How the right ‘tone of voice’ helps readers connect with your blog posts

 Blogging, Marketing, Writing  Comments Off on How the right ‘tone of voice’ helps readers connect with your blog posts
Oct 252016
 

Duplo

If you’ve ever watched a toddler getting to grips with interlocking bricks, you’ll understand the difference between something hitting home or connecting and something utterly not hitting the spot. The child will push one block onto another, often with some force. If the inter-connecting studs and shafts are not lined up, the blocks don’t stick together. Not just that, they often fall apart, back into two separate pieces. Finding the space where the pieces inter-lock often happens more by luck than judgment. When a toddler first makes two bricks ‘lock’ together, there is a look of mystified joy. Unsure how it happened, the child nonetheless, sees two blocks become one right before her eyes.

That connection happens when the pieces line up. Writing for a business blog is also about connection. Connecting the essence of your post to a corresponding feeling in the reader. That feeling might be curiosity, aspiration or need. One of the tools we have as writers to help that message connect, is so called ‘tone of voice’.

What is tone of voice?

In speaking, tone refers to the modulation of the voice which conveys different emotion. So a stern tone would be used when issuing warnings, a reassuring tone when trying to calm a panicky crowd, you get the idea.

In writing, we don’t have the benefit of audio so we rely on choosing words, phrases and sentence construction to convey different feelings or emotions. Before we can do this, we need to consider what ‘tone of voice’ we want to use.

You may not have thought about this before. Yet in every day life, you naturally and easily adapt your tone of voice depending on the situation and the audience and crucially what you want to achieve.

Take for example the tone of voice we use when talking to a cat. Usually we want to express our love and appreciation for the cat so we use a warm, caressing tone. Compare that with the tone we might use if pulled over for speeding by a police officer. Not wanting a ticket, we will use a deferential, polite tone (usually), hoping to flatter the policeman’s ego, appeal to her better nature and avoid attracting a harsh penalty.

In the same way, reflecting on what feeling you want to convey can help you refine your ‘tone of voice’. This list gives you an idea of different ‘tones’ you can give your writing:-

  • Confident
  • Authoritarian
  • Safe pair of hands
  • Integrity
  • Power
  • Influence
  • Appreciation
  • Understanding
  • Leadership
  • Conspiratorial
  • Confidante
  • Guide
  • Person next door
  • Trailblazer
  • Exciting
  • Funny

As you can see from the list, the tone of voice also injects some personality into your blog. What kind of personality you aim for will depend on what kind of content you offer.

At heart your business blog aims to bring traffic to your sales pages and ultimately bring opportunities and sales into your business. Generally a business blog aspires to build relationships with prospects and customers by becoming a trusted resource for one or more of the following:-

  • Information
  • Advice
  • Entertainment
  • Tips
  • Innovation
  • Insider news
  • Connections
  • News
  • Guidance
  • Behind the scenes

Consider what tone of voice suits each type of content

For example if you pick up a newspaper or listen to news bulletins you’ll notice the tone used is confident and authoritative. This is achieved by a pared down style where every word contributes to conveying the details of the story. News stories don’t encourage reflection in the listener/reader. They are all about ‘who, what, where, when and how’. Reflection can come later. The sentences are crisp and brisk demanding that you pay attention and listen carefully. Think of the war time families gathered around the radio listening avidly to news bulletins.

Isn’t it rather contrived to ‘create’ a tone of voice?

Your writing will have a tone of voice whether you consciously ‘create’ one or not. If you understand the impact tone of voice has then you get to play and have fun exploring different approaches to writing your blog. Adopting a tone of voice and even a persona for your blog can turn blog writing from a chore to a joy. There’s no need to worry about adopting an inauthentic tone of voice.

If you can’t, pull off the stern school mistress tone, then it won’t ever get off the drawing board. However giving yourself permission to let go of a so-called business-like tone will allow more freedom and self-expression. What emerges may surprise you.

Just as the toddler discovers the joy of connection when the building blocks stick together, you too can add more fun to your writing (and more engagement for your reader) when you find a tone of voice that connects you, your message and your audience.

