Are you a coach, consultant or contractor? Why you need to be clear.


The other day, I was talking to a fellow business consultant about our worlds. A friend had connected us as “two power women” which I was pretty honored by and this woman, for sure had the power gene in spades and I instantly fell in love with her over the phone. She was bold, fierce and knew exactly what her value was in the market. Confidence (not to be confused with arrogance, my friends) is sexy.

She admired the way I’ve packaged up my consulting versus my coaching offerings, which led us to commiserate about how people confuse the terms consultant, coach and contractor.

Such misunderstanding forced me to tactfully point out to a really difficult CEO many years ago that he was paying me to be a consultant, not a contractor. He wanted to go down a path that was in stark contrast to our team’s findings and experience, and so we parted ways.

So what’s the diff? Keep in mind these are not legal definitions for tax purposes, but thoughts on how to be mindful of positioning yourself:

A consultant is an advisor. She researches and uses specific tools and processes to recommend a strategy or course of action. You are paying for that recommendation. Whether you choose to reject or implement it is up to you, and part of the contract should state how much back and forth or “tweaking” is done to that recommendation. It also means a consultant may or may not choose to continue working with a client on a strategy they feel is the wrong direction. Some consultants will go on to implement the plan they come up with for you, but some do not. For my clients, I offer discussion and tweaking of my SLICE package while we’re engaged on the project. After that, they can do with it what they want. It’s not an endless loop.

A contractor is someone you hire to do a specific task based on their expertise but ultimately, your orders. They implement an existing plan or activity. Run these campaigns. Manage my Twitter account. Create the flyer with this copy. They are very valuable and while many contractors call themselves this from a legal/tax standpoint, and offer both strategic advice and implementation, the understood business arrangement is that “you do what I say” and he or she is essentially an order-taker.

A coach is a mentor, a guide, a sanity-checker, a sounding board. Someone who can offer a framework to talk through your specific ideas and plans and then you, as the client, are responsible for taking action or not. The onus is on the client to come prepared with an agenda, discussion points, key questions they want to hash out. A coach does not necessarily produce deliverables for you unless that is the arrangement or they choose to share a tool, article, or perhaps, research something for you. But like a psychotherapist, there are no “action items” for the coach after each session.

If you offer professional services, be mindful of how you position yourself. Your title is a branding decision. I call myself a “Brand Strategist” to really drive home that if you need someone to create a detailed tactical marketing plan and execute it, I’m not your girl.

Your job title defines your brand position. Make a smart choice to ensure the right expectation of your work. (Tweet this!)

Look through your website. What do you call yourself? What could this lead prospects to believe you do or do not provide? Are you finding yourself constantly re-hashing your core competencies? The problem could lie in your job title or messaging.

Good news is that I can help! If you’re struggling to position your offerings or clearly articulate what you do and why you’re different I’ve got so much more to share with you. Check out MOMENTUM Pro to learn more!

Image Credit: Erin Berzel Photography, via Flickr

7 Simple and Stunning Blog Post Ideas to Keep Your Ideas Flowing

5.5.15 7EasyBlogPostIdeas (blog)
You’re staring at the cursor and it’s blinking at you, taunting you. You sigh.

When you were out driving earlier today, you had a ton of clever blog post ideas that just came to you with no effort. But you couldn’t write them down. And now – poof – they are gone with the wind.

This happens to me all the time. I seriously wish I could record the thoughts I have right before falling asleep. I’ve written 5 novels in my head this way. But I can’t remember a damn thing once I wake up. So I was inspired by a hilarious video from my buddy Amy Schmittauer of Savvy Sexy Social to share my own take on 7 simple and stunning blog post ideas – these will help so much when you can’t think of anything to write about.

And BONUS TIME: Any of these can easily be turned into a free email opt-in download, a lead magnet for your next course, an eBook, a podcast, a video… get the idea. Recycle, people.

Oh, and the numbers below are arbitrary. It’s up to you to pick how many you can create – but play around with being short and sweet (3 quick tips…) versus providing a more exhaustive resource (64 ways to….). See what resonates with your audience the most.

