Category Archives: Brand Management

How to Tell if Your Content Ideas Are Any Good

It’s often said that quality is the most important component in content marketing. What does this mean, exactly? Among other things, it implies that some content ideas are better than others, and that part of the content marketer’s job is deciding which content ideas have potential and which are better discarded.

Sometimes, you’ll have a new content idea that just seems so obvious, it’s almost too good to be true. In other cases, seeds of uncertainty will be there throughout the content development process. In all cases, it’s wise to do a quick inventory, asking some key questions to properly vet your content idea.

Is This Relevant to My Core Business Offerings?

Content marketing depends on you displaying real thought leadership, providing your readers with something valuable—not simply advertising your brand all the time.

But even when your content isn’t directly “salesy,” it should be relevant to your core business offerings, underscoring your knowledge of the field.

For example, if your business is a used car dealership, good content ideas might encompass vehicle ownership, vehicle buying guides, even vehicle financing. But you wouldn’t want to branch out to topics that don’t directly impact either vehicle buyers or vehicle owners.

Does This Topic Offer Value?

Another way to phrase this question: What’s in it for my reader?

Your content should always provide an actionable insight; there should be a clear sense in which readers are better off having consumed your content. In short, they should learn something that’s actually helpful to them.

Vet your content ideas by asking: What are the benefits? If you can’t list them, it’s probably not a very strong topic.

What’s the Hook?

Another way to phrase this question: Why will anyone care about this topic?

Sometimes, the hook is closely tied to the value proposition. If your article is 5 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Used Car Purchase, the hook is self-explanatory; everyone wants to save money, and your content offers five ways to do it.

In other cases, though, you might look for a seasonal hook—e.g., 5 Reasons to Buy a New Car in December, or Why Summer is the Best Time to Shop for New Trucks. You could also tie in your topic to hot topics, current headlines, holidays, celebrity announcements, or even sporting events; for example, an alcohol rehab company we work with recently posted a great blog about how to stay sober at Super Bowl parties.

What’s the Pitch?

Take a minute and try to summarize or explain your content angle in two or three sentences.

If you can’t give a fairly succinct elevator pitch, it may mean that the topic is still too broad or unrefined. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad topic; just that you need to polish it a bit more, and zero in on exactly what you’re trying to say in your content.

What’s the Call to Action?

Or: What do you want readers to do once they finish your content?

Does your blog lend itself to a CTA for a free consultation? Should it link to a particular product or service page? Or should you simply invite readers to contact you directly for more information?

Can I Write This?

A final consideration: Just because you have the technical faculty to understand your topic, that doesn’t always mean you have the time or the writing craft to develop your content fully.

If that’s the case, it may be wise to enlist the services of a content writing company, like Grammar Chic, Inc. Our writers can help you at each stage of content development—brainstorming, content creation, content distribution, and more.

Learn more about our comprehensive content creation services. Contact Grammar Chic, Inc. at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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4 Essential Sources of Content Inspiration

Producing new content for your brand can feel like a full-time job in and of itself—and sooner or later, you’re bound to come up against a wall. Even the most proficient content creators sometimes have these moments, moments when they feel like they have said all there is to say, and there simply aren’t any ideas left in the hopper.

What you need, in moments like these, is fresh inspiration—but where can you find it? Here are four essential sources for fresh content ideas.

Your Old Content

First and foremost, don’t hesitate to go back through your own blog archives to see if there’s an older topic you could revive or revisit.

Don’t misunderstand: We don’t recommend ever running duplicate content, which can hurt your SEO rankings. But maybe a trend you wrote about three years ago has evolved enough that a follow-up piece is in order. Maybe your 5 things to do… post can be morphed into a 5 things not to do… post. Maybe something will just jump out at you as a worthy topic to relitigate or to approach from a new angle.

Your Competition

Another place to turn for content ideas? Your chief competitors.

Spend some time reading your competitor’s blog posts. See if there are any angles he or she has thought of that you haven’t yet covered yourself. Pay special attention to any posts that seem to get a lot of engagement from readers. These are clearly hot topics, and it may be worth your while to write about them yourself.

Your Customers

Are there certain questions that your customers tend to ask on a regular basis? Any recurring concerns or considerations they bring to the table?

These are the kinds of things you should be writing about on your blog and in your email blasts—because you already know your customers have an interest. Make sure your content ideas take into account real-life interactions with your clientele!

Your Team

You never know when a member of your team might have a winning content idea up their sleeve.

Customer-facing team members can be especially useful here, because they know the kinds of things your clients want to learn more about (see our last point).

Make sure you regularly ask your team members for content feedback.

