how can I reach my customers if I’m not on social media?

What – you’re not on social media!?

It reminds me of those old movies where two strangers walk into the only pub in a one-horse town and the whole place goes quiet.  Not being on social media has the same effect – people can’t quite believe it.

Social media has become such an insidious presence in our lives, it’s easy to forget what life was like before.  Remember the days when we used to actually talk with one another?  Or,  gasp – read a book –  I know, it seems like Jurassic times doesn’t it?

no to facebook

But back to the present.  If you’re a small business owner, the feeling that you ‘have to be on’ social media can add a layer of pressure you can probably do without.  Apart from the fact you probably don’t know enough about all the various platforms, or even be sure which might work best for you – just the thought of coming up with ideas can feel overwhelming.  Not to mention finding the time and money to plan, manage and monitor it all.

So, if you don’t have, or don’t want to be on social media – what else can you do to reach your customers?  The answer is ‘plenty’ – here are some ‘old school’ alternatives which still work a treat.

 

Hold an event

You my friend, are the expert in your field.  Whether you’re a builder, baker or candlestick-maker – you’ve got the knowledge and know-how people want  and inviting them to a free event is one way to showcase your skills.

For example, it’s nearly the end of the financial year,  so if you’re an accountant you could hold an event to share money-saving tips to help businesses get organised and minimise their tax.  Holding an event is social and there’s no hard sell.

If you’re in the trades/design sector, you could hold a ‘how to’ information session on laying a deck, tiling a kitchen, painting your roof or styling tips for your home.   Ditto that if you’re in real estate and you want to get into people’s minds before the ‘spring selling season’.

You get the drift – the best thing about holding an event is the personal connections you’ll build with your existing or potential new customers.  And you simply can’t achieve that in the same way on social media.   Not only that, people love getting free advice – throw in a few sausage rolls and you’ll literally have them eating out of your hand.

laying tiles

Run a promotion

Pick an area of your business you’d like to grow and run a promotion on that theme.  You could do this by printing flyers, online or print advertising or a sending out a direct email campaign to an existing mailing list.  Couple this with a discount or a ‘try before you buy’ offer on the product or service as a sweetener and you’re away.

One of the simplest ways to create flyers or promo material is by using Canva – a design tool which allows you to design and create posters or flyers from a selection of easy-to use templates.  And of course if you need help then give me a holler – I can create one for you.

advertise-768067_1280 (1)

Provide exclusivity

If you’re  not on social media or don’t want to be – you can still keep your customers close and strengthen your connections with them.  One way to do this is to create a ‘members-only’ club/forum or opt-in.  This could be online via your website, or off-line and in person.  It also depends on what your business or service is.

To maximize the success of this initiative, you need to put yourself in their shoes and be able to answer the question “what’s in it for me?”.  If the forum is not appealing enough then they won’t go for it.  Sometimes this is because businesses tend to focus on the features of their product or offering, rather than the benefits.  Spelling out the benefits leaves no room for doubt and when you couple benefits with exclusivity, you’re onto a winner.

focus on benefits not features

Now, as a copywriter, this is right up my street because wooing with words is what I do and I can help you define your product or service offering – so call me!

Write a blog or send out a newsletter

Another way to demonstrate your know-how is by answering questions you’re most often asked by your customers via a newsletter or website blog.

Whether you’re a mechanic, plumber, lawyer or carpenter – people will always have questions about your subject area of expertise.  And often they can’t make a decision without knowing the answers.  So, for instance if you’re worried about that rattling noise in your car then these top ten signs your car needs servicing would really help make that decision, right?  If you’re in the auto-maintenance business then this is the kind of stuff you can write about.

The same applies for any service-based business – a newsletter or blog can be really powerful.  And if you’re stuck for ideas then ten killer suggestions to get you started.

newsletter-2123473_1280 (1)

So there you go – a few ideas to help you reach your customers without being on social media.  And if you find yourself being sucked into the social media vortex of liking, clicking and tapping – then step back and do something different.

Because sometimes old school tactics are the ones which still work best!

 

Under the bonnet – what you need to know about SEO

 

Why SEO is like buying a new car

I’m of those people who does a lot of things on instinct.

Like the time I bought my first car.

I was at a friend’s place on a Saturday afternoon.  We were about to sit down and watch the All Blacks play.

