Guidelines for writing great articles

Part of my efforts with the Mississippi Magic Magazine involve setting up guidelines for writing great articles.  If you are wondering why a technologies consultant is posting guidelines on writing great articles then let me explain.  We are in the business of creating success in our constituents that we partner with through consulting and development.  That being said… Mississippi Magic Magazine provides an outlet of expression for people and businesses in Mississippi but it does not employ writers to produce magazine content.  Therefore, all the writing done on the Mississippi Magic Magazine is done by volunteer writers that have a vested interest in the community.  From business owners to pastors of churches, people active in leadership in the community provide all of the content found in magazine.  To make this a profitable venture for each of them, we’ve found it necessary to publish a guidelines for writing great articles.

Benefits:

  • People like to do business with those they are familiar with.   Through connecting with our community through your articles, you’ll lower the barriers that people have to traditional broadcast style advertising communications.  .
  • Articles will be broadcasted to the RSS subscription readership.
  • Articles will be indexed by search engines so that anyone looking the information you provided will find it and you on the internet.
  • Articles will spread in a viral method through through social media sites such as twitter, facebook, and linked in.
  • Unlike traditional media, articles written will be available online well into the indefinite future.
  • Articles will link your thoughts, expertise, and methods to your perceived value as a solutions provider and allow people to reach you.
  • Articles always make the front page when they are published.
Good practices:
  • Offering needed information to make an informed decisions.
  • Offering solutions by showing how to solve a problem.
  • Providing lists of methods or resources.
  • Expounding upon a subject.
  • Offering information about events by featuring information, pictures, and video covering people in the community.
  • Praising and pointing out the good about others.
  • Simplifying complex information, instructions, or events.
Avoid:
  • Slandering others.
  • Defaming others.
  • Advertising your products or services.
  • Soliciting business.
Using these methods, community leaders can provide invaluable content that leads people in the community to them as a provider of services and goods.  Through the relationship formed between the reader and author in the magazine articles these leaders have an inroad to the reader when the reader seeks to find a provider for a need or want that the author can fulfill.
This style of marketing defined in these guidelines for writing great articles are known today as inbound marketing.  By using them you’ll get found on the internet and connect with your customer.
– Joel

Simplifying the Sales Process Funnel

The Sales Process Funnel
Sales Process Funnel

A simple version of the sales process funnel

Know: If you want to do business with someone you’ve got to give them the chance to get to know you. That means that you’ve got to have information about your business available and delivered it through the right channels. That’s why its so important to have a good website, a blog, and to utilize social media.

Your website is the hub of your inbound marketing brand. All of your efforts through social media, blogging and participation in industry related blogs act as spokes pointing back back to your website. Your site should tell your businesses story and contain several compelling offers.

Blogging allows you to publish a lot of information about your business that can be catalogued by search engines making you findable and should be the backbone of your seo campaign.

Social media helps change the context of your message and can make your message deliverable to an audience that might not normally view it. 

Like: Once your prospect gets to know you through the channels mentioned above you’ve got a chance to establish a relationship with them. By responding to comments that prospects leave on blog posts, communicating via services like facebook, linkedin, twitter and email, and providing valuable information and resources that helps your prospect gain understanding of a complex issue or solve a problem you’ll open the door for a friendship in which both of you can win.

Trust: This element is the one that often gets looked over in the business world. Once you’ve gained a relationship with a prospect it is critical that you do what you say you would do and that you focus on building the relationship instead of simply going after the sale. I know it may seem counter-intuitive to put the sale off at this point, but if you sell before you have gained your clients trust you will have problems. Before the sale occurs both you and the prospect must have a clear understanding of what your roles will be in the deal. You must determine if you fit the role of a supplier and if the prospect fits the role of an ideal customer before continuing on to the sale. Your prospect might not need your particular solution but may be a great source of referrals. Either way at this point your prospect has become a tangible asset. If you’ve established the trust factor and open communication before the sale then you’re customer is your partner in making the deal go through and things will go much more smoothly.

Try: In the trust phase of the process we talked about determining an ideal fit. Adding a try stage to your process can work wonders for determining that fit and generating referrals because your prospect knows, likes, and trusts you. Allowing the prospect to play the role of a customer by trying a sample of the product offering before purchasing the product can also increase the likelihood that they will make the purchase because the their perception of risk is much lower when they know that they can back out of the deal without a hassle.

Buy: Finally we reach the stage where you get some direct compensation for all of your hard work, but wait… the job isn’t finnished, rather it’s just begun. You’ve now got a customer that knows, likes, and trusts you. They’ve received the benefit of the resources you’ve offered through your inbound marketing campaign, tried your product without risk, and made the purchase. You have both determined that you have an ideal fit in your roles so now it’s time to get some valuable feedback about your product, testimonials, and referrals from your trusted friend. If you can keep the relationship alive then you’ve got a valuable resource to help take your business to the next level and business between you should continue as long as the prospect has a need to be filled as competitors will not have the advantage of  price competition because you have developed product and brand differentiation.

There it is as simple as it can be.

– Joel

Related Posts:

Introduction of The Sales Process Funnel Chart

Remarkable Content: Educating your prospects, leads, and customers.

Thoughts on CRS Funnel Development

Comments are appreciated.

 

The importance of telling the right story the right way.

