10 Great Ways to Get Noticed as a Blogger

12 Jan

10 Great Ways to Get Noticed as a Blogger.

If you’re a newbie like me, this is a great way to get noticed!

LinkedIn Hits 200 Million Users Worldwide — Adding New Users At Rate Of Two Per Second

9 Jan

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

LinkedIn has announced it has reached 200 million user registrations worldwide — with new users being added at an average rate of two per second (or 172,800 per day). Not bad for a professional social network (but obviously still a far cry from Facebook’s one billion+ active users).

LinkedIn clocked up its first 100 million members back in March 2011, underlining how its growth rate has accelerated in recent times — with the network adding more than 13 million members since its last announcement on November 1, 2012. Back in January 2009 membership stood at 32 million. However, this is total users, not monthly active users or another indicator of active engagement, as others have pointed out. The company doesn’t disclose active usage numbers.

In a blog announcing the new membership figure, Deep Nishar, LinkedIn’s senior VP of products and user experience, described it as an “important and exciting milestone”. The company has…

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Proofreading…why is it so important?

5 Jan

Proofreading is a critical part of your marketing activities…below I give some examples of why it’s so important. At the end of the article I’ve included a poll about how you feel when you see errors from various organisation – please take the time to let me know your thoughts.

Having been in marketing for a long time, I have certainly had my fair share of missing a couple of errors in marketing collateral. What’s worse is the fact that it was in a magazine that went to over 8,000,000 people! I know this might sound strange as I am now a copywriter and proofreader…however it is almost impossible to proofread your own work. When writing your own content you know what you are saying and for this reason your eye reads what it knows is going to be there. After seeing this in action a couple of times, I realised how important it was to get a second set of eyes on everything that I had written.

However, when you are proofreading someone else’s work, you are fresh to the content and it is really easy to pick up errors. Having error free documents or copy is critical to maintaining an overall positive reputation with your clients and potential clients. When I see errors in magazines, advertising or anywhere else for that matter, it makes me doubt the professionalism of a particular organisation…I know that I am not the only one as many of my friends will mention this too.

I was watching a TV ad for a major retailer two days ago and they had spelt January as Janruary…spot the mistake! Overall it leaves a bad impression.

So, next time you take on a project whether it’s marketing collateral, training manuals, website copy, blogs or anything else for that matter that includes the written word, make sure you get it proofread. You can either get a colleague to do it, or of course use a professional proofreader that is trained and well versed in the English language.

Kill the creative mind…how to do this quickly!

8 Aug
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You can kill the creative…
 
Creativity can be killed, and it happens day in and day out. What you put into a brief is what you get out! Having worked both sides of the fence, client and agency side, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Believe me, I was certainly part of a few uglies in my first year…and this kills the creative process.
 
A good brief creates good creative! Remember one thing…creatives need to be inspired, feel passionate about your product or service and you want them tearing out of that meeting enthusiastic and ready for action. But how to do that…now that is the question.

When I was first let loose at a creative brief, I was a fresh new Account Exec at an agency in London. I had no idea what to expect or in fact what to do, but I soon learnt with a rather large failure. The agency had one of the best creative directors I’ve ever seen, but I was terrified and intimidated at the same time. I used to see Account Execs running out the door crying…this does not bode well for me is what I thought, and how true that was. So before my first briefing, I had shaking knees, voice and hands…and I walked into the lions den. It started off in a very civil way, but then all my little mistakes and inattention to detail were slowly and methodically pointed out with large gaps and lack of inspiration in a very bad brief.  It was awful! The creative that came out of that brief was hardly inspiring.

So my mission from that day on was to master the best creative brief out there. Ok, so I still haven’t mastered it…as we learn things each day. But I can honestly say that I have delivered some great briefs in different ways that have produced outstanding results. But how did I go about it?

Creatives are just that…creative!

So we should treat them as creatives…get your creative juices flowing, whether you’re the client of whether you’re the agency and inspire.

