How To Write Great Web Copy For Your Brand

As a small business owner you may find yourself either doing a lot of writing for the web or hiring others to write about your brand. Writing for the web is different than writing for print. People consume content on websites differently than how they read words on paper. To make your web copy work best for your business try these tips.

SEO copywriting

Hook them in

The best written copy in the world is worthless without readers! Lure your potential customers with a memorable and compelling headline. Think of your headline as a shop window; a well dressed shop window catches the eye, arouses curiosity and brings customers into the shop. Your headline should do the same. It should encapsulate what is in the copy that follows and compel your customers to want to learn more about your product and service.

Know who your target market is.  And talk to them.

Exactly who are you trying to sell this to?  Yes in a perfect world “everyone” might be a suitable answer, but in reality, who is most likely to spend their hard-earned money on your product?  Is it women?  Young, middle-aged or old women?  Middle-aged women with kids? Middle-aged women with small kids?  Middle-aged women with small kids with health issues?  You get the idea.  Once you’ve figured out exactly who you’re speaking to, speak to them in their own language.  For example using high-tech terminology won’t sell software to computer illiterates. And using street slang is likely to sail over older people’s heads.

Sell the benefits rather than the features

Remember who you’re writing for. The customer. Not you. At all times, point put how the features of your product or service will benefit your customers. For example, the vehicle you are writing about might feature ‘four wheel drive’.  Now, point out the benefits of that feature – safer motoring on slippery surfaces or the ability to go places that other vehicles can’t.  In other words, sell the sizzle, not the steak!

What is unique about what you’re selling?

If you’ve done your branding homework, you’ll already have a unique selling point, a brilliant tagline all about it and a succinct and desirable positioning statement.  If you haven’t had much experience with branding, the very first step is to discover your unique selling point, also known as a point of difference.  Chances are there are several products out there that are similar to yours. So why should a customer spend their money with you? Is your product bigger, smaller, better, brighter, louder, tastier, greener than the others? And if so, how so?  In your website copy (or ad copy) explain exactly what makes your product stand out from the rest and convince the customer that they need that benefit most.  Ideally, you’ll then sum it all up in fewer than seven, memorable words – then you have a tagline too!

A Little About SEO Copywriting

Writing for the web adds a new level of complexity.  You’ll need to research what people “type in to Google” when they’re searching for your product (keywords).  You’ll then need to use these keywords in subheadings in your text and in the page title of each page.  Online, people will consume your media differently than in print.  You’ll need to use short, sharp sentences, short paragraphs broken up by headings, bullet points, infographics, video content – anything that makes it simple for your market to see what you do, how you do it and what’s in it for them.

Check your spelling and grammar

This sounds basic and boring, but it’s so very important.  Poor spelling and grammar is distracting at best, taking the potential customer’s focus away from what you’re selling. It also makes you, the seller, seem untrustworthy and unprofessional.  Once you’ve written your copy, do a spell and grammar check.  Ask a friend or colleague to read over it.  Better still ask several friends or colleagues to read over it.  If you’re not terribly confident of your language skills it’s worth paying a professional for their services just to leave an optimum impression on potential customers and increase your chance of a sale.

Happy writing.

Dana Flannery is a specialist in SEO Copywriting at  She comes from a 10 year background in broadcast copywriting and provides a broad selection of copywriting services.  Click hereto find out more.

Additional Reading:

Do You Need a Brand Strategy?

Elements of a Brand: Audience, Goals, Benefits &Positioning

How to Deal with the Pressures of Being a Founder



Paperless Office Frustrations and How to Overcome Them

The paperless office is becoming very popular. Not only can it help ease the environmental impact of your company’s work, it can also add a new layer of efficiency to your day to day activities.

Business admin in-tray

Reasons to Create a Paperless Office

While “going paperless” may seem like a daunting task, there are many reasons to pursue this choice. The benefits of a paperless office include:

  • You don’t need space for file cabinets and other paper storage.
  • You save money over the long run by decreasing the amount of trash you need hauled away from your office and the manpower you need to use on filing.
  • Going paperless makes information more readily accessible from anywhere.
  • Because information is available from anywhere, it increases the availability of telecommuting which in turn has its own environmental gains.

