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how to master your storytelling to create successful content marketing

Content marketing is a term that is used a lot with online marketing strategies. Everyone one seems to have their own opinion about what type of content works and what does not work. However, one thing is certain, if you can write content that resonates with the consumers, you will find success.

Therefore, if the trick is to create content that inspires the reader and entices them to make a make a sale, why not looking at those who have already mastered a strategy for grabbing and retaining the audiences’ attention. That is the TV advertisers, screenwriters, animators, and film directors. Film directors alone can retain the audiences’ attention for two to three hours at a time.

The trick they all use is storyboarding. It only makes sense that by implementing storyboarding into online content marketing, you will find success. The truth is that this tactic is not as hard as you may think, but may require you to think outside-of-the-box. Here is a look at some strategies you can use to implement storytelling into your content marketing.

Understand Your Audience

You have heard it said before that you have to know who your audience is before you can effectively advertise to them. However, it is not enough to just know who your audience is, you must be able to understand their needs, concerns, ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about what they want to know about? What makes them happy? What do they want to learn about? Do your research to determine these answers and start to build an empathy towards your customers.

Inform and Build Trust

Today’s consumers want to be informed, and in fact, this is one of the best ways to build a trust between yourself and your customers. This trust will increase your chances of turning the reader into a loyal customer. After researching your audience, come up with an idea that you can use to inform. Now is it time to do the research and find out as much as you can about that subject. Remember that you want to be seen as an expert, so you have to know what you are talking about.

Do a basic keyword search to try to condense your subject into something more specific. Conduct surveys, interviews, and whatever else you need to in order to get the extensive knowledge you need and to ensure you are leading in a direction your customers will agree with.

Design Your Storyboard

The next step is to gather all of your research together and start putting your storyboard together. Your storyboard will lay all your research out in way that will start by grabbing the reader’s attention and then move to inform and educate them. Having your storyboard in place before you start writing will help keep you organized and focused as you start to write. Extra information that will not fit into your first article can be used when writing follow-up articles.

Find the Connection with the Reader

No content is complete without a final hook at the end. This hook must tie all your research together and work as a call to action to the customers. It is crucial when completing this final section that you really think about your specific audience. Think about how they think, feel, and engage and use this information when creating your conclusion. This is your opportunity to connect with the reader so be clear, concise and to the point.

Once you have successfully completed your website content, it is time to think about ways you can continue to use its content to attract customers. Can you use it as a landing page, transform it into a useful eBook, and create a Video course based on the information? The more mediums you can use to reach your customers the better chance you have at success. This process may take some time to get used to, but in the end, you will find it to be more effective at generating both leads and sales.

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trends that redefine competition


Established brick and mortar business CEOs are entering uncharted waters with the digital marketing age and must decide how to approach the challenges involved. There are significant trends that redefine competition that CEOs must recognize and respond to quickly in order to stay relevant not only to potential customers and clients, but to business peers as well.

CEOs must make choices about how they will promote their product and services, how they will use the talent to grow their business, and how they can integrate their established business with the digital world that consumers increasingly use to make their buying decisions. CEOS must evaluate the options and make their decisions quickly in order to hit the ground running in a new, fast moving business world.

Let’s look at some of the decisions CEOs are dealing with to get a better understanding of how digital trends are changing the older, established business models.

Websites that compare prices change the way businesses sell.

Comparison websites allow online shoppers to review prices among competitors so they can find the price they are willing to pay for the product and services they need. Businesses must weigh their prices for various comparable price points in order to be competitive.

One simple example would be a sight for insurance that compares product packages and prices among several insurance companies, which allows potential customers to buy more products for less. The challenge of the business is to decide how much they can bring down their prices or how much product they can provide at certain price points in order to satisfy their profit margins.

Businesses must rearrange their strategy to compete with newer digital companies.

