Professional writer and press manager

Communication is at the heart of writing

It’s not easy blowing your own trumpet is it? I find it hard! I mean, that’s kind of ironic since my job is to blow other people’s: you’d think it would be easy for me. But alas. I write blog pieces that contain ideas and strategy and tips for small businesses, to help them. Rarely do I say we got a client published in the Guardian the other day. Or we liaised with the front page of MSN Lifestyle to get our clients’ amazing work noticed.

But we do it. Silently, whilst also thinking of valuable blog posts to give hints and tips to other small businesses in the area. For example, through our monthly package with The Cornish Seaweed Company, we’ve seen them feature everywhere from BBC’s Saturday Kitchen to The Guardian Sustainable Business section. Chocolarder have been in the Spring edition of Home and Garden, as well as Delicious having profiled recently, and many other exciting things happening.

Seaweedguardian

As a business, content is not good enough.

Seems an outlandish statement for a freelancer in Cornwall and Devon, right? I mean a good half of my week is dedicated to writing content for companies. But what I mean is that being content with erm content isn’t good enough. It needs to be exciting, engaging and shareable in order for it to provide a high ROI.

Every single expenditure you make on behalf of your business needs to be quantified; hence some companies are hesitant to outlay money for content marketing, PR and communications.

Yet, this element is essential to getting your message heard. You need to have faith that you’re choosing a content writer who prioritises ROI. Much of my week is dedicated to helping promote other businesses, via social media channels and article creation, and by weaving a network of contacts to hold clients together and increase outreach.

Freelance writer with ROI in mind

Content writing needs to evidence ROI to be justified

Initially, upon launching my career as a freelancer, I had a steady flow of clients, and spent days writing articles and white papers; living out my dreams of just playing with words all day. But, like you, a time came when I had to find a way to expand my client base. Here, I learnt the key role communication has in business.

 

 

 

Communications is as the heart of good writing

Some client news stories my packages have helped

You can be making the best product or service, but the world needs to know about it. This is best managed through a series of communications. I mostly use twitter, blogging and press release for myself, and offer packages involving these from just £150 per month. The ROI of this helped one client’s sales quadruple as a result of the work. So the ROI on £150 a month was in excess of 10 times the expenditure.

I have produced content that has wowed big companies in London: from Innocent drinks to Thompson Holidays, and Tasting Britain. However, I am a Cornish girl who is passionate about our beautiful county and enjoys finding communication solutions for local businesses.

 

The power of words is not enough: they need to be communicated to the right audience as well. And this is my job. To discuss how content, copy, white papers or PR & s

ocial media can help raise your profile, give me a call today on 07729263818. Or use my contact form to drop me a line.

Professional writer and press manager

Pitching a press release (by a freelance writer)

As a freelance writer, there are many projects I write for. From Robotics to Speech and Language Therapy, and from food and health to climate change and coppicing. However, having worked my way up from pot washer to head chef, head waitress and many other food related positions, I am happy to say I am also a freelancer who specialises in food and drink in Cornwall.

Last week was a great week for being a food writing freelancer because I visited loads of places, including Quicke’s farm in Devon. Mary Quicke is one of the most inspirational people I have met. Her face lit up when I asked whether looking after her staff was important to her and she replied that she wanted to give people wings. This is one of the reasons I started working with small businesses. I know the passion that people put in and you’re putting all the effort into creating amazing products, I want other people to know about how great they are.

freelance writer for food and drink in Cornwall

Freelance press release writing gets results

 

One of the best ways to do this is by writing press releases and conducting press campaigns and establishing good press relationships. At the start I didn’t understand the importance of this, and cringe-ably used a kind of say and spray technique.

Often blasting news at over 1000 poor journalists and bloggers, I can assure you, does not make you popular.

So before you even send the thing, spend time creating a bespoke list of press contacts. People who are genuinely interested in what you might have to stay. It takes time, but this is the beauty of enlisting an expert press release writer. They’ll know who might publish, and how to get the results you want. Otherwise a good place to start is by finding reporters who have previously written about your subject, and approaching them.

