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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Ads disguised as information is lose-lose

For myself and for clients, I have often had an editor question whether I will provide an editorial (or article) rather than an advertorial. It’s almost insulting.

brand resting on trust

Brand rests on trust.
Dressing ads as information is not building trust.

Editorials are often the expectation

I say almost because I understand why an editor wants that reassurance.

It’s insulting because I wouldn’t ever pass an advertorial off as an article. I just wouldn’t. It is unprofessional for one thing and I would hate it as a reader so don’t do it as a writer/publisher.

Silly, I know, but I also assume others would not offer an article or editorial when planning to provide an advertorial.

This week, I was shown my silliness in believing that.

I read a guest post on a blog to find it was part advertorial. And the first part was advertorial to make it worse.

It flavoured how I felt about the post as I read the rest of it – I was suspicious because I was just waiting for the next sell instead of the next piece of information.

How was it an advertorial?

Let’s use this guest post as an example of advertorial.

It was a bullet list of tips related to a service offered by the guest poster. The topic and introduction did their job, bullet point one was a very generic statement without explanation.

The second bullet point was a sales pitch. “[This] is paramount. If you haven’t done it, I would be happy to help you”

It did not teach me anything, nor entertain.

A subsequent point included her business. Using your own business in examples is fine, and can be an effective way to put your name into an article. However, she did it as an explanation, not an example. And included a boast about her success in that area.

It probably would have come off as a clumsy example if the earlier point hadn’t been blatantly promoting her services.

In short, an advertorial is an ad disguised as an informative article.

What makes an article an article?

A good article (or editorial or technical piece or whatever name a particular site or magazine calls it) is basically the sort of article you want to read.

It will

  1. provide real information or entertainment, maybe both
  2. not overtly promote any business, person or product. It may promote an industry, service or type of product. So I could write about the value of using a professional writer but not directly write about my writing services.
  3. be accurate and correct, although it may be biased in one direction
  4. be written to the writer’s best abilities – and possibly better if the business gets it written or edited for them
  5. build trust and loyalty

 

It’s what I aim at in every blog post and article I write – I want to help people write and communicate well.

Is it the sort of writing you prefer to read?

Do you ever read an entire advertorial?

 

 

Keywords in promotional articles

On Sunday, I presented a workshop on using promotional articles as a business tool and discussed the use of keywords in such articles.

Keywords are words that a search engine will use to provide search results (e.g. if you type in “promotional articles”, they are the keywords and a search engine will find the sites most relevant for those words.) They are very useful in building up the popularity of your site with search engines.

So it is a good idea to include your keywords in your promotional articles so search engines will find your articles online and increase your exposure. In terms of attracting search engines, putting keywords into the title is also effective.

In reality, you probably use keywords in your articles without really trying – it isn’t easy to write an article about business books without writing business or books for example.

However, it is important to not use your keywords too many times in one article as search engines can actually penalise you for doing so. The easiest way to judge how many times is right is to read it out loud – if it sounds ok and appeals to a human, you probably haven’t over used the keywords.

I will share some examples tomorrow on overuse of keywords, but thanks to Suzie of Suz’s Space asking a question in my  workshop, let me explain that it is repetition of one or two words that is the potential problem – using a lot of different keywords in a suitable context is not a search engine risk.

For example, writing an article about a style of writing which includes a list of authors does have a lot of keywords (each name for instance) but is not over using the keywords (such as books and authors) for Suzie’s site.

Welcome tips

Catching up on some reading over the break, I came across Melissa’s post on using welcome kits to help get repeat customers. It is an interesting idea, and one used by membership places and some real estate agents.

Melissa gave a number of suggestions of things to potentially be included, one of which was a set of tips or an article to help customers maximise what you’ve sold (or at least told) them. I think it’s a great idea – you are providing a value beyond the expected as well as keeping your name & brand in front of them, and the cost is minimal. In fact, if you compare it with the cost of marketing and advertising for new customers, it is a real bargain!

