Writing for Your Business Self-Promotion and Marketing
Writing is a great way to get noticed as an expert in your field. You don’t need to be Hemingway. A simple, conversational writing style works great when communicating your message, so when I saw a fellow author’s article on writing to expand one’s marketing efforts (Expand Your Marketing Efforts Through Writing), I had to read it. A month or so ago, I wrote a similar article about using self-publishing via e-book but hadn’t included the self-promotion angle in it. I have to admit that the writer, Narendra Motwani, an accomplished photographer, had a great point but he didn’t cover all e-publishing possibilities as a cheap and viable solution for effective self-promotion marketing.
Narendra says, in his article:
Most people don’t necessarily think of themselves as an expert but as a business owner, you need to begin believing that you are. You are an expert in your industry. You are the expert in what you do – whether you are an architect, realtor, coach, actor, financial planner, artist, speaker, chef, mom, lawyer, interior designer, consultant, or salesperson.
People want someone they can rely on. That is why they pay you for what you do. More importantly, from a business development standpoint, the more people who read about your expertise, the more they’ll be attracted to your business. This leads to your website, subscribing to your blog or newsletter and perhaps ultimately hiring you.
He continues about article writing:
If you are not sure what you could write about for your first few articles, let’s do a little brainstorming. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What three tips can you share about your industry?
- What three things can you share with people to help them avoid something in their lives? Can you help them with financial, job, health, home, car, travel, business, or real estate issues?
- What three questions should people consider before hiring someone like you? In other words, what are prospects looking for? Are they interested in credentials, testimonials, or examples of your work?
- What are the latest trends in your industry?
- What are the five biggest mistakes people make when hiring the wrong ___________ (fill in the blank with your industry/title)?
- What experience have you had that would benefit others if you shared it? Share a big learning experience.
- Five ways to ___________ (you fill in the blank). Examples: five ways to change your home, five ways to have better fitness, five ways to a better job, five ways to a better vacation, and so on.
These are just some examples of what you can write about to highlight your expertise in your subject or industry. Smaller articles of 300 to 600 words are easy for readers to quickly digest, so that might be a good starting point.
As I said, some great advice! One word of warning I would add is be watchful of what you write. If you cover negative aspects, such as difficult clients, dirty secrets of the industry or personal views that may offend readers, you stand to create a pool of enemies who might have been good clients. Yet another reason I write under a pseudonym; it gives me editorial freedom without stepping on my professional name, which is yet another beloved nickname. I’ve never been one for fame.
Let’s say that you have a good sense of humility and the subjects you cover are helpful and informative without stepping on any toes. Who will you reach with your articles?
If you write for a trade publication, you will have people in your position see your articles. A dentist, writing for a dental publication will be seen by other dentists. You will receive some kudos in the industry but it’s the patients you want to reach. If you can get your work into the local newspaper, then those who need your services will see articles on oral hygiene but breaking into the local paper isn’t easy. Even with my credits of global writing and top newspaper publishing companies, my local paper won’t return my emails. So what avenues are left?
E-communications and Reaching Out to People
Narendra goes on to mention e-newsletters an e-zines. Years ago, I received several brilliant e-newsletters from different sources. One was a very simple but delightful email-based marketing piece from a design studio. It was called the “Hip-O-Meter.”
It had three weekly spotlights; Hip, Hipper and Hippest and all they were was three items pulled from the web that had cool-appeal to over 4,000 subscribers. Oddly enough, they stopped publishing and the studio shrank. An important factor of doing regular features, whether e-newsletters, e-zines or a blog, is to keep it going. Once you stop, customers forget about you.
While with a large corporation, I started an internal e-newsletter for my department, filled with the latest technology, advertising and inspirational material that could be applied to the company’s products. People in the department shared the e-newsletter with friends in other departments and more and more people asked to be put on the mailing list. Soon, it was distributed company-wide which proves that great content and regular publishing can become viral and others will do your marketing distribution for you. After leaving that company, I created the same format for another firm and while it only published weekly, for two years, the material is still on the web and pulls in 50-100 hits per day. The company is now defunct but there is still a viable presence that goes on. Imagine if the e-zine continued publishing?
A client of mine has me write humorous introductions for car dealership e-newsletters she creates. The intros draw in the reader to tips for car maintenance and care and that is a value to customers of the car dealerships. It includes service coupons and reminders about seasonal car care and that drives business and loyalty.
An e-zine or e-newsletter sent to a client database will become viral and bring in more customers. As with Narendra’s points of expertise in the eyes of readers, the articles appearing in your e-communication will entertain and inform those who read it. He also has some sound tips on gaining a following for such communications:
- On your website, put your e-zine/e-newsletter sign-up box preferably at the top of the page.
- When first starting out, ask colleagues and friends to subscribe. Ask them if they’d like to forward to people whom they think will benefit from reading it.
- Tell all of your new customers and clients that they will get a complimentary subscription to your e-zine.
- Offer new subscribers a free gift, such as a CD of tips, a discount on one of your products, a free report of some kind, and advanced news on new releases or products.
- Look at online forums where people who are similar to your subscriber base hang out. Participate in the forum and list your website and e-zine information.
- If you are an independent professional, put your e-zine info on everything. Put it on cards, invoices, and promotional material.
- Get with other business alliance partners and agree to cross-promote each other’s e-zines. You can recommend their e-zines in your e-zine, and then they can return the favor.
- If you do any speaking, offer a giveaway when you are done speaking. Tell everyone in the audience as they pass around the card for the drawing that they will also get a complimentary subscription to your e-zine.
- If you have a reception area or a checkout counter, put out a bowl or a booklet out that reads, “We want to stay in touch with you. Sign up for our monthly e-zine for specials and great information.”
- Mention it in your blog and YouTube videos, and tweet about it from time to time. Also, remember your Facebook page? Remind people about your e-zine in that box below your photo or in your information summary page. Invite people to become subscribers on your LinkedIn page as well.
It is, however, imperative to remember to keep strict opt-in rules for such emails. Email services such as Constant Contact and Mail Chimp, just to name a couple, have opt-out functions and using them for your e-zine is a good idea.
The Joy of a Book
If you have it in you, writing a book on your subject of expertise can make an impressive marketing tool. Maybe it’s a serious survey on your practice or industry or just a humorous, entertaining tome about your life and practice. These days, you don’t need to find a publisher or pay huge fees for a vanity printing. Creating an e-book in PDF format can be done on your own computer or you can, as listed in this article, use Amazon to publish your e-book.
One of the best things about having an e-book is that you can send it to new clients, send it to prospective clients and while you do nothing, it sits on Amazon, gaining you notoriety and making an income from sales! With a little social media, you can promote the e-book to people throughout the globe.
There are some rules about publishing an e-book and considerations for cover images and certainly images you may want to use inside. All of this is covered in the aforementioned article on e-publishing.
Consider all of these options for your marketing. On the web, content is king and with the right content, you can build a fan base that will keep growing and, if you do it right, become viral and that is free promotion freeing up advertising dollars for your business.
Speider Schneider is a former member of The Usual Gang of Idiots at MAD Magazine and has designed products for Disney/Pixar, Warner Bros., Harley-Davidson, ESPN, Mattel, DC and Marvel Comics, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon among other notable companies. Speider is a former member of the board for the Graphic Artists Guild, co-chair of the GAG Professional Practices Committee and a former board member of the Society of Illustrators. Follow him on Twitter @speider
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