The story of an organization.

Stories weave together fact and emotion into a tapestry of human experience that can be consumed vicariously. Stories can be used to explain complex environments and place complex information in a context that makes it easy to understand. An organization’s story is it’s identity. It is told and retold by those whom have experienced it and have heard it. In the case of an organization the story usually starts with an idea, vision, or dream of an individual or small group.  Other people become involved in the story thorough various roles such as customers, employees, vendors, and suppliers and each one of them play a part in fulfilling the vision and making the idea complete. Success or failure is determined for each role by the message or story the leadership of that organization gives as feedback for the activities performed. Role-players interpret the value of the organization and it’s story as it pertains to them and retell the story to those to whom they can reach.

How the story is told:

  • The leadership of the organization tells its story to an audience of role players: customers, vendors, suppliers, and employees.
  • The role-players interpret the story based on their experiences with the organization and its leadership. The messages the role-player receives at the point of interaction from the organization and its leadership affect the interpretation of the story.
  • Role-players retell their story of the organization.

The story’s message:

Organizations seeking to move prospects through the know, like, trust, try, buy stages must continually keep a message of identity, value proposition, and integrity continually flowing to the various role-players in an organization.  By continually sending the same message through different channels and in different contexts, prospects can explore the organization and begin a relationship built on knowledge and trust.

Protection from misinterpretation:

It is important to manage the feedback given to the role-players as they will retell their story about the organization to various prospects affecting the its future viability and growth. Methods must be established for handling the communication aspect of each relationship in which the leadership directly communicates with a given role as well as processes for handling communication where the organizations role-players directly handle the customer. The methods and processes will help insure that each communication is consistent with the leaderships story and protect it from misinterpretation.

In Conclusion:

So what’s your story? How are you getting the word out? Are others saying the same things about your organization that you say about yourself? Are you consistent? I hope you’ve found some food for thought here.

We will discuss more on this topic in a later post.

– Joel

 

Remarkable Content: Educating your prospects, leads, and customers.

The Sales / Lead Nurturing Process Funnel

On an earlier post we talked about the sales process funnel and for our purposes we’ve redefined it here.

A introduction to the funnel. Market issues today and how to capture the consumers attention.

Today’s marketing environment: What makes businesses appealing to customers in today’s media saturated markets? The old ways of blasting a message out to the general public using the “shotgun approach” just doesn’t work with today’s consumer. People have gotten good at tuning out unwanted messages. The human brain peruses information on a subconscious level at a rate of speed that is up to 800 times faster than the concious minds ability to think and serves up to the conscious mind only what is relevant to a person is doing or their set of beliefs. Odds are if the customer isn’t looking for something even though your finely crafted message is hitting them several times a day it’s possible that they may not be aware of it. Customers have gotten good at ignoring and tuning irrelevant messages out.

New Methods of Reach: So how do we reach an audience that is tuned out? The answer to that question is simple. We provide answers when they are tuned in. While consumers have gotten good at tuning messages out, they have also gotten good at searching for information through the internet and they still rely on the old stalwart word of mouth recommendation that has been around since the dawn of civilization. Business’s that wish to reach their audience today must not only have a finely crafted message, but have the channel to provide that message at precisely the time the customer is looking for it. Thankfully this has become much easier with social networking sites and search engines as customers are using them to actively search for things that they want.

The Trust Element: It’s not just enough to purchase ads on the new mediums of communication. In an environment where all types of claims and promises are being broadcast, consumers have become cynical of the true intent of businesses and are not as quick to trust an unknown entity with their time energy and money. Even though a message can be delivered to a customer that is actively searching for an answer, consumer cynicism still acts as a barrier to entry in the market. To overcome this healthy cynicism we must change roles from scrutinized marketer to that of a helpful educator. In today’s information rich and highly connected market consumers have grown accustom to searching for information on almost every commodity before making a purchasing decision. Providing a channel of helpful information that facilitates social networking and encourages interaction and input has become the means by which today’s savy marketers draw consumers into a trust building relationship. By changing the tone and timbre of the communication from high pressure sales pitch to concerned educator prospective customers are able to enter into a dialogue of communication without fear of being sold a useless bill of goods.

Creating educational content: Content for the purposes of educating a market and providing information with which a consumer base can use to make informed decisions must be unique, remarkable, and relevant to your business and the consumers needs. To properly satisfy those requirements, it is important that content meet the following criteria:

  • Content length: short enough to be quickly perused while still providing valuable information.
  • Fresh and up to date
  • Not an imitation of other sites (don’t publish me too work).
  • Searchable, Indexable
  • Provides interaction and a channel for user contribution.
  • Easily shared

A guide to publishing this type of work can be found here.

In Conclusion: Blogs seem to fit this criteria very well as do on-line videos, pod-casts, and downloadable white papers.  What other methods of distribution do you know of and what could extend this model? We’re defining this as the lip of the sales process funnel. The drawing point by which prospects, looking for an answer, are gradually introduced to a business’s product offerings as solutions and trust is built.

Your thoughts?

– Joel

Introduction of Sales Process Funnel Chart

The Sales Process Funnel
Sales Process Funnel

Here’s the first revision of the sales process funnel chart.  I’ll be publishing a series on each stage and element of the process going forward.

Any thoughts?

– Joel