5 Minutes with John Ashton

John Ashton spent his time writing for national newspapers and authoring books before coming up with an idea for a company in 2012 that put his talents to exceptionally good use.

Write Arm is a flexible writing resource for marketers. They provide companies with writers when they need them to create any type of written content – from exquisitely crafted straplines to blogs, scripts and books.

In 2020 he set up The KitchenTable Community, which is a peer-to-peer support community and marketplace for the owners and would-be owners of small creative agencies.

We spoke to John Ashton to find out more about the company, and to get his top tips on brilliant copywriting.

Hi John, thanks for chatting with Colour Me Social! What inspired you to start Write Arm?

I started the company in 2012 – I was thinking at the time, what’s my next career move? I thought about becoming a freelance writer again and I realised I wanted to build something bigger and flexible and more of the moment.

I hadn’t worked in the marketing world before then, so I knew nothing of it. I just took the plunge, with no idea whether it would float or not, but it did – much to my amazement and delight!

We started with just a small handful of writers; more and more have found us along the way, and we go out and find writers too – we’ve got scores of them now!

How do you work with businesses?

We do everything with the written word – broadly it breaks down into two types: on the one hand you’ve got content marketing such as articles, whitepapers, case studies, e-books; the other side is creative copywriting, things like static web copy, brochures and email sequences – anything that has a more overt marketing function than content marketing.

What type of businesses do you work with?

Anything from a small SME to multinational giants – we’ll work with any sizes of business, but we prefer to work with those with a marketing department. We work in numerous sectors; the ones that have been particularly strong for us have been tech, financial services and HR/recruitment.

What’s the motivation for businesses to come to you?

It’s very often the case that they just don’t have the resources internally. We work on an ad hoc basis, we don’t tend to charge retainers, which works for us because the clients don’t need us all the time. They often have people in-house who do some of the writing, but then they just get swamped.

What would you say are the main challenges you see your clients facing when it comes to content and copywriting?

The chief challenge is finding the right person to do the work. There are millions of freelancers out there but actually sourcing them and managing them is the real challenge. We’ve got where we are today by answering that need, by solving that problem.

How has your business changed in the Covid-era?

Well, we’ve always been remote. That’s the beauty of Write Arm. The staff work remotely, as do I, and all the writers work remotely. So we were geared up for it.

At the start COVID, everything went quiet for a week, but then it got very, very busy, and we’ve never been busier. I think it’s largely a legacy of working in tech – so many tech niches are buoyant at the moment, and we’re a beneficiary of that.

What’s your top tip for brilliant copywriting?

Great copywriting has to spell out the benefits of a product or service. Or if it’s not a product or service, then drive the message in a way that appeals to the heart, the head, and do so in as few words as possible.

Finally, what advice would you offer to small business owners to help them tell their story?

Invest in copy – it can make all the difference.

The best content from last week

With so much content to read, we have made things simple and chosen our favourite 3 posts from last week.

5 Ways to Use Social Media for Increased Business Success

If you’re about to grow your social media campaigns, you should be aware of the many different ways you can use it  to grow your business. Social media can be leveraged in a variety of ways. Some are obvious, and some that are a little more obscure. The secret to getting the most out of your social media marketing efforts? You may want to coordinate multiple aspects of the campaign at once.

4 Ways To Boost Your Social Media Presence

You’ve taken the time to set up social-media accounts for your business on all the major sites. You’re posting regularly, taking the time to interact with your customers and using your social-media platforms as an opportunity to share information about your products or services. Social media marketing, however, isn’t just about regular posts; it’s also about providing your customers with opportunities to interact with your business. Through that interaction, you’ll be able to build relationships with your customers and increase their opinion of your business substantially.

5 simple tips to help ignite ideas and create fresh content

It’s integral to any business to build a recognisable brand and to curate content that sticks to that brand message. However, this can lead to a cycle of similar content – the same text-filled tweets, indistinguishable links and the churning out of identical hashtags for differing posts. If this sounds reminiscent of your own marketing strategy, have no fear. I’ve compiled some top tips to ease you out of the cycle of repetition and turn your marketing into a whirlwind of creativity.

5 simple tips to help ignite ideas and create fresh content

It’s integral to any business to build a recognisable brand and to curate content that sticks to that brand message. However, this can lead to a cycle of similar content – the same text-filled tweets, indistinguishable links and the churning out of identical hashtags for differing posts. If this sounds reminiscent of your own marketing strategy, have no fear. I’ve compiled some top tips to ease you out of the cycle of repetition and turn your marketing into a whirlwind of creativity.

