Jun 14 2017

Everybody Can Write . . . Right?

Books, billboards, news


releases, website content,




magazines and magazine


articles, posters and


displays, newspaper



columns, surveys, signs,


 postcards, brochures, 


commercials, promotional

 emails, direct mail, photo


captions, jingles, branding


themelines, package labels,


training curricula, promo


literature and exhibit

 materials, webinars, sales


presentations, seminars 


lyrics, booklets, speeches,


 ebooks, blog posts, scripts


  business plans, marketing 


 strategies, love letters,  


manuals, greeting cards,


and matchbook covers


Ever write any of these yourself? How’d it come out? Did you get the results you wanted? What happened? Are you a skilled writer? An experienced wordsmith? Probably not. If you’re reading posts on this blog site, it’s because you’re an entrepreneur, a small business or professional practice owner, manager, or principal, a student, or a leader.

If you fit any of those kinds of career descriptions, odds are that you are marketing a product, service, or idea (or some combination) and the daily challenges of keeping your business or organization moving forward leaves little room for you to indulge in fantasy of seeing yourself as a talented writer. And you’re smart enough to know when to get help.

One telling characteristic of successful entrepreneurs, in fact, is that they know how to pull their ideas forward while leaving necessary professional services up to professionals they engage — CPA, attorney, management consultant, and more often than not: creative services, especially writers and designers.

Entrepreneurs, after all, are the catalysts of business and the economy. They are agents of change. They serve as mirrors of society wants and needs. They alone are responsible for new job growth (not corporations, and certainly not government). As a result, entrepreneurs are also the most sensitive of business people, and the quickest to recruit outside expertise when they see the need.

Small business owners are far more in touch with reality than their big business counterparts who are obsessed with analyzing what message content and structure communicates best, and sells.

They recognize that one dot or small sweep of a design line, or one word can make the difference between sale and no sale. (And remember, with online content: WORDS are still King!)

Entrepreneurs respect and appreciate the value of expertise.


So the list above is not just a teaser or composite of writing applications. It is a list of real business-related (yes, even love letters!) writing needs that most entrepreneurs are confronted with at one time or another. It is also a list of writing applications that anyone you hire to write for you should have experience with, at least most of them.

I know. I’ve written all of the above many times over. And I can tell you that a marketing writer who hasn’t written a book doesn’t know how to tell a story, and stories sell. A website content writer who hasn’t written radio and TV commercials has no sense of writing concise, punchy stuff that’s short, sweet, and memorable . . . and “short, sweet, and memorable” sells!

Someone who’s never written a billboard hasn’t even a clue about how to write branding lines because the discipline is the same:  Aim for 7 words or less and tell a story in those 7 words or less that has a beginning, middle, and ending . . . and is persuasive. Ah, then comes the opposite: Direct mail. In direct mail, the more you tell, the more you sell — that means, literally, a blanket of billboards.

Writing emphasis must always be “you” focused (not “we”). It must attract attention, create interest, stimulate desire, bring about action, and deliver satisfaction. It MUST ALWAYS answer the question: “What’s in it for ME?” All writing –even an instruction manual– represents an opportunity to make a sale and/or create a favorable impression.

The writing you have now?

Does it work as hard as you do?


# # #

Hal@Businessworks.US  931.854.0474

Open Minds Open Doors

Many thanks for your visit and God Bless You.

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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Jun 18 2011

“FREE” Takes Time!

No-cost/low-cost marketing


doesn’t happen overnight!


When you commit to spending minimal or no dollars to get your marketing message out to your target market, don’t expect miracles. Be realistic enough to recognize that a great many factors can impact your effectiveness. 

Whatever you do must be well done. If it’s news releases, you need to distribute a series of at least 5 or 6 different ones, 10-20 days apart, to a reliable list of media contacts, whose names and titles are double-check spelled correctly . . . and who are treated with utmost respect and gratitude for consideration.

Remember you are asking these people to give you free publicity. They decide if you get it or not, if your words are worthy, if they like the way you ask, if they are in a receptive mood, or if they will require you to buy advertising time or space first.

