How to create snazzy web content to amp up your ROI

 

How To Create Snazzy Web Content To Amp Up Your ROI

Every week, I meet entrepreneurs struggling to come up with content for their website. They don’t know what message to communicate nor how to structure the information. Here is what to consider to create snazzy web content to amp up your ROI.

Content That Is Fundamentally “You”

To get started, it’s important to think about your business’ identity, whether you’re a sole proprietor or are operating a distinct entity. What is your mission? What values do you stand for? Who is your target audience? WHAT DIFFERENCIATES YOUR BUSINESS FROM OTHERS’?

Think of your business as its own person. What are her characteristics? What does she particularly enjoy? It’s by describing its « personality » and by humanizing it that you will be able to present it best and better sell it.

If your brand is strong and consistent, it should be placed at the forefront of your visual concept and it should also influence your message and language. If it’s not the case, it’s essential to reflect on these questions before starting to develop your site and its content.

Your Story Makes You Stand Out

Don’t underestimate the value of an “About” section (also called “Biography”, “Business Profile” or, more and more often, “Our Story”).

Have you ever visited a website to learn more about it and hit a wall? There’s nothing more frustrating! People want to know who they’re dealing with. Using storytelling increases your credibility, enhances people’s trust and acts as a differentiation tool.

Your story can be told through text but also through photography and video. Include images of yourself, your employees, your clients, your workplace and your products (set amongst humans!).

Avoid stock images as much as possible, they are too impersonal! Watch out though, don’t use bad quality imagery (frame, lighting, context, etc.). Stay professional, but please, stay away from clichés and project an authentic but dynamic image, full of personality.

Accessibility, Consistency And Relevance

Your message should make a statement but we cannot insist enough that it needs to be clear. A misunderstood message will do no good. Make sure to use plain but interesting and straight-to-the-point language.

Think of your ideal client and try to identify why he would visit your website. What questions is he trying to answer? Is he wondering about the services that you offer? Your qualifications? How to book an appointment? Your operating hours? Answer all of these questions.

Don’t jump from one topic to the other; divide the information in different sections. Do as you would in school and stick to one idea per paragraph. Ensure ideas flow well and use subheadings.

Don’t Overcrowd Your Site

If your menu is so full its taking up the whole line, you probably have too many sections. Similarly, don’t make your pages too long. Each page should be airy, easy to read and not too “scrolly”. Understanding that 21% of people now browse the Internet on a smart phone, test your website on different devices and see if you need to cut down on the content.

Also, know that the eye doesn’t read web content the way it would print. Reading on a screen means a lot of content gets skipped and that only the main ideas get picked up. Write short sentences and create new paragraphs often.

Incorporate “Call-To-Actions”

Even if your intention is promotional, your content should remain informative. Avoid exclamation marks and “salesy” formulas. Quality content benefits your overall ranking in search engines but the contrary is also true and you could be penalized.

You should always include “call-to-actions” to encourage visitors to act. Do you want them to add a product to their shopping cart? Write it! Do you want people to book an appointment? Send them to the contact page. The idea is not to harass people but to encourage them to stay on your website as long as possible so that they take action and improve your ROI.

Need a bit of help with your website? Whether you want to evaluate the performance of existing content, to translate it, to create new written or video content, to organize a photo shoot or actually to develop your website from scratch, let’s meet, we have what you need!

whats-the-point-of-telling-my-story

 

What’s the point of telling my story?!

Every week, people ask me “what the hell is storytelling?! “. To which I usually reply that it’s the idea of showcasing the people behind their organization for promotional purposes. But what I realized is that what they are actually asking me is “what’s the point of telling my story ?”

The point is that nowadays, when we buy something – whether it’s a product or service – , we buy a P-E-R-S-O-N. Think about it. Have you ever wanted to buy a car only to realize the salesperson was getting on your nerves? Have you purchased an insurance out of the blue after thinking about it for years simply because you met the right person? Have you contracted someone just because your sister-in-law referred you that person? Chances are that you have. Why? Because it’s normal, it’s HUMAN!

It’s human to go towards people with whom we have something – or someone – in common. 

It’s human to trust our peers’ recommendations.

It’s human to want to encourage those we appreciate.

It’s human to trust those with whom we’ve exchanged and those we’ve gotten to know.

