why read this now?

An article or blog post has caught your attention, you want to read it but you are short of time. So what do you do?

You can bookmark the page to go back to later (if you remember).

You can print the page to keep for reading when you have time – not the most environmentally friendly way and sometimes the printed result is not formatted in a reader-friendly way.

How about sending it to your Kindle reader?

Amazon have released the Send to Kindle button  You can get the button for your blog or website.

Send to Kindle

I’ve installed it on this blog so it appears above every new post I add from now on.

Now when you see a post you want to read, but don’t have time, or find a post you would like to keep for reference you can simply hit the Send to Kindle button and it is sent to your Kindle/ Kindle App for you to read at a more convenient time.

You don’t need a Kindle to use this service, you can get a free Kindle App for your smartphone, computer, tablet or even have a Kindle Cloud Reader.

However, you do need a Kindle account to use this service, so it’s definitely worth spending a bit of time signing up, especially when you consider the time you’ll save in the future and the fact you can use the Kindle button to collect articles and posts to build your own copywriting / business tips reference library.

~Carol Bentley

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Organisational Tips for Writers and Bloggers

If you follow this blog, then you’ll know that I’m not exactly regular with my posts. When I get busy with client projects this blog tends to take a back seat! Fortunately I am far more organised when working on other writing projects!

Even so, maybe my blogging activities would benefit if I follow some of the advice offered in this guest post from Megan Totka!

Organisational Tips for Writers and Bloggers

There are so many different organisational styles when it comes to, well, being human! Are you uber-organised, everything has its place, can’t sleep if dishes are in the sink?

Or are you the opposite, a disorganised mess?

Perhaps you fall somewhere in between, as I suspect most of us do. While being disorganised in your personal life doesn’t necessarily have consequences, being disorganised when it comes to your writing or blogging can.

Organising your ideas, writing schedule, and editorial elements can sometimes be tough. If you are a business blogger or writer, keeping on top of a schedule is particularly important. But even those who write independently could benefit from some organisational tips.

Here are a few ideas to keep you organised:

  1. Keep track of the time you spend writing – I am definitely guilty of over or under estimating the time it takes me to complete a writing project. If you know how long it actually takes you do a task (like write a blog post) then you can allocate your time better. I often tell myself that it just takes a certain amount of time to write a good post, when in reality the research, linking, and editing can often double that time span.
  2. Design a note-taking system – this is a piece of advice I could certainly use myself.
    Ever been struck by ideas for a blog post when you’re out and about? How about when killing time surfing the web at home? Consider implementing a note-taking system that helps you to keep track of these ideas. You can use a cloud-based storage system to make yourself a file that you can access from any device. Or, you could simply carry around a notebook. Just depends on what works best for you.
  3. Get your workspace ready to work – writers often work in unconventional places. You might like to write at your desk, from your couch, or on the Wi-Fi network at Starbucks. Wherever you like to work, take the time to make it peaceful and organised. Even if this means loading your laptop bag with everything you’ll need to work on the go.
  4. Put things where you can find them – those of us who are writers are often “the creative type,” meaning that maybe we don’t think like a lot of other people when it comes to organisation. In this case, take the time to put things where you would find them, not necessarily where you think they should go. This can help you to find what you’re looking for in a hurry, whether it is something digital or an actual object.

Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to making the most of your blog.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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Better Business Cards: Put a Modern Spin on an Old Standby

If you’ve explored this blog you will have come across these two posts: A Practical Approach To Business Cards, giving tips on design and content, and Another View in which I talk about the impression your card gives.

In today’s post Marshall Jones answers the question “Business cards? Why bother?”

Over to you Marshall…

You’ve got a website. You’ve got a Facebook page. Why in the world do you still need business cards?

Imagine this: You’re at a professional networking event or a business trade show. You’ve met someone you’d like to keep in touch with, someone with great ideas who wants to do business with you. She asks for your card.

“Search for me on LinkedIn.” is not the correct response. Likewise, “I’m on Facebook.” doesn’t pack quite the same punch as a good-looking business card.

Just because the business world has entered the digital age does not mean you can forgo all the offline office protocols and marketing collateral. A business card is a tangible reminder of you and your company. It sparks memories of a real-world encounter. It speaks for you when you aren’t there. It’s something people can hold and see, even when they’re out of their coverage area or their iPhone isn’t charged.

So get some cards. Rely on an old standby. But don’t be afraid to give it a spin of your own. Personalize and update your business cards, and you’ll stand out from the crowd.

