Promotional Collateral

Do You Lose Your Voice When You Write?

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I am not suggesting that you suffer from a strange side effect of writer’s block.  I am referring to our tendency to lose our brand identity when we write books, speeches, promotional collateral, opt-in products, website copy, etc.  Have you ever read some of your own content months or years later and thought it does not even sound like you?  Have you watched one of your keynote presentations and wondered why it did not feel authentic? Have you reviewed your website copy lately and thought, “Is this really me?”

Just for fun, let’s call this phenomenon Writer’s Laryngitis (WL).  We will define it as a condition resulting from authors or speakers deviating from their brand, their rhythm, and their personality because they are trying too hard to accommodate their perceptions of their audience.

Are you addressing industry mavens and CEOs and instead of being your clever and engaging self, you end up delivering a stoic and lifeless presentation?  What if the demographics of your readers are predominantly male or female, do you get too in touch with your masculine or feminine side in an attempt to establish rapport when in fact your disingenuous tone turns people off?

These may seem like dramatic examples, but on a much smaller scale this happens more often than you realize.

Mild to Severe WL-like symptoms:

  • You find yourself stuck trying to write about content you coach everyday, or you try to mimic expressions and concepts that do not come easily to you.
  • You stumble for just the right words to explain your own services and products.
  • When you receive your own Opt-In product emails each day, are you unable to see your reflection in them?
  • Your personality resembles slacks and a nice sweater but your correspondence wears a three-piece suit
  • When listening to your own recorded tele-seminar script you sound more rehearsed than the conversational tone of your in-person consultations
  • A new client or colleague tells you that based on your previous correspondence and content, you “seem different” in person

In-Home Remedies:

  • The next time you talk with a potential new client on the phone, record yourself on a digital recorder.  Are you explaining your services the same way in print?  Chances are your audio explanation was more engaging and persuasive.
  • Put your promotional collateral and sales letters side-by-side with your web copy and see if they are consistent in tone and messaging
  • Read your manuscript chapters aloud to yourself. If the words do not flow easily for you, then simplify and replace it with your everyday diction

Professional Treatment:

You may have a more severe condition of WL (or lack the time to cure yourself) and I recommend you seek the advice of a second set of eyes.  Chances are you are too close to your own condition and self medicating may not be the answer.  Work with a collaborative writer or editor to help you with the consistency and tone of your messages.  After only a couple of consultations and reviewing your existing content, a writer specializing in voice duplication can create impressions of you on paper.

Here’s to getting better soon!

If our ears could talk. What your audience is saying about your tele-seminar.

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Tell me something new.  Give me a tool or strategy that did not occur to me.  I want to walk away feeling as though I traded my time for value.

Have you ever picked up a “7 Strategies” or “10 Principles” type book and scanned the table of contents or flipped through the book hoping to find a gem or knowledge nugget that could be an a-ha moment for you?  You are not alone.  We all want to learn more and with the accessibility of information online and our need for instant gratification, it appears as though we are commitment phobic when it comes to purchasing products and making the time to sit quietly and actually read them.

The Answer: the tele-seminar.  I prefer to speak and learn in bullet points with a story or two, and I retain more information through auditory means.  Give me a concise format with clear explanations and I am a fan (or follower) for life.  Those were the motivating factors for why I started signing up for any tele-seminar that I thought might teach me something, spur my creativity, or increase the value I bring to my clients.

What I found was that some of these classes added value and others just appeared to be a means to obtain more names for a mailing list.  For those of you who are motivated simply by the latter, may this serve as a wake up call because your audience is brighter than you give them credit for.

Planning to create content for your tele-seminar?

Here are some of my observations, not as an expert creator, but as an avid, engaged participant.

•    What grade are you? Rate your own content.  Are you providing guidance for amateurs, intermediates, or advanced participants?  Consider your audience when you decide what to share.  For instance, is this a follow up to another call or live speaking engagement?  Have you covered a lot of the material in your newsletter or ezine which they already receive?  You can always break up your sessions into different levels which will keep the beginner coming back, while it respects the more advanced student’s time.

