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7 Tips for Building a Consistent Brand Voice

7 Tips for Building a Consistent Brand Voice

If you are a business owner, you are probably familiar with the idea of brand voice. Your brand voice is how your brand sounds and feels each time you communicate with your audience, across all platforms. Alongside your visual design, brand voice is what brings your business to life for everyone who interacts with it.

Consistency is what your brand voice needs to be across all platforms. When your brand interacts with your audience, it must always deliver the same experience. Whether it’s on your website, social media, video, email, audio, or other branded materials, a consistent brand voice is an absolute must for your brand strategy.

So how do you make sure your brand voice is consistent? First, let’s jump into what brand voice is. Then, we’ll show you how to determine whether yours is consistent across all platforms.

What is Brand Voice?

A brand voice is the embodiment of your business’s mission, vision, and values. If you’re a personal brand, those attributes will reflect who you are as an individual. A larger company or corporation, on the other hand, might have created a persona for their business and then assigned values to that.

Whether your business’s values are grounded in a person or a persona, they will naturally begin to take on a specific tone, voice, and feel. In a sense, brand voice is the personality of your brand and all that entails. It’s the overarching impression you want to leave on your audience at every touchpoint in the buyer’s journey.

Think about brands that have stood out to you over the years. When you come in contact with their marketing campaigns or buy their products, how do you feel? Is the brand entertaining or heartwarming? Does it tug your heartstrings and inspire you to action? Does it make you feel special or luxurious?

Why Your Brand Voice Matters in Marketing

Why does your voice matter to you? For one thing, helps you build and maintain trust with your target audience. Your audience comes to learn your brand like a friend or a trusted expert. They come to expect you to deliver a specific type and tone of communication within your marketing.

Think of the voice of your brand as a character. (You don’t necessarily have to have a character mascot, but many brands do.) If you break character, you’ll confuse your audience and risk breaking their trust. As a result, some members of your audience might walk away. You want to make sure your voice is consistent and that your people know what you’re about, at all times.

Tips for Keeping Your Brand Voice Consistent

Wondering how to build a consistent, authentic brand voice? Here are some tips to get you going.

1. Get Clear on Your Mission, Vision, and Values

As a brand, do you really know who you are? To get started building your brand voice, get clear on your mission, vision, and values. Why are you here? What’s important to your brand? What are you trying to accomplish?

2. Ask Yourself What Your Brand is Not

Knowing what your brand is not is just as important as knowing what it is. This will help you better define your voice. Make a list of all the attributes that you do not want to be associated with your brand, and keep them nearby as you develop your voice.

3. Know Who You’re Talking To

Do you know your target audience? Knowing who your brand is targeting is an important step toward developing your brand’s voice. If you haven’t already identified your target customer, now is the time.

4. Decide How You Want Your Audience to Feel When They Interact with Your Brand

How do you want your audience to feel about your brand? Do you want to entertain them? Inspire them to consider uncomfortable truths? Warm their hearts? Make them feel nostalgic? See your brand as a trusted expert? Once you’ve answered that question, choose a handful of adjectives to describe your brand.

5. Decide on Your Brand’s Tone of Voice

Once you’ve decided what your voice is, it’s time to focus on the tone of your brand. Use your answers from #3 to determine your tone. For example, if you want to make your audience laugh, your tone might be witty, engaging, and welcoming. Or, if you want to raise awareness of a specific issue, your tone might be thoughtful, inspiring, and passionate.

6. Create a Brand Style Guide

A brand style guide contains rules for your copywriting, graphics, colors, fonts, images, and all your business’s branding details. This guide serves as a framework for you and your team to follow when developing content.

7. Audit Your Marketing Platforms and Materials

Do a sweep of your marketing platforms and materials to check for consistency in your voice. If you’re well-acquainted with what your voice should be, you’ll be able to weed out inconsistencies easily. Then, make adjustments to those parts of your brand to bring them in line with the rest.

Examples of Companies with Memorable, Consistent Brand Voices

A brand voice can be used in pop culture to create feelings of warmth and nostalgia for those who know and love it. Here are a few standout brands with distinct, consistent voices:

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video’s brand voice across social media feels like trading memes with your best friends. Its lively, fun fangirling is contagious, wickedly funny, and universally appealing. The brand conveys a consistent tone while featuring movies and TV shows both new and nostalgic.

Apple

Apple’s brand voice is sleek, sophisticated, and high-tech. Its voice extends past its copy and marketing content, directly into its products. Every detail and material used communicates the high quality the company is known for. While its products stand on their own as industry leaders in quality and innovation, Apple’s voice takes its campaigns to the next level.

Geico

Insurance is boring, but Geico is a master of creating silly commercials that draw public awareness to its insurance products. From its familiar little Gecko to characters like Maxwell the Pig and Caleb the Camel (“Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike!”), Geico has managed to become part of the public psyche. The company consistently delivers entertaining and amusing content across all platforms. (For the record, my favorite Geico commercial is this one featuring basketball star Dikembe Mutombo.)

Old Spice

Old Spice made waves and tickled funny bones in 2010 with its first Old Spice Guy Super Bowl commercial. Since then, they’ve continued creating humorous marketing campaigns infused with irreverent, masculine humor. For example, one of their recent campaigns features their new “PITFLUENCER”, a fictional Instagram influencer that is a literal armpit (and, um, funny bone–har, har). The PITFLUENCER’s photos feature him dunking a basketball, lounging at a red carpet event, and doing other important and manly things that men definitely want to do, and will probably do better if they use Old Spice (tongue-in-cheek alert!).

Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany & Co. has long been recognized for its signature blue packaging and beautiful, classic jewelry. Founded in 1837, this iconic brand is truly timeless. They’ve carried their distinctive brand voice into the 21st century with a modern flair and a conscious spin: sustainably-sourced diamonds. Customers who invest in Tiffany & Co. jewelry know they are not only buying from a trusted brand but from an industry leader that cares about how its diamonds are obtained.