Tips for Going Paperless in the Office

But as useful as going paperless is, it can also be frustrating. There is a adjustment curve to working with cloud technology that some people overlook when they’re planning their new office. The frustration may have you rethinking your plans but don’t let it get to you. Instead, try some of these suggestions to overcome them.

Getting the Whole Office on Board

The hardest part of implementing a paperless office is making sure that everyone in the office is on board. Attitudes toward trying something new can vary, ranging from annoyance to outright hostility. Adding to that is the fact that you’re asking your team to relearn the way they do their jobs to some extent. To ease the transition:

  • Make sure your team understands why you’ve decided to go paperless. If they understand what your motivation is, they are more likely to cooperate.
  • Try to avoid overwhelming them, too. Instead of moving full steam ahead, consider taking your time so they can get used to each step along the way.
  • Involve them with your planning process so they feel like they’re a part of it.

As excited as you may be about going paperless with your business, you can’t do this alone. You need your team in this with you.

Dealing with Security Issues

Going paperless means keeping a lot of valuable information in the cloud. With that, you increase your security risks, too. You’re exposing information you may have kept under lock and key in your office to anyone who has access to your password. If you’re a small business, you’re often trusting your information to someone else’s servers. It can be frustrating to have all these added security measures to worry about.

If you’re a bigger company, you should use your IT team to shore security measures. This includes:

  • Making mandatory password policies
  • Implementing backup procedures
  • Installing the right equipment.
  • If you’re a smaller company, you can outsource these tasks to an independent IT contractor company.

Using Paper Sometimes

One of the expectations you may have had when you decided to go to a paperless office is that you’d never touch another piece of paper again. Well that’s just not true for most of us. Paperless offices don’t just happen overnight. You may start off by digitizing billing and move on to saving client files in the cloud. It’s a process that takes time.

Also, “paperless office” is a misnomer. Some of your vendors may be wary of paperless business practices. Depending on the laws in your area, you may need to keep original signatures and documents on hand for certain deals. If you find that you still need to have a notepad at your desk because that’s how you work best, it’s not the end of the world. The real point is to reduce the amount of wasted paper and space in your office as much as possible while still getting down to business.

Andrew Whitaker is author and Brand Manager for He enjoys writing about business and marketing issues.

Tips for Marketing Your Fitness Business Online

woman-workout-fitness-posture--fitness marketing

In today’s internet savvy world, if you want to keep your business on top, you need to market online. The fitness industry is no stranger to the world of online marketing. Here are some tips that you can follow to effectively market your fitness business online.

Build your website

The first step to promote your business online is to create a website. Be it yoga, Pilates, or any other form of fitness venture, having a website of your own will help you in the long run.

Add all the details about your business and relevant photographs of your fitness studio on your website. Having one or two client testimonials will also help to create a good impression in the customer’s mind.

Consider building your website using WordPress. To get started, have a look at these fitness focused WordPress themes.

To help convert more site visitors to students, try our online class scheduling software.

Build an email list

Email marketing is an important way of staying top of mind. Being top of mind is particularly important for a fitness business, especially as people tend to enroll in one or two classes and then drop the whole idea. Capturing new students’ email addresses right in the beginning will allow you to remind prospective new students that you are there, ready for them to bring their lazy butts back to class.

Bank on Facebook

Create a Facebook business page for your fitness venture. It’s another low-cost way to stay top of mind, and also build awareness if your business is new. On this page you can publish everything related to your business like announcements, schedules, photographs, and notes. You can start interesting online polls to know the opinions and needs of your customers, and you can also start contests which contain questions related to fitness and offer special discount packages for people who give the first 10 correct answers or so. 

Once you’ve become particularly adept at marketing with Facebook you can also make use of other social media websites like Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest to promote your business.

Consider, too, some of these offline marketing approaches.

Marketing Tips for Your Fitness Business

With the rising number of trainers and fitness studios, it is important to project your fitness business in a unique way. Here are some marketing tips that you can follow to popularize your fitness business.

Pilates class outdoors

Word-of-mouth marketing

While marketing your fitness business, do not forget the age old practice of word-of-mouth marketing. Talk to your friends about your business, and ask them to spread word about your business among their friends and acquaintances too.

Also share links regarding your business with your friends on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Your friends can then re-share your link, making more and more people aware of your venture. In this way you can start a buzz among the community about your business.

