In every time period, and in every culture throughout history, the art of storytelling has been ever-present. Storytelling has connected us through generations. When done well, it delivers a message, puts us in a compelling characters’ shoes and evokes powerful emotions.
It should, therefore, come as no surprise then to learn that storytelling is a tool that allows you to connect with your customers and prospects on a more intimate level than many other marketing methods.
Facts, figures and professional opinions can certainly tell a prospective customer a fair bit about your offering but, at the end of the day, these things are not going to get your prospect over the line – thinking is good, but ultimately you need to make them feel.
How storytelling works
Stories are amazing at getting people to relate to you. Stories have characters, and those characters have thoughts, feelings, challenges, failures, successes – things that everyone deals with on a personal level. By creating a character, you’re instantly giving the audience someone (or something) to root for. And that’s not just us saying it; studies have shown that character-driven stories consistently cause oxytocin synthesis – and oxytocin makes people more trustworthy, generous, charitable, and compassionate. In other words, it makes them more empathetic (which can only be a good thing!)
When listening to or reading a great story, an audience will go along on the ride with you, experiencing much of the same thing, including its inherent emotions. This is why storytelling is so incredible – you can effectively tell people how to feel.
Integrating storytelling into your communications
Now that you know how important storytelling is, the challenge is effectively implementing it into your marketing communications and your branding.
Many businesses promote their services based on what they offer – “you’ll X get amount of value but you’ll only have to pay Y dollars”. Unfortunately, this price-based proposition makes it difficult to distinguish anything else that what makes your company or offering different, or more special, than any of your competitors.
That’s where storytelling comes in.
Contrary to what you may think, your customers aren’t interested in buying your service, they’re interested in buying your company (a small part of it, anyway). Or, put another way: your customers care more about why you’re doing what you’re doing than anything else.
What problem are you trying to solve? Who are you trying to help? What problems have you faced along the way and how have you overcome them? These are the kinds of questions that will resonate with your audience and get them invested in your company. If you can communicate this kind of information through a compelling narrative, your customers will also be much more likely to stick with you for the long term.
Where to use stories
Your website is a great place to start delivering the message about why you do what you do. It’s important to give your customers an understanding of your business as a whole – where it’s come from and where it’s going to.
However, that’s not the only channel available at your disposal. There are a number of other places to exercise your storytelling muscles, including blog posts, case studies, and posts on social media.
When it comes to delivering compelling narratives about your business, the world is your oyster – and if you’d like help to craft your story, or ideas for how you can better share it with the world, get in touch.
One of our lovely partners first introduced us to Emma, Founder of Baby Sleep Consultant NZ, in late 2017 by gifting her one of our ‘Seeking Your Story’ facilitations. Throughout this workshop, it was clear that while Emma was doing a fantastic job of marketing communications across all her various channels, there were a lot of misconceptions that remained around what they did and acted as a barrier to engaging. Improvements could definitely be made to the way their story was being told.
Emma had used other copywriters in the past, but none had really ‘got it’.
“They were sending me work with spelling and grammatical errors in it, which didn’t instil much confidence,” shares Emma. “Their writing didn’t read well and was more like a robot wrote it. It also clearly showed that they didn’t understand what we did, so I never felt like they could actually help me in anyway or remove anything from my plate!”
This is where the upfront time investment that we make in the Seeking Your Story process pays off – by allowing us to really understand a business and its stories. (Emma says it even better in a recent review she shared about us – see below!) Throughout this process, we drilled down to Emma’s key messages – the primary things that she needed to be getting across – and then took a fresh look at what she really wanted to achieve with content.
Stories that have an impact
“Stories are an important part of our marketing because people don’t buy your product or service, they buy why you do it!” Emma enthuses. However, while compelling content is great, it’s not just about putting together some words that sound good – you ideally want it to have a measurable impact on your business. Through the ‘Seeking Your Story’ process, we defined Emma’s communications challenges and objectives before looking at the channels that we could help her harness to achieve those and authentically connect people to what she was doing.
Intelligent Ink worked first with some of Emma’s other digital marketing and web design and development partners to craft compelling content for a new version of the Baby Sleep Consultant NZ website; content that, once added to the upcoming website, will lead visitors through a specific and tailored user experience and ultimately lead to more conversions.