One of the first things I did after that was to truly get to grips with the product or offering that I was dealing with. What is it and what is unique about it? And even more critically, who is your target audience – their wants, their needs, where they live, what they like and what they don’t like…I’m sure you get the idea. Now this is part of a normal brief that we do each day, but there is a hook there that you will find if you look hard enough and think about in a different way – challenge your thinking.

A brief needs to be creative in the way it is presented and also ‘brief’! Who wants to go through 20 pages of words…certainly not me and certainly not a creative!

Watch this great video on You Tube from a creative – it’s brilliant. Being from the other side, it just speaks to me.

http://youtu.be/_f9TRrK9m7E

I worked for a large entertainment company and often due to time constraints, our briefs with our creatives were held over quick telephone conversations, in the hallway or sometimes there wasn’t even a brief…we need to deliver X by Y date and goodbye. Go do your thing. We couldn’t understand why our agency just wasn’t delivering the world class creative we should be getting with such an exciting product to work with. The simple truth of the matter is that we were not paying enough attention to the most critical part of the creative process. The brief. There was no leniency for creative thinking or the opportunity to push the boundaries.

How to present your brief?

How about a video brief?

First, think about the sector or industry you’re in. In the brief I describe below, I had the luxury of working with a truly entertaining product – TV. We had heaps of content that could stir up all sorts of emotions from our viewers…so we needed to stir up the same emotions with our agency. Instead of doing a written brief, I decided to do a visual brief. In short, it was a video. I used movie, sport and entertainment clips, with some pretty awesome sound as well as vox pops with our customers! I presented the ‘brief’ at a local cinema…so it was a cinematic experience, which was what our brand was all about. I did have a written brief to go with the video to give the nitty gritty. The editorial and creative strategy that emerged as a result of this was pretty awesome.

Target audience, target audience, target audience…

In my opinion this is one of the most important parts of a brief…you cannot create a campaign for everyone…it just doesn’t  make sense! Be niche in your approach. Different people react to different things – is a working mother of three going to respond in the same way as a male technical engineer? I think not.

Even presenting the target audience should have a bit of a creative flair…yep it really can.

You could do two things…

Create your own ‘pen profile’ – not being a creative at least you can all have a laugh about your drawing skills…see example below, and I truly encourage you to laugh at my drawings!

My very novice pen portrait of a target customer just to get you laughing…

I also created a mood board of who we were and what we were trying to portray in our communications.

How about presenting your creative brief in a mood board form?

Use the same principles for any industry…what makes it special? Really and truly think about the bare minimum that needs to go in to inspire those creatives and that’s all there should be…you could have back up documentation if it is really necessary. Remember a creative is about words and pictures not about long corporate ‘stuff’. If you put it in, ask yourself why they need to know this and will it really add to the creative process…my guess is a lot of it probably won’t. Maybe you need to do a round tour of site visits, get your aency to speak to customers…anything that can make it come alive. The key here is to get the message across loud and clear and with passion.

For the above, I clearly had too much time on my hands, and is not necessarily practical in today’s day and age, but for this particular brief it worked.

Who are we talking to?

For me, one of the things that is often a bit unclear in a brief is the target audience…lots of stats, facts and figures and not enough insight or real juice to work with. Sometimes I’ve even just got an answer of ‘well we’re targeting everyone’…that doesn’t really work for me as how am I meant to get the messages relevant and spot on.

I used to create a ‘Pen Portrait’ as shown above. It was great fun to do, and was incredibly powerful. I literally used to draw a portrait of my target audience (yes even though my drawing skills are no match for a creative!). That person had a name, she had an address, we knew her family members, her interests, what she liked to buy, what she liked to eat, where she went on holiday and what motivated her. Instead of reading loads of words it was a simple but effective way of seeing exactly who you’re dealing with.

In a nutshell…

Use your imagination when briefing creatives…try and get those creative juices flowing! What would inspire them? What would excite them? Get the brief right, and you will surely be on your way to a highly successful campaign.

Good luck!

I would love you to share your tips on how to present a winning brief? Please let me know!

