Who Are You? How To Define Your Online Persona

Aristotle understood the secret to online marketing long before there was an Internet.
Follow Aristotle’s advice, and your business will be on its way toward having an impressive online persona.

Over 2500 years ago, Aristotle proclaimed that if they don’t like you and trust you, nothing you say will convince them. Back then, hardly anyone could read or write, so people had to do their “arguing” in front of a crowd. Therefore, if they had not previously established their reputation with a likable, trustworthy persona, they wound up losing the argument before they’d uttered the first word.

Isn’t it amazing that before Jesus, Aristotle knew the basic rules of marketing? Wow!

He was talking about Ethos, of course, one of his three classical appeals.

Established Credibility (Ethos) = More Customers

Next, he must use logic and evidence to back up his claims (logos) and finally, he must bring it home with a little emotion (pathos). With too much logic and no emotion, you lose your audience. With too much emotion and no evidence to back it up, you turn into a raving lunatic and—lose your audience. And with no credibility, no one listens to you at all, and so (you guessed it) you lose your audience.

Today I’d like to talk about the power of Ethos to build your online persona. To attract new customers and to retain existing ones, a business must have a recognizable persona or culture that clearly establishes its credibility. And that includes online. It’s not enough to have a fantastic product or service: if everything about you – your personality, your face-to-face presence, your business card, your logo, your website, your blog – does not flow together to create one consistent persona, your potential audience will not “get” who you are. They may not trust you, and so your credibility points go down.

So how do you establish your online persona? By transferring the foundational beliefs of your company to your online presence through the website’s primary pages, the design, and the marketing content. Everything you put out there must point toward your brand.

Imagine if someone were taking a road-trip. They begin their journey by using road signs to get to the destination. One sign points North, another West, and another doesn’t even have a primary direction but instead gives the miles to the location. Can you imagine the confusion? I can see the traveler saying, “To Hell with these signs. I’m using my GPS.”

Make sure your audience knows the purpose and direction of your website.
Is your website’s message difficult to understand?

You want the potential customer to stay on your site, not to navigate somewhere else out of frustration and confusion. So I will ask: Is your online presence working for you, or against you?

Test the Effectiveness of Your Online Persona:

  1. First, think about your business. What has it accomplished thus far? As quickly as you can, jot down all the great things your business provides. (These are basic claims that you hope will establish your business credibility.)
  2. Second, explain why those “great things” are GREAT. What makes your product or service any better than someone else’s? (This serves as evidence for your claims. Remember, without evidence (logos) the audience will be less likely to believe your claims.
  3. Third – and this might be harder – think about the fundamental belief systems of your business. If you are the president, then this might be easier because you are in charge and control your corporate persona. If you are a marketer or sales person, it might be a little trickier. Often, a core belief can be seen in a company tagline or logo. It should also be conveyed in the blog, in the website’s “about” page, and in the corporate language of the site.

The corporate belief system is the glue that keeps customers with you for the duration.

When customers feel like they share a common belief system with you, they will have faith in you, remain loyal to you, and want to give you their business.

Think about it: who are your true friends? They are the ones who share the same core beliefs that you do! Good customers are the same, so if you are not sure what your company stands for, I would focus on #3-4 very carefully.

  1. Review both lists. Now, do a compare/contrast: is everything you just wrote down clearly conveyed on your corporate website where traffic can easily see it? (Remember, the clearer it is, the better your chances of converting a visitor into a customer.)
  2. To complete a thorough compare/contrast, read through your website three times: the first time, read it quickly and see if you get a “feel” for your company’s accomplishments, strengths, and belief system. If you do not recognize the “it” factor right away, determine which part of the site (primary pages, blog) needs repurposing. Next, skim through the blog posts for congruency. Do the blogs seem to fit with the corporate identity? If the website’s testimonial page is filled with an impressive cache of satisfied customers, but the blog is not well-written or does not offer an equally impressive message, then the “congruency” is off.
  3. Finally, review your lists again and then go through the site and determine what is missing. By that, I mean what item(s) on your list is not apparent on the site?
  4. Last, work on repurposing (rewriting with focus) your website and blog so that the ethos, logos, and pathos – your overall business persona – is clear with every page, post, and link. Please let me know in the comments what you found when you read through your own website.