But here’s the secret to that…

Ascertain a budget prior to contacting. Know what your budget is and how much, if any, you’re going to spend on advertising. Many publications will offer you space for advertising. If you aren’t going to consider this, you’d be well advised to make it clear in your pitch.

Copywriter in Cornwall specialises in press release

Putting a bit of personality in a pitch helps

 

And the pitch.

That terrifying moment that could make all the difference between your release being read or deleted.

For what it’s worth, there are ways to make the pitch work for you. It’s predominantly dependent on understanding how your news is going to benefit that publication, or even particular journalist. Wherever you can, refer to a related story or angle previously covered, to put your idea into context.

Don’t be afraid to be friendly!

You’re pitching to another human, so write as such. I often report what I can see from my window. I’m sure this isn’t thrilling, but rather it makes the connection of being a real person, experiencing real life. Which is priceless through so much digital, clinical, impersonal fluff.

Freelance writer in Cornwall

Then again some of our views are amazing in Cornwall

Don’t use any hyperbole either. Just chat like you would to a friend, outlining why you think the release might be useful to them.

Offer to help if they need anything more, and then sign off.

So ultimately the key is to be personal, be friendly and be helpful. And that’s all. If you’d rather pass it over to someone who’s been there before, give me a call or drop me a line.

Cheers!

 

Lx

Professional writer and press manager

Bring in a writer at the (re)branding stage

As snow wages war with sleet and rain across the country, and temperatures even on this idyllic peninsula drop to below zero, the colours in the sky present a phenomenal palette of pinks and shades of blue and grey. The first daffodils, crocuses and even snowdrops have started to appear in Cornish hedgerows and on the fields of Cornwall’s treasures: The Scilly Isles. Seasons are marked clearly in Cornwall: on-season and off-season.

For many, the on-season starts as the days get longer and warmer in April, and draw to a close some time around the October half term. As such, now many local restaurants and foodie places are taking their annual leave, in order to be refreshed when the new season starts. Some businesses in Cornwall use this opportunity to have a think about their goals and objectives for the coming year. The Blue Bar is closed for refurbishment, The seaweeders are tending to environmental needs across the seas, and pioneering companies are getting ready to launch around the spring.

As a contemporary, professional writer, it’s not rocket science to guess why I might think bringing a writer in to the process early on is a good idea. Whilst I do love my work, and seek further opportunities to work with companies to achieve greater success, I can honestly say this saves time and money in the long run. I recently became acquainted with a new copywriting service called Red Letter Ltd. They produced this wonderful piece of copy to demonstrate my point here.

Copywriting in Cornwall is fuelled by creativity

Hiring a professional saves time and money

Sometimes, trying to get the message right internally actually takes up too much of everyone’s time, which could be used on production. Choosing someone whose job it is to produce and implement great copy: through article creation, optimising the words on the site or creating a new brochure text, will save the rest of your staff time. Ultimately this saves money; allowing people to focus on their strengths.

Having recently been researching Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with reference to employee engagement as part of a marketing white paper I am creating for a client, it occurred to me that many staff members likely feel deflated when they spend ages labouring over copy, which then gets replaced by that of an expert. Hence, businesses should think ahead to the costs saved by getting an expert to tame and shape words.

A copywriter can create text expertly

Businesses can ensure staff feel valued by getting professionals to do professional jobs

The main goal of excellent copy is to make people care. Emotional connections need to be established to draw people forward towards even thinking about a sale. A copywriter knows how to use these words to establish a connection from the seed to the fruit.

Having someone help to brand, rebrand or product launch, gives you the confidence to know that each word will count, emotions will be carefully brought into alignment with business goals and your message is clear and concise.

This is what sells.

Connecting with people who are familiar with a problem, demonstrating that you can solve it, and ultimately gaining and strengthening trust that they are in safe hands.

Professional writer and press manager

Setting business resoultions

So, I implemented a much needed hiatus from updating over the Christmas period. Catching up on real life and hanging out with friends and family can be an all too distant memory for many other small business managers like me!

I’m not a massive fan of resolutions, since so many people set wishy-washy goals without achievable steps. Myself included. This year, to save me from tears, I’m focusing on goals that are attainable.