•    What’s on your mind? Solicit questions prior to the call.  By asking for questions in advance, you not only pre-qualify the existing knowledge base of your caller, but you personalize the seminar.  Anyone who took the time to send in a question will make it a point of not missing the class.  When you send out the reminder email it would be great to see what questions you have already received which further peaks the interest of your audience.

•    This is a story about…. Please do not read from a script.  Notes are great, but a script is too much.  The audience can tell and they will perceive you as an amateur.  This is your content, your passion, and they are listening to you because they believe you to be the expert.  Step up and speak from the heart and the mind.

•    And the Oscar goes to…. The other side of that issue is when the facilitator sounds as if he/she is either a television product spokesperson or drank too much of the Kool-aid.  Be yourself, please.  Most participants in a tele-seminar are turned off by the fully-animated hard sell.  Add value in a smart, relaxed yet engaged manner.

•   I see clearly now…. Not all of the audience will be strong auditory learners, therefore if you have content that lends itself well to a worksheet, send it out with the email reminder for the call.  Taking notes and filling out sections of a short tool-kit will not only help retention but it will be a tangible reminder of you, the call and your expertise.

•    Seen but not heard. Offer the webinar option.  The idea of using up cell phone minutes or incurring long distance charges on their phone may not be the most economical for some of your listeners.  Being able to listen to the call from a PC or laptop is a great alternative.  Although it limits input from the audience, webinars allow you to have more people on the call who would normally not participate.  More ears and eyeballs is the goal, isn’t it?

•    What was that again? Record the session and send it out to those who participated.  They may have been driving, preparing dinner, or just simply missed a concept and want to go back and review a portion of the call.

As a future fan of your tele-seminars, I ask you to please, concentrate on delivering gems and your expert status will be well-deserved.

Writing Tag Lines with Both Sides of the Brain

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So often we label ourselves as predominantly left- or right-brain thinkers and shy away from those situations that are outside of our comfort zone.  That’s the restraint of a label, it keeps us living in that box and functioning as if we were not capable of expanding past its limits.

When I was asked by a client to write query letters to a potential target market I thought, “Sure, I can do that”.  When he also asked me to create a slogan, tag line or advertising concept for his brand, I thought, “Can I do that?”

In previous leadership roles I had often espoused the benefits of committing to stretch goals that exceeded any self-imposed labels.  I believed it, I lived it and once again it was time to test it.

Try these strategies demonstrated in my example to conquer your next challenging creative project.

Client Mission: Introduce Scootarian© as a brand name for motor scooters and apparel to the existing scooter market.

The Creative Process: (a whole-brain approach)

Step 1: Look for Similarities and Inspiration

I researched words that rhymed with Scootarian believing that I would find a common theme in their definitions or perhaps a concept that might spark an idea.  What I found were words such as Humanitarian, Civil Libertarian, Utilitarian, etc.

What I noticed they all had in common were the concepts of being advocates for or promoting a certain belief or lifestyle. Then it came to me, “That’s it, define the brand like the dictionary would, incorporating similar language along with the idea of being environmentally conscious.”

Step 2: Step into that world

It was time to start the free-association process of listing words that were related to motor scooters and the people who loved them.

Step 3:  Mix and Match

With my list in front of me, I played with different words, in different orders to find the right match for my definition.

Step 4:  Create the Flow

I created tag lines that embodied the spirit of the scooter enthusiast as well as the interests of the environmentally conscious consumer.

Scootarian: (scoot•tar•i•an – noun) an advocate for improving the lives of all creatures, two wheels at a time.™

Scootarian: (scoot•tar•i•an – noun)  creatures of mobility changing the planet two wheels at a time.™

Results: The client established the copyright and sole ownership of the tag lines to produce a national brand campaign.

Note to Self: The creative process is different for all of us as it can be intuitive and subjective (Right Brain) and it is also logical and analytical (Left Brain).  Stretch yourself to use it all.  You, and your clients, will be happy with the results.