Want more fans? Be like Barry Manilow.

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About six weeks ago, I opened a Facebook message from my sister:

Barry Manilow is going to be in concert in OKC in April. If you don’t come, you are dead to me.

She didn’t have to twist my arm. Growing up in the 70s, the two of us wore out our mother’s Barry Manilow albums. His songs, full of drama and emotion, appealed to our theatrical sensibilities and we knew every lyric by heart. So there was no freaking way I was going to miss the chance to belt out those songs with my sister again.

I may or may not have told just about everyone I know about the concert, including posting it on Facebook. The reactions were mixed. Like me, some waxed nostalgic about how much they loved him. Others, however, just looked perplexed and wanted to know why.

Why? WHY? Because he writes the songs that make the whole world sing, that’s why!

Well, the big night finally arrived last week, and IT WAS AWESOME! He is an absolutely amazing showman. More than that, though, he connects with his audience in a very personal way. He’s having fun, you’re having fun and for about an hour and a half, the world is a very happy, joyful place to be.

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My aunt, my sister and I getting ready to get our Manilow on!

Of course, I get that Barry Manilow isn’t for everyone. But who cares? He doesn’t have to resonate with ZZ Top fans or Marilyn Manson fans or Taylor Swift fans. He just has to resonate in a deep and meaningful way with his fans. Which is something he does very, very well.

And that’s why I’m telling you to be like Barry Manilow.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to appeal to everyone by playing it safe when it comes to copy and branding. But the truth is, there are always going to be people who don’t necessarily connect with you or what you have to say. And that’s okay! Because they’re never going to be your biggest fans, anyway.

On the other hand, if your messaging genuinely reflects who you are and what you stand for, you’ll attract the people you’re meant to work with and serve. The ones who resonate most deeply with your message will become your most loyal fans, and they’ll help grow your fan base by telling others about you.

In other words, you’ll have groupies! Seriously, who doesn’t want groupies?

And on that note, I have to go change into my Barry Manilow concert t-shirt.

 

Random question: If you could see anyone in concert, who would it be? Tell me in the comments below.

The Gift of Gab: Growing Your Business Through Word of Mouth

gift of gabAt the end of last year, I made a decision to improve my health. I’ve been a pretty faithful, if reluctant, exerciser for several years. But recently, I’d started to let it slide. So I decided I needed something fun and snazzy to renew my interest in cardio, squats and burpees.

I’d heard a few friends and family members mention how much they liked their Fitbits. A Fitbit, if you haven’t heard, is a bracelet that records the number of steps you’ve taken, calories burned, etc. It records all your stats and sends them to a nice little computer interface.

Intrigued, but not yet convinced, I decided to check out the reviews online. After all, this wasn’t some $5.00 purchase. I hit Amazon for everyday user reviews and a couple of other official review sites like CNET.

Overall, the reviews were good and I was sold. I ponied up the money and as I type this, a Fitbit is snuggled comfortably around my wrist.

My guess is that you’ve done the same sort of thing recently prior to making a purchase. Either the reviews and testimonials encouraged you to buy or you moved along to a different product with better feedback.

That, my friend, is the power of social proof.

Year after year, the Nielsen Group asks consumers which forms of advertising they trust. And year after year, consumers rank “recommendation from people I know” as number one. Number two is “consumer opinions posted online.”

And guess what? It’s the same for both B2B and B2C businesses. After all, corporate decision-makers are human, too.

Word of mouth. It’s the number one reason people buy what you’re selling.

If you’re not capturing comments from your deliriously happy customers, you’re missing the boat. Please, promise me that you’ll start. I mean it. Put up your right hand and repeat after me, “I, (insert name), solemnly swear to start getting feedback from my deliriously happy customers.”

It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it. It could be email surveys, comments your customer service department receives, or an online review system. Just choose something and start implementing it now.

Then, when you have all these glowing reviews and recommendations, write them up. You can either turn them into short testimonials or longer, in-depth case studies/success stories.

Once that’s done, for the love of dog, don’t hide them. Make sure you get them in front of potential customers. Consider distributing them in various ways, including:

1. Your website
2. Facebook
3. Twitter
4. Pinterest
5. YouTube
6. Emails
7. Press releases
8. Google+
9. Blog posts
10. Product descriptions

As you can see, the ways to use social proof are almost endless. Get creative. Have fun with it. And whatever you do, get going!