Consistent content is key
Having a great website is one thing but, for best results, you need new content to be added constantly to preserve your position in search results and give people a reason to keep coming back. Knowing there are countless examples of the positive impact that Baby Sleep Consultants’ offering has on the families with whom they work, Intelligent Ink are also now working alongside the Baby Sleep Consultants team to tell two incredible stories each month. Each month we talk to one consultant here in NZ, and one across the ditch, to discover an example of parents at the end of their tether who just need some support to get their kids sleeping soundly.
As well as being published on the Baby Sleep Consultants blog, the case studies are also being used across various other channels (such is the versatility of great content!) The first case study that we wrote was shared in a recent enewsletter and the impact it had was immediately felt. “Not long after the story was sent out, our inbox went ‘bang, bang, bang, with new bookings,” Emma shares. “It more than paid for what we invested in getting you to write it!” Not only that, Emma also confided that both open rates and click through rates were both up on this newsletter, as well as the number of resulting unsubscribes dropping.
Shares Emma, “Best copy writing I have experienced in over 5 years and trying 4 previous companies! They spend the time to understand you and your business and their voice sounds like yours, and they deliver amazing service. I would not hesitate to recommend their work to anyone.”
We’ve long known that stories have the power to move people to think, feel and act – but we love seeing tangible examples of this impact, and the achievement of such a positive return on investment! Contact us now to make sure that you’re telling stories in an impactful way.
Key messages. When you’re in business (or if you’re trying to build your own thought leadership position), having key messages is vital.
Consider Subway – what do you remember about them? That their sandwiches are made fresh and to order? That they’re the ‘healthier’ fast food option? Now why do you think those things? Because they’ve kept those key messages at the heart of nearly every piece of content and advertising that they’ve created throughout the years.
Or take someone like Simon Sinek. Although he’s done hundreds of talks and written a huge amount of content, what we remember is ‘Start with Why’ – because that’s the key message that he incorporates throughout most of his content.
Key messages – your communications foundations
Your key messages are the main points that you’re trying to communicate, told in a succinct way that makes them easy for other people to remember.
You might have only one or two key messages, or ones for every part of your business – but either way, they’re short, concise statements that highlight important aspects of your business and how you help customers. They should be easy for you and your team – and your customers! – to remember (or at least absorb the gist of them, in your customers’ case!
But why are they so important?
They keep your communications consistent
People remember and trust companies that are consistent. Creating consistent communications is key for building your professionalism, ensuring that people understand what makes you special and different, and keeping you top of mind among existing and prospective customers.
By establishing clear key messages, you’ll ensure all your communications are ‘on message’, professional, and appeal to your audience.
They arm your team with how to talk about the organisation
Whether sales people, your marketing team, or just general workers out there representing the company, everyone should know how to talk about what you do and what makes you special. Providing everyone in the organisation (particularly those who are interacting with potential customers) with key messages makes them feel confident about knowing how they can discuss the organisation. Plus it ensures that everyone gets the same brand experience, at least when it comes to your communications.
They provide direction for content creation
We know how much businesses struggle to come up with content ideas – but having strong key messages can provide a clear direction. Not only should your key messages form the basis of your website content, but they can also help with your blog or social content.
Don’t have any ideas? Take a look at your key messages and see whether you can create a post around one of them. Consider if you could address it in a different way. Is it likely to spark questions among prospective customers? Write content answering those questions. Using your key messages to spark content topics will help you ensure that any content you create is relevant and supports what your organisation is trying to achieve.
They make you memorable
If your customers can’t remember what you do, or what makes you different, how can they tell other people about you? Making it easy for your customers to remember how to talk about you is key if you want to stay top of mind, and build your brand positioning as leaders in the market.
Keen to get to work on your key messages? Book a call with our expert team to discuss how you can get your foundations right – and your people armed with awesome key messages.
With two out of three people in New Zealand affected either directly or indirectly by dementia, you’d think that it might be a more common conversation topic. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding dementia and sometimes it can seem like you can hear only crickets when you mention the condition! That’s exactly what Dementia Auckland is trying to change. Their method? The power of stories.
Spreading the word far and wide
When it comes to working with Dementia Auckland, us Inkers have been on the scene for a while. Although Dementia Auckland’s website, Mind Matters newsletter, and Facebook page have been operating since before we came into the picture, telling stories about dementia hasn’t always been an easy task for this not-for-profit.