Wendy’s

Snarky, witty, and saltier than its fries, Wendy’s brand voice is a force to be reckoned with. The company’s Twitter account is a great place to see the fast-food chain’s brand voice in action. Not only is Wendy’s highly engaged with its followers, it regularly–and hilariously–roasts other fast-food brands.

Wrapping Up

The consistency of your brand voice can make or break your brand. Much like developing a character, your voice requires careful development. Successfully keeping your brand in character takes careful attention to detail, but it pays dividends for your business.

13 Actionable Steps to Monetize Your Website

13 Actionable Steps to Monetize Your Website

Creating a website allowed you to successfully break into the online scene. Now you’re investing time and a lot of love into keeping your website real and fresh for your audience.

Fortunately, there are ways to earn money from your site, which so many have grown to adore, with a bit of hard work and ingenuity. This guide will show you how to monetize a website using 13 proven methods that can drive revenue and positively transform your online presence.

How to monetize a website

01. Sell merchandise

The internet retail sector is thriving. An estimated 4 out of 5 Americans shop online and in Europe, these numbers are even higher, according to a recent industry report. In turn, many who are looking to create their own monetary opportunities are launching eCommerce websites.

In order to successfully open your own online store, you’ll need to first create a product, either in digital or physical form. If you already have a website for a business or hobby, you can consider a type of product that complements the theme of your website. For instance, Colorful Petals, a personal site by a Japanese fresh paper florist, houses an online store where loyal fans can purchase their own peony paper DIY kits.

Afterward, simply add a store to your site. You can operate it from anywhere, handle all your transactions – payments, refunds and payouts – in one place, and then fulfill and manage every order. In this rapidly expanding industry, you’ll also want to stay on top of the latest eCommerce trends, like personalization and offering a seamless checkout experience, to ensure you stand out from the crowd.

02. Build a membership area

You can increase user engagement while earning a profit by creating a membership area for your site. Like a paywall, its goal is to turn readers into customers by getting them to purchase special access to parts of your site. If people are interested in you, they are willing to pay a small fee for more.

Your offerings can range from gated premium content, online services, downloadable material to a “VIP lounge” for members only.

Before you start building a membership area, think about what type of content you’ll offer and how to deliver it. There are several membership models to choose from, including a drip feed one that slowly trickles down content to registered users, an all-in membership which gives access all at once, and a fixed term membership that can be activated for a week, month or year. Once you add a membership section to your site, it’s time to create buzz around it. Give your followers a sneak peek of what to expect with a free one-time pass or offer special discounts to try it out.

03. Become an affiliate marketer

Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways to get started on your website monetization. It is the process where one party agrees to market the goods of a business and earn a commission with each sale they bring in. It also takes time and a bit of strategy to do it right.

Companies are able to track an affiliate’s performance and potential earnings based on purchases via an affiliate link which they provide. For example, a fashion blogger can make extra cash if a reader buys a shirt through their affiliate link. You can earn money per sale, per lead and per click. If you decide to experiment with affiliate marketing to make money online, you’ll want to keep a few important things in mind to ensure your success and take the best approach for your readers:

  • Select a brand you trust. An endorsement must reflect your honest opinion. Otherwise, your promotion of a product or service can be misleading. And when you make a real connection with the product, people will notice and respond. Just like any good partnership, you’ll want to find your ideal match when looking for an affiliate program. Some popular choices include Amazon Associates, ShareASale and the Wix Affiliate Program. Research prospective companies before closing a deal to market them.
  • Recommend services or products your audience will benefit from. Your audience returns to your site because it offers them value in the form of informative content, beneficial links and recommendations. Every time you add something to your website, think about how it can further enrich your readers’ lives.
  • Be transparent. You should disclose your affiliate links and be completely open with your readers. They are smart and able to make informed decisions when it comes to personal spending. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission requires affiliates to disclose their relationships with brands they are paid to promote. That’s why you’ll want to check out the FTC endorsement guidelines before you get started. For those operating outside of the U.S., be sure to read about your country’s laws on affiliate marketing.

04. Offer consulting services

Here’s a thought. Why not capitalize on your expertise via consulting? Your website is an ideal platform to start offering your services and receiving payment in return. To begin, you’ll need an online scheduling software where potential clients can book a service or make a consultation appointment directly through your website. With this advanced tool, you will also be able to accept payments, host session sessions online with Zoom, offer memberships or packages and manage all your clients.

Furthermore, consulting allows you to establish your speciality and helps you develop new techniques through working with different clients. By doing so, you’ll also be able to sharpen your analytical and communication skills.

05. Design an online course

Another way to generate income as an expert is by creating a paid online course. With virtual classes on the rise, you won’t have problems finding students.

Focus on a specialized area that appeals to you and your audience. It should be something that you are knowledgeable about and are also driven by. Then, you’ll need to write out a plan. Ask yourself this, “Is what I want to teach relevant to others?” This can help narrow your ideas and expectations to match what you set to accomplish in your online course.

Then, you can begin making the content that goes with it. That includes filming or audio recording your sessions, editing them and uploading material for those enrolled.

An online exercise course to monetize your website

06. Start a paid newsletter

Launching a paid newsletter is a fun way to share your creativity to a dedicated following as you monetize your website. Readers pay a subscription fee to access exclusive content via email. If you have a website on Wix, you can manage exclusive content to paying members by offering pricing plans.

When it comes to choosing a pricing model, go with one that you feel comfortable with. In its early stages, you might want to experiment with lower prices for your first paying subscribers. You can also offer a limited number of subscriptions at a fixed price. Once they sell out, you’ll know you’ve generated an interest and can take the next step to ramp up your price.