Publishing a stream of consistently thrilling content is no easy task. Use these five simple tips to help ignite ideas and create fresh content pieces for your various media platforms.

  1. Get buzzing ideas

Nobody can argue with the global success of sites like BuzzFeed, who essentially scour the web for ideas worth promoting. An eye for finding a minor trend and making it into a viral hit is an acquired skill of perception. Look into the social memes and trending topics for inspiration.

Emulate BuzzFeed within your own marketing strategy and keep on top of the latest happenings within your field. You will open up avenues that will lead you into discovering new content opportunities.

Monitor the industry shifts and stay attuned to what your target audience is talking about. Has there been any recent developments that may affect the number of searches in the future? Can those developments affect the keyword phrases your audience use to find your content?

  1. Go Exploring

Explore other sites and analyse what has been big recently – even if it doesn’t necessarily fit your niche. Pick out engaging headlines, notice the content format (podcasts, infographics, quizzes etc.), and how other sites present their output. Become inspired!

Sites like Mashable, Upworthy and Gawker are often behind some of the most viral content. By pushing the boundaries of online content they reap enormous share counts. Perusing their platforms should hopefully spark new ways of looking at your own.

Explore your own skills. Write every day. You don’t have to publish it, but by getting into the habit of sitting down and writing out ideas you might be surprised by what comes out. It’s also essential practice, writing is like any other skill – the more you do it, the better you get.

  1. Wear your audience’s shoes

Not literally, that would be bad business. But do keep in mind the type of questions your target audience have. What would they type in the search engine to find content related to your site? What problems would they be looking to solve and what solutions can you offer them?

Don’t just make assumptions about your audience, do some research. You can keep track of what your visitors are typing in your search box with Google Analytics, Search Meter Plugin or Piwik. By analysing what your audience are searching for you can create content on topics they actively want to discover.

  1. Don’t ignore the easy options

A lot of customer feedback is handed to you on a plate. Read your comments area, (or authenticated sites in your niche). Visitors are offering you feedback for free! They may be pouring out their problems in comments, asking questions, or engaging with specific content. Listen to their problems and work out post ideas answering their FAQ’s.

Ask your own questions. Get feedback and ideas from your social media followers. You could even do a question and answer (Ask Me Anything) post, asking your following to submit questions or ideas otherwise not covered on your site. That way you can garner topics with a guaranteed audience.

  1. Get some help

Guest bloggers! Find other experts or authoritative voices in your niche and invite them to write posts to publish on your blog.

It’s a win-win as they will appreciate the exposure to your audience and you will receive it back when they share it to theirs. It is a powerful way of building strong relationships that are beneficial in multiple ways, from developing business opportunities and professional connections to high quality link building. It also offers you a break from writing blog posts yourself!

Return the favour too. Capture a wider audience and make an impression on new people by guest blogging on other sites. A good guest post can win more followers for your own site and social platforms.

Hopefully these simple tips have sparked some creative thoughts that will result in some new content ideas. Now you just have to ensure you find the time to sit down produce them all… Good luck!

3 Reasons Why Any Company Should Be Using Social Media

The phrase ‘’social media’’ is mentioned frivolously when discussing marketing and online activity. Sometimes without the proper knowledge of what it fully involves. Many companies, especially smaller ones, feel like the era of online marketing is either too complicated, too modern or not relevant for them. However, I disagree. Here are 3  ways you can benefit from using social media as a company – regardless of your size, age or focus.

  • KEEPING CURRENT

As technology rapidly advances, it is vital for any business to keep up with the changes that occur. Social media is used constantly amongst all age ranges, meaning your target audience is right there at your fingertips. A website, although fundamental, is simply not going far enough if you want to secure a solid online presence. Regardless of whether your company deals with online platforms in anyway, the world of marketing and customer interaction is shifting online. You should shift with it.

  • BRANDING

By making full use of social media, you can begin to legitimise your company’s branding in a whole new dimension. Building your online accounts in a consistent manner can create a cohesive look for your company. Simply by choosing the same display pictures, colour themes and descriptions across all your online accounts, you can strengthen and retain your brand in a powerful way to new and existing customers. Social media not only advances your marketing in this way, but it can also open you up to other businesses like yours. Searching for other companies on social media websites can show you what competition is out there. It can also show how they are managing their projects, customers and marketing. Learning from market leaders enables you to learn and grow.