An amazing read for any copywriter…

18 Apr
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As I was trawling through my daily dose of inspiration I came across this article recommended by a friend of mine…this is well worth a read.

It is from a book called ‘Breakthrough Advertising’ by Eugene M. Schwartz. It’s quite long, but well worth the read.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

You can read it online at

http://www.scribd.com/doc/21002597/Breakthrough-Advertising-by-Eugene-M-Schwartz

Have a happy copywriting day!

Customer Relationship Management – is it important?

18 Apr
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In one word…absolutely!

But what is CRM? It is actually about looking after and recognising your customers as individuals, in it’s most simple form.

Think about it this way – as a person in the working world, do you like praise, appreciation and thanks? Do you like to be treated as an individual? If you’re a regular customer at a coffee shop or a bar, do you like the fact that your host recognises you and gives you a bit of extra attention? I bet most people would answer yes to those questions. Why? Because it makes you feel valued. I know for me, tell me I’ve done a great job (only if it’s deserved obviously!) and I will move heaven and earth for you. We all love to feel special at times. Now, if you like it, how do you think your customers would like it?

As a paying consumer I am often amazed at what a brand promises and what a brand delivers on the ground. How many of my friends and colleagues, as well as me, just get mediocre service at best. It is all too often the case that we are sent from pillar to post just to try and get an answer, and half the time we don’t get an answer at all. We give up, and you know what, will probably just take our business elsewhere without airing our grievances to those who really should know – the company that we’re dealing with. We do however tell all our friends about the shocking service we received, and this as we know can be harmful. Don’t get me wrong, it is impossible to please everyone, but it’s how you as a business are geared to deal with unhappy campers that makes all the difference. Customers often feel like a little number in a huge pool of big numbers…quite frankly they shouldn’t.

Now think of the flipside – you walk into your local coffee shop, which is a small business. The owner comes over and greets you and says would you like your normal? Wow, you feel quite delighted! I remember in my youth in London, without giving too much away about my age, we were regulars at a particular pub. They would see us coming down the street and as we walked in our drink was ready and waiting, whilst all the other customers were waiting in line. We felt special, so we kept going back, over and over again.

In my opinion, big businesses have a lot to learn from small businesses in most instances. The difference lies in the fact that small businesses are fighting for survival and are always engaging with their target audience on a much more personal level.

But there are some corporates doing it really well. Take www.kulula.com as an example. At each and every point I engage with them, on their website, on a plane, their call centre…the message about who they are is very clear and they live and breathe it. The cabin crew especially are amazing and to me they completely and utterly are a true representation of their brand.

So, hopefully you can see where I’m going…to keep your customers delighted, engage with them and treat them as individuals. In my years of experience with big corporates in London and in South Africa, it forever has, and always will amaze me at the reluctance of big companies to implement a truly world class CRM strategy. In so many instances, businesses focus on chasing the numbers for new customers, tend to forget a bit about their existing customers, and don’t really have a plan on how to keep the new customers that they’re getting. Bad idea!

I believe that CRM is an absolutely critical element of any marketing plan and should not be ignored. It comes at a cost, which is often the stumbling block for companies…your software, your database, your infrastructure and your staff all cost money but are important elements in getting it right.

As a customer does it frustrate you when a company gets information wrong…your name, your address, your title or what you’ve bought? I get frustrated and that’s why the investment into your database has to done, and it has to be done properly. Data cleansing, de-duping, unsubscribes all need to be done. You might even need to conduct a telephone drive to make sure your database is up to date, but the investment is well worth it.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, there are a lot of companies out there that are realising the value of CRM Strategies…and are investing into world class CRM programmes. They will do well. Of course to do well, they will have to get it right! But that’s part of the challenge and that’s what makes it more exciting…it has got to be a fundamental part of your marketing plan.

I would love to hear your thoughts on your experiences of CRM…look forward to your comments.

Lisa Steyn, proofreader, copywriter, editor and marketer

15 Apr
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This is me…Lisa Steyn, freelance marketer and copywriter ready to add value to your next campaign

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