7 Simple and Stunning Blog Post Ideas – When You Can’t Think of What to Write About (Tweet This!)

  1. 3 Crucial Tips for… (YOUR SUBJECT AREA HERE). …Building a Website, …Finding Inner Peace, …Choosing a Killer Date Outfit, …Buying the Right Engagement Ring. Whatever your business does, surely there are 3 basic tips that you always seem to share with prospects or customers. This worked well for me when sharing 4 Clever Ways to Make it Easy For Others to Promote You and 3 Tips for Smarter Small Business Marketing. Don’t fall into the trap (as I once did before a wise woman slapped me upside the head – with love) of assuming “everyone know this.” They don’t. It’s why you have a job.
  2. 6 Questions to Ask When… (YOUR SUBJECT AREA): People love to read articles that guide them when making a decision. And, heck, no one says you can’t choose questions that would immediately point them to your products or services if it’s a good fit – just make sure you’re being unbiased, as people may feel like you’re being slimy instead of helpful. So how about: …Choosing the Right Accounting Software, …Picking the Perfect Executive Coach, …Creating Your Social Media Strategy.
  3. 5 Powerful (YOUR FIELD) Lessons from (POPULAR NEWS TOPIC/CULTURAL REFERENCE): This one is super fun, because it allows you to be timely (and show up in what people are searching on right now) and showcase your cleverness in relating your expertise to something that culturally binds us. One of my most popular blog posts was 4 Powerful Business Lessons from James Bond and Skyfall. The other form this can take is “What (POPULAR TOPIC) Can Teach You About (YOUR FIELD).” Relate key lessons or tips you always talk about to something timely and hot and give it a fun spin (if the topic allows for it) or simply analyze a current news story through the lens of your expertise, as I did in popular posts about Lance Armstrong’s and Susan G. Komen’s epic brand fails.
  4. 7 Lessons Learned When (YOUR FIELD OR INTEREST): You have wisdom to share based on your experience (See #1 above) and your audience is thirsting for it. What can you share about mistakes you’ve made, unique things you’ve done, or clients you’ve worked with? What can they learn from your story? Remember, share your lessons but ensure you make it about how it applies to the reader. I loved sharing 7 Lessons I learned While Writing A Book…And What They Can Teach You as well as, yes, the 7 lessons that a brain injury can teach you about your brand.
  5. Pose a question related to your subject area: Think about the most popular questions you get asked about your business, brand or profession and turn that into a single-threaded blog post. How Do I Write Good Sales Copy? How Do I Work with a Stylist? How Long Does A Website Take to Build? What is a Brand Strategy? This helps you showcase your expertise, offer great advice and even make it easy for new people to join your tribe and not feel like they don’t know some inside joke. Remember, your audience may be at different phases of the buying cycle and are only just now getting to know you and your brand.
  6. Interview another rockstar expert: Are there folks related to your field from whom your audience would loooooove to get the inside scoop? You don’t have to be the expert in everything. But you can be the go-to resource for curating that info and brining those guests to your community. Are you a health and wellness coach? Interview a stylist to help your clients showcase their brand new health bods. Are you an Etsy store selling handmade jewelry? Interview a party planner on how to throw the perfect jewelry party for your friends. Do you sell customer management software to small businesses? Interview a branding expert to give them tips on how to build their brand online and create compelling content. These can be super easy to create. In my Slice of Brilliance column, I interview experts in related fields that are of interest to you and send them a 3-question form to fill out. You get a great blog post, your audience gets great content, and you get the added bonus of that rockstar also promoting your post! #Winning
  7. Make one observation on your industry and present your point of view: These are the thought leader posts, the ones that inspire, delight, provoke thought – and get shared. There must be something you love or hate about your industry that you have a view point on: your disgust with smarmy sales pitches (if you’re a sales consultant), your crush on brands that give back to the community (if you run an advertising agency), your confusion over why contracts can’t be written in plain English (if you’re a lawyer), your deep hatred of hyperbolic software sales claims (if you run a software company). How can you make this personal commentary interesting and relevant to your audience? Ensure there’s a strong takeaway that they can ponder or act upon – otherwise it’s just a rant. I tried to do this with my observations about how perfection holds many people back from birthing their great ideas into the world or why you are called to create something that matters, rather than spew more noise into the world.