For starters, Dementia Auckland’s target audience is super broad – dementia doesn’t just affect the person with the diagnosis, it also has an impact on the lives of their carers, family, colleagues, and wider circle of friends. With different communications tasks being assigned to different Dementia Auckland staff members, the stories that were being shared across the different media outlets weren’t always regular. When their hardworking staff members did squeeze in the time to work on telling stories, they were lacking an overarching message to tie the stories together.
What Dementia Auckland needed was consistency and, since pulling in Intelligent Ink as their communications team about four years ago, we’ve been working on consistently telling their story.
With only 45% of their funding provided by District Health Boards, Dementia Auckland needs to make up the other 55% through their fundraising efforts – which are only successful if people know what they’re about, what they can do to help, and that their support is appreciated.
Because the most amazing impact that the organisation has happens at the ‘front lines’, Dementia Auckland recruited the key workers and socialisation team to help identify potential stories and, each month at their professional development day, we pick their brains for any cool stuff that’s been happening with clients. Stories can range from carers sharing their experiences looking after people with dementia, to volunteers talking about why they like to support Dementia Auckland, to staff members sharing their personal journeys.
But why tell these stories? They give people insight into the real struggles that people with dementia and their carers face, while also demonstrating the impact of what Dementia Auckland does. Sharing them consistently with supporters of the organisation keeps those supporters connected and reminds them why they give, and sharing those stories with a wider audience enables Dementia Auckland to build an even greater support network.
Throughout everything, a key priority for Dementia Auckland (and hence, us as their communications team) is consistently articulating the message that’s behind all the work they do for people in New Zealand’s biggest city – that dementia doesn’t mean that you can’t still live a fulfilling life.
For those wondering whether stories can make a difference – the results seen by Dementia Auckland say yes. With regular posts carrying a clear message throughout, more and more people are coming to find Dementia Auckland’s resources when they need them, and take comfort in knowing that they’re not alone. This increase in communication has been a big part of their increased fundraising efforts and has helped significantly increase the organisation’s income – helping them provide much-needed support services for even more people with dementia and their carers!
A continuous struggle to destigmatise
That said, the storytelling journey is far from over. Dementia still carries a stigma around it, holding people back from sharing their experiences in conversation, which we still see in clients worried about sharing their story.
One of the biggest challenges the organisation faces is helping people speak as openly about dementia as they now do about topics like depression, a once-taboo subject which has recently been brought more to the fore. Often the difference is awareness, which is why Dementia Auckland is continuing to share stories about the positive lifestyles that people affected by dementia can lead. For the people who have already found these stories, they’ve been able to share more openly their own experiences, and how they’ve adjusted to the changes dementia brings.
Destigmatising any topic can only be done when people take the lead and talk about them, and Dementia Auckland knows there is still progress to be made. But with Intelligent Ink supporting their storytelling journey, they know that in sharing a message of hope they’re on the right track.
So how can you help? Firstly, by talking about dementia with your friends and family – it doesn’t have to be a taboo topic! If you’ve got a family member with dementia (and they’re okay with it), share your story too – after all, we know how powerful personal stories can be. Dementia Auckland are there to support you along the way – just visit www.dementiaauckland.org.nz to find out how they can help.
Otherwise, to help people already affected by dementia, you can donate to Dementia Auckland here or, if you’re keen to keep up with what they’re doing, follow them on Facebook.
As we wrap up the stories of 2017, the Inkers are feeling reflective… Here we take a look back (just for a moment) at what we learnt this year, as well as sharing what we’re most looking forward to over the holidays, and what we’re most excited for in 2018.
We hope you all have an amazing break, take a wee bit of time to reflect on the lessons – and enter 2018 with lots of great stuff on the horizon.
What I’ve learnt this year: That just doing what we love seriously does make coming to work a hell of a lot more enjoyable! Since specialising just in content, rather than trying to do PR and basically anything else that people asked for, we’ve been able to consistently do awesome work, get great feedback, and spend our time actually doing what makes us happy. Even though there have been some tricky times with changing our whole business model around, I think it’s been totally worth it and will make Intelligent Ink stronger in the long run. And I guess both personally and professionally, I’ve learnt that saying no to things is healthy and good. Whether I will remember this next time a show that I want to do holds auditions, is another thing entirely though!