With ten minutes to kick-off, I said I’d duck out and grab a bottle of wine.

I ended up buying the car as well on the way back.

I know right, who in the hell does that?

My friend lived just around the corner from the now-defunct Rick Damelion dealership.  And there on the pavement with a ‘For Sale’ sign in the windscreen was a blue Holden Barina.  I took one look and thought “that’s my car”.

Fifteen minutes later (including a five-minute test drive through peak-hour traffic in a suburb I’d never been before), I was the car’s new owner.

I returned with the wine and drove the car home the next morning.

That’s how I roll people.

wine-celebration

Shortly after, I signed up for a car-maintenance course.  Because instinct or not, I’m also the kind of person who needs to know what goes on under the bonnet.  After that, I could do all my own oil and brake changes, replace the fuses – you get the picture.

A little bit of knowledge goes a long way.

And it’s the same with SEO.

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION

Now, I’m not claiming to be an expert on Search Engine Optimisation – far from it.  But I’ve made an effort to learn the basics (so I know what’s going on under the bonnet of my business) and it’s paid off.

As a result, my website ranks on page one of Google for a few different keyword terms.

Cut-through Copywriting

And yours can too if you follow these simple tips.  Here’s what you need to know.

What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

When you type a search term into Google, Bing or Duck Duck Go, the search engine ‘crawls’ every page on the internet looking for the ones which most closely match your needs.  It then ranks those pages accordingly on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).  So, the key to getting your website to rank higher means every page on your site needs to be optimised to get priority ranking in the search.

There are specific reasons why some websites rank more highly than others but it can pretty much be boiled down to four key elements:

  • Technical
  • Keywords
  • Content
  • Analytics

Now, anyone can advertise their business on Google and as a result, gets priority ranking in the SERP.  However, there’s a lot you can do to improve the organic ranking of your site without paying which is even better, don’t you think?

Get yourself off t a flying start by registering with Google My Business

Tick – ok let’s get into the nitty-gritty of SEO.

SEO know-how

SEO know-how

TECHNICAL SEO KNOW-HOW

First-off, when people come to your website it needs to be a painless experience.  In practice, what that means is:

  • ensuring it’s logically laid out
  • is easy to navigate
  • people can find what they need
  • your content is useful and answers their questions

Your website developer is responsible for the structure and the copywriter for the words.  Both play a role in ensuring your website is Search Engine Optimised.

We’ll get into keywords shortly but essentially the words and phrases you use to describe your product or service, need to be incorporated into the back-end of your site (as well as the content).  This means making sure your business descriptions are included in:

  • the url
  • the page title (with each page having a specific focus)
  • the headings (primarily H1 and H2)
  • the meta description (written differently for each page)
  • the alt-tags (to label images in case they don’t load and/or for the visually impaired)
  • the images (so they can be identified by the search engines)

This may not mean a lot to you but will to your web-developer (and your copywriter if they’ve made an effort to get across it – hello!).

Now, that’s a fairly distilled list but I’d say those are the key things to focus on.  And certainly, ticking those boxes is what worked for me.  However, there’s much more to know so if you’d like to learn more, check out this Search Engine Watch article on 22 Essentials you need for optimising your site.  But I’m warning you, it’s like a rabbit warren which is which is why I’m only covering the basics.

If you really want to get into it, however, then there’s only one guy – Neil Patel – check him out.

KEYWORD RESEARCH

Now, the first thing I want to say about keywords is that they’re not the ‘be all and end all’.  At the end of the day, we’re all human and ultimately it’s human relationships and connections which keep our businesses going – not how keyworded your website is.

But that aside, it’s good to know how to search for relevant keywords for your business.

Let’s use the car maintenance example.  If I type ‘car maintenance course, Canberra’ into Google – after the paid ads, one place comes up – the Canberra Institute of Technology.  CIT runs a number of car maintenance courses so it pretty much dominates the listing.  And although targeted at slightly different audiences, they all contain the keywords and phrases of the search.

Google search

What this search is really saying, is that CIT is the place to go if you’re looking for a car maintenance course.  Imagine if you could get that kind of result for your business?