In terms of planning content, you’ll want to focus each newsletter on a specific topic around you and your audience’s interests. Then, set a delivery date so that your subscribers will know when to expect it. For yourself, create a schedule for publishing content that you can stick to. Additionally, newsletters are also scalable, so as your subscription number grows you can begin to cover more content.

07. Try dropshipping

While the idea of selling merchandise is an attractive way to monetize a website, you might not have the physical space nor the capability to oversee orders. An alternative to that scenario is dropshipping, which is an order fulfillment method that lets you sell products without having to manage your own inventory and connects you with third-party retailers to pass on the sales order.

Dropshipping also provides flexibility in your product offering, making it easy to adjust or change your merchandise since you’re not limited to what’s left in storage or what you can manufacture. It also takes little investment to start and no commitment to order minimums. You can experiment with products – test out what works or doesn’t – without risk.

08. Advertise on your website

This section needs no introduction. The reality is that ads are everywhere and it’s usually the first choice that comes to mind when thinking about how to monetize a website.

But if you plan on selling ad space on your website, you’ll want to make sure you pick ones that can perform well with your audience. In order for ads to make your site profitable, they need to resonate with your site visitors and encourage them to click. This is because you will be paid by advertisers depending on the number of clicks the ad gets, known as pay-per-click.

That said, there are many different kinds of ads to consider for your website. Here are just a few to choose from:

  • Static ads are images that contain permanent content. They only need to be assembled once and require no maintenance, for example a banner.
  • Animated ads are created as Gifs, HTML 5 banners or short videos and typically run between 5-10 seconds. They can be effective in getting the message across faster than the other types of ads.
  • Native ads resemble the content around it and are optimized to match the platform upon which they appear. They usually take the form of articles, videos and infographics.

You can also use Google AdSense which pairs ads to your website according to your content and visitors. While it’s free to participate, there’s a disadvantage to taking this route since you cannot pick which ads to show on your site.

09. Do sponsored reviews

You can write a sponsored review that blends on your page. Unlike working with ad firms, you won’t need to wait to get paid per click. Instead, reach out to potential advertisers who might want to buy a sponsored review from you.

You’ll want to try out the product on offer and see if it meets your standards before making any association with it. Remember that you should only endorse products or brands that you trust. In fact, stay away from anything that’s sub-standard. If it meets your criteria for quality, then you can write an effective review for your audience. Then you can wholeheartedly feature the product on your esteemed website.

10. Write an ebook

Bring your expertise into the fold of long-form content. By writing an ebook you can further develop your ideas rather than with a single post that typically tackles one concept at a time. And with a book, you can present a lot of critical information in a way that people will be more willing to read.

Like the creation process of any good product, you’ll need to take time to put together an ebook. First, you’ll need to do research about your topic. Second, you’ll need to invest in additional resources, such as the design for the cover and potentially hire a professional editor. However, since there’s no middleman, like a publisher, between you and your buyers, you’ll get to sell directly and keep all the profits.

11. Create webinars

Position yourself as an authority figure in your field and share your knowledge in the form of a paid webinar, which is an online presentation held in real-time. It typically runs up to 45 minutes.

You’ll need to pick your topic and do some research. In order to make your webinar stand out from your competitors, make sure you provide attendees with an extra value that only you can offer. Then, you’ll want to investigate what similar webinars are charging for access to help you figure out your admissions fee.

Finally, set a date and time for your webinar and spread the word. You can say it in a banner on your website, send a message to your email list, create a landing page, write a blog post or hit social media.

Create a webinar to monetize your website

12. Accept donations

Your web visitors enjoy consuming every single area of your site, from its original content to the thoughtful visuals you continually add or update. That means you’ve been pouring in time, effort and resources to make it look good.

Consider asking your readers for donations to help cover expenses and further support your way to internet success. One of the easiest ways to accept monetary donations is via PayPal. You can write an open and honest message to your followers and feature it somewhere on your homepage, along with a button that invites them to contribute. Wix streamlines the process of setting up a PayPal Donate button in a few simple steps.

13. ‘Hire me’ page

In addition to monetization tools that can be integrated on your website, you can also create a “Hire me” page to bring you extra source of income. Simply put, this is a dedicated page where you’ll advertise your talents and skills for hire, from personal training to graphic design.

For your “Hire me” page, it’s always a good idea to present your past work, or portfolio, and highlight testimonials from past customers. Remember to add a call-to-action button so people know how to communicate with you. Some commonly used CTAs include, “contact me” or “learn more.” You can also place a contact form at the bottom of the page that sends clients directly to you.

7 Types of Blog Posts that Generate Traffic & Engagement (And How to Create Them)

7 Types of Blog Posts that Generate Traffic & Engagement (And How to Create Them)

No matter how big or small your blog is, you want it to perform well. For a blog to have success, it needs high volume traffic. To perform even better, it also needs engagement. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the best types of blog posts that generate traffic and engagement.

Simply creating these posts isn’t going to cut it though. You really have to put the effort in to make them work as they should. For every type of blog post, we’ve included a list of steps to get you started.

Regardless of the type of blog post you choose for your next publication, there’s one thing you must always do. If you want to generate traffic and engagement, promote the post on all your promotion channels. Any blog post, no matter the amount of effort you put into it, won’t get traffic and engagement if no one knows it exists.

With that said, let’s dive in.

Expert Roundups

The first type of blog post on our list is expert roundups. The premise of an expert roundup is to select a group of experts and ask them the same question or their opinion about a specific topic. From a content marketing perspective, this type of post has huge potential for link building and influence. It’s regarded as one of the fastest ways to gain exposure as a blogger.

What isn’t fast about expert roundups, is putting them together. Actually, it might be one of the most time consuming of the list. What every blogger and content marketer will tell you is that no matter how much work they entail, they’re always worth it.

types of blog posts

How To Create an Expert Roundup

1. Choose the Topic

When creating an expert roundup, consider your target audience. If you have an engaged social media following, ask in a poll what they’d like to learn more about. Come up with an idea within your niche that will bring value to your readers. For example, in the post above, experts share their best tips on how to choose the best eCommerce Software Platform.

