Writing an Article for your Business

Articles can be good ways of showing that you know your subject, and newspapers and magazines are always on the lookout for good quality content. So whether you sell fish or teach football to kids, a well-worded article can help to boost your profile, prove your credibility and bring in new enquiries.

However, sitting down in front of a blank computer screen or empty sheet of paper can be daunting, so here are some tips on how to write an article for a newsletter, magazine, newspaper, etc:

Tip 1: What should I write about?

The daily questions and interactions you have with clients and customers should give you an endless series of ideas for your articles. What do your clients ask you? Pay attention to those conversations and use them as subject matter.

Tip 2: What should be the first paragraph of my article?

Put the most important information first. Not everyone will have time to read the full article.

Tip 3: How should I write my article?

When you write your article, make sure it is structured and clear. Make it practical and don’t use your industry’s jargon. Tell the reader the news, say why it may be important and what they should do about it.

Tip 4: What should I include in my article?

Don’t make your readers think – lay out all of the information they need in simple terms, and make sure you include what they should do about it. Keep it easy to read, using short paragraphs and straight-forward information.

Tip 5: What if I don’t have space to put all of my information? 

If your article needs more detailed information, include a link to your (or another) website. Or you could use a checklist to help the reader to take action.

Tip 6: How can I make sure my article is worth reading? 

If you are hoping that your article will generate business enquiries, make sure you describe the benefit of acting upon the information in your article. If you have case studies or testimonials, use them.

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Brands on Twitter

Twitter is a great tool for small businesses to tell their clients and potential customers about who they are, what they do and how their business can benefit them. However, it is always worth injecting a little personality into your business tweets, because nobody wants to follow a robot!

Scott Bryan has put together a great blog post on BuzzFeed which rounds up a few funny interactions between big UK brands and customers or rivals, and is well worth a read to see how the big brands are starting to let their social media teams really interact and get noticed on the social media site: http://www.buzzfeed.com/scottybryan/this-how-every-single-company-should-interact-with-their-cus

Event Do’s & Don’ts – Part 2

Don’t forget to set up a #

Twitter is everywhere, and the majority of your audience will most likely be using it. Many will have it on their phones and be using the social network at your event. So when you plan an event, set up a hashtag from the outset and ask everyone to use it if they are commenting on the event, i.e. #Mktg2013

Keep it short – you don’t want to reduce the space they have to make comments about the event, and try to respond to as many of the comments as you can, depending on the size of your event and number of tweets received.

Having a hashtag in place will make it much easier to group all of the relevant tweets together for assessing the reception of your event and will also catch the eye of non-attendees who may be sufficiently intrigued to sign up for your next event. 

Do Inspirational Quotes Inspire or Repel?

To be blunt, I am not a fan of inspirational quotes. The many Twitter accounts dedicated to repeating famous soundbites do not do anything to inspire me and I find their use in presentations or by businesses cringeworthy and off-putting. 

However, there are a lot of people who love them, find them moving and aspirational, and use them in a positive way. Each to their own. 

There was an article in the Financial Times recently which discussed the issue of using famous phrases. It recommended that if you are to use such nougats of wisdom, then the user should “look beyond the obvious” and remember that some of the more well-used quotes will have been seen time and time again. The writer of the piece, Rhymer Rigby, suggests that quotes lose their power quickly when over-used, so regular use in places such as email signatures should be avoided.

I couldn’t agree more. When I see something “inspirational” on an email sign-off or on a work contact’s Twitter or LinkedIn page, I am turned off. The majority of inspirational quotes are often just ways of saying something much more straight-forward, so I’d rather take the simple route. 

For the FT’s opinion, the full article can be found here: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a4df47ec-3b22-11e3-87fa-00144feab7de.html#axzz2kWXj65I9

Has the ‘Who’s Viewed Your Profile’ notification put people off exploring LinkedIn?

Back in June, LinkedIn introduced a function on its site to let users know who had been viewing their profile. For some, this is a great opportunity to give a sideways nod to let people know they’re interested in working together or in their credentials. However, is it stopping some people from researching target customers, employees or potential contacts for fear of a feeling that they’re being spied on?

It is clear to see the reasons behind the introduction of the function. It stops trolling of user profiles and meets LinkedIn’s original aims of users only having connections who they genuinely know. However, we all know that in many cases, LinkedIn is used after networking events, for researching the background of new employees and for the opening of communications with possible new contacts. In those furtive stages of business relationships, most people want to step carefully to ensure that they know their subject and are making the right moves – so does the notification that you’ve viewed your target’s profile decrease the usefulness of the site?

You can of course switch off the notification – but it is a two-way switch. Those whose profile pages you view won’t know you’ve been there, but also, you won’t know who has viewed your profile. Seems fair, otherwise everyone would switch it off and it would devalue the function altogether. And maybe that is the answer, if you are really bothered in whether you want your target to know you’ve been checking them out, maybe you don’t need to know who is doing the same to you – after all, it is a fairly new feature and we got along fine before it was introduced? 

If you’d like to connect with me on LinkedIn, and share your profile notification, you can do so here: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nicolaoloughlin

Event Do’s & Don’ts – Part 1

Some tips on event organising, gathered from the events I put on and attend:

Check your venue!

Three relatively simple things I’ve seen recently at events, which should have been checked by the organiser:

1. “I couldn’t find you” – if your venue has a secluded entrance or is somewhere a little off the beaten track, some simple signs to show the way (and taken down at the end of your event) will make a big difference to getting people there without them losing their tempers.

2. “I couldn’t find anywhere to park” – consider your target audience before you book a venue. Don’t book a venue that your audience can’t get to easily – or at least provide them with details of the nearest available car park.

3. “I didn’t know I’d have to pay for parking” – again, consider your target audience. If you want people to attend and you know that the only place to park is a public car park, let them know! If you have a tempting event, they won’t mind putting their hand in their pocket – but they will if they didn’t know about it in advance and had to hunt for change.

Developing a Strategy

When I first started in marketing, I sometimes struggled to make the theories and academic marketing reasonings make sense in terms of actually doing marketing. As I’ve worked for longer in the field, things have become clearer and I’m now able to apply theories and ideas directly to the work I do and pass that on to others.

This is useful when it comes to developing a marketing strategy for a business. The tools that are taught at the start of any marketing course come in especially helpful for developing the marketing plans to start or grow a business. Anyone running a business should take the time to think about and draft SWOT and PESTEL analyses and think carefully about what they want to achieve and how this applies to the marketing mix. These will not only help you to work out where you stand in the marketplace and what you need to do to improve, grow and get to where you want to be, they’ll also help you to avoid the things that will distract you or send you off-course from your business aims.

All businesses are encouraged to write a business plan. Many banks won’t consider providing a business loan without one. It is worth remembering that a marketing strategy is just as important, as getting the word out about your business and attracting the level of customer that you need to continue and grow will be the next step to making sure you succeed.