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The Cornfield Paradox: How To Fix The Biggest Lie In Marketing

When I started out in business, I followed a few coaches and business/marketing experts. One of the things I came across more often than anything else was the notion that ‘If you build it, they will come!’

If you’ve ever seen Field of Dreams, you’ll understand why I call this The Cornfield Paradox. In the film, Kevin Costner plays the title role. He hears a mysterious voice talking to him in his cornfield one night, telling him, “If you build it, they will come.”

Deciding the voice is onto something, he builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield, and the Chicago White Sox appear, magically solving all his problems…

The basic gist of this (and its relevance to marketing) is the notion that by creating something wonderful, you will automatically attract people.

If you create fabulous products or services, people will naturally want to buy them.

And if you create wonderful content, people will automatically find it and read/watch it.

 

It’s a brilliant and wonderfully inspiring thought when you’re a fledgling business owner, just getting to grips with the myriad things required to get a business up and running. You pull yourself along with this belief that all you have to do is create your business, and customers will magically find you.

The problem with this concept, and why The Cornfield Paradox is the biggest lie in marketing, is that it doesn’t work.

Do any of these instructions sound familiar:

Blog regularly – preferably weekly.

Consistency is key – decide on a schedule and stick to it!

You need to blog for SEO, that’s how people will find you.

High-quality content is the secret to a good Google ranking.

This is all good advice, but when it’s coupled with an ‘If you build it, they will come’ mentality, it is fundamentally flawed.

Why?

Nothing good ever happens in a cornfield!

As many of you know, I’m a fiction writer. I’m a fan of fantasy, horror and various other genres, and I can tell you categorically that every time a cornfield appears, in any context, bad things happen.

Field of Dreams itself is a terrible film.

Cornfields are not where you will find the magical solution to all of your problems.

Cornfields are where you will find axe-murderers, aliens, cannibals, deranged lunatics, paedophiles, and innumerable other unsavoury characters and problems.

Nothing good ever happens in a cornfield, and this often-toted piece of advice coaches are so fond of is no different. THE BIGGEST LIE IN MARKETING is the notion that all you have to do is build it and they will magically come.

Here’s a truth bomb:

You can create the most fabulous content imaginable, but if nobody knows it’s there, nobody will read/watch it.

You can regularly produce blogs or vlogs week after week, be utterly consistent, optimise everything for SEO, and have a phenomenal Google ranking, and you’ll still get nowhere fast, because your content marketing method is based on a fundamental lie.

But don’t worry, all is not lost, there’s an easy fix… 

The Origins Of The Biggest Lie In Marketing…

I believe this mega myth of marketing originated in the early days of online marketing when the ‘If you build it, they will come’ model actually worked.

It’s not even that long ago since this wasn’t a lie, but a marketing true. When the internet was still relatively young, if you created a blog, and filled it with quality content, people would naturally find it, because there wasn’t the insane amount of content and information in the modern-day.

If you go back as little as ten years, Google something (especially something in a niche market) wouldn’t get that many results.

Now, you can Google exactly the same thing and end up with endless pages of results. Consequentlyt, even if you’re writing about a very niche subject, the likelihood of your specific blog post being the post that a large number of people find – enough to grow an audience organically – is slim. Simply writing good content just isn’t enough to get you discovered anymore.

There’s too much information on the internet, too many competing sites, too many posts discussing the same topics you are, and until people have actually read or watched your content and got to know you a bit, they won’t have any reason to favour your website other all the others on the same subject. Your Google search ranking helps with this – getting on the first page of Google will make it a lot more likely you will be found, but this isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s not a simple case of optimising everything with keywords because everyone is optimising everything with the same keywords.

SEO Isn’t Enough…

You’re not doing anything unique with your SEO, what is unique about your content is YOU.

SEO can’t convey your ideas and prove they are better (or at least different) to everybody else’s; why your methods are superior; why your products are unique or better than everybody else’s; why your services are better than everybody else’s; why your take on the world is worth them coming back and reading/watching over and again. It’s only once they’ve experienced you, come to know, like, and trust you, and bookmarked your site, that they’re going to automatically come to you when they see you’ve written about a subject.

Your Google ranking is important, I’m not saying SEO is not important, it is.

It helps you get visible, it helps you get found, but the problem with SEO is that there is a perception that all you have to do to create a successful business is have a website and create good content that’s SEO-optimised, so people find you on Google.

Just build it, and they will magically come…

It does not work.

There are three things that you have to do to make sure that your blog is successful (check out my post on The Golden Trident: Three Magic Steps For Kick-Ass, Killer Blogging for more info).

The third step for kick-ass, killer blogging is that you have to HUSTLE!

It’s not enough to write good content, you have to get out there and tell people about your content. Share your content, spread it to the four winds, so that as many people as possible become aware of your content.

If you do that, then they will come, but they won’t just magically come wondering out of the cornfield and find you simply because you’ve written something.

The Cornfield Paradox…

The paradox occurs because so many people who decide they want to start a business buy into the biggest lie in marketing. They get interested in business, they get invested, they start learning about marketing, and they come across all these coaches telling them that all they have to do is ‘build it’, and people will find them.

So they build it, and they wait.

And they wait, and wait, and wait, and…TUMBLEWEED!

Nothing happens. And a great many people in this situation, when they reach this point, conclude that the reason blogging isn’t working because content marketing doesn’t work.

They reach this conclusion fairly quickly.

They start blogging. They keep it up for a few weeks, maybe even a couple of months. At the end of that couple of months, they’ve poured their heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into a weekly blog post. They’ve published at the right time, consistently, and sent out a newsletter to their list.

Nothing is happening.

The reason nothing is happening is that they’ve just started out. Their list consists of their friends (who aren’t really interested in their business), and a couple of people they know who genuinely are interested in business, but aren’t necessarily interested in the specific part of business that these blog posts are discussing.