It’s human to support those whose journey we’ve come to appreciate.

But if you hide and never converse with your clients, if you don’t present yourself as your true self or if you insist on formality for the sake of professionalism, if you never share with your clients, how do you think people will want to encourage you? How do you think they will come to trust you?

Failing to expose yourself to your target audience can mean one of two things:

  1. People don’t have an opinion on your business
  2. People have an opinion based on their impressions, perceptions, experiences and on things they heard that may not be accurate.

If being qualified used to be enough to differentiate yourself, it no longer is the case today. The world is full of competent entrepreneurs who offer the same thing as you. What’s left? Yourself. Your story. Your values. Today, that’s what makes a difference and that’s what people look for when making their purchasing decisions.

Your story = your unique selling proposition (USP)

Telling your story is an opportunity to present yourself. To promote yourself. To stand out from the crowd. To be seen and heard. It’s your opportunity to shine and to remind your audience of your existence.

Telling the story of your business also allows you to share information that is harder to include in tag lines, ads or daily updates but that is nonetheless important.

Anecdotes and real life examples can also be exploited to talk about your experience and showcase the expertise of your business.

Beyond your story as the founder or owner of the business lies the story of your employees. Your partners. And even your clients. Storytelling is a tool to highlight your organization’s credibility AND to celebrate other people’s contributions. You can praise their good work, show them in the middle of the action or simply present them as the individuals that they are.

Whether you share your story on your website, your social media, your printed materials, at conferences or during networking sessions, there are many options to present yourself and tools to use to do so.

Wondering how storytelling can help your business? Contact us to discuss your options and find out more about the packages we offer. 

 

 

A Story of Food

Many community gardens can be found in Ottawa, where I spend most of my time. To the contrary of other cities, here, community gardening is a relatively new concept. Last year, the Community Gardening Network celebrated its 20th anniversary.

With experience working with local farmers’ markets and as an advocate for food security and food sovereignty, I write a column called “What’s on your plate?” for a local paper, and one of my articles addresses the benefits of community gardening. It turns out that in other parts of the world such as the UK, allotment gardens really took off during the Second World War when the government encouraged people to grow food within city limits through its “Dig for Victory” campaign, at a time when urbanization, economic instability and the war were leading to much food insecurity.

At the Ottawa Food Policy Council, where I lend my expertise, we encourage residents to grow food. We try to raise awareness about “Good Food” and how political decisions should be made, through a holistic “food systems” lens. Whether it’s container or community gardening, beekeeping or chicken raising, consuming the fruit of our labor is beneficial for our health and the environment as well as for our overall food security and literacy.

From a personal standpoint, hubby and I have been growing food for a few years now. First, on our apartment balcony, then in our backyard’s raised beds and nowadays, on a small plot that is part of a private “community” garden at Mike’s Garden Harvest, who has since become a client. Although I admit to not always having the patience, I have to say the experience of growing our own food is incredible. Learning about seeds, what varieties are native to our region, watching the veggies grow (and sometimes not!), testing different arrangements and even better, eating some of the most flavorful produce we’ve ever had, nothing can beat that! Have you ever seen a Brussels sprouts plant?!

Once upon a time…we grew our food!

If I’m telling you about this, it’s that for me, the process of growing food is a story of its own. We usually think about the consumption (e.g. eating!) side of it, and at best, the cooking portion. But we rarely think of how it all began, how it got to our plate. Doesn’t knowing where you food comes from and how it was grown part of the pleasure of eating it? For me, the answer is a resounding yes. Knowing things like where and how it was harvested and under what condition and by whom, makes it both interesting and educational. When you buy at the grocery store, the country of origin and a fair trade label tell you part of the story. Imagine how much you’d find out if it all started… in your own garden!  

Gardening is not only a hobby but an opportunity to reconnect with nature, to learn, to share and to eat delicious food. And while food literacy has never been so present in the public discourse, it all starts at home. Think about it for a minute. Can you portray yourself as a kid observing grandpa attend to his tomatoes or helping mom make a nice apple pie from the fruit you had just picked in the orchard? That’s what it’s all about. Knowing where the food comes from, how it’s grown, how to use it. And at the end of the day, it’s about the connections, the relationships and the delicious meal you get to eat with your loved ones.