P.S. Need help coming up with more compelling content? Want to learn the secrets to writing copy that seduces your audience? Want more content creation tips? Get it here.

Image credit: qnuckx via Flickr

What great stand-up acts have to do with long-form sales letters

Today’s guest post comes from Fel Spahr, a snappy, savvy, sales-focused copywriter who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses. She crossed my orbit a little over a year ago and I adore her. Today she shares how long-form sales letters are like great comedy acts – in your usual brash and brilliant style. Learn more about her at the end and enjoy.

Little known fact about Fel…

I LOVE comedy.

Not in that “Oh, yeah, comedians are funny way.”

But in that “I’ve memorized Louis C.K’s and Family Guy’s best bits and I’m going to recite them to you now” kinda way.

“But who CARES, Fel! What about that enticing headline you wrote, about what comedy has to do with long-form salesletters?”

Glad you asked! Let’s get into it.

First of all, if you should know anything about me, it’s this: I am on the long-form copy team. (Tweet!)

The second thing is, I get excited like a hyper Pomeranian when I find connections between things.

For example:

How similar the principles are between effective public speaking and sales copywriting…

How PR is directly related to how good you are at making friends…

And how juicing a sweet potato is equivalent to that time I told myself I was going to learn how to cook and I was going to do it right, damnit! The first thing I ever made was a batch of pumpkin banana muffins…which almost killed my friend.

But that’s a story for another day.

What I want to tell you I discovered is this:

As I’ve taught sales copywriting around the Bay area, I was always thinking of a different way to teach it to make it fun. Not everyone gets as turned on as sales as I do, so you gotta bring a little entertainment into it, you know?

My first revelation was that a great salesletter has a VERY similar structure to a great song. Back in the day when I was teaching myself how to play guitar, I would study songwriting structure and write my own songs.

6 years later: Lightbulb goes off! Now my students are having fun and they really get the idea of what a ‘hook’ is.

So my next revelation was THIS…

COMEDY ACTS ARE PRACTICALLY EQUIVALENT TO LONG-FORM SALESLETTERS (except the whole buying process is reversed) (Tweet this out!)

Here’s how I came to this conclusion and why it could be crucial to know for your business:

I was watching this video of my favorite comedians sitting in a room together shooting the shit. Louis C.K., Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Ricky Gervais are talking about their careers in comedy.

And something Chris Rock said struck me…

He was talking about how newbies in the comedy game go for the quick laugh, and they wonder why their jokes aren’t ‘working’.

And Rock says that it’s because they haven’t set it up right.

There isn’t the right premise.

The joke doesn’t have longevity.

And the lightbulb went off for me.


Throw the structure out the window for a second.

The fact of the matter is that if you cannot explain to your client and help them understand what it is you’re offering…


And it’s the newbies in the copywriting space that get it all wrong, too. They just think you can whip something up willy nilly and have it be like, a paragraph, and that it’s going to sell.

That’s why things ‘aren’t working’. And you know what? I used to be just like that, too. I simply didn’t know enough.

But now that I do, it’s my mission to present fun analogies that make all of this interesting to you.

So back to the comedic geniuses I was referring to…

They work on their acts…sometimes for 10+ YEARS.

They test every single part of their bits. They cut what doesn’t hit. They come up with new stuff, and test that, too.

Salesletters are the same.

It doesn’t mean that they have to be perfect, but you gotta work on your ‘bits’. You gotta test it out. You gotta make sure that the premise is set just right, so your salesletter can live on for years…

…Not just on launch day.

“So Fel, who gives a hoot about these long-form salesletters anyway?”

