in other words

Ten Things to know before creating your company website

Coralie Fernando - Tuesday, March 01, 2016

There are a plethora of things to consider when starting a new business, but having an effective website up and running is one of the most important investments you can make. Setting up a website isn’t an ego-massaging exercise. If you do it right from the outset, your website can become your single most important source of business leads and sales.

Here are my Top Ten Tips on what to consider before setting up your website:

    Domain name

If you’re a start up and have your business name registered, buy a domain name and load a landing page with your contact info asap. For SEO reasons, ideally your domain name should also include a relevant word to your chosen profession: For example, if you bake croissants and your business name is Dave the Baker, you should consider a domain name like www.davethebakercroissants.com.

    SEO strategy

When Google assesses a site, one of the ways in which it calculates its relevance (and therefore page rankings) is via key words. These key words inform the search engine what you do if you’re any good at. With that in mind, creating pertinent copy is an absolute must if you want to rank and be found by potential customers.

    Content marketing strategy

I’ve written more in-depth posts on this previously but the concept is fairly straightforward: Content marketing is the practice of planning your published content to the world as part of your marketing strategy. It means thinking about how all of your content ties in to one central vision that engages with your audience.

    Be authentic!

Research shows that increasingly, consumers are looking for a more meaningful and personal connection with brands. That means having consistent and authentic tone of voice throughout all of your website copy. Don’t be formal in one place, and colloquial in another - it will come off as insincere. Your tone of voice is as distinctive as your visual design and identity. Get it right.

    Blog

A blog is crucial to the SEO success of your site and an easy way of updating your content. It also provides a great opportunity to interact and engage with your existing / potential customers.

    Keep it simple

Lose the jargon when you write and don’t assume everyone knows the various acronyms and terminology that exist within your sector. It shouldn’t be hard for people to work out what you do. The best rule of thumb I can give here is to write in a similar style to how you’d chat to a friend over a coffee. Likewise, keep your sitemap simple too. It should be really easy for people to navigate their way around and find what they’re looking for, quickly and easily.

    Get in touch

It’s incredible how many sites don’t do this well: make sure your contact details are prominent and easy to find. When the purpose of your website is to drive people to get in touch with you, make it as easy as possible for them to do just that.

    Design and style

Engage a good designer and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come. It goes without saying that an unprofessional design will speak volumes about the credibility and professionalism of your business – and in our experience, will cost you more in the long run too.

    Analytics

Google analytics are free (yay!) and offer fabulous insight about your site performance. Analytics reports will tell you all the things you need to know about what works so you can stop doing what doesn’t.

    Hosting

A secure hosting platform goes a long way to help with the protection of your site. The higher the quality of the hosting provider, the better equipped they’ll be to minimise potential risks to your site.

The above points offer a simple taster of the things to consider with a new site set up but if you have further questions, please do get in touch!

 

Four tips to help you kickstart your content marketing strategy

Coralie Fernando - Monday, April 06, 2015

First things first, and I don’t want to tell anyone to suck eggs here but, let’s define content marketing quickly. It’s essentially the practice of planning your published content to support the business’ wider marketing strategy.

Why is it important?

Content has always been significant to your marketing, of course. But today, technology uses content in ways the Mad Men wouldn’t even be able to conceive; the (free!) tools available to us now have significantly narrowed the gap between the big players and the small start-ups. Whether it’s twitter, YouTube, a blog or an article, content is key to getting you noticed. How you curate that content depends on your audience and where they’re likely to be hanging out.

So, here are a few little pointers to hopefully nudge (and by ‘nudge’, I mean ‘propel’) you in the right direction:

1. It’s ok to start small

An effective content marketing plan doesn’t need to be a complex plethora of spreadsheets and reports. The most important thing is to make a plan that you feel will meet your goals, and then persevere to stick to the steps in order to meet them. This could be as simple as maintaining your website and blogging regularly. As long as you do these few things well, with a little bit of strategic thinking behind you, you’ll achieve what you set out to.

2. Create a strategy

As with any objective in business, the best way to achieve your content marketing goals is to create a strategic plan that paves a step-by-step plan of how you’ll get there. This needs to dovetail into your existing marketing strategy and be clearly measurable against the wider objectives so you can easily see what’s working and what isn’t, and subsequently adjust accordingly. Your strategy will naturally evolve over time, so ensure you re-visit it regularly to review its progress and fine-tune where needed. Your strategy is where you’ll define how to drive leads, sales, acquisition or retention among your clients.