And of course, deliver quality fitness classes that people love and excellent customer service so that they will naturally speak highly about your business to others.

Digital marketing

Digital marketing is a primary way of promoting your fitness business. Definitely create a website for your fitness business. The website should contain:

  • All the relevant information about your business including information on instructors, hours and a class schedule
  • Contact details so that clients can get in touch with you easily
  • An email subscribe option, as your email list is where the money is
  • Links to social media profiles
  • Client testimonials
  • Online class scheduling option (try ours!), to convert visitors to students

Read more about marketing your local business online.

Market your specialty

There may be many general fitness classes available. But to stand out in the crowd you need to market your specialty, some unique service that your business provides. For instance, if you are a yoga instructor, go a bit deeper and try to focus on specialized branches like Hatha Yoga or Power Yoga.

Focusing on a specialty draws attention to your business.

Post flyers

Posting flyers or posters on bulletin boards is an economical way to spread the word about your business. Local businesses that sell fitness equipment and books related to fitness may allow you to advertise your fitness studio through flyers or posters in their shops.

Offer discount packages

Offering discount packages is another way of attracting clients. You can offer special discount packages for customers who newly sign up with you. You can also offer incentives and promotions to already existing customers, thus maintaining a good client base.


Advertising through radios and newspapers is an age old method of promoting your business. While advertising through newspapers and radio may be an expensive solution, in many cases it can help you reach out to a lot of customers.

Also keep in mind online advertising opportunities such as Google’s AdWords program.

Remember, all good marketing starts with knowing your audience. As the saying goes, when you try to reach everyone, you reach no one.


How To Get New Clients: Step 3, Creating Your Marketing and Collateral Materials

Let’s say you have identified your ideal client, and you’ve take the second step and have determined where they are ‘hanging out” online and offline and what the best way of reaching them is (i.e. search engines, via a cold call or email, or through a referral, to mention just a few of the ways you can reach out).  A good next step in your pursuit to get new clients is to create your marketing and collateral materials.

message_in_the_bottleWhat are collateral materials?

On Wikipedia, marketing collateral, is described as “the collection of media used to support the sales of a product or service. These sales aids are intended to make the sales effort easier and more effective.”

Unlike advertising, collateral materials are usually used a little later in the sales cycle when you actually have a prospect or lead. Some collateral materials small business owners may compile in advance include:

  • Brochures
  • Sales Scripts
  • Elevator pitch
  • Email form letters
  • Anything that will aid you in reaching out

Why develop your materials in advance?

Now that you specifically know who your audience is, you can write or prepare these materials without having to worry about radically changing it, or starting from scratch every time you have a new prospect. Your sales pitch should work for all your prospects, specifically because you have narrowed your audience down to a specific niche.

Having these materials prepared in advance will help streamline the sales process, so that you do not need to interrupt your flow just to follow up with a prospective client.

What other marketing materials do you need?

Also think about other marketing related materials that you may need to have ready by the time you start reaching out to prospects:

  • Social media profiles
  • Updated Website
  • Business cards
  • Any flyers or advertisements

Many materials, one message

Of course, all of these materials should spring from one, meaningful and consistent message about who you are and why they should care. It is potentially very time wasting to embark on creating these materials without first creating one centralized document that addresses a few key points that will be communicated in all of your materials. Such as:

  • Who you are, what you do
  • What services you provide
  • Your prices
  • What are the benefits of your services
  • What is the one unique advantage you have over your competition, or what is your positioning

Addressing all of these points is the potentially difficult yet fun part of creating a business.  You may want to consider creating a brand strategy as you embark on this work. Consistent messaging is very important in marketing and sales. Having a brand strategy can keep all your messaging on point, so that you don’t run askew as you get involved in the creative process.

Remember, the first step to all of this is to first identify your ideal client. Next, decide where they are and how you will reach out.

Getting New Clients: The Second Step – Decide Where Your Ideal Clients Are and How To Reach Them

Once you’ve identified your ideal client and created your buyer persona a logical next step is to decide where your ideal clients are and how you will reach them. To do this, you could create a lead list of sorts. Identify who specifically you will reach out to and then what the best way to reach them is.