Smaller online companies have lower overhead costs that allow them to pay for the best digital talent. They can also focus or target their business on niche markets. Established brick and mortar businesses must figure out how to cut traditional jobs within the company and replace those jobs with digital talent. This is a touchy area because lay-offs or staff reductions can result in bad press or bad social media backlash.

The second choice is to decide which jobs to replace and how to get the best talent for the ones the keep. While some jobs can be done quite well by computers, there are still jobs that must be performed by humans. Most of those jobs are creative thinking jobs whose talent tends to be attracted to non-traditional business models. The CEO must deal with social reaction and internal business conditions in order to survive and ultimately succeed in a new digital business world.

Businesses must recognize changing shopping behaviors.

CEOs must think about how shoppers actually look for the products they want or need. Before the Internet, people simply opened up a phone book and “let their fingers do the walking” as they searched for something they needed nearby. Now, they use the Internet and type in a search term or search string and see what pops up. Shoppers are no longer limited to what they can get in a short drive across town. They can now shop, discuss and decide to buy what they need anywhere in the world.

Even businesses that started out online have had to rethink their business model in recognition of how shoppers behave. In recent years, shoppers have developed a strategy of “showcasing” at stores to see, touch, and experience a product before they go online to buy.  Online businesses are recognizing this new behavior and reacting by establishing kiosks and small “sample” stores so that buyers would “showcase” with them and then go online to make their purchase with them. This is one way to keep customers throughout their process of making a purchasing decision.

Global shopping has change the international business model.

Without national borders that once limited how people shopped, CEOs must also decide how to market to different countries, and how to distribute and ultimately accept payments. Should they integrate with an established payment portal or own their own means to accept payments internationally? Should they have warehouses in other countries to handle distribution or is it less expensive to have a central distribution point and sent out purchases internationally.

These are just a few examples of how CEOs must rethink how they do business. The Internet has changed local marketing into a global market that changes how businesses relate to their customers. Each seemingly small choice can affect larger aspects of a business that can result in success or failure.

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recharge before burnout takes away your writing joy


The idea of writing for a living seems like the ideal way to earn a living. You can set your hours to write when the words flow and take a break when you need to recharge. Or so you thought. Clients can be demanding and they want you to turn in the assignments when they want them, even if that messes up your ideal writing plan. It is important that you learn how to recharge before burnout takes away your writing joy.

Writer’s burnout happens when the writer is experiencing a breakdown consisting of mental, and sometimes physical exhaustion in which case every day is a bad day for writing. Your writing becomes dull and uninteresting even to yourself; you feel detached from your own writing.

What are the signs of writer’s burnout?

How do you know if you are experiencing writer’s burnout? There are many signs to watch for, but here are some specific signs you may be experiencing it:

  • You lower your standards just to get the work done. Once you have sent work to your client you disengage and have no interest in whether they liked it or not. The problem is that eventually you will develop a reputation as a lazy writer and your well of clients may dry out.
  • You look for ways to escape writing by creating excuses why the assignment is beyond your ability. You come to believe that your ability to write about any topic has diminished. The solution here figure out why you have lost your writing joy and then create a solution.
  • Your clients are not happy with your work and you don’t care. They may request revisions to work you felt was fine the way it was and instead of simply revising your work to satisfy your client, you avoid them, argue, and expect the problem to just go away. This is the time you need to step back and give yourself a chance to recharge your batteries.

5 ways to find your writing joy again.

Every writer has different strategies for recharging and finding their writing joy once again. Here are five simple ways to rekindle the flame of writing:

  1. Clear off your writing space: It really is true that our work space reflects our mental space. A clear mind will function better if the work space reflects your inner world.
  2. Give yourself some free-writing breaks: Sometimes the mind can become log-jammed with writing ideas. Clear those log-jams in your mind by writing about something completely different. Spend some time writing prose or verse to free up your mind.
  3. Take a Mental Health Day: Schedule into your writing work week a break to replenish your mind. For example, you can schedule Wednesday as your day to get away from the keyboard by going to the museums, zoo, shopping mall, or anywhere you won’t be writing.
  4. Give yourself a Mind Dump: As a writer your mind tends to run rampant with ideas. Take an hour or so to put those ideas down on paper or on the screen to clear away those ideas so you can regain your writing focus.
  5. Change your work location: Instead of writing alone in your corner at home, go to a coffee shop or food court or somewhere where there is activity. The glances around the room at people from time to mind will give your brain a spark from time to time.

