Have you ever thought about offering a high-quality free report to both current fans as well as potential clients? Free reports are an excellent way to build trust and instant credibility which in turn will help you stay at the forefront of your client’s minds. Also often called “whitepapers,” these valuable, multitasking tools are perfect for demonstrating your expertise as well as showcasing the remarkable products and services you have to offer.
What exactly IS a free report, and why do I need one?
A free report , or whitepaper, is like a free consultation or sample of what you have to offer. A “sneak peek” into you, your business, your passion and your value. It’s a fabulous way to impress the socks off potential clients by sharing something you know that’s important to them, by giving them the inside scoop on what you do, and by igniting interest in your product or services.
Free reports can also be a game changer when it comes to helping business decision makers make an informed choice. Do I go with Unknown Quantity Vendor A, who has offered me nothing; or do I go with Value-Added Vendor B, who has already freely offered me something meaningful that I can use right now? You get it! Free = Instant fandom!
If well written and offered with little to no-strings attached, a free report can help expand your social media network, improve your social media and website response rate and grow your list of subscribers to your blog, newsletter or RSS feeds. If piggybacked with a sales promo, a free report also can help you build momentum and interest, not just for new customers, but also when it comes to formerly passive clients who will now become quickly incentivized to book an appointment or make a purchase.
Expert Tips for Powerful Free Reports
1. Pick your topic: Make sure it sticks with the theme of your business or blog and will highlight your expertise and value as “the one” to look to for guidance in your niche
2. Write a title: This will often help guide you as your write – and help you to stay on track. People love lists, so Top 10 is always good. Or “7 Best Ways.” Or maybe it can be a “secret” or “proven tactic.” State the value of your whitepaper boldly and you are more likely to attract people to want to read it.
3. Draft an outline: Start with your list or steps that you plan to discuss. Then fill each one out. The perfect length is somewhere between 3 and 10 pages.
4. Use images: Don’t make the mistake of what we called in the newspaper industry “too much grey space.” The eyes need a break once in awhile from words, words, words. Be sure to use images that are pleasant and support your topics to break up space a create a little visual “Feng shui.”
5. Know when to say when: One of the biggest concerns I hear from my clients when I help them write new whitepapers for their business is, “I don’t want to give away the farm.” How much is too much? If your whitepaper gives the problem and solution in entirety – and can ultimately replace one of your products or services that you currently charge for, well then, it’s too much. Keep in mind that you want to bring to attention a problem your target audience has, how you can help them solve it, and a few valuable tips to get them started on the road to success. Give good value, by all means, but make sure that you leave the reader an open invitation or call to action to come to you again for more.
OK, It’s done. Now what?
After you’ve written your report, let people know that it’s available – marketing time. Tell your audiences about it in your newsletter, blog or social media pages. Get the word out via business colleagues, joint venture partners and online communities so they can help you promote it. This creates a wonderful win-win-win situation for all.
Bottom line: To ignite amazing business growth, it is paramount that you set yourself apart from the competition. If you want your business to sustain greater growth, year after year, capturing your audience’s attention through value-added incentives like free reports and whitepapers is a very powerful tool you can use anytime.
As a writer I spend a good large portion of my time…. Writing! No surprise there. But just because I love what I do, and have years of training as a journalist and editor, doesn’t mean that I sit down and – poof! – wonderful copy magically appears. There are many factors that keep me inspired, energized and “in the zone” when I write, of course. For today, though, what’s really been on my mind is a support system we already have, but often falls under the radar. It’s always there, 24-7, and available at a moment’s notice. It’s honest and gives you just what you need when you need it. I’m talking about the wide range of friends, followers, readers and colleagues that we have access to via our social networks.
A network of invested friends and followers is a powerful resource that will boost a writer’s energy, motivation, inspiration and overall quality of content. Sit back and take a look at the diverse connections you have in your life – business networking, social networks online, blogs, newsletters, emails, forums, support groups, masterminds, etc. The list can go on and on. Depending on what your currents needs are, I’m betting you can take a look at all of the networks and connections you enjoy and find just the right group to help you accomplish your next writing goal.
When we are writing for our business or our personal life – for example, working on short stories, books, special reports, how-to guides, cookbooks, or information products – we can all benefit from an energetic, positive, supportive network. Whether it’s your Facebook friends, people who comment on your blog or in-person business or social networking, all of that wonderful group-energy super-boosts your potential as a writer and can only make you better.
Having access to a network of fellow writers, peers, mentors, family and friends allows us to draw strength from their advice and support. Our fellow writers can offer tips and motivation that will help us along the path to success. Colleagues and mentors can give us great insight into how our intended reader will interpret what we write.
>> Not sure what subject is the most important for you to write about in your blog? Check the comments on your past articles – what gained the most excitement, elicited the most passionate responses, prompted the most questions? Take a deeper look at the feedback from people who comment on your blog to best plan the topics you address in the future.
>> Do you have 3 different ideas for ebooks, but not sure which one needs to be written first? Create a survey and post it on your social media, take it to your mastermind or live business networking group. Ask people which subject excited them most. You don’t need to give away that you are writing these books, just pose your questions and ask your community which subject is the most timely, the most urgent and they really need help with. Bingo! Now you’ve got your first ebook idea and you KNOW that there is a need for it.
Carefully gauging the reactions and comments from readers of our blogs, articles, social media, etc, can help us fine-tune our writing and ensure that we are providing the right kind of insight, instruction or support via our content. And don’t forget the foundation of any network or support group – our friends and family. Bless them all, they will always love and support us, even when we might get discouraged or feel burned out. Especially then!
