Four Savvy Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content (Part 3)

In the age of visual brilliance and short-lived attention spans, sometimes we wonder if content really counts. But no matter how glamorous the graphics, they simply cannot stand alone. (Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto, right?) Today, we’re looking at part three of this question: How do you write exceptional copy? Content that commands attention, arouses interest, or compels people to action? Last week, we discussed slogans and sensory appeal. Today we’ll consider one final, fun technique.

4. Jaw-Dropping Surprises

Remember the “no way!” stunner at the end of The Usual Suspects? Kevin Spacey shakes off his signature limp and strides to freedom as his police interrogator gradually realizes Spacey is a mastermind killer who lied brilliantly for hours. Or remember how your jaw dropped when Darth Vader revealed he was Luke’s father? While these movie plots were phenomenal, the surprise factor was what drove them home.

That same principle applies in writing. As Chip and Dan Heath discuss in their book “Made to Stick,” our brains filter out consistency to focus on differences. Marketing “surprises” may include splashy headlines, shocking graphics that bring your message to life, or a story that encapsulates a core message.

In 2009, copywriter James Chartrand of a prominent website design company “Men with Pens,” dropped a bombshell on the writing world with this plot twist:

“Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants.”

Chartrand went on to reveal that SHE was actually a (literal) woman, a woman who had previously struggled as a freelance writer and single mom. As she labored to gain credibility, she decided to experiment with a male pseudonym, and quickly found her blog in Micheal Stelzner’s list of the Top Ten Blogs for Writers. Chartrand’s biography post was brilliant, authentic, and fun. But the surprise factor (that “he” was really a “she”) was the kicker that kept people talking about the company for years.

While you may not be able to drop a bombshell in all your copy, you can upend reader expectations in three other ways:

First, break the norm whenever you can. Offer unconventional advice, provide simple techniques or little-known shortcuts, or use angles you would normally avoid (like blatant typos in upscale literary magazines like we mentioned in part one). In life, and especially in art, people crave the unexpected. Surprise people consistently and you will be rewarded!

Second, defy expectations. Writers can do this is with odd pairings or disrupted patterns. For example, serene words like spa, relax, and peace can be disrupted by words like devastate or scandalize. Avoid traditional clichés (knight in shining armor, white as snow) in favor of words that overhaul expectations. A spa ad could feature odd word combinations like scandalizing serenity, gluttonous, self-gratification, or services that are devastatingly delicious. Surprise them as you shatter clichés or use tonal dissonance that is abrasive to the ears.

Finally, build a logical flow and then intentionally disrupt it. Check out these “surprise factor” car advertisements that perfectly illustrate the point. A romance spoiled. A hero thwarted. Ridiculous ideas grab us as things are placed out of context (like dogs driving a car). As you watch these clips, consider what you thought was going to happen versus what actually happened. Pay attention to the emotion you experienced when the surprise was unveiled. Did you enjoy it? Of course you did! And you’ll remember it longer as a result.

Whether it’s a plot twist, shattered clichés, or unexpected humor, readers crave fresh content and they will thank you for providing it. Now go create some surprises of your own!

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Change Your Scenery, Change Your Outlook

On the sixth floor of a Boston office building, a sprawling Art Deco lounge gives way to a row of small, glass-walled offices. While the offices seem identical, the residents are not. As you stroll down the hall, you’ll encounter data scientists developing smart-home technology, tech rooms packed with drones and virtual reality headsets, a venture capital start-up, or even employees of Amazon, General Electric, or Liberty Mutual insurance. What do they have in common? A desire to change scenery and synergy through shared office space.

“Moving out of the corporate office empowered us to think and work differently,” said Adam L’Italien, Liberty Mutual’s director of innovation.

While Liberty wasn’t short on space, three years ago the company moved its Boston-based innovation center to a rent-by-the-month office space called “WeWork.” WeWork is one player in a co-working explosion in Boston. Since the start of 2017, co-working operators have leased 1.3 million square feet of office space for collaborative bullpens that attract smart young workers. Collaborative spaces offer employees the flexibility to work remotely, ease in moving around the city (versus locking into a longer lease), and the creative energy co-working can bring. Ann Smarty of Entreprenuer says this:

“Co-working allows you the opportunity to network and collaborate with a wide range of bright minds. Proximity gives you the chance to ‘pick the brains’ of professionals in your own line of work as well as those in related fields. Working across the desk from someone with a completely different skill set can help you discover a new source of ideas . . . (and) you might find your brain is starting to work in different ways, too! Taking the risk to invite others to work alongside you breathes new life into the creation process and shows in the finished product.”