Becuase they’re so new, they basically have no list. The few people on it aren’t their ideal clients, and they aren’t reaching anyone new.

They’re writing great content, but they’re just writing it and leaving it there. They’re expecting people to find their content, because they built it, and when nobody does, they conclude that blogging doesn’t work.

It’s not a viable marketing option, so they stop blogging.

I understand why this happens, but the mistake (and the paradox) is that if you’re not blogging, nobody will find you, but blogging, on its own, is not enough to make people find you., okay? So, if you stop blogging, nobody will find you. If you blog, but don’t do anything to promote your blog post, nobody will find you. So, you’re missing a key part of the puzzle here, in that if you build it, and tell people about it, they will come, okay?

If you stop blogging, nobody will find you.

If you blog, but don’t do anything to promote your blog post, nobody will find you. So, you’re missing a key part of the puzzle here, in that if you build it, and tell people about it, they will come, okay?

If you’ve bought into the ‘If you build it, they will come’ mentality, you’re missing a key part of the puzzle: if you build it, and tell people about it, they will come!

How To Fix The Biggest Lie In Marketing…

You have to get out there, share your content on social media, build your online networks, advertise your content when needed, and comment on other people’s blogs. Take the time to read their posts and leave a genuine comment; let them get to know you. Get them interested enough in you and what you’re saying that they click through to read your own blogs, and comment in return. Tweet out your posts, share them on Facebook, Instagram, and any other platforms you have.

And here’s the important part: you don’t just need to share your blog posts specifically.

You need to spend an awful lot of time simply building an online presence.

Whether you do it yourself or pay somebody else to do it for you, you need to be an active online presence. You need to be a person who more than just their blog posts.

At the time of writing this, I am personally failing in this regard and have been for a couple of months. I’m sharing my posts, but nothing else. Why? I don’t have time. Business suddenly got a lot busier this year, my workload has more than doubled and I had to let a few things go for the sake of my sanity. I’m in the process of outsourcing everything I no longer have time for, but in the interim, my social media marketing is next to non-existent.

And it shows.

The massive growth I saw in the first quarter of this year stalled in the second. And it’s all because of a very simple question I guarantee your audience is asking…

But What Else…?

You can’t constantly say, “I wrote a blog, read it. I wrote a blog, read it. I wrote a blog, read it,” because people get bored.

Even if your content is absolutely fabulous if you never say anything other than, “Read my blog post!” at some point they’re going to stop because they are over-saturated.

This is especially true in business.

If you have a personal blog, it’s a bit different. The very nature of your blog posts means the information you’re sharing differs vastly; you’re sharing an insight into your life, sharing quite a lot about yourself. Your topics will change from week to week, and it will always be of interest to your followers because that’s why they’re following you. You might have a lifestyle blog, and they’re interested in your specific lifestyle, or a hobby blog and they’re interested in your latest creations, or it could be a photography blog and they’re dying to see your new photographs.

If you’ve got a blog that constantly has completely fresh content, this it isn’t quite as true. But if you’re writing a business blog and blogging about a specific niche subject in business, or you’re a coach blogging about business in general, and all you’re doing is telling people to read your blog posts, they’re going to hit a wall. They’re going to shut off and stop reading, because they’re thinking, “I’ve read five posts about this, and they’re great and everything, but what else?

This is the awful truth about the nature of our consumerist society.

People are always thinking, “Great, but what else?”

It’s the buy one, get one free mentality. You buy into something and expect to get something else as well for free.

You say, “Read my blog post!”

They say, “Sure! Great! I’ve read it. What else do I get?

This is how we evolved into a system in which list-building hinges on giving away freebies and opt-ins, because it’s not enough to write a post and at the end of it, say, “If you want to read more of my blog posts, sign up for my newsletter!”

Because the response will always be, “Great, I’d love to read more of your blog posts, but what else?”

There will always be a “but what else?”

The Golden Ratio…

The “but what else” where the cornfield paradox is concerned is telling people about you, and your business, and your blog, in such a way that you’re only expecting them to ‘buy’ into it a small part of the time.

The golden ration is 80/20.

80% of the time, you should let them get to know you, seeing what you do, and gain insights into your daily life.

You might ask them questions, share behind the scenes snaps, useful information beyond your own blog, inspirational quote or memes. You want to build engagement and get a conversation going. Craft a living, vibrant relationship with your online followers, so that they actually know you quite well outside of what you write in your blog.

If you can build that kind of relationship with your audience, and grow an engaged audience, they will happily read your posts week after week and you’ll reach a point where you don’t need to tell them you have new posts for them to read. They will learn what day you post on and go looking for them.

For example, there is a blog I read religiously, The Bloggess, and she doesn’t have to email me to tell me that she’s got a new blog post, because I automatically check her site weekly. I know new posts will be there and I know they’ll always be funny.

There’s a video reviewer that I follow, who puts out three or four videos a week. I’m not even on his newsletter list, because all his newsletter does is send me a link to his new videos, and I know what days he posts them, so when I’m sitting having my lunch on those days, I automatically go to his site to watch the videos while I’m eating my lunch.

The same is true for my favourite channels on YouTube: I know what days Denise Duffield-Thomas, and Marie Forleo‘s videos come out every week, so I go and look for them.

Why The Biggest Lie In Marketing Is A Paradox…

The Cornfield Paradox is paradoxical because it does and doesn’t work.

If you create content, if you’ build it’, people will come and you will develop an audience, but only if you go the extra mile and tell people you have built it. Tell people enough about yourself and what you have built to ensure they are interested enough to keep coming back and remain engaged, interested and reading/watching the content that you’ve put out.

Are You Struggling With Your Content Marketing?

If (like me) you find there simply isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done, and you’re at the point where you need to delegate some essential elements of your business, don’t worry, I totally get it. Content Marketing isn’t for everyone. It’s time-consuming, often tedious, and requires a phenomenal amount of time, effort, and expertise.

Why not let me do it for you?