Well, if you’re an entrepreneur or a business that is selling anything…these concepts are probably of interest to you.

So I have something to tell you about today.

It’s this:


All you need to have is 2 things:

1) A sincere and REAL desire to truly understand people on a very deep level

2) And know exactly what to say…and WHO to say it to…at exactly the right time

That simple. Though easier said than done.

“But Fel! I’ve read every copywriting book under the SUN. Don’t I get better at copywriting by writing out other salesletters by hand?”

No. Here’s why: Do you think Hemingway became a great writer because he copied OTHER great writer’s stories? No. He READ other people’s work, maybe copied a few techniques, and through a lot of practice, developed his own style. (It’s called strategic imitation)

It would be like me telling you: “Hey. You wanna be a screenwriter? Why don’t you go copy out by hand the script of The Shining, and then write me an Oscar-winning screenplay?”

There’s no logic. You need the set-up, the strategy, and the psychology much more than you need to copy someone else’s salesletter.

“But Fel! I actually don’t do any sales writing. But I’m curious. Thoughts?”

If you have a business, you should start. (But if you don’t do sales writing, do you have a business?)

If you don’t have a business, go outside and get a tan. Why not? Don’t write salesletters if you don’t have to.

Closing thought:

If you don’t want to write a salesletter today, at least watch a great hour of stand-up! Just as good as an education in there as there is in this post, or any copywriting book you’ll read.

2017 update: Unfortunately, Felicia is no longer doing sales copywriting but this advice is still golden! If you want to find out what she’s up to, you can visit her site right here.

Brand messaging made simple: Can a six-year-old understand what you do?

Be Bold. Be Brief. Be Gone.

These words hung at the desk of a software salesperson at my last Corporate marketing director gig. Ironically, the guy was kind of a windbag but the wise words have stuck with me all these years.

Clarity and conciseness are not necessarily hallmarks of my writing. I often play with words to find just the right way of explaining a concept – and have the habit of over-explaining things to the point of confusion. A flaw of which I am very well aware and try to remedy.

In the 2nd edition of my bookBranding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget  Alexandra Franzen, communication specialist and author of 50 Ways to Say You’re Awesome, dropped some wisdom bombs about effective messaging. She and I have long collaborated on clients – and on my own brand messaging. A wizard with words, she knows just how to say something in a carefully curated yet oh-so-simple way. Where you and I may take 100 words to make our point, Alexandra can name that tune in 20 – and do it with spark and sizzle.

Here is an adapted excerpt from the book you’ll enjoy:

Many entrepreneurs, especially those with a purpose-driven business, get wrapped up in flowery language when describing their work. But Alexandra advises that the clearest way to express an idea is best.

“Think about the last time you read a blog post, heard a TED Talk or listened to a story at a dinner party that really impacted you, that made you want to do something,” she asks. “Was it long, convoluted, unnecessarily detailed? Or was it simple, clear, direct and conversational?” Alexandra adds, “Writing about the work that you do—your ‘reason for being’—is a form of storytelling. And if you want to inspire people to take action, a simple story is best.”

An exercise I play with clients is to ask them to tell me how they would describe their organization to their grandmother or their five-year-old daughter. Often, what they say is exactly what they need to communicate to adults.

Alexandra says. “If it takes you eighty-five paragraphs to explain something, you’re probably not clear on it. Particularly in the online space, people have a shorter attention span. Customers will be skimming your site, flipping around, spending just a few seconds here and there. You need to be exceptionally simple.”

Alexandra advises taking lessons from scientist, astronomer, and author Carl Sagan, or beloved children’s TV show host Mister Rogers, or English broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough. “These people were legendary educators who had mass appeal because of their incredible skill in distilling information so that anyone from any background could understand. This is what makes them so beloved and great. Distillation is not the same as dumbing down (Tweet!). It’s about expressing the purest essence of an idea—without any unnecessary clutter.”