Tone of voice is only one of several devices you can use to convey a particular feeling to your writing. If you’d like help with writing skills please contact me.

3 ways article writing boosts your credibility and your business

 Article writing, Blogging, Writing  Comments Off on 3 ways article writing boosts your credibility and your business
Sep 212016
 

When I visit a new town, I love to explore on foot. Getting off the main drag, seeking out the quieter streets. Sure, it takes more time than just going directly from A to B but I’m rewarded with a much richer experience. I get a sense of the layout of the town, some impression of its size, affluence and history. Its uniqueness is more obvious away from the crowds and high street stores. Oftentimes I come across charming scenes, far from the madding crowd.

In the same way, investing time article writing, may feel like a circuitous way to get sales but it offers both you and your customers a richer experience of your business which in turn leads to more pleasure and profit in doing business. In this article, we’ll look at just 3 of the ways writing articles boosts your credibility and your business

1) Showcases your expertise or passion
2) Makes you visible
3) Dramatically extends your reach

Let’s look at each in more detail

1) Showcases your expertise or passion

Whatever your business, there will be something only you can write about. Something that will impress, educate, delight or amuse your customers and potential customers. Something that combines your expertise with what you offer. For business to business services this can be fairly straight foward. A business consultant would have an endless supply of topics they can write on about improving your business.  Article writing showcases your expertise, demonstrating skills, confidence and a willingness to share information before you’re paid for it. This tends to suggest there is even more where that came from. It also indicates a passion for what you do.

Where you are selling to consumers, there is usually even greater scope for topics for articles. For example: a heritage railway can have a series of different articles: some following the work of a project, such as restoration of a locomotive; others showcasing the volunteer opportunities available and still others giving a behind-the-scenes look at running the heritage trains. Not only does it reveal your passion or expertise beyond what you can convey in a static web page, it also helps bring people to your website.

2) Makes you visible

Not instantly, but regularly publishing well-written, well-tagged articles on a blog or website, builds a body of work which you can point new contacts too. Regular articles show a website is loved and updated. Fresh content improves traffic to your site. Sharing your articles on social media sites such as LinkedIN, Twitter, Medium and Facebook and sending them to your email list, raises your profile as an expert and will bring people to check out your product and services pages on your website.

Beyond the opens and clicks of each campaign, article writing has a further benefit.

3) Dramatically extends your reach

Once you start writing about what you know and love, and publishing those articles through social media, opportunities as yet unimagined, can come your way. You may be asked to write for someone else’s blog. You may get an enquiry for your site to be used as a location for filming, or to collaborate with someone on a new venture. This is because you are establishing a confident and knowledgeable presence on the internet. You become visible and people get a much richer sense of what you and your business offers.

So if you want to showcase your expertise or passion, make your business or organisation more visible on and offline and dramatically extend your reach for, as yet unknown, opportunities then start writing articles for your blog or website.

Not confident about your writing skills?

There are heaps of online courses to help improve your writing skills. Writing skills can be learnt and improved but more importantly, begin to explore topics and angles you can write about with confidence. Look at your business from the point of view of your customers. How can you educate, inspire, amuse or delight them?

If you’d like to book a one off or regular sessions with me, Juliet Fay to help generate creative ideas or for help with writing skills, do get in touch.

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The first, crucial step to creating more sales

 Marketing, productivity  Comments Off on The first, crucial step to creating more sales
Sep 132016
 

Red shoesYou see a beautiful pair of ridiculously expensive shoes in a shop window and you think how wonderful it would be to have them. For just an instant you see yourself in those shoes and feel like a million dollars. All to quickly, a voice in your head tears that idea to shreds. You can’t afford them. They are ridiculous. When would you wear them?  To afford those shoes, you’d need a different life, or so you think. Because you can’t ‘see your way’ to affording the shoes, you sadly conclude the shoes will never be yours and turn away.

