Archive for January, 2009

Handsome Properties Website Launch Is Here

Friday, January 30th, 2009

We are excited to announce the launch of Handsome Properties new website. We headed up the creative content direction and wrote the web copy while the Charleston-based design firm Studio Blur worked their magic.

Handsome Properties is a boutique real estate firm specalizing in historic and luxury properties in and around Charleston, South Carolina.

Recession Should Facilitate Positive Thinking

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

A year ago, many businesses could safely assume what worked for one successful business worked for all. This is not the case today.

Business practices and marketing strategies, which made a company successful last year, aren’t the same ones companies should implement today. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of this economic downturn and change the way you do business. It’s about marketing your company in a unique fashion and flipping past practices upside down.

The businesses succeeding during this time . . .

• Don’t simply follow trends—they’re ahead of the trends.
• Think outside the box.
• Educate themselves on the economy as a whole and in niche areas, not necessarily related to their industry.
• Analyze what other successful businesses are doing and put a unique spin on it.
• Acknowledge the negative aspects of this economy but do not dwell on them.
• Go the extra mile to discover what their competition isn’t doing.

Don’t let this recession frighten you into hiding. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get on top. Use your mind as your main tool and resource for creating a successful business during this time. This will help you exercise your creativity for the future benefits of your business.

Change the way you do business today, and succeed in this troubled economy. You won’t regret it.

Connecting to Your Target Market Through Your Website

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Message from Michelle

The current economic climate is calling on companies to change how they conduct business and market their services. People are still buying, but their reasons for buying have changed. This means if you want to remain visible and continue to grow, you must begin to revise your marketing message to make sure you are connected to your target market’s wants. Lose that connection, and you will lose your past, current, and future clients.

In the last issue, we discussed how to improve your marketing message to attract clients and the five steps to take to refine your message. In this issue of Your Business Marketing Solution, we continue the discussion on improving your marketing message to attract all the clients you want–with the focus on the importance of your website in attracting customers.

As a web copy writer, I have the pleasure of working with some of the best web design firms in the nation and have grown to know more and more about the design and development process. But I am no expert. So I asked web designer Eric Jennings, owner of Studio Blur, if he would answer a few questions for my readers. Thankfully, he agreed. Eric and I have worked on three projects together and recently completed a website for Handsome Properties. He’s a pleasure to work with, and I am grateful to him for taking time to be interviewed.

Feature Article

Connecting to Your Target Market Through Your Website

Below is my interview with Eric Jennings, owner of Studio Blur, a web design company based in Charleston, South Carolina.

What are some misconceptions companies have about building a website?

I see a number of companies that don’t realize creating a website is an ongoing process and a site needs constant attention and updates. Many think the web is a magic solution where they put up a site and the money rolls in.

I also see companies that either don’t understand their target audience or they have no idea who their target audience is. They want a website with a certain function or a certain look and feel that they want, instead of what the viewer wants. That happens more often than not, although there are clients who fully understand that information and can focus on the goals of the site.

I’ve had a number of situations where we build a site and the client does not understand the target. After a few months of trial by fire, we can define the audience and adjust the site to meet the audience’s expectations. It is always an education process for every client. The most successful projects are always the ones where the client knows their audience and can take viewer feedback to make the site a successful experience.

What can a company do before contacting a designer to better understand their target market?

Research any current data they have on customer purchasing. Determine exactly how people currently find them. Research their competition, not to copy, but to find out how they are placed in their industry. When the research is complete, collect data, and then put together a refined marketing campaign to build your site.

To what extent does the site design factor into speaking to a company’s target market?

Designing the focus of the site is critical. You can have a generic design, in which you hope to persuade a customer to purchase, or you can have a focused site that drives the customer to purchase. A focused site has a navigation plan where you control how the viewer uses your site. You can lead visitors to the areas that are considered high-value content while also keeping navigation simple.