2. Find the Right Experts

Once you’ve chosen the topic, write up one or two questions that you’ll ask. Then, reach out to as many experts in your field as you can. Look for them on social media, or use a tool like Buzzsumo. Create a list of the most influential experts in your niche or industry. The longer the better! Make sure to get their emails so you can get in touch with them about your expert roundup.

3. Send Personalized Emails

Reach out to all the experts on your list with personalized email messages that include the question to be answered. You’ll have better results if you’ve already been engaging with these people on social media for a while. Collect all the responses and don’t forget to ask for a bio and photo.

4. Put it all Together

Put it all together in your blog editor. Use a repeating pattern to showcase each expert’s answer. Don’t be afraid to get a little visual and add colored textboxes or interesting image frames or filters. Go all out and create an infographic!

5. Tag the Experts on Socials

When you share your expert roundup, tag the experts in your roundup! Send them an email, letting them know that you’ve published the story.

How-To’s and Tutorials

The second type of blog post on our list is tutorials or how-to posts. The difference between a how-to and a tutorial is in the way you word the title and format the content. They are essentially the same. These are perfect for bloggers that want to offer helpful resources to their readers. In fact, this type of content can work with any type of blog. There’s always something you can teach your readers.

A good rule of thumb for tutorials and how-to’s is to be as visual as possible, preferably one visual for every step. For more complex topics, use video. Add the video to your blog post, YouTube, and social media for more exposure.

types of blog posts

How To Create a How-To Or Tutorial

1. Choose a Topic

Like any blog post, you’ll need to come up with a topic. Make sure to pick a topic you really know about or one that you can research easily. The last thing you want to do is give the wrong instructions.

2. Outline the Steps

Before putting together the content for the post, write an outline of the steps to follow. Make sure you don’t forget any steps and be as detailed as possible. Take notes as to how you might be able to visualize them.

3. Find a Way to Visualize the Steps

If the tutorial is for a hands-on project, use photography. For something to do on a computer, take screengrabs of the process. If it’s something else, create some type of graphic of the steps. For example, the image above is an infographic created for a how-to blog post shared on Pinterest.

Listicles or List Articles

Next up is the list article, commonly known as the listicle. Creating articles in list format is great for SEO and SERPs. The key is to format the headings in the right way. Use the list to answer a question, give tips, share resources, or inspire ideas. List articles can be about pretty much anything. In fact, A few of the other articles on this list are also listicles. If it has a number in the title, its a list article.

types of blog posts

How To Create A Listicle Or List Article

1. Create Your List

Figure out what your list will be about. As always, consider your target audience and what they want to learn from you. Tap into your own expertise and knowledge. A list can have as little as 5 items or over 100. Conduct research online to see other listicles out there on the same topic or niche. Choose a number that hasn’t been used too much already. Content marketers have found that an odd number will always perform better than an even one.

2. Write the Content

Write the content for each list item. You’ll find along the way that one item isn’t a great idea anymore. Find a replacement and stick to your odd number. Use two or three paragraphs with + or – 300 words per item. If it’s a long list, add a table of contents with anchor links at the top. Add outbound links to the items that warrant it.

3. Add Visuals

Don’t forget the visuals. Include at least one visual per list item. This will make the post easier to skim. Use graphics created by you, stock photography, or screengrabs of websites. Make sure to always follow the licensing guidelines for visuals.

Case Studies

The fourth example is a case study. A case study is an article that tells the story of a user’s success with a product or service. These are great for showcasing your company. New clients can get a feel of what it’s like to work with you through someone else’s experience.

The key to a successful case study is to always be honest and clear. Work closely with the user being featured to highlight how your product solved their problem and what the positive outcomes were. Include real quotes to help the reader feel identified. Don’t forget to ask the featured user to share the article once it’s published!

types of blog posts

How to Create a Case Study

1. Find the Right Client/User

The first thing you need is the user or client that you’ll be writing about. Look at reviews your users have left on your site and social media channels. Use your social media listening skills to find users who are talking about your product in a positive way. Check your emails to find those users that sing praises of your products. Pick the one that will be the most relatable to other users.

2. Have a Conversation

Get in touch with the user or client and ask if they’d be interested in being part of a case study for your blog. Set up a call and get some questions ready. For example:

  • How do you use our product or service?
  • What problem did it solve?
  • Have you noticed a positive outcome from using our product or service?
  • What’s your favorite thing about our product or service?

Don’t forget to ask follow-up questions. Record the call so you don’t miss anything when putting together the article.

3. Write the Article In a Problem-Solution-Outcome Format

When writing the content for the case study follow this format:

  • Problem
    After presenting the user/client being featured, layout the problem they were facing before using your product or service.
  • Solution
    Tell the story of how your product or service helped solve the problem. Go from beginning to end and include personal reflections from the user.
  • Outcome
    Finish the story with the final outcome after the problem was solved. What became easier for the user? Did they save time, get more clients, etc?

4. Use Visual Data

The best type of visuals for a case study is visual data. Create charts showing the before and after data of the problem your product or service solved. If it applies to the story, ask the featured user for screengrabs of their analytics. Add photos or visuals of things the client made or produced while using your service or tool.

Interviews

The next type of blog post on the list is the interview. These can be done in a number of ways:

  • Podcast transcribed into an engaging post.
  • A video recording of a Zoom call and a transcription in the post.
  • The classic style interview with the transcribed copy of a call or in-person meeting.

The premise of an interview is to ask someone a set of questions and publish them along with their answers.

A key factor of a successful interview post is the person you interview and the questions you ask. Don’t waste a good opportunity by asking the wrong questions or not connecting with the interviewee.