Of course, as soon as you start typing Google will offer own suggestions (based on what others are searching for) so the auto-suggest function is a useful starting point to think about keyword phrase relevant to your business.

google auto-suggest_Cut-through Copywriting

At the bottom of the search page, Google gives you even more info about the related searches.

cut-through copywriting blog - google search

Finding keywords and generating ideas

Keyword planning tools are a useful way of testing keywords and keyword phrases (called Long Tail keywords) to see how many people are searching for those products or services in any given month.

When you understand what people are searching for (relevant to your industry) then you can adapt your website content to target them.   On that note,  when your copywriter writes the text for your site – it’s not just about stuffing the keyword into as many sentences as possible.  They will use synonyms and phrases which capture what you do and with an understanding of what people type into Google when searching for a service.

When you’ve decided on the web content, including long and short tail keywords, you should aim to enter these into the following places in order to improve your website ranking.  These include:

  • page title
  • headers and-subheaders
  • in the first sentence and obviously throughout the text

Here are a few keyword planning tools you might want to look at:

KW Finder

LongTailPro

Whatever your industry, customers will always have questions about your service or product.  A big part of SEO is answering those questions via your website (based on your long tail keyword research).

Imagine if there was a tool which helped you understand what kind of questions people might ask?

Luckily there is.

Answer the Public is an idea generation tool based on a single keyword.  It generates ideas by putting a question like ‘who, what, where, why, when’ in front of the keyword.

When I entered the word ‘bookkeeper’ I got 84 questions and this amazing graphic.  This could be really helpful for bookkeepers setting up their websites.  Whatever your business is – try it out!

SEO Keyword research tool

Answer the Public

CONTENT

Now, there’s no question that easily the most important aspect of SEO, is publishing regular content.   In order for your website to rank, search engines have to be able to detect regular activity.  If your website appears dormant because you haven’t updated it since you set it up five years ago, then it will rank poorly.

If you have a News/Insights/Blog on your site and you regularly update your content then you’re covered.  If you don’t, then the search engines won’t know your site is active.  You really need to be refreshing/publishing content on a regular basis.  And if you’re worried about where to find ideas, here are ten super easy ones to get you started.

Another important aspect of Search Engine Optimisation is through the use of inbound and outbound links, as this too, tells the search engines your site is alive and kicking.  When you link link to what are known as high authority sites (because they have a lot of readers or subscribers) then that will also help you.

These sites rank highly for a reason, and that’s because, they publish really darned useful content, like this.  Think of it as kind of piggy-backing on someone else’s kudos – they benefit but so do you from the association and the links which exist between the sites.

Now, one question – are you ready for your close up?  I hope so because we’re living in the video age and video has become important in website ranking.  So, if you’re a maker, creator, builder or baker – maybe think about doing a time-lapse video or take some vision of the end result.

If you’re camera-shy, get on the other side of the lens and be the ones asking the questions.  You could interview a client or member of your team or answer a customer’s question on video – it’s just another way of telling visitors what you do.

Facebook and Google’s ever changing rules of the game

One thing to be aware of (and this is more the domain of social media marketing experts), is the ever changing rules of the game as dictated by the social media giants.   I recently wrote about Facebook’s announced changes to its algorithm and what it means for business.  Even as I write this article about how to increase your page ranking, it could be obsolete by the time you get to the end!

Just this week, I learned Google is trialing limiting organic search listings in favour of the Knowledge Card which simply gives the answer to the question you are looking for, therefore negating a long list of results.  This move to a zero-result SERP could be yet another game changer for users and particularly business users.  And because we access so much info via our mobile devices, in many ways it makes sense that we simply want a quick answer to our question and never look at the much longer list.

Add to that, the long list of companies acquired by Facebook since 2005 in the area of social media apps, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, facial recognition, artificial intelligence, digital and video publishing – well you get the picture.  Perhaps getting people to find our websites will be the least of our issues!

And it’s also why many companies need assistance in the area of social media marketing because it’s an ever-shifting landscape and it takes an expert to help you navigate it.

SEO analytics and plugins

They say if you can’t measure something you can’t understand it.  Which is why this is also a critical part of SEO.  There are many free plugins out there which can help improve the SEO of your site.

