“While Tangible Words was working on redeveloping our website content, in-house we were developing the messaging for a new tradeshow banner. We got Tangible Words on the phone to see if they could contribute to our brainstorming, and suggest more interesting phrasing. Tangible Words already knew our business well from the Communications Plan and Content Strategy; so our ensuing conversation Alysha was incredibly helpful and really unlocked our writers’ block.
First, Alysha started by asking which of our audiences we were looking to target with this piece. She then brought focus on our unique selling propositions and helped us drill down to come up with the right messages so we could concisely articulate what differentiates us from competitors and make sure we had a more compelling message for our prospects. She also gave suggestions related to images and logos that were good learning points that we may use in our visuals going forward.
We had already hired Tangible Words to complete our website information architecture and write our website content – but Tangible Words brought value to our organization even beyond the contracted services.”
“The Communications Plan and Content Strategy for Conservation Ontario by Tangible Words was very helpful and cost effective. The final report gave us much more than the price reflects: it was a lot more detailed than we expected and it triggered a lot of reflection on our part. Given the amount of thinking alone that went into preparing this document, I would have expected to have been charged quite a bit more than we actually were.
Like most organizations, we already have a web developer who consults with us about branding. But we wanted an external assessment on the words we use to communicate with our key audiences. I was hoping for an honest and critical report that would give us some tough advice which is why I turned to Tangible Words. They delivered have a detailed, solid plan with lots of ideas and advice we can follow up on.”
“Knowing which strategic content marketing tasks to tackle in sequence is critical for the Ontario East Economic Development Commission (OEEDC) . Tangible Words created a Communications Plan and Content Strategy to help our Innovative Rural Opportunities Sector Team organize our ideas, consult industry research and better understand how to separate and satisfy the differing needs of our target audiences. Now we’re using Tangible Words’ easy-to-follow Marketing Tools Calendar to forecast our budgets and make sure every marketing message will be aligned with our Communications Plan. Tangible Words even worked to an aggressive timeline we required for funding.”
–Shelley Hirstwood, Board Member, Ontario East Economic Development Commission (OEEDC)
Unlike Google’s Penguin and Panda updates, the Google Hummingbird is a completely new algorithm and will affect your business website. Unique content became the focus and this has not changed with the new algorithm either.
Becoming an expert online by creating unique, engaging, useful content for your reader’s and potential clients is the key. But make sure you share this information on social networks like LinkedIn, your Business Facebook page, Twitter, etc.
Google has recognized that people search using ‘conversational’ language. Some businesses still believe that ‘formal language’ shows people how complex their products are and somehow convinces their readers that they must buy from them (Read Education vs. Business writing to learn more about the difference when writing online). Unfortunately this is exactly the opposite of what people are looking for online and in fact Google proves this by changing the algorithm to look for conversational language.
In the next article you will learn ways to ensure your business website answers reader’s and potential client’s questions. This is the focus of Google’s hummingbird algorithm and will help your business website become an ‘expert’ online.
When you’re in the market to revamp your business website, most companies go back to the website company they used before, or find a new website designer or developer and call it a day. But there’s a lot more to making a great website than just finding amazing web designers and developers that you want to work with.
Too often we meet companies who have spent thousands on their website but they still aren’t happy with their website. Going to a website developer or website designer first is simply not a good idea – and it’s not the web developers fault. Even though the design can look great, and the functionality can be good, there are big jobs that need to be done before you get to this stage, and if you skip them, the design and development won’t last you the 2-3 years (or longer) you expect your website to last.
When it comes to your company website, it’s all about your prospects and clients being able to easily find the information they need to make them trust and want to work with the company. That means, you need to map out the information you want them to see and write the user-friendly (and Search Engine friendly – SEO) content BEFORE you start tackling design and development of your website.
A lot of people we speak to feel overwhelmed by their website project – and you probably hear these complaints in your various social and work circles too.
And it can be really frustrating when that “redo our website” task sits on your “to do” list for way longer than you intended – you just feel like you never make any headway and can’t get out from under it; and in the meantime, your online “shopfront” just isn’t really saying how amazing you are and sadly, prospects pass you over. If you’re not a person who thinks about how to organise ideas and words on a website all day long, it’s hard to imagine how it will look on a page – let alone try to get the words right on your own.
There’s a lot of ‘one-stop‘ shop companies who claim they can do everything from redesign, to copywriting, but it’s impossible to do each of those things really well – and you won’t get to ensure that everyone on your team is working in accordance to your ideals. You might think the ideas of “specialists” means that it will be more expensive – but in the creative economy of experts who work with low overheads, it’s not. Even better, when you choose your specialists for each stage, it’s actually less expensive and you have the benefit of hand-picking the people you want to work with, so you can feel confident in your choices – that means you are two steps closer to getting that website project off your desk.
But it shouldn’t all be on your shoulders here either. You’re great at what you do – which is presumably not working on websites all day. So it’s understandable that you would need help developing the content strategy for your company website. That’s why Tangible Words is adamant in recommending that you talk to a content strategist and SEO copywriting company with a Quality Assured Process BEFORE you talk to anyone else about your website. You’re going to save money by working with a company who takes the time to understand what you do from the first point of contact, and who breaks down the process in digestible stages so you can build the site RIGHT from the ground up.