At The Storyteller, we support our community by getting involved in different projects we feel are raising awareness of such issues and we’re happy to be able to work with farmers, restaurateurs and not-for-profits who share that same passion.

 

 

What the hell is storytelling anyways?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We’re seeing this expansion of what non-fiction can be in storytelling, I think they’re more thrilling than a lot of fiction films.” These are not our words but the ones of Laura Poitras, an Oscar-winning American documentary film director and producer. You think your story is boring, or worse, that you don’t have any? Think again. Everyone has a story, it’s just a matter of asking the right questions and finding the right way to present it to do it justice. Real life stories of “ordinary” people are often the best.

But what is storytelling and why should you care? In marketing, storytelling is the art of using your story to engage with your audience and build your brand. It’s telling who you are as an organization, where you come from and what you aspire to. This way, your audience can gain a better understanding of your DNA, relate to your experience and connect with your brand. Some organizations rely heavily on their leader’s story and vision, using their persona to brand themselves, while others prefer to let the brand shine on its own.

As the founder of his business, a visionary and a great communicator, Steve Jobs was an excellent example of what a charismatic persona can do for a brand. But not all leaders can do that and sometimes, it’s best to have them work behind the scenes in favour of the brand. The example below is interesting in that although it’s certainly not Steve Job’s most memorable speech, when compared to Bill Gates, it’s clear that telling a story is much more natural to him than it is to his Microsoft colleague.

Note: our objective is certainly not to make fun of Bill Gates but you may find yourself smirking while watching this video!

Like it or not, consumers have never been so solicited and they have the luxury of choosing where they spend their dollars. Globalization has flattened the offer and although this can be comforting to some, it’s harder than ever to stand out in the crowd. The result is that consumers are somewhat “blasé” and good customer service is no longer the norm. But when faced with it, people notice and acknowledge it. While we can argue that traditions are still valued by some, novelty – or at least the capacity to reinvent oneself – gets a lot of traction. Ultimately, you don’t want your business to be a trend that will soon be forgotten but you don’t want it to be an antique either; you want to show people that you value where you come from while being able to evolve and adapt. At the end of the day, telling your story can help you keep your existing clientele AND tap into a younger demographic.

How to tell a story right

Ever read a book that you can’t seem to put down or watched a movie a 1,000 times? Well that’s probably the result of good storytelling. Those stories may have been fictional but there’s no reason why the same formula can’t be applied to your own story.

Think about it. What are the ingredients to a good story? First, the plot. It has to be consistent so that it makes sense but it also needs to have a few punch lines to surprise you and pike your interest. Second, the characters themselves. Perhaps you feel a connection or perhaps you’re intrigued by the fact that they are total opposites of you. And there’s always some sort of villain, that you just love to hate. Lastly, there’s the way the story is told. In the case of books, some like the narrative to be extremely detailed so they can picture exactly how things would look like in reality. On screen, there may be a narrator but things like music, costumes, lighting, decor and the actors themselves all have an influence on what the final product will look like and how you react to it.

All of this to say that whether you are literally writing your story, creating a video, recording a podcast or assembling images for a presentation, you have to think about all the elements that will make your story a memorable one.

The power of storytelling

What you have to know is that length is not necessarily a gage of quality, nor will it guarantee that people engage with your brand. In fact, in some instances, it could well be the contrary.

Remember the picture of the Napalm girl? If the name doesn’t ring a bell, then you will probably remember that internationally renowned picture of a young Vietnamese girl running naked surrounded by a scene of horror. Although some truths behind this picture have lately been questioned, if you had never seen it, it would be fairly easy to put the pieces together. Perhaps your version of the story would be slightly different than the real one but the fact of a matter is that there would be a common thread between your story and others’ as the sense of desperation emanating from that little girl can’t leave anyone indifferent. A picture worth a thousand words; these are the keepers in all of their glory and their horror.

Minus the emotional aspect of it, infographics can have a similar powerful impact. The good ones in particular can relay information of a more practical nature efficiently and quickly while adopting a more playful tone that will help position your brand.

And while short written stories often don’t allow to describe something as much as we’d like them to in order to set the tone, the reality is that people’s attention span is nowadays extremely short. In order to grab their attention, the best is often to combine imagery, written words and video for maximum impact, and to divide your story in multiple short stories so to benefit from a repeat exposure and ensure that people heard and now understand what is your story.