Professional writer and press manager

What are Cornish businesses doing for equality?

The living wage is now £7.65, whilst the minimum continues to fall short by an unjustifiable £1.15. I’d argue that although the Guardian claim that over a fifth of people earn under this figure: most people in Cornwall do.

Hire Cornish copywriters, web designers, cleaners and drinks providers

Cornwall has a history of hard work and innovation

Being only a small startup myself, I am committed to redressing the stark disparity of wealth I have seen in Cornwall since I grew up here. As a teenager, I slaved for 70 hours some weeks earning £3 an hour in one of the county’s popular tourist cafés. As an adult I taught children whose families were often surviving on a collective income of less than £20,000 and recently Cornwall has been pronounced the poorest area in Europe. I feel very strongly about the incredible work organisations such as Whole Again Soups, Slow Food Cornwall and The Cornish Seaweed Company carry out; empowering people within the community through food education.

As a food writer and social media maven, my role, I feel, is to help create opportunities; empowering people to start their own companies and raise their standard of living. This will come in time, but is a strong part of my business plan. I can’t do it alone. Despite having had a Florence Nightingale complex most of my life, I need the help of other local businesses.

What can local businesses do for equality?

We can buy local!

Support local businesses in Cornwall by finding local writers, designers, artists

Shop local, eat local: Cornwall

Copywriters are everywhere. And what’s great about us is that we can work remotely. However, just because I live in Cornwall, this does not mean I should be paid less to do as good a job, if not better, than my London counterparts. Local businesses should be keeping their focus on employing local people; from web designers to illustrators; from cleaning companies to drinks providers. Similarly, it means that anyone carrying out any work for me should be paid fairly. If I can achieve this on my profit margins, then big business sure as hell should be doing so. I am confident that other local businesses are doing their best to provide opportunities and support locality in our beautiful county.

I wrote recently about Cornwall’s fantastic entrepreneurial spirit. Despite this social disparity, communities work together and there are people with excellent minds and ideas innovating daily within the county.

Through supporting local, buying local and eating local, we can create our own economy down here and keep the innovative and hard working spirit of our tin toiling predecessors very much alive.

Professional writer and press manager

Is your content part of the user experience?

Content marketing remains the Marmite of discussion on my favourite hangout for engaging with copywriters across the globe: twitter. Some love it: singing its praises as a new way to make brands connect with customers. Others prefer the more traditional methods of emailing and calling. But with this incessant marketing, how many websites are getting the content right? How many are weaving it throughout the core of the user experience?

Nobody puts content in the corner

Excellent content uses all of the space

About ten years ago, I met someone who walked around the beautiful beaches of Cornwall in ripped up shorts, a guitar and an obsolete lack of direction. Soon, he turned the MSc in Physics he’d gained into a mastery of SEO: which was a mystery to me at the time. I wrote a lot, and was prolific on social media; one day he told me I’d probably be a really good copywriter.

“I write for passion!” I exclaimed dramatically, never dreaming to deign to write for corporations.

Now I am a full time copywriter, I do think back to those days; knowing that my values haven’t really changed. Yep, I write for small local businesses now, but I still write with passion. My storytelling on client websites is driven by my innate fascination with words, etymology and storytelling. I want to shout it from the rooftops. Even the funny ones.

But how are clients; corporations, brands using their approach to content? Every single word shaped on this site, on any site, should be making use of the great storytelling capacity of copywriters.

No copywriter  puts content in the corner

Like the gunpowder mills at Kennel Vale, Cornwall, content can become obselete

It’s as important as the design! I don’t want my well-honed stories to sit there redundant; like the old gunpowder mills at Kennel Vale. You see, some websites treat content as a disease: something that should be hidden away in a category labelled ‘blog’ just because that’s the new SEO, don’tcha know?!

Remember school discos in the 80s? Maybe before. Either way, I remember the early ones as boys on one side; girls the other. We forgot to use the whole space.

This is the problem many websites have with content.

Content is everything within that site. And out of it too. Social media interaction? Content. Product descriptions? Content. About Us? Content. Images? Content. Landing page? Yep, content too. Don’t limit it to blogs and don’t relegate them to some dark corner.

Nobody puts content in the corner.

 

Integrate content throughout the site to optimise and enhance user experience of the whole space. Link everything together: from the images of your staff party to your ethos, from the press success you have had to the funny anecdotes about what went wrong this week.