You need to have a plan for your website content before redesigning your business website, and it helps to have someone who can give you an external perspective on your company and who is an expert on the website building industry, by your side, the whole way. That way, if you ever need help speaking “tech” with the developers or designers down the road, you also have a liaison on your side, who knows your company and your industry to listen to you and communicate with the techie team behind you. Hiring a Professional Website Copywriter first means you will have someone who “speaks web” to help you commission the right company, and to work with the web developer team on your behalf ongoing to get the functionality you really need for your new business website.
Stay tuned for ‘5 Reasons You Need A Content Strategy Before You Need a Website Developer‘. We will also discuss how website copywriters should PLAN not just WRITE your content.
Microsoft has this great article about why even small businesses need intranets. The article makes some great points about why a small company would want an Intranet: my favourite is the acknowledgment of broken telephone amongst a company of even two staff; “communication suffers when you’re dealing with more than one person“.
And while clear, effective communication is one reason why you would want an intranet, you can’t actually build an effective intranet without having a content strategy. Just like website content planning, having a communications plan and content strategy is essential to meeting the long term goals of the company intranet. Here’s why.
Tangible Words has been leading an IT team in Kingston, Ontario through the process of developing a company intranet for their staff.
We’ve been designing and tweaking the intranet system, since the soft launch because sometimes the goals you think you need to set are not enough. Having the content strategy in place has been helpful to acknowledging the limitations of our initial goals because the content strategy has always been a document to which we return for answers and creative problem-solving. Having a well-mapped content strategy reminds us of the problems we were worried about experiencing before the project started so that we don’t lose sight of them.
Also, the content strategy document gives us a point to figure out where we went wrong if ever we feel like something isn’t working in the project. (For instance, we might think that we can create staff engagement by doing X, Y, and Z. But the time comes and fewer people are spending time on the site than we imagined.)
In a small business, you’re already juggling so many balls, it’s too easy to let the important, long term goals drop whenever you feel frustrated – which is why it’s often so hard to get awesome initiatives like an intranet off the ground when you’re a small or even mid-sized company. However, if you have a document that lays out your intentions, you always have a place to return to figure out what you didn’t include, do more research and try again. In this way, big projects get off the ground with a content strategy in place.
Secondly, most people who have the dream of getting a project in place like an intranet are naturally quite entrepreneurial. They have a vision and a dream of what’s possible. In a young, underdeveloped field like website copywriting and content marketing, these people are rare, and can be considered the “early adopters” of Effective Online Communication. As such, they are quite “bouncy” in their ideas, and lose track of where they intended to go quickly as a new idea catches their eye. The value of having a content strategy specialist working with you on website projects is tenfold here. Firstly, the external perspective of a specialist content manager is there to make sure the project is managed and still running even when the staff are too busy. If you have someone (proficient and competent) in charge of your content strategy for your company intranet, things will not fall by the wayside – not when you get busy, and not when you get distracted by the next great idea. The content strategy keeps you focused and able to tweak whatever isn’t yet working. Your decision to hire a consultant is a commitment to saying “we want this done and we want it done by this date.” A content communication strategy company will be able to create the milestones and metrics you require for your company intranet.
Thirdly, an intranet is a place to store, update and grow information. Naturally, the site will evolve and you will get feedback from staff beyond your IT department that you want to implement. Having an external content strategy person there will make sure that new information and ad hoc ideas aren’t added in such a way as to defeat your original site goals. For instance, no one wants a stagnant company intranet where you can’t easily search for information and the site is disorganised. A content strategy will make sure that even new ideas are filed in a searchable, organised way that makes sense to store the information.
If you decide to start setting up a company intranet for your small business, remember that websites aren’t just about cool designs anymore. In fact, you’ve probably already discovered in the first version of your company website that it’s essential to manage the output of new information on your website. So you need to plan website content beyond pictures, colours and layout but to incorporate a long term view of the goals you want to meet with any website. A content strategy helps you have a roadmap for managing the pages and posts and designing the flow of information.
The worst part about trying to get any kind of a website (intranet or otherwise) together, is not allotting facilitated creative thought time and sessions. You and your team need to a process for setting aside constructive, creative space at the beginning of your project and throughout it’s life: to ask the right questions, to determine goals, to get all ideas in the pot, and to figure out what is missing.
Being able to ask “How close are we to where we all hoped we’d be?” and “Has our course shifted?” is essential, and easily guided by a content strategy document which you start at the outset, and tweak throughout the project’s life.
**There’s another great article I recent read which talks about how intranets are not social enough – 5 reasons. Unfortunately the comments were closed here, but I will make the point that if you are using WP for your intranet like Tangible Words is for one of our clients, it’s totally possible to also make it social (the very premise of this article is that they are not social – but I say, “They can be!“).
***You will have original goals of value to document, and it’s normal that you will learn new and better ways to create value with your content as you test the site, get feedback and evolve.
You might hear copywriters and graphic designers throwing creative jargon at you. One creative term is the “creative brief”. As a content writer, I also like to call this the “communications plan” because we’re generally copywriting more than one product for our clients.
Part of Tangible Words’ copywriting process is to ask a lot of questions. It’s an essential part of the process for two reasons. Firstly, we need to become experts in your business. Secondly, we need to know what results you need to achieve. Thirdly, our Melbourne and Toronto copywriters want to help you pinpoint the reasons even more customers will love you.
Good campaigns require planning. Why not start to plan your next campaign by reading our recent email series “7 Steps to Improving Customer Engagement“. Sign up now to receive the ‘7 Step’ series (for free).