Viewing all posts by Heather Lloyd-Martin.

Are you sabotaging yourself?

This is right after I crossed the finish line. I'm soggy, but happy.

This is right after I crossed the finish line. I’m soggy, but happy.

Last Sunday I ran my first 10K.

Running has always been a bit…challenging…for me. Sure, I learned to embrace it and run the occasional 5K. But a 10K seemed impossible. That’s 6.2 miles. Of running. Wow.

In a fit of stubbornness, I signed up for my first 10K a few months ago. Had I ever run 6.2 miles? Nope. But I thought, “Hey, I can do this. I can build up my mileage. Six miles is nothing!”

Then things started to change.

From super-motivated to “meh.”

Sure, I jumped into training with both feet (ha!). But soon, I could feel myself losing momentum. Running didn’t feel good. I went from training three or four times a week to running once – maybe. I started making excuses why this particular 10K was a bad idea. “It’s three days after my move.  I have to travel three days after that. I really need sleep more than anything else.”

I came this close to quitting. Many times.

The day of the race, I was sick. Not just a little sick. Really sick. Another perfect excuse to quit.

But I didn’t.

Thanks to the encouragement of my wonderful husband, I got up at 5:30 on a blustery Sunday morning and we made the 45-minute drive to the race site. I may not have run a 10K before, but I successfully made it through the race. I even had a decent average mile pace – which is pretty impressive considering much of the run was uphill or on a muddy and slick trail.

When the reality of “I finished and I didn’t die” kicked in, I was pumped! I successfully broke through what I thought was my upper limit.

(And I didn’t feel sick anymore. Go figure!).

What’s the lesson here?

After the run, I started thinking about this situation in terms of personal development. How many times do we set a goal and sabotage ourselves? For instance:

– I want to make more money this year, but I keep taking low-paying gigs because I’m afraid I won’t see another lead for a long time.

– I finally landed a great client, but I blew the deadline and lost the gig.

– I would love that job, but I forgot to apply on time. Besides, I wasn’t really ready for it. Maybe next time.

– I planned a great vacation, but then I got sick. So much for my vacation.

Sound familiar?

The reality is, these are limits we put on ourselves. They are not real. We build these walls in our minds and refuse to tear them down. We make excuses, self-sabatoge (like I did by not training,) and tell ourselves why we can’t have something.

And that’s just stupid.

If someone else said, “I don’t think you’re worth more than $100 a page,” we’d probably say something like, “Oh yeah? Watch THIS.” And then prove them wrong. But it’s funny how we don’t do that when it’s a limitation we put on ourself.

It’s breakthrough time!

This is what’s called an “upper limit” problem. Marie Forleo defines it as this:

Each of has an internal thermometer for how much success, wealth, happiness, love, and intimacy we’ll let ourselves experience.  That’s our upper limit setting.  Kind of like our success comfort zone.

When we exceed our internal thermostat setting and life gets super duper OMG good (we have an influx of money, get healthy and thin, find a great relationship) – we unconsciously do things to sabotage ourselves, so we can drop back to the old, familiar place where we feel in control.

(For more information about this, check out the book The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. It’s a good one!)

Yes, this is a part of the process (and achieving greatness.) But you have to hang with it.

Consider where you may be self-sabatoging your success. You may have to get quiet – really quiet – to hear those voices inside your head saying you aren’t quite good enough. When you can hear them, tell them to take a hike. You’ve come this far, dammit – and you’ve got a long way to go, baby.

You can break through. Trust me.

And damn, it feels so good when you do!

Hurry! Just five days left to save 25% on the SEO Copywriting Certification training  – use coupon code SEPTEMBER. Offer good through September 30th, 2013.

 

Does your SEO copy leverage the rule of three?

I originally wrote this post in 2009. Since it’s such a timely topic (I’ll be talking about advanced writing tips during SMX East 2013,) I wanted to dust off the post, revise it and make it just like new. If you’re in NYC October 2nd, I’ll be talking about what writers can learn from neuromarketing, consumer psychology and direct response copywriting. I hope to see you there!

Is three really the magic number?

I’ve gone on stage for over 15 years talking about how people retain things when they read or hear them in “threes.”  Think of the “Conjunction Junction” song from Schoolhouse Rock “Thinking about words and phrases and clauses.”  Or the special summons in the movie “Beetlejuice” (Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!.)  Or how many informercials repeat the same benefits at the beginning of a segment, in the middle, and at the end.

When I was attending college, my professor told me how to write a scientific journal article: Tell them what you’re going to discuss, discuss it, and summarize the discussion. I’ve obviously never forgotten the advice.