All of this is content, all of it is communications and all of it helps people to engage with your brand.

Our very name palaver maven means expert of communications in ye olde playful English and so we know a little bit about effective content use and communicating with brands, for brands and with customers. To have a chat about anything related, please call on 07729263818 or drop me an email on the contact page. A

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Web content that captivates

How to Improve User Experience on Your Website

From last week’s post about the brilliant, inspiring minds we meet in Cornish businesses at The Launch event, we were lucky enough to connect with Victoria and Stuart from Cornish Pixel. Their website is beautiful.This is a guest post by Victoria from Cornish Pixel.  Victoria writes the weekly Cornish Pixel blog which provides advice on helping businesses make the most of their online presence.

 

Pencils are a copywriter's best friend

Excellent writers know where they are with pencils

I don’t really like computers; I’m a pencil and paper kind of girl. You always know where you are with a pencil. It sits comfortably in my hand and it moves wherever I choose. It doesn’t get sick and the only update it demands is a ten-second spin in a pencil sharpener. Of course, its life isn’t limitless and it will one day die. Luckily, its twin brother can be bought for 20p. I love pencils.

Unfortunately, the same feelings cannot be felt for my new computer.  It seems neither PC nor tablet, but a frustrating combination of both. And whilst it looks pretty and could probably double-up as a GCHQ code-breaker, it’s a huge tease!

This latest oh-so-cool time-saving device is actually costing me time; its favourite game of hide and seek is killing me. I can often be heard yelping across the office: ‘Aaarrrgggh! Where the hell has my desktop/settings/photos/documents/control panel disappeared to?’

Much consideration has been given to the design and technical capabilities of this particular computer, and the experience of the user has been neglected; style over substance. A curse many websites also fall victim to.

Of course, websites should look good (and ideally like they weren’t designed in the 90s) but, it is far more important that web visitors enjoy being on a website, and are able to access all the information they need simply and quickly. Therefore, it is vital that online businesses consider the ‘user experience’ (UX).

A good web designer/developer should be versed in user experience design or UED/UXD.  Being able to craft a beautiful looking website without considering how the site will make a potential online customer feel, is much like serving a scrumptious looking roast chicken with an unexpected rose-pink centre.  Looks wonderful, but makes the customer sick.

Effective web design should prioritise the needs and wants of its users; websites should not be an opportunity to showcase the designers’ fabulously versatile and kooky creativity.  If I visit a website looking for a supplier of paving slabs, I do not need to see an eye-popping headache-inducing cabaret show of a homepage. I will not think, ‘Ooh look, they can put on a show like Jean-Michel Jarre, their patio slabs must be awesome.’ Instead, I’m more likely to bounce off the website immediately and find a more-soothing and inviting website to browse.

People do not visit websites to be entertained, unless they’re after Netflix or Foxy Bingo. They visit to find information. No one needs to see an outdated Flash animation on a homepage; of images turning, rotating, spinning and swirling.  It’s puff.  And it’ll make users feel like they’re staring into the hypnotic eyes of the snake in Jungle Book.

Keep browsers on your website by following these tips:

  1. Try not to make visitors dizzy and disorientated with over-stylised moving images. Keep things clean, simple and pleasant to view.
  2. Avoid irritating visitors with pop-ups and ads. They’re an annoying distraction.
  3. Do not test visitors’ patience by making them search for information. Ensure site navigation is straightforward and intuitive.
  4. Avoid boring visitors with useless information. Keep all written content succinct.
  5. Do not use an illegible typeface. Choose one which is easy-to-read and doesn’t require special spectacles.
  6. If your website’s ‘call to action’ is to contact you or buy a product, ensure the steps the user takes to reach your desired outcome are as straightforward and apparent as possible.
  7. Make sure your website can be easily viewed on various platforms such as tablets and smartphones. Users browsing on a mobile device will not wait for large files to load. They’ll bounce off to a responsive website instead.
  8. Encourage interaction by connecting with your social media platforms.
  9. Avoid 90s’ clipart and irrelevant photos. Choose appropriate images to foster positive feelings.
  10. Don’t make customers hunt for your phone number. Ensure your contact information is easy to find.

Websites should be inviting, comforting and useful; like a cup of tea and a bowl of soup on a winter’s day. If your website is an uncooked chicken, don’t be surprised if customers go elsewhere to find both style and substance.