Transform Your Best Ideas into Compelling Content

Whether you’re stuck for ideas or need assistance turning those ideas into great content, our writers and strategists can help. We’d love to set up a content consultation today. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. now—either at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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6 Things to Ask Your Social Media Manager

While it’s not quite fair to say that everyone has a social media presence, the reality is that most of us do—and that number is only increasing as time goes by. Businesses and public figures can’t afford not to have a footprint on social media, which is where more and more consumers turn for news, recommendations, and connections.

Yet actively managing a social media presence is almost a full-time job in itself. That’s why a lot of small and mid-sized companies now outsource their social media management to a professional—someone who can coordinate postings, respond to comments, generate reports, and ensure strong, consistent brand messaging.

Before hiring a social media manager, though, it’s important to do your due diligence. Here are a few things you should ask to ensure you’re hiring the right person (or team) for the job.

 What to Ask When Hiring a Social Media Management Team

  1. What do you need from me? In theory, you’re hiring a social media management team to take that workload off your plate—yet for your social media presence to feel personal and authentic, you may need to weigh in on some of the content. That’s a tricky balance, and it’s always smart to find out what your social media manager will expect from
  2. How will you evaluate progress? One of the first things your social media manager will ask you is what you hope to achieve—what your goals are from the process. (If your social media team doesn’t ask this, that’s a red flag.) After telling them your goals, turn the tables: Ask how your social media manager will evaluate progress, and what metrics will be used to determine whether or not you’re hitting those goals.
  3. How often will I hear from you? Communication is key, and as you work with your social media manager, it’s good to have a clear idea of how often you’ll touch base, when you should expect reports to be generated, how accessible your manager will be should you have any questions, etc.
  4. What programs do you use for automation, reporting, etc.? A good social media manager will use programs like Hootsuite to ensure that posts are published promptly, and that data is generated consistently. Ask what kinds of programs your social media team will use, and make sure they’re doing what they need to do to make your campaign smooth and efficient.
  5. How will you respond to commenters? What will your social media manager do to answer questions, pass along feedback, or—if necessary—deal with trolls? There’s not necessarily one right answer here, but do make sure your team has a thoughtful plan in place, and that it’s something you feel comfortable with.
  6. What’s your approach to content? A good social media manager will post a good mix of curated and syndicated content—that is, stuff that’s original to your brand, and stuff from outside sources.

Of course, this is your social media presence on the line—so by all means, ask any questions that come to mind. Our team is happy to field all inquiries. Grammar Chic, Inc. provides robust and flexible social media management services, and we invite you to reach out today to set up a consultation. Contact us at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Brand Storytelling: Where to Start?

Present someone with a list of facts and figures and they’re likely to forget everything you told them; tell someone a story, meanwhile, and it just might linger with them.

That’s the basic concept behind brand storytelling, which is closely interwoven with content marketing. Basically, and very much unlike traditional advertising—which focuses on a laundry list of products or services—brand storytelling allows you to craft a narrative about your company. Who are you? What do you stand for? What are your values? And where does the customer enter the scene?

If that sounds like an ambitious undertaking, it is; your brand storytelling unfolds across many different platforms, from social media to your company’s About page, and it encompasses every piece of content you create plus every interaction you have with our customers.

So where do you get started? What are the opening pages of your brand’s story?

Getting Started with Brand Storytelling

  • Before you publish any content, take the time to write down your actual brand story—how long your company has been around; who it serves; the benefits it offers; the advantages you offer over your competition; and the reasons a customer might choose to do business with you. Keep this brand story handy as a kind of reference, ensuring that all your future content creation aligns with it.
  • Remember that good storytelling usually has some sense of conflict. For your brand, the conflict is this: Your customers have needs, or pain points, and your brand can provide the solution. That’s the central action of all your brand storytelling.
  • Know who you’re telling the story to; awareness of your audience is key. Know who they are and what they care about; what problems they face, and what solutions they are seeking. Creating buyer personas is often helpful here.
  • Also be aware that good storytelling isn’t just about the details you include, but also the details you omit. In particular, you can skip over those details that won’t hold the interest of your audience; keep the focus on them, and the benefits you provide them—not all the finer points of your company history, which may not be as interesting or as relevant to outsiders.
  • Choose the right media to tell your story. Some brands lend themselves very well to Facebook; others, to LinkedIn. Some brands benefit from video, and others really don’t. It’s all just a matter of where your audience is, and which formats make the most sense for the story you’re telling.
  • Along the same lines, always adapt your story to the platform you’re telling it on. For Snapchat, you can be informal; for LinkedIn, it’s usually better to be straight-laced and professional.
  • Good storytelling elicits emotion—and that’s certainly what you should aim for with your content. Always ask yourself how you want your audience to feel about the content you create and the story you’re telling. And, be strategic about how those feelings might prompt action.
  • Use natural language to tell your story. Your vocabulary and your diction should mirror the way your customers actually speak and actually search for information. This is more important than ever, here in the age of Voice Search.
  • Always provide your audience with a clear sense of how the story continues—specifically with a strong call to action in each piece of content.