These simple steps are an important part of avoiding burnout, make them part of your regular routine.

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my list ☞ 5 ladies that speak to me


List, list, list are always flowing and are a popularity contests. We do see the same people over and over, but there is a reason. Many are doing the work that inspires the masses, they are keeping in-touch with the current and they are themselves.

I have taken a bit of a sabbatical from my writing the last few weeks, taking a vacation (I’m writing this from Little St. Simons Island) that has allowed me the time to read, really read. To catch up on bookmarks and study. So, I wanted to take a moment and recognize people who speak to me, they share straight talk about the tactics, strategy and the vibe of the marketing craft today. This is a simple list of the women who come to my mind when asked who do you read, who walks the walk, who knows it!

☞ 5 ladies that speak to me

Shelly Kramer

Shelly has over 20 years experience in marketing and is the Founder and CEO of V3 Integrated Marketing, a full service digital marketing firm. Her company blog has been named one of the Top 20 Best Marketing + Social Media Blogs by Forbes, and has been honored by PostRank as one of the top marketing blogs. She has also been named by Forbes as one of the Top 50 Social Media Influencers and on of the 150 Most Influential Women on Twitter.

@shellykramer   V3 Blog

Ann Handley

Ann is Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs, not just a blog to follow, but a necessary tool in your marketing toolbox. If you are interested in content marketing, how and why it applies within business strategies, then Marketing Profs is a must. Ann is a co-author of “Content Rules” and author of the soon to be released “Everybody Writes.”

@MarketingProfs  MarketingProfs.com

Gini Dietrich

Spin Sucks! It’s Gini’s style that she shares with transparency. She says it like it is, or at least as she thinks it is, and she bases her arguments on solid observation and real-life experience. Her topics cover content marketing and social media for Public Relations professionals. Gini is the co-author of “Marketing in the Round" and author of her new release "Spin Sucks.” Any marketer will appreciate the tips and knowledge shared.

@GiniDietrich   Spin Sucks

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone

A speaker, writer, attorney and educator. Kerry specializes in new media law, and has taught courses in marketing law, intellectual property, and business. Currently she is Instructional Design Manager, Enterprise Training, at Marketing Profs and hosts the weekly podcast Marketing Smarts. A contributor to {grow} blog, MackCollier.com, Spin Sucks, Social Media Explorer and more.

@KerryGorgone   Marketing Smarts

Jessica Ann

Jessica Ann has history of telling stories across all major media platforms. Leading high-level initiatives for national media companies like XM Radio and NBC Newschannel. She now runs her own digital agency, Jessica Ann Media. Jessica believes that it isn’t about her or a media company, it’s about you and the opportunities that you create. It’s about harnessing the human heart of your brand so that you can find the freedom you deserve. She says “the smartest businesses are human.”

@itsjessicann   Jessica Ann Media

☞ more ladies that speak to me

As I said, list are popularity contests for the most part and the 5 above are popular to me. However, there are plenty more that speak to me and could easily be listed. In no particular order here are a few more that walk the talk… Kathi KruseBrooke BallardJanet FoutsRebekah RadiceShonali Burke, Laura ClickJessica DewellDorien Morin-van DamMandy Edwards and Jennifer Kane.

Who do you relate with, who speaks to you? If you have not connected with the ladies above take a look and if you have more inspiring women in the trade please share.

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are you taking a summer vacation from your blog or business?

One secret to happiness is knowing when to give yourself a break.