Unsure about hiring a copywriter? I totally get that too. That’s why I offer all new clients a totally free blog post to test run my services before they decide whether to invest. Grab your free post (no string attached!) now!

How To Buld A Business Alongside Full-Time Employment

Balancing full-time employment around trying to make your business work in the background is by no means no easy feat. So firstly, if this is you, I want to say give yourself a massive pat on your back. Often as we get more focused on our goals and our business grows the tasks needed to be all things to all people can get a little overwhelming to say the least. At 1 Less Stress Connect we work with clients daily on productivity secrets and how to build a business that works and can grow around a job family and their commitments effectively (believe me it is possible).

Simply put, if you are not finding great ways to make it all work then chances are overwhelm is creeping in, and a confused mind will often walks away or procrastinates. Now I do not want any of those two things to be the path you take so I am going to share my top 5 secrets to help you build your business around employment and more importantly make it work. Before I get on with this guest blog for The Write Copy Girl, I encourage you to get your pen and paper to the ready and more importantly get ready to start implementing.

Setting Clear Business Goals

Building a business around employment requires a lot of focus to make it work, however without clear goals your focus will be somewhat blurred. Think of driving a cart and looking through a smeared windscreen it will take you a lot longer to reach your journey. This is why you need to set clear goals with clear time frames and chunk it down by adding milestones that you can measure your progress.  You would be surprised how many clients we speak to that do not even know how much they want their business to bring in income wise on a monthly basis. This is the start of not having clear business goals. Without clear goals you will be easily taken off course and come the end of the year feel like you have made little progress.

Value-Rank Your Ideas

As entrepreneurs, we often have an idea a minute well if you are anything like me. Sometimes these ideas are brilliant, but everything has to be in it’s season. Jumping from project to project will take you off course and result in you not giving your focus to any one thing. As they say focus goes where energy goes, so if your focus is split all over the place you will never master anything. Our tip is to value rank your ideas and place them in what we call an ideas bucket. I have this in my notes on my phone and my online business system and revisit when the time is right.

Have Themed Mini Days

It is so hard to stay on track and efficient when you have a multitude of tasks and commitments. What we suggest is have themed days that will enable you to have set days to complete specific days. i.e. Monday: admin day, Tuesday: new client lead generation day and so on to meet your business model and objectives. Having themed days will ensure all areas of your business are being given time and ensure productivity reducing that all easy trap of being busy but not productive.

Free Up Your Time By Automating Certain Areas Of Your Business

We used do a lot of manual tasks that take hours every week. One of them was tracking performance of our products. However, now we have built in automated systems in our website which has these key functions to keep tabs on all our products and the analytics behind it to give us more informed insights which helps steer future projects or new releases. Have great automated sales funnels in place help ensure clients come to you instead of the other way around, this will save you lots of time.

Consider Hiring Or Outsourcing Certain Tasks

This might not be for everybody. But for those of you who are bogged down with a lot of repetitive work, you might be losing valuable time that you can instead invest in more strategic matters or just time to re-energise yourself.

Try hiring somebody to take a lot of your manual work and you can focus on generating more income for the company. There are many websites that you can find freelancers like UpWork,  PeoplePerHour, Fiver (we promise you will feel so much better in the long run).

Take some time out weekly to work ON your business and not IN your business to start getting the jigsaw pieces of your life and commitments fitting perfectly together, do this and you will be well on your way. If you would like further help on maximising your efficiency in your  lunch hour then download our free e-guide…

8 Lessons About Being An Entrepreneur Writing A Book Taught Me

I’ve been writing and publishing books for years now, but last year marked a new mile stone for me: I published my first non-fiction book. The Uber Author Planner is very different to anything I’d done before, and I caught the bug. I wanted to write a business book, dedicated entirely to my specific niche, my zone of genius: writing. How I write, blog, and publish is my own particular brand of awesome. There’s nothing unique about being a writer, or a blogger, or having a book or two out. But nobody does it quite like I do, which means there isn’t a book out there that can teach you the things I know. So I decided to write one. I also though I’d share the lessons about being an entrepreneur I learnt in the effort…

Writing is my passion. You might call it my obsession.

My fictional books are my darlings, but it was time I put my mind to creating a different kind of baby: one that would teach you how to do what I do. Things I learnt through trial and error, success and failure. They’re methods born of creative imagination, a classical education, considerable teaching experience and a bipolar brain that is never, ever quiet.

Early this year I started planning my book. It was a good time to be doing it. I was in the middle of a re-brand, shifting the focus of The Bookshine Bandit so that I was centred on helping business women with their blogging and corporate stories. These two topics intermingle, but exist as separate entities. I needed one book for each, so the project was split in two.

The Tao of Corporate Storytelling is now well underway and will be unleashed on the world in the new year (if you’d like to be the first to read you can sign up to get Chapter One, free, ahead of the launch here!). The second book, The Divine Blogging Design is planned, and will be written once the first book has been released.

I was surprised by the number of lessons about being an entrepreneur that I’ve learnt so far. As my first full-length non-fiction title (academic papers not withstanding) I expected a fair few lessons on writing, but I got considerably more than I bargained for…

Lessons About Being An Entrepreneur

#1 Refuse To Settle

Early on in the process I sketched out eight chapters for The Tao of Corporate Storytelling. The narrative of the book centres on an old Chinese proverb about a dragon and a phoenix. Each chapter focuses on one element of the lesson drawn from that proverb. I knew I wanted illustrations. I had in mind beautiful, traditional water colour images that depicted the various stages in personal and professional development that the book guides you through.

I love art, but water colours are not my thing. This was well outside my skill set, so I set about looking for an illustrator. 

With a fixed budget for the illustrations I immediately ran into trouble. All the illustrators I wanted were too expensive. I needed eight illustrations and could find nobody I liked who worked for less than £150 per image.

This was beyond my budget, and more than I was willing to invest in an element of the project that was pure indulgence on my part – I didn’t require illustrations. I just wanted them.

