Keep it together, an easy way to write an Article

For those delving into content creation for their business, the blank page can be a daunting challenge. So we’re going to simplify the process with “the inverted pyramid.”

inverted pyramid used for writing articles by journalists

The Inverted Pyramid

It sounds like something you would hear about in a curio shop. Actually, the inverted pyramid is a way to format your article. And it is used by journalists to create engaging articles. The writing format was first used by reporters communicating to news outlets via telegraph to convey information over “the wires.” Although its origins are over 100 years old, the inverted pyramid is still an effective way to get across the most essential information first to your audience.

Quick and focused information will free you up for your core business activities and help potential clients with their purchase decisions. The inverted pyramid suggests you start with the 5 W’s. Purdue’s online writing lab for quick information about states the 5 W’s as “who did what, where, when and how.” It’s succinct. The first paragraph should contain all of this information in a clear and compelling way. This is called the lede. And as they say, you don’t want to “bury the lede.”

writers block image, typewriter with pages
Writer’s block concept with typewriter and crumpled paper on work desk

What to write about

For a business, you want to think of questions that your customers ask you over the phone, online and during meetings. Address these questions by creating a compelling lede using the five W’s. After you’ve created a lede, just expand.

The following paragraphs go into more detail about the story. Organize the paragraphs in order of importance. In the news industry, this was useful because editors could instinctively just cut from the bottom if a piece was too long. It also meant the reader could walk away from the piece satisfied in his understanding of the story.

a young woman writing a rough draft using the inverted .

These paragraphs are perfect areas to begin crafting a sales pitch. There are some fairly pronounced differences between professionals and the DIY person. For instance, I have access to software resources for SEO and have already spent time learning the software. In service industries, differences like these abound. Often it is forgotten by customers because of the rise in DIY spirit spurred on by YouTube.

Fill it up with background

As you continue to explore the topic, you can start pulling quotes. Adding industry statistics and providing more granular information. The amount of detail you will go into depends on the question. I’ve created an article that talks about best practices on how to choose which questions to ask in your SEO strategy. Check that out if you’re struggling to find a starting point.

Content creation is a crucial piece of the marketing puzzle for various reasons and the inverted pyramid can really simplify the work. This format gives the writer clarity about the piece. And at the end of the process, you now have a useful article that you can amplify with paid advertising to capture potential clients with FB or Google retargeting campaigns. The Inverted Pyramid structure will also provide longer reading times as the information is chunked in digestible ways this will lead to a better SEO score down the line.

If you’re starting out with a content strategy and decide to take it on yourself, I recommend picking up the associated press style guide, a copy of Strunk and White’s “Element of Style” and every once in a while check out this video:

Marketing for Architects: The definitive guide to marketing residential architecture in 2020

This article focuses on how Architects can market residential services to potential clients. That said the wide range of services offered by architecture firms fit within this model of marketing analysis. The examples and data in this article, however, are geared toward marketing residential architectural services. The key takeaway is that you should know your client like the back of your hand through iterative testing.

a custom redesign by an architect marketing in the residential architectural space

We’ll also cover concrete tactics to bring awareness to your services and testing your offers and messaging.

  1. Customers: Define your customer
  2. Where are your customers?
  3. How do they want to interact with architects?
  4. Entry points for prospective clients
  5. Tell a story
  6. Test Everything
define your persona. Often unknown until you re-iterate with marketing questionss.

Customers: Define your customer, then redefine them.

Often businesses, Architects included, focus the majority of their attention on their products and not nearly enough attention on their customer. Marketing breaks down customers into Customer Segments. Examples of segments include age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, profession and interests.

For an Architect, maybe gender, age and ethnicity aren’t as great of indicators as profession, marital status and interests. Customer segments should always be separated by service.

An example of a clear Value Proposal attached to a customer segment would sound like this:

We are an architecture firm offering zoning analyses to young millionaires who have purchased land in the hills of Malibu.

This, however, is only the beginning. You still have to test this idea. If life were as easy as saying something is true, we’d all be swimming in money.

To evaluate whether this theory is true, you need to talk to these potential clients and find out if it’s true. You can of course cut out a lot of back and forth by looking for research data.

For Architects, the AIA, Census Bureau, municipal community planning and property departments and real estate agents become invaluable sources of information to stay on top of buying trends and reign in possible customer segment hypotheses.

Rocket Mortgage has put some wonderful statistics about home-buyers together that might give you some ideas.

Takeaways:

  • 88% of homes are bought through a real-estate agent
  • Single home-buyers are two times more likely to be women
  • Median home-buying salary is upwards of $70,000
  • 63% of homebuyers are married

Where are your customers?

