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How to use case studies in your business

Case study on my work for The Money Pit radio show

If you’ve gotten big results for your clients, a case study is a powerful way to talk about those results. With specific takeaways, a persuasive story structure, and compelling characters, they demonstrate your expertise and help you get clients without a single “close” technique needed.

But what I like most about case studies (besides the way they do the selling for you, bringing ready-to-sign-up clients straight to your door) is how useful they are. See, I like content that you can use in lots of different ways and as content-chameleons go, case studies are among the best.

Take case studies when you speak

If you’ve got a speaking engagement coming up, print out your best case study and hand it out. (You can even leverage this case study to get more subscribers–tell people in exchange for their email address you’ll send them even more useful case studies.)

People tend to keep these printed case studies and I’ve even had clients get clients *years* after handing a printed case study to someone with no additional contact.

Include a case study in your newsletter

Case studies make great newsletter content because they’re interesting. They paint a picture of your client struggling with something your readers struggle with (or they wouldn’t be on your list) and how they overcame it.… Keep reading

One of Things is Not Like the Other: And that’s a good thing!

content marketing that's different

Black Swan and Children by Michael Zimmer (zayzayem)

There’s a virus afoot. No, not a computer virus. Or a bird flu virus. But rather a Sameness Virus.

Most of the articles you’ll read on blogs, article libraries, in ezines, and being posted at sites like are very much the same.

In fact, if you spend a lot of time browsing content, you might start to feel like the article writers took the old Sesame Street song a little too much to heart and decided the worst thing that could happen to their article was that it “wouldn’t belong.”

You probably think you’re immune. After all, you can see all the nuances that set your content apart. But, here’s the thing: just because you know your articles stand head and shoulders above the rest doesn’t mean your readers can see the difference.

It’s not really your fault that your articles suffer from the Sameness Virus–you’ve been doing things exactly as you’ve been taught. You’ve written that cornerstone article, the one solidifying what you accomplish for your clients. And then you’ve supplemented it with more content answering the questions clients most frequently ask. You’ve posted all these articles on your website, you’ve submitted them to article sites, and you’ve published them in your newsletter.… Keep reading

How to Make Postcard Plaques + Download

In my last newsletter, I mentioned I’d made some plaques for a seminar I attended and that I had some left over. I offered ’em up to the first three people who emailed me. And they went so fast. (Like, really, really fast.)

I wish I could send one to everyone who wanted one! So, here’s the next best thing: you can download the pdf file and make your own.

These postcard plaques make great business card substitutes–they’re an easy size to give out (they’re even easy to mail!) and people love to get them. As evidenced by the number of people raising their hands and asking me to send them one!

Put your artwork on the front and your call to action on the back for a fun, easy gift that new business contacts will love to receive. Need branded artwork? Send me an email, my team will be happy to help.

Here’s how I made ’em:

Keep reading

You Gotta Choose Your Own Clients–Here’s How

Choosing your own clients with great branding

This week, I was at a small event hosted by Fabienne Fredrickson where a lot of people were talking about how they have plenty of clients, but they’re not the right clients.

They mentioned clients who whine, who don’t take action, who don’t pay on time, or who don’t pay at all.

(Am I the only one who hears complaints like that and thinks: “Why are you working with these people?”)

I have a theory about this. Sure, there are probably five or six truly crappy clients out there, and, as Jim Rohn used to say, they get around ;-). But, I think most of the people who seem like not-so-great clients are actually just not the right fit.

I’ll give you an example. I have a client who was struggling with a client list of people she just wasn’t enjoying working with. There wasn’t anything inherently wrong with her client base, but she wasn’t feeling excited about her work, and her clients weren’t getting the fabulous results she knew she could get for people.

So, we talked, I looked at what she was putting out there–her marketing and branding–and she discovered her Brand Siren.

What we uncovered is that she’s an Edith, but she was working with lots of clients who needed her to be a Judy.… Keep reading

What Color is Your Company?

choosing color scheme for business

Rangoli Colours by Nagarjun Kandukuru

In the little seaside town where I have a beach house, there are 6 or 7 major real estate offices and one of them has done a great job branding the color yellow. Locals know when you see a yellow sign in front of a house, it’s listed by this particular agency.

And yet, in every issue of the local “Homes” magazine, at least one other real estate agency tries splashing yellow all over their ad. Sure, it’s a beach community and they want their ads to look bright and sunny.

But when I see yellow, I’m thinking of the real estate company that’s already got it branded. And, since this company uses yellow all over their signs, that pricey ad is doing a more effective job making home buyers watch for those yellow signs than for the advertising agent’s signs.

Of all the pieces of your online platform, your email newsletter is a particularly good opportunity to brand your business. That’s because it shows up in readers’ inboxes again and again, reminding them of who you are and what that looks like.

That means your newsletter offers prime real estate to focus on your company’s color, whether that color is orange or aquamarine.Keep reading

What They Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Polar Bear by Alan Wilson from

When I was in college, I had a heck of a time choosing a major. So, to figure out what was the right fit, I took a lot of classes–so many, in fact, that I had enough lower division credits (the overview classes) for a Bachelors, if only they didn’t require those pesky upper division credits (the in-depth classes).