Time to Start Your Story

Start telling the story of your brand today; allow your customers to see where they fit into it, and how you can help them resolve conflict and find solutions. In short: Tell them a story they won’t soon forget.

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Does Your Content Marketing Team Play Well with Others?

Effective marketing requires a multi-channel approach. Content creation can be one channel—in fact, we’d argue that it’s the cornerstone of any effective marketing endeavor—but even high-quality content won’t do you much good if it’s never discovered, consumed, and acted upon.

So how do you deploy content effectively? Again, there are multiple channels available, and the best approach unites several of them—social media, video marketing, PPC, and beyond. Search engine optimization is critical as well, helping your quality content get found by your targeted audience, all organically.

Different Disciplines, Different Experts

Uniting these different disciplines—SEO and content marketing, let’s say—may require the guidance of different experts. Grammar Chic, Inc. is living proof of this. We are not an SEO firm, strictly speaking—but we work with a number of SEO firms, who entrust us to build engaging and highly optimized content for them. Likewise, we do not do Web design, but we have partnerships with a number of Web design shops that hire us to add verbiage to their great designs.

These companies lean on us because we’re good writers, but also because we’re good at communicating with them, working within the frameworks they provide, and understanding how our content aligns with their more technical marketing goals. This kind of synergy isn’t just a nice bonus; for more and more companies that outsource their marketing, it’s absolutely critical.

Again: Digital marketing isn’t just one thing. It’s many different channels, brought together to be used in tandem. So when you seek a marketing provider, it’s important to make sure it’s someone who has key partnerships with other experts, and the ability to work well with those partners.

Primed for Partnership

To that end, Grammar Chic, Inc.’s content writing team delivers a few key benefits:

  • We can create quality content that is engaging and SEO-optimized (length, format, keywords, etc.) laid out by an SEO or Web design team.
  • We can create content designed to meet various marketing goals—whether it’s conversion-generation PPC ads or an educational Web page.
  • We can communicate directly with an SEO or Web design expert, speaking the same language to ensure we’re all on the same page.
  • We can advise SEO or Web design firms on the best ways to engage readers, stir emotions, generate shares, or accomplish other creative goals.

We’d love to talk with you more about Grammar Chic, Inc. and our role as a go-to content creator for top SEO and Web design shops. Reach out to us today to learn more, either at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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3 Things That Blow Your Social Media Credibility (And How to Avoid Them)

Small businesses use social media for different reasons—to share content, to engage in dialogue with their customers, to boost online visibility, and to preserve their online reputation, among other things. One of the most critical reasons to be on social media is that it can give you credibility; by sharing valuable information, you can build thought leadership and earn trust.

Yet, in some instances, social media activity can have the opposite effect—actually detracting from your credibility rather than enhancing it. In this post, we’ll guide you through three of the biggest offenders, and offer some suggestions for staying on the straight and narrow.

Only Sharing Links to Branded Content

To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using social media to share company blog posts, videos, or sales pages.

The problem comes when that’s all you share—because, quite simply, it makes you come across as salesy, only interested in tooting your own horn rather than adding value to your customers’ lives.

And on top of that, the all-branded-content, all-the-time approach can make your social media presence become static and uninteresting. No matter how you slice it, it’s a bad approach.

But what can you do instead? Our suggestions:

  • Aim for a balance between branded and curated content; ideally, only about 20-30 percent of your content should be branded material.
  • For curated content, look for articles, blogs, videos, editorials, and infographics that convey meaningful information about your industry and add value to the reader’s life.
  • Focus on educating rather than just selling all the time; treat your content like a product in its own right and keep the emphasis on benefits to the end user.
  • Make sure you balance your links with other kinds of content, too—like images, polls, or posts that simply ask questions or offer tips.

Seeking Followers Through Illegitimate Means

As you may have heard, fake Twitter followers are abundant—but now, they are also being investigated by the government. Many big brands, including celebrities and politicians, are losing followers fast.

Don’t try to buy followers, no matter how tempting it may seem; it’s not going to work out in the long run, and when you lose millions of followers overnight, it will cause you to look pretty hapless.