The rule of three is one of those things that are so ingrained in how we, as individuals, think that we don’t even notice the repetition. But it does help drive important information deep inside our brains. According to Sean D’Souza’s post “Harness the Psychological Power of “3” to Improve Communication:”

“The brain finds it relatively easy to grasp threes — elements, colours and fonts. Push that marginally up to four and the brain gets confused about where to look and what to do, and sends the eye scampering like a frisky puppy on a sunny day.

So why does this happen? For that we might have to go back a little to diaper country. As a child, everything you did and learned seemed to be centered around three — A,B,C; 1,2,3; Three blind mice, Three musketeers, Trinity, Three Stooges and Huey, Louie and Dewey. (Quack! Quack! Quack!)”

Another study from the University of Minnesota found that “decision making is simplified when a consumer considers a third, less attractive option” (they call it decoy marketing.)

Plus, this video has examples of “rule of three” taglines (threes seem to be everywhere!)

So yes. Three does seem like a magic number.

Your challenge: Blend the rule of three with your SEO copywriting

Consider this in terms of your SEO copywriting and online content creation.  How can you use the rule of three to your advantage?

  • Create a catchy three-part tagline (“Free shipping. Awesome service. Just for you.”)
  • Separate your copy into three paragraphs
  • Provide three product or service choices (think of the decoy method.)
  • Use “threes” within your copy ” to show action and excitement (“ready, steady, GO!”)
  • Limit your bullet points to just three (oops…but I think you get the idea!)

Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below. It’s an easy tip to implement. It’s fun. And it will change how you write SEO copy.

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Your home page isn’t the (only) problem

Pig

Nope. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

My father was fond of saying, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

The meaning? You can only work with what you’ve got. If you’ve got nothing, dressing it up and make it look pretty won’t help.

I’m reminded of this every time a prospect asks if I’ll just rewrite their home page – and not touch the rest of their site copy.

Sometimes, the prospect is convinced that a few home page keyphrase tweaks will help their entire site’s SEO. Or, they know their home page is dull and ineffective – and they hope that adding some “conversion punch” will drive more leads (or make more sales.)

Sadly, this is rarely – if ever – the case.

It’s true that your home page is an important page. It’s like your virtual storefront, showing your prospects who you are, what you do and how you can help.

But the goal of your home page isn’t to immediately make a sale. It’s to guide people your product or service pages.

And that’s where the real conversion (and positioning) magic lives.

There are three major holes in the “rewriting our home page is the magic bullet” theory:

- It’s often more important to focus on your “money pages.” What product or service pages generate the most income?  Rewrite those first. When I set an SEO content strategy, I outline the top pages that will help “move the needle” the fastest. That way, you’re seeing immediate improvement in the areas that make you the most money.

(Note that I said “money pageS.” Rewriting a subcategory page by itself probably won’t work. Rewriting an entire section can definitely help.)

- In a perfect world, prospects land on your inner pages – not your home page. If people are searching for a certain product or service, you want them to find the landing page specific to their query. Not your home page (where they would have to search again for what they want.)

- Rewriting the home page – without touching any of the inner pages – typically doesn’t work. Have you ever seen a poorly-done house addition? The new addition tends to stand out like a sore thumb and doesn’t flow with the rest of the design. Web copy is the same way. One really good page won’t make the rest of your site read better by default. This kind of user experience can be jarring and actually decrease conversion rates.

Does this mean that you have to rewrite every page at once? No. The first step would be setting a strategy, determining the pages that need “fixing” and setting up a sustainable rewrite plan. If that means you rewrite a few pages a month – fine.  At least there’s an ongoing progress.

Will it take work? Sure. Is it worth it? Yes. If you’re on the fence, I challenge you to set up your own SEO content rewrite strategy (or hire someone who can help.)

You’ll be amazed at the difference. Really.

Did you hear the news? The 25% off sale for the SEO Copywriting Certification training runs through September 30th. Get trained, have fun and write better web copy. Learn more!

 

 

Yes, you do need an SEO copywriting strategy. Here’s why

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-selective-focus-map-chicago-image7356870Imagine this:

You suddenly decide to move to Chicago. Instead of lining up a job and doing your due diligence, you immediately jump in the car and start driving. You don’t take anything with you. Nor do you check Google Maps and figure out your route. You just point the car and go.

Would you make it to Chicago? Eventually. Would you make a lot of wrong turns (and probably cost yourself a bunch of money along the way?) Most likely. And you still wouldn’t have the results you wanted (a great paying job.)