You want the viewer to be able to see your product or service immediately without having to make them work to find it. Many sites fail at this–they have a generic site that contains no call-to-action methods. The viewer comes to the site, half the battle is won. Then they leave because the message or focus of the site is not clear.

Design is very important, but subjective. The successful site is the one where the design supports the function of the site–not where the design overpowers the function. An ugly design that clearly defines the mission of the site can always be more successful than a beautiful design that has no purpose or goal. is not a beautiful design, but the design pushes the function of the site and executes the goals of the site, which, of course, is to drive revenue up.

You touched on navigation. How important is that to the site as a whole?

Navigation is extremely important. You never want to make a viewer have to guess how to find something on your site. If possible, you should remove the find search option out of the site completely. Everything should flow and be represented in a manner where the user can navigate through the site immediately.

Video is becoming a more prevalent way to draw in the target market. How are you using video to raise conversion rates and increase site traffic?

We are starting to focus on this area because it gives a new platform to demo the product or service a client offers. This can give the user an almost hands-on experience.

With available services like You Tube, Facebook, etc., video does not have to be of the highest quality. Video allows a viewer to engage whatever product, service, or idea you want to present. It can present an emotional response to encourage a purchase or a contact method.

If you have a product and you only have a photo of that product, then you may generate some interest. If you have a video of that product in action, then you are actually giving a demo and that could greatly increase the conversion rate from viewer to purchaser.

What are some common mistakes companies make with their websites and how can they remedy this?

The number one mistake is not spending the money, the time, and the research it takes to develop a successful site. Your website is not a magic component of the business, but it can be the most powerful one. Again, if you do not have a clear idea of your audience, do your research, and listen to your current clients. This way you will have the data to build a site to meet the user’s expectations.

The second mistake I see companies making is not updating their current website. The site should be a venture that is always monitored and updated with fresh content. It needs to be tweaked to accommodate viewer feedback and changes in the marketplace. If you build a site and then never tend to it, you will fail.

I think the most common mistake is building a site that the owner of the company wants with no foundation. You must remove your personal desires and build for the viewing audience and what they want to see.

What advice would you give a start-up company who cannot afford right now to have a professional website designed?

There is no valid excuse to not have a presence on the web. It’s important, now more than ever. My advice is to find a way to afford at least a focused single page or microsite to represent your company. It’s not ideal, but if you at least have a single page with a list of services and contact information, you will have some sort of online presence and can build on that. It is more common than not for a viewer to look up your company online before they approach you, and if they can’t find you on the web, that can be lost revenue.

Who is your ideal client?

A company that has an understanding of their business and the market they are targeting. I work with clients who have a defined goal – to increase traffic, increase sales, increase exposure for their services, etc. They realize creating a site is an extension of their business, and, more times than not, it is the first representation of their company that a potential client will see.

About Studio Blur

Studio Blur focuses on site development, whether a new start-up website or a redesign. The firm also has a strong commitment to customer service and to help clients succeed with their web endeavors. Visit their site at

Tip of the Month

According to a December 2008 eMarketer report, the 56.7 million baby boomers make up the largest group of users in the U.S. Internet population. They view the Internet as a tool, a way to get things done, and not as a lifestyle.

Grow and Succeed in a Bad Economy

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

The following article and excercise was taken (with permission) from Envision Lifeworks LLC, From Purpose to Profit Ezine, Issue 5 dated 1/22/09.


Find a time and place where you can quietly take 15 minutes to think and reflect. This exercise starts by stirring up some of the gunk that clogs your ability to thrive – your limiting beliefs.

Start by thinking of five beliefs that you live with that really hold you back. You can expand the number later, but five will help you get the idea. For example, as a Conscious Entrepreneur, you may sometimes find yourself yielding to limiting beliefs like:

·         “I have to work harder than I do now to increase my prosperity.”

·         “I can’t succeed because of this bad economy.”

·         “Clients will never pay me the fees that more successful providers command.”