3. Share your knowledge

The beauty behind content marketing is the… content! Increasingly, consumers are looking to brands to publish related information that adds value and is relevant to them. Herein lies the art behind the science. By curating content that stays ahead of trends and is of personal interest to your customers, you’ll naturally evoke brand confidence, deepen relationships and position yourself as a market leader. This bit requires research, and a lot of trial and error. Once you’ve completed the research, think about your narrative and how you’ll tell the story: it’s the storytelling that produces the spark in the flick of the wand.

4. Make your content easy to find

The first step to making your content discoverable is to share it loud and proud across your own channels – this might include e-newsletters, social media posts, your website, direct mail, articles etc. Rather than pushing and shoving your product message in your prospective consumers’ general direction with vague hopes you’ll be noticed, carefully planned content will do all the hard work for you: your loyal followers will share all the right links online, pointing everyone back to your website.

Want to know more or find out how I can assist with your content marketing? Get in touch today.

image courtesy of twylo

Three simple tricks to spring clean your copywriting

Coralie Fernando - Monday, February 23, 2015

With just a few moments to make an impact and a lasting first impression, words can play as much of a role in your reader’s visual journey as graphical or photographical imagery. To pack a punch with your content, use words that get straight to the point. By being direct, you’ll not only promote confidence; you’ll build credibility with your audience. Support your key messages with visual cues and you’ll also tap more deeply into your readers’ psyche, engaging them in a more profound way.

You could be selling robots that tear through the ironing whilst simultaneously massage your temples and serve you espresso martinis, but if you draw out and complicate your language, chances are your audience won’t take the time to read about it, let alone buy it. With this in mind (and spring around the corner), I’ve put together a few pointers to spruce up your copywriting and help you pack a punch in the first round.

1. Edit. Edit. Edit.

While there are many writers proclaiming to nail it in the first draft, I know I’ve never been one of them, especially when it comes to long copy. Sometimes my best ideas come to me in the middle of the night, or I could be inspired by something completely random out on a walk. Rarely do the gems come to me in one sitting at my laptop.

Let your stream of consciousness flow in the first run just to get your ideas out on the page. From there, take some (mental) time out to let the mind wander a little. Then, come back to it with fresh eyes and edit, edit, edit.

2. Eliminate ‘There is/are’

This phrase contributes zero to your content if you’re looking to inspire! Obviously, feel free to use them in the first draft when you’re getting your ideas out on the page. When it comes to the second round of editing though, you really want to banish the ‘ises’ entirely. Usually this simply entails readjusting your sentence structure slightly. For example:

'There is a new potato chip on the market that’s fat free and tasty.' Consider instead:

'Don’t miss out on the latest fat-free and delicious chip, available now!'

Everything that was needed to keep the sentence strong already existed. Removing ‘there is’ simply strengthens the sentence and delivers more impact.

3. Get verb-acious

Creative and smart verb usage immediately adds oomph and pizzazz to your writing. We are so lucky to communicate in a language packed with them! So for your first edit, proof read and highlight all uses of the verb ‘to be’ and make a point of replacing them with something a little more descriptive. By employing more powerful verbs, you’ll instantly create a more visual image in the mind of the reader, thereby inspiring their imagination. With a plethora of verbs available to us, one of the biggest challenges can be knowing which ones to use and when. Your choice of verbs will absolutely frame the image you wish to portray. Consider, for example:

‘Coralie ate her burger’ versus the following:

- Coralie wolfed down her burger
  • - Coralie nibbled on her burger
  • - Coralie gnawed at her burger
  • - Coralie pecked at her burger

Painting a more colourful picture with your writing needn’t be too daunting a task. The right verb can totally transform your key message, and if you have mere moments to make an impact, it can be significantly more effective than a long drawn-out description.

These are pretty simple tricks, but hopefully you’ll find them useful. I do! Get in touch on info@carteblanchecopy.com if you have any questions or would like some proof reading help.

*image courtesy of full aperture

Fair dinkum! 10 Origins of Expressions that will astound you!

