show prospective clients. Again, this is true, but keep in mind that since this is often a baseline (i.e. something that’s strange not to have but not particularly distinctive if you do) your blog or website has to stand out in some way. One of the best ways to do this is to pick a niche and brand yourself as an informational resource by producing a few great pieces of content.
As an example, take the cloud accounting service, Xero, which produced this cloud computing guide as a helpful resource for its current and potential customers. The guide not only addresses a very relevant and widespread question (“Just what is the cloud?”), but it also showcases the company as a fun, down to earth, and helpful brand. And, as an added benefit, stand-alone resources like this are far more likely to go viral than a single company website.
Much the same is the case for the insurance company Simply Business, which has branded itself as a business resource centre with things like this guide to social media success. While not all of the company’s potential customers will want to look through these resources, many will, meaning guides like these both widen the company’s audience and instantly establish their credibility.
While you won’t have the same resources as these companies, the point remains the same. Take the time to develop great informational content that can act as a standalone piece. If you have any interests or specialities as it is, create a resource that answers questions you know are common within that niche, or use the Google Keyword Tool to find what potential readers are searching for. With compelling, impressive resources like this, a potential client will learn a lot more about you than if you were to send them yet another top 10 list.
Another way to find distinctive material for your content portfolio and to get your work out in front of movers and shakers is to volunteer at a place you really “get.” This could be at an organization that’s within the industry you’re looking to enter, or it could be a cause you’re really passionate about. Either way, sticking with your interests will put you in a position where you’ll be more likely to have those creative content ideas, and more convincing in you pitches to your volunteer clients. What’s more, if you’re writing for an organization’s website, you’ll likely gain a lot of exposure for your work while also adding to your portfolio. The better the job you do, the more likely the people you’re volunteering with will be to use you in their own businesses or refer you down the line.
3. Partner Up
Content writers don’t operate in a vacuum. Where once editors used to be a writer’s most crucial contact (and, don’t get me wrong, they’re still pretty high up there), now partnering with someone in a related industry, like graphic design or SEO, can be just as fruitful a venture. Having a freelance partner means doubling your networking ability. It can also make for a much more convincing sales pitch if you can bill yourselves as a one stop shop kind of place. What’s more, if you’re looking to create those specific resources previously mentioned but you don’t yet have a niche, partnering up can be just what you need, as you can then take your partner’s expertise and get it down in written form, establishing an expert’s reputation for you both.
4. Become a Microblogger on Social Media
Social media isn’t just about promoting your content (though that certainly is important). Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all potential sites for microblogging. Through tweets and status updates, you can post helpful tips in your distinctive and creative voice. On Facebook and LinkedIn, you can write blog posts and join industry groups with discussion boards. These are all forms of content creation, and the more regularly and uniquely you embrace them, the more you’ll stand out.
When you’re a freelance content writer, your content is your marketing. Showing clients what you can do with the resources you create and the impact you can make on social media is showing them just what you can do for them, should they take you on board. Make it helpful, full of expertise, fun and interesting to read, and your content writing career will take off in no time.
SEO is about your customers not the search engines
Nope, we haven’t gone mad; search engine optimisation really is all about your customers.
Most SEO companies are now playing nicely and not condoning devious techniques such as link buying, hidden text and generally exploiting every loophole and short cut they can find.
Apart from the fact that they were attracting hefty penalties for their clients, they’ve now realised that search engine marketing is more like social marketing and everything must be centred around the customer not the search engines.To be successful on line today, your strategy must include not only general keyword optimisation for your website’s structure and content, it must also involve social media marketing aimed at your customers.
No, that doesn’t mean sending out a raft of marketing messages every minute in the hope that you’ll wear down your customers and make them buy from you. Instead it’s about engaging with your audience, providing them with useful content and information and optimising your web content to reflect your customers’ needs.
For many start ups all of this can be quite confusing so this 10 minute video by Maile Ohye of Google might help. In 10 minutes she talks you through some basic search engine optimisation techniques for start ups to help you get on the right track.
Are you the type of person who breaks out into a cold sweat whenever you hear the term search engine optimisation?
To many it seems to be one of those mythical beasts that you can only tame if you’re armed to the teeth with an array of magical implements.
Well fear not for your knight(ess) in shining armour is here to save the day.
There are 5 very simple SEO checks you can make right now. Open up another browser window and pull up your website.
OK, first things first. Let’s take a look at your website structure:
1. Looks aren’t everything
That’s something my mum was constantly telling me when I was growing up.
Take a look at your website – this one is especially pertinent for all owners of custom built websites. For many business owners the ‘look’ of their website is at the top of their list. It’s the part of the process that takes the biggest budget because they want theirs to be prettier than anyone else’s.
The problem with custom builds is that, sometimes, looks are at the expense of SEO, especially if you’ve been seduced by flash. Yes, it looks lovely but unless you’ve got some magic going on in the background coding it’s not going to help your search engine optimisation one jot.
Template websites – love them or loathe them – tend to be more SEO friendly from the start. If there are any web designers out there who want to disagree or comment further please do so, I’d love to hear your take on the design vs SEO debate.
Next we move on to how to get found in the first place, yup, the dreaded keyword research bit.
Remember this post is all about simple SEO checks so I’m not going to delve into the realms of thorough keyword research.
Take a minute to jot down the top 3 words that you would use as a Google search to find your website.
For example I would choose copywriter, freelance copywriter and possibly Suffolk copywriter to get a geographical tag in there. Next ask a friend or colleague to do the same, in fact ask as many people as you like to do the same and eventually you’ll have a list of keywords.
You may not think that’s very scientific but it will give you keywords that real people would search under for you.
Next you do the hard bit and work out how competitive they are and which ones are the best to tackle (you’ll need to use something like Google’s free keyword research tool for this). The chart below should help you work that bit out.
It’s also a good idea, before you make any changes to your site, to search under the terms you decide on and write down your current ranking so you can watch in awe as your site rises ever higher.
That’s your keywords done, so what’s next? Well it’s back to your website.
3. All present?
If you want your site to rank for your identified keywords they need to be in your copy. That doesn’t mean cramming them into every sentence on the page. But rather weave them into the text in a couple of places.
Your headings and sub headings are always a good place to put them and in your title tags.
OK, so now you’ve got your words in your website copy, what’s next?
4. Power content
The next thing to do is write a page or blog post centred on your keywords (one for each keyword). Again that doesn’t mean stuffing, but using your keywords wisely (e.g. in a post of about 200-300 words, use your keyword 2 or 3 times).
Try and use it in your headings to give it more prominence. Once you’ve published these on your website you can then use them on your social media sites too (e.g. your Facebook page) and link back to your site using the keywords as your anchor text links.
With me so far? For the next bit you’ll need a bit of help.
5. Get votes
Every link that comes into your website acts like a vote of confidence in Google’s eyes. The more you have, the more authoritative you are.
So ask friends and colleagues to link to you (like a link exchange) using contextual anchor text links.
OK, so these 5 tips aren’t the most comprehensive SEO techniques but they can and will make a difference. So what have you go to lose? Give them a try and the come back and let me know how you get on.