This analogy reminds me of clients who don’t have an SEO copywriting strategy. They may know what they want (higher rankings and better conversions.) But they don’t have a plan to make it happen. They don’t revise their keyphrase research, check their customer persona and ask questions. Instead, they rewrite a bunch of pages hoping that something will do the trick.

When the results aren’t what they want, they blame the writer. Or they blame Google. Or their competition. But they very rarely point the finger at themselves and admit, “Yeah, we didn’t really know what we were doing.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to take a step back. When you’re moving to a new city, “taking a step back” means planning your driving route and making some initial employer contacts. When it’s around your website, it means asking questions and doing research.

Here are some SEO copywriting questions to ask:

– Are the current pages converting? If not, why do you think that is?

– What is the per-page keyphrase research strategy? When’s the last time you researched your keyphrases?

– What are the overarching company benefits? What about the specific product/service benefits?

– Who is coming to this page? Is it an admin assistant who is gathering information for his supervisor? A time-challenged COO? What do they need to see to feel comfortable with the content?

– What phase of the buy cycle is your prospect in when they reach a certain landing page?

– What do you want people to do when they reach your landing page? Is there a secondary goal (like subscribing to your newsletter?).

– What are the upsell opportunities?

– What products/services make your company the most money?

Getting good answers to these questions takes time – it’s not something you can accomplish in a couple hours. Having said that, if you’re planning to outsource, it’s a great way of separating the so-so copywriters from the smart ones. Good copywriters won’t start writing without an SEO copywriting strategy in place – they know the results won’t be what you want.

(As a side note, master SEO copywriters can often handle this phase for you. It can be useful to have someone outside your company create your campaign.)

Your SEO copywriting campaign is important. Take the time, develop an air-tight strategy and do it right.

You’ll be glad you did.

Save 25% on the SEO Copywriting Certification training through September 30th, 2013 – just use coupon code SEPTEMBER. Or, if your team is overwhelmed, my writers can help create top-converting content. Contact me for details.

Overcoming the overwhelm monster

Overwhelm monsterThis is an “oldie-but-a-goodie” post that I published about three years ago.

Here’s why I’m sharing it with you again…

Right now, I find myself launching a new site, moving my home and office, working on two separate client trainings and developing a presentation for SMX East. I have about three weeks to finish it all.

I found myself getting cranky, stressed out and tired. Then I realized – duh – I should take my own advice and re-read this post.

It helped me. And I hope it helps you too.

Enjoy!

Yesterday, I realized that I had way too much Web writing stuff to do.

OK, granted. This is not an abnormal occurrence. Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to have multiple irons in the fire. I like to be busy.

But yesterday, was different. I had a bunch of Web writing projects – new home page copy for my site and new email autoresponders. I also had a client project and a conference PowerPoint to complete (SES Chicago is right around the corner.)

I was busy (Sound familiar? I bet you have your own super-busy story to share.)

Unlike most days when I buckle down and just do it, yesterday was different. My inner Heather-child was having a temper tantrum. It was too much stuff. I didn’t have time to finish it. I messed up and packed in too many deliverables in one day.

(OK, that last one may be true…)

If you could look inside my brain, you’d see me kicking and screaming and saying, “Nooooo!”

Why? Because I let the overwhelm monster get the best of me.

The reality is, I’ve worked this pace before. I actually thrive on it. However, I made a few crucial errors that pulled me out of the flow and allowed time for the overwhelm monster to sneak in and grab me. Here’s what happened – and here’s what you can do.

  • I was forcing myself to work when I wasn’t “on.” I can write a kick-butt sales page in 60 minutes. Or, it will take me six hours if I’m not in the flow. One of the hardest things to do (but oh, so important) is to pull away from the computer when the writing isn’t flowing. If you’re sitting slack-jawed in front of your laptop, you’re not working. You’re wasting time. Stop it.
  • I was working without any downtime. When I’m in a creative flow, nothing can stop me. I can wake up at 6 a.m. and work until 8 p.m. and not even notice that it’s dark outside. That pace works for so long, but it’s not sustainable. Unfortunately, I felt like I had to “make up for lost time” and push that creative flow a little harder. That was dumb.
  • I wasn’t making lists. Lists are a SEO copywriter’s best friend. You can get stuff out of your head, track your progress and have that sublime feeling of satisfaction when you cross things off. If I keep everything in my head rather than committing it to paper, it makes it hard to “turn off.” I keep thinking, “Don’t forget to…” and “I need to remember this tomorrow.” What’s worse, I was thinking about stuff like that at 3 a.m. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think anyone has “happy thoughts” at 3 a.m.