What I’m most looking forward to over the holidays: Playing with my new kitten! And spending time with my family – my nephew and niece are at pretty damn adorable ages right now, so Christmas will be fun with them.
What I’m most excited for in 2018: Finally getting our new business model up and running properly, with all our Inkers doing as much work as they would like, happy consistent clients, and a thriving Intelligent Ink!
What I’ve learnt this year: That you have to do what you love, but that it won’t always be easy. That most choices mean you sacrifice something, so choose carefully. That feeding your toddler rice (or sushi) means you will have it deal with it being stuck to the bottom of your feet for at least the next 24 hours. And that perspective is everything and life is what you make it.
What I’m most looking forward to over the holidays: More swimming and spending Levi’s nap-times reading, as opposed to catching up on work. I’m also looking forward to some relaxing time and headspace just to reflect.
What I’m most excited for in 2018: Newborn snuggles again and watching Levi become a big brother. I’m also really excited to keep co-designing Intelligent Ink to be the best it can be, for us and our clients, as we further strengthen our relationships with partners and grow the team!
What I’ve learnt this year: Mainly the power of a relentless focus on outcomes. Too often we just start our day without much forethought and then deal with what is thrown at us. I have become much more brutal as to what gets my attention. If I can’t see the relationship to an outcome, I don’t give it attention. On a personal front, I have learnt that I am woefully lacking in animal noise vocabulary; I am fine with challenging Levi to a “moo”ing or “baa”ing contest, but as soon as you bring giraffes, zebra and deer into the conversation, I start to feel like a terrible father with no ‘real world’ knowledge that is applicable to conversing with a toddler.
What I’m most looking forward to over the holidays: Mainly I am looking forward to some space to think and reflect without the noise of the day-to-day.
What I’m most excited for in 2018: I’m very excited about 2018, which is set to be a year of a lot of opportunity as well as a lot of challenges.
What I’ve learnt this year: We have much, much more influence than we think. The people we see doing amazing things in the world on a daily basis are ordinary people, just like you and me. A position of genuine influence is just around the corner, and it’s ours for the taking!
What I’m most looking forward to over the holidays: Inhaling as much New Zealand food as possible. Leaving our beautiful country in February means leaving behind pies, L&P, Mum’s trifle, proper ice cream… All the essential elements of my life for the past 25 years.
What I’m most excited about in 2018: Learning 24/7. My wife and I are spending the first half of 2018 in France, and the second half in India—purely with the intention of soaking up as much learning, perspective and language as possible. The juxtaposition from being in the grind of Auckland working-life, to swanning around the south of France with my nose in a book is one that’s immensely appealing!
What I’ve learnt this year: 2017 has been all about running for me – and the best runs are the ones where I’ve had to cajole myself out the front door or wanted to give up halfway through. Perseverance and sheer stubbornness always pay off!
What I’m most looking forward to over the holidays: Doing an epic 8-day hike into Ivory Lake Hut, which sits on the edge of a glacier in Westland – and meeting my nephew Harley for the first time on Christmas Eve.
What I’m most excited for in 2018: Spending more time with the Intelligent Ink crew and building relationships with some of our long-term clients, and training for the 2018 Routeburn Classic – a 33km mountain run along the Routeburn Track in April.
What I’ve learnt this year: That things have an amazing way of finding you at just the right time in your life. Also, that Victorian cast iron fireplaces are heavy.
What I’m most looking forward to over the holidays: I’m most looking forward to renovating the new house we just bought. We’ve found some real bargains on eBay which should help with the renovations. Last week we bought a Victorian cast iron fireplace (hence the learning above!) that’s decorated with ornate period tiles down the sides, along with a matching antique mantelpiece – all for only $100!
What I’m most excited for in 2018: Pretending to be a barista and making lots of trim lattes (or ‘skinny’ as they say here in Australia), with the fancy new coffee machine that I’m getting for Christmas.
What I’ve learnt this year: If you love something, just do it, and opportunities will come your way. 2017 was the first year of my creative writing blog and the last year of my university studies (BA in English and Media Studies). It was the blog that got me my first freelance writing work, which helped me discover a whole new world of writing work that I didn’t know about. I looked further into content writing as a career and attended a careers event at University about working as a freelancer – which is how I got my internship here at Intelligent Ink!