When crafting your messages, ditch the jargon where you can. Of course, you need to speak the language of your industry but don’t overcomplicate things. The goal is to make your target audience feel competent, not to make them feel dumb. “When crafting copy for your business,” says Alexandra, “above all, your job is to make the person reading feel competent. If they think to themselves, ‘I don’t understand the words on the screen in front of me, and now I feel dumb,’ they’ll probably click away from your website and never come back. But if they think to themselves, ‘I get this, and it sounds like precisely what I need!’ they’ll be excited to take the next step.”

Follow the lead of one of the smartest people who ever lived:

“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Albert Einstein (Tweet this!)

Stayin’ Alive: 4 Tips to Keep your Brand Voice Active

The amount of available media today is explosive. These platforms can greatly benefit a brand, or send marketers searching for a positive response. To keep your brand active and influential in this new media age, understanding the goal is your first step. Guest writer Elliot Martinez, a freelance tech writer, offers you 4 basic essentials to give your brand a fighting chance.

Segment Your Target Market

Consistent brand messages tailored to a specific demographic yield the most success. Once you define your target market, it is important to dissect it. Targeting segmentations of your audience will likely help your brand connect more and lead to consumer loyalty. One branding giant doing this successfully is Toyota. The auto maker has focused on the family segment with commercials driving an emotional appeal; the vehicles are shown being passed down from generations and keeping Toyota in the family.

Brands with a persistent message earn a loyal following. The brands I love have reached me through all the other market noise. This is a scary commitment for many brands, but a risk worth taking if you are in it for the long run. Really understanding your audience in each piece of branding will help you take more chances and receive a more genuine response. Do you know who your target market really is? Who are you talking to? Ask yourself these questions every time to help your brand be heard.

What’s the Message?

This is the most important aspect for any brand. With all the different forms of communication available today, your brand message can easily be misinterpreted. You must be able to convey the same, identifiable message whether it is through a 30-second TV spot, a Facebook ad, or 140 characters. There is no shortage of social media platforms to share your message, and your brand must understand what works best for the message you’re trying to send.

Nike is a master at keeping the message consistent throughout. Their message is captured by the “Just Do It” slogan, which is perfectly tailored to fit both their audience and the brand’s personality. The Nike swoosh logo is also consistently a part of each and every campaign. Alternatively, some brands, like Geico, have not heavily implemented social media campaigns, nor do they have one unifying brand representative (Gecko, Caveman, Kash, etc.), yet still remain successful today. Keep in mind that this is not the case for every brand.

If your brand is struggling to stay relevant, breathe some life into it by altering your message or coming up with an interactive campaign to get your consumers involved. Find which media platforms work best for you and stay persistent. Provide clever brand tips and responses to your consumers. Create clear objectives for each month or quarter and work to accomplish these. Using tools like HootSuite or Google Analytics will help you gauge your brand voice while you are tracking your efforts in ROI.

How Do You Follow Up?

Marketing never sleeps. The Internet keeps conversations going, for the good and the bad. Make sure your brand is active in the conversation post-message and not just watching the action take place. Having quick counter points or supplemental media is huge for consumers. Give consumers a call to action. Brands like Doritos have done a great job in keeping consumers active; from online voting campaigns to partnerships with Taco Bell, there is a constant brand presence. These efforts help consumers feel involved and keep your brand above the rest.

Just Keep Swimming…

Now it is time to take a look at your brand. your brand. Ask, is your brand connecting with its audience, or are you missing on the message? (Tweet this!) The brand environment is more competitive today than ever before. Never be afraid to take a chance with your brand but be aware of your activity and consumer responses.

 Photo credit: Marcus Povey on Flickr

About the Author:

Elliot Martinez is a Business graduate of the University of South Florida. He is currently working towards his graduate degree and covering all tech topics as a freelance writer.

Now it’s your turn: Is your brand active and current – or still stuck in the 70’s wearing bell-bottoms (wait, those are in style again, right?)? In what ways to keep things fresh and energized? Share your tips (and your brand) in the Comments below!

Sales page and email copy that works – minus the sleaze. A chat with Felicia Spahr

“How do I sell my stuff without sounding sleazy?’