Speaking of going, my Fitbit tells me I’ve still got 2,417 more steps to do today. Guess it’s time to leash up the dogs!

Your turn: Are you gathering customer feedback? How have you leveraged it? If you haven’t, what’s stopping you? Tell me in the comments.

Oh, and as always, if you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I’d love for you to share it via one of those buttons below. No obligation, of course!

Sell More By Avoiding This Copywriting Mistake

Sell More By Avoiding This Copywriting Mistake, CommaHound.com

Let’s pretend for a moment that you manufacture dog toys. And not just any dog toys. The world’s best dog toys.

There are no other dog toys that compare. They’re indestructible, interactive and made with all-natural materials. To top it off, your company donates to rescue organizations every time one is sold.

Now let’s say that you put all that in your copy. Since you have the world’s greatest dog toy with all these amazing features, they should practically sell themselves, right?

Wrong.

The single biggest mistake that companies make in their sales copy is forgetting that all the customer really wants to know is…

What’s in it for me?

I hate to be blunt but they really don’t care about you or your business. Customers only care about how your product or service makes their lives better in a direct and specific way.

They want to know:

  • Will it save me money?
  • Will it make me happier?
  • Will it make me (or my dog) healthier?
  • Will it make my life easier?
  • Will it make me feel good?

When creating your copy, answer those questions for them in a concrete way.

Don’t just write about the toy being indestructible.
Instead, explain how its durability will save them money since they’ll be buying fewer toys.

Don’t just tell them it’s made from all-natural materials.
Instead, put their mind at ease by emphasizing that it’s safe for their dog to chew on.

Don’t put the emphasis on your company making a donation.
Instead, make them feel good that they’re helping save homeless animals.

By showing your customers that you understand what they really want, you can create an emotional connection between them and your business. And by doing so, you’ll generate loyalty (and sales!) in a way that just competing on features and price won’t.

Your turn: How does your product or service make your customers’ lives better? Tell me in the comments!

As always, if you enjoyed this post and found it helpful, I’d appreciate it if you’d share the love via those little buttons below. No obligation, of course!

Don’t Let Creativity Mute Your Message

For the last five years, I’ve written a blog from the point of view of my dog, Mayzie. When we first adopted her, she was fearful and I began writing the blog to keep track of her progress.

At the time, I thought I was probably one of only a handful of pet bloggers. Boy, was I wrong! Turns out, the pet blogging community is huge, filled with people as crazy about their pets as I am.

Since then, I’ve read hundreds of posts by dozens of bloggers. Whether they blog as themselves or their pets, the voice of each is as distinct as the person at the keyboard.

There were certain blogs, though, that I eventually stopped reading altogether: the ones that took the “I Can Has Cheezburger” talk a little too far.

The deliberate misspellings and awkward sentence structures employed by these sites meant I spent too much time trying to translate their message, and not enough time enjoying it.

They may have been creative but they were just too much work to read.

Interestingly, it doesn’t just happen in the blogging community. I’ve seen the same type of device used on some corporate blogs and websites.

It’s not surprising, really. Because of the industry we’re in, it can be super easy to fall into the trap of cutesy language or wordplay. And there’s certainly a time and place for that, depending on your audience and your brand.

However, when it comes to writing marketing copy – the kind that either builds your brand or sells your product or service – clarity trumps creativity every time.

"When writing copy, avoid sacrificing clarity for creativity." ~Amber Carlton, CommaHound.com

Remember, good copywriting:

  • Is easily understood
  • Is concise
  • Avoids jargon and hyperbole
  • Communicates benefits
  • Builds trust
  • Encourages a response or action
  • Never makes the reader feel dumb
  • Never makes the reader work too hard

Does this mean you can’t have fun with your copy? Of course not! People love to do business with companies that have a personality. But let that come through in your tone, voice and visual branding instead of trying too hard to channel Grumpy Cat.

Your turn: Are there any “cutesy” words in our industry that you think are overused? Tell me what they are in the comments.

And if you found this post helpful, I’d LOVE it if you’d share it via the little buttons below. No obligation, of course!

25 Easy Headline Hacks That Get You More Clicks

25 Easy Headline Hacks to Get You More Clicks, commahound.comLet’s say you’ve spent hours – days, possibly – laboring over your copy. Maybe it’s the landing page for your new course. Or the blog post that you’re sure is going to go viral. Whatever it is, you’ve put your heart and soul into it.