Seasonal dust beginning to settle, we welcome what I believe in the rest of the country to be a wintery cold new year. Down here in Cornwall it’s still been a respectable 8° at its lowest, most of the time. Apart from the 2 days of ground frost, which excited me so much I actually got my camera out to photograph its glittering beauty.

winter frosts resemble new beginnings in business

Crisp content glitters like the frost of winter

Last year, I focused on one resolution: to write more. Crikey! I don’t think I could have expected this to be fulfilled with quite the ferocity it was. Some weeks producing over 10,000 words of content for just one client, and adding to that heaps of calls, emails and meetings. Still, I achieved it, due to its simplicity.

So what resolutions can small business owners make, and stick to in 2015?

Outsource

Whether it’s accounting, content creation or social media; weed out the aspects of progression that are time consuming and outsource them to an expert. Generally, this means they will spend a focused amount of time, which is likely to be much less than you, on achieving goals within that area. Outsourcing is the first step towards progressing because you’re focusing your own time elsewhere.

 

Having recently acquired several new clients, I am excited to see that more and more small companies are understanding the value of outsourcing a multi-skilled writer. Building case studies, content and even branding and marketing strategies for different companies allows my clients to do what they do best, and gives me the same opportunity.

Remember to schedule relax time

So, OK right now after having had some time off, you can see how vital that time is. Productivity, motivation and enthusiasm are all restored with lashings of resilience if you allow yourself to enjoy some time off. It’s simple, and yet so many of us are forgetting to do it. Hopefully the inevitable rest many of us have managed to glean over the festive period reminds us of the importance of this!

Commit to Content

I know: it’s easy for me to say. Indubitably, large companies have all got this underway now. Producing excellent content is a strategic endeavour, which brings with it a range of benefits, ultimately resulting in the same thing: more sales.

Boosting organic SEO, developing trust relationships and demonstrating your authority within your field; content creation is a game changer for anyone whose business has an online element. Which should be almost everyone in 2015!

Excellent on brand writing will raise your profile

A successful media campaign yields impressive results

Promote your business

Whether you have a budget for advertising or prefer to carry out an email marketing campaign, make a commitment to a consistent promotion, so people know you’re still there: offering them a solution to their problems.

Through regular interaction on social media, we have seen The Cornish Seaweed Company’s exposure raised significantly through appearing twice on Saturday Kitchen. This has not happened overnight but rather through regular promotion and contact with a relevant audience. It’s a similar story with Chocolarder who sold out of all stock this Christmas due to massive press exposure from our campaigns.

However you choose to do it: from flyer drops to social media or through press release and blogging, decide on a strategy and implement it. Sales for one of my clients have increased by more than 5 times.

Essentially breaking your goals down into bite size chunks and working through them empowers you to feel like you have achieved something.

Anyway, I’m still getting my head around this whole getting back to work thing. And it’s Sunday and the kettle’s boiled. Happy new year.

Professional writer and press manager

A storyteller’s tale of a year in business

Buena’ dia’, whistled the man through his gapped teeth and ratty moustache. The plastic bottle of aguardiente ensconced in his dirty jacket hung as a Christmas decoration from his bailer twine. He took advantage of the first available space to nestle his head into the bristly seat cover. I studied his face. A face you could climb up; its crags and boulders mimicking the Andes; rising in the surrounding pueblos. His left eye was a pastiche of the lake at Cotopaxi – minus the perpetual rainbow thrown into the sky. Outside the rain tapping on the leaves applauded in the last month of the year. Its gentle beat was the quietest sound as November departed. The road from Quito to the jungle is long and winding.

 

Deciding to spend my holiday this year working on cacao farms in Ecuador; the days involved trekking through muddy paths, wielding a machete and learning permaculture; evenings marvelling at the combined sounds of a bassy frog, honking goose and cascade of cicadas. The rhythm of a rainforest rave like nothing I’d ever slept through before, it became a prize, a comfort at the end of a long day.

with an incredible content of antioxidants real bean chocolate is having a resurgence

Bespoke bars come from aerated beans

Waking up to the sounds of a rainforest couldn’t feel much further from the skreigh of gulls ripping bins apart on my backstreet doorstep in Falmouth. Further again from the swollen black sky of Tokyo where I was living a few Decembers ago. Having chosen hummingbirds to decorate my website and associated social media pages, it seemed serendipitous that the end of my first full year as a fledgling business I should be surrounded by them; their call part of the soundtrack to my day.