This seems to be the question du jour. But c’mon everyone: relax. Before you think you need to turn to a life of ill repute with clients who go by number instead of by name, get schooled by Felicia Spahr.  In another joyous perk due to both the work I do now and social media, Fel and I crossed paths and I’m mesmerized by her writing prowess. Felicia is a pro copywriter, teacher, and lover of people. Dedicated to discovery and the power of words, she is on a mission to shake the world with tectonic-plate-shifting communication.

We sat down to talk about killer messaging, sales page copy magic and how to write emails that get noticed.

RS: You’re kind of a sales page genius. What are 3 tips readers can implement right now to improve messaging on their sales pages?

FS: Tip #1: For the love of god, stay away from trying to sound clever. Why? Clever is confusing. Simple language that your right people can understand and grasp onto is what sells.

Tip #2: As my boy Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” What does that translate to for you? Spend most of your time understanding the needs, wants, and problems of your customers before you go writing a sales page. Once you have enough information and can sense patterns and recurring problems (related to your service or product), the sales page will pretty much write itself.

Tip #3: You are a HUMAN, not a selling machine, right? J A big part of why we feel kooky and weird about selling ourselves (let alone writing sales pages) is because we associate selling with car salesman, in-your-face headlines, B.S., and cheap promises.

Selling is one of the most beautiful things you can do. When you’re writing your sales page, let your people know that you truly understand them—which translates to your ‘why’. Your why has gotta be in there or you’ve just got bullet points of deliverables and a lackadaisical emotional connection. Simon Sinek’s TED talk, ‘Start With Why’, is a great way to spend 18 minutes of your time drilling that idea into your beautiful head and adopting that mindset for life.

RS: What is your best tip for sending email to a busy big shot you don’t know – if you would like a book testimonial, interview or simply to say “You are my hero”? 

FS: The very simple trick is this: Make it 99% about them—mention only a VERY small-sized lick about who you are. The biggest mistake I see people making is: “Hi, I’m Joe, and I’ve been featured here, here, and here and I’ve worked with x, x, and x, and you should be impressed! Read on to find out more about what I want from you.” 

Instead, here are some examples of questions (that work) to use that are customizable, riff-able, and personality-injectable:

For an interview: The information about [topic they love] you talk about would be an invaluable resource for my readers because [specific reason—what might your readers need help with?]. Would you mind if I interviewed you and asked you [#] questions on [very specific topic]? 

For a book testimonial: After reading [x, x, and x—show that you care about them and their work] about you, it seems like this topic is one you enjoy immensely. Do you think reading my book would be useful for you, and if it is, would you mind endorsing it? 

For ‘You’re my hero’: Be extremely specific about what resonates with you about them, and then you can swoop in with your question with something like this:

I thought I might ask you a question that you could provide a unique perspective on [Insert why you’re thinking about this—and why them.]

The question I wanted to ask is: Your delight-inducing question here.

RS: What brand messaging mistakes on small business websites drive you up a wall? How can we avoid them?

FS: Copying other people’s words. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at sites and have seen the exact same, inexplicable wording (especially in the life coach space: create the life of your dreams!) that really doesn’t mean anything. Same goes for ‘creative business’. What. Does. That. MEAN.

Think about your differentiating value factor—your unique perspective. You have one! Let’s be honest—the concepts of our ideas are not original. It’s how you spin it, position it, and package it. And you don’t have to be a sharp, clever, or witty wordsmith to express it—just very specific. Remember, you’re a person. Talk to me like I’m your really good friend or mentor whose opinion you take seriously.

And remember: No one can mess with your messaging if no one else can say it like you. (Tweet this!)

2017 UPDATE: Unfortunately, Fel is no longer doing copywriting projects but this advice is still golden! You can find out about what she’s up to now here

Got a burning copywriting or promo plan messaging question? Please share it in the Comments below and Felicia and I will gladly answer!

4 tips to create magnetic brand messaging

How can you engage and delight your audience without sounding like everyone else?