Finally, the big day arrives, you hit “publish” and…nothing happens. Silence. Not even crickets are chirping.

You don’t understand it. Your copy’s amazing. What went wrong?

Before you start all over, take a good, hard look at your headline.

The headline is the first thing people read. It’s what gets their attention. It determines whether someone reads your copy and then whether they decide to share what you’ve written.

David Ogilvy, who many consider the father of modern advertising, said:

On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents of your (advertising) dollar.

Yes, headlines are THAT important. And yet, many people overlook them because they’re kind of a pain in the tuckus to write well.

Luckily, there are some simple hacks you can use to create a compelling headline. Yes, they’re formulaic but they’ve been proven to work time and again. Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to?

SECRETS OF…
Why it works: We all love to be in on someone else’s secrets!

1. The secrets of ______________ that ______________ doesn’t want you to know.

2. The top secrets of the best _________________.

3. Secret ways to _________________.

4. The secret that your _________________ isn’t telling you.

5. The secret _________________ that only the pros know.

MISTAKES
Why it works: Most of us hate making mistakes and want to avoid them.

6. Are you making these _________________mistakes?

7. The biggest mistakes you’re making with _________________.

8. Avoid these common mistakes when you _________________.

9. Don’t make this mistake when you _________________.

10. You’re probably making this _________________ mistake and don’t even know it.

PAIN POINTS
Why it works: It’s human nature to want to avoid pain or discomfort.

11. Warning signs that you may be _________________.

12. What you must know to avoid _________________.

13. What you don’t know about _________________ can hurt you.

14. Finding a good _________________ isn’t as easy as you think.

15. If you’re going to _________________, read this first!

NUMBERED LIST
Why it works: Promises value in an easy-to-consume format.

16. 20 ways to _________________.

17. The top 10 best _________________.

18. 3 easy steps to _________________.

19. 100 reasons to _________________ today!

20. The 27 things you need to know about  _________________.

HOW TO…
Why it works: The enticement to learn something new is almost irresistible!

21. How to _________________ in 10 minutes a day.

22. A step-by-step guide to _________________.

23. How to be _________________ without even trying.

24. How to use _________________ to _________________.

25. Learn to _________________ so that you _________________.

BONUS HACK

After you’ve created your headline, run it through CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to test how strong it is and then tweak as necessary. Want to take it a step further? If possible, do an A/B split with your audience to see what resonates most strongly with them.

Your turn: Do you have a favorite headline hack? Tell me about it in the comments!

As always, if you found this article helpful, I’d appreciate it if you’d share the love via the buttons below. No obligation, of course!

5 Super Easy Ways to Make Sure Your Copy Gets Read

5 Super Easy Ways to Get Your Copy Read from commahound.com

Psst! I have a secret to share but I’m going to need you to lean in. Closer. Clooooser.

Okay, here it is…

Shocking, right?

Don’t get me wrong. The words are important. They get attention. They paint a picture. They create desire.

But just as important is how the words look when they’re laid out.

Good copywriters understand this and they use tricks to keep the eye moving down the page.

Here are 5 super easy ways to make sure your copy gets read:

1. Bulleted or Numbered Lists
This is a great way to break up long copy into something that’s more easily consumed by your reader. It draws the eye by promising they’ll receive information that can be quickly scanned and absorbed.

2. White space
Repeat after me: “White space is my friend.” It is the literary equivalent of breathing room. Whenever possible, make sure you leave plenty of room both in the margins and in the body copy.

3. Short sentences and paragraphs
We’ve all been there. You land on a website that’s wall-to-wall words with long sentences and paragraphs that never seem to end. The thought of having to slog through all those words exhausts you before you’ve even started to read. Breaking up long passages makes it easier on your reader and helps keep them engaged.

4. Subheadings
If you have a lot of information to convey, break it into sections and add subheadings. This lets the reader scan through the copy to find what she needs to know to make a decision.

5. Italicized, underlined or bolded words
These devices let the reader recognize, simply by scanning, the most important info on the page. After you write your copy, be sure to test it by only reading the emphasized words. Then ask yourself if the words make sense and convey the right tone or message.

Your turn: Which of these is your favorite when reading or writing? Are there any I left out? Tell me in the comments.

As always, if you felt this post was helpful, please share the love via the little buttons below. No obligation, of course!