Fortunately, I wasn’t a complete dunce. I did keep up on a few things – and I think having some self-care foundation helped me slay the overwhelm monster faster. Those were:

  • I exercise. A lot. It helps me sleep, it keeps me fit – and most importantly, it burns off my stress. I may not like running three miles. But I do like the runner’s high that comes after it. When you have your nose thisclose to a monitor all day, you gotta do something to move.
  • I eat well.  I learned my lesson the hard way around this one. I used to drink about 6-8 shots of espresso a day. Plus use yummy treats like donuts to spike my blood sugar and force a writing focus. Not anymore. After my doctor had a little talk with me (the word “hospital” was used,) I realized that I was revving my engines way too much. Now, I eat a lot of protein. I monitor my carb intake. I avoid sugar – mostly. And I feel way, way better.
  • I’m learning how to balance work and play. Some folks would work all the time if they could. I am one of them. However, my work is fresher and I’m feeling happier when I pull myself away from the keyboard and do something fun. Maybe that’s a walk. Maybe it’s a movie. Maybe it’s lunch with a friend. I used to feel guilty about “taking time away from work.” Now I know – activities like that enhance our work. Not detract from it.

The good news is, I got all my work done. The overwhelm monster almost got me this time. It was close. Fortunately, I was able to pull away from the computer, cook a good meal and take a little downtime. By the time I got back, the writing just flowed…and the overwhelm monster was nowhere to be found.

What about you? What techniques do you use when you feel the overwhelm monster creeping up on you?

Taking my own advice…

Give yourself a writing break now and then!…and taking a break from writing.

This past week has given me a much-needed hiatus, allowing me to replenish the creative reservoir.

If you feel like you’ve been running on creative fumes, consider giving yourself a break. It doesn’t have to be a matter of weeks – and often that isn’t an option. But even giving yourself a few days away from the keyboard will allow room for new ideas, fresh perspectives, and unexpected sources of inspiration.

Try it! You’ll be glad you did.

Will be returning to my own keyboard next week – until then, take care and have a fantastic weekend!

 

Does your company blend in? Or stand out?

Stand outYour company is amazing. You have a great story to tell – and unique benefits to highlight.

So, why doesn’t your SEO content showcase your awesomeness?

Maybe it’s because you’re actually writing afraid instead of owning your power.

Why blend into the masses and do what your competitors are doing? Instead, shout about your unique qualities! For instance:

Maybe your company has blenders so powerful, they can chew through iPads. Maybe your experience has helped other struggling business owners.

That “stuff” is important – to your customers, to your team, and to your prospects. And it helps you make sales.

Your SEO content challenge this week:  Pinpoint one thing that makes your company awesome. Then write about it.

That means finding your voice and showcasing what makes you different. After all…

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” – Dr. Seuss

(And yes, Dr. Seuss can teach you about copywriting. Here are some additional tidbits.)

Are you “too close” to your web content and you can’t see your company’s awesome opportunities? Let me help. Contact me today – I can help you showcase your expertise and drive more sales!

 

Write sexy SEO content (for any industry!)

Are you faced with writing content for a “boring” industry?

You don’t need to replicate your competitor’s campaigns. Nor do you have to write page after dull page (resisting the urge to poke your eyes out with every word.)

You just have to think of an unique angle to “sexify” your content!

When I say “sexy,” I don’t mean pictures of well endowed women wearing low-cut shirts and push up bras. You may get some temporary play with that technique, but it will also turn off a certain segment of your audience.

What I mean by sexy is something that grabs your readers’ attention and doesn’t let go. Something that’s unique, viral – and miles away from what your competitors are doing.

Here’s an example:

Blend your way into your users’ hearts

Do a search for “blenders,” and you’ll find all sorts of resources. Buying guides, spec sheets, recipes – everything that you would expect. If you’re a hard-core juicer and foodie like me, you realize early on that conventional blenders won’t cut it anymore. You need a beast of a machine to grind nuts and smooth out the most kale-stuffed smoothie.

Vitamix is a premium brand well-known for their powerful blenders. Their home page is pretty standard:

Vitamix

Is Vitamix’s approach “wrong” or “bad” – no. But is the content inspiring? Meh. It’s cool, but not so cool that you want to run out and see one in action right now.

In short, it doesn’t inspire you to change.

Compare this to Blendtec’s “will it blend” campaign:

Will It Blend

 

Got an iPad? You can blend it. Got superglue? You can blend it. It kind of makes you want to grab a new Blendtec blender and start grinding things up, doesn’t it?

Now that’s sexy.

Look at your man…now back to me

Another example is the fantastic Old Spice ads. Aftershave commercials are typically pretty formulaic – man uses aftershave, hot women flock. And of course, these ads were typically targeted to men.