Getting New Clients

Ways of reaching out to new prospective clients

Depending on what you are selling and who you are selling to, here are some possible ways of reaching out to prospective clients. Once you decide how you will reach out, you may want to devise a strategy for doing so.

  • Networking online and offline
  • Search engine marketing
  • Cold calling or emailing
  • Asking existing clients for referrals
  • Advertising
  • Forming strategic partnerships
  • Word of Mouth marketing

Establish a method for staying in touch

Remember, it often takes several impressions before someone will buy from you, or sign up for your services. Once you reach out to someone, develop a way of staying in touch. Whether you connect with them on LinkedIn or other social networks, take the time to check in via email from time to time or invite them for a coffee. No matter how you do it, do stay in touch. Leads need to be nurtured.

Don’t overlook your existing client base

Because it is cheaper to keep an existing client  than it is to get a new one, start with your existing client base. Think of new services they can use and always keep existing clients abreast of new service offerings. You’ve already established trust with these people, so you’ll want to build on that.

Start with your existing network

Once you know who you are looking for, meaning your ideal client, let your friends and family and network of business contacts know who you are looking to work with. Again, you have built trust with these people and you want to build on that. It will be more effective than reaching out to a total stranger.

Know Thyself

Doing any of this successfully depends on your understanding of who you are and most importantly who you are to your clients as well as your ability to communicate those benefits. If you don’t understand what specific pain points you are solving for your clients, or what unique benefits you offer, then it is likely that your message to prospects will fall on deaf ears.  You can either go all out and establish a whole brand strategy, or if you don’t have the time and focus then at least, determine and know the benefits of your service as well as your unique selling advantage.

In case you missed it, the first step to getting new clients is to first identify who they are. You can read about that here.

Your To-Do List Made Simple

Oh the to-do list, meant to bring order to the chaos of our business lives, yet whenever we face a challenge, there is always a risk that we may create a solution that is overly complicated or convoluted. It is often the simplest solution that is the most effective, however, and it is useful to keep this in mind as you plot your path towards business success.

To Do ListFor soloprenuers effective time management is one of the most difficult challenges. While there are a number of strategies and online solutions that can be used to help you organize your time, a simple and easy to manage to-do list can achieve many of the same objectives.

How to Keep and Manage a To-Do List

While keeping a to-do list my provide a breathtakingly simple time management solution, it must be managed efficiently if it is to help you achieve your goals. Consider the following steps towards creating a comprehensive overview of your business tasks and projects:

Focus on Creating a Single Actionable List

As an independent contractor or small business owner, you will be faced with a wide range of tasks on a daily basis relating to networking, finance management and the completion of work. To manage all of these tasks create a single, actionable list. Keyword being actionable, meaning don’t put “start blog” on your to do list, instead add a specific step such as look at your competitors’ blogs so that you can start to get a feel for what you will blog about.

Learn to Prioritize Your Tasks

Even with a single comprehensive list of tasks, it can still be difficult to work effectively within tight time frames. Your to-do list can only ever be as efficient as you allow it to be, and taking the time to number and prioritize your tasks is a crucial step towards completing them. By giving your workload a logical structure, you can keep on top of your list and ensure that individual tasks are completed within their set deadlines.

Integrate Your List with Email

As an independent contractor, email is your most efficient tool when it comes to communicating with clients. This is where you will first receive notification of new projects in real time, and it therefore stands to reason that your online to-do list should be integrated into your email account. Email providers such as MSN and Gmail provide this feature to all users, with their respective calendars and task lists easily accessible from a single account. These tools enable you to view emails and task lists simultaneously, which makes the process of updating and managing your workload far easier.

When it comes to creating and managing a task list it is useful to keep these key points in mind. Remember though, while you should establish a single list, prioritize tasks and use reliable online resources, you  also need to take responsibility for their timely completion. Without this outlook, there is a chance that your workload could overwhelm you and undermine your effectiveness.

Simplify your business with SimplifyThis’ web based online appointment scheduling system.

How Online Appointment Scheduling Can Help Your Independent Business

Enabling you to optimize sales conversions rates, maximize revenue and cultivate a professional business image are just a few of the benefits of an online appointment scheduler.  Read on to decide if an online appointment scheduler is right for you.