In the same way we can look at what we think is involved in getting more sales and conclude that getting enough sales is just out of reach for our business. It looks as if getting more sales is going to need a whole host of things to change, things we feel are out of our hands or at least difficult. Such as:-

  • An upturn in the economy
  • A better website
  • More exposure
  • People appreciating what we do
  • Less competition
  • More chimney pots
  • Lower rates
  • Better weather
  • More hours in the day
  • More marketing skills
  • More digital skills
  • Getting on Twitter or Instagram or another social media platform
  • Better advertising
  • Better labelling
  • Better signage

What else is on your list?

Take a moment to jot down all the things you think need to change in order to create more sales.

Now let’s take a closer look at what is going on here. By believing that all those external factors are dictating your level of sales you have overlooked a crucial factor.

Your own thinking.

While undoubtedly working on some of those areas may see an increase in your sales, if you only ever look on the outside, working in your business is going to be a bit of a slog. You will have little control. Like a ship tossed about on the waves in stormy weather, you will just deal with whatever seems to be coming at you, without any strong sense of purpose.

What could you do differently?

When you look at enterprises with healthy sales and profits, they all have something in common. It’s not the amazing websites or impressive user engagement on social media (though they may have), it’s the buzz about their business. There is a feeling you get when you engage with that business as a customer or even as a fan on social media sites. That feeling is one of fun, confidence and excitement. It’s genuine. It’s infectious.

Where does it come from?

It comes from the inside out. That’s right. It doesn’t come from the website or the Facebook page or a buoyant economy. It comes from within the people that run the business. At core it is an openness, immersion and joy in doing business that is not dependent on the weather, the number of hits on the website or the number of sales made. It comes from a deep engagement with what the business offers.

You probably had that when you first went into business, but maybe it has evaporated and you find yourself working all the hours and yet not achieving the sales you want.

Take another moment now and remember what it felt like in the early days of your business. Capture that feeling of excitement and possibility you had when you thought about your business. Bring into your awareness that sense of bringing something to the world. Something that would enhance your and your customers life in some way.

Just rest in that feeling for a while. Close your eyes.

In that place, everything seemed possible. The journey ahead looked exciting. You were fully engaged with what you were trying to do.

To create sales in an enterprise, you need to be coming from that place of engagement.

The good news is, you don’t have to pretend or fake it ’til you make it

That place is available to us when we allow our thinking to settle down. Your thoughts about the external factors that you see as responsible for sales, create stress, pressure and a sinking feeling.

Look past those external factors and see that it is not the factors themselves but your thinking about them that causes stress and discomfort.

Let your thinking settle down

When you let your thinking settle down, you come to a much clearer place from where it becomes obvious what you need to do and what you don’t need to worry about.

For example, if you feel stressed about getting more orders or clients, it would be easy to sit down and write a sales email that sounds, well, a bit desperate. That’s the feeling you are in. If you can settle down, look past the desperation, you will find, new thoughts arise about the next step to take. That might be picking up the phone, writing an article, attending a networking event, writing a product review, doing some further training, hiring a web developer. Whatever it is, it will be a step you take with confidence.

You may be thinking, ‘it’s all very well to say there’s no need to get stressed, but with Brexit and all the uncertainty, I can see it having a negative impact on sales’. If you think your falling sales are coming from problems out there, then yes you will feel uncomfortable. Like the unaffordable shoes you may well just throw up your hands and stay in a place that feels horrible. Yet we all know, if you took the idea of owning those shoes away and just settled down about it, a way to buy those shoes would eventually occur to you.

It might take time. You might not pursue it, but an idea would occur. In the same way, when we realise our thinking about external factors is getting in the way of good ideas to actually make sales, then we can settle down, let that original enthusiasm for our business bubble up once again and from that place, the next step will be obvious.

If you’d like a coaching call to help you get more sales, please email me to book a time.

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Why resistance is futile (and causes suffering)

 Marketing, Social change  Comments Off on Why resistance is futile (and causes suffering)
Aug 312016
 
Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean Luc Picard after assimilation by the Borg. Acknowledgement 

‘Resistance is futile’ was the famous battle cry of the Borg, the alien stars of the Star Trek First Contact film, as they assimilated other species into the Collective. The process was grim involving injecting microscopic machines called nanoprobes into their unfortunate victims. As their success proved, resistance was indeed futile.

