Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tell Your Story

When people ask me what I do I often reply, "I am a storyteller." That is essentially what I do for my clients: tell their story.

You should tell your story, too. No matter what product or service you are selling, no matter what cause you are promoting, you have a story to tell about it. If you don't, then how will people know what to think about you?

Too often marketing people focus on the way they deliver their story. They anguish over how big an ad should be, which radio station to use, whether direct mail makes sense, or how to improve the search engine placement of their web site. But all of this is moot unless you have a compelling message to back it up.

Advertising legend David Ogilvy stressed the necessity of finding the "USP" (unique selling proposition) in every product, for every client. He felt it was the one thing that set a company apart from the competition, made it memorable and desirable.

What is your USP? Do you have a singular feature or service that can't be duplicated by others? Don't tell me you offer "great customer service"! That is only the starting point. You need to be able to strip down your message so that it offers an unmistakable advantage for potential customers. Then build your story around this solid core.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Blog, Blog, Blog?

I was born skeptical and have perfected the art of doubt over the years. So I was naturally leery about "blogging" as a marketing tool. At first, I saw a blog as merely a narcissistic, on-line version of a private diary. And why, oh why would the world want to read that?

But I pried my mind open enough to dig deeper into blogging. And discovered that a blog holds great promise as a communications tool. But only if you use it correctly.

First rule: Keep the personal "diary" materials out. If you must share your innermost thoughts with the world, do it in a separate blog. Or self-publish your memoirs.

Second rule: Don't try to sell anything. If you are pushing a product or service, you are advertising, not blogging, and any audience you may attract will quickly disappear.

Big rule: Make sure what you blog about is interesting, helpful, curiosity arousing, insightful and worth reading. Controversial is OK, too. Think about the newspaper columnists you read on a regular basis and try to emulate them. There is almost always something in their regular column that makes you glad you took the time to read it.

Other big rule: Invite response. Feedback on your ideas makes them better. And it shows that somebody, somewhere is reading. The term is "interactivity" and it is the new face of marketing.

Now, go blog.