Benefits of Online Appointment Scheduling

In terms of organizing your time and maximizing the efficiency of your venture, an online appointment scheduling system can deliver several key benefits. Consider the following:

Focus Your Time on Core Skills: As a solopreneur or independent contractor, you are often forced to rely on your own skills and experience in order for your venture to succeed. Meaning if you are an independent consultant, the timeliness and quality of your consulting work is of pivotal importance for making your business a success. This is especially true for independent contractors who work in a competitive market space. With this in mind, it is crucial that  independent workers are able to organize themselves and their time effectively. Without this, they are likely to become overwhelmed with administrative tasks and see the quality of their work suffer as a consequence. An online appointment scheduler, cuts down on the time you would otherwise spend on administrative tasks.

Note: Our own appointment scheduling software includes invoicing functionality, to further cut down on the time spent on administrative tasks. Demo SimplifyThis appointment scheduling software. 

Boost Sales Conversion Rates: Aside from assisting you in managing your time, a cloud based scheduling system can also help to boost your profitability. It achieves this by creating a streamlined booking procedure, which simplifies and hastens the process of turning website visitors in paying clients. By having a functional and clearly visible appointment booking icon online, customers can commit to classes or services while they are browsing an enjoy an optimized experience. This will make them far more likely to spend, and ultimately create a far more competitive sales conversion rate.

Avoid Missed Appointments and Lost Revenue: It is extremely frustrating when a client or potential customer misses an appointment, as this not only represents lost revenue but also a missed opportunity to expand your business. An online scheduling system helps to avoid this, however, and it can achieve this through various independent features. Not only will it send automated appointment reminders through email, but it will also offer clients online access so that they can review upcoming appointments and booked sessions. This software can also guard against instances where customers miss classes, as they allow you to request a pre-payment at the time of booking.

Sell the Quality and Professionalism of your Service: If your independent venture is to be successful, then it must present a professional image. Online appointment scheduling can help you to achieve this, as it offers potential clients a unique insight into the quality of your service and how it is delivered to customers. By having an online appointment system that is integrated with your website, you can create an excellent first impression and lay the foundations of trust and mutual respect with customers. This will empower them to do business with you, and give your independent venture a potentially critical edge in the market.

These are just a few of the benefits of using an online appointment booking system. Here are five more ways an online appointment scheduler can help your independent practice.



The Importance of Keyword Research and How to Do It Yourself

As a small business owner you know that ranking high on search result pages on search engines like Google for key phrases that are associated with your service or products translates into greater leads and even business. This is why you take measures to optimize your company’s website for search engines. Search engine optimization starts with good keyword research.

Seo_SimplifyThisKeyword research is particularly important for small business owners, as it helps you to understand the needs of your target market and how frequently specific products or services are searched for online. These are factors that should be measured accurately and in great detail, as keywords (which can actually be phrases) have variable levels of effectiveness in terms of generating website traffic.

How to Get the Most from your Keyword Research: 3 Simple Steps

With these points in mind, how can you look to get the most from your keyword research?

Understand the Basics: Keyword research helps you understand how your existing and potential customers search for your products and information online, so that you can optimize your website and achieve a high search engine ranking for these terms. The term ‘keyword’ is actually slightly misleading, as it can in fact apply to specific phrases in addition to single words (i.e. “appointment scheduling software” is considered a keyword). It is interesting to note that the more specific the search term (i.e. “2013 Scion FR-S” vs. “sports cars”), the closer the searcher is to making a purchase. While it is ideal to rank highly for a diverse range of keywords, your website should perform particularly well for specific phrases that are likely to convert into sales.

Get in the Mind of your Consumer and Determine Keyword Phrases: The first step in keyword research is to make a list of words and phrases that describe your business’ products and/or services. You can brainstorm with employees and others involved in your business to do this. What’s important is that your list includes words that your customers would actually use and not jargon, technical terms or other words that you as an industry insider might use, but that your audience would not. In order to be as thorough as possible, take the time to visit your known competitors’ sites and see what keywords they are using by looking at the words they use in their navigation and in their headlines. You can also see what words they use in their meta tags by viewing their “page source” (and yes, they can view your page source too) by right clicking on a chosen Web page and selecting “view page source” and searching for keywords.