I find the basics of just about everything interesting, but in order to want to learn all the details, it has to be a subject I really love. (Like design and writing.)

This means I know a little about a lot of things, and it comes in pretty handy. It means I know, for instance, that polar bears are usually left handed and I can still explain exactly what’s happening during El Nino in California.

When it comes to writing your newsletter–or any content, really–you can’t know exactly what your people know. You can’t know if they’ll get that reference you made to Firefly or whether they’ll have ever heard of Matt Nathanson.

Not knowing can be frustrating. But it’s also an opportunity. The trick is to drop in just enough background to keep all your readers on the same page, without going into such detail that the readers who are familiar think your writing is too basic.… Keep reading

For the really great stuff, you gotta cross pollinate!

For the really great stuff, you gotta cross pollinate

Original photo by Don Graham

I’ve been working on a novel for about a year now and it’s unlike any project I’ve tackled before (for a lot of reasons). It’s obviously also very different from the professional copywriting for small businesses that I do.

It’s kind of strange to slip into of this world of fiction only to slip out again and into writing non-fiction. But it’s a good strange.

In fact, I’m finding that the fiction that I’m doing is making me a stronger non-fiction writer as well. I’m paying more attention to each word that I use and at first that felt clumsy and self-conscious (whereas I used to just let the writing flow) but now I’m seeing that this extra attention is resulting in much stronger sentences.

I’m using verbs more instead of leveraging adverbs and adjectives to get my point across. And I’m spending more time trying to make a sentence a real sentence instead of just shrugging my shoulders and saying, “Eh, but what I want to say is best conveyed by a fragment.” (Sometimes a fragment *is* necessary, but somehow, knowing that I’ll have to defend every fragment I use means I use fewer of them.)

Maybe you don’t want to write fiction, but you need cross pollination nonetheless.Keep reading

Copywriters, Magic + Spark

Copywriters, Magic + Spark

When I created Sales Page Play Dates, I got a lot of questions. People wanted to know why they should invest in learning to write better copy.

“After all,” one person said, “I’m just doing this in the meantime until I can afford to pay a professional.”

A lot of people weren’t clear on why they should learn to write their own copy other than that they couldn’t afford to pay a copywriter to do it for them.

I love to write. You know that about me already. And I didn’t always.

I had to learn to love to write. When I was little, one of the reasons I didn’t love to write was that I wasn’t very good at it. I’d read these wonderful stories and then I’d write one of my own and I’d see just how terrible mine was in comparison to the “real” story. And that made me dislike writing even more.

It’s hard to like something when you’re not so good at it.

Especially when you’re comparing your own first drafts to someone else’s final drafts. (Yikes!)

Sometimes we think we should be able to do this. After all, you know how to write, right?… Keep reading

Never Fear the Unsubscribe

Never Fear the Unsubscribe

Kaptain Cookiedough by Nomadic Lass

I work with a lot of clients in a lot of industries (over 90) all around the world (on 5 out of 7 continents). They have lists of all sorts of sizes ranging from the teeny (under 100) to the very large (in the millions).

What does every single one of those clients fear when they hire me? Unsubscribers.

By my second suggestion at our first meeting, they’ve said at least once: “We can’t do that. People will unsubscribe!”

To which I tend to say, “That’s the point.” Because that’s why they’ve hired me.

If you want to move forward, you’re going to have to let some of the people on your list go. Without fail, there are people right now on your list who are a bad fit. You’ve outgrown them. They’ve outgrown you. Your perspective has changed. Theirs has shifted.

Whatever the reason, they don’t belong on your list anymore.

Let them go.

The faster you get this done, the easier it is.

Here are three great ways to do it:

  1. Send a mass email explaining exactly where you’re headed and what your philosophy currently is. Then, invite people to resubscribe if they want to continue hearing from you.
Keep reading

Your Content Mix

Your Content Mix

Shoes by Ömer Ünlü

Have you ever stood in front of your closet with absolutely no idea what to wear?(Please tell me it’s not just me!) Usually, this isn’t because our options are naked or PJs, but rather because nothing quite strikes our fancy or feels quite right.

Similarly, those days when you feel like you have nothing to write or talk about, when you feel stuck on what kind of content you should be creating, it’s unlikely that you’re actually completely out of ideas. Rather, it’s that none of your ideas feel quite right. You might not know where to start or what to do next, you might be feeling like you’re not getting the results you want and so you’re struggling to say something spectacular enough to get you noticed, or you might just plain be bored with your content and want to throw it all out and start fresh.

Whether or not you can relate to feeling like you have nothing to wear, I’m betting you can definitely relate to that “nothing to write” feeling. So today, let’s explore how you can prevent it.

See, just like having something to wear is about having a balanced wardrobe–one where you have clothes for the different activities and audiences of your life–having something to write about (or talk about, for those of you who mostly do multimedia content) is about having a balanced content mix.Keep reading