And now it’s vacation time for me. I’m off! Back in…

This doesn’t mean the blog will shut down. During my absence you may keep reading and posting your comments as you please. I just won’t be posting any new entries (or changes of topic, as most of us say) unless something occurs to me that I simply can’t stand to keep quiet about.

The truth of the matter is that in the past couple of weeks, I have been feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and – to be completely truthful – on the verge of burning out. I need to make time for my aging parents. I want to spend time with my daughter. I need to work with our builder on our new home. I want to lay on the beach with my wife. These are just few things on the list of summer activities that I am looking forward to along with a bit of digital detox.

Do you have trouble taking vacations? Are you so addicted and focused on maintaining your position that you are letting the important go? Honestly, let us remember that the world will turn if we do not post. The internet will not break if we don’t post every day, week or month.

Are you taking a summer vacation from your blog or business? How are you managing it? Share your tips in the comments and enjoy your summer!

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we must work together to end homelessness now


Homelessness has many faces. Some are older people who have fallen between the cracks of medical or political bureaucracy, while others are lost teens thrown out by their families. Sadly, a large number of the homeless are children whose only fault is being born to parents who cannot provide for them the most basic need: Shelter.

We can end that now through action with 100Khomes.org. They put together an intelligent manifesto to bring about the end of homelessness and they have created an efficient plan to make it happen. But, they need all of us to work together and contribute to the cause to make it happen.

The cost of homelessness does not only affect the homeless directly, it also affects business, the middle-class, U.S. economy and competitiveness among the other nations of the world. If we work together using the ideas of 100khomes, we can slow down the damage that had already begun. We can turn around the damage to our economy and alleviate the burden of poverty felt by its victims.

100Khomes.org has an exciting goal to provide homes for 100,000 homeless individuals and families by July of 2014. You can go to their website to donate funds or learn other ways to get involved. As of June 2014 they have already exceeded their goal by 1,168 people, including more than 31,000 veterans.

Why does homelessness happen?

Each community has different approaches for dealing with homelessness. In many cases the different offices and charities are working alone. This often results in overwork for individual counsellors and lack of adequate funding. The homeless don’t know about the various types of help available to them with only a few offices working alone who may not even know about each other. So far there are 238 communities in the U.S helping house the homeless through 100khomes.

Their key objective is to help these various groups and offices that want to help the homeless by creating a work a network for them to work together. In this way they can follow-up the help provided to individuals and ensure that no one is left alone to struggle.

Instead of focusing on one factor or another for each person or family, the various groups can find out what services are directly needed for each person seeking help. The first point of assistance is to provide a permanent home so that the homeless will have stability and security to attend to their other needs.

The financial cost of homelessness.

Some of the side-effects of homelessness is poor health, poor education, and lack of work experience. The U.S. spends more money on healthcare for the homeless than they do on providing permanent shelter. That reverse thinking is not effective. A person who gets health care but still has no home will continue to need healthcare due to exposure, poor nutrition, and lack of other services. The money spent on healthcare effectively reduces resources the government could better use for economic growth.

Homelessness weakens the middle-class. During the most recent recession, a larger number of middle-class workers lost their jobs and eventually their homes. As a whole, middle-class people who have never experienced poverty in their lives did not even know where to look for assistance. Most services are offered for those who live in abject poverty. The services required for middle-class homeless are different from for those who are homeless due to poor education or health conditions.

Finally, homelessness reduces the ability of the USA to compete with other nations for economic gains. Lack of education, training, and skills in the U.S. causes manufacturers and other businesses to look elsewhere for their interests.

Businesses and individuals now have a means to help end homelessness with 100khomes.org. Contact their offices to learn how you can get your community involved.

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the good and bad of ten years of facebook

After 10 years and with more than a billion active users, Facebook has changed social and business dynamics. Individuals interact differently than they did prior to Facebook and businesses have had to adapt their business models to use this social media platform.