How To Create An InterviewArticle

1. Find the Right Interviewee

Choose an influential person in your niche that’ll bring value to your readers. If you can’t think of someone off the top of your head, do some social media listening to see who you are already connected to and who your audience is following. You’ll have an easier time getting a positive response from top thought leaders in your niche if they know a little bit about you. If your blog is still quite small, interview someone at your level or a little higher to start.

2. Make the Connection and Formulate Some Questions

Once you’ve chosen the person to interview, connect with them first. Have a conversation about your idea and why you’d like to interview them. Give them a chance to suggest questions that they’d like to answer. When you write up the questions, make sure they’re open-ended. Open-ended questions can’t be answered with a definite yes or no. Ask for their opinions on certain things, or ask for their personal experience on a particular subject. Ask questions that invite a bit of storytelling on their part.

3. Capture the Interview

Conduct the interview in a way that’ll be easy to review after it’s done. Record a virtual call or do it all via email. Do what the interviewee feels comfortable with and has time for. Podcasts, for example, are a great option because the exposure level is two-fold. Same with a video that can be shared on YouTube or Facebook.

4. Format the Blog Post

Put together the post. Follow the classic interview format of question/answer or create a curated story from the answers. If you recorded a virtual call, include the video above the fold. Podcasts and audio recordings should also be added above the fold. Then add the transcribed content or a summary.

Comparisons

The next type of blog post is a comparison. A post like this is good for a number of purposes; SaaS companies compare their software to competitors, affiliate marketers measure up different products in the same niche. One angle is to highlight your product other others, another is to compare two or more products so the reader can come to their own conclusions. Both are valid comparison posts and are great for traffic and engagement.

types of blog posts

How to Create a Comparison Article

1. Select What to Compare

What’re you going to compare? Choose two products that compete against each other or a number of products for readers to choose from. Compare your product to your closest competitor. Stick to your niche and industry. Listen to your users to know what they’re searching for.

2. Do Your Research

Find as much information as possible about all the items you’re comparing. Make sure all the information is up to date, your readers will know if it’s not. Separate the content into themes or features so the post is easy to skim.

3. Highlight Pros and Cons

A good comparison post includes both the positives and negatives of the items being compared. Even if you’re comparing your product to another, include what your product is missing. Be honest as so why your product doesn’t have that feature and say if you plan on fixing that. Use charts and visual graphics for added value. There are lots of comparison infographic templates out there.

Downloadable Checklists and To-Do Lists

This type of blog post does more than drive traffic and engagement. It also generates leads. The idea is to offer the reader a downloadable checklist or to-do list that fits into your niche and industry. For example, on the post below, Coschedule shares a content marketing checklist in exchange for a sign-up. Usually, these downloadable are created as PDFs. There are plenty of resources online to help you create one.

How to Create Posts with Downloadable Checklists and To-Do Lists

1. Find Out What Your Readers Need

Use social listening to find out what the communities in your niche are looking for. Think of things that can help them get better results in their own business. Come up with an idea that isn’t too long and can be used easily.

2. Create the Download

Use a graphic design program to create your download. These are so popular that you’ll have no trouble finding templates to simply fill in with your content and idea. Make sure to use your brand colors and fonts!

4. Don’t Forget the Call to Action

Create the post where you’ll promote the download. Tell your users how this download will help them. Add a call to action above the fold with a lead capture module. Make sure your email provider sends the download as soon as they sign up.

Grammarly: A Overview and Review

Grammarly: A Overview and Review

Writing with proper grammar is essential in business. Bad grammar can not only change the meaning of a sentence and cause miscommunication, but it can also reduce credibility. Many text editors and browsers have tools to help, but there are a lot of things they don’t look for. It’s easy to make mistakes that word processors don’t catch. One of the best tools to check your grammar is Grammarly.

Grammarly is an app for writers that suggests edits in real-time for spelling, grammar, and writing style. It can even suggest edits based on types of writing, such as academic, business, technical, and creative writing. Grammarly is available for free in a limited edition or as a premium edition. I’m reviewing the free edition.

Four ways to Use Grammarly

There are four ways to use Grammarly:

  • Chrome Extension
  • Online Dashboard
  • Microsoft Office Extension
  • Windows App

Let’s look at each method.

Installing the Grammarly Chrome Extension

Google Chrome can also check your spelling and make suggestions. This same tool works with any text editor that appears in the browser such as Facebook and MailChimp. It’s still very basic. Grammarly replaces that with its own tools (unless you disable Grammarly for a particular website).

To add the Chrome extension, in the upper right corner click the three vertical dots to open Chrome’s settings. Hover over More Tools and select Extensions.

Click the Hamburger menu in the upper left corner. At the bottom of that menu click Open Chrome Web Store.

Search for Grammarly. Click the blue button labeled Add to Chrome.

Clicking the image or title opens a modal that provides an overview with a video, reviews, and related extensions.

Clicking Add Extension opens one final modal asking for permission. Click Add Extension.

It will take a few seconds and then open a tab with a message and links for downloads. Here you can download it for Windows, Microsoft Office, and check an online document.

You’ll see the Grammarly logo in the upper right corner of your Chrome browser. Clicking the logo opens settings where you can disable the extension for the current website, show definitions and synonyms by double-clicking, choose your dialect of English, see the premium edition, create a new document, and go to your Grammarly dashboard.

Clicking My Grammarly opens a tab with a dashboard where you can upload documents and upgrade to the premium edition.

Personalizing Grammarly

When you click on Grammarly the first time it lets you set up your personalized options. The algorithms will adapt to suit your needs based on your choices.

Select the type of writing between school, work, or other projects, choose the dialect of English (American, British, Australian, or Canadian), your primary language (choose between English and non-English), and your grammar skill level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced).

Personalizing Your Grammarly Dictionary

Personalize your dictionary from your profile page in the dashboard. Add as many words as you want and Grammarly will no longer flag those words. This is helpful for writers in specialized fields and fiction writers that create their own unusual names.