  • Let your colours fly. People tend to hold on to colourful business cards because colourful designs catch people’s attention. So why skimp on printing costs?
  • Heavier and better paper will give your cards a more professional feel. The good news is it doesn’t have to kick up the price. In 2012, Vistaprint started offering 40 percent heavier business cards (110 lb. paper stock) at no additional cost. Heavier cards make you look like a heavyweight in your business dealings.
  • If you use both a landline and a cell phone for business, think about leaving your mobile number off your business cards. When you hand someone your card, you can say “You might have better luck reaching me on my cell.” Then write your cell number on the card before you hand it to them. This is a great way to make the recipient feel like they’re getting personal attention and access to your direct line. It’s a little psychological trick that makes your card a little more valuable.
  • If you are the business owner, and you don’t have a large company with multiple divisions, it might be a good idea to omit your title. “CEO” doesn’t mean much if your business is a one-person start-up. You’re probably also the marketing manager, the accountant, and the janitor.
  • If your business is entirely online, or if you provide a service that doesn’t require a brick-and-mortar location, there’s no need for a physical address on your cards. Your name, your business name, your email address and your phone number will suffice. Add your Twitter handle or your business website address—they’re important. Resist the temptation to cram tons of information into the small space. If you do, it’ll just result in an ugly mess.
  • A quick response (QR) code on your business card can direct whoever scans it to your website, to a promotional offer, or to just about anywhere else in the digital realm. QR codes can take up a lot of space on your card, so if you can’t find a creative or visually interesting way to incorporate them, think about leaving them off.*
  • Holographic prints on a clear business card are popular in 2013, as are lenticular images, which are printed on a special material that gives the image the illusion of movement. Time will tell if these attention-getters are passé in the coming years. If you’re considering a business card gimmick, make sure it’s cutting edge and not behind the curve.

The trusty Rolodex isn’t as ubiquitous as it once was. Sadly, many people in the business world don’t take the time to organize and store business cards they receive. They should!

If you don’t want to deal with it, smartphone technology offers you a workaround. A variety of apps let you photograph your card, then save the info into your phone and set the picture as the contact’s photo. Voila—a Rolodex that fits in your pocket.

The ways we network and conduct business have evolved. Still, many of the most important professional tools are the ones that have been around for a long time. Business cards still have the power to leave an impression. We can control whether that impression is good or bad. So be creative. Be bold. Set yourself apart with a modern spin, and you’ll get ahead with your business networking.

Marshall Jones is a content marketer and journalist specialising in marketing, technology and business writing. He works in Austin, TX. Marshall lives with his wife and former shelter dogs, one of whom is missing a leg (a dog, not the wife).

He enjoys hiking, classic cinema, live music and travelling. He has written, proofread and edited for print publications such as The Houston Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, Austin Monthly and The Austin Business Journal.

He currently writes blogs, press releases, success stories, eBooks, white papers and more for high-tech and online education clients, and is a contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com.

Thank you for your insights, Marshall.

* Just a thought… if you like the idea of having a QR code on your card, but don’t want to clutter the front, place it on the back. Add an invitation to scan it along with a good reason for doing so. (read more about QR Codes here).

~ Carol

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testimonials: are they working for or against you?

Your customer testimonials are one way to boost your business credibility.

We all know a good testimonial can work wonders for our business reputation and encourage prospects to buy.

But our customers are busy and, unless asked, will rarely think to give us a testimonial (unsolicited ones are the best).

So we ask. They say “yes, OK” and then we hit another problem because customers rarely know how to write a testimonial that does a great job for you – and a badly worded testimonial can actually be damaging.

In a presentation to members of THE Hub, I recommended having a more formal way of collecting testimonials. As soon as you’ve delivered your product or service and your customer is happy with the results, that is the time to ask.

But when you do ask,  make it easy for them to write a testimonial that you can use by giving them a structure to follow; questions to answer.

In the presentation I shared 5 questions you can ask to help your customers give a powerful testimonial.

I think the most valuable tip I shared though, is to take the best testimonials and turn them into descriptive case-studies that can enhance your business image.

Here are the slides from the presentation:

Testimonials to case studies from Promote Your Business Ltd
If you’d like to take a closer look at the case study shown in the slide you can download it here: GB Tours Case Study
Do you have a formal system for collecting testimonials? If so, what do you do?
~ Carol Bentley
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Are you missing this (video-marketing) trick?

A little while ago I mentioned that videos are gaining the edge for online marketing and I shared some thoughts on different video styles.

So when I saw the headline ‘The Video SEO War is Over.. and YouTube Won!’ I was intrigued.

It makes interesting reading.

If you use video extensively and have created a video sitemap to submit to Google to gain a higher position in the search results, you may be wasting your time.

The statistics quoted in the article, and the conclusions the author reaches, seem to imply it is wiser to put your promotional video up on YouTube and then embed it in your blog or website, rather than self-hosting or distributing it through other video channels.

Mind you, some of his readers disagree quite strongly with his conclusions (and with the report his article is discussing).