Use a Viable Tool to Finalize your List: You may well have a lengthy list of keywords at this stage, but there is still work to do in order to ensure that you have selected the best phrases possible. The next step is to take your potential keywords and evaluate them using an online research tool, with options such as Wordtracker, Seobook and Wordstream, capable of providing analysis and suggestions for other keywords. Simply copy the words on your list and paste them into your chosen tool. A list of alternative phrases will then be generated, which you can evaluate based their level of competition and popularity in terms of local and international SEO. You should also look for the estimated CPC (cost per click) of each phrase, as this will rate terms according to their potential value.

When you have a list, be sure to search the terms yourself on your preferred search engine. This will give you further insights into which sites you will be competing with, and also how people use various search terms.

The Bottom Line: Between your initial list and the additional phrases produced by your research, you should be left with a strong and purposeful collection of keywords. All that is left is for you to export this list into a manageable and easily accessible excel file, as this will allow you to organize your information and make any necessary updates. For example, you may wish to segregate these words according to their application, keeping those that are used to find information separate from more specific, brand orientated terms.

As a final point, you should make a commitment to continually review your keywords and their effectiveness. This can be done simply using your preferred research tool, while it is also worth entering chosen phrases into Google to analyzing the results. Any change in consumer behavior or motivation could have an impact on the validity of certain keywords, and those that perform poorly over a period of time may need to be replaced. This will enable you to stay ahead of your competitors and maintain a high search engine ranking.

Additional Reading:

SEO for SMBs: 5 Ways to Increase Visibility

Starting AdWords the Right Way – Keyword Selection Strategies




The Paperless Office – An Overview of How and Why to Do This

We live in an age of minimalist preferences, where small business owners remain focused on streamlining their administrative processes. Technological innovation has played a key role in this drive, and allowed managers to develop cloud based software and operate their venture predominantly online.

Paperless Office

This has brought the concept of a paperless office back into focus, after years of widespread discussion and debate. The 2011 State of the Paper Industry Report confirms that businesses have used considerably less paper since 2006.

The Paperless Office: Motivation and Method

While certain firms have tried and failed to embrace a paperless culture, the reasons for doing this are well founded. Firstly it fits well with the prevailing sense of social and corporate responsibility, which empowers businesses to create a more environmentally friendly brand. With consumers more likely to value service providers that operate in an ethical and ecologically sound manner, adopting a paperless office may enable firms to gain a critical market advantage. On a more fundamental level, it allows business owners to fulfill an inner sense of social obligation.

There are other motivations for creating a paper based office, however, with cost cutting one of the most prominent. Office based firms spend a huge amount of revenue on paper every single year, and the use of advanced and easily accessible cloud based applications can help to reduce this cost considerably. The application of increasingly sophisticated technology is also encouraging the development of virtual offices, through which businesses employ contractors remotely and operate with minimal overheads.

Making the Paperless Office Work

While the benefits of a paperless office are obvious, however, the transition to operating entirely online is far more complex. Consider the following steps before you attempt to create a paper free culture in your business.

Set Realistic Goals and Targets: When you commit to becoming paperless, it is important to set realistic targets. Depending on the nature of your business, it may be unfeasible to eliminate the use of paper altogether, but this does not mean that you cannot limit its purpose as much as possible. While private medical centers may find it impossible to remove all paper records, for example, they can strive to cut unnecessary usage and make a positive contribution to the environment.

Facilitate a Natural Evolution: No matter how much you long to own a paperless office, forcing the issue can have a debilitating impact on your business. Becoming paperless must be part of a natural and beneficial evolution, as otherwise it will fail and undermine your broader commercial strategy. If you pursue the dream of a paperless office ahead of broader business success, then there is a chance that your venture will suffer considerably.

Develop an Integrated Network of Collaborative Online Tools: Before you make the transition to being paperless, you will need to have developed an integrated network of collaborative online tools. While the ultimate goal may be to adopt or create a single CRM platform, in the meantime you can take advantage of free or affordable tools such as Evernote, Zoho, Skype and Outlook in order to succeed. Also try our own web based online appointment scheduling and client invoicing software by SimplifyThis to cut down on the amount of paper you use.

The dream of a paperless office is now a tangible goal for small business owners, and its widespread implementation could have significant environmental and financial benefits. It is important that entrepreneurs are patient and realistic in their approach, however, and balance their desire to diminish the use of paper alongside a more diverse business strategy.

Post by Lewis Humphries

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