What I’m most looking forward to over the holidays: Relaxing at Waihi Beach – and going to the Bryan Adams concert!
What I’m most excited for in 2018: My first full-time job! I hope next year continue to be another great year of learning, growth, and opportunities!
In the age of the internet, it’s absolutely vital to establish at least some sort of online presence for a business; even if you don’t really conduct your business online.
While it’s true that anyone can produce online content, many of you will understand by now that not all content is created equal. You’ve also likely heard us say this before, but if you want to succeed professionally, effectively communicate what makes you special and different, and connect with customers and engage readers, you need to regularly produce compelling content.
Although more easily said than done in many cases, most of us have some idea of the difference between compelling content and boring or bland (read: ineffective) writing. However, for those still establishing their online presence, or those who are juggling online as just one channel within their marketing mix, the thought of having to continually create compelling content can seem daunting.
As experienced storytellers, we’ve compiled some of our top tips for crafting top-notch online content—and trust us, it’ll pay off!
1. Begin with keywords
Place yourself in the shoes of someone searching for your business online. What search terms are they likely to use? What results will show up first? Keywords are an excellent tool for creating a clear image about who you are and what you do, as well as securing a spot in search results. Keywords also guarantee that your website matches what a user expects to find in their searches—so make sure that the language and terms you use to get people to the page continue throughout your content also.
Keywords don’t have to be difficult to figure out. Begin with a brainstorm of all the topics, phrases, and potential search terms that relate to what your company does – but remember, the key point above is that you need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Often the words that you use to talk about your offering within your organisation are not what an external person might think of. Beware of industry jargon, and if possible, sense check your list with friends, or an expert, who is not involved with your business, as they will have a more similar lens to your customers.
From there, the use of your keywords becomes relatively simple… Use them as inspiration for your written content to strengthen the identity of your business – and regularly create and add new content that will also help to boost your rankings.
2. Include strong calls to action
Also known as CTAs, a call to action is a way of encouraging website visitors to complete a specific action as a result of visiting your content. Whether it’s through a pop-up, hyperlink, or embedding a video into a blog post, CTAs encourage readers to download, trial, buy, book, subscribe, or preview your goods or services.
A good CTA should make it easy for visitors to engage with your business online. Word your CTAs in a way that makes the reader feel rewarded—you want them to have a positive experience on your website! Try to avoid bombarding readers with too many CTAs too; it’s best to be selective and consider what will best lead them to your desired outcome. It’s also possible to be creative with your overall content in order to ensure they think, feel or do what you’re hoping after reading also, so think strategically about this or talk to an expert.
3. Give your website a narrative
Imagine that you are discovering your website for the first time. How did you get there? Where will you head to next? The layout of your website and its content are all part of its story, so make sure that it makes sense and that they can flow intuitively through the journey you want them to have with you online! If users find the experience of being on your website too confusing, they won’t keep exploring for long.
Consider the way you want people to interact with your website and consider the technical aspects like the navigation in considering whether it supports this journey. Content plays a part here too – as constructing an online narrative within your website content can lead visitors where you want them to go and keep them engaged – ultimately leading to better results and more valuable traffic!
4. Keep your content fresh
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: when it comes to creating engaging content, consistency is key! Google isn’t fond of websites that haven’t been updated in a while, and neither are users. Weekly – or even fortnightly – blog posts are a great way to keep your website up to date; they bring back regular viewers who are invested in what you have to say, as well as increasing your pool of key terms that might appear in the search engine results for new viewers.
Not sure what to write about or how to write it? Start with your keywords and see which ideas are worth delving into a little deeper. If people are searching for these terms, they’re obviously interested in finding out more! A minimum of 500 words per post is required if you want to rank in search engines, and there’s no upper limit as to how many words you can include. Just make sure that your content is easy to read and navigate. Subheadings, bolding key words or phrases, and bullet pointing important lists make your content visually easier to navigate, allowing readers to scroll through a post until they spot what they’re looking for.
Though content writing may seem like a time-consuming task that’s difficult to master, it’s well worth the effort! If you don’t feel like you have the time or the specialist skill-set, we’d love to help you create the compelling online content that your business needs. Feel free to contact us for a chat.
Verity has long been a member of Venus, a women’s business network that supports businesswomen to thrive. We were thrilled to be able to contribute this article to their print magazine recently. Click here to view the full magazine or read on to see our article below.