Using the Grammarly Chrome Extension

The Grammarly icon, a G in a green circle, automatically appears on anything that Grammarly can check.

It underlines the text that it doesn’t like and the icon changes to show that there are errors. This example shows two issues. The logo has changed to a red circle with a number to indicate the number of issues.

Hovering over the text opens a box with suggestions. If I want one of the choices I just need to click on it. It indicates the type of error it is, which can help me improve my writing.

The change is automatically made when you click on one of the choices and it now indicates that I now only have one error.

Hovering on the circle opens it to show a few options. Click the red circle with arrows to open the document editor. The yellow circle shows the number of advanced corrections are available in the premium edition. The power button turns Grammarly off for this website.

Grammarly Document Editor

The document editor opens in a modal over your content where you can focus on your writing and see a few tools and options. Using this is optional.

Each of the tools on the left of the modal open on hover, identifying what they do. Here you can make selections of what to check. When you’re finished, click the back icon in the upper left corner or click anywhere outside of the modal.

Grammarly Online Dashboard Editor

You can also use the online editor to write or check your documents. Once you login to the Grammarly website you’ll see the dashboard. To create or edit your document in the Grammarly dashboard, click New or Upload on the document icon.

This opens the editor where you can type, paste, or upload your text. Clicking the logo in the upper corner opens a few tools to check your work.

Problems will be underlined. Clicking on an underlined word displays options (just like it does in the browser). Click to see more information and it opens an analysis with word options, a rank based on the goals you’ve set, insights, goals, number of alerts, number of premium alerts, a plagiarism tool (premium edition), and a human proofreader (premium).

Insights show stats about your text. It also shows vocabulary (shows the number of unique and rare words) and readability (shows word length, sentence length, and readability score). These are helpful to improve your writing. I like the reading time and speaking time estimates.

Goals allow you to tell Grammarly about your intent, audience, style, emotion, and the domain (choose from general, academic, business, technical, creative, or casual).

Once you’re done making edits you can download, print, or copy your text to the clipboard to be used anywhere you want.

Your new document will now appear in the dashboard where you can edit, download, or delete it.

Installing the Grammarly Apps

In the Grammarly dashboard click Apps to download Grammarly for Office or Windows. Once they’re downloaded, run them the same as any app.

Grammarly for Microsoft Office

The Office app adds Grammarly to Word and/or Outlook. It adds new tools to the ribbon menu with contextual spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, style, and advanced features (which requires the premium edition).

When you click on the Grammarly icon the errors are highlighted in the text and issues are identified in detail on the right. I had no issues with general performance, but it can sometimes take a few seconds to check your document.

Grammarly for Windows

The Windows app looks and works the same as the online dashboard. It even connects to your account and brings in the documents from your dashboard. This is a great choice if you want to work offline.

Grammarly Pricing

Aside from the free plan, there are four premium plans:

  • Monthly – $29.95 per month
  • Quarterly – $19.98 per month
  • Annual – $11.66 per month
  • Grammarly Business – $10 per month per member

The free plan is great for basic checking such as email, social media, and even blogging. The premium editions are better suited to writing that requires the most professional level of quality possible. The free version does have some good tools, but if you need a premium plan then I recommend the Annual option. Even the Quarterly option is a big savings over the Monthly option.

For more information, visit Grammarly.com.

Ending Thoughts

I use several word processors including Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and WordPress’s built-in editor. Word and Google Docs have tools that underline misspelled and misused words. Google Chrome has those tools and applies them to most editors. Grammarly goes further than that.

Grammarly is an excellent tool for improving your writing quality. It’s easy to make writing mistakes that you don’t notice during the editing process and Grammarly highlights those, drawing attention to them.

Grammarly works great but it’s not perfect. It doesn’t always understand how words are used in web design and development, for instance. And I’m sure there are other industries that it doesn’t understand perfectly. This means there might be times when you disagree with its choices, but it’s still a valuable tool that’s worth using. It can be personalized, which helps a lot too.

I was pleased with the types of errors Grammarly highlighted. It shows misspelled words, repeated words, punctuation, missing words, case, tense, pronoun agreement, etc. Some of these issues require a premium edition to highlight and explain them though.

At the very least, I recommend using the free Chrome extension. It works in your browser, so it applies to anything typed within an editor such as WordPress, newsletters, social media, email, etc. It doesn’t work everywhere though. For example, it doesn’t support Google Drive. The best way to analyze the Google Docs text is to paste it into the Grammarly dashboard editor and then paste it back into Google Docs when you’re done.

Grammarly’s designed for anyone wanting to improve their writing, but shouldn’t be used in place of knowing good grammar. It can’t take the place of a professional editor but it does help by identifying a lot of problems that can easily be missed.

7 Best Company Communication Apps

7 Best Company Communication Apps

Whether you work for a small business with just a few people, or a large corporation with branches in multiple cities, communication is important. Without strong communication between team members, it can be hard to stay focused on a common goal and achieve a high level of customer satisfaction. Fortunately, there are several apps that can streamline your communication efforts.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of internal communication for businesses, and talk about how using a communication app can make yours more successful. Then we’ll explore seven of the best company communication apps available.

Let’s get to it!

How a Communication App Can Improve Your Business

A communication app is a platform designed to make it easier for team members to work together. Apps provide a way to centralize information and enable team members to quickly seek additional information or help from others. Some may include other useful features, such as client communication or project management.

When it comes to completing projects successfully, communication is key. Strong internal communication has been shown to help team members stay focused on a common goal, instead of each pursuing their own idea of what the end product should look like. It also helps increase productivity and customer satisfaction.

While email can accomplish some of what a communication app might do, it generally isn’t as efficient. Chatrooms consolidate messages and keep responses in the correct order, making communication more organized and readable than long email threads. Even so, email is still useful for more formal communications, such as client updates.