Coralie Fernando - Monday, February 09, 2015

I came across this little reference last week in the context of Labour’s proposed mansion tax in the UK. I love these titbits that give insight into our everyday language! The idea that we could use these expressions so easily, yet have no idea as to their origin seems incredible to me. And so it inspired a blog post exploring the history and background behind some phrases we use on a day to day basis. I mentioned the term ‘daylight robbery’ to a client this week, and followed it up with its history – it was a great ice breaker. So without further ado…

Breaking the ice

Meaning: To break down formalities when meeting new acquaintances

Origin: A phrase that dates back to the 17th century, when ice breakers literally broke the ice to allow for navigation of boats. It quite literally allows for the forging of ‘a path for others to follow'. Ice = stiffness; breaking of = allows for movement or more free flowing conversation in potentially socially awkward conversations.

Take a back seat

Meaning: Have minimal involvement in something

Origin: I personally always thought this was a car reference, but no - the meaning originates from parliament, where, in the House of Commons, less senior politicians sit at the back and play a less active role in political discussion.

Over a barrel

Meaning: To be at someone’s mercy

Origin: The Spanish Inquisition cites the first reference to this one, where one particular form of torture involved suspending terrified prisoners over barrels of boiling oil. If the victim didn’t comply with demands, he would simply be dropped in. Ouch.

Up to scratch

Meaning: Meeting the required standard

Origin: Now a commonplace term in the office, this originated from boxing. Fighters would meet at a line scratched in the ground - failing to come up to scratch represented automatic defeat.

Fair Dinkum

Meaning: Honest, genuine, fair play

Origin: Never a truer Aussie expression was said, right? Wrong. Sorry Aussies, but even this one harks back to the poms. Lincolnshire to be exact. 'Dinkum' is a slang term that appears to have originated from 'honest toil'. 'Fair dinkum' was used by the colliers of the UK's East Midlands from the 1880s and by Australians a few years later. In the late 19th century, in addition to the numerous criminals who were transported, many mineworkers migrated from England to Australia, taking their working language with them.

Rule of thumb

Meaning: A means of estimation made according to a rough and ready practical rule, not based on science or exact measurement.

Origin: The 'rule of thumb' has been said to derive from an English law that allowed a man to beat his wife with a stick so long as it is was no thicker than his thumb. Admittedly, this is not proven, but highly likely that it refers to one of the numerous ways that thumbs have been used to estimate things - judging the alignment or distance of an object by holding the thumb in one's eye-line - for example.

Mad as a hatter

Meaning: Crazy, mad, mental

Origin: Mercury used to be used in the making of hats. This was known to have affected the nervous systems of hatters, causing them to tremble and appear insane. The use of mercury compounded in 19th century hat making and the resulting effects were well-established – to the extent that mercury poisoning is still known today as 'Mad Hatter's disease'.

On your tod

Meaning: On your own

Origin: A great example of an origin directly derived from cockney rhyming slang. (on your tod -> on your Tod Sloan -> on your own). James Forman (Tod) Sloan was born in Indiana in 1874 and overcame neglect and poverty in his early life to become a highly successful jockey, only to experience a rather spectacular fall from grace in later years. It’s rather poignant that Sloan's name should have become synonymous with solitude as both his early and later life seem pretty lonely and depressing, poor chap.

To think outside the box

Meaning: Also known as thinking outside the square, to think outside the box requires stretching the boundaries of traditional thinking

Origin: While the expression works pretty well metaphorically, it actually dates back to a simple game known as the nine dots puzzle. Created in the early 20th century, the aim of this game is to draw in one stroke no more than 4 straight lines through a square shape consisting of nine points. I’m not going to give you the answer, but have a go because – you guessed it- it involves drawing outside of the box.

Wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole

Meaning: Wouldn’t go near something, consider it revolting

Origin: A humdinger I recently found out on a trip to New Orleans. Early settlers there had the fright of their lives when their dead would quite literally float to the surface of the ground after big storms. Fortunately they realised this is because the city is actually six feet below sea level (as opposed to a zombie attack). To solve the problem of their floating dead, the Spanish settlers developed the burial system still in place today. The tomb is opened and the casket placed inside for a year and a day. After that time, the sheer heat forces the entity to decompose to a point where an undertaker can push it to the bottom of the tomb with a ten foot pole, making way for the next casket.

Do you have any other gems you’d like to share? Please get in touch if so!