Instead, we recommend:

  • Focus on organic growth! Don’t buy followers but earn them. Use the value-focused, balanced content marketing approach we outlined above.
  • Remember that content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint—and you’re not likely to win a ton of followers all at once. Instead focus on patiently building relationships and developing credibility.
  • Finally, remember that 100 real-life customers, who might actually buy your products or recommend you to a friend, are far more desirable than a million bots.

Trying to Please Everyone

There’s nothing wrong with sharing memes or funny videos on your social media profiles—so long as they’re somehow relevant to your core business offerings.

But when funeral homes tweet out funny kitty memes, that’s obviously a little weird, to say nothing of off-brand.

Tactics like this make it look like you’re desperate to win everyone over to your brand—but remember: You don’t want everyone. You just want your targeted audience—the people you’re trying to reach with your products and services. (See your buyer personas for more!)

Use Social Media to Boost Your Credibility

With the right strategy, you can use social media to offer value, entertainment, and engagement—building your credibility in the process.

We’d love to show you how. Contact the Grammar Chic, Inc. team for a social media marketing consultation. Reach out at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Manage Your Online Reputation with These Four Essential Assets

When’s the last time you made a major purchase without first doing a little online research? If you’re like most of us, you spend a little time online doing some due diligence before you ever commit to a high-priced product or service. And after all, why wouldn’t you? Googles makes it quick and easy to do meaningful consumer research, potentially saving yourself from a big, expensive blunder.

For consumers, online research is invaluable; for business owners, things are a little more dicey. After all, you can be certain that your consumers are using Google to vet your brand, your products, and your services before they give you any of their hard-earned money.

Your Online Reputation is One of Your Most Valuable Assets

As an exercise, you might take a minute to Google your brand, and see what comes up. If it’s all good, positive stuff, then congratulations—you have a solid online reputation, one that should encourage potential customers to buy from you in confidence.

But if your Google results are less than stellar—if they include negative reviews or unwanted news headlines, for instance—then you may actually be losing customers at a fairly high rate. We’re not exaggerating, either; online reputation can be truly make-or-break.

That’s why we recommend taking a proactive approach—something that’s not nearly as difficult as the high-dollar online reputation management firms will claim. Actually, a dedicated content marketing effort—focused on a few key assets—can help you preserve and even enhance your brand’s online image.

Online Reputation Management: A Four-Pronged Approach

Your Business Blog Provides Thought Leadership

For starters, if you want people to find positive listings when they Google your company name, it’s important that you actually create those listings. Positive content won’t write itself!

A regularly-updated business blog is helpful for a few reasons:

  1. It provides regular updates to the Google search algorithms—feeding the content monster and keeping your brand’s listings fresh.
  2. It allows you to display thought leadership—earning the trust and confidence of your customers.
  3. It provides opportunities for social media shares—another important way to generate some positive online mentions.

Press Releases Create Buzz

Getting some local news coverage is another important way to boost your positive Google listings—and that’s why we still recommend press releases for many of our content marketing clients. While this is seen as something of an old-fashioned approach, the reality is that it’s an easy and effective way to build buzz.

The important thing is to send out news releases about actually newsworthy events—such as:

  • New products or services
  • New locations
  • New hires
  • Involvement with a local charity or non-profit

Social Media is an Avenue for Customer Services

Something else you’ll want to do is maintain some active social media accounts—and not just for the obvious reasons. Yes, social media channels make it easy for you to distribute positive, brand-enhancing information—but they also provide a way for you to engage with your customers directly.

This can be either a blessing or a curse. To use social media effectively, it’s important to check in every day and respond to questions and complaints professionally—essentially viewing it as a chance to flex your customer service muscles. This can help minimize the occurrence of bad reviews or negative listings; if your customers see that you respond to their issues, they may not be as tempted to vent about you on Yelp or Foursquare.

Online Review Sites Add Luster to Your Brand

That brings us to the last of our vital assets—and that’s online review sites. To many business owners, these review sites are a scourge and a threat. Certainly, they pose a risk to your brand—but they also offer some opportunities. Here’s our advice for tangling with these site:

  • Above all, make sure you monitor your online reviews; always know what people are saying about your business.
  • If you spot some positive reviews, take a minute to say thanks.
  • If you come across negative ones, pause to offer some customer service. Coolly and calmly try to make things right.
  • Actively seek positive reviews; ask your best, most loyal clients to help you out by offering some positive feedback.

Take Your Reputation Seriously

Given the centrality of online research to the consumer experience, you can’t afford to think of online reputation as secondary, or as optional. Your brand will have a reputation, whether you like it or not; it falls to you to make sure it’s a good one.

And we can help! Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to discuss any and all of your content crafting needs—including blogs, social media, press releases, and beyond. Contact us at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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