Brand is communicated through more than just a pretty logo. It’s actually communicated in three important ways: visually, verbally, and experientially. I call this the Three Legged Stool of Brand. I’ve talked about this in a past video.

Visually is what you think of when you think of brand: logos, colors, design.

But your brand is also communicated verbally: your copywriting, your tone, your messaging personality.

And finally, where the rubber hits the road, your brand is communicated experientially. Now that you’ve promised me a brand visually and verbally, do you deliver? If your brand screams hip, cool and innovative, then your products and services – even your employees – better walk the talk!

In today’s Red Slice TV video from MySourceTV, I’m focusing on the verbal aspect and sharing 4 tips that will help you craft magnetic messaging that engages, informs and delights your audience. This is oh-so-important in everything from your About page to your sales copy.

The way your business “talks” is one of the most vital ways to convey your brand (Tweet!)  What is the “voice”? How should you write your copy? What is the story that you tell?

Photo credit: Brendan-C, Flickr

What should I blog about? 5 inspirations to spice up your content marketing

Does your cursor blink at you, taunting you to come up with something witty and profound for your blog or other content marketing this week?

Our creative wells can all run a bit dry sometimes. And when we’re trying to deliver quality content to our readers, friends or connections, the pressure to create something brilliant can often send our muse packing. (Look, there she goes, hightailing it out the door like someone who did way too many tequila shots and doesn’t want to be reminded of what she may have done at the bar last night.)

When you’re stuck in neutral and want to write a great blog post, create effective content marketing or even just post Tweets that go viral, here are some ideas to lure your muse back in – at least for a cup of coffee and a bagel.

  1. Answer common questions: Seems simple, but I’m sure there are the same ten questions you always get about your business, book or project that everyone always asks. Why not turn each one into a blog post or create a weekly Q&A video, answering reader questions? Marie Forleo releases a Q&A video every Tuesday for entrepreneurial women. While her videos often branch out to other topics or interviews, they still tend to start with a question she’s been asked many times. What questions do your customers or clients always ask? Start documenting them and plan for a blog post series, video or podcast.
  2. Add a spice of pop culture: The Holy Grail of PR is to talk about something topical or celebrity-related. Spin your area of expertise into a commentary on the latest hit song, blockbuster movie or media superstar and add some pizzazz and fun to something that might be a bit dry. One of my best viral blog posts was one I did on “Four Powerful Business Lessons from James Bond and Skyfall“. And this one I did about the fall of Lance Armstrong’s brand.
  3. Revisit or clarify your Brand Strategy: Craft a strong brand strategy and think about what you stand for, why you do what you do, and what your customers really care about. Chances are it goes beyond just your products or services. Is there meaning in your message where you can highlight something related to your business? Brainstorm on a white board every possible topic related to that mission or vision. If you are a nutritionist, what other areas do your clients care about? Why do you do this work? To help them survive a dreaded holiday party? To better deal with family criticism and expectations? To boost their self-confidence? Open the aperture and think bigger about your audience’s needs and what benefits they get, use cases they might encounter or related challenges they may be having. This recent interview I did for Social Media Today, in advance of my conference keynote this week may help.
  4. Showcase other experts: You may not have anything witty to say this week, but I’m sure there are others in related fields who do. And who doesn’t love hearing another voice from time to time? Interview other experts or feature guest posts, as I’ve done with marketers, entrepreneurs and rockstars that I admire – and heck, you may even learn something in the process. My Slice of Brilliance columns & videos, like ones  I’ve done with Betsy Talbot of Married With Luggage about how to woo your audience with great content or a guest post from digital strategist Linda Rubright on better SEO in just 5 minutes a day were extremely popular and well-shared.
  5. Recycle and repackage: Not everything you do has to be completely original. Sometimes, people like to learn in different ways. Maybe you can turn that popular post from last year into a podcast, with fresh updated information. Perhaps you can take a great presentation you did and turn it into a Top 10 tip sheet. Don’t assume your content is “once and done.” It’s still valuable and important for all the people who didn’t know you or know about it the first time it ran, so just repackage it and tie a different color bow on it.