YOAST is a fantastic plugin for SEO, is easy to use, lets you view what your page will look like in a Google Search and also has a traffic light system to rate the SEO.  One word of warning on the traffic lights – you can end up tying yourself in knots trying to get the ‘green light’ but remember your content needs to cut through to actual humans, so first – write like one!  I kind of did things backwards because I downloaded the plugin after I got my website to rank organically many months later (I was too busy under the bonnet….).  Anyway it’s useful but it’s still the content which matters first.  Here’s what the Yoast plugin looks like for this blog post – I’ve got the green light for the SEO but a ‘needs improvement’ for the readability (because this blog is a bit long).

SEO Image

There is a plethora of information on the net on optimising SEO and analytics.  I won’t go into them all (and because I’m not an expert) but I know someone who is – if you want to delve deeper you should check out MOZ as they wrote the book on SEO.

Summary

Finally, there’s no silver bullet and certainly, top rankings don’t happen overnight.

However, if you follow the steps above then your website ranking should improve.  That’s all I did and over a couple of months, I saw my website move from page four to page one.

The other thing to consider is what I said earlier – business is about building relationships and that comes above all else.  There are so many ways to reach out to your customers and your website is only one of those.  Not only that, many small business owners are under enough pressure and simply don’t always have the time, money or resources to put into all of these things.

However, if any of this resonates and has inspired you to set up a blog, news tab or re-work your website then get in touch – I can definitely help.

Ten great ideas for your business blog

BLOG.jpg

If you have a blog on your website but you’ve only ever posted one or two blogs – then it’s ok – you’re not alone.

The fact of the matter is, it takes time to create regular updates and quality posts for your site.

But not only that – you need to come up with ideas and let’s be honest, with everything else on your plate – it’s not always going to be easy.

The good news is I’ve created a list of ten ideas which can be adapted to almost any business to get you started:

  1. Post a blog on how to do, fix or make something with screenshots or a video
  2. Answer a commonly asked question in your industry
  3. Write an article giving an expert view on an aspect of your industry
  4. Feature a member of your staff in a fun Q&A type post
  5. Write a blog post about ‘things you should never do’ relevant to your industry
  6. Make a prediction about what’s in the pipeline for your industry
  7. Share your thoughts on a recent conference you attended and the key takeaways
  8. Write an article about mistakes people make in your industry and how to fix them
  9. Share a case study from a client you recently helped
  10. Alert readers to an up-and-coming special offer or new product launch
  11. Share the latest news from your company

So that’s actually eleven – I got carried away.

Whatever your industry, you’ll have a range of issues, questions and problems you can blog about.  Sit down, have a bit of a brainstorm and before you know it, you’ll have a list or at least some solid ideas to get you going.

Still not sure – then get in touch because I can definitely help you find ideas and also help with the writing, editing and proofreading of your blogs.

P.S. For lots more practical advice and my hottest tips  – sign up for my newsletter

 

What Facebook’s changes mean for your business and what you and do about it

Facebook social media

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

The internet is abuzz following Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement on Thursday about the changes to Facebook’s algorithm in 2018 – particularly with regard to the News Feed.

When Facebook was created, Zuckerberg says it’s purpose was “to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us”. In short, it was built for social interaction.  Since then, it has changed radically and is now heavily used by businesses to reach their customers as part of their marketing strategy.

Zuckerberg’said he wants to change this and to prioritise interactions between family and friends.  He’s said the content published by businesses, brands and media “is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other”.

Here’s how they explain it.

Michael Stelzner, Founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner has described the changes as “a big threat for businesses that use Facebook”.

So what does it all mean?

Well, primarily it means businesses will have to re-think how they reach their Facebook audience.  Because of the algorithm changes, it won’t matter how many hundreds or thousands of page ‘likes’ you have – it’s not going to help you get seen in the News Feed.

Unmasking inauthenticity

There’s no question too, that many businesses pay for page ‘Likes’ so their followers aren’t even genuine.  You can see this almost daily on platforms like Air Tasker where posts regularly appear asking for say 1,000 page ‘likes’ in order to boost the page ranking.  Those ‘likes’ could be from someone in Timbucktoo who’s being paid 5c to like your page but who will never become a customer.  How does that help you?  I really don’t get it – but anyway – another story for another time.

Sadly the individual below doesn’t realise that from now on, they’re wasting their time and their money.

Facebook.

many businesses pay for Facebook ‘likes’

Now, in some ways, you could say, Facebook’s re-focusing is one way of unmasking some of the trickery out there (and of course to take the heat off themselves for not doing enough to tackle the problem of fake news and the hysteria over the US election.