Relationships: Our Most Valuable Resource

Whether it’s networking or collaborating, we know that together we can achieve things we never would alone. Business is constantly changing, and collaboration can shape insightful new perspectives. So where does meaningful networking fall in your list of professional priorities?

A recent LinkedIn study revealed that 70 percent of people in 2016 were hired at a company where they had a previous connection. But while 80 percent of professionals consider networking to be important to career success, 38 percent said they find it hard to stay in touch with their network.

What is one natural, rewarding way to overcome this obstacle? Doing business locally.

While it can be difficult to plug into regular networks or co-working opportunities, connected local communities are a great avenue for inspiration, feedback, and opened doors in the future. And vibrant local business relationships are a refreshing antidote to the isolation of the daily grind!

The Best Business is Born From Relationships

They say your “net worth” is only as good as your “network”. Local business partnerships foster a thriving business community that empowers us to grow in our goals, to collaborate on custom solutions, and to connect with important relationships and resources. It is our privilege to serve you, building a trusted partnership so that your print experience is better every time.

As you print here at home, we guarantee timely, best quality work from a printer who personally knows your product preferences, your past print specs, and the tailor services you’ve come to enjoy. As a bonus, staying networked with local businesses is thought-provoking, energy-boosting, and empowering! We enjoy our clients and look forward to great conversations with you this year. Thank you for your business.

Printed Reminders Keep Sales on Track

Remembering to go to the doctor or dentist’s office was much simpler back in the day when nearly everyone had a printed calendar. You would go home after a visit and immediately add your next visit to your calendar. The complexities of life today means that it can be tough to keep track of everything, even if you’re putting follow-up visits in your smartphone. The cost of a missed office visit can really add up over time, causing professionals to lose thousands of dollars per year. The tiny cost of creating a simple printed reminder that can be saved to your patients’ fridge provides an extra touch point for busy individuals.

Improved Experiences

Improving the experience of patients in today’s competitive environment may mean the difference between a growing and robust practice and one that dwindles away over the years. One physician’s office saw the benefits firsthand when Dr. Marcus L. decided to implement small printed reminders for his patients. As a family health practitioner, Dr. Marcus would often require follow-up visits with patients after their blood work was returned to review their results. Many patients would forget about this check-point, costing his staff time and money due to blank spots in their schedules with no billable time.

Boosting Revenue

Dr. Marcus was already working with a local print shop on some flyers for an upcoming health fair, and his account manager heard his woes and recommended a short-term test of some printed reminders. Dr. Marcus agreed and printed up a 3 month supply of the small reminders for his staff to pass out to patients. What he discovered after that test period was quite surprising! His staff helped track the number of empty slots. He discovered that there were 25% fewer empty slots on his schedule due to the reminders!

Printed reminders help keep patients and staff on track with follow-up visits for doctors and dentists — and could benefit many other professional offices as well! Think hairdressers, aestheticians . . . the list is endless!

How Building Effective Teams Can Supercharge Your Business

Team building can be an overused cliche in business circles, but there is something truly magical about what a cohesive team can create together. Individuals working alone are able to contribute specific tasks towards a goal, but a team working together adds energy and power to push their achievements higher. This is one of the reasons there are so many books and manuals focused on building effective teams. If you have never seen this in action you may not believe the synergy that can be attained — it is almost like a force of nature. See how building effective teams will maximize employee productivity and happiness as well as helping you retain your hardest workers.

Effective Teams Bring Their “A” Game

A Gallup article from a few years ago stated that up to 70% of employees are showing up to work disengaged, costing the American economy billions of dollars every year in lost productivity. When you find ways for these individuals to connect to one another, they become invested in seeing each other become successful. Engaged, enthusiastic employees are ones who are constantly looking for ways to innovate and exceed expectations. If you could move the needle on even 20% of your mediocre performers, the impact to your bottom line would be significant.