We know a thing or two about user experience and web design. Hop on over to Cornish Pixel to learn more.

Thanks for reading.

Victoria.

 

Author bio: Victoria is the co-founder of digital agency, Cornish Pixel.  Based in Wadebridge, the team offer bespoke web design, e-commerce and SEO services to businesses across Cornwall. Pop over and say hello at www.cornishpixel.com or via Twitter: @cornishpixel.

Professional writer and press manager

The Launch 2014: Celebrating Cornwall’s Innovation

In weather that can only be described as pathetic fallacy this week, Falmouth has seemed at once chaotic and beautiful; windy and mild; now exciting and nerve wracking. Last night I took my notebook to The Launch 2014, where we donned branded waistcoats and chatted words, branding and strategy with some of Cornwall’s finest bright minds. Professional journalists, Copywriters in Cornwall, innovators, artists and crafters.

Empowerment

Along with its unrivalled beaches, diverse scenery and friendly manner, Cornwall has been receiving a lot of attention recently for its innovation. The Launch celebrated this. In a place with such stark inequality and disparity of wealth, one of the things I have enjoyed the most is seeing Cornish people take back some power. Where we can’t find jobs, we create them.

It’s core to my business ethos.

Boscastle attracts copywriters

Artists, Writers and creatives are drawn to Boscastle

Growing up in Boscastle meant I was blissfully unaware of how stunning where I lived was, in comparison to the rest of the UK. I mean, I thought everywhere was like that. Everywhere was full of creative people: writers, artists, and musicians. Cornwall is a breeding ground for excellent writing.

Don’t get me wrong: Dorset is biscuit tin cuteness; Wales’ dramatic black mountains conjure somewhere between Middle Earth and Narnia; the lakes and peaks ‘oop North’ are gorgeous. But, for me nothing beats a good sunset at Widemouth or Trebarwith. These places are seared to my brain, since I played there as a child. Even after living in some interesting and exotic places, such as San Cristobal on The Galapagos Islands, I can’t find beaches that match their beauty.

Cornwall, you see, is a brand

In many ways the iconic landscapes, the rises and falls of tides, and the association with DuMaurier, Hepworth and good old Richard Lander demonstrate Cornwall’s eminence exuberance and infamy. In a place famed for toiling tin, for hard workers and innovators, Cornwall is still resplendent on the international stage; putting its unique stamp on products from handmade pasties to bespoke websites; from agile and creative words to hand made artisan chocolate.

Even beaches in the Galapagos Islands don't rival the scenery of Cornwall

La playa de Chales Darwin, Santa Cruz, Galapagos

The seed cracks open

I may have quoted Occelli before, so I’ll paraphrase: to achieve its best, a seed must crack open and turn inside out; externally this appears as destruction, but essentially, it is regrowth.

Cornwall is an impoverished area. Eurostat reports released earlier this year, claim that due to its disparity of wealth; cost of living for the poor leverages less spending power than anywhere else in Europe. Yet the launch last night told me that innovation is very much alive, and leading aspiration in the county. Local businesses in Cornwall need to create opportunities for young people in the community.

Cornwall is also a hub of innovation. Over 20 startups exhibited at The Launch yesterday evening, and I have spoken with and met several others this year at various food fairs and networking events. We may be lacking support from a London-centric government, but we won’t go down with that ship. We will come up fighting, like the Celts who crafted us and we will persist as a brand.

Cornish creativity is some of the best

Emerging from Cornwall are some of the finest ideas, usually at prices that London companies could not afford to roll them out at. Having once been a pupil within the county, and since been a teacher; the minds being shaped beyond Brunel’s bridge (the gateway to the county) seek to extend this creativity and bolster the Cornish brand.

And long may it continue.

Professional writer and press manager

Developing character: the multiple personalities of a content writer

This post may debunk the magic. Read on at your discretion…

“you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.”

Excellent branding, as I’ve often said before, starts with excellent planning, and also entering into and maintaining a dialogue with your audience. We’ve always been told, in any industry, that customer service is the most important factor. Which it always will be. Essentially, great customer service is about communication. All good relationships are about communication, and excellent branding is making a commitment to a long relationship.

What it also involves is an element of magic. And what I mean by that is not some terrifying display á la The Great Danton or Houdini. It’s the element of magic that Michael Caine, aka Cutter, in the film The Prestige refers to when he says “you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.” And creating amazing stories across all brand communication channels is much the same kind of magic.