But if you’re a small business owner who’s spent time and energy building up their Facebook audience – what should you do?

What should you do to get seen on Facebook?

Well firstly, one way to get seen in the News Feed is to create a Facebook group rather than simply having a business page.  A Facebook group fosters connections between people around a genuinely shared area of interest and so, under the new changes, will help you get seen in the News Feed.  And in fact, in the days following the announcement, the proliferation of groups was evident in the News Feed so creating a business group is definitely the way to go.

Secondly, think about Facebook advertising.  There’s no question Facebook advertising is a low-cost but effective way to get your business in front of your target audience.  So if you want to be found on Facebook then it’s likely you will have to spend more on Facebook advertising.

Thirdly, Facebook has said it is also changing how videos will rank in the News Feed giving a higher ranking to videos which are watched in full.   Here’s a great article from Social Media Examiner on Six ways to use Facebook Live Video for your Business.  So Facebook will be watching and monitoring how useful or engaging video is and watching to see which ones people watch until the end.

What offline activities can you try to reach your customers?

Don’t forget about offline – you can always organise a workshop, networking opportunity or an exclusive invitation-only event for your customers.  If you have a mailing list then you can use that to reach your customers but remember to include an unsubscribe’ option in your newsletter to avoid spamming.

What if you don’t want to be on Facebook?

One thing no one is talking about, however, is the opportunity the changes present, especially for small businesses.  For many small business owners, Facebook pages are a complete mystery – they don’t necessarily have the skills, understanding or personnel to manage their page.  But what many do have – is their website.

Think about it – if you are sick of playing the Facebook game, then stop doing it and focus instead on driving traffic to your own website.  You have control of your own website, what you put on it, what you want people to see, what you want to tell them about – where you want people to click and so on.

And that’s precisely the reason why your own website is the best place to capture and keep your customers – a long way away from Facebook’s reach and manipulation of algorithmic rankings. Facebook won’t tell you that of course because they want you to advertise with them!

One of the easiest ways to increase traffic to your website is by posting regular content to your business blog, news tab or the website itself.  Uploading posts which are interesting and useful to your customers and even providing them with incentives (could be a promotion, a ‘members only discount’ or even a forum on your own site) is one way to genuinely connect with your customers and keep them coming back to your site.

If you’re stuck for ideas here are ten blog post ideas to get you started.

Business blogging is something you can easily learn how to do – which is why I created this:

Supercharge Your business blog (it’s free)

So you see, Facebook only has power if you give it to them.  As a small business owner you’ve got more power than you think – use it.

Business storytelling 101: everyday superhero vs my mother-in-law

In my opinion, the kind of guy who can deal with a mother-in-law crisis at short notice is the kind of guy I need to have on speed-dial.

Cut-through Copywriting_business storytelling

And that’s why I’ve just added Dave Harris to my list.

Dealing with emergencies is Dave Harris’ stock in trade.

And I’m not talking about running into burning warehouses or leaping tall buildings in a single bound (although if that was necessary, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem).

No –  I’m talking about the kind of guy who can deal with a mother-in-law crisis at short notice.

Especially at this time of year.

Dave Harris of Hastings Locksmiths rescued my mother-in-law these holidays when she locked herself out of the house.

That feeling of helplessness you get, when you realise how much of your life hangs on a key ring, is a feeling you don’t want to experience too often.

Even more so when those keys are firmly out of reach.

So when a freak gust of wind slammed shut both the front and security screen door, with the keys solidly jammed between the two, my mother-in-law was not exactly calm.

And that’s ok.  It was a nano-second before Christmas and a house-load of guests were about to beat a path to her door.

Unfortunately, no amount of jiggling, rattling, heaving or cursing would release the keys.  And being trapped outside in your slippers is never a good way to start your day.

Thankfully a friendly local recommended we call Dave and we couldn’t type his name into Google fast enough.

Dave turned up with his burly frame and friendly smile and within less than 10 seconds had the security screen door open, the front door unlocked and the keys back into the hands of my mother-in-law.

But not just that – no call out charge was the icing on the cake.  Christmas really did come early for the mother-in-law.

That’s what I call amazing service.

Now, while the bread and butter of Dave’s work is the installation of deadlocks, window locks and the keying of security systems – his true value is that he provides security, safety and peace of mind.