I’m a fantasy author and there was talk of dragons and firebirds, what can I say, I’m a slave to my inner fantasist.

Eventually I found a wonderful artist who did pen and ink images of animals that I absolutely loved. She was very enthusiastic, and her prices were very reasonable.

Jackpot.

Or so I thought.

Except it didn’t work out.

Disappointed, I looked again, and finally got hold of an illustrator friend. We discussed it, he asked what I’d been paying the first illustrator, and agreed that was fine.

Sorted.

Except it wasn’t.

Back to the drawing board AGAIN. Thoroughly pissed off by this point, I spent a full day researching and reviewing portfolios and finally contacted a German artist through DeviantArt. Her prices were more than my budget could handle, but she was exactly what I wanted and not as high as they could have been.

I ordered two of the eight illustrations I wanted, and low and behold she delivered perfection. 

The Lesson

There was nothing terribly wrong with the first illustrations, but the artist wasn’t the right fit. Everything was wrong with the second, but by that point I almost felt compelled to accept them because of the time and effort I’d already wasted. Fortunately, like Goldilocks, I found the solution on the third try. The artist was a perfect fit, the art was how I wanted it, and the level of professionalism displayed couldn’t be faulted. Lesson learnt.

Never settle.

Even if it means trying some mediocre porridge until you find a bowl that’s just right.

Even if it means reassessing your priorities and deciding to get a smaller amount of a much higher quality.

Never. Ever. Settle.

I have two illustrations rather than the eight I originally wanted, but they’re gorgeous, and two quality images are infinitely better than eight of poor quality, or the wrong style.

Waking the Dragon, Illustration from The Tao of Corporate Storytelling by Hazel Butler, Copyright Hazel Butler 2016 - Copywriting, Business Narratives, Content Marketing, Soulful Selling lessons about being an entrepreneur

When the Phoenix Dances, Illustration from The Tao of Corporate Storytelling by Hazel Butler, Copyright Hazel Butler 2016 - Copywriting, Business Narratives, Content Marketing, Soulful Selling lessons about being an entrepreneur

#2 Always Speak Your Mind

My experience with the illustrators led to a bit of an epiphany. I had reservations about the first when I saw the concepts, worrying that her style of art wasn’t suited to what I wanted after all. I quashed my fears and forged ahead.

In hindsight, I should have listened to that reservation. The artist herself later said she’d harbored exactly the same concern but, like me, had forged ahead instead of speaking her mind.

There was no issue with the concepts from the second artist, the problem was his professionalism. I’d worked with him once before and he’d been impossible to get hold of, missed every deadline (though he set them himself). I never felt I could voice my concerns, because he’s a friend. I worried on hiring him that I’d have the same problems again, but this time, he was the one with an issue with me. He felt I wasn’t paying what his work was worth. I’d have paid him more had he asked, but he didn’t, instead choosing to do a poor job.

The Lesson

All the stress and disappointment with the first artist could easily have been avoided had either of us brought up our mutual fear: her style wasn’t suited to the job. She was an excellent artist, it just wasn’t the right fit. In the second instance, the problem would have never arisen had the new artist told me the problem and asked me to pay him more. Which leads me to lesson number three…

#3 Pay People Their Worth

The lack of communication with the second artist was a two way street this time, as the issue arose from the amount I was paying him. He had asked what I was paying the first illustrator and I had told him, expecting him to ask for considerably more. He hadn’t. I assumed he was giving me mates rates as a favour and, knowing how much he loves to draw, didn’t think it an issue. He, however, resented it from the start, and reached a point where he decided I wasn’t paying enough to justify the time spent, so he half-arsed it. The result was appalling. He knew it, I knew it, but it wasn’t until he gave the me first image and I was forced to raise my concerns about the quality that he finally told me what was wrong. By that point it was too late – neither of us wanted to work together. Knowing why he did it, I almost can’t fault him for it, because he was right – I wasn’t paying him anywhere near enough. Yet he had every opportunity to tell me the problem so we could solve it, and he didn’t…which of course leads back to Lesson #2.

The Lesson

Pay people their worth.

I’m not saying offer people a shed load more than they’re asking for. Assess the job you need doing and get a realistic idea of the amount it will cost for the level of skill you want. Expect to pay that price, possibly a little more. Then look for someone with the level of skill you want, in the price range you have predetermined is fair, and affordable.

Don’t complain when you have to pay what someone is worth, because that’s what you want. You’re in control, you decide the quality and quantity of what you ask for.

If you want quality, you have to pay for it.

#4 Value Yourself As You Would Others

The money train is a two way street. Just as I learnt that I needed to pay people their true worth, so too did I suddenly comprehend that I was guilty of doing exactly what my friend had done. I knew the value of my work, yet my rates at the time did not reflect that value at all. My rates were a third of what they should have been based on my skill level and experience. And I resented certain clients for paying me below the odds. I felt they were being unfair, yet what else were they going to do? I’d never asked for more. I’d never told them they were getting a special price. They were not experts in my field and had nothing to compare it to.

The Lesson

Value yourself, your skills, and your time, for what they are truly worth. Expect to be paid that amount. Ask for that amount. People will either pay it, or they won’t. When I finally found my artist, I understood her value. I didn’t run at her prices because I knew she was worth it. Paying her was a no-brainer, she was solving a huge problem for me and doing it in style. When I put my prices up, I flinched. I didn’t put them up to where they should be, but met them half way. Still, they felt terrifyingly high.

“Nobody’s going to pay me that!” I thought. “I’m not worth that much.” All evidence points to the contrary – my years of experience, my glowing testimonials, my list of happy clients etc. yet still, even now, there is a voice in the back of my head telling me, “You’re not worth that much.” That’s a really difficult voice to silence, or even ignore. Believe me, I know, I’m really trying to kill it.

But the thing is, when my prices went up, nobody batted an eyelid. I didn’t have a single complaint, not one word was said on the subjects. I simply notified existing client what the new price would be, and when it would take effect, and introduced new clients to my services at my new prices.

