Quote unquote: case studies

What do you think of testimonials? What do you think of recommendations on LinkedIn?

Sometimes you don't get the full message

Sometimes you don't get the full message

When buying a book or a DVD is the few words of praise from a well know writer, journalist or publication enough to make your mind up and hand your money over to the cashier? Or will you have made up your mind based on in-depth reviews or interviews with cast/crew/authors?

When it comes to choosing a service will you rely on testimonials on a company’s website or brochure to make up your mind? If they were available would you make up your mind based on in-depth features, articles or case studies on the company/service?

When it comes to your own business, do you think potential customers or clients might make a positive buying decision if they knew the full story of how you can help, how great your customer service is, etc?

If you think that’s a possibility, have you ever thought about useful and informative articles on your website, written in a journalistic style? Why not just ditch the boring About page and replace it with text written in article style, quotes and all telling readers about the company/organisation/product? How about a profile with quotes and background info from each staff member that would normally have appeared on the ‘Our Team’ page?

And when it comes to testimonials, do you think they give enough of a picture to a potential client about how you provide a solution to their problem? Why not tell a story?Tell a story with details of your client’s business, their problem, your solution and how you used this to solve their problem. Written in a journalistic style, with background information and direct quotes, it’s bound to help them more than a sentence or two on how great and wonderful you are.

Get attention, get content, inform, get more than a pat on the back, get people interested.

What areas of business can you write about?

In my line of work I come across all sorts of businesses and organisations. Large, small, long established, start-ups, all with one thing in common. They do not have the in-house skills or expertise or time to put together website content and digital and traditional marketing communications.

Something else they have in common, is the question: what areas of business can you write about? This question at first puzzled me, in my career as a journalist I have turned my hand to writing about all sorts of industries, organisations and business areas. I can write content for any type of business. How, you may ask?

It’s quite straightforward – my personal professional experience is as a journalist whereby articles are written through research, the helping hand of PR companies, and through the knowledge shared by interviewees. At Elaine Larkin Media, we take a similar approach to writing your website content or e-mail newsletters.

We research the business area and industry and get the key information from the company and suitable personnel. We distil this information and order it in such a way that it will be of interest to readers. That’s just part of our formula.

Our team of writers all have experience as journalists and editors, so you’re guaranteed a high level of service if you ask us to write your website content.

So back to the question in hand. We don’t have encylopaedic knowledge of every single business area, but we know how to source the information through research and thorough interviews. Keep that in mind, and get in touch if you think your website content is looking a bit tired or you need to engage a professional to source and write interesting news items for your website or e-mail newsletter.

Developing a habit – blogging regularly

Blogging is something that many people have a mental block about actually doing.

Still, they invest heavily in the concept. They invest time in talking and blogging about starting one; they are kept awake into the wee hours thinking about topics they could write about, if only they had the time; and they spend valuable man hours tweeting on Twitter about how they’ve been too busy to sit down a get one done. They’ve great ideas, they claim, or no ideas, or no way with words; they’ve great excuses.

Plenty of us are guilty of that. But what can we actually do about transforming inaction to action? How do can you go about writing a regular blog that develops a following, helps people find your website, and gets people talking about, if not buying your product or service?

If you want to start blogging, do your market research. Sure, find out who your audience is and who your competitors are, but what’s most important is that you find out what a blog actually is.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Online know-it-all Wikipedia explains that “Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries.”
  • Blogger.com describes blogging as a “way to share your thoughts — about current events, what’s going on in your life, or anything else you’d care to discuss”.
  • The benefit of a blog to a reader, in the words of Blog.com is to “observe the world, from the smallest details to life-changing events”.
  • WordPress.com takes the assumption that most of its users are familiar with blogging and give no explanation as to what blogging is, apart from the very succinct message: “Express yourself. Start a blog.”

I think that’s enough. If you’re still not sure, think about what Posterous, one of the newest blog kids on the block says to do: “post everything“.

Inseperable: excellent design and excellent content

Reading is something I do a lot. At times, I just scan over the content of a broadsheet, a magazine, an e-mail newsletter or an online news website. Other times, I read every word in detail. Or, words jump out at me. I love seeing how different words can be used in different situations, or more interestingly what substitute words are not used. It’s all about reading between the lines.

One word that jumped out at me lately was the word ‘inseperable’. It was in an obituary and the relationship between the lady who had died (may she rest in peace) and her husband. They were described as ‘inseperable’ and nobody could recall seeing one without the other in decades. I thought that was sweet, to me it said something about a certain type of relationship from a certain era.

It made me think about relationships nowadays and how eyebrows are as equally raised if a couple are seen together the whole time or if they never seem to be in each others’ company.

Anyway, that was just a musing and I couldn’t really figure out whether inseperable is good or bad in human relationships. (I think it’s bad if say one half of the couple is more dependent on the other and doesn’t mix with anybody other than their inseperable half. But I think being inseperable while alose retaining strong friendships and relationships with others is a sign of soulmates or two halves becoming one. But less of that).

So anyway, my mind brought me off on an Alain Botton-esque tangent into the philosophy of love and relationships, but ultimately brought me back to the role the word inseperable has to play in my business. I’m in the business of words, writing online copy for businesses websites, ensuring that the content naturally contains those all-important keywords so that it’s found easily. But I also concentrate on good writing, making sure the content is interesting and readable, written in such a way that the reader wants to read it.

But, I’m a strong believer in good design and this is where the word inseperable comes into play. Why have a beautifully designed website if it’s just pretty to look but nothing else (unless maybe you’re just a visual artist and communicate in pictures and not words). The whole point of the exercise (in most business cases anyway) is that the website is informative or it makes people want to hire you or buy your product.

If your content is just slapped together by four or five people in the office, not edited for consistency, has no style about it, is way too long, or not informing enough, is filled with misspellings etc, it’s just not going to wow either existing clients or potential customers or investors. Good design and good content are inseperable. It’s a bit like being all dressed up and nowhere to go. You can separate the two, but really, honestly, in the age that content is king, you really shouldn’t.