What I love about being a copywriter, is that I get to tell the business stories of the Daves of this world.  The people behind the business, product or service who make it all happen.

The quiet heroes whose superpower and stock-in-trade is their knowledge, skills and experience but whose real value can’t be squeezed onto a business card.

Business storytelling is about demonstrating value – whether it’s for locksmiths, mechanics, hairdressers, graphic designers – fill in the blank.  The Daves of this world make my job easy.

So this is what I do – I tell your business story via your website, business blog, social media or marketing materials.  And when I do that, I focus on the benefits you offer, not just the features of what you sell.

If you’re a small business operator and you want more people to really get what you do – not just the thing that you do, but the value you bringget in touch and let’s talk.

Business owners – do you really need a website if you already have Facebook?

Website content

This is the six million dollar question and one which many business owners ask.  In the social media age when half the planet seems to be on Facebook – you might wonder if having a website is even necessary anymore?  Well the short answer is that it is – and here’s why.

Your website adds credibility and serves as a shop window

Having a website makes it easier for people to visit and to check out your products, services and pricing.  People often like to window shop first and having a website enables them to do that.  It also allows them to find out a bit more about you and your organisation and to get a feel for your brand.  Having a website adds credibility and professionalism.  By contrast, there’s only so much you can squeeze into the ‘About’ tab on your Facebook page.

Maintaining a website presence is fairly low maintenance

Your website should never be a ‘set and forget’ task but the good news is that once you’ve created it, maintaining it shouldn’t take up too much of your time.  Of course you’ll need to edit or update specific pages from time to time.  However for the most part, once your website is up and running – it’s fairly straightforward to maintain.

Facebook social media

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Facebook is a social media platform and requires you to be social

Having a Facebook page doesn’t guarantee you will have customers stampeding to your door.  And in fact answering the question of whether your website or Facebook is better for reaching audiences is a complex one.  Ultimately Facebook is a social media platform so you need to be prepared to socialise.  It’s also the place where you interact with your customers or followers who often want to chip in, provide feedback or ask questions.   Doing that takes time, effort and commitment from you.  As a business owner you need to think about whether you have the capacity to monitor, manage and respond to queries on your Facebook page.

Facebook is like looking after a hungry pet who always wants feeding

Now, because Facebook is an interactive social platform – you have to have regular morsels of content for your followers to digest.  This means regular information posts, stories, pictures, graphics – curated or shared content on relevant subjects.  In short you need have a content calendar or timeline for posts at least a few months ahead.  Not only that – it shouldn’t just be about self-promotion. Best practice for social media says you should apply the ‘rule of thirds’ with regard to your content.  What that means is mix it up a bit.  Make one third promotional in nature, one third of original articles (maybe a blog post from your website) and one third an industry expert/leadership view or opinion piece.  It goes without saying that the content should tie in with your key messages, mission and organisational objectives  Now ask yourself do you have the skill, staff or time to manage all that?  If not then having a website is often much less work.

The debate about whether websites or social media are better for building your business will continue to rage – there are benefits and drawbacks to both.

My advice is that ideally you should have both.  You need your website to drive traffic to your Facebook and Facebook to drive people back to your website – they’re interrelated.  Facebook has also changed it algorithms meaning the days of organic reach are virtually dead – Facebook wants you to book advertising so you pay to get your business offering in front of audiences, which in the past, you may have been able to reach organically – no more my friends.

This is only a brief overview of some of the things you need to consider.  If you’d like to learn more or if you need help with your website, Facebook or content for your social media then get in touch.

Here’s what you need to know to write a great speech

Speech

It’s an often stated fact that public speaking is said to be people’s number one fear – with death coming in at number two – yes you read that right.  The reality is, that at some point in your life, you’re probably going to have to write and deliver a speech.  However as they say in the military:  Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.   Get off on the right foot by following these six simple ‘rules’.

Understand your audience

Always remember, this speech is not about you – it’s about your audience. The type of speech you deliver will depend on the audience and that will determine the tone and style of speech you make. A business speech will have a very different tone to the one you give at your best mate’s wedding so think about your audience. We’ve heard it a million times before but in this instance it’s relevant – when you make a speech you’re taking people on a journey – so give them a head’s up about where you’re going and tell them what you’ll be talking about and why.

