A Freelance Writer, Blogger and Content Creator who brings humor, clarity and just plain English to bland, self-conscious corporate websites. Really, you sell widgets. Don’t be afraid to say so.
Also a blogger and commentator who’s not afraid to say out loud what other people think. Mature team player who won’t have an egotistical meltdown when she receives editorial criticism or revision requests. Able to deliver polished final work on deadline.
Tech jargon. Business jargon. Marketing jargon. Obfuscating verbiage.
I grow tired of visiting bland corporate websites, clicking everywhere and wondering, “But what does your product do? What do you sell?”
I even wrote a rant about it on LinkedIn that really touched a nerve. It happened after I’d visited one too many tedious, cliche-ridden, jargon-infected, sleep-inducing websites. Tech companies are particularly prone to forcing you three or four pages deep to figure out what the hell they do, but they’re hardly the only guilty parties. And the real tragedy is that some of them really do offer exciting, truly innovative and revolutionary services and products, but not that you can tell from their tranquilizing text.
Business and technical jargon have their place, and with the right people, but there’s nothing quite like plain English and lively writing to bring your company’s story to life – even if the topic is ‘unsexy’! Especially if your product is unsexy. The US Duct Guys series on YouTube uses the humor of cheesily-produced local commercials to sell their audience on how responsive they are to their customers. An amused viewer might not need ductwork done, but they might tell a friend or an associate who does about US Duct. Humor, used properly, is a highly effective marketing tool. Kim Williams, Director of Marketing & Sales for US Duct, told me, “Our primary marketing channel is email. Our goal with this campaign was to increase our open rate, click through rate and shares. We saw amazing increases in click through – 254% increase, open rate 65% increase, and shares were up over 300%.”
Dove, famous for their beauty products, promotes positive, affirming messages about diverse female beauty and self-image that resonates with any woman who sees less-than-spectacular when she looks in the mirror (i.e., pretty much everyone). Storytelling isn’t always about direct sales, it’s about brand awareness – and I have a highly positive awareness of Dove now. So is being a little edgy and taking a stand. Get people talking and debating, like Dove does. Beauty products may not provide conversation debate over lunch, but media images of women certainly do. Edgy doesn’t have to be out-and-out controversy, which is risky and only for those with a cast-iron spine.
I have spent a good chunk of my professional life surfing corporate websites, my eyes occasionally spinning in opposite directions while I stare at inscrutable language that, I think, is about the company’s products and services, but it’s hard to tell. Brevity is not the soul of wit on corporate websites, and neither is clarity. Let’s tell your story with humor and plain speaking that’ll make people pay attention.
Your company’s blog (You do have one, right? You don’t? Let’s talk!) is a good place to start. Many organizations don’t have the time to update their blog regularly, or when they do the content isn’t particularly original or valuable. Or, the organization just doesn’t understand the actual purpose of a corporate blog, which is not to generate leads but to promote brand awareness, get your customers and prospects engaged, and to generate repeat traffic, which is more likely to respond to an eventual call to action. It takes time and it’s all about your corporate image, not marketing spin. The marketing touch should be very, very light. Regular blog updates boost your visibility on search engines and alert Google that your website is active and that it should regularly check for more updates.
I used to have an editor who was always asking, “Why should I care?” Drove me crazy! But he was right. People don’t respond to bulleted lists of benefits and functionalities the way they do to a story. Let’s show your visitors, prospects and customers just how terrific your company, your solutions, and your world-shaking innovations and ideas are. Give them a reason to care, with rich detail, with real people, solving real problems. Show, don’t tell!