Additionally, communication apps are useful for teams with remote members. Chatrooms and video conferencing provide fast, real time communication to help remote members feel they’re part of the team. Apps are also useful when people from branches in different cities need to work together to complete a project.

7 Best Company Communication Apps

There are a wide variety of communication apps available, with different features and focuses. We’ve compiled a list a of some of the best, highlighting their unique qualities to help you find the one that best meets your team’s needs.

Let’s take a look!

1. Slack

The Slack website.

Slack is a predominantly chat-based app that was recently acquired by Atlassian of Trello fame. If you were a previous user of their other popular (and now discontinued) tool Hipchat, you might consider looking into Slack instead. It solves many of the problems of email chains by organizing conversations in ‘channels’.

Team members can join or leave channels as they need to avoid receiving irrelevant messages, and easily find old messages for reference down the line. Additionally, Slack enables you to share files, make voice calls, and host video conferences. It also integrates with tools including Dropbox, Google Drive, or even your company’s own software.

Key Features:

  • Creates clear and organized channels you can join or leave at your convenience.
  • Enables you to search messages for relevant information.
  • Provides file sharing capabilities and integration with a wide variety of other platforms.

Price: Free – $15 per month, along with ‘per user’ fees | More Information

2. Basecamp

The Basecamp website.

Providing several communication options in a single app, Basecamp enables you to interact with teammates in a variety of ways. These include Campfire, Basecamp’s real time chatroom, and message boards for organized conversations you can save for future reference. Plus, you can forward emails to the app, and send direct messages to individuals.

Basecamp emphasizes the importance of client communication as well. It enables you to include clients in conversations, and keep them updated via several project management features, including to-do lists, scheduled check-ins, reports, and progress charts. Basecamp will also handle your project calendar and file sharing and storage needs.

Key Features:

  • Provides a vide variety of communication options, and the ability to ‘loop in’ clients.
  • Enables easy progress updates including to-do lists, charts, and more.
  • Includes additional project management features including calendars and file sharing.

Price: $99 per month | More Information

3. Zoom

Zoom's website, featuring two people using a tablet.

If you’d like to have face-to-face conversations with your team rather than use a chatroom, Zoom can provide the next best thing with group video chats. You can host one-on-one conversations or meetings of over 100 people. Private and group chats enable further discussion during conferences.

Plus, Zoom enables screen sharing to make presentations smooth and simple. It works on a variety of devices, including smart phone and tablets. Team members can join conferences with a phone call, and you can still use screen sharing on mobile devices. You can also use cloud recording to save conferences for future reference.

Key Features:

  • Provides high quality video conferencing ideal for teams with remote members.
  • Enables screen sharing on all devices.
  • Offers recording and cloud storage options.

Price: Free – $199.50 per month | More Information

4. Bitrix24

The Bitrix24 website

Bitrix24 not only helps with communication, but also enables task and team member management. It includes both video conferencing and chatrooms for real time communication, as well as the ability to create workgroups for specific assignments. You can pull in emails to create calendar events or tasks, too.

Bitrix24 includes workload management, time tracking, and task boards for managing your team. You can encourage collaboration with calendars, file sharing, and the ability to bring in external users, such as your clients.

Key Features:

  • Includes chat and video conferencing options.
  • Provides team management features such as time tracking and workload management.
  • Enables collaboration with organized schedules, files, and client communication.

Price: Free – $199 per month | More Information

5. Sameroom

Sameroom's Home page.

For those managing multiple teams or working with clients who already have their own internal communication system, Sameroom provides a way to chat without forcing anyone to give up their preferred platform. Instead, Sameroom connects platforms so you can chat with collaborators on other systems.

You can also use Sameroom to connect accounts on the same platform. For example, if you have a Slack channel for a client project, and the client also has a Slack channel for the project, you can connect the two channels so your team and your client’s team can see messages on both channels.

Key Features:

  • Connects chat platforms so you can communicate with other teams without anyone having to switch platforms.
  • Enables connections between different conversations on the same platform.
  • Provides integrations with over 20 chat apps.

Price: Free – $5,000 per month | More Information

6. Asana

Asana

Though generally used as a project management tool, Asana can be adapted for internal communications as well. It enables you to hold group and one-on-one conversations with teammates, and the project boards will help you keep your team in the loop by showing which tasks have been completed.

You can also utilize task comments to inform teammates or ask questions about your progress on specific assignments. This will help you keep communications organized. In Asana you can easily manage your notifications regarding conversations and tasks to avoid receiving irrelevant communications as you would with long email chains.

Key Features:

  • Includes project management features such as project boards that help keep team members in the loop.
  • Provides comments for task-specific chats, and conversations for project-wide chats.
  • Enables you to choose when you receive notifications.

Price: Free – $23.99 per month + per user fees | More Information

7. Wrike

The Wrike website.

Another project management app with communication features, Wrike, enables you to send teammates chats that appear directly in their workspace. This minimizes time spent moving back and forth between sections of the app, and ensures urgent messages are seen and responded to quickly.

In Wrike, you can also add comments directly to images, videos, and documents to provide contextual feedback. You can see your team’s progress on projects with live activity streams, project and team reporting, and workflows. This eliminates the need to ask what tasks have been completed and what still needs to be done.

Key Features:

  • Includes a messaging system that displays chats directly in your workspace for easy access.
  • Enables contextual feedback through comments on tasks.
  • Provides clear updates on project status with reports and workflows.

Price: Free – $24.80 per user, per month | More Information

Conclusion

While email still has a role in the workplace, apps make for stronger communication between team members. The right app can take your business’s productivity and customer satisfaction to new heights by keeping your team focused on a common goal.

In this article, we’ve looked at some of the best company communication apps. Each has unique features to offer, including video chatting with Zoom, integrating client communications with Basecamp, or connecting different apps via Sameroom. You may even find it helpful to combine project management and communication in a single app, such as Asana or Wrike.