Your releases must be:

  • NEWSWORTHY – Use “enlightened” self-interest, not just self-interest!

  • GRAMMATICALLY FLAWLESS – Use Spellcheck. Use AP and UPI “Style” books, and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style




    • Your contact info
    • Interesting, captioned photos whenever possible
    • Short, personalized-as-possible cover notes that point out why each release will have interest to the recipient’s reader or broadcast audiences

If you’re using social media and/or emails (and you should be on both counts, if for no other reason than to support and promote the use of releases), think before you “Send.”

Always include a shortened link to your site. Be social. A steady stream of sales pitches, day after day numbs Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn subscriber brains into Delete Mode.

As with your news release headline, make sure your message attracts attention without being alarmist or overstepping acceptable boundaries of good taste.

Be smart enough to realize that the economical course of action you choose for your marketing simply does not offer the same accelerated pace of providing and paying for an advertisement and getting immediate exposure.

“Free” takes time!

Expect — even when everything and every person involved in the process falls neatly into place — it’s going to take you longer than you want it to, to make things happen.


A news release that finds its way to a receptive editor may get tossed at the last minute because a major news event breaks. Coverage of that takes priority because it sells newspapers, magazines and broadcast aduiences.

That’s what sells advertising time and space and that’s what pays salaries.


# # #


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Hal@Businessworks.US or 302.933.0116

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals. God Bless You.

Make today a GREAT day for someone! 

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Oct 13 2010


Tooting Your Own Horn


Starts With Having A Horn!



Simple, right? Wrong. Unless you are or have retained an expert writer and marketing professional, finding the right horn to toot can be a daunting task.

It means first having a Creative Action Plan and Production Action Plan built on Goals that are specific, flexible, realistic, and due-dated. Consider what must be done just to get that far.

Begin your Action Plan with a Branding Theme. (Best are seven words or less that tell a story with a beginning, a middle, and an ending, and that are persuasive!)

Find an experienced pro for this part of the journey, or be prepared to spend much more time than you could ever imagine…and still not have good odds for success.  

Integrate that Theme as the central focus of your Elevator Speech (a persuasive 30-second verbal presentation of what you do/sell/offer, as well as underscoring the benefits of purchase or ownership).

It needs to answer the two questions: What’s the deal? and What’s in it for me?)  


Compose an ongoing series of news releases and feature articles that dramatically emphasize and highlight your Elevator Speech. Distribute your releases to hand-picked target media people.

Follow up with strong, respectful, helpful, and pleasantly assertive media relations efforts.

Follow up with more news releases, and more media relations, followed by more news releases and more media relations, followed by more news releases and more media relations, followed by more news releases, followed by more media relations… 

Just as research proves that management training program participants typically fail to retain what they “learn” after only 21 days without some significant reminders and ongoing reinforcement…your news release target market will also fail to recall your “story” within 21 days, unless you reinforce it continually.

In other words, for PR to work, it needs to be an ongoing commitment, not a “one-night stand” or “overnight sensation” announcement.

  • You can try this yourself, but be prepared for rejection and misrepresented messages.
  • You can hire a professional PR firm, but be prepared to spend $5,000 to $25,000 a month in fees, plus expenses.
  • Or, you can find a “one-man-band” type professional who knows how to play the PR game and who will represent your interests for $1,500 to $4,500 a month.

Your PR efforts will produce a level of “BUZZ” (this century’s name for “word-of-mouth” advertising), and that BUZZ becomes your horn. Toot it on your website! Happy Tooting!


302.933.0116 or Hal@BusinessWorks.US  

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.
 “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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Aug 18 2010


Nine “Do Not” lessons


learned from 30+ years 


of sales-winning advertising


I know, accenting the negative isn’t always the best thing, but if you know what NOT to do, it’s a lot easier to figure out what you can and should do. I don’t pretend to know what you can and should do, but I sure can tell you what I’ve found out that doesn’t work (and throw in a few hints about stuff I know that works better!).