Take a look at ‘The Video SEO Was is Over..‘ and the comments posted and see what you think.

~ Carol Bentley

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‘writing for sales’ workshop in May

When you write to gain sales, the material you create can be used in many different ways to promote your business; letters you post, blog posts, social media websites.

It can be used to create marketing videos, audios, webinars… you can even use it to develop a live sales presentation for your product or service.

That’s why knowing how to write persuasive messages is a skill that is worth developing.

Of course it is so much easier to grasp the fundamentals of writing when you can learn from a professional whilst working on your own material.

And that’s the advantage the business owners who attend my half-day ‘Writing for Sales‘ workshop on 29th May will get.

At the workshop, which is being hosted and sponsored by Kingston Maurward (Dorset), I plan to share some of the techniques I use to craft letters that get stunning results like this:

” Thanks for all the useful insight /advice. I do appreciate it.

I was extremely happy with the response to both mailings. The response to the first was brilliant. Who wouldn’t be very happy with 32.45%!!”

The 2nd mailing was very ‘scattered’. I knew that and I estimate we will end up with near 7% response. That’s great.”
Norman Bradshaw, GB Tours Ltd, www.gbtours.com

[Note: final result on the second mailing was 6.7% and the offer sold-out]

Each workshop delegate gets my personal input on the material they write during the workshop, as well as a valuable manual to take away so they can refer to it when writing any marketing material.

Because this event is being hosted and sponsored by Kingston Maurward, the workshop is very affordable and gives fantastic value for money.

You are very welcome to join us – simply book your seat now on the ‘Writing for Sales‘ workshop on 29th May.

I hope to see you there.

~ Carol Bentley

 

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Should we drop virtual meetings?

Thanks to social websites and online networking organisations, virtual meetings are increasing and whilst online networking can be advantageous, should they really be replacing face-to-face get-togethers?

Copywriter's conference by Speechwriter's GuildThere’s still a lot of mileage to be gained when we get out of the office to make connections with other business people. Conferences and seminars are a good way to do that and, I have to say, that chatting with fellow copywriters and marketers over lunch, at the copywriter’s conference on 19th April, was very enjoyable.

So, do you go to conferences to meet others?

In today’s guest post Megan explains why she thinks attending conferences, even social media conferences, is a worthwhile activity.

Blogging and Social Media Conferences: Should You Attend?

by Megan Totka

As a small business owner or employee, particularly those that are based in the virtual world, how important do you think it is to attend in-person conferences or meetings?

Personally, I think industry conferences can still play a big role in the successful development of a small business or brand. While digital networking certainly plays a large role in building your company, sometimes in-person face time still can’t be trumped. There’s something to be said for meeting people, as often faces and personalities can be more memorable than websites or Facebook pages.

Conferences or meetings also often draw big names from the blogging and social media world. Hearing what they have to say about their area of expertise can really be beneficial, particularly if you are looking to expand into a new aspect of writing, branding, blogging, or marketing. Most speakers will also host question and answer sessions, where you can ask specific questions about your business or website. Check out who the keynote speaker will be before you go, also.

Social media, blogging, and marketing conferences are popping up all over the United States and throughout the world. You are likely going to be able to find one close to you, no matter what your location is. Here are some perks of attending one of these conferences:

  • Meeting people in your industry – people from all different types of businesses attend blogging/social media/marketing conferences. You are likely to run into people who are in the same type of industry as you, or a kind of business that is complimentary to yours. Making connections with others is always a good idea – you never know when you could use their expertise or contacts.
  • Getting advice from experts – as I mentioned earlier, many big names in blogging and social media attend these conferences. Some will give talks, some will host question and answer sessions, and some may even make themselves available for questions privately at some point during the conference. Sometimes a good old fashioned conversation is all it takes to get your creative juices flowing; you never know what kinds of ideas you might be inspired by.
  • Get your name out there – attending conferences and meeting people is a great way to get your name on the mind of others. Be sure to focus on making worthwhile business connections so your efforts are worthwhile.  Letting people know that you are out there in the web world is important when it comes to getting people to hear what you are talking (or writing) about. If people like you and what you have to say, they are more likely to pass your name along to friends, family, and colleagues.

As with many things in business, appearance is still a factor. If you do decide to attend an industry conference, make sure that you are professional. This includes being prepared with business cards, dressing professionally, and of course, being on your best behavior.

While social media/blogging/marketing conferences are likely to be more casual than your typical business meeting, it’s still important to make a good first impression. Make sure you leave your ripped jeans at home, and opt for a trendy business-casual look. Having business cards that stand out, or a digital card is also a good idea.

Conferences can be a great way to learn more about all kinds of topics. I found a great list of just a few that sound really interesting (and I may attend the one that is near me!). A quick Google search turned up tons of results for others, as well. Check out the list I found here.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

 

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