 

Deliver a powerful opening

Grab your audience’s attention early by starting with a funny anecdote, hitting them with a shocking statistic or even by asking a question and asking for a show of hands. The earlier you gain their attention and the stronger the emotional connection you create – the more likely they’ll hang in there with you for the remainder of the speech.  Authenticity matters and so do personal stories so make your speech relatable and memorable.   Check out Steve Jobs How to live before you die speech.

Keep the language simple

The best speeches use simple language and avoid jargon. Be human – talk to the audience as if you were talking to a friend. Use short sentences and write like you speak. What reads well on paper doesn’t always work in the verbal delivery. Read your speeches aloud and discard anything that doesn’t work – or that you find yourself stumbling over.  Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations used straightforward language but but it packed one hell of a punch.

Do your research

As you deliver your speech, your audience will be judging the credibility of it and of your authority as the speechmaker, so make sure you know your subject matter. Think about what you’d like people to take away from your talk and work that into your narrative. Limit your speech to two or three key points and repeat those points during the course of the speech. If you overwhelm your audience with too many stats and facts they’ll either switch off or they won’t remember any of them.  If you have to deliver bad or unexpected news in your speech make sure people understand why.  Check out Alan Joyce’s 2010 ‘Qantas grounding speech‘ where he makes the case for his decision (although he was widely criticised for it) – the speech itself ticks all the boxes.

Martin Luther King

Tell a story

All good speeches tell stories and it almost doesn’t matter what the occasion is. Think about what story you’re trying to tell and then weave it into your speech. For some occasions (for example at weddings or funerals) you will probably already have a wealth of stories to choose from. In business, you should link your new product or service back to the story of the company’s reason for being and its mission – paint a picture using words and walk people though the landscape. Authenticity matters and so do real life experiences. People won’t always remember facts and figures but they’ll remember a good story and it will make the occasion more memorable.

Keep it short

People have limited attention spans, even for subjects which interest them and after a while their attention will naturally start to wane. This is an audience so don’t make them feel like hostages. Rehearse your speech, stick to your messages and finish on time. Some of the most powerful speeches in history have been the shortest – like Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address which was less than 300 words.

It goes without saying that if you want to learn how to deliver a great speech, listen and learn from the best. Paul Keating’s former speechwriter Don Watson gives his tips on how to write a great speech here.

Finally practice makes perfect – take a deep breath, smile and enjoy holding the audience in the palm of your hand.  You’ve got this!

Five important reasons why you need a business blog

business blog

Let’s cut to the chase.  If you have a business website but havn’t included a blog then you’re seriously missing out.  Here are five reasons why you should definitely have a blog on your website.

1. A business blog provides an additional opportunity to showcase what you do

People coming to your site will check out what you do, but you can guarantee they’ll also check out your competitors.  Having a blog which tells the story of your product or service is another way of connecting with your customers and gaining their business.  Research shows that blogging for business is very effective in increasing enquiries and generating leads so why wouldn’t you?

2. A business blog enables you to better understand what your customers are looking for

The back end of your website enables you to see what customers are clicking on when they come to your site.  If you have articles on your small business blog (related to your products or services) then you can see which articles are most popular with your customers and that means you can better target them.

3.  Having a business blog increases traffic to your website

More traffic to your website will help increase your Google ranking making it easier for search engines to find you.  Posting regular content which is relevant and interesting for your customers is a win win because you’re meeting their needs and increasing your profile at the same time.

4. Your business blog enables you to directly engage with your customers

When you post a blog article, you can invite comments from your readers.  Allowing readers to comment and then responding is an easy way to humanise your brand and to foster a deeper connection with your target audience.  Not only that, every post should include a call to action.  A call to action is designed to persuade readers to do something – for example to buy, sign up, start shopping, continue reading or to register.  You could even include something like a discount voucher or limited offer.

5. Your business blog has the potential to reach a wider audience

If you have a blog on your website and readers like or value what you’ve written, then chances are they’ll share it with others which means that your audience and your reach, increases.  There’s no question that spending time developing a business blog can increase the success of your business at a relatively low cost.

So – that’s my top five tips.

Writing for small businesses is what I do, so if you don’t have a blog for your small business but this article has got you thinking – then get in touch.  I can help with setting up your blog and content creation.