“Those who tell the stories rule the world” – as the Native American proverb says. Words that are as true today as when they were first spoken.
In today’s fast-moving environment, the most effective communication comes from telling interesting and valuable stories. Stories have the ability to evoke emotion, bring back memories and mobilise us to act. In this way, stories are powerful and stories can move us.
We instinctively feel that as consumers, and now businesses are starting to realise that, in order to play to win, they need to embrace the power of storytelling. In 2016, Forbes referred to storytelling as the new strategic imperative of business.
Stories help a business to own their niche, create authentic connections with their market and win in their competitive environment, but not all stories can do this… so what makes a great one?
For a story to drive a conversation with the market, it needs to connect people to what makes a brand or business special and different. People care about organisations they connect to; it’s that simple.
Think about how you get close to others in Venus: you sit down for a Rave and share things about yourself. Over time, you reveal what drives you, what you like and dislike, your values – all the things that make you uniquely ‘you’. And you do that through telling stories. The narratives we tell other Venus members allow us to form relationships; the same is true for brands.
Storytelling may seem old-fashioned, but that’s exactly why it works to forge genuine connections. So, how do you tell a great story – one that inspires people to think, feel and do?
Be authentic: The best stories are real; they’re honest. They provide a true insight into a brand, a business, or a person. They have compelling characters. Consumers are savvy and know when they’re merely being fed marketing lines. Find real and authentic ways of communicating your points of difference. Chances are, the thing you do excites you and it has the potential to be exciting for others too, if you can connect them to why you do it, and what it means for you.
Surprise and delight: Good storytelling evokes a strong neurological response; you follow the narrative, live through the characters’ trials and tribulations, and are along on the journey as they reach a resolution. The suspense builds, followed by the seductive surge of dopamine – and this happy little brain chemical makes us feel infatuation; a vitally important ingredient for brands.
Keep it simple: Key to any great story is that they make us think and feel. To do this, the best stories are simple – focusing around one single important idea, theme or message. You don’t want people to leave people confused; if you’ve got more ideas, write more stories. One clear idea is far more effective for evoking emotions and, when you can get people to feel, you can get people to act. That is why storytelling is vital to business.
Or, as Harrison Monarth, author of The Confident Speaker says: “A story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts. Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.”
Intelligent Ink had been working with Hardy’s Health Stores for over four years, providing all of the editorial content for their MyHardy’s (and later, Discover) magazine before the brand went into receivership in early 2017. Diana and Vince Burgess bought the business and, having been involved with owning Hardy’s stores for some time, bought with them their commitment to bringing the brand back to its former glory – and then some!
Knowing the role that Intelligent Ink had played in the Hardy’s brand voice until that point, Diana soon got in touch with Intelligent Ink to see if we could help.
A legacy lives on
Hardy’s had been a household name for coming up 31 years and their loyal base of customers valued the professional advice and education that were strong values of the brand. Diana and Vince’s primary objective was to continue to communicate with Hardy’s customers – both old and new – by sharing valuable content, like they had been used to, and telling the stories that helped to convey the brand’s personality.
Further to that, was the desire to conduct a coordinated conversation with these customers and the market, demonstrating that although the Hardy’s brand may now have a smaller footprint than previously, they are still the best at what they do and had some new and unique points of difference to offer the market.
An integrated approach
While the magazine formed the cornerstone of the communications strategy for Hardy’s, they knew that having a coordinated conversation with the market would require integration across all of their external communications channels, including social media, their website and blog and regular enewsletters to their substantial database.
As well as drilling down to the brand’s target audiences and key messages, Intelligent Ink started from a seasonal theme standpoint and, from there, created a calendar that specified coordinated, channel-appropriate content for use across all of Hardy’s communications.
Working alongside our design and print partner, a launch issue of the newly-imagined magazine was put together in record time and is already having the desired effect! Not only has there been great feedback from Hardy’s customers following the magazine appearing in stores and in their letterboxes, Diana reports that there was a definite increase in turnover the week after the magazine was released.
Suppliers have been complimentary also, with some disappointed that they were not invited to advertise in the first edition and already booking a slot in the summer issue. For Diana, “the nicest part was when I received comments from a couple of key account managers saying they loved the professionalism of the mag and how it delivered our brand values.”