  • CONNECTION

The final, and perhaps the most beneficial, reason is the connection you can have with both new and existing customers. Companies mainly use social media as a marketing tool due to the low cost and simplicity of it. Anyone can make an account on social media websites. This means you have an instant way of connecting to new customers without the cost of physical print and distribution. Posting and sharing on your accounts can reach beyond your current audience. In fact, you have the potential to connect around the world.

Having this far reach is invaluable and should be benefited from as much as possible. Simply by putting your name out there on various social accounts, your name will spread, the bigger your online presence, the more your name will appear in search engines. Linking your accounts to your website will not only show a personal side to your company but, in turn, increase traffic from those who find you through social websites.

The marketing strategies enabled by social media are a huge advantage. However, the way you connect with existing customers can be just as important. People always say that the key to success is knowing your audience. What better way than to have that personal interaction with them. You can talk directly to customers via social media, which creates an instant connection to show that you value them and their loyalty. The distribution of newsletters is a great way to outsource information to your customers. However, some information becomes outdated by the very next day. Therefore, sharing updates directly and quickly through social media shows your customers that you are keeping up with trends and are on top of your branding.

In turn, customers can keep you up to date with instant feedback, giving quicker validation to your company. Specifically, Facebook and Twitter have  tools which can analyse your audience interactions and needs. These reports will let you understand your audience better, creating more successful relationships. The reports also inform you on what will and won’t work in your marketing strategy.

  • SUMMARY

It is clear now how social media, although a modern(ish) tool, can be relevant to all types of companies. The benefits and uses are fundamentally very simple – marketing and branding.

There are many options open to you from managing your own social media, utilising many of the great social media tools that are out there, or by getting a really good social media management company to do it for you.

Which ever way you choose, every company should do it.

 

8 steps to effective content for social media

What a surprise, we’re talking about social media again! At Colour Me Social, we’re mad for everything digital marketing related. We believe in the simple equation top good quality content + good social media management = excellent branding. Of course, there are tactics you need to employ to ensure the type of content you post is effective for SM. It takes a lot of time to produce good content, so you want to make sure you’re posting it in the right places to the right people.

We just finished reading this fantastic article from marketing expert Michael Brenner. He talks all about the 8 steps to effective content for social media. These include: understanding your audience, targeting channels, content strategy, followers, automating, maximising traffic and how to track results. It’s really in depth, making it perfect for social media beginners. It’s worth reading even if you’re a seasoned social networking expert. You never know when you might pick up a new tip or trick.

Interested? Of course you are!

Read the article by clicking here. Don’t forget to tell us what you think, we’d love to know.

Something you want to add? Got some questions? Or just fancy a chat? We’re always up for talking anything social. Get in touch with us by clicking here.

 

“Content is King, Social Media is Queen and together they rule the online and customer world”

Photo Credit
Great article we found by the team at News Cred. – it’s all about content and social media. We really love what they do, and their site is a great read.

“Content is King, Social Media is Queen and together they rule the online and customer world”

Here are your options as a content marketer:
1) Be the KING – By generating GREAT content!
2) Befriend the QUEEN – By understanding and leveraging the power of Social Media OR
3) Be prepared to let the KING and QUEEN rule your WORLD!
Which one will you pick?

Content Marketing has been a significant part of my marketing portfolio in the last 18 months. Looking back, the impact of our digital content has brought exceptional results in terms of external and internal branding, lead generation, partnership development, industry collaborations, and social advocacy.

Now, I want to share some best practices which I believe have been contributing factors to the success of our content marketing journey.

Launching Your Content Marketing Strategy

At the outset, answer these five questions.

Question 1: Who exactly is your content consumer? What is his or her persona? What is his or her buyer life cycle in context to your services, products, or offerings?

Question 2: What are your content objectives?

  • Is it for brand awareness?
  • Is it to build a customer database?
  • Are you looking for better social engagement?
  • Is the aim lead generation or new customer acquisition?
  • What’s the focus? Customer retention?
  • Is it to showcase your thought leadership?
  • Is the objective social advocacy?
  • Should content to be the conduit for partnerships or collaborations?
  • Should content to be the conduit for thought leadership collaborations?

Question 3: What are the metrics to define your content objectives? How exactly will you capture the data to compute these metrics? For example: How will you measure social advocacy? Is it based on the number of customers, partners, or analysts who like, share, or comment on the content you shared? Is it based on the number of total number of likes, shares, or comments that your content received?