For every positive there is a negative to countermand the good and bad of Facebook in our lives. The internet has changed the way most people do day-to-day activities, from shopping to developing friendships. Social change happens. It is simply the cycle of life. Businesses must adapt to these changes to remain viable.

The Good Social benefits of Facebook.

Among younger users there are some positive social benefits using Facebook. Kids can share their important life events; birthdays, adventures, and graduations to mention a few. Older kids can reconnect with friends they made before their families moved for jobs. Shy kids found a positive place to develop social skills. Parents can (and should) use privacy controls to protect their kids from predators.

The Bad Social Effect of Facebook.

For each of the positives listed above, there are significant negative social effects on kids’ lives. Facebook can become time-consuming and so addictive that real, face to face interaction is ignored. If parents are not paying attention, they may not know that their kid is either a victim of cyber-bullying or a perpetrator. Kids, being kids, may post inappropriate things that potential employers may see in the future, thus affecting work-life success.

Facebook can foster or damage relationships.

Love is hard to find in our fast-moving world. Facebook has become a place for people to find one another and share the ups and downs of their relationship. This can be a positive thing for couples to have a ready-made scrapbook of their lives together, but it can cause couples to ignore bigger issues in the relationship in order to show a positive front to others in their news feeds.

Break ups happen; it is just a natural thing in intimate relationships. Unfortunately, Facebook appears to exacerbate issues that couples would normally be able to work out on their own resulting in an inordinately large number of people citing Facebook as a reason for divorce. In fact, nearly one-third of divorce filings have the word “facebook” in the brief.

Small business challenges with Facebook.

The large potential audience offered by Facebook has made it a popular social media for small businesses that need to find customers on a tight budget. The marketing potential is extraordinary and potentially huge, but in the last few years Facebook as created so many new bells and whistles for Business pages that small businesses can neither keep up nor afford the upkeep to make it work for them.

The pros for Facebook marketing for tech savvy businesses outweigh some of the potential negatives, but not always. Savvy businesses know how to link their businesses websites with their Facebook page to drive traffic. If possible they have one or two staff dedicated to the upkeep of the business Facebook page: engaging with visitors, responding to comments, creating content, etc.

However, even tech savvy businesses are challenged by recent changes In Facebook that seem to support larger businesses better than smaller ones. Facebook supports pay-per-impression better than pay-per-click ads. Smaller businesses are better able to afford CPC ads than CPM ads, so they are essentially left behind larger businesses that can afford a larger advertising budget.

It is important for small businesses to find a way to communicate their needs with the various social media platforms, especially Facebook, in order to foster a win-win relationship. Change happens and it is unstoppable. The fact that the internet has become an intrinsic part of business models means that all businesses need to adapt or fail.

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turn negative reviews into positive opportunities


It is hard enough to build a new business with good reviews and positive feedback. Just the regular daily activity of running a business has its challenges. And then there are the negative reviews that can throw you off your game. Don’t let it get to you and don’t simply blow off bad reviews. Instead, use them as an opportunity to showcase what is right about your business.

First and foremost, resist all temptation to fight fire with fire. It will not work. It will make you appear angry and unprofessional, and if could cost your business potential customers who see the battle with the negative reviewers. Instead, turn that frown upside down through positive interaction with unhappy customers.

Respond to complaints right away.

If you ignore poor reviews you do so at your own peril. Instead, take that negative and turn it into a positive. Let the reviewer know you are aware of their issue and tell them how you will respond effectively to it. Let’s say the complaint is that the hotline is unresponsive. You don’t understand why that is happening. What should you do?

  • Take a moment to step back and examine the issue: Unresponsive hotline
  • Review operations to see what is happening: Perhaps not enough phones to receive calls or operators don’t have sufficient information to help callers.
  • Rectify the issue as quickly as possible: Add lines, improve information for operators.
  • Write to the reviewer:
    •  Acknowledge the complaint is valid
    •  Inform of action taken to fix it
    •  Thank the reviewer for bringing it to your attention
    •  Ask them for future business and request a positive review

Manage social media interactions.