People must realise there is a lot more to a brand than the lovely pictures that get shown on social media and the crafted stories spun to engage and inspire readers. Behind every business is accounts and finances; admin; bills; payroll; training; outsourcing; and whole host of less-than-exciting menial tasks that a small business simply cannot function without. And yet, what they buy into are the snippets of stories, the development of character: the suspension of disbelief.

we know it's not really magic, but we don't want to know the truth

Storytelling in branding is like magic

Coming up with a strong and believable branding story requires creativity and strategy and excellent storytelling. It also requires the attributes of a professional writer. You need to sound like the protagonist. Your brand is leading the story, by becoming an authority voice. Kathi Kruse wrote an excellent post about the techniques used within a good content strategy, and essentially boiled hem down to the literacy points I would have taught my kids when I was teaching: show don’t tell, build drama, write about the stuff you like. All of this is advice that excellent writers such as Marquez, Atwood and Murukami would give.

It’s no surprise that with this level of detail, professionalism, strategy and time, many people choose to employ a professional writer to create tone of voice.

Part of my job as a content writer and branding consultant is to help craft these stories for my clients.  And to do this well, first I need to spend some time with them, really getting to know their character, the character of their brand and start to shape a direction for the story of this character to go in. The peaks and troughs. Ups and downs. How would they react to current affairs?

In any one week, I might be an American business man imparting his marketing secrets; a food expert reviewing restaurants and products, a young fashionista describing the newest makeup on the market; or a yoga expert evaluating the effectiveness of different anyasas. I also have my regular posts, where I review food and drink products and restaurants, write for The National Curriculum.com website and give marketing and content writing advice right here.

I imagine long running soap stars must have the same problem!

At times, I  have focused so sharply on this array of characters that I almost feel I have multiple personalities. I write only for brands I care about, and so immersing myself in their worlds is no hardship. But once a project is complete; which can happen for any number of reasons; I find myself missing hanging out with my friends. I imagine long running soap stars must have the same problem!

Just as we do for a good story, a movie or book; we need to suspend disbelief when ‘buying into’ (in the psychological, time investment sense) a brand. And if you can ignite that same sense of curiosity, excitement and empathy, you will build a successful brand and see sales increase.

To find out more about my services, stay tuned via my e newsletter once a month. Sign up by popping your email in the box below, but please feel free to contact me by phone or email too.

 

Professional writer and press manager

Branding and Storytelling: Why you need to take time

As the skies were illuminated by the giant face of the moon; red and speaking of autumnal fires; as nights have drawn in, chattering with thunder that ripples across the harbour, shivering blades of light into sheltered coves; I’ve been running out of hours to meet with Cornwall’s finest creators, designers and all round lovely people. I’ve still done it, though, and been excited to encounter brand new businesses who have pulled together to create a networking event in a few weeks: The Launch 2014.

In addition to creating high quality content that gives value to clients of clients, this week I’ve been had meetings to discuss branding and tone of voice, and how having an expert can really help in these endeavours. To truly create a strong brand and customer loyalty, you need to give your brand enough respect to take time with it.

Kintsugi - using mistakes to create something beautiful

Strong, dependable branding relies on transparency

Just as each of the products you create are based on trials and experience, learning from failures, the incredible art of kintsugi, of not hiding ‘mistakes’ but seeing them merely as part of the process; getting the tone for your branding exactly spot on is not an instant process.

It takes spending time together with your writers, designers and artists, preferably together, in order to create something that truly reflects the essence of your values, goals and motivations. It’s about taking the very best version of you and injecting it with just a touch of caricature to give a story to your prospective customers, or those already existing, in order for them to feel an emotional connection.

Emotions themselves are, of course, complicated, divergent and duplicitous, just as language can be. Creating an excellent brand starts with transparency; which engenders trust. By transparency, one of the interesting aspects I mean is to talk about your processes. People love a story, and real stories follow the true arc of intrigue and understanding, with elements of drama through crises. These crises make us human and overcoming them makes us stronger. Keeping regular contact with the public, through blogging, social media, newsletters and whatever form of contact you are using seems daunting to some companies.

How will I make a story? Some wonder.

