In 2007, I was hired as an On-Air Fundraising Producer at the North Texas NPR affiliate. At the time, fundraising goals were coming up short, the drives were taking forever and they were getting complaint calls from listeners. It was my job to develop a brand new content and messaging strategy in order to right the ship.
Fortunately, I was successful.
Even though I improved how our team asked for money on-air, I found myself wondering if there was anything more I could do with that strategy. Even if we gave a clear reason why people should donate...the audience knew we worked there. So, in their mind, we were basically getting paid to share messages about why they should give.
So, I decided to invite donors to come to the station and record interviews about why they give and why they think it's important for others to do so. I didn't script any of it. I interviewed them, edited their comments down to the best answers and put a music bed underneath it all. I produced several of these, and each person had their own story.
In 2017, you could say testimonials are impacting all kinds of companies. Just like in my experience, they make a significant impact on how people decide to spend money. You have to be aware of what your customers are saying about you.
Many organizations may not realize that there are testimonials about their business being shared right now. Even worse, if a lot of bad things are being said, it has likely hurt their bottom line. Thanks to social media, blogs and websites (like Yelp), more and more consumers are making decisions based on:
1. Suggestions from friends/family online
2. Reviews posted by other consumers
3. Content produced about a company/product
This is why marketing departments need to make sure they can evolve past their reliance on advertisements and develop content that engages an audience. People trust their peers WAY more than than an advertisement. This trend is consistent with my own habits. I frequently do searches for content and reviews written about a company or product before taking the next step in the purchasing process. In fact, I have even searched company reviews on Glassdoor before applying for a job.
Social media has given the consumer a lot more power. They know how to do the necessary research before making a purchasing decision. That's why about 70% of the decision to buy has already been made before the customer even makes contact with you.
So, now your content and messaging strategies have to incorporate testimonials as well. You need to know what people are saying about you. If it's negative...you need to engage them in new ways, improve their experience and change their mind. If you have people who love you, turn those people into advocates for your brand.
Develop your own content that features quotes and testimonials. Engage your audience on social media, and make it easy for them to express their love of your company, product or brand.
Simply put, you need to care about what other people are saying about you. Your target audience cares, and they're already listening.
When someone is about to sit down and write their first blog, it can create headaches. New writers tend to overwhelm themselves with worries about length, likability, reactions and best practices. If you choose to search for advice, you'll find enough to last you for months. At the end of the day...you just want to write something!
Calm down. Breathe. Clear your head.
You can definitely start your blog today. Here are some expert tips to help you break through the anxiety.
Write about what interests you and put your personality into it
Mark Schaefer talked about some of the early lessons he learned in the book Born to Blog. His first attempts to blog taught him one thing - his approach wasn't working. The problem was being a "classically trained" marketer who started out writing posts that focused on a specific marketing message.
After that failed, he just relaxed and wrote about things that were interesting to him. He told marketing stories, used humor and pushed himself to try a number of blog styles. After that, "Instead of me finding my target audience, my target audience found me, " he wrote.
Incorporate "Flair" Into Your Blog Posts
In the most recent episode of The Content Call Podcast, I talked with Sheena White about picking photos for your blog (without worrying about copyright troubles). I described it as FLAIR for your blogs. If you're serious about views, you should follow the advice of Forbes contributors, and write catchy headlines, use visual aides, and embed links. These types of strategies make your blogs a lot more intriguing and engaging.
Use Tools and Strategy to Reduce Time Stress
One big obstacle that prevents people from blogging is time. If you're considering a blog for your business, this could be a huge concern. However, it doesn't have to be a stressful time-hog if you take a planned and practical approach to the content.
First of all, don't convince yourself that your blogs have to be 1,000 word journalistic news-style pieces. They can be short, sweet and valuable. In fact, unlike news posts that can bury the lead, you should get to your main point towards the beginning of your posts.
Two ways you can save time is to focus on a clear blog niche and arm yourself with helpful tools that can help you pick topics.
Speaking of Tools...These Help You With Content Ideas
One of the most common roadblocks for new and seasoned bloggers is coming up with topic ideas. Brainstorming is never a bad thing, but writer's block can quell that storm. Then what do you do? Use the internet to help you! Neil Patel recommends these resources to help younever run out of blog ideas. These ideas are focused on using keywords, hot topics and analytics to help your content strategy.
A key to my success as a content producer and consultant has been my ability to gauge how an audience will likely respond to what they see or hear. If I can help engage your target audience, feel free to email me today!
If you are serious about gaining loyal blog readers or potential customers, you need to focus on consistency and content quality. Give people a reason to subscribe or keep coming back because they know you're constantly sharing posts that are engaging, informative and/or entertaining. Many times, people know they need to infuse both of these qualities into their blog strategy, but then there's that other challenge -
What is there to blog about?
Well, first off, let me just say that there are plenty of blogs out there that will answer such a question. However, the actual amount of practical and usable information can vary. So, here are a couple of books to help you get inspired and get started.
Born to Blog by Mark W. Schaffer & Stanford A. Smith
I've recommended this book on several occasions. It's 165 pages of easy to understand insights on how to blog. The authors share personal stories on their own blogging experiences. This includes dealing with the fears and challenges that are very common among bloggers. Read this, and let them tell you how to break through the roadblocks that come with launching and growing a blog. The blend of personal experiences, valuable research, practical advice and success stories will benefit the personal or business blogger. I like the way they tell readers how to develop content while keeping their expectations in check. Inevitably, they want doubting readers to understand that they can be bloggers
They ASK You ANSWER by Marcus Sheridan
At the very first Social Media Marketing World conference, I got to hear Marcus Sheridan's awesome story about how he exploded his swimming pool business through blogging. A key component of his strategy was simple: take common customer questions, and answer them in blogs. Businesses can really stump themselves with trying to come up with "brilliant" blog topics, when simplicity can be extremely beneficial. The fact is, people look for ANSWERS online, and if they find YOUR solutions...you become a trusted source. Since then, Marcus has been sharing his knowledge and strategies with other businesses. I'm so glad he put it all into a book!