Effective Teams Provide Diverse Ideas

The age-old saying that ‘two heads are better than one’ is extremely valid in today’s business world. The complexity of ideas and interconnectedness of our systems means that it is difficult for any one person to have the knowledge needed to innovate and excel. Bringing together your team in a safe space allows for the free flowing of ideas between members — and the ability to synthesize these great ideas into something actionable for leadership.

Effective Teams Blow Through Restraints

Where one person working alone may be worried about going down a specific — and potentially risky — path, a cohesive team has the bravery to take the leap. These leaps are what drive lasting change in an organization. Without this shared risk-taking and an ability to literally blow through restraints, your business can become stuck in the rut of doing things the way they’ve always been done.

Effective Teams Inspire Others

Let’s face it, everyone wants to be a part of a winning team. When you see one team that seems to get all the awards, recognition and respect, you want to see what makes them special. Many times, it’s their ability to work effectively together and collaborate to achieve a shared vision and goals. When one team in your organization is able to attain this level of cohesiveness, it will inspire and motivate others to do the same. This breeds a more positive working environment for all.

Effective Teams Have Fun Together

When work ceases to be work and becomes something that you enjoy doing during the day, you are able to devote your heart more fully to the tasks at hand. This joyful passion shines through in everything that you do. Ineffective teams can cause this light to dim, but having fun together can create a bond where individuals connect at a deeper level.

There are so many ways that effective teams create a sum that is greater than the individual parts. When the team truly works together as a single unit, the strengths of each person are multiplied allowing for an oversized impact on your organization’s effectiveness. Bring your teams together if you want to truly supercharge your business!

Get Proactive With These Summer Marketing Ideas for Outdoor Events

With school ending and summer starting, adults and children alike will be spending as much time as possible outdoors at home and community events. In most locations, summer weekends are chock full of local and regional events that attract a wide array of people. Some events attract local residents of a community or region, while larger events can bring tourists into an area for a few hours, day or an entire weekend.

Summertime creates both opportunities and challenges for marketing to clients. While you may have more opportunities to provide products and materials for events, getting customers to walk in your front door is more difficult. Customers who like to participate in summer activities spend as much time as possible out of doors including taking vacations, days off and leaving early. So how do you take advantage of summertime doings instead of having them take advantage of you?

Opportunities

Let’s start with the opportunities. Since people are out and about during summer at farmer’s markets, fairs and concerts, you may run into clients in one or more of these casual setting simply by participating in them yourself. You should always be ready to hand out marketing materials everywhere you go, especially if most of your clients are local. Fill a pouch or tote with apropos marketing handouts for people you meet when out. Handouts should be family-friendly and summer appropriate such as:

  • Water bottles
  • Water toys
  • Lip Balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Visors
  • Hats

If you give out marketing items that people actually will use in the summer, they will love getting them which puts your contact information in front of them for at least that day. Parents will also love anything that you hand out to occupy their children’s time such as foam fingers or other toys.

Beat the Heat

If handing out materials isn’t appropriate for an event, another idea is setting up a mister tent to help people beat the heat. In fact, handheld fans, water bottles (with water in them), squirt guns and other products that help people cool off will always be appreciated by prospects. Just be sure that your logo and contact information is big and bold. Misters are so delightful during hot summer events that they are very popular with all ages. To engage prospects, hand them small towels with your logo and information to dry off after they get wet.

Keeping Drinks Cool

For food events, cup or can holders that insulate are a fantastic handout. Arrange with food vendors to give them to every customer that gets a drink. Or create event promotional materials such as cups that have a coupon imprinted on them. The ultimate goal is to invite people into your brick-and-mortar business or visit your website, so a coupon offer for a free or discounted service is ideal for giveaways.

Challenges

The biggest challenge for marketers during summertime is to drive customers indoors to your business. People are inclined to spend time outside during warm weather. Additionally, customers may be out of the office for a significant number of days and can’t be reached. Therefore, it is important to think outside the box creatively to find prospects and offer them an incentive that will overcome their reluctance to come in. Every locale has one or more special events unique to that area. Go out of your office to where you will find crowds of people and offer them something that they can’t wait to use.

5 Ways to Find the Strength to Try One More Time

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become an Olympic athlete, a NASA astronaut, or a leader in a major organization?