Having started 2014 reproached by my failure to teach full time, I ended it by returning to several things I love: Ecuador, volunteering and (yes) chocolate. Not entirely unrelated to the work I’ve been doing with Cornwall’s only bean to bar chocolate producer, Also I am looking for social responsibility projects to support as part of my long term vision for the business.

What I expected to learn and what I eventually have; like the best laid plans of mice, men, hummingbirds and writers – well, went astray. But it did provide me the space to take a look at the future of Palaver Maven and what I want to happen next. From the fantastic work with  sustainable seaweed harvesters The Cornish Seaweed Company and their propulsion into mainstream media, to the attention The Chocolarder has received from luxury magazines and food blogs; it’s been an amazing year. My small business has made connections to big press on behalf of small businesses, and

I’ve been blown away by meeting each and every person who has dropped their job in order to live the dream.

Recently having started writing adventure stories for Sharing Socks, I feel happy to combine my love for adventure with social projects; particularly those surrounding education and equality. As 2015 beckons, presenting with it the option for expansion, I’m excited to be offering the opportunity to help young people in Cornwall find an in-road to media careers.

with a love of words as obvious as my own, Thomas is a hero

A Child’s Christmas in Wales: Dylan Thomas’ inspiring poem

So as December arrives, we’ve got tasting menus to try around Cornwall, and exciting events such as returning to the rainforest here in Cornwall to tend to, it’s a great time to be in Cornwall. And it’s an even better time to be a business in Cornwall.

From brand relationships, case studies, press campaigns and white papers to newsletters, website copy and regular content, have a browse around the site and let me know if there’s something you think I can do for you.

Professional writer and press manager

Copywriters in Cornwall need a change of scene too!

OK, I am lucky enough to live on the most southerly and most diverse peninsula in England. The incredible landscape of Cornwall is woven through my prose, and in addition to its inky threads tangling into branding; it provides quirky, memorable copy from the many creative types spanning Land’s end to Launceston and Boscastle to Barripper. Indubitably, the place I call home is one of the most beautiful I’ve been to in the world.  And I’ve been to a few places. In fact, I’m in one now. Surrounded by gently flitting hummingbirds and amazing variations of butterflies, I’m in a cloud forest in Ecuador as I type.

An expert in communication, I absorb the sounds; feeding my imagination

The sights and sounds of Mindo are inspiration for any writer

When I first heard the name cloud forest I think I imagined something like you’d find at the top of the faraway tree. In many ways, Mindo is like that. It’s a paradise: toucans, quetzals and the aforementioned hummingbirds call, chirp and play amazing games in flight as dense foggy clouds hug the tops of mountains; lined with banana trees, palms and other exotic flora. The night-time chorus of crickets, cicadas, birds, geese, frogs and untold other wildlife is relaxing, bizarre and comical all rolled into one.

What does all this have to do with business? Well, it has to do with the essential properties of taking a break. I properly started Palaver Maven this year. And, as most entrepreneurs or new business owners will tell you, this meant I worked tirelessly to get it off the ground. I worked every single day. Many days for sixteen hours. Many days these didn’t seem enough. I pissed off my partner replying to work emails on romantic meals, I neglected birthdays, forgot parties and generally dedicated to my work in a commitment I had never given to anything before.

valuable content comes from being relaxed enough to strategise efficicently

Like all copywriters in Cornwall, Devon or the Outer Hebrides, I love my typewriter

I still do, of course. But the telephone ringing, and emails pinging, and the several different charity projects I had on the go eventually began to consume me. One of the reasons I’d chosen to be self employed was because I’d previously struggled with the pressures of teaching. And it all made me realise I needed to take a step back, be somewhere else and evaluate what’s important.

Time off, even the smallest amount of it, allows you to look at things with fresh eyes, and it’s allowed me to let go of control. I love words: playing around with them, reshaping somebody else’s, and creating my own. I’ve been fully immersed in speaking Spanish since I got here, and it’s made decision making for the new year all the easier. Having a distance from using English: the language I love so dearly, and shape so frequently, has blistered a new approach to it.

