Finding a Content Marketing Firm to Meet Your Needs

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No two companies have the same content marketing needs—and, as luck would have it, no two content marketing firms offer quite the same areas of specialization. That means there is likely a company out there that can meet your content needs—but it also means you’re going to have to do some research to find it.

But how can you tell? When interviewing a new content marketing firm, how do you ensure that it has the resources and the skillsets you require? How can you be certain that your content marketing goals will be met?

You probably can’t, quite honestly—but there are a few indicators to watch out for, a few hints that you’re not barking up the wrong tree.

People and Technology

One thing to do, when interviewing a new content marketing firm, is to ask for a list of all the people who will be working on your account—not just their names but also their job titles. This can tell you a great deal about whether the company has the specific resources you require. For instance, if you know that what you need is stronger online copywriting, make sure one of the team members is listed as a Copywriter, Staff Writer, etc.

You can also ask about technology—with the caveat that most firms will have some proprietary technologies they won’t want to share with you. Still, you should be able to get at least a partial list of some technologies employed, and those technologies should reveal much about the scope of the company and the breadth of its resources.

Reviews and Recommendations

When interviewing a new content marketing firm, always ask for testimonials—and then actually read them! Study them in search for specifics—not just generic praise. See if the testimonials have any trends or noteworthy inclinations—for instance, if a lot of them seem to talk about strategy, or to mention Facebook, or to highlight copywriting or design work.

LinkedIn recommendations can also be revealing. Make sure to scour them for signs of where the content marketing firm seems to shine!

Examples of Leadership

A final observation: You can tell much about a content marketer’s acumen by the company blog. If the firm doesn’t have a blog, that’s a huge red flag. If the company has a blog but just repeats the same tired tips, that’s not much better. A firm that actually provides good, versatile tips day after day and week after week… that kind of thought leadership speaks volumes.

Does Grammar Chic, Inc. have the resources you need? We’re happy to help you find out: Contact us today to ask about our content marketing services! Visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444.

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How to Nail Your (Surprise!) Phone Interview

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For jobseekers, a phone interview can sometimes be just as intimidating as an in-person one, perhaps even more so; when you’re speaking on the phone you have no way of making eye contact or of “reading the room,” nor to pick up on facial cues or other social signifiers. In short, you feel like you’re in the dark—and that can be stressful!

For many job applicants, though, a phone interview is going to be a necessary part of the process. Here’s what happens, and is happening more and more: A hiring manager gets your resume, reviews it, and finds it to be promising. So then he or she will give you a call to ask a few preliminary questions; this is meant to be a “screening” interview, clearing away any red-flag candidates before the real interviews start. These phone interviews will often come to you as a total surprise—which means you need to be ready.

Know When to Answer

Indeed, preparedness is key. The first rule of thumb is that, when you’re in the job market, you shouldn’t take phone calls unless they’re from people you know and unless you’re really ready for them. Taking a phone call from your spouse, your mom, or your best friend? Fine. A call from a number you don’t recognize? That’s dicier.

Your frame of mind and level of distraction matter here. If you’re at the park watching your kids play or just about to duck into a doctor’s appointment, don’t answer. If you can answer, make sure you stand up, walk around for a moment, and clear your head—then answer.

Remember: Any unknown caller could potentially be a hiring manager!

Get Ready for Voicemail

Are we saying that, if you’re too busy to do a phone interview, you just shouldn’t answer your phone? Well… yes. But make sure you’ve got a voicemail box that’s ready to take over for you.

First, change your voice message to ensure that it conveys professionalism—not anything jokey or goofy. Also make sure you’re on a plan that lets you accept multiple voicemails in your box, and that you’ve cleared out enough space to accept new messages!

Be Professional in the Interview

Of course, you’re going to need to connect with the interviewer at some point. Since these phone interviews come by surprise, you can sometimes feel like you’re being ambushed. Avoid this by preparing some quick notes: Get an index card or two and write down one-to-two sentence summaries of all your past jobs/resume entries, as well as a quick note or two about why you’re interested in the job.

The point of this is not to have a script or to be robotic in your answers, but just to jog your memory and reset your mind if you receive a call at a really unexpected time.