Question 4: How do these content objectives align to overall marketing objectives?  How do the marketing objectives align to your business objectives? If this link is clear to your business, marketing and sales teams – half your battle is won.

Question 5: Do you have the right skills, team, or resources to start and navigate through your content journey?

Creating Your Content

Before you start creating content, it is important to have a content plan in place. The content plan should include

Duration
  • Start Date
  • End Date
  • Duration
Content Frequency
  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
Content Format
  • Blog
  • Tweets
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Podcasts / Audio
  • Images
  • Press-Release (PR)
  • Whitepaper
  • Book / eBook
  • Slides / presentation
  • Flyers
  • Case Studies
  • Blog comments
  • E-mail communication
  • CEO Communique
Content Theme
  • Single theme topic
  • Content buckets
Content Monitoring
  • Frequency
  • Tools used
  • Metrics Reported
Content Team
  • Content Author(s)
  • Editor(s)
  • Content Analyst(s)
  • Community Manager
  • Visual designer

In the last five years, I have created, edited, or curated 3000+ content pieces by virtue of being a writer and marketer. I have easily read 30,000+ content pieces. From what I’ve observed, below are some of the key insights for content creation

  • Before you create content, answer the below questions
    • Who is going to read this?
    • What is the value for a reader? What is the key take-away?
    • How will your content reach them?
    • What content formats or channels do they prefer to consume content from?

A reader will remember your content only if:

  1. They learn something
  2. It compels them to think
  3. It touches a deep emotional chord
  4. Does more than one of the above

So be clear in what you want a reader to take-away from your content piece.

  • Clarity is messaging and positioning is most important before you create content. Consistency of messaging across all content artifacts or formats is critical.
  • How to effectively optimize content for reading across any channel – like web, mobile, tablet, etc. This is especially important.
  • At the end of every content piece, cross-link to other content pieces (either authored by you or others) which are relevant and could be valuable to a reader.

Promoting Your Content Marketing

  • Determine the best platform for publishing based on your content objectives – could be your corporate blog, or a guest blog, or other blog platform. Ensure that the content is optimized for each.
  • Create a cross-channel distribution plan for sharing content. This should factor in the ‘content consumer platform preferences’ and ‘time when your target readers consume content.’
  • Synergize efforts between online and offline initiatives.

Ideas for Content Promotion on Facebook 

  • Share as a FaceBook Status. As an option, you might consider tagging friends, family, advocates who might specifically find the content useful, interesting or insightful. Be judicious to avoid spamming.

Ideas for Content Promotion on LinkedIn

  • Update your LinkedIn Status.
  • Post on LinkedIn Pulse. You can cross-link to actual post.
  • Join the most popular LinkedIn groups in your focus area. Promote your content in LinkedIn groups for ‘relevant reach.’ Be judicious to avoid spamming.
  • Identify list of experts from the team who will be active on LinkedIn. Try to get them to comment or participate in group discussions.

Ideas for Content Promotion on Twitter 

  • Use images and Hashtags to promote new content. Use Twitter cards as appropriate. Determine the most popular hashtags related to the content topic and share with those.
  • Tag key Twitter influencers, experts, (potential) customers, brand loyalists and advocates in the space. Solicit opinion or feedback.
  • Ask leaders from your organization to share across social.
  • Generously share others content using hashtags, tagging the authors or publishers. If the topic is directly linked to any of your published content, cross-link and share.
  • Reply, RT, and comment on Tweets.
  • Use scheduling tools to ensure you have a consistent flow of tweets.

Ideas for Content Promotion with Email

  • Ensure you continuously build your e-mail database with people who might find value in your content.
  • Create an e-mail subscription service for readers to subscribe based on interest.
  • Send an e-mail at regular frequency to your contact database. This can be customized and personalized based on the reader’s preferences or choices.
  • Create a strategy to cross-link your e-mail subscription with content promotion. For example, at the start or end of every content piece, give the reader an option to subscribe to your content through e-mail.

Finally, you must regularly and religiously track the content performance based on the metrics set at the outset.

In conclusion, I’d like to leave you with two points. One, the same content marketing strategy will not work for every brand, but applying best practices always increase your chances of success in content marketing. Two, Content Marketing is an exciting and evolving space – so the only way to have a fair chance at success is by experimentation and constantly upgrading your knowledge.

And of course, enjoy the journey.