Ideally, the answer jumps out at you. For example, sports fans are at sports games or fantasy sports-game forums. Housing is not so simple. We can make some assumptions about where to market architectural services.

Finding marketing channels for Architects

Homebuyers are usually of a certain age, marital status and income level. And that should clue us into where to find our customers. We could look for people with job titles attached to salaries that match our median home-buying statistic in areas adjacent to high rental rates and lots of commerce. We could narrow that down to married people and reach out to them online.

There are tons of ways to configure this. We could spend some time to think about physical locations like open houses or certain industry mixers.

Iterative testing of marketing channels for Architects

At this point, you have a hypothesis of who your client is and a sense of where you can reach them. So reach out to them and see if you were right. Maybe once you start asking questions you find out massage therapists don’t want to own a home. Time to adjust your customer hypothesis. It turns out married folks don’t go to mixers. Then it’s time to adjust your marketing channels.

How do they want to interact with Architects?

Marketing for Architects isn’t all that hard at a local level. In Redondo Beach, where I live, most architects have outdated websites. Most of them do however have analytics running.

So one of two things must be true. Websites don’t matter and their analytics have shown them this or they installed analytics and never took it seriously.

When thinking about their customers and the context in which they are present their architectural services, Architects direct how they interact with their customers seemingly without attention to the customer.

To do this right, an Architect should think about what emotional, social, and functional needs the client is looking to get out of the exchange. For instance:

  • saving time
  • reducing stress
  • status
  • guidance

Architects should be asking clients about their favorite way to interact, possible options include:

  • lunches
  • text messages
  • links with helpful information
  • phone calls
  • in-office
  • events or interesting outings

The how question for Architects trying to market effectively also extends to your impersonal interactions like the branding of your invoices, plans and other communications.

Creating entry points for potential clients

Where do your clients get ideas? Your future clients are defined and you can guess where they got their ideas from but you won’t truly know until you’ve done some research and verified the data with good old-fashioned door knocking.

Some possible options include:

  • Real Estate Advertorials and Digital Ads
  • Open Houses
  • Houzz
  • Pinterest
  • Home Advisor
  • Zillow
  • Magazines
  • Blogs/ Online Articles
  • Podcasts

These possibilities need to be tested and measured for their return on investment. Prioritize which activity will bring you the most return or prioritize which one is the least risky and get to work.

I like to put together spreadsheets for this kind of thing.

Storytelling

It’s a bit tiring to say this, but it’s worth mentioning. You need to tell a story. People are moved by their emotions and stories are the perfect vehicle to create emotions.

An architect’s ability to relay a story is in their ability to market themselves on social, newsletters and all other media being directed toward prospective clients.

Each piece of branded media should integrate with the other. For example, your email should have your website, Instagram and other profiles on it and each channel can be thought of as a scene to the potential client.

Create a brainstorm. Imagine you are at your retirement dinner and people are sharing their experiences of working with you. What do you want them to say? How do you exemplify those attributes?

Test Everything

The most important tip when it comes to marketing for Architects is to TEST EVERYTHING! Just like the layouts of a home can receive different reactions from a client, your marketing strategy will also receive different reactions.

So write out each of your theories about your clients and confirm them by reaching out and asking questions about what they think of your services, prices, their biggest hassles, their hopes until you know your customers. Then redefine your value proposition and customer segments with the input you’ve received and retest your hypotheses.

This iterative process will save you time and money. From your conversations with prospective clients, you’ll find out what they want to hear, where they go for information and how to communicate with them. This will save you money. It’s a million times better than going in blind with a marketing budget and no plan.

The Big Leagues

We all hope our reputation precedes us. It makes marketing unnecessary, but that sort of status is earned. And the only way to earn it is with great work and happy clients. First, you have to find those initial clients.

Instagram Experiments: Introduction

Why do Instagram experiments? There are so many things to try out on social media. One of the largest platforms online is Instagram. Instagram is going to stick around. I did not use Facebook because it pushes Page administrators to purchase ads. Although I think ads are an effective way to push growth, I think Instagram is a more interesting place to grow an audience.

The Experiment Parameters

This experiment will last one year. I’ll be taking information online and putting it to the test via instagram to create a community of film buffs on Instagram.

EDIT: THIS EXPERIMENT LASTED 2 WEEKS!!

Instagram stopped stopped any growth within a week. This is a testimony to how well instagram roots out bot accounts.