Also make sure that you take the time to introduce yourself professionally and to be thoughtful in your answers. The hiring manager may seem to be rushing you, but that doesn’t mean you have to dash your chances by offering hasty or ill-conceived responses.

These phone interviews are critical—but you won’t get one without a solid resume. Get yours today by reaching out to the Grammar Chic team at www.grammarchic.net, or at 803-831-7444.

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5 Benefits to Hiring a Ghostblogger

By now, you’ve surely seen the statistics: More than 80 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to do business with a company that’s in the content production game. That’s not so surprising, when you think about it: A commitment to content creation proves your passion to assist customers. It exhibits thought leadership. It offers authority but also extends helpful service—a winning combo that your small business can’t afford to ignore.

There are different ways to create content, but blogging is the most direct and most value-adding of them all—yes, we would argue, even more than video or infographics. And there’s more than one way to arrive at compelling blog content. You can write it yourself, or you can outsource to a ghostblogger.

Working with a Ghostblogger

But what does it mean, to work with a ghostblogger? You’ve surely heard of ghostwriters, whose work tends to encompass more than half of the New York Times Bestsellers list at any given moment! Ghostbloggers work similarly: A ghostblogger will spend time speaking with you and getting to know your business, your audience, your values. You are welcome to direct your ghostblogger to your buyer personas, and in fact we recommend it. The ghostblogger, in turn, may furnish you with some blog topics to choose from, then create a draft that’s written from your point of view and conveys the values and vision of your brand.

This may be something of a new experience for some of you, but it’s an experience that can yield many benefits.

Why Work with a Ghostblogger?

In fact, we’ll list five huge reasons to work with a ghostblogger:

Quality. You may be an expert in entrepreneurship, in accounting, in manufacturing, or in a wide number of things—but you may not be an expert in writing. Ghostbloggers, like those employed here on the Grammar Chic team, are trained and equipped to write compelling, persuasive, and engaging content—reflecting well on your brand and engaging your audience. Are you worried that the blogs you’re writing yourself are suboptimal quality? Then you need a ghostblogger.

Vision. A good ghostblogger will understand that the blog is just one part of your company’s marketing machinery—and will work to ensure that the blog works in tandem with your social media and other online assets, ultimately holding up the voice and values of your company.

SEO. Blogging alone will not guarantee SEO success, yet a quality post, written with judicious keywords, can certainly provide some meaningful search engine fodder. A ghostblogger may not guarantee search engine success—nor should she—but it is very often a nice side effect!

Time. The obvious one: If you’ve got a ghostblogger doing your company’s content creation, you have time freed up to focus on other aspects of growing your business!

Engagement. Ghostbloggers worth their salt will understand that your blog copy needs to end with a rousing call to action—that audience participation is the whole point of business blogging!

Get a ghostblogger working for you today, and start reaping these benefits. Contact us at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Who Are Your Brand Ambassadors?

Who’s on your company’s social media team? Hopefully you’ve got some good content writers and strategists there in the office with you—or else, you’ve found a good content marketing team to contract. Remember, though, that your team doesn’t merely consist of paid employees. Even your social media followers are, in a significant way, part of the team.

Not All Followers Are Created Equally

Some of your social media followers are probably just along for the ride—happy to “like” your company profiles but not necessarily willing to help you spread the word about your brand.

Others, though, are real brand ambassadors—followers who don’t need much prompting to engage your content and share it with their friends.

What we recommend is that you be fully aware of the folks in this latter category, and that you make a concentrated effort to cultivate their enthusiasm and support. Reach out to them directly and thank them for their help. Maybe even offer them special promotions. Certainly look at the kinds of content they seem to like, and adjust your editorial calendars in kind.

Friends and Family

Who, though, are these mysterious followers? Some aren’t so mysterious at all: They’re your friends and family—people who support you no matter what you do, and engage with your company page out of love for you, if not actual interest in what you’re doing!

Regardless, friends and family members can be an important foundation for a fledgling social media campaign. Go out of your way to recruit them and engage them in the earliest stages of your social media campaigns, when momentum is everything and having a few reliable likers and sharers can go a long way toward bolstering your own confidence.

