Conversion begins with connection

I used to get upset when my teenage daughter would demonstrate what I referred to as “advantageous interpretation disorder” – a condition that causes questions to take on whatever meaning is easiest to answer. I would ask, “Do you have any homework?” My daughter would hear, “Do you have any homework you can’t finish on the bus or during lunch tomorrow?” and with a brief look up from her phone would reply, “Uhhh, no.”

Turns out, many grown-up business people have a similar condition when it comes to message development. I ask, “Who do you want to speak to?” They hear, “Who is your target market?” and respond with information like gender, age, income, marital status, or maybe a string of job titles, positions, and descriptions. And while marketing & demographic data are important, when we focus only on facts & figures, we lose sight of insights & feelings. We gain information about segments we want to capture but miss the emotions of the individuals with whom we’re trying to connect.  And in a time when people are drowning in noise, it’s meaningful messaging that stops the endless scrolling and starts the mindful questioning.

Increased conversion begins with improved connection. Focus a little less on your “what” and a little more on your “why,” and you’ll make the connection that sparks a conversation.

If you’d like to learn how, contact me to arrange a free message assessment session. Or call me at 920-540-3551, and we can talk about how to get people talking about you!

Powerful SEO Content Begins With Personal Connection


I’ve always been intrigued by the science of search engine optimization (SEO if we’re talkin’ the talk), and fascinated by the idea of building a message around keywords and phrases that bring web searchers and surfers right to your post, page, or site. But I’ve learned that without genuine reader connection, even the best SEO copywriting is just noise. And while noise can get people’s attention, it doesn’t hold their attention for long. Content that’s optimized for search engines is not necessarily optimal for “searcher engagement,” i.e. making a connection with readers that makes them want to know more. And without that connection, the only thing visitors will click when they get to your site will be the “back” button.

SEO is a ridiculously powerful, often magical means of drawing attention to your business and increasing traffic to your website. Just remember, the real trick is connecting…conjuring up a message that readers can relate to, and that they will respond to.

Would you like to explore adding a little messaging magic to your SEO content strategy? Contact the Wordsmith today!

Elevator speech secret: nobody sells to everybody

What I remember most about my first visit to the Wisconsin State Fair was the guy in the vendor building selling “super-shammies.” A miracle of spill management technology, these super absorbent sheets were able to soak up copious amounts of anything you might drip, dribble, or spill. More incredible than the sheets, though, was the way the guy was selling them. Captivated by his voice and amazed by his demonstrations, people (myself included) were feverishly groping for their wallets so as not to miss the special offer available only to the first five (might have been 50) customers.

So how did this marketing magician generate universal appeal? He spoke to everyone in the crowd, individually. He focused not on features and benefits for everyone…

This product is for any household spills.

…but on how a given feature was of particular benefit to someone…

Parents, you’ll love how quickly this product makes that juice-box-mess a memory!
Sports fans, these things will soak a spilled beer out of the sofa in seconds!

When talking about your product or service, don’t describe your ideal customer or perfect referral as, “Everyone who…” or “Anyone who…” Think about who you really want to talk to, and then talk to them in a way that they can understand and relate to. Because even if you could sell to everyone, you’d have to do it one someone at a time!

Want to learn how shape your story into one that really connects with someone? Contact the Wordsmith today!

Spellcheck doesn’t know write from wrong

I remember the first time I experienced spellcheck. “So, I just type away,” I asked gleefully, “and this spellchecker fixes all my mistakes? It’s like there’s an English teacher in the computer!” Turns out, it’s not. Because while spellcheck can indicate when you’ve typed the wrong spelling, it won’t necessarily indicate when you’ve typed the wrong word. For example…

• I once came across a school district newsletter that dedicated an entire page to a marketing club competition. The students apparently excelled in the areas of baked goods, turning things over, and pushing things on wheels, as there were over 30-references to various forms of “roll play.”

• I recently saw a social media post apparently suggesting that workshop attendees should be cautious of dismembered limbs going for a stroll as there would be, “…hands on walkthroughs.”

• Working on a sell sheet for an accounting firm, I reviewed content spellcheck said was perfect, and discovered I was introducing the firm as a group of, “Certified Pubic Accountants.”

Remember, spellcheck is a proofreading tool, not a proofreading replacement. And even if your system includes a grammar checker, there’s no replacement for a thorough review. From articles to invitations, promotions to posts, don’t risk missing mistakes that send the wrong message.

Want to learn more about the most affordable & powerful investment you can make in your messaging? Contact RJ today!

Consistency vs. repetition: change it up or get tuned out

It doesn’t take a marketing expert to recognize the importance of consistency. Whatever your platform, building brand recognition demands consistent messaging. This does not, however, mean you should be saying exactly the same thing over and over.

We all have a favorite old tv show. And while we might enjoy watching old episodes, there are always a few that we’ve seen so often, they just don’t pack the same punch they once did. We look up from our phones and smile because we know where the funny parts are.  But we’re not on the edge of our seats waiting for what’s next. We’re not really engaged. We’re barely even paying attention.

The same thing happens when a person delivers the same exact pitch, commercial, or post again and again. People hear you, but they’re not really listening. They’re not eagerly anticipating a new story that will give them a clearer vision of how you help people and why. They might be able to recite your words, but they can’t explain your meaning. They might refer you based on your profession…but will they recommend you based on your passion?

We all want to be rock stars. But while singing the same song over and over might get people interested in the music, singing new songs about the same thing gets people interested in the musician and keeps them eager to hear what’s next!

Is a picture really worth a thousand words?

Once upon a time…seriously, it seems like a lifetime ago…I used to travel around sharing my perspective on business messaging: shaping and sharing stories that engaged readers and made them want to know more. After one such presentation to a group very familiar with professional copywriting, someone asked if I agreed with the old adage, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.”

As a copywriter, people expect me to say “No.” Like BIll Gates said, “Content is king.” But I do believe there is some truth to the long-held picture-to-words conversion factor. Images can deliver powerful messages, create strong emotions, and compel people to action.  They can.  Without a caption of some kind to provide context, however, can you be sure that everyone viewing the image is “seeing” the same thing? Or does a wordless image leave too much room for interpretation that could lead to a response other than what the artist or advertiser wants?

I paused for a moment, and responded to the question this way.

“If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a picture with the perfect caption is priceless!”

Want to learn how to add power to your pictures? Contact the Wordsmith today!