Photo credit: D. Sharon Pruitt, Pink Sherbet Photography, Flickr

What is your biggest headache when coming up with great content each week? Where do you find inspiration for your blog posts, videos or podcasts? Please share on the Facebook page!

The 10 must-have messages you need for your brand

Want to know one of the most-often misquoted sayings in our culture?

It’s Ralph Waldo Emerson’s take on consistency: A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds

Often this is quoted without the word “foolish” which changes the whole meaning of this nugget o’wisdom He’s not saying consistency is bad, per se, but that consistency which doesn’t serve a purpose, which is foolish, is really the sticky wicket.

Consistency in your branding and messaging efforts is vital if you want to be memorable and get noticed. An old marketing adage suggests that you need to hear a message 5-7 times before it really sticks  – and I’d hazard a guess that this number has gone up in today’s crowded marketplace. I often tell my clients that if your message is vastly different each time you say it, then it’s like you’re starting the counter back at zero each time. How the heck will that help people really remember you and slot your brand in the right place in their brains?

Enter the Key Messages Document.

You’re busy enough running your business and managing everything on your own to have to sit down and re-create the wheel each time you need a new brochure or have to send someone a blurb about your company. Make you life easier and make sure you create these 10 core messaging elements once, and then use them over and over again to save time and hassle.

Because I love you, I created this handy dandy worksheet for your downloading pleasure that breaks down the Key Messages you should have in your brand toolkit. Once you fill this out (after thinking through your brand strategy, of course) keep it handy: pin it to your shortcuts menu, post it up by your desk. And watch how easy peasy it will be for you to fill out that form or zip off that email to a partner or advertiser. The added bonus? I give you a Messaging Platform to fill out that will serve as the foundation for all your future copy, from website to sales pitch to whatever. This is a godsend if you tend to work with different writers on different projects and helps them hit the ground running.

Download this Key Messages Document now and enjoy it with my blessing….

As Emerson said, foolish consistency is pointless and ridiculous. But consistency that not only saves you time AND achieves your business goals is actually a pretty smart move. (Tweet this!)

Aaaannnndd….for some more juicy advice on the four keys to creating magnetic messaging, please check out this Red Slice TV show video on MySourceTV. I think you’re gonna LOVE IT!

Photo Credit: Betsy Weber, Flikr

What other elements or processes in your business do you find go more smoothly with consistency? Do you streamline and repeat something in particular to save your sanity? Please share in the Comments!

Art of Seduction: 5 Ways to Woo Your Audience with Great Content

Today’s marketplace is noisier than ever and customers not only expect, but demand killer value from you even before they spend a dime. (Tweet this!)

But how can you create compelling free content that engages, informs and delight people enough to keep coming back for more – and eventually buy from you?

Special treat for you guys today: I’m sharing this 30-minute info-rich, delightful and useful free video interview with Betsy Talbot, author and co-creator of Married With Luggage. (they are personal friends and I’m a huge fan so check them out and enjoy their resources for entrepreneurs with big dreams!)

Betsy penned an awesome article for Copyblogger about what the male stripper movie Magic Mike can teach you about engaging your audience and giving them what they really want. I just had to take a deeper dive with her on these tips as they relate to your brand strategy.

In this free video, we discuss 5 sizzling tips for getting your audience all hot and bothered.

You’ll learn how to communicate your brand and you’ll also discover copywriting and messaging tips that will create a “love connection” with your fans.

Yes, it’s about 30 minutes. But it’s super useful. trust me. The tips we’ll discuss in the video:

  • Know what you are really selling 
  • Grab their attention 
  • Provide consistently compelling content 
  • Reward loyal fans 
  • Promote new talent 

And PS, there’s a BONUS tip for you: Make the ask. A little extra just to show you how much I love you.

Which tip do you find most useful? How will you apply it to your future content? Please share in the Comments below and share this post/video with your tribe!