In terms of our human experience, resistance to thoughts and emotions is not only futile but causes an immense amount of unnecessary suffering.

Sydney Banks, the Scottish Canadian welder who first put into words the understanding known as The Three Principles, said,

“If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.”

Resistance is fascinating. I’ve previously put it down to procrastination, laziness, being ego driven, pig headed, stupid or stubborn and that was only when I noticed it in operation (often I was unaware).

So what is this thing we call resistance?

The dictionary always comes in handy to get to more specific meanings of the language we use. So what does the dictionary have to say about RESISTANCE.

To resist:-

To stand firm (against)
Not yield (to)
Fight (against)

Are you getting the idea? The dictionary goes on:-

To oppose
To refuse to accept

It comes from the Latin resistere, to stand still, oppose from re+sistere to stand firm. And my favourite definition of all:-

RESISTANCE — any force that tends to retard or oppose motion

Our natural state is one of flow with thoughts moving through us effortlessly. As soon as we get stuck on a thought we have brought resistance to bear on it. It blocks that free flow of thought.

You know you’re experiencing resistance when what you are doing and what you want to do are in conflict.

Resistance will be familiar to anyone who has set themselves a project to do and then finds it nigh on impossible to drag themselves to the desk or workplace to get down to it. Or when sitting scrolling through your Facebook feed while your shoulders are up round your ears because you feel you should be doing something else. Or when you’re slumped on the sofa late at night, feeling tired, watching something rubbish, knowing you need to sleep but unable to move off the sofa. These are every day examples of resistance at work. They probably don’t cause too much stress but what about more persistent resistance?

When does resistance cause suffering?

More persistent resistance can appear in response to emotions we dislike. They come in all shapes and sizes: fear, desolation, sadness, loss, shame, guilt. According to the Three Principles, every feeling is a reflection of a thought in the moment.

Sometimes we can see the thinking that has produced an emotion e.g. The thought, ‘I always screw up’ can produce a feeling of hollowness and despondency. Other times, all we’re aware of is the emotion, say, feeling yucky.

Thoughts are swirling through our brains all day and all night. The ones we are aware of are just the tip of the iceberg. Left to their own devices, they’ll just mosey on through.

The thing that stops those thoughts just moseying on through is resistance.

Resistance kicks in when we interfere with a thought.

Why does resistance kick in?

The answer is key to dissolving resistance. It seems to me, resistance is a response to an experience we dislike. That might be an unpleasant feeling or an external situation we don’t like.

Superficially we might say it is the product of non-acceptance of a feeling or situation but I think it is more than that. I think resistance is a form of blocking.

We are literally trying to blot out that feeling or situation, as if by refusing to allow it to exist we can somehow make it disappear.

And this desire to banish a feeling or situation comes from a fundamental misunderstanding. From the mistaken belief that a feeling or an external circumstance can undermine our well being. If you believe this, then clearly it is vital to police those feelings and circumstances and not allow anything we perceive as damaging to get a foothold.

Like a sentry guarding the walls of a castle, you’ll always be on alert, ready to pick your enemies off before they get a foot on the castle wall.

Why do we try and block out feelings?

If they scaled that castle wall, you would be overwhelmed. And that would be the end of you. In the same way, I think behind resistance is a primeval fear that we can be crushed, destroyed or diminished by thoughts and feelings in our head or circumstances in our environment.

If that is where you are coming from, resistance is a logical response.

What happens when resistance kicks in?

Like a highway man, resistance intercepts a thought or feeling and holds it up, at gun point, saying,

You can’t come through because I don’t want to feel this. I can’t feel this. This isn’t okay.

And what happens? Does the thought say,

Okay, fair enough, I’ll go away.

NO

The thought cannot move through or dissolve when it is caught in the grip of resistance.

And the effect?

That thought, which would have gone merrily on its way is now sitting in your mind, blocking the way for any new thought to come through. It starts to weigh you down as you attach more and more significance to it and wrap it up in more and more thinking: judgement, criciticism, opinion and questioning. This produces more and more unpleasant feelings as resistance tries to argue with it, plead with it, ignore it or hustle it away.