But being a strong brand really just means connecting with people. Getting their emotions involved. Make stories from the rises and the falls of your week. Today we were experimenting with new paper and the print wouldn’t stick properly, so it smudged. Yesterday I hand wrote 70 letters, but the wind blew them into the garden and the dog chased the like leaves. these small failures happen to all of us every day and help to establish connections.

brand evokes emotions

Great communications create imagery

People also invest emotion in something driven by senses; experiences they can relate to. If walking through the grounds of a Sicilian holiday cottage becomes the scent of fresh lemons, and sunshine and July’s searing heat; most people can relate to some of that imagery. And some will result in craving that very experience.

Others might hate lemons.

But that’s OK too because you can’t keep all people happy all of the time.

Like building up great relationships in real life, building a brand people trust doesn’t happen overnight. It happens through consistent storytelling, revealing information that demonstrates our failures and celebrates our successes. It happens with commitment, patience and humility.

To arrange a free consultancy regarding your branding and tone of voice, please call me today. But don’t expect it to take 5 minutes! 07729263818

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Professional writer and press manager

Why business owners should stay true to themselves

Excellent leaders know their ambitions and harness their desires to fulfil them.

As a teacher, my life often felt satisfactory. In a place where the very language used contradicted its etymology, where satisfactory meant anything but, and unsatisfactory was pretty much a death sentence; there were times when semantics shot me down. I dare say, in turn, my students too. I loved the job: seeing students become empowered by understanding, listening to their unfolding creativity; developing and nurturing a love of language. Yet, like many teachers, I spent many hours battling with marking and hierarchy and homogenisation until I realised mainstream schooling was just not where my talents lay.

Navigating what was uncharted territory of business management for me; I started a business. To be more precise, I started freelancing as a writer. I was motivated by finding a way to play around with words all day and be the boss of my own schedule. To start with those were my business goals. Pretty simple.

Of course, they didn’t get me masses of work, and so I started then obsessively reading small business publications; searching for marketing techniques and trying to understand how to be a writer in a professional capacity. I did social media posting and scribed scores of list-style blogs for myself and clients. It was all too easy; playing down the very thing I love the most about language: its playfulness, agility, flexibility; duplicity. And I started falling out of love with words.

 

It was time to rethink things.

What are your values?

You need to truly understand your personal values to build a set of business values. What do you stand for and what does your brand stand for? What actually motivates you to set up a business in the first place?

What I loved most about teaching was seeing young people realise their potential; offering them new opportunities. Cornwall is still an area of extremes: the Hockney blues of sky and sea, the bleak moors; mist seeping into your bones. The sharp divide of wealth and poverty. These things helped me to shape a business motivation with more focus, more ambition, more drive.

To discover what your values are, you need to have an internal conversation and really think long and hard about what you want your business to represent. What needs do you want to meet: of your own and of your consumer market? Matching your values to those of a potential client creates an audience for your brand, and actually help you to deliver a better, well honed product. If possible, converse with a selection of previous clients to softly test how your new image appears in their eyes?

Feeling let down by the lack of support for teachers, and understanding the financial disparity in my area, drove me to want two things for my business that were outside of personal financial and creative growth and development. These were to provide opportunities for young people in disadvantaged situations and to provide support for local businesses. One of my key focuses in life is independence. It’s woven through everything I do. Encouraging and fostering that in other people sends me a-shiver.

What do you love?

Create communications people love

Find what you love in business

Your personal passions will drive your idea, your business forward. You’re going to need them to. With the sleepless nights, endless monologuing and fears about its growth and development; a business really is like having a baby. It can be mentally and physically exhausting in a way you had never perceived. You’ll find yourself sneaking looks at twitter and reading emails even when you should be out relaxing and stepping away from it all.

Some of my very early client work was highly corporate in an area of little interest to me. Whilst I was able to garner reasonable results from it, it wasn’t the type of work I was passionate about enough to sing from the rooftops and post all over social media channels with reckless abandon. Adding press release creation and distribution to my skills meant I began to connect with some small local businesses and real people. Developing these relationships, understanding these brands meant I finally understood what mattered to me: making a difference in my community. I work best when I can see results and when I know that what I do makes a difference to people’s lives.

Through working with local business owners and getting intimate with branding, I can create content I am really proud of; content that is original, targeted and speaks to people. Ultimately, communications within brands mean developing relationships and this is what converts visitors into buyers and holds them there..

What do customers want?