Ridiculously easy.

Totally painless in fact.

Why the fuck* didn’t I do it years ago?

Here’s the thing: the people who understand your value will pay what you ask them to pay. Ask for what you are worth. The people who tell you you’re too expensive, or try to wrangle you into giving them a lower price, do not understand your value. It doesn’t matter how low you go, they will always think you’re over priced. So do yourself, and them, a favour – send them on their way.

They’re not a good fit.

#5 Get Out Of Your Head

I got really stuck in my own head on this project. I’m ridiculously pleased with how the written content of the book turned out, it’s exactly as I envisioned it, but the rest… well…

I had a really clear idea of what I wanted for illustrations. I had a really specific, narrow view of how my book would look. Sometimes clarity of vision is a godsend. Other times, it’s a curse. On this particular project it was a double edged sword. My clear vision for the book allowed me to write it exactly as I wanted, and the end result is something I’m very proud to claim as my own. But the creative elements – the illustrations, the cover design, even the title… these things were problematic.

You see, I’m a fantasy author. I’ve been writing fiction a lot longer than I’ve been writing non-fiction. I only started blogging and professional non-fiction writing in my early twenties. I’ve been writing fiction for as long as I’ve been able to hold a pen (or a crayola). The Tao of Corporate Storytelling is the first full non-fiction book I’ve ever written. The Uber Author Planner has written content, but it’s sparse, the majority of the book consisting of planners, templates, outlines, and writing aids.

The Tao of Corporate Storytelling is a full length non-fiction piece, and the only creative elements in it are the cover, illustrations, and title.

And if I’m honest it doesn’t need illustrations. The addition of traditional water colour illustrations was a pure indulgence on my part, especially as I was illustrating the story element of the book – the fantasy – and not the factual element. But to me, this made sense: it’s a book about storytelling, about the creation of narrative in a business context. The odd juxtaposition of the fantasyesque illustrations and the corporate content was fitting.

But I was stuck in my own head.

My head is a fantastical place full of dragons and firebirds and magic. It is not the typical mind of a business person. Most entrepreneurs are extremely creative, but not that many are fantasy authors.

Which means not that many will appreciate the high fantasy elements I was bringing to the book.

The original title for the project was Copywriting for Female Entrepreneurs: Soulful Selling Through Stories. The more I wrote, the more I came to hate that title. The book is about finding yourself, your stories, finding your magic and power. My personal strength and stories are drawn from fantasy, and I really riled against the sensible nature of that title.

It bored me.

And thus I assumed it would bore everyone else.

So I changed it, to When the Phoenix Dances: Soulful Selling Through Stories. I loved this title, and merrily went on writing, ordered my illustrations, and when the phoenix image finally arrived, happily created my cover.

Then I got The Fear.

Because something I should have realised much sooner had suddenly become blindingly obvious: it looked nothing like a business book.

I posted it on social media and asked for opinions, only to have my suspicion confirmed: everyone either thought it was fiction, or was simply confused by it.

Had it been a fiction book I could possibly have got away with confusing them – enigmatic covers are often appealing to fiction readers. But this isn’t a fiction book, and the impression the cover was giving was the exact opposite of what I wanted. In my quest to not be boring I’d come across as something I wasn’t, and I was presenting the book as something it wasn’t.

Hardly in keeping with the spirit of authenticity.

But I was so stuck in my own head, I just couldn’t see it. 

The Lesson

Even if you are 100% convinced you’ve nailed it. Even if you’re completely certain you’re on the right track, that what you’re doing is exactly what your ideal clients want, that it’s going to go down a storm and make you millions.

We are not omnipotent. We are not our ideal client. We are not the answer to life the universe and everything. We are but individuals, one, not many. The view of one is narrow, the view of many is broad. GET FEEDBACK.

#6 Be A Duck

Accept criticism and comment, even if you disagree, even if it makes you fuming mad, even if it makes you vomit. Accept it. Let it run right off you, the proverbial water sheeting down upon the back of the equally proverbial duck.

Feedback is water.

You are the duck,

Ducks don’t sweat water, they love it.

Be the duck.

You will resist what people are saying to you at first. Even if they’re being nice and very helpful, even if they’re agreeing with you or saying they love what you’re doing. They will say something, use some inflection, phrase, word, or emoticon, that convinces you they hate you. Or they think you’re shit. Or they think you’re stupid. Or maybe they’re stupid. 

All this is normal. 

All this is water.

Be the duck.

After you’ve been kicking around in the pond for a while you’ll start to see patterns forming, ripples. These are SHARED OPINIONS. If the shared opinion of your ideal clients is that your title is misleading, your cover is confusing, and you need to scrap both and start again, you’d damn well better listen.

The Lesson

They won’t care if you ignore them. 

Really, they won’t.

But they’re your ideal clients, you want them to love your stuff, and they’re telling you, very clearly, that there’s something about it they don’t love. Something not quite right. If you listen very carefully they will tell you exactly what it is and how to fix it. But if you’re so busy squawking about the fact you’re getting wet you won’t be able to hear them!

BE THE DUCK!

#7 It’s Okay To Change Your Mind

No matter how far you get into a project, no matter how much you’ve promoted it, no matter how much people have seen of it, it’s okay to change your mind. I made two huge changes to this project off the back of the wonderful feedback I received. One was to change the title to The Tao of Corporate Storytelling: A Guide to Copywriting and Business Narratives. The other was to completely change the cover. 

At this point nobody but my friends and people in a business group or two on Facebook had seen the cover idea I originally had, so that wasn’t a big deal.

The title on the other hand…was.

For weeks I’d been tweeting quotes from my book, sharing them on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, all with the title included, all with the hashtag #WhenThePhoenixDances. It wasn’t a minor tweak to the title, it was a total change. Aside from ‘the’ and ‘through’ every word had changed and the entire feel of the title had changed.