The one trait that all of these individuals likely possess is persistence: the ability to get back up, dust themselves off after a fall, and keep trying. No matter your talent, regardless of your genius and irrespective of your education, persistence is often the trait that sets people apart from their peers in terms of their level of success.

Succeeding at anything in life requires a great deal of effort over a period of time — very few people simply decide to be the best at their craft and are able to do it without a battle. How do these individuals find the strength to try one more time . . . repeatedly?

1. Be Prepared

Planning for success helps you think through all of the reasons why someone would disagree with your ideas, and also gives you the bulletproof mentality that you’re prepared for any question that comes your way. Think of all the reasons why something won’t be successful, and then consider arguments against that point. Become your own devil’s advocate, and it will be that much easier to find a positive response and an open door for your next request.

2. Be Adaptable

Being adaptable provides you with the mental agility to not hide in a corner when you’re kicked to the curb. As Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle Corporation states:

“When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for people telling you that you are nuts.”

You have to be willing to adapt your thinking and your processes and find a way to create change while not straying from your core ideas. You can’t listen to every naysayer, but you can look for the nuggets of wisdom that they share and use that information to your advantage the next time you try to move forward.

3. Be Confident

You may be surprised that confidence is not the first attribute we consider, but the reality is, you need to have a plan in place that you can trust and support before confidence will help you through to success. Confidence in yourself, your family, and your ideas — as well as a burning passion to make a change in the world — are what can help you continue on even when it feels as though there’s no path forward.

4. Do the Work

Unfortunately, there are few things in life that can replace hard work. Whether that hard work is from an athlete completing the same moves repeatedly for months or even years or a business leader who is told “No” more times than they can count, the ability to simply buckle down and execute on your vision is critical to long-term success.

5. Inspire Others

Perhaps one of the most rewarding things you will ever do with your life is to inspire others to be their best. Take the time throughout your life to inspire others. When you realize how many people you have impacted and how many are watching your success, it’s a lot easier to find the strength to try again in difficult times.

Finally, in the words of Thomas Edison: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Shouldn’t you give it one more shot?

5 Ways to Find the Strength to Try One More Time

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become an Olympic athlete, a NASA astronaut, or a leader in a major organization?

The one trait that all of these individuals likely possess is persistence: the ability to get back up, dust themselves off after a fall, and keep trying. No matter your talent, regardless of your genius and irrespective of your education, persistence is often the trait that sets people apart from their peers in terms of their level of success.

Succeeding at anything in life requires a great deal of effort over a period of time — very few people simply decide to be the best at their craft and are able to do it without a battle. How do these individuals find the strength to try one more time . . . repeatedly?

1. Be Prepared

Planning for success helps you think through all of the reasons why someone would disagree with your ideas, and also gives you the bulletproof mentality that you’re prepared for any question that comes your way. Think of all the reasons why something won’t be successful, and then consider arguments against that point. Become your own devil’s advocate, and it will be that much easier to find a positive response and an open door for your next request.

2. Be Adaptable

Being adaptable provides you with the mental agility to not hide in a corner when you’re kicked to the curb. As Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle Corporation states:

“When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for people telling you that you are nuts.”

You have to be willing to adapt your thinking and your processes and find a way to create change while not straying from your core ideas. You can’t listen to every naysayer, but you can look for the nuggets of wisdom that they share and use that information to your advantage the next time you try to move forward.

3. Be Confident

You may be surprised that confidence is not the first attribute we consider, but the reality is, you need to have a plan in place that you can trust and support before confidence will help you through to success. Confidence in yourself, your family, and your ideas — as well as a burning passion to make a change in the world — are what can help you continue on even when it feels as though there’s no path forward.

4. Do the Work

Unfortunately, there are few things in life that can replace hard work. Whether that hard work is from an athlete completing the same moves repeatedly for months or even years or a business leader who is told “No” more times than they can count, the ability to simply buckle down and execute on your vision is critical to long-term success.

5. Inspire Others

Perhaps one of the most rewarding things you will ever do with your life is to inspire others to be their best. Take the time throughout your life to inspire others. When you realize how many people you have impacted and how many are watching your success, it’s a lot easier to find the strength to try again in difficult times.

Finally, in the words of Thomas Edison: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Shouldn’t you give it one more shot?