Brand Ambassadors

The next category consists of the folks who we consider to be the true brand ambassadors—folks who don’t necessarily know you or care about you personally but are sincerely enthusiastic about your business. They may be actual customers who care about your projects, or they may just really like your content—but either way, their engagement is priceless.

And as you start to notice these folks, it’s important to empower them. Provide reminders to share your content. Make sure the content itself is well done and attractive. Perhaps even provide some incentives for sharing—such as contests or drawings.

The Peanut Gallery

To close, let us note that you’ll have some ambassadors but likely also some naysayers—some folks who seem frequently to comment on posts just for the sake of being contrarian. This can be frustrating—but then again, contrariness is better than indifference, and their activity may well provide a boost to some of your social media posts. These folks obviously care enough about your brand to engage with it, however destructively, so it’s worth it to be aware of them and perhaps even to try and win them over.

The bottom line: Your social media followers come in all shapes and sizes—and it’s worth it to you to court the true brand ambassadors.

Learn more by contacting Grammar Chic today: 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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E-mail Marketing: Keep it Professional

Contact-Us (E&P)In today’s super-digital environment, an e-mail has roughly the same impact that a business card might have had 10 or 20 years ago: It’s a reflection of your brand and it speaks to your professionalism.

This is true of the personal e-mails you send to clients and co-workers, but it’s also true of the missives sent to your company e-mail list: For better or worse, marketing e-mails really do reflect your brand, which means that there’s more to them than their messaging. The presentation itself must be professional, underscoring, not undermining, the authority of your brand.

But not all marketing e-mails are created equal, and—frankly—not all are as professional as they need to be. There are minor infractions you can make that will subvert your status as a dignified and authoritative pro—and of course, you want to avoid those infractions if you can.

Keeping Things Respectable

The question is, how do you ensure that your marketing e-mails are adequately projecting your professionalism? Start by ensuring that you’re actually using a professional account, which is to say, a business one. E-mailing from a personal account is not only amateurish, but it begs the question: Why hasn’t your company invested in Constant Contact, MailChimp, or another e-mail marketing platform? E-mailing from a personal account suggests that you’re not yet ready for prime time.

Another way to ensure your marketing e-mails are above board: Only send them to people who ask. Have different forms on your site where people can join your e-mail marketing list, and provide opt-out information on your e-mails themselves. Forcing people onto your e-mail marketing list without their permission smacks of desperation.

Lies & Distortions

The message of your e-mail—and your subject line—can also set a tone of professionalism. Then again, they can also contradict it. What matters here is that you don’t over exaggerate, embellish, or outright lie about your company—especially in ways that will be plainly obvious to your readers.

Obviously you want to convey value, but you don’t want to be audacious. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t suggest that you have the cure for cancer or a solution to world hunger. Keep it value-focused and positive, but also earthbound.

Action Focus

Finally: Remember that professional communiqués always have action steps. Your marketing e-mails are not exempt from this. Your e-mails shouldn’t have an “FYI” spirit to them, but rather they should come with clear calls to action. This, you should always tell your readers, is what you do next!

The Grammar Chic, Inc. team stands ready to assist you with any of these e-mail marketing tweaks. In fact, we offer everything from content creation to full campaign management. Learn more: Contact us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

 

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7 Online Reputation Management Guarantees

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You know what they say about sure things—death and taxes and all of that. Guarantees and certainties are especially hard to come by on the Internet, where the rules change every day and there are always exceptions.

Yet, when it comes to building and protecting a sterling reputation for your brand, there are a few things that can be said without hesitation.

  1. You will get Googled.

By now you shouldn’t doubt it: Consumers who have easy access to the Internet, on their smartphones or tablets or PCs, will absolutely use search engines to research your company. And how many consumers do you know who don’t have Internet access through their smartphones or tablets or PCs?

People want to know that they’re spending their hard-earned money on something reliable. And for better or worse, they trust Google to tell them that.

  1. Your Page 1 Google results matter.

Not so much page 2, and definitely not page 7, but that first page of Google… that’s the one everyone’s going to see. And what it says will set the first impression of your business. In a very real way, those first ten or so search results will determine whether people feel confident doing business with you, or otherwise.