That was good.

That was needed.

It was also bloody terrifying!

The Lesson

But it’s okay. It’s okay to decide something isn’t working and change it so that it is.

It’s okay to decide a project just isn’t right for you at all, and give it up as a bad job. Shelve it. Put it on the back burner. You can always come back to it later, if you want, but it’s better to stop, not waste any more time, or worse still release something into the world that’s totally wrong for you. 

Change is good…

When The Phoenix Dances: Soulful Selling for Female Entrepreneurs by Hazel Butler lessons about being an entrepreneur

The original cover and title.

 

The Tao of Corporate Storytelling: A Guide to Copywriting and Business Narrative by Hazel Butler lessons about being an entrepreneur

The revised cover and title, based on feedback from my Tribe and potential ideal clients.

 

*You must forgive me the occasional F-Bomb. It’s my way. I have a terrible potty mouth. I keep a lid on it most of the time for work, as I know some people find it offensive, but just occasionally it’s necessary for emphasis. If you’re wondering, no, I don’t swear while writing other people’s copy – unless they specifically ask me to, in which case they are usually pleased by the extensive range of expletives in my arsenal.

How To Make A Business Book Part Of Your Content Marketing Plan

If content marketing is part of your business (or you want it to be) you probably already have a content marketing plan. You’ve probably already read a great deal about the concepts behind content marketing as a business strategy and the types of content you can (and should) use. You know you need to blog a lot, vlog a lot, tweet a lot, and generally spend an insane amount of time, effort, energy, and resources, creating content.

What you probably haven’t heard as much about is the use of books as part of your content marketing plan. Short freebies and guides, yes, but full length books? They tend to get overlooked. When you do think of them, there are a few things that will immediately put you off the idea:

I could never write a book.

It would take far too long to write a book.

Releasing a book would cost way too much money.

I don’t know how to find a publisher.

I’d never make my money back!

Sound familiar? These are all very common and perfectly understandable questions/concerns that I hear from clients all the time. Over the next few weeks in the run up to National Novel Writing Month in November, I will be blogging a lot about business books, how and why you should write one, and why November is the perfect time to do it.

How To Make A Business Book Part Of Your Content Marketing Plan

To kick everything off, here’s my ten step guide to making a business book part of your content marketing plan. Take a look, you’ll be surprised by the benefits!

Step One: Plan A Book

It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking your book can’t actually be part of your marketing strategy until it’s published.

This is wrong.

Very wrong.

Your new business book will form part of your content marketing plan from the moment you decide to do it. Scratch that, from the moment you think it might be a good idea. One of the key concepts that you have to wrap your head around very early on here is that you’re not writing the book you want to write. You can, but the odds are it won’t help your business. 

In order to do this, you need to find out what kind of business book your tribe needs. This means market research and planning. Take a look at other business books in your niche. Ask your tribe which business books they love, which authors they devour. Consider the topics that are very popular, and the topics that could be the next big thing. Ideally, you want to combine the two.

Try to find a subject you can write on with great authority, that your tribe have told you they would love, that straddles one extremely popular subject, and one little-known subject that could be the next big thing. If you’ve really niched down in your business, the odds are you’re already doing something that’s little-known but could be the next big thing.

Once you have your subject, test it. Survey your tribe and potential ideal clients. Find out if it’s something they really would be interested in. Get their opinions on titles, chapter topics, themes.

For example, the original title of my current WIP was When the Phoenix Dances, and the cover was one of the illustrations. I was very attached to both, but I surveyed my tribe and potential clients and they didn’t get it: they thought it looked more like a novel that a business book, and didn’t immediately understand what it was about.

In hindsight I should have realised this, but this is why you need an outside perspective! I changed the title and cover, based on feedback from my tribe.

When The Phoenix Dances: Soulful Selling for Female Entrepreneurs by Hazel Butler How To Make A Business Book Part Of Your Content Marketing Plan

The Tao of Corporate Storytelling: A Guide to Copywriting and Business Narrative by Hazel Butler How To Make A Business Book Part Of Your Content Marketing Plan

The final working title reached – with a lot of help from my tribe – is The Tao of Corporate Storytelling.

Rather different.

One was about me, and what I wanted the book to be, the other was about them, and what they needed the book to be. 

You should always work to what your readers need from your book, and not what you want from it.

Now plan your book according to that data (don’t worry, I’ll be doing a post on how to plan your book very soon!). 

Step Two: Take Your Readers On Your Writing Journey

Once you have your book planned, you need to start writing it. Whether you’re writing it as part of National Novel Writing Month over the course of November, or doing it in fits and starts as you’re able, keep your tribe updated. If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter you will regularly see photos of me out and about with a notebook/laptop. Sometimes with a coffee in a café, other times down the pub with a pint, or at the beach. If you’re writing, your tribe needs to know about it!

  • Which bit are you working on?
  • Are you finding it easy or are you really struggling?
  • Do you have block? If so, how are you addressing it?
  • Are you really exacted to share a particular part of it with them?
  • Have you hit any mile stones – finished a chapter, reached the half way mark, finally figured out why a particular section wasn’t working?

Don’t forget to use the relevant hashtags when posting updates to drawn in new readers and grow your tribe even further. #AmWriting and #WritersRoad are good, but you need some specific to your ideal clients!

Step Three: Give Bits Of Your Book Away For Free

The sooner you start teasing your book, the better. There are many ways you can do this. The most effective are to pull quotes from your new book, create lovely, branded memes (like mine below), and share them on social media. 