Here’s the account from the day it was published:

second day of instagram experiment. Running a follow unfollow strategy of major accounts.
Screenshot taken at August 4th at 11 AM PST

Instagram Experiment #1

How many followers can you get by just following celebrities.

I was in the process of building an instagram bot, when I came across a comment suggesting you could grow a following by liking very popular accounts.

The theory is that if you wanted to pump your numbers, there are bots that follow you if you are following a celebrity. Obviously that isn’t valuable traffic. I want to know just how much traffic you can build up with that technique over the course of 7 days.

Approach: Between 11 am and 12 pm PST, I’ll be liking some of the most popular 20 social media accounts. If I can, I’ll skew towards movies.

Here is a list of very popular accounts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most-followed_Instagram_accounts

I searched for actors and actresses, avoiding brands.

A list of the biggest Instagram accounts in 2020
List of popular instagram accounts by category.

I ran out of actors people with that list so I add film professionals from this list: https://thebrandboy.com/directors-to-follow-on-instagram/

The list was kind of limited, so I had to add some more. Here’s what I came up with.

  1. @arianagrande
  2. @therock
  3. @selenagomez
  4. @jlo
  5. @mileycyrus
  6. @ddlovato
  7. @zendaya
  8. @emmawatson
  9. @deepikapadukone
  10. @kevinhart
  11. @vindiesel
  12. @justintimberlake
  13. @Lenadunham
  14. @Thatkevinsmith
  15. @Jonfavreau
  16. @Martinscorsese
  17. @Taikawaititi
  18. @willsmith
  19. @kimkardashian
  20. @kyliejenner

I’m going to follow and unfollow each of these people 2 times everyday. And I’ll post the results next Tuesday and move on to the next experiment. Stay tuned.

EDIT: THIS EXPERIMENT LASTED 2 WEEKS!!

Instagram grew wise on this and stopped any growth within a week.

Designing Ads for Online Streaming series of Festival Films

Synergetic Films acquired international and documentary titles from well-respected film festivals from around the world. As certain distribution channels became less profitable, a business to consumer approach on behalf of the company became crucial in order to remain competitive.

The “Film Passport” series campaign enticed festival goers with a screening of a quality international or documentary title for the price of their email. Aside from creating brand awareness, we were also able to segment audiences based on the types of films we were offering at the time.

The advertisements and website aimed to reflect Film Festivals in order to position the films as something fun, unique and artsy.

First we created a mood-board with festival graphic styles.

Three Things to Keep Doing in 2020

How do you ensure that your company lives as an option in the mind of your customer when they need your services?

In my experience, it takes a solid marketing plan and consistency woven into a well designed website and marketing initiatives.

Americans see between 4,000-10,000 ads per day depending on where they live. Ads are so pervasive, they are often referred to as noise, but I like to think of them as “white noise.” After a certain point, people don’t even notice the ads. There are thousands of companies throwing their money away on ads that don’t get noticed.
So how do you stay one step ahead? Every month, a new marketing trend emerges to answer that tired question. It’s okay to test these trendy new solutions, but keep your focus on what works. Here are three things you should keep doing to cut through the noise this year.

  1. Keep Building Your Email List
  2. Integrates Text and Bots on your website
  3. Update your Blog Posts

Keep Building Your Email List

Email is one of the least expensive ways to advertise. Often it will only cost you the time to think of a good headline and a solid offer to see a return. And your email list is 100% yours. It doesn’t belong to Facebook or Google. So, my suggestion work on your email list.

web design and email list
are you integrating your email list into your web design and marketing activities?


Build pages that talk to a particular type of customer and create sign up sheets on those pages. This way you have a specific person in mind when you’re writing those emails. I often hear that give-a-ways and gimmicky ads are a way to boost email sign ups. I’ve seen a lot of people go about this the wrong way. This tactic might generate emails, but will it generate the right emails?

There should be at least one sign up form on every page of your site when you design your website.

Integrate Text and Bots on your Website

In my experience younger generations don’t like phone calls. SMS and online messaging are less formal than email. Integrating chat on your website creates a less formal sales approach. People are more comfortable to interact with you in this way.

web design add a chat bot


The statistics on chatbot are incredible. Some key takeaways are:

  1. that over one-third of people have bot something through a chatbot.
  2. The top quarter of companies are using a chatbot.
  3. They often save a ton money in customer service-30%.
  4. Year-in, Year-out, Chatbot popularity has increased over the last 5 years.