Personas: What They Are, How to Make Them, and How to Use Them in Marketing

Personas: What They Are, How to Make Them, and How to Use Them in Marketing

Marketing personas can help you prevent this problem. In this article, we’ll explain what personas are, how to create them, and how to use them in marketing.

Let’s jump in!

 

What Marketing Personas Are

Marketing personas are characters designed to represent sections of your target customer base. They’re used as tools to help understand customer motivations and predict their behavior in order to ultimately increase sales.

For example, if you create a product that you believe will appeal to teenage boys, creating a persona for them is a good idea. You’ll give him a name, an age, and state a problem of his you can solve. You can also note things such as whether he has a car, or an after school job.

This makes for more efficient and effective marketing. When you’re trying to decide how to market your product, personas help you see through your customers’ eyes. By considering their values, you’ll better know how to tap into your customers’ emotions to make your products or services seem more appealing.

Persona marketing is useful in a variety of different situations. For example, it can link with content marketing to help personas for your target readers. They can also help you determine the best way to communicate with your customers, and what kinds of promotional strategies to use. They can even be useful for inspiring new products or services based on your customers’ needs or desires.

 

How to Create Marketing Personas (4 Steps)

Creating marketing personas can be a time consuming process. However, if you put your personas to good use, it will be well worth the time and effort. Let’s run through four steps and discuss how to create a persona!

 

Step 1: Gather Information About Current or Potential Customers

The first step in creating a persona is research. You will want to gather all of the customer information you’ll need to create useful personas. Demographics including age, gender, income, family status, education level, and location are a good starting point.

However, information such as their preferred method of communication matters, too. You may reach teens on social media, but have a better time contacting older people on the phone. Determining which keywords your customers find most engaging will also be helpful.

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to get at the core of what drives your customers to make purchases. Aspects such as their values, biggest challenges, needs, and desires are critical components for your personas. This kind of information will be the most vital for helping you understand your customers’ motivations.

There are several sources you can use for compiling this information. Facebook Insights and Google Analytics are useful tools if you already have a Facebook profile or a website. You can also use customer surveys, interviews, or in-person interactions with customers to bring together the data you’ll need.

Step 2: Find or Create a ‘Persona Template’

You’ll find lots of methods for displaying persona information. Bulleted lists, short first-person narratives from the personas’ perspective, tables, or even a combination are popular options. Any method is fine, so long as it exhibits your personas’ information in a way that makes sense to you.

You could also create comparative personas by including charts and graphs to note information like what percentage of your customer base each persona makes up. Sliders can denote information such as personality traits, or a willingness to spend.

There are plenty of persona templates to be found online. However, if you’re feeling creative you could make your own, or mix and match parts of templates you’ve found. This way you’ll have an ideal template for your specific purposes.

 

Step 3: Determine the Right Number of Personas for Your Business

How many personas you need will depend on your business, and both your current and ideal customers. Persona marketing is most effective when you strike a balance between enough personas to cover your customer base thoroughly, without introducing ‘decision paralysis’ in a given situation.

First, determine how many problems or challenges your product or service solves. If each of those problems applies to a different kind of customer, you’ll need a persona for each. Niche businesses will probably have fewer personas, since they’re targeting a specific market.

You should also consider which types of customers you most want to appeal to. It’s possible that you’ll be able to identify a very large number of personas you could market to, but if you’re really only interested in targeting a select few, create personas for those types of customers and focus on those sections of your customer base.

Step 4: Humanize Your Personas

Giving names to your personas might feel a little silly, or at the very least, inconsequential. However, the opposite is true. Humanizing your personas by naming them – including details like their hobbies and job titles, and even finding photos to represent them – is part of what makes a persona an effective tool.

Persona marketing works best when it’s used to create a customer-centric brand. Rather than being a profiling tool, marketing personas are supposed to help you see through the target customers’ eyes to better understand them.

Humanizing your personas helps to accomplish this by making your personas seem more like real people. Each will have problems that you’re trying to solve with your products or services. In addition, they’ll have their own preferences, desires, and narratives that will play into how you’re able to reach them.

You can use basic tools and assets such as name generators and stock photos to help with this part of the process. You can even take things a step further and seek out the most common names for certain demographics – like age or job title, for example.

 

How to Use Personas in Marketing

The uses of marketing personas are vast and varied. While most people think of them as useful for developing ideas for marketing specific products, they can also help with lead generation and communicating with customers. They can even provide inspiration for new products or services.

Once you’ve created your personas, you can start creating content to attract more people to your business. Through the use of keywords in blog and social media content, you can help your business rank when customers are searching for an answer to their most common problems, bringing new leads to your business.

Personas can also help you pinpoint how best to contact your customers. For example, knowing which social media platforms are most popular among certain demographics will help you ascertain which platforms to use to get in touch with your target audience.

Speaking of target audience, personas are frequently used in content marketing to craft blog posts, social media posts, and even email blasts. Knowing your audience can help you determine the best tone, style, and language to use to speak to your customers.

Different kinds of promotions appeal to different kinds of people. For example, the frugal-minded may wait for sales, limited-time products, or other discount deals. In contrast, contests and giveaways excite more competitive types. Fortunately, your personas can help you determine which promotions are most likely to motivate your customers.

Finally, knowing the problems or challenges that your customers face can point you toward new product and service lines. Ultimately, finding ways to solve these issues for your customers could open new doors for your business.

 

Conclusion

When you’re able to see your business from your customers’ perspective, you’ll better understand how to appeal to them. Personas make customers’ desires and motivations more clear so you can better create content, products, services, and promotions.

In this post, we’ve explored some of the benefits of marketing personas, and how to create and implement them for yourself. Try following these steps to create your own marketing personas:

  1. Gather information about current or potential customers.
  2. Find or create a persona template.
  3. Determine the right number of personas for your business.
  4. Humanize your personas.