Click here for help repurposing your business website.

 

 

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Write Real, Authentic Marketing Content

Write Authentic ContentBecome Self-Aware and Realize What You Already Know

Have you ever been in a conversation about something you loved – and because you were passionate about the conversation, you lost track of time? You just kept talking, and explaining, and using evidence and providing examples; you basically gave a lesson on your topic.

Have you ever done that?

Of course, you have! Think about when you argued with a buddy about why a certain sports team should be ranked number 1, or why this movie was better than that one, or why your political philosophy makes more sense than the others out there. Essentially, think about any time that you have talked about something you really cared about.

Were you totally and 100% focused on the conversation? Did you care about the outcome of the conversation? (What I mean here is did you REALLY want to reach your audience and either inform them or convince them of something?)

Were you emphatic and enthusiastic and bursting with evidence and examples? Most people are if they know what they are talking about.

If you answered YES to the above questions, then THAT’S the kind of topic you need to write about in your blog!

Use What You Care About To Help Fuel Your Content

Look, I know we all want to make money here. But, you cannot expect others to spend time on your site, to click on your links, to buy what you recommend unless you give them something in return.

What is that something? It’s knowledge of course.

Your knowledge. Your Experience. It’s invaluable because it’s unique. Give the people what they want!

A few days ago, I coached someone about her dissertation. As you may know, I am a professor, a B2B marketing writer, and an editor. More than anything, I LOVE to help others write. So today, I was talking with a potential customer about her dissertation. I talked for 90 minutes with her, and after we were finished, she was so happy. I had given her a couple possible directions, validated her topic, and helped her with a deadline schedule and plan to meet those due dates. Because she left our conversation with a wealth of new information, she will become a return customer.

Did I work hard? Yes. I researched her topic before talking with her. I wrote three pages of notes and suggestions before the conversation, unpaid.

So what’s the difference between what I did tonight and writing a blog? Nothing. You communicate to help people and you hope to gain a loyal customer in return. Now, you won’t always get the customer, but that’s life and sales.

I believe that if we put our audience first, we will get the rewards we desire.

So my final word on this topic: If you do not have something to offer regarding a certain topic, do not force it. Write about what you know so that you can actually help your customers. Be authentic. It’s not just about you; it’s about happy customers who will pay you (thus making you happy in return).

Metacognitive Exercise: Knowing What You Know.

If you find yourself stuck now, then you might try the following exercise:

1. Take out a sheet of paper and write down the last 3 times you got into a lively conversation with friends or family.

  • Summarize what the conversations were about
  • Briefly, list the reasons why you felt you were an expert in that area
  • List the evidence you used in the conversation

2. Now, think about what you just wrote. Would you be willing to write about a topic like this one, or something along these same lines, for your own blog? How could you parlay this kind of topic into a website with winning content?

So, if the last conversation you had with your friends was about the qualities a good nail salon should have, and IF you are totally passionate about nail salons and the beauty industry, THEN why not write about that topic? Others need to know what you know!

Others Need to Know What You Know

I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts. If you want help with your content, email me at ejamisonediting@gmail.com.

The Importance of Word Choice

Word choice means everything in effective marketing.
So many words, each with a different connotation.

The most important step to creating a blog that works for your business is simple: write effective content that gives people what they want. But what is effective content and how do you make sure that what you put in your post will connect with your audience?

And it’s not just blog posts that need to reach a target market: everything you write reflects who you are as a business person (and if you own your own business, who you are as the symbol of the company). One purpose of this website is to help you with all steps of your writing process so that what you want to say to your customers and to the world is exactly what you write on the page. Did you ever hear of the phrase “lost in translation?” – well, you definitely do not want that to happen in your written materials. Remember Joey and his THE-saurus?

Below are a few steps that can help anyone with their business writing – whether they are blogging, creating ads, writing for print, or simply emailing interoffice colleagues. (See our page on academic writing for academically-focused writing tips.)

Smart Business Writing:

Be Concise:

Let’s take a look at the following two sentences. Which one is easier to read?

“In my opinion, the statistics and numbers that I collected online via the Internet clearly demonstrate and prove that our business is a much better match, and is much more suited for your company and the needs that your company has.”