Update Your Blog Posts

If you’ve been around a while you might have some blog posts that used to bring in some traffic. Over time that traffic might have dwindled with the entrance of competition. Updating your posts with small edits or additions will help you stay at the top of search results. SEO aside, the nature of your business changes year to year. Your customer will feel comforted to see that you’re on top of that. It positions your company as an expert. It’s also a low-cost way of creating new content. You can post this “new” material in your newsletter and on your social media channels.

Conclusion

Life has a tendency to pull us in many directions at the same time. In business marketing this can be bad for your business. So this year I encourage you to focus on what works: build your email list, integrate chat bots and update your blog posts .

Digital ad? Better do this first.

It’s all fun and games until someone wastes budget.

If you’re thinking of setting up an ad. Get some help *cough, cough, me*. Building out ads for platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Google are encouraged by Instagram, Facebook and Google and they can be profitable if you know what you’re doing. They can also be a waste of time and money.

If you think you don’t have the money to hire someone, you should reach out and find out if you can come to a special arrangement with the ad specialist (read, “call me”). If you do however decide to go it alone without reaching out first, allow me to help anyway.

The Questions

There are 3 main things you want to answer before starting an ad campaign.

  1. What are you selling?
  2. Who are you selling to?
  3. How are you going to get them to buy?

What Are You Selling?

This is the most obvious, but at times can be overlooked. I’ve seen plenty of people set up an ad “promoting the business.” Brand awareness is important, but it’s also vanity. Your ads should be tied to sales and therefore tied to a product. Once you decide what you’re selling, move on to who.

Who are you selling it to?

If you’re the business owner. This answer should come natural to you. Who has bought this product? Create a list of traits that they share. If this is a new product. Find similar products online and try to define their audience. How do you “define” an audience? Here is a starting point for you:

  • Where do they live?
  • Male/ Female
  • Similar Products or Services
  • Income Information
  • Activities
  • Keywords
  • Married/ Single
  • Do they have Children?

How will you sell it to your audience?

The most common way of finding an angle is to create a list of features. Find the feature that will benefit your ideal customer the most. That’s your main angle. If you come from sales or advertising this might be second nature to you. Great! If you don’t, this will take practice.

This should help you with your headline and visuals. It will also dictate the look and text of your Landing Page. A landing page is a web page that is devoted specifically to the product you’re selling.

I would argue this is the most crucial piece of the puzzle. You want to design a web page that matches the look, feel and promise of your advertising. Let’s say you’re a chiropractor and you create a headline like this:

How to get rid of lower back pain in 3 minutes.

And let’s say you use a visual of a person stretching. Heads up, I would find a visual that looks like the person your are targeting. Lower back issues tend to occur in older people and larger people. I would have a visual reflect that.

At that point you want a web page that delivers a small solution to lower back pain. Perhaps, a 3 minute stretch routine. Your main goal however to sell a consult or collect a lead. So I would put that up front and center.

There are plenty of ways to collect emails, but offering an extra bonus is tried and true.

Conclusion

Before you start an ad campaign, ask yourself some questions.

  1. What am I offering?
  2. Who am I offering it to?
  3. How should I sell it to them?

For a bundle of templates I use when writing copy and a pack of blank ad sizes for Google AdWords sign up here:

    How to come up with content

    Content is king when it comes to social media and SEO. Creating relevant and engaging content for your business allows you to bring traffic to your site. When coupled with a strong digital strategy you’ll be able to engage with these people outside of your website. If you’ve chosen your audience correctly, content can be the beginning of your sales process because it shows an interest in your industry.

    Developing engaging content however is not as simple. Here are 5 tips to come up with content for your business.

    1. Think Tank
    2. Competitors
    3. Keyword Tools

    The Think Tank

    If you have employees, the first thing I would do is order a pizza and sit everyone down together. Explain to them that this is a topic brainstorm for your blog and social media. My goal would be to put together 14 new topics. That’s about three months worth of content if you released a post every week. When leading a meeting like this one, just sit back and ask questions. It will be important for the team to think about your customers, your products, industry information and needs. Sit with a pad and start taking notes. Go over the notes and start putting together content ideas.

    Competitors

    Now that you have some ideas in your hands. Go look at what your competitors are doing. You can do this by looking up your competitor’s website in a google and adding “site:” prior to the URL.

    This should give you a list of pages. Go through the headlines and read the articles. If you like a format or topic, take it and make it your own.

    Keyword Tools

    You should have an adequate list of topics by now. I would suggest taking your list of topics and identifying the keywords. put them in an excel document. For each keyword, type it into https://answerthepublic.com. This should yield you a substantial list of keywords and questions. Go through the lists and see which topics interest you.

    Also you can use certain tools to measure keyword volume.