Old Spice did things dramatically differently. Yes, it’s a product for men – but certainly, the ad campaign was made for a woman (but done in a way that even men can appreciate it!).

Old Spice

(I still laugh every time I hear, “I’m on a horse.” The ad campaign may be an oldie, but it’s a goodie.)

Did this campaign work? Heck, yeah. Sales increased over 107 percent from June to July, 2010. Obviously, people changed their behavior and started buying Old Spice – even if a lot of men previously thought that Old Spice was what “their dad used to wear.”

Could you use a shirtless male model to sell pipe fitters? Probably not. But what the Old Spice and Blendtec example shows us is – you can do things differently. You can shake it up. And yes, your target audience will reward you for it.

It just takes a little out-of-the-box thinking.

What about you? What are your favorite “sexy” sites for boring industries?

Do you want inspiring content for your site? Yes! My team can write pages for you – or I can  personally train your team. Contact me for details.

Stop chasing shiny things and write great content instead!

Shiny dollarIs your company trying to implement the latest marketing “it” thing…

…yet you hate your site content, it’s not positioning and you haven’t blogged in months?

You need to stop chasing the latest shiny marketing platform and go back to basics. Right now.

I know this is hard to do. Especially when you read blog posts saying, “It’s time to jump on the bandwagon…before your competitors do!”

Uh oh.

Lusting after the latest marketing platform isn’t bad. But you have to shore up the basics first.

– Do your product and services pages read the way you want?

– Does your content’s tone and feel resonate with your readers?

– Do you need to edit your content?

– Are you helping your readers make a change, or are you writing for Google?

Get your site in order first – and then go wild. You’ll be amazed at the difference (and the increased conversions, too!).

Have you been meaning to rewrite your content pages – but your team is already busy, stressed and frazzled? Let me help! Learn about my SEO copywriting services today.

 

What Seth Godin can teach you about SEO content

Heart puzzleTell me if this sounds familiar.

The marketing and SEO teams brainstorm the keyphrases, do the research and determine the keywords that represent strong content opportunities. Then, the writing team takes over and writes 500-word articles on “How to find the right cataraft for your trip,” or “Why Pilates reformer classes help people with back injuries.”

This process is technically accurate. But it doesn’t capture the essence of creating commanding SEO content. It’s a piece of the puzzle – but it’s not the whole puzzle.

What you really want to ask is: How can your content help people to change?

This difference struck me as I was reading a comment by Matthew Newman on this blog post. He quoted Seth Godin as saying:

“The only reason to build a website is to change someone. If you can’t tell me the change and you can’t tell me the someone, then you’re wasting your time.”

Certainly, the “someone” would be your target reader (if you don’t have a customer persona document, you need to implement this step before writing another word.)

But let’s talk about change.  Here’s the reality:

The content you create – whether you are a B2B or B2C – can help your readers make changes they want to make. In fact, the more your content prompts that change, the more successful your site will be.

Deep, yes. But think about it…

Buying behavior is driven by emotion, pure and simple. The unspoken question during every buying decision is how can this product or service help the purchaser:

  • Make more money
  • Feel superior
  • Feel sexier
  • Relieve themselves of guilt
  • Calm fears
  • (And a host of other emotions)

Sure, we say that our buy process is rational and logical. But that’s just what we tell ourselves. We don’t cancel our cable because of FOMO (fear of missing out.) We buy the anti-aging cream because we want to feel young and sexy. We invest in the get-rich-quick scheme because – well – the possibility of having unlimited funds feels powerful.

We buy solutions (not things and not services) that lead us closer to how we want to feel. We want more happiness, less fear and a whole lot of peace of mind.

Commanding SEO content taps into these fears, hopes and desires. Because that’s where the “change agent” lives. It’s not in the readers’ rational brains. It’s deep, deep down.

Rather than writing another dull buying guide, think about your reader. Really think about what turns her on, what makes her happy and what inspires her. That changes the focus from “write another guide” to “help someone make a change.”

The key to this is telling stories – stories you know will resonate with your reader.

If you’re writing about Pilates reformer classes for back injuries, you could share how people are finally living pain free – without drugs – for the first time in years. All they did is take a couple classes a week for three months. Interviews, video and before and after shots can help prompt that change (getting people to sign up for their first class.)

If you’re writing about catarafts, help the person feel the strength and security of the raft as it careens through Class IV Grand Canyon rapids. Pictures, stories and highly descriptive text can make your case (and help someone feel like they can make it through the Canyon successfully.)

It’s all about how you frame your writing.

Isn’t it fun helping people make a change?

Is it time for a change? Learn how my SEO copywriting services and my customized training solutions can help your company.