·         “Who am I to be creating this business? People are going to see right through me and think I’m a fake.”

Can you remember having these or other beliefs with a similar tone of negativity? Don’t be hard on yourself if you have. You’re in good company! Even the most successful entrepreneurs combat the occasional encroachment of disempowering beliefs. But that said, don’t stay there. Your success will grow if you go on to the next steps below.

Now we are going to turn this around. This year, and forever more, you are going to increasingly empower yourself by getting into the habit of doing two things.

1. Becoming actively aware of when you are yielding to beliefs that do not empower you. Awareness in itself is a big step forward, signaling that you are ready to grow beyond negative beliefs and into wonderful new territory.

2. U-Turning the disempowering belief. You will do this by identifying an opposite, empowering belief that you will choose to enjoy in place of its negative opposite. Then, when you become aware of the negative belief trying to creep in, you will actively choose to think the positive replacement instead.

Here is how you might U-Turn the negative examples above:

Disempowering Belief: I have to work harder than I do now to increase my prosperity. U-Turn with Empowering Belief: Prosperity comes with ease when I yield to Spirit’s plan for my life.

Disempowering Belief: I can’t succeed because of this bad economy. Empowering Belief: Many entrepreneurs are thriving right now. I have chosen to grow and succeed along with them.

Disempowering Belief: Clients will never pay me the fees that more successful providers command. Empowering Belief: I provide great value to my clients and help improve their lives, and for that I deserve to be well-compensated.

Disempowering Belief: Who am I to be creating this business? People are going to see right through me and think I’m a fake. Empowering Belief:In building this business, I am being my most authentic self and using my genuine talents to succeed.

I know some will smirk and dismiss this approach as Pollyannaish or just a gimmick for “tricking” yourself into avoiding reality. I am not asking you to put on rose-colored glasses or deny physical realities like gravity and sunshine.

But your thoughts and your beliefs are a different matter. You have a choice. You have free will.

What I am suggesting is that you exercise this choice and take complete responsibility for your thoughts and beliefs.

We all go through life endowing our strongly-held beliefs with the sacred status of “the truth,” whether these “truths” serve us or not. But know this: beliefs that are founded on negative drivers, like fear and doubt, are just your ego’s attempt to protect you. Yes, your ego means well, but it will often do this by keeping you small with “truths” that prevent you playing big and making positive changes.

In choosing to U-Turn your limiting beliefs, you are exercising veto power over your ego and choosing to be and play bigger in life.

Each time you do this, you are choosing to grow and become stronger.

So try it!

Practice becoming aware of beliefs that don’t serve you, beliefs that just bring you down. Give yourself credit even if at first you get just that far. Then, practice taking a fast and sharp U-Turn on that stinkin’ thinkin’.  Peel some rubber as you turn your thoughts around to positive beliefs of your choosing. Then hit the pedal to the metal down the road of success and prosperity!

About the author:  Julio Blanco is a certified coach, veteran marketer, and conscious entrepreneur. As owner of Envision Lifeworks LLC, he champions other conscious entrepreneurs to align their business with their purpose and to achieve the abundance they desire on their own terms. He is the author of the from PURPOSE to PROFIT Ezine and serves clients through individual and group coaching, seminars, and public speaking. For more information, please visit

Save Your Business: 5 Ways to Stop Freaking Out About the Economy

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, scared? Here are five simple ways to avoid freaking out:

1) Stop listening to the news. If you listen to the news, read papers, participate in negative gloom-and-doom conversations, then stop. Try taking a week break from listening to the media reports. You’ll be amazed how much happier and less-stressed you will be.

2) Treat yourself to something nice. Take a walk, take a bath, take yourself to dinner. Whatever you do, do something for yourself.

3) Sit down and write a list of what’s going right in your business and what’s going wrong. Take the list of what’s going right and focus on ways to do more of that. Evaluate what’s not going right and ask yourself why. Brainstorm a bit. Either stop doing what’s not working or find a way to make it work.

4) Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people.

5) Ask mentors for advice. Every business owner should have a mentor. You cannot operate in a vacuum, and seeking the advice of someone outside of your daily struggles will help you refocus and stay on track.

Why Now Is The Time To Invest In Your Business

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Now is a critical time for businesses to invest in their marketing.

According to a McGraw-Hill study, businesses that maintained or increased their marketing during the 1981-82 recession:

–Averaged higher sales growth during the recession and over the next three years, and by 1985, had increased sales 256% over those companies that cut marketing…

–Then in 2001, another study found that aggressive marketers increased market share 2½ times the average for all businesses in the post-recession!

Those who stepped up their marketing were the big winners during and after the recession.

The time to grow your business is now

The most effective way to grow your business is to invest in your online presence. If you don’t have a website, now invest in one. If your site is stale and the content is outdated, now is the time to revamp it.

Your website is the easiest and fastest way to advertise your services or product. But there’s a catch: you have 3 to 5 seconds to grab a prospective client’s attention.

One. Two. Three. And they are gone.

And with millions of websites to choose from, the competition is fierce. Want to stay ahead of the crowd, rank high on search engines, and reach millions of prospective customers? 

You must have compelling web copy.

Having a clear business message on your website is the #1 action you can take to attract ideal clients online and skyrocket your sales. 

Your marketing message must speak to your target audience. Give them what they are hungry for. Get them to take action. Communicate in a clear, concise, informative way.

Get More Clients in Tough Economy

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Step 4 and 5 in attracting clients is to write your marketing copy and edit it. (Click here to read step 1 through 3)

Now that you have the necessary information in front of you, it’s time to sit down and write your marketing copy.

As you write, keep in mind that you must focus on your target audience and speak your target market’s language. You must grab their attention, spark interest as quickly as possible– this is where the benefits come in handy. The content must speak to how your services will benefit your clients’ wants and desires. You must be clear on what it is that you offer and how you will solve the customers’ problems.

The copy must also be engaging and positive. Remember, if you aren’t excited about your business, potential clients will move on to another site. By using descriptive text and compelling words to convey necessary information, you can easily create desire. But, remember, the message must be clear. You don’t want people to have to decipher what it is you do. Your objective is to draw them in deeper, persuade them to take action, so stay away from using industry jargon that might confuse or turn off a potential client.
Step 5: Have Your Copy Critiqued

After you have a completed marketing piece—whether it’s your homepage web copy or a sales letter, it’s important to let it sit for a day or two. Step away from it, and then come back to it with a fresh perspective. Review it again, make necessary changes, and then send it out for critique.

Ask friends and colleagues to read your marketing copy. Ask them to see where you can improve your message, if you are conveying a positive message, and ask them to check for grammatical mistakes. It’s important to ask people who are supportive and those who can offer constructive feedback. Take it a step further, and ask a current client to review it for you. I’ve done this before, and the feedback I’ve received from current clients has been immensely helpful.

Understand What Makes You Unique

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Step 3 in atracting all the clients you want is…Understaing What Makes Your Company Unique. (Click here to read step 1 and step 2)

With so many companies offering similar services or products as you do, how do you stand out from the crowd? Once you identify your target market and know the benefit your company brings to them, then you need to show why potential clients should buy from you.

In order to do this, you need a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), a short statement explaining how your company or product differs from those of your competitors. Your USP informs prospective and current clients why your product or service is the best option.

Many businesses fail to establish a USP, just as they fail to pinpoint their target market. You must communicate a specific, compelling reason for customers to buy from you. Show them ways your company is different. Do you do something that goes over and beyond what your competitors do? Do you do things differently? Now, sit down and make a list of what makes your company unique.

While you’re making your list, brainstorm ways you can add more value to the product or service. For example, if you are a web designer, perhaps you could offer a free, 30-minute follow-up call to answer any questions customers have or to help brainstorm ways they can draw more site traffic. Offer this a month after the completion of the project. If you own a real estate firm, perhaps you could drive your clients around in a comfortable vehicle and offer snacks and drinks along the way.

