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Interview: Joe, Owner of Pebble+Oak, Storyteller Extraordinaire

This interview with Joe, the owner of Pebble+Oak, discusses the importance of speaking to your audience in both blog posts and on your website. We don’t expect our in-house team to be able to write coherently on every topic nor get the voice of all of our clients, so we rely on other writers to step up and fill in the void. Joe at Pebble+Oak is one of our go to copywriters who’s able to understand the vision of a business and articulate the unique selling points and their competitive advantage of their service.

interview with pebble and oak

BIMS: So Joe, how did you get into the biz?

Joe: I have always had a passion for writing, and after spending 10 years and the technology sector I saw the opportunity to begin working with clients to discover their own voice in an online world.

BIMS: When you write for your clients how do you ensure that you are capturing their voice not your own?

Joe: At the end of the day, writing is simply telling a story. Before I put anything down on paper for a client, I spend some time getting to know them, their company, who they’re trying to serve, and why they’re doing what they’re doing. I find that these conversations are incredibly insightful in terms of identifying and interpreting their voice and their message.

BIMS: How important do you feel it is for business owners to concentrate on SEO in the blogs and articles that they are writing?

Joe: Is SEO important? Yes. But, I found when business owners and writers concentrate too much on specific keywords, the message they are trying to convey gets lost. When this happens the connection with prospects and customers suffers.

I recommend coming up with a topic and outlining your article, then writing it without necessarily thinking about the keywords. If you need to, you can always add these in afterwards to make it a little more clear for search engines. Often, however, just the process of creating an outline for your article will innately highlight your intended topics.

BIMS: If we aren’t necessarily focusing on keywords in articles, what can we do to make sure that we are getting a big bang for our buck when we are writing blog posts?

Joe: There are a few tips that I highly recommend. First, make sure you or your IT person correctly knows how to load a blog or article onto a website. This means utilizing header tags and adding alt tags to your images. It’s great if you can break up the long content utilizing bullet points or numbers! Within your blog post don’t hesitate to add links to other blogs on similar topics or pages on your website that relate to the blog post itself.

Second, always make sure that you are sharing your article to external sources. My favorites are LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, digg, delicious, StumbleUpon, and reddit. (In other words, the Internet….)

And third, I always recommend finding external websites to write articles for rather than just your own site. Common examples include LinkedIn articles and Medium.com. Often, however, online publications and niche trade journals have the option for experts to contribute articles and content, as well. Contributing articles to these sources not only increases your reach beyond your current network, but it also helps to position you as an expert in the field. Above all, these articles create backlinks to your website!

BIMS: I know you are very busy, so thank you for your time! I’m sure you will be back for more interviews in the future. Before we sign off, do you have any closing remarks that could benefit new and old businesses alike?

Joe: There are a lot of buzzwords and “Flavors of the Week” when it comes to marketing your business online. It is easy to get lost in the noise and think “I should be doing that!” While many of these new ideas have merit, don’t lose sight of your values and your brand. Trends will come and go, but the companies who are consistent with who they are the ones that last.

60 blogs in 60 days challenge

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Copy Writing: Your Services Pages

What is the goal of your website?

Is it to work as a brochure for your business, to tell the story of your brand, and to ultimately help sell your services? Now stop to think for a moment. When you wrote your services page, did you think about your company (and personal) values or did you just start listing off what you offer?

So often when we are reworking websites for clients, we see their services pages simply stating what they can do. These pages get lost in the shuffle of competitors’ websites and don’t leave a lasting impression of the benefits of working with you, only the features.

Definitions.

Features vs Benefits: What is it vs what is it for ME.
  • Features are defined as surface statements about your product, such as what it can do, its dimensions and specs and so on.
  • Benefits, by definition, show the end result of what a product can actually accomplish for the reader.

If you aren’t listing all of the features, what should you do?

Rather than starting the writing process with the service in mind, start with your customer. Paint a picture and be as specific as possible. What are their fears? What problems do they face in everyday life? Actually write down their narrative and start telling their story. Through your writing, show this individual that you understand what they are struggling to accomplish and try to make an emotional connection with them.

Validate how they feel and ask how they would envision their life or business if this stress was taken off the table. Take the time to write out how their life could change if they were no longer held back by their fears. Again, focus on the emotional aspects of the journey.

Now, how do your services help to solve these issues and what is your process? How is working with you different from working with your competition? What is the cost of staying in the now versus signing up for your services?

At the end of the page, add a call to action to entice your reader to take the next step.