The Intelligent Ink team are already working on the plan and content for the summer issue, researching and writing editorial, and liaising with suppliers to craft their advertorial features also.
The malls have rolled out the decorations and the memes have started to be shared online, reminding us that there are this many days (and only this many weekends!) until Christmas. For some of us, this will bring joy and excitement. For others, possibly some dismay as to how another year has rolled by so quickly.
Although it’s tempting to pretend the silly season isn’t creeping up quite so quickly, this time of year holds great potential when it comes to your communications – and we don’t just mean sending your annual Christmas card to Aunt Mabel (although you should possibly get onto that soon too!)
The end of the year is the perfect time to not only recap on the fantastic year you’ve had and pay tribute to the clients, partners and staff who have supported you, it’s also a time to be organised – after all, you want to be able to relax and enjoy your time off without stressing about work during your break. So, while your mind might be frantically starting to assemble some of the things you need on your ‘to-do’ list before the jolly man pays us all a visit, take some time to consider our top tips for tackling your end of year communications.
Plan in advance
You’ve worked hard all year to keep your communications regular, relevant, and consistent – and that doesn’t need to change now! You may be shutting up shop for a couple of weeks, but that’s no reason to go to ground. Technology abounds with scheduling tools so you can populate your social media with pre-planned posts, set your blog content to publish in your absence and have your newsletters scheduled to send automatically. It means a bit more work now, but it’s worth it to not let the balls drop over the holidays.
As well as pre-planning and scheduling content, you may have other tools that your clients or customers engage with, so make sure everything is in place for these to run smoothly before you shut up shop. It’s all about giving you piece of mind and ensuring they still have the best experience. Another great idea is to refresh your FAQs for the time of year, adding the answers to commonly asked questions in a way that’s easy to find and access. This will minimise the amount that people need to try to reach you directly over that period and let them know what they can expect.
The content that works
It’s tempting to think that people don’t want to hear from you at this time of the year, but that’s usually not the case. In fact, in many ways, this is when they’ve got more time to devote to your content than before! However, bear in mind that you’re getting people while they are likely more relaxed, which means you want to keep your content fun, fresh, and relevant to the season and mood of your audience, so they’re more receptive.
No matter how you communicate normally, at this time of the year lighter-hearted content is generally a good way to go. Holiday wishes, or something more personal like your reflections on the year, or staff profiles that share what different members of your team are most looking forward to over the break are all great options. Consider a Christmas gift guide featuring some of your products, or compile your top tips for the beach, for example. Get your team together to brainstorm ideas, and while you should still find a way to reflect your brand and key messaging, what matters most now is simply staying top of mind clients over the holidays and as people start the new year.
Give out some gratitude
Another excellent idea for communicating at this time of the year is sending your clients or suppliers a little piece of appreciation – after all, they are the reason your business is thriving. A Christmas card or small gift goes a long way or, for very special clients, find a meaningful way to say thanks. Think outside the box of your standard Christmas card and see if you can have a bit of fun with your brand, or find a way to surprise and delight them; try a personalised present or poem, a video or slideshow to recap the year, or a game that gets people engaged. You could even host clients for a special drink or lunch to show your appreciation and further strengthen your relationship. It’s worth the time it takes to truly leave an impression.
Keep people in the loop
It’s fine to go off the grid in the holidays – in fact, we all need to occasionally – but make sure you’ve proactively communicated this. Clearly spell out your holiday dates to clients and key contacts to avoid bad feelings when they are unable to reach you. Set an out-of-office that communicates when you are back and, where possible, add an alternative contact for the time you are away. Do this a wee bit ahead of when you’re actually going on leave too, if possible – it can be amazing what extra work comes flooding in when you’ve said that you’re unavailable soon!
We get that this can be a busy time already without adding extra communications to your workload – so if you need any help creating clever content that speaks to your audience and tells your story, just get in touch!
We all (well, hopefully we all!) understand that when it comes to communications, we need to stay top of mind – which is why consistent communications are key. A few weeks ago we looked at why it’s so important to stay consistent, so now let’s look at how. Namely – when you’re talking to your customers every single week (or day!), how on earth do you come up with enough content ideas?
As storytellers, copywriters, and endless content creators, we’re constantly faced with the task of brainstorming and planning out content ideas (in fact, it’s one of our favourite things to do!) But when you have to do it for yourself, somehow it ends up much trickier! That’s why we’ve put together our best tips for how you can generate awesome blog topics with no trouble at all.