“The data shows a positive correlation between our services and your business needs.”

Clearly, the second sentence is easier to read. Why? It uses just enough words to get the point across. No more, no less. Customers will be more likely to buy your product or service if they can understand what you are saying to them. When I edit reports and formal materials, I make it a point to read the text out loud. If I stumble over anything, then I need to revise and rewrite. Chances are that I’ve used too many words.

Main Tips:

1. Choose Words Carefully

2. Less is More

3. Define Purpose and Audience Before Writing

4. Edit Your Work

5. Write What Your Audience Needs to Know

I would love to hear from you about your writing struggles and strengths, so please comment with thoughts and insights!

Content Envisioning

Identify Your Internet Marketing Status.

Everyone knows that running a business can be arduous, especially in the beginning stages. But it’s important to remember that the way you present yourself online can impact your business just as much as your storefront. Likewise, established companies may find themselves with varied versions of old and new marketing collateral that no longer reflect the current corporate vision.

One way to streamline the process of realigning your vision with your content is to identify your marketing materials and take a detailed inventory of every ad, newsletter, and word that travels from your business to a prospective customer.

Identify your existing marketing content strategies
From Ideation to Creation to Validation

Marketing “Self-Reflection”

Sometimes it can be difficult to slow down and reflect; but believe it or not, your competition is doing just that:

32% of B2B marketers say they have a documented content marketing strategy. (Content Marketing Institute, 2015) (Source: Hubspot)

The above statistic is from 2015, but today, there are many more companies that are embracing online marketing. As you consider your own strategies and goals, there are a few key analytical questions that can serve to guide you in your next steps.

  • Review Your Past Marketing Campaigns: Examine the designs of the brochures, the information in the website, blog, the logo — everything! As you study your past work, what do you think about it? If you were to create a new branding persona or update your current one, would you use the same materials today?
  • Make a Win/Lose Graph: There are an infinite number of categories that you can track when analyzing past marketing performance. Whichever you choose, the important thing is the reflection. Businesses that reflect tend to learn from past successes and failures.

Reflect on your current marketing strategy

  • I have created a simple template for a marketing reflection (see picture above); however, for a fantastic list of training resources for your business analytics, see Hubspot’s article on analytical resources.
  • Move Forward With Content Solutions: Once you have evaluted your existing marketing strategies, you will feel much better about moving forward with an Internet marketing plan. Email us at ejamisonediting@gmail.com for help!

 

Business Branding Strategies

Why Every Business Should Consider an Online Branding Strategy

If you have come to this site, chances are you probably already have an established business brand. Many entrepreneurs shy away from online business branding strategies because they have worked for years to build their reputation, and they rightfully believe that a “rebranding” is unnecessary.

But “Branding” today means something different than it did 5, 10, 15, years ago. When I talk about Branding, I am referring to the online persona that a company hopes to project to prospective customers.

When I meet with a customer for the first time, I like to ask the following questions:

  1. How would you define your current online presence?
  2. If you were to visit your own website, would it look exactly as you envision your business?
  3. How many of your customers visit your website?
  4. Is your company website or blog indexed by Google?
  5. What is the purpose of your website?

When we refer to Internet branding, we mean the overall image that your company projects online. And since about 80% of shoppers like to do their research online first (see my article about web statistics), businesses must be just as diligent in their Internet efforts as they are in their physical store or office. Consider the following brands in the pictures below. Are they the same online?

You bet that the online persona matches the physical one! Check out Apple’s site and you’ll get that same “vibe” that you get when you walk into an Apple store. Check out Gucci online and you’ll feel like you’re visiting a contemporary heaven…much like you’d see in a real store. Everything that Apple and Gucci delivers, from websites, blogs, storefronts, ads, and products, fits together into a cohesive theme. And that theme is what consumers expect.

Is your online persona commensurate with your in-person vision?

If you need help defining your online identity and restructuring your Internet marketing efforts, we would love to help. Send an email to ejamisonediting@gmail.com for a FREE consultation. We specialize in initial ideation to realize online branding, and we’d be happy to help.