Don’t forget to research the competition. Unless you know what else is out there, you cannot properly evaluate or showcase a USP.

Study the competition’s website and marketing materials, noting each company’s history and mission, product features and benefits, and target market. Why do customers buy from them and what does the market want that they do not or cannot provide? Note gaps in their product or service offerings. If you have difficulty clarifying benefits, list the features and why a prospect requires or desires them. Those reasons are benefits.

Attract All the Clients You Want: Step 2

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Your marketing copy has the power to bring you new customers and retain current ones. It connects you with your clients. Entices them to buy. Drives them to call you. Copy makes or breaks the sale.

Now is the time to revamp your marketing materials. It’s a must if you want to survive the economic crunch.

Step #1 was to reach your target market (if you haven’t read it, please click here)

Step 2: List the Features and the Benefits

Once you have clearly defined your target market, it’s important to identify how your product or service will benefit this group. And how you do this is to create a detailed list of features and benefits.

Your ideal customer want to know what’s in it for THEM. They don’t care about your process; they don’t care how long you’ve been doing what you’re doing. They care about how your service or product will make their lives better. Again, they want to know what’s in it for them.

Many companies make the mistake of telling the customer that they need a particular software or they need a spa package. This isn’t going to sell your software or your spa packages. People don’t buy based on what they need. They buy something because they want to. They buy based on emotion, then logically justify why they bought it. And the bottom line is people really need very little. They need the basics—food, shelter, water, love, oxygen. So if you are selling your book based on the idea that your target audience needs to buy your book—well, let’s face it, no one is going to die because they didn’t buy the book.

If you want people to purchase from you, then you need to give them what they want. How you do this is to entice them with the benefits. The benefits are the results they will get when they hire you as a coach or when they purchase your bath product. Will it save them more money or time, cost them less, or reduce their stress? 

Take out a sheet of paper for each service or product you sell. Make a list of the features of the product or service, and on the opposite side of the paper, list the benefits. I suggest creating bulleted lists and posting them in front of your computer when you begin writing your marketing copy. This will help you focus when creating a compelling marketing message.

5 Steps to Attract All the Clients You Want

Saturday, January 10th, 2009
  • Have you considered reworking your marketing message to better reach and speak to your target audience?
  • When was the last time you updated your website copy?
  • Revised your services brochure?
  • Revisited the email sales letters you regularly send?

If the answer is “It’s been a while” or “I don’t know,” then it’s time to give your marketing copy a makeover.

With the economic downturn, it’s important—now more than ever—to take a look at how you can improve your marketing message.


Your marketing copy has the power to bring you new customers and retain current ones. It connects you with your clients. Entices them to buy. Drives them to call you. Copy makes or breaks the sale.

Many companies are unaware their marketing message is driving customers away—both new and repeat business. If your current website copy or marketing materials aren’t bringing you the profits or the clients you want, the good news is that a change in your copy can drastically increase sales.

Step 1: Know Your Target Market

Before you write a word of marketing copy, you need to understand who will be buying from you. Knowing and understanding your target market is crucial for any company—from the one-person shop to the large corporation. Why? It’s simple. You can’t market effectively if you don’t know whom you are speaking to.

The key is to narrow down your target and get as specific as you can. There’s a big difference between the following:
a) My target audience is new mothers who want a career change; and
b) My target audience is new mothers in their late 30s who are interested in leaving their corporate jobs and starting their own businesses. They are married, most have master-level degrees, enjoy an active lifestyle, and are members of a gym.

Take this a step further and make a list of where your target market likes to shop and dine, what they do to relax, where they go for their information, what magazines they read on a regular basis. The more specific you get, the easier it will be to write marketing copy that will speak to and attract your target market. 

Stay tuned for Step #2 in the next blog post. If you can’t wait, check out

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