I love sharing my thoughts with other writers – and hearing their opinions as well. I invite you to email, comment or post your writing thoughts, dilemmas, triumphs and more to me and I’ll be sure to offer the support that I can. No matter what, keep going and remember that you’re doing the “Write” thing for you!
Need to post some great content for your business online but got a bad case of writer’s block? Well, you probably already have a great resource in hand – written, edited and perfect for supporting your business – Testimonials!
Some of the best things you can say about yourself often come from someone else – a satisfied client or customer. If you’re like me, you probably have a file full of happy client testimonials that you have gathered over the years. Don’t forget about the power of using these testimonials. Sure, we’ve all gathered testimonials over the years, but then what? You may have put some up on your website, but otherwise, are they still just sitting there, languishing? Testimonials are wonderful content that often fall under the radar or are eventually forgotten.
Here’s a simple, easy Captivating Copy tip that you can put to use TODAY for your biz – give those testimonials new life as part of an article for your blog or newsletter! Share the testimonial as the foundation of an article about your client/customer, the project you worked on together or the product they used and the transformation or value they experienced. When your readers see the praise that a satisfied customer shared about you, along with the story that brought it to be, this “testimonial” article will leave a lasting, positive impression of your expertise and authority in your nice – with the added benefit of increased sales, signups or connections.
Here’s the problem: Most readers are already so soaked to the core with information, they’ve developed the skill of being choosy. No one has time to waste with repetitive emails or content that lacks a strong and valuable message.
If you want to avoid falling into the trap of so-so writing and ensure that your copy is worthy of grabbing your reader’s attention, I’m here for you. During my career for nearly two decades as a journalist for the Los Angeles Times, my time as the Editor in Chief of an international magazine and as founder of Captivating Copy, I’ve learned the do’s and don’ts that will bring your writing to life.
1. Be purposeful: Think Anti-Fluff. If your copy is so full of fluff that you could pet it, it’s time for a redo. You owe your readers at least that. Identify your target audience and make your writing relevant to their needs. Do you want to inform or entertain, or do you want your readers to think, feel, or take action on something? By putting your audience in the front seat you’ll be better prepared to steer your content to capture their interest.
2. Be original: Give same-ol, same-ol the ax! Attention-getting headlines, highlights and intros are king. Start immediately with refreshing copy that sets you apart. Start your lead paragraph with a unique expression, a fun metaphor or story, or an eye-popping fact to pique curiosity. Then crown your marketing masterpiece with a punchy headline that includes a benefit, and you’re reeling in your audience. (See my headline here for an example)
3. Be real: Use natural language and avoid “The 3 O’s” – Overstating, Overblown and Overly formal. I say this cautiously because you also don’t want to “dumb down” your writing either. Simply stated, write like the intelligent, articulate being you are, but avoid the peril of calling a spade an “excavation instrument” when a “spade” will do.
4. Be upbeat: Stay positive, and use lively verbs and dynamic wording that expresses your passion. In other words, show some enthusiasm! Remember, you’re persuading readers. Unleash the passion within by trading out stale wording for energizing “trigger words” that excite the mind and invoke a sensory experience or emotion. Replacing mundane language with robust wording should be your preferred way to produce phenomenal copy.
To get a feel for it, try this exercise: reread this article and highlight wording that evokes energy or emotion. Check a few against your thesaurus for equivalent power words. Then Google the term, “marketing copy” for more examples. Reading enhances writing, and this is a fun way to get a feel for trigger words.
5. Be brief: Voltaire said, “The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.” Write tight. Don’t ramble. Use short words, sentences and paragraphs (see #7). State your main idea and supporting statements, but most of all– Get. To. The. Point.
6. Be clear: Edit for meaning and clarity. ALWAYS check spelling and grammar and make sure your writing “flows.” Does it make sense? Is it on message? Are there abrupt changes in thought just begging for a good transition? You may have great ideas, but if your content isn’t clear you may lose readers.
7. Be space wise: Think Feng Shui. Does your written copy look endless? If it wearies the eyes, take it apart! Unleash the flow of energy by breaking up your copy to ensure plenty of white space. Attractive spacing means “easy on the eyes,” and that will make your readers breath a collective sigh of relief.
Today’s readers have more data than ever coming at them than they know what to do with it. Your audience only has a minimal time to choose if you are IN or OUT. Make sure your writing is a keeper – and keeps your audience’s attention.
Wow, I’m so excited by the response to my November “Let’s Get Writing” challenge. Way to step up for yourself and commit to this fun and rewarding project! I’m here to support, inspire and lead you to accomplishing the goals you set for yourself this month. While November is declared as National Novel Writing month, I’m all about flexibility and give you permission to apply this challenge to similar projects such as writing an e-book, a special report or guide – anything that requires a fair amount of writing and you’ve had sitting on the back burner for awhile. OK, ready, let’s get started!
For today’s tip, let’s tackle one of the biggest questions I get: How do I choose my topic?
- Write down all of the ideas that have been circling around inside your head. (If you’re like me, there’s at least a good dozen in there at all times.)
- Now, look at each of these and think about Urgency and Your Readers. Which of these topics is the most urgent and is needed RIGHT NOW? Which of your ideas will make the biggest different for your readers RIGHT NOW? (And conversely, which of these topics can wait until later?)
- Using this thinking, narrow down your ideas to just one. Sit back, think on it, and commit to that topic only for this entire month.
This is the key to success when accepting the challenge to complete a writing project on deadline. You must have focus. So take today to decide on your topic – heck, have fun and write a working title and subtitle for this project. Then send it to me via email at email@example.com, or be bold and tell the world on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CaptivatingCopy.
Thanks! And keep writing,