So what’s on your first page of search results? The company website, Facebook page, and LinkedIn profile? Great! Some competitor sites, bad news headlines, or negative Yelp reviews? Not so great.

  1. You can sort of control what’s on your first page of Google results.

It’s not precise and it’s not guaranteed—Google’s algorithms work in mysterious ways, after all—but there are certainly actions you can take to ensure that solid, strong, brand-enhancing content shows up for your business. The first step, of course, is to actually create content, and plenty of it: Blogging, robust evergreen Web content, and even press releases can be beneficial. Also make sure you’re cognizant of SEO concerns—though we’ll let you in on a secret: If you focus on quality branded content that your human readers will use, you’re probably going to be okay.

  1. Regular social media posting is vital.

You’re not just going to undergo Google scrutiny. You’re going to get checked out on Facebook, too, and perhaps also LinkedIn. We’re not saying you have to post ten times a day to every single social network in existence. We’re just saying that online reputation management is proactive. It’s about going out of your way to demonstrate thought leadership. And social media offers you a perfect platform to do so.

  1. Listening is key.

Don’t just talk at your social media followers. Hear what they have to say—and, unless you’re dealing with trolls and flamers, respond in kindness. Remember that online reputation management and social media marketing are both flipsides to customer service.

  1. Reviews matter.

Truly. What your Yelp page or your Google rating says about you goes a long way toward building customer confidence—or not. Directing your customers to leave reviews, perhaps even offering some incentive for honest feedback, can be a huge way to bolster online reputation.

A caveat here: Reviews really do matter, though not necessarily to the point some ORM firms would have you believe. A hundred nasty reviews can sink your business; one or two negative reviews, amidst 30 positive ones, aren’t going to ruin you. Don’t freak out.

  1. Messaging is Job #1.

The secret to protecting your online reputation, in a nutshell: Ensure that everything your brand says on Twitter, Facebook, the blog, etc. is on-message, aligned with your corporate values, mission, and voice. Choose the kind of brand you want to build, then stay true to it.

For all of this, content creation is critical—so don’t mess around: Contact the Grammar Chic content writing team today at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Resume Redundancies (And How to Avoid Them)

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When you think about it, your resume is really pretty precious. With the exception of your LinkedIn profile, it may well be the only piece of personal marketing collateral you have, and it is unquestionably the most important. In the span of one, maybe two pages, you have to sell yourself to a potential employer—not necessarily enough to get hired, but at least enough to land an interview.

As such, every word, every line, every inch of that resume is vital. It’s critical not to waste a bit of it. That doesn’t mean you should cram as much verbiage onto your resume as possible. On the contrary, maintaining a balance of words and white space is essential for aesthetics and for readability.

And for the words you do include on your resume, it’s important to make each one count. Write with precision and economy, using only words that convey specific action and value. And whatever you do, don’t waste precious space on words that are redundant.

A Resume By Any Other Name

What do we mean by words that are redundant? Basically, we mean words that go without saying. You shouldn’t waste precious resume space on things that will be patently obvious to your resume’s reader.

Example: Studies show that an alarmingly high number of resumes actually include the word resume at the top—or some variation, like C.V. But shouldn’t this be pretty self-evident? Is there any chance your resume will be confused for another type of document? Including this label adds zero value to your resume, and only serves to eat up a valuable line of text.

Resisting the Passive

Here are a couple of other phrases that we recommend excising from your resume: Responsible for and Duties include.

Why? Because if you’re doing your job properly—if you’re writing a resume that speaks directly and vividly to the value you bring to your employer—then these words shouldn’t be necessary. You should be using active words—strong, powerful verbs—to show what you do and what you have accomplished.

In short: Including a dinky little list of your responsibilities should be unnecessary.

Check the References

One more phrase that’s redundant and unhelpful: References available upon request.

Trust us, the potential employer knows that you are serious about your job search and are therefore willing to supply references. If you’re asked for references, you’re not going to say no. So listing it on your resume is—again—a waste of valuable space.

Make wise use of the space you have, then—and don’t give any of it up to words that go without saying. For more insights, please contact Grammar Chic, Inc. today at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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