Customers want something that adds value to their lives. The world of consumerism and business is constantly evolving, but how you learn to embrace and respond to those changes will affect your success. You need to stick to what you love, even if this needs to be balanced with some of what you love less. I still write corporate copy; reams of it in fact. I’m still creative with language. Luckily, through forging relationships with small businesses, I can use the sounds of the sea and our beautiful landscape to inspire my corporate writing, as much as my own.

Here, the things that drive me and the clients’ needs meet together and this is what makes successful branding. The very things that language itself was created for: communication and cooperation.

To speak to me about consulting for your brand’s voice, or for any writing job big or small, please send me an email or call on 07729263818

 

 

Great content starts with research

Why high quality content is so important to your SEO

Once upon a time…

…arguably, like humans ourselves and the parts of the world we can lay claim to having created; the internet was a kind of easier place. In its very being both alien and robotic, we had preconceived ideas about the way it worked, and in its infancy, we could program these ideas in its memory.

High quality fibre optics

Endless fibre optic content of cyberspace

Search engines, those newly born sponges they were at the time, were easy to fool with the ‘art’ of SEO. Back then, it was hardly an art; stuffing keywords into content, which was barely legible and certainly not entertaining, but it didn’t really matter. No-one read it anyway, apart from the machines. Which we’d created.

In many ways SEO was a game: the quicker content was released, the more swollen with target phrases, words and repetition, the easier it was to win. We were writing for robots and we were winning. But remember; the internet itself was a robot: a mysterious collection of wires that somehow connected us to parts of the world we’d only read about in books.

A cold, alien space many of us could not comprehend; like all new landscapes a terra incognita, a myth.

With the passing of time, we created social networks, and established digital marketing, optimised branding and organic results. We’ve turned the internet from a frigid hinterland into a fresh and friendlier place. Google rolled out responses, which have levered the cumulative effect of ridding that barren landscape, dominated by machines; of the manipulative practices of game players. Like our closest friends, Google is intuitive to our search wants and needs.

The internet evolved to be less alien and, rather like R2D2 from Star Wars once was and Jibo, the friendly robot, today; it has won its place in our hearts and as part of the family. Along with this has come brand friendliness too. So SEO, naturally, has matured into a friendlier, more human orientated art form.  Creating and maintaining friendships, relationships and trust by aligning content with your audience’s intentions. And being in it for the long haul.

Ultimately, what this means is that success can only be merited when you try to achieve your goals through meeting your clients’ needs. And herein lies the ancient art form of storytelling. Better know, in trendier circles as #contentmarketing. Like all good robots, Google wants to mimic its masters. It does this by tracing your online behaviours and using the gathered data to create a kind of customer prototype.

SEO is a game

If content is king, then research is queen

Your branding needs identity. Your identity must reflect that of a typical member of your audience. If content is king (and these days, it really is), then research is queen. By creating an ideal customer, you can build an idea of where they hang out, which channels of communication they use and what their daily obstacles are. And how your content can help them overcome them.

Just as you do in a real friendship, understanding this prototype, this ideal buyer; their desires, their needs, their questions; and supplying gripping, well researched and high value content will create meaningful relationships.

Just as robots are a serendipitous by-product of evolution, an anthropomorphic creation; the ramifications of this process are that you will naturally build up the keywords and phrases that improve your organic search ranking.

Great design needs great content

Brand Publishing: Are you content with what’s underneath?

A brightly burnished, branded website is exciting for us all. Especially ones with fashionable, hand drawn graphics incorporating sharp branding. Clever colour schemes to match memorable images and sear logos to our ever-exposed brains.

What’s going on though, when you start scratching that shiny veneer?

Many brands are pouring their business investment expenditure into revamping the aesthetics of their websites to lure in prospects like bees to conical celled flowers. Rightly so. A stunning website is vital to attracting clients.

But what keeps them there, and beckons their return is what’s underneath: the website content. Great content at that.

A land of contrasts

When visiting Iceland during February earlier in the year, I discovered the amazing story of the poetry that migrated to Iceland during the Second World War. Having long been a fan of Icelandic music – its darkness, duality, longing, and the way it so aptly mimics the scenery –  the story of the seafarers sent to fight on a sprawling mass of magma, in the North Sea, fascinated me.