Here’s the scoop:

1. Do NOT advertise that you have integrity, or even about what wonderful integrity-inspiring things you or your business have done. When you conduct business at all levels with a high-trust approach and attitude, you will gain or boost a reputation for integrity that speaks for itself!

2. (…and this is really #1): Here is the single most difficult marketing, advertising, sales and PR challenge to face for all businesses everywhere (yes, you did indeed read that right: “all businesses everywhere”)– ready for this? — Do NOT promote how great you are to the rest of the world. Nobody cares. Well, maybe your mother cares, but nobody else does.

3. Do NOT get too cutesy. Readability must come before cleverness in font (lettering) use and treatments (Italics, boldfacing, spacing, underlining, shadowing, using a horseshoe for the letter “U” or crossed swords for “X” or an egg for “O”…etc.). And don’t trust a designer to worry about readability; most have no training or experience in how to design with and around text, especially branding lines.

4. Do NOT emphasize product and service features. Nobody buys features. People buy benefits. Make sure your marketing, advertising, sales, promotion and PR efforts focus on benefits — on answering the question, what’s in it for me?

5. Do NOT buy into fancy dog and pony presentations that stress how the work a creative service provider individual or organization or group or team can do for you will put you head and shoulders above the rest of your industry or profession. Get rid of creative service providers who seem more interested in winning awards for themselves than in making sales for you. Use performance incentives.

6. Do NOT ever accept a media rate that’s printed on a “rate card” or “rate sheet.” Think of it as the asking price for a house just put on the market this morning. Media people who aren’t willing to work with your budget aren’t worth your time and consideration. There are always other ways to market your business.

7. Do NOT try to hand-off advertising/marketing/PR responsibilities to someone who works with you because they articulate well or can write a mean email. And don’t try to do it yourself unless it’s what you specialize in. Remember that there are two success keys involved: writing skill and psychology expertise. Persuading customer and prospect brains is what it’s all about. 

8. Do NOT communicate too little or too much. Ask prospects and customers what they think the right amount of information is. Have someone who’s experienced at it run a focus group for you to get these answers, and to test alternative marketing approaches. 7 target market representatives for an hour works for this purpose. Give each a $20-$25 value reward for their participation.

9. Do NOT “settlefor ads, commercials, websites, landing pages, blogs, brochures, news releases, or social media executions or strategies that don’t feel right! If you don’t feel sure about something, remember it’s your business. Your gut instinct is your best decision maker.   


www.TheWriterWorks.com or 302.933.0116 or Hal@BusinessWorks.US  

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.
 “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 
Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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Jul 31 2010

A Money-Saving Marketing Guide

 The bigger they are,


the harder YOU fall


 …but the little guys


can cripple you too!


Here’s the inside scoop on “outside” marketing experts . . . 35 years’ worth of experience and considered judgment for you to chew and digest:


WEBSITE DESIGNERS who claim to have the gift of marketing genius have nada. If they’re older than 14 to start with — even 30-something — they are still probably 14 mentally; and odds are they haven’t a clue about marketing, but have learned to sound convincing about it. Exceptions? Sure. Check my blogroll.


AD AGENCIES know less than website designers. They are heavily invested in winning themselves awards and cornering clients into excessive payments. They have no down-in-the-trenches sense of how to make sales, nor do they particularly care as long as the next big client stands ready on the horizon.

  •      They are particularly skilled at song and dance “dog and pony shows” that tell clients how great it’s going to be but that accomplish nothing to write home about, as long as the next big client stands ready on the horizon.
  •      If you’re looking for artsy or funny or insulting or dramatic ads and commercials that have high impact but make no sales, go to an ad agency. And the bigger the agency, the more it will cost you and the least likely you’ll get the results you seek.

PR FIRMS do have a pretty good camaraderie with numerous media people and can be effective — depending on whether you pay them $10,000 a month or $15,000 a month — at wining and dining and schmoozing editors, writers, and sometimes publishers into considering coverage for the news releases they write and submit for you.