Online businesses today have a strong presence in social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Angie’s List. It is vitally important that you manage your presence on a regular basis. If at all possible, you should have someone who checks these sites for reviews, both positive and negative.

Respond to comments in a timely manner. Answer questions and respond graciously to positive comments. Ask your happy customers to write positive reviews on your various social media sites and your owned website as well. Happy customers seldom write reviews. However, if you ask them to help you they are usually delighted to do so.

The hard part is doing the same to negative comments and reviews. You should be professional at all times, avoiding counter-attacks against the reviewer or commentator (or troll). Combatting bad reviews is hard but worthwhile. The main thing is to respond to attacks with positive energy rather than negative.

Why do negative reviews matter?

The internet has become the “go-to” for information. People who research online tend to go to reviews for information about companies they are interested in rather than paid media or business websites that they expect to always provide a positive spin. They go to reviews to learn from actual customers how satisfied they are with the business’ product and services. Unfortunately, most reviews are written by disgruntled customers.

According to a study performed by Neilson, 92% of global online consumers trust what they call “earned media”, which includes recommendations from people they trust. If they cannot get a quality recommendation from friends and family, 70% of consumers report they will then go to online reviews from customers. Since happy customers seldom write reviews, negative reviews have more power than perhaps they should. Therefore, it behooves businesses to recognize, respect and respond positively to negative reviews to counter their effect on their success. Turn those negative reviews in to positive opportunities.

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the multi-author blog issue: is it the right choice for your site?

There are many different factors that make a blog successful, but one of the most important factors in having a blog that’s engaging, readable, and successful is its content. However, it’s not enough to simply fill your blog with content that interests you, but it’s also vital that you post content that keeps current readers interested and help you to gain new readers. Coming up with this kind of quality content can be daunting for a blog author, especially if he or she hopes to make a profit off the blog. One solution to creating quality content is to invest in a multi-author blog. A blog that features a number of authors can have many advantages, but there are some pitfalls that you should watch out for as well.

Many Points of View Benefits Your Blog

The Online Work Network for Web Professionals (OWNWP) suggests that having a number of writers on a blog creates a better environment for the reader. In fact, one OWNWP reader asserted that reading posts from multiple authors about one subject allows him to further open his own mind and make decisions about the topic that are more well-rounded and informed. When your readers are able to see more than one point of view because you have a number of different authors posting on your blog, they are more likely to return to read future posts and possibly even click your affiliate links so that you make more of a profit.

Different Writing Styles Draw a More Diverse Audience

If you are the only author on your blog and a percentage of readers don’t prefer your writing style, those readers aren’t likely to return to read future posts. However, when you hire a number of authors to post about your blog topics, readers have a wider variety to choose from. They may even spend more time on your blog reading older posts from the authors they enjoy, and each link they click means more hits for your site. If you do choose to have multiple authors, try to choose a wide variety of writers that all have varying styles, from lighthearted to humorous to a more factual style. The Internet marketing site MarketinGene suggests that you reach out to bloggers that you enjoy reading to write for your blog. Not only will this draw a wider variety of readers, but it will also keep your blog from becoming stale. However, keep in mind that while having multiple authors on your blog will keep it fresh, it may have some disadvantages as well.

You May Lose a Personal Connection with Your Audience

If you have an established single-author blog with readers who are used to you reading and replying to their comments, then hiring multiple writers who don’t have that connection with your readers may make readers feel as if they’ve lost a personal connection with you. For some blog readers, one positive aspect of blogging is making connections with people who share their interests, and if they feel lost in a sea of multiple authors, they may look elsewhere to regain that connection. In order to prevent this, you can monitor and reply to reader comments and continue to maintain your connection with them.

Is a Multiple-Author Blog Right for You?

While the decision to have multiple authors is ultimately up to you, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons involved. Consider your blog’s style and audience before you reach out to other bloggers to write for you.

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