After losing over 200 Icelanders during the war, the women were enveloped by the desolate poetry brought over by British troops. The drab and terrifying words of such authors as Siegfried Sassoon and his protégé Wilfred Owen lulled Icelandic women to whisper ég elska þú into the luminescent skies. Elska means to love. Despite finding the bleak scenery and volcanic landscape inhospitable, the men found female hands at cannery row were liberal with their love.

Trading primarily in fish sourced in from the icy seas, cannery women would give up their love under endless skies. Winter everywhere: within the frozen igneous rock containing tiny worlds, on the twisted branches grabbing at the sky, inter-crossing each other with the same complexity as a modern bus map; the men found the landscape portentous.

When birds look into houses, what impossible worlds they see

Yet, as Nabokov said “You can get nearer and nearer to reality; but you can never get near enough, because reality is an infinite succession of steps, levels of perception, false bottoms, and hence unquenchable, unattainable”, the molten lava burning beneath the curvatures of land and surging to the surface would fashion new topography.

How does this relate to content?

carved from high quality basalt content

Mirroring the basalt columns of Iceland’s geography

It’s about what’s underneath; how that feeds into what’s on the surface. As the winter sun sinks over the bay, Hallgrímskirkja, a modern church that resembles an organ with its stepped sides reaching up to a pinnacle, stands overseeing Borgartúni. Carved from glassy basalt; forged from rapid cooling magma, this modern landmark is a metaphor for choosing high quality content.

Its unique figure quietly disrupts the mountainous backdrop and contradicts the sharp frozen air, belying something of what’s going on under the surface. Rolling beneath the frozen fields seethes the spark of fire.

This fire embodies what clients want from content. Something unusual, something different and something that changes their view. Answer their problems, enrich their lives and ultimately create content of value and you will see return.

To speak to me today about breathing fire into your content, however big or small, please call me on 07729263818 or use my contact form.

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Content marketing

Content marketing magic

With content marketing being the chatter on twitter; the murmuration in marketing; and the bombination on bizitalk, it still strikes me as interesting that businesses are either not using the facility at all, or getting the message so wrong.

Whilst its primary objective still aims to generate leads, interest and hopefully conversions; content marketing is about so much more. As Simon Grover explains in a great post by Quietroom, the potential of losing something is a stronger motivation than that of gaining something. One good piece of content might lead to one, or several, decent sale(s), which is all well and good if your business is based on front-end sales. However, unless you’re an ice cream vendor on a beach in Benidorm, you are probably going to want repeat customers; those who value you, your ideas and your input.

Forging fickle content for the sake of filler is a mistake businesses often make in marketing campaigns. Or worse yet, creating content so drenched in keywords that slippery puddles of desperation ooze across your branding. Unfortunately in a sector so saturated in lists and tick sheets, many businesses are afraid to fly away from the rest.

Create something that feels different.

To speak to customers in a language that is entertaining, distinctive and inarguably yours is what really matters in creating memorable content. Of course hitting out once and commissioning an outstanding piece of crafted content to intrigue, inspire,  and educate your followers may see a peak in traffic for a specific duration, it is maintaining that unique tone across all communications, and for an extended period that is going to make clients care.

Crave something they don’t have. And want it.

Essentially what you’re hoping to create is a resource that is valuable in the content you disseminate; whether didactic, descriptive or entertaining. You see, what you want is a type of engagement that brings people back for more. An experience that evokes emotions. The adage: people won’t remember what you say, but how you made them feel can be assimilated to what you want to achieve here.

Creating a feeling of trust, faith and understanding means they will come back. It may take some time, but they will – at some point. They’ll return because they want to repeat the experience you created for them before.

And when that time comes, they must be made to feel welcome in the same unique tone they have come to expect from your brand; developing the relationship.

A cohesive approach across all outlets requires some strategic thinking. With that said, whilst shaping sheltering content is important in nurturing relationships with your brand, what you’re producing does need to have value for you too. Before you even start drafting your content; have a clear idea of who it’s for and what they will get from it. And also have a clear idea of how it correlates to your objectives as a brand.

If you are considering ordering high quality content, you must have a realistic understanding of the relationships you wish to establish  with clients, and pragmatically envisage a timescale for developing them as such. Trust across the digital airwaves is no less tangible than trust in real life. It takes time and effort from both parties. Through investing in a sustainable content plan over a specified time period, and through partnering this with effective distribution channels you have created marketing magic.

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