Why Every Business Needs a Website

If you do not currently have a blog for your company business, please consider making one. Your customers will appreciate you that much more, and you’ll probably find yourself with more business than you ever dreamed possible.

Why every business needs a blog

Many business owners wonder if they need a website with a blog, especially if they have successfully maintained their business without one. The millions of businesses in operation today all have one thing in common: they are catering to a new kind of audience – one that does its marketing research online. If executed thoughtfully, creating and maintaining an informational blog in conjunction with a company website will increase business. Let me share an SEO marketing statistic with you (source: HubSpot).

 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases.

Think about how these statistics relate to your business. Let’s say you own a restaurant or a retail shop in a suburban area. Word of mouth, of course, is great. You see people at the grocery store and you tell them about your business. Likewise, customers visit your store or office and are satisfied with their purchase; therefore, you ask them to refer your products and services to their friends.  But that’s not the end of the story, and it’s certainly not the beginning.

The “Choose First, Shop Later” Mentality

How many customers do you have in one day? Let’s pick a nice, even number. Let’s say you have 100 walk-in customers. If 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making a big purchase, that means that a whopping 81 people have already looked at your website before visiting your store! If you have a blog with information about your product offerings, then chances are your prospective customers have chosen what they want to buy before they walk through your front door. That’s powerful. Today, people like to know their options when considering a purchase, and once they are informed about their options (by your blog), they are over 50% more likely to buy your product.

Internet shoppers like to choose their car first, then buy it.

The last time I bought a car I searched online for three things: a loan, a broker, and the actual car. Once I had qualified for the loan and found the broker who would work with the bank and help me find the car, I started my search. Now, I could have just let the broker search for me. Or, I certainly could have waited until visiting the car dealership before choosing my car.

But times have changed. I didn’t want to set foot in that dealership before I knew exactly what I wanted. You know why? As a long-time consumer, a mom, and a working woman, I have no time for the sales shtick. That “in-your-face” marketing turns me off and deters me from buying – even if I wanted the product. No, I wanted to have the power of making a choice privately and then buying the car on my own terms, without the stress of the “sales” dog-and-pony show.

I searched online, found some helpful blogs about searching for cars, located the exact car I wanted, texted a screenshot to my broker, and voilà! I was in the dealership the next day buying the car. It was their easiest sale ever: I just showed up, pointed to the car, and bought it. Done.

 53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority (HubSpot).

Wouldn’t it be great to have more sales like that? You’re darn right it would, and that’s the primary reason why every business needs a great website and a content-filled blog, one that helps customers make informed decisions before they ever see your storefront or home page. Everyone I know has told me horror stories about buying a new car, and when I hear them, I smile and say, “It doesn’t have to be that way!”

When You Give Useful Information, You Get More Leads

I love the Internet and all it has to offer, but sometimes the unfathomable amount of data online can get overwhelming, especially when I am using the Web to make an important decision or purchase. Because the number of Internet users and online data continues to grow at exponential rates, consumers are quickly becoming savvy internet researchers. It’s not enough to simply conduct a Google search and click on the first heading they see (although being on the first page of a Google Search is an excellent way to get more traffic); now, people want to find one reliable source of information for their needs, and when they do, they will return to that site. No more random searching. See the brief video below for ways to focus your online searches.

Here’s a little quiz. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you regularly frequent an online shopping site? Are you more likely to buy from that one again rather than conduct a brand-new search engine search for the product you want?
  2. When you want information, do you tend to search in sites you have previously visited?
  3. Are you more likely to buy products from a site that often gives you useful information? (Think reviews from Amazon…)

Chances are that you regularly shop at Amazon.com, that you search for specific information from company or government sites that specialize in that area and offer frequently updated articles about it, and that you return to the sites you trust.

Online consumers are people just like you and me, and when they want help with something, they appreciate concise and useful answers. What they do not want is an article filled with your product plugs, company ads, and other distracting material. The best blogs understand who their audience is, what they want, and then they provide that on a consistent basis. If you do the same, the traffic to your site will increase and you will start to get more business.

If you do not currently have a blog for your company business, please consider making one. Your customers will appreciate you that much more, and you’ll probably find yourself with more business than you ever dreamed possible. Click here for thoughts on effective content. Good Luck!

EJ