Blog Series: Create a Winning Blog | Part Three: Writing Shareable Blog Content

Coralie Fernando - Monday, January 26, 2015

Welcome to Part Three of the Three Part Series: How to create a winning blog! Have you read Part One and Two yet? Make sure you do before reading on! In the third part of the series, I’m focusing on execution: That means creating engaging blog posts that will have your readers sharing and promoting your wise words! There’s quite a bit to get through, so I’ve narrowed it down to ten easy steps:

1. Write an eye-catching title

Chances are, people will stumble across your blog via social media, your website, or a through a search engine result. This means that the first impression is the headline and a short description. Make it count! If this is the difference between them clicking through or moving on, it needs to be eye catching.

2. Don’t be afraid to get personal

Blogging is a great way to speak to your audience in a more informal voice than you might otherwise employ across other media. It’s expected, and will instantly build a stronger rapport. Share personal experiences that might be relevant to the subject matter you’re writing about. It will endear your readers to you and bridge the gap of ambiguous formality. Keep the tone light, so it’s easy to read. When I blog, I imagine I’m speaking to a friend over a coffee.

3. Quality, not quantity

This is absolutely key! Keep your points concise and avoid wandering tangents – this isn’t the place for a dissertation! Ideally your readers should be able to read one post within about 10 minutes, and certainly no longer than 20. Long posts, no matter how significant the information, will not be read. Use examples to illustrate your points, and embrace visual imagery to keep the content interesting.

4. A picture says a thousand words

And data indicates a video will be shared three times as much as a copy-only blog post. Keep in mind consistency of image and video styling, and try not to have the placeholder take up too much space. Infographics are also a great way to tell a story. If your visuals aren’t original, be sure to reference the owner.

5. Consistent style and design

Branding is, of course, of paramount importance. Make sure your blog is consistent in tone of voice, design and style. If you have different bloggers writing for you, keep tabs on them to ensure they’re on track. This also means consistent treatment of heading, hyperlink, body copy and number styles.

6. Review, revise, rewrite. Repeat.

I’ve always been envious of writers who can crack out a jaw dropping article in one sitting, but just because I couldn’t, it didn’t sway me from becoming a writer. Everyone will have their own way of doing things: I prefer to write the post in one go, and not worry too much about the details initially. I need to do this just get the ideas out on the page. I’ll then take a walk and think about something else before revisiting, reviewing and tweaking. If possible, I’ll give it to someone else for editing. Fresh eyes are incredibly important!

7. Call to Action

While a blog is an informative piece designed to educate or entertain, it also provides a fantastic opportunity to call your readers to action. If you have a service or solution to the issue that you’re writing about, ensure you have a link to that area of your site. Never assume the reader will find their way there! Short CTAs are great ways to direct readers to other places on your site that they may find interesting.

8. Optimise

You optimise by using key words in your title, headings and sub headings, meta tags, meta description, anchor text, first sentence and concluding paragraph. This means your blog posts will actually be found by people searching for information relevant to your post. While your engaging headline should contain a few keywords, if it sounds forced, leave it. It’s better to have an engaging title rather than one created by a robot.

Meta tags are the keywords assigned to your post based on their content. These tags inform the search engines what your blog post might be about, and will help to determine the relevancy of the post when someone completes a search query. Meta descriptions are the short blurbs that appear under the titles in search engine results. They’re often the second thing people read after the title, so it’s crucial to captivate them in under 160 characters or less. Key words will ensure the relevancy of the post to search engines.

Images and videos too, can be optimised by the alt tag and file name. Since search engines can’t read images, these tags help alert them to the relevancy of your visual content as well.

9. Share the love

Every article you write should be promoted through as many channels as possible. Extract an interesting snippet or sentence from the post and use it as a hook to encourage your readers to click through. Ensure each blog post has clear social media sharing tools so that your readers can also independently share the posts online. With time, your analytics will demonstrate which social media channel is working hardest for you, and which posts are most popular. This data will be extremely powerful in helping you to determine what works and what doesn’t, and you should revise your blog plan accordingly.

10. Engage and respond

As with social media, if you allow comments after your posts, make sure you respond! Sometimes you might get negative comments. Don’t ignore them. Address any concerns, answer all the questions and be as transparent as possible. Apologise if necessary and follow up within a few weeks to see that all their questions were answered.

So, that concludes my Three Part Series on How to create a Winning Blog! Did you enjoy it? Please don’t hesitate to tell me if so, or if there is anything else you’d like to know about. If you’re thinking of starting a blog but don’t have the resources or time to write one, get in touch today to see if I can help.

Image courtesy of cavan images