Whilst not all small business managers, or copywriters, can fly to Ecuador to work in the rainforest; everyone can take a step back and use the time to evaluate their goals. Everyone can find some inspiration to increase their creative output, and if you can’t: look for it. Have even 20 minutes to entirely step away from work tasks and just let your mind wander elsewhere. Listen to the video above and the gentle sounds of the forest.

If you have any marketing, writing,branding or social media related questions, please use my contact page or call 07729263818 and we can chat about what I know will work for you.

Professional writer and press manager

Why Social Media is Vital to Your PR Strategy

Blustery winds and the onomatopoeic sounds of leaves started November, which seems to be rushing by in a whirlwind of excellent and yet crushing marketing campaigns; gearing up for Christmas. This years’ #FollowTheFairies campaign has been nothing short of excellent in terms of representing the exact post I had scheduled for this week. It portrays the dichotomy of our lives in glittering glory.

content trends rise and fall

Brands in Cornwall can reach anywhere in seconds with social media

One of the things I’ve learned in my varied life as a teacher, chef and now writer; is that people will always be talking about you.

Back in the 80s when we just told our friends what we thought about someone or something, it had an effect on things within a certain locale. But obviously through social media these thoughts and opinions can spread far and wide. Word of mouth is powerful, and now it’s never been easier to digitally let words out of your mouth or off your fingers and across the mosaic of wires we call the internet.

This cascade of chatter, like the November seas, has its rises and falls.

 

As the name Palaver Maven was intended to suggest; I’m an expert in creating chatter. And I love to do this across all channels. Since I initially tried to reject it in the early 2000s, the rise of Social Media has been exponential. In recent years, I embrace it as wholeheartedly as I did the rebrand of Opal Fruits. I mean it took me time, but it grew on me.

Social media, of course, gives people another platform to talk about you.

Or your brand.

And now they can do some real damage if they want to, or help to create a buzz. If someone mentions your brand on any social media, it’s going to get picked up by other users of that platform.

Conversations, allegations, accidents, or emotional experiences can spread as easily as water from behind a dam. And not only that, but they can reach further and wider than Brunel could have ever perceived.

Pretty much once they’re out there, these soundbytes, snippets of opinion; you have no control in the matter.  If your company is not harnessing the extreme power of social media in today’s world, then you are missing valuable conversation with not only customers, but prospective ones. Of not only answering queries as they come up, but also celebrating the great stuff. Admitting the errors. Of making followers active.

These days, people trust social media more than other forms of marketing. It’s a friendly place. It’s an arena for real people to emote about what they like or dislike. What’s funny; their views on current affairs.

What about the magic and sparkle?

The reason this post links so well with the #FollowTheFairies campaign is that the small acts of ‘kindness’ exhibited by the fairies, were reported by local news; quite the way a traditional press release might be. However, that hashtag incited many people to create ongoing murmurations online and suddenly: we knew who the fairies were. In some ways we’re disappointed to know that the magic has gone. In the same way we did with the fairies, we want to believe.

By now, be it through local press or online presence, or often a combination of the two, people have helped to endorse the fairies and what they are doing. This is why social media use and strategy needs to be an integrative part of your business’ marketing plan.

An endorsement on social media is free advertising.

More than content with my Michel Roux Jr chat

Being endorsed by a celebrity can change things over night for brands

Because it takes no more than the click of a button: it’s easy to endorse a brand. Positively or negatively.

When working on a press campaign recently, a little bit of interaction with a celebrity chef increased my clients’ site activity; sales; and responses from ‘traditional’ press. Having seen the brand pinged about via twitter and other social sites, it was beginning to feel ubiquitous; rapidly increasing followers.

 

 

 

 

To talk over branding or content ideas with a Palaver Maven, please subscribe by leaving your email in the box below, call or fill out the contact form.

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

And if it’s just the content you like, have a signup to our email and get our updates to your inbox. You just pop your email address in below and we’ll do the rest!

 

 

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

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

To subscribe to free updates about branding, marketing tone of voice, content creation, social media and much more, please subscribe to my newsletter, using the form below.

Page 1 of 212