  •      And they certainly know how to play the news release format game, but they rarely if ever are able to capture the essence of your business message and bring about action because they almost universally seem to think they know more about your business than you do. So what comes out is mundane, meaningless babble.
  •      Make them write three test releases and explain why the words in them are the best words and who and when they would submit them to and why.

MARKETING GROUPS will tell you they’ve got you covered, yet only a minuscule number actually realize that marketing is the umbrella and that the functions under that umbrella include sales, advertising, promotion, packaging, pricing, merchandising, PR (public relations), industry and investor relations, customer service, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), website design and development, email and social media promotional activities, employee alumni associations, buzz (word-of-mouth) marketing, and on and on.

  •      Ask them HOW they “cover” you and see how many of these avenues are mentioned.  

MEDIA. Would you have a guy from the slaughterhouse prepare your meals?


SBA SCORE COUNSELORS. SCORE is Senior Corps of Retired Executives. A lot of the world’s nicest, most well-intentioned people in this organization that provides FREE consulting.

  •      Unfortunately, like the federal government they represent, they are completely out of touch with the realities of day-to-day business management, and may as well be on Jupiter for the marketing guidance they provide. Time is money. Don’t waste your time.

     What’s left? Independent consultants and project managers. Probably these folks represent your best choice, but only if you’re careful in your selection. Some of them are just as crooked as many of the others.

     ASK QUESTIONS. Ask for explanations about HOW a candidate thinks about what she or he claims to have accomplished. Ask for examples. Ask why something that worked well worked well and why something that didn’t, didn’t. How confidentially do they offer information? Who are a couple of client types they can suggest for you to contact to confirm.

     Beware of self-proclaimed “experts”

with cookie-cutter solutions!


# # #  

302.933.0116  Hal@BusinessWorks.US  

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

3 responses so far

May 13 2009

WHEN “Do-it-yourself” DOESN’T DO IT…

You can’t control your ship


while stoking the furnace!


     What IS it that makes business owners and managers so crazy when they’re confronted with the idea of hiring someone to do a task that they know they could do themselves?  Huh? I KNOW I’m not imagining this one. So answer the question.

     Why would someone who runs a business think she or he should set up his or her own website or write her or his own blog or news release, for example? To save money? Surely saving money is not a good answer.

     As we’ve discussed here often, no one makes money by saving money. Businesses only make money by selling. If you own or operate a struggling (or ambitious) business and you decide to do tasks that are not making money by actually disengaging yourself from the sales process, you are wasting money, not saving it.

     I have seen some very bright business owners step aside from the sales function to let the salespeople do the selling, and instead focus their energies on operational productivity or human resource management, or budget management, or manufacturing efficiency, then be astonished to see their ships go down while they are busily rearranging the deck chairs.

     FACT: No one (NO ONE) is better at selling what your business produces or provides than you are! If your business is struggling (or steaming “Full Ahead”), and you are not with one hand at the controls, actively selling, you may want to re-think your investment in survival (or growth) and see the role you’re playing for what it really is: an anchor!

     If you need a new or upgraded website or a punchy blog, or news releases that get printed and broadcast, and you can find a professional website developer you can trust who has a track-record for reliability…or a professional marketing writer who knows how to “storytell” your business messages and who has a track-record for sales results, for heaven’s sake: HIRE THEM and get on with selling!

     So what if you think you could design your own site or write your own content or marketing materials? It’s not worth you taking the time to do those things when you need to be selling because selling is the only way to make money and move your ship forward.

     Pay the professionals to do what they do best. It’s a cost of doing business. Trying to tackle non-sales projects yourself diverts your time, energy and money into non-productive directions and doesn’t make the best use of your knowledge, talents, and enthusiasm. Besides, if you do-it-yourself, and screw it up, it’ll cost you twice as much to get the same professionals to do emergency surgery at sea!

     One last thought: You can control your ship and sell at the same time. You can’t control your ship while you’re stoking the furnace or working below decks. Best wishes for smoothe sailing!  

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Send your input anytime: Hal@TheWriterWorks.com (”Businessworks” in the subject line) or comment below. Thanks for visiting. Good night and God bless you! halalpiar              # # # 

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