Take a look at what you’ve written. Have you listed off the features or are you actually telling a story that your prospects will relate to? The process of forming your services pages as a story can help you attract the people with whom you want to work rather than just anyone who could benefit from the services. It is a way of showing your values and the value you bring to your clients while at the same time coming across as your authentic self.

Give this exercise a try and let me know what a difference it makes in your business!

What is the goal of your website? Is it to work as a brochure for your business, to tell the story of your brand, and to ultimately help sell your services? Now stop to think for a moment. When you wrote your services page, did you think about your company (and personal) values or did you just start listing off what you offer? So often when we are reworking websites for clients, we see their services pages simply stating what they can do. These pages get lost in the shuffle of competitors' websites and don't leave a lasting impression of the benefits of working with you, only the features.

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Blogging: What to do after you publish a post

You wrote a blog… now what?

We often are asked, “I wrote an article, what happens now?” This checklist provides an overview of the steps to publish your blog or article and how to share it as part of your digital marketing content strategy.

Prepare for Publishing

  • Write an effective post title that includes keywords and is persuasive
  • Divide text into smaller sections with headings
  • Deep link to past posts
  • Add a question at the end to encourage discussion
  • Add on-brand, SEO-ready images
  • Add “alt text” to your images, which will be used as your Pinterest pin description
  • Add a featured image (on WordPress)
  • Make sure your blog contains keywords and header tags

Share your Blog

  • Pin your post image onto Pinterest
  • Schedule it to be pinned to any Pinterest group boards that are relevant
  • Share your post on Facebook and Twitter
  • Create a LinkedIn Group Discussion from your Blog Post
  • Post your blog to your LinkedIn Company Page and Personal Profile
  • Schedule your post for Twitter 3-5 more times over next few days and weeks
  • Share an excerpt from your article to Medium.com
  • Respond to comments
  • Check the analytics of your post to see how much engagement it received. The worksheets in our Blogging eBook offer one place to store this information.
  • In 1-2 months, repin your post onto Pinterest and re-share on other social media channels

We often are asked, “I wrote an article, what happens now?” This checklist provides an overview of the steps to publish your blog or article and how to share it as part of your digital marketing content strategy.

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Blogging: Creating an Editorial Calendar

Creating an editorial calendar for your marketing collateral is often an overlooked piece in designing your small business’ web strategy. These calendars create a easy to understand reference for your blog topics, newsletters, social media posts, and promotions. They allow you to keep ahead of upcoming holidays and make it so you don’t feel like you are always playing catch-up.

Because many of us wear different hats within our business, it isn’t unexpected that some things just fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, however, sticking to a content calendar really is an income-generating task that should garner a space in your list of top-priorities. It is also something you can outsource if it makes sense for your business.

What should your Editorial Calendar include and why is it important for your business?

Your editorial calendar should be broken down by quarter, month, week, and even day. Additionally, it should include a column for blogs, newsletters, promotions, social media posts, videos, etc, and a column for results.

When you put together your calendar, think about what you can commit to. Realistically, can you commit to writing a fresh article once a month, or every day? Do you have the systems in place to post daily to your social media networks or only a few times per week? Is there a social media network that you are most passionate about? Perhaps you should just focus on building this up rather than getting burned out trying to tackle too much at once.

The next step is figuring out which topics to discuss. To brainstorm this, I recommend the following process:

  1. Your products and services
  2. Your background
  3. Your clients and their success stories
  4. Common questions you receive
  5. Topics that interest your target market
  6. Following the topics trade journals (or even your competitors) discuss
  7. Holiday or seasonal topics
  8. National organizations and their promotional schedules
  9. Topics you are passionate about
  10. Other news outlets and articles

For each of these topics, brainstorm a short list of specific topics you can discuss. Add any necessary links in your notes or bullet points to provide more context.

Now, think of the context for posting these. Can you post once per month on certain topics while only quarterly for others? Are there natural sales promotions that go along with the topics? What about videos? We have one client who has committed to filming quarterly reports rather than taking the time to write and format his analysis.

Now it is time to add these to your content calendar.

We’ve put together this workbook to help you organize your topics and ideas.

Why follow an editorial calendar?

Editorial calendars make it easier to stay consistent and keep yourself from being reactive. Consistency can truly transform a business as prospects come to know what to expect and trust you before taking the leap to being a paying customer.

Additionally, being proactive about the content you need to put out allows you to be more mindful about your business and messaging.

Stay tuned for more information on how to build your social media posts into your content calendar for your business!

Blogging Your Business

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