HOW TO MAKE A BUSINESS BOOK PART OF YOUR CONTENT MARKETING PLAN Quotes From 'The Tao of Corporate Storytelling: A Guide to Copywriting and Business Narrative, by Hazel Butler

Quotes From ‘The Tao of Corporate Storytelling: A Guide to Copywriting and Business Narrative, by Hazel Butler

Share your little heart out. Use the literal writing process:

  • Your computer screen open on the document
  • Pages from your notebook
  • Index cards detailing sections and chapters of the book, laid out on the floor

And then shots of the later stages of the book’s progress:

  • The cover design and/or illustrations
  • The first draft, printed out and awaiting reading
  • Scribbles of red pen all over pages you’re editing
  • The proof copy once it arrives from the printers

The idea is to give your followers a sense of the book and what it is about long before it’s available. The real trick here is to prove the book’s value, and show them why the need to read the whole thing.

Hands down the best way to do this is to let them read the first chapter for free. You can very easily share a PDF of the draft of your first chapter as soon as you have it. 

Step Four: Build A Book List

Just as you build an email list for your business as a whole, you should be building a list of people interested in your new book. Start doing this as soon as you announce you are writing the book, don’t wait! There will always be people immediately interested. There will always be people who read the quotes you are sharing freely and want more. Make it easy for them! Include a description with each meme you share including the quote, details of the book it’s from (title, publication date if you know it yet) and a link to sign up to receive the first chapter for free as soon as it’s available.

You don’t have to have the first chapter ready to go when you start getting people on the list to receive it! At the time of penning this blog post, my first chapter of The Tao of Corporate Storytelling isn’t finalised yet. There’s still a very prominent page on the site where people can sign up, with buttons and links to it everywhere. By the time you publish you should have a list of people ready and waiting to BUY! 

Your book list should also be a section of your MAIN EMAIL LIST – a book is the biggest list builder you will EVER create, make sure you’re taking advantage of it from the start. Everyone signing up to your book list automatically gets added to your main list, to start receiving your newsletter.

Step Five: Write The BEST Book Possible

Many people make the mistake of thinking a business book doesn’t need to be earth shattering. That it can be a perfunctory thing created as a marketing tool and then forgotten about. That it doesn’t need to matter. While it’s true that your book will be an amazing marketing tool, it won’t work unless it’s a good book.

By ‘good’, I mean well planned, well structured, well written, thoroughly edited and proofread by a skilled professional, professionally formatted, has a top-notch, gorgeous cover and/or illustrations, and is published in a high-quality format. If you’re only publishing in electronic form, the latter part isn’t relevant, but if you’re publishing a paperback/hardback version you need to make sure the printing is first rate.

The reason for this is really simple: your book is a reflection of your business. If your book is crap, people will assume you are crap, your business is crap, and your other products and services are crap too. Conversely if your book is professional and fulfills a need, they will assume you are professional and can fulfill their needs, and that your business, products, and services, are something the NEED.

Your book is an investment. Don’t skimp on ANYTHING.

Step Six: Offer Advanced Reader Copies

Once you have your book in its final stages, when there is nothing left to do but the last proofread and checking the format for the final version, you can made advanced reader copies (ARCs) available. You can offer them exclusively to people already on your book list, or you can offer them to anyone interested and thus grow your book list still further. There are merits to both approaches: one rewards those who have already shown interest, and gives you an extra hook to get people to sign up to the list from the start; the other gives you a massive competition to run across all your platforms ahead of the book launch, raising the profile of the launch. 

Don’t give away the farm. Decide on a set number of copies. It’s easy to stick to a small number to make them even more valuable, but bear in mind that one of the main reasons for giving away ARCs is to get REVIEWS of your book ahead of your launch. Only about one in ten people who read your book will actually review it (excluding friends and family, who generally feel compelled). If you want lots of reviews ahead of time, you need to get the book out to a reasonable number of people. Hard copies will cost you money to print and post. You need to factor in the costs when you’re deciding how many you will offer.

If you’re offering them to your list exclusively, select names at random until all copies are allocated. If you’re running a competition, make sure you promote it everywhere for a reasonable length of time.

You should also approach professionals in your field and specifically request that they review your book in advance of the launch. This will give you exposure to a wider audience who are likely to be interested in your book, and give you quotes to use on the cover, in the front matter, on any promotional materials, and during the launch.

Step Seven: Launch Like You Mean It

Launch your book with as much passion and fanfare as you can muster. If you have kept your costs very low, and have a huge following, you might break even. If you don’t, don’t let it get you down. It doesn’t mean the project will never break even, it’s just the nature of publishing. 

Your eventual goal for the book should be that it provides you with consistent passive income. But that’s your end game. Your main goal here is to make your book a part of your content marketing plan, and use it to market your business.

Consider how much money you would spend on an advertising campaign to generate the amount of attention and leads your book has already created. And that’s before it has even been published! A few key things you will experience leading up to and during the launch of your book (if you’ve followed this plan!):

  • A surge in your social media following
  • A massive increase in your list
  • Increased traffic to your website
  • An uptake in inquiries and sales 

And that’s before you’ve sold a single copy. So buck up, this isn’t about making green – that’s the gravy, baby!

Pour your heart and soul into launching your book and make the most you can out of it from a marketing perspective. This is a HUGE opportunity massively to grow your tribe with a single campaign. Don’t waste it!

Step Eight: Quote, Reference, Mention, Repeat

Now you’re a bona fide author, for the love of god, milk it! Quote your book, reference your book, mention your book at every available opportunity and in every relevant blog post. Don’t shove it down people’s throats when they’re not looking at something directly related. If you’ve chosen the right topic, you will be able to talk about lots in a natural way.

Step Nine: Give Your Book Away

You already ran one competition to give away ARCs. Wait six months to a year and run another, this time with the final copies available. This works well if you’ve sold lots of eBooks but few hard copies (which is totally normal!). People who love the eBook will want the hard copy, people who’ve never read it will just want a copy.

Also, take advantage of that wonderful boon every author embraces: SWAG!

Bookmarks, key chains, post cards, posters, business cards, mugs, notebooks… Even cushions and other home wear items can all bear elements of your book. Whether it’s quotes, the cover, or the illustrations, it doesn’t matter. Sell the high-end items, give away the cheap options in spades. Imagine pens with your name, business logo, and a quote from your book, nestling in the handbag of every woman in your tribe.