Tomorrow, I’ll post some tips on making your tips valuable 🙂 But here are some ideas of tips you could produce:

  • tips on how to use a media release (this one I’ve been doing for years – first time clients I write media releases for get a sheet of related tips)
  • tips on how to clean your product, especially if you go beyond ‘clean with soapy water’ and explain how to deal with likely spills and stains
  • an article on search engine optimisation (SEO) with all web designs
  • tips on uses for business cards with a card or letterhead design or when helping them with a new phone number
  • a list of items that can be tax deductions for new bookkeeping or accounting clients
  • an article on how to hold a violin/saxophone/flute/etc with all new instrument purchases
  • a checklist of business set up tasks for clients you help with new accounts/website/insurance/logo design/etc
  • tips on energy saving with all new appliances and computers
  • a conversion chart when you sell cooking or craft items

What tips/articles do you give out to new clients – or what have I just inspired you to produce? 🙂

Use your words wisely!

Promotional Articles

Think about why you use the internet for business. Sure you look at the graphics and pictures, but the main activity is collecting information, right?

So, does it make sense that one of the best ways to pull people into your site is to give them information? Selling your product or service is your main business aim, of course, but if you give people information they will trust you – and they’ll stay on your site long enough to learn your name.

How can you use information to get people to visit your website?

Informative articles from Word ConstructionsBy far the easiest way is to submit informative articles to various web sites and ezines. That doesn’t mean you submit an article about you or your business as that will bore and annoy your readers. What you have to give them is good information about something relevant to your business, something they can use and appreciate you for.

If you are a mechanic, you could submit articles explaining what fuel injected means or how to jump start an engine; a wedding planner can write about how to decide on a guest list; an accountant can explain negative gearing or claiming GST inputs; and a butcher could write about the different cuts of meat.

You also need to make sure the article is interesting and basic enough for your potential clients to understand and finish. It must be accurate and presented professionally as well,  if it is to promote your business positively.

At the end of the article, you include a short bio about yourself and your business. You can see the bios I use at the end of business and health articles.

If you have a web site or email address, make sure the bio includes this information so it can be hyperlinked back to you. Thus anyone reading your article and wanting to know more or use your service can contact you instantly.

I mentioned the value of promotional articles a few weeks ago, and I will cover ways to make use of them in coming posts.

Promotional articles

I admit that with my blog and a lot of client work, I haven’t written as many promotional articles recently as I used to, but I still think they are a valuable way to promote your business very cheaply.

I have done little to market my website online, yet it ranks quite well because I have so much content on there and many sites link to or use my promotional articles on their site.

Melissa has also had positive experiences with article marketing – she got radio coverage from an article she wrote 5 years ago! I also was approached by a major TV show about one of my articles, so it is amazing what can happen from a simple article!

What specific results have you gained through article marketing?

P.S. As part of my promotional articles presentation this weekend, I prepared some notes for the conference handbook. I believe that copies of the handbook will be available afterwards from the workshop notes section of the Business Mums Guides site if you would like my tips on writing and using articles, plus notes from many other speakers.

Carnival of small business

This carnival was opened over night and it looks really good. I haven’t read all the articles yet (I don’t get up that early!) but they cover a range of topics and I intend reading them over the next few days.

My blog post about polite emails is also included by the way 🙂

So for some small business tips and ideas, visit the Carnival of small business issues when you have some time to read a couple of articles.

A change is as good…

As a professional writer, most of my work is commercial – I write business profiles, articles, web copy, brochures, letters and so on. But every so often, I write something completely different, and I love the variety.Beach holiday

Recently, I have had a few ‘different’ projects.

First, I wrote some letters to help out Santa as he likes sending Australian letters to Aussie boys & girls (instead of talking about snow and ice) – personalised letters from Love Santa are definitely professionally written, lol!

QuickCrafts Online is producing a set of books for children about Australian animals and I have been editing the stories to suit the under 5 age group – although I always write in simple terms, I had to use even simpler vocabulary and ideas for that age group!

Real Mums is about reality parenting so they wanted some Santa letters for Mums. These were fun as they need to be humourous and aimed at Mums while maintaining a Santa feel in case the kids read mum’s mail!

It is fun to be involved in projects with such different types of writing!