Think of your FAQs
What are the questions your customers are asking on a regular basis? When you meet with a new prospect, what are the things you consistently have to answer? Are there things they don’t understand, or get particularly worried about? Or, on the other hand, are there things you WISH they knew before meeting with you? Think of your blog as a way of educating your prospects and customers; these topics make great posts that deliver real value when written well.
Two brains are better than one
Don’t forget about your biggest asset when it comes to content ideas – your team. Try booking in a fun 20 minute brainstorm with the team to come up with as many ideas as possible. Not only does having fresh brains on the job help, you’ll usually find that each person has a unique take on different topics – perspectives that can be turned into unique blog posts!
Tap into your network – and collaborate!
Who says that everything on your blog has to be written by you? Try tapping into your clients, suppliers, or networks to see if they might be keen to contribute to your blog as well.
A blog post written by them, an interview, or quotes from them incorporated into your own post – whatever form it takes, it’s a great way to show you appreciate them and their expertise. As long as it’s related to what you do, and relevant to your audience, it can also be a great way to save you from having to create content. Plus – they will generally then share it via their own communication channels (usually social media or enewsletters), which means you’re getting in front of a whole new audience!
Use your data
Are you using Google Analytics? If not – why not? Make sure you know exactly which blog posts people are reading by checking out the stats on your Google Analytics account. Try to create new content based on the ones that have done well in the past. Did a how-to guide seem to resonate with people? What other how-to guides could you write? Or if particular topics seem to always do well – is there another angle you could take on that topic?
Go back to your basics
Consider your key messages, or the main messages that you want to get across. Could one of them be explored more? How can you tell a story around that specific key message – could you show how you’re living that message through a case study or interview with a client? Or could you look more deeply into the problems your customers are facing to better illustrate why you’re needed?
Just a word of warning though – these types of posts can end up being a little too sales-y, so make sure you’re always asking yourself: “Is this providing my target audience with value?”
What can you give an opinion on or add to?
With social media, we’re surrounded by news these days. But so many news items only look at the basics – which leaves a fantastic opportunity for you to provide an opinion, educate people about the topic, or add to the conversation with a well-timed, thoughtful blog post.
Try creating a Google Alert for topics that matter to you, and when things pop up that you think you could add to, you’re all set! Just aim to get it out quickly – the more timely the content, the more likely people with share and engage with it (don’t forget to get it out on social media quickly as well – and encourage people to comment and share their own opinions too!)
Consider content themes
Blogs don’t just have to be one-offs either – try grouping some blog posts around a specific theme, such as the time of year, or a particular issue facing people. Whether it’s what you need to be looking at in the lead up to Christmas, a specific social issue that connects with what you do, or your own original theme, using a theme can often spark more ideas for content and force you to dig a little deeper.
Plus, in this world of fast content, a lot of people actually like being given the opportunity to fully engage with a thought-provoking topic. Perhaps that’s why the ideal length of a blog post takes about seven minutes to read (according to Buffer anyway!)
Share your findings
Have you done any research recently? Or do you collect data about your customers’ results? Could you regularly report on the findings from what you do? Is there a number or statistic that you could come out and share with people?
If you’re big on numbers, or happen to collect a lot of data, you could be in a great position to share findings based on that data – and the more impressive or surprising those stats are, the better! People love finding out surprising facts – or having the numbers tell them that they’re doing the right thing. Just be sure that you’re allowed to share any data or information before you put it out there!
You’re an expert in what you do – so undoubtedly you’ll have some opinions about what’s coming up in your industry or field. Particularly at the end or start of the year, think about what you believe is going to change. Whether based on years of observation, lots of research, or gut instinct, people are interested in trends and knowing what you think is coming – so they can consider what might be changing too!
Tell your story
Do people know who you are? Who your team are? Do they understand why you started the business in the first place or how you got to where you are today? If not, tell them! People do business with people they like and trust, so telling your own stories is a powerful way to build connections and start conversations with people. Don’t be afraid to show off your people!
So there you go – ten ways to find blog content ideas even when you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall! Just remember – keep it valuable and relevant and your customers will always appreciate it.
And if you need any help planning and writing awesome blog content – just get in touch!