How many of those women do you think will turn into paying clients one day?

Step Ten: Write Another Book

I know, I know, you hate me for saying it. It’s so much work, stressful, expensive and so rewarding. Better, it will give your business a massive boost, not just now but for years to come.

Do it all again…

What Is Copywriting And How Can It Skyrocket My Business?

What is Copywriting?

If you’re in business – even as a fledgling entrepreneur – the odds are you’ve heard of copywriting. You’ve probably been told you need it, that it’s important. But exactly what is copywriting, and why is it so important for your business?

Copywriting is an essential aspect of online marketing. If you’re marketing yourself, your business, your products or services online, you need to write copy. The question is: will you write it yourself, or whether hire someone else? There are many forms of copywriting – advertising copy, blog content, website copy, social media messages, branding straplines, even scripts for promotional videos, vlogs, and courses. It all requires a copywriter.

Copywriting is far more than simply writing a few words, there’s a science to it, an art. Copywriting is essentially strategically delivering words (written or spoken), to make sure your readers are compelled to act. The specific action they take will vary depending on many factors, but all good copywriting calls readers to some form of action.

How Can It Skyrocket My Business?

Quality copywriting can skyrocket your business in a number of ways and ensuring all your copy is top-notch is a major priority for you. Professional Copywriters are some of the most highly paid writers in the world, because their skills are worth a fortune to business owners.

Your copy can make or break your business. This is especially true if you are exclusively an online business, or if the core of your marketing strategy is content marketing.

My focus as a copywriter is on blog copy. As a copywriter I work with clients to make sure their blogs are as perfect as possible. I help they harness the power of content marketing to boost their business and build a solid tribe. Different kinds of copywriting can help your business in different ways, here are a few ways your blog copywriting can skyrocket your business:

Copywriting Is The Core Of Growth For Your Online Business

A killer content schedule for your blog that consistently drives signups and sales is what good copywriting is all about. No matter what size your business is – tiny startup or Girlboss Empire – quality copywriting will grow it and continue to grow it.

Copywriting Will Enable You To Build A Dedicated Tribe Of Ideal Clients

Good copywriting provides your readers with value, especially if it’s free content in the form of blog posts. They are getting quality content for nothing and will come to know, like, and trust you as a result. Your copy will give you direct control over the manner of growth in your business. It will allow you to target specific people, your ideal clients, and make sure you have a tribe of people you want to work with, who understand the value of you and your business, and are not only willing, but perfectly happy, to pay you what you’re worth.

Copywriting Is The Key To Soulful Selling

Using quality content to build a dedicated tribe and grow your business is a more efficient, and far more soulful way of selling than other marketing practices. You aren’t out there on the hustle day in, day out, trying to get people you don’t know to buy in to whatever you’re selling. Instead, people will come to you. They will already know they need what you have, you won’t ever need to use the hard sell on them. They will already feel you have given them a great deal of value, long before they’ve handed over a penny. They will be thinking, ‘Wow, if her free content is this good, imagine how awesome that course will be!’.

Copywriting Ensures You Keep Your Promises

If you promise your tribe certain things, you have to deliver, or your business will crumble. Quality copy will make sure you never promise that which you cannot deliver, and gives you an effective, easy way of delivering on a lot of your promises through written content – blog posts, worksheets, cheatsheets, eBooks etc.

Copywriting Engages Readers And Directly Affects Your Bottom Line

Whether it’s through an informative blog post, email marketing, or directly through advertising copy, the words chosen, the specific order they’re placed in, the emotions they elicit and the impact they have will all directly affect your readers. It will convert some to followers and some to clients.

All these elements of quality copywriting come together to skyrocket your business. Copywriting in an incredibly powerful tool for business owners and online marketers. It’s also very time-consuming, and requires considerable skill, which begs the obvious question…

Should I Hire A Professional Copywriter?

There are three sides to this question:

  1. Is writing your Zone of Genius?
  2. Do you have time to write your copy to the standard you need?
  3. Do you have money in your budget to cover the cost of copywriter?

These three questions feed into each other.

Zone Of Genius

You may be a phenomenally talented writer. But if writing isn’t your Zone of Genius, your time is better spent elsewhere. It’s not a reflection on your writing abilities, it’s simply a matter of priorities – your business will grow faster and become stronger if you are focusing all your efforts on your Zone of Genius and not worrying about trying to do everything else too.

Even if you could do it all perfectly.

Time

As entrepreneurs we are all time poor. You might have the time to fire off a quick blog post each week. But is it really to the standard your business needs? Is it really the high quality you need to support a business plan based so largely online, and so largely on content marketing? What else could you be doing in that time, and would it better serve your business? A professional will give you copy for your blog to a much higher standard than you could produce in the same amount of time. Meanwhile, you can spend that time doing the elements of your business that nobody else could do as well as you.

If writing isn’t your Zone of Genius, it’s not how you should be spending your time (in business at least).

Money

The money question is always tricky. Copywriters are expensive. There’s no getting around that. Good copywriting requires an investment. There are content mills you can go to that produce lots of copy for very little money, but they are full of pitfalls and should be avoided. If you don’t have the money in your budget to cover the cost of a professional, you are going to have to do it yourself – for now at least. But before you make that call, consider where your money comes from. If you weren’t spending a day a week writing copy, how much extra revenue could you bring in? By paying a professional copywriter to work for a couple of hours you free up three hours of your own time. Or a full day. Or anything in between.

How much do you charge an hour? If it’s equal to or more than the amount you would spend on a copywriter, hire a copywriter. Even if your hourly rate is less than a copywriter’s, it can still be worth hiring them from a financial perspective. You might pay them for two hours, but you’d have worked longer to achieve the same result.

Do the maths. Hiring a copywriter is actually extremely cost-effective because it frees up so much of your time. Time you can focus on your business and Zone of Genius.

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