You can feel the effect of resistance in your body. Tension in your neck and shoulders, shortness of breath. Lethargy and even temporary paralysis.

And yet, it is all unnecessary. Instead of bringing out the guns of resistance, all we have to do is acknowledge the feeling, feel it and let it pass on through. The trick is not to examine, judge, analyse or in any other way hold up that feeling. The thought that created it will also pass on by.

What about when that doesn’t work ie when the yucky feeling is still present. Ask yourself what feeling are you trying to avoid or get rid of?

Can you see that a feeling on its own, can’t hurt you?

Once you see this, the intensity diminishes and the feeling just fades away, like all our other thoughts and feelings.

So when we’re stuck in feeling yucky, remember RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. Loosen your grip on that thought and feeling. Don’t worry about it. It will pass. It is only hanging around because you are trying to manage it.

Go forward with the cast iron certainty of the Borg and don’t waste mental energy on battling thoughts and feelings that will pass anyway. Instead, be curious, notice the emotions and feel them fully.

If you are interested in having a conversation with me for yourself or your team, please email me.

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Marketing Success

 Marketing  Comments Off on Marketing Success
Jul 262016
 

Workshop for organisations

Do you want to feel more confident about marketing your project or business?

Rather than trying to follow other’s marketing strategies, this course mines the creativity and resources you already have, bringing clarity to your marketing challenges and helping you **see** opportunities, strengths and actions your team can take straight away to make your marketing more enjoyable, more effective and involve more of your team. Exactly what those actions are will vary with each team.

This is not about piling on the workload but about taking a new look at the state of mind around marketing in your organisation and pointing towards a new understanding so you can take your marketing to the next level.

Being in business doesn’t have to be about stress and overwhelm, it can be creative and fun!

Who are they for?

Organisations that provide support, mentoring or training for:

Groups of people working on a social enterprise project or in a community group who want to carry out marketing activities more confidently and find out how to access and act on good marketing ideas.

Marketing teams in small to medium size businesses.

Duration

Tailored to suit your organisation but typically might include

1 x 3 hour session virtual or in person (if distance allows)

2 x follow up 1 hour Skype sessions

Where are they held?

In South West Wales, these sessions can be delivered in person. Elsewhere in the world, they can be delivered virutally through the magic on the Internet.

How the sessions work

  • Bring your team together – marketing heads and customer facing staff/volunteers
  • Put your biggest marketing challenges on the table
  • Take a fresh look at those challenges – from a new understanding of human experience
  • Understand where creative ideas come from
  • Explore this fresh perspective in your business
  • Capture and act on fresh ideas that start to come as your team raises their state of mind
  • Return to review your changing experience of marketing activity and deepen your understanding

About the facilitator Juliet Fay

Well known in South West Wales as a speaker and trainer helping rural entrepreneurs understand more about the psychology of marketing, I’ve recently completed a 2 year stint working as Marketing and Business Development Manager for a heritage steam railway, increasing passenger numbers by 29%.

Output

Increase marketing confidence and capacity to promote goods and services.

Price

Please contact me to discuss the price for your group.

Interested?

Contact me for a complimentary conversation about setting up these sessions for your members, group or organisation.

Not quite ready for this?

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How to Use Exit-Intent Popups to Grow Your Email List | MailMunch

 Marketing  Comments Off on How to Use Exit-Intent Popups to Grow Your Email List | MailMunch
Jun 032016
 

The good thing about exit-intent popups is that they are your last chance to convert your visitor before he leaves. Sometimes, neither of your other opt-in forms had managed to make him sign up, so it’s worth taking one more shot.

Source: How to Use Exit-Intent Popups to Grow Your Email List | MailMunch

Editor’s Note

Martin Zhel from Orior Creative contacted me to share this article. I thought you guys would find it helpful. I wasn’t a fan of pop ups but this article gives you plenty of ideas on how to use them without annoying your would be subscribers. May have to look at getting one on here!

Juliet