Generating Buzz About Your Nonfiction Book

What’s on your list of dreams you want to fulfill and goals you want to achieve in your lifetime?

Is writing a book on the top of your bucket list?

Maybe you aspire to write about your life experiences, a topic that interests you, or something you’re knowledgeable about.

While that’s all fine and good, how are you going to distinguish your book from the millions of books that are published every day?

To successfully launch your book, you’ve got to invest some time, energy, and money into its promotion, so you can share what you have to say with as many people as possible. But how?

Understand Publicity and What It Entails

Photo by Redrecords ©️ from Pexels

Publicity, defined as creating awareness of something through media coverage, is an important part of your promotion strategy. 

Simply sending out a press release about your book and hoping it gets noticed is not a strategy that’s going to work. You need to have a firm understanding of what goes behind an effective publicity campaign before you can launch one.

Here are some “tricks of the trade” when it comes to executing on your public relations plan.

Position yourself as a subject matter expert.

Book promotion, especially in the nonfiction world, is a lot about the author and not so much about the book.

Look for ways to get exposure as a thought leader on the particular topic at hand. These media opportunities often serve as a way to mention your book while, at the same time, building your credibility.

An excellent resource for this is Help A Reporter Out, which connects journalists seeking to include expertise in the their content with sources who have that expertise.

Just sign up for an account, receive email inquiries based on your preferences, and respond to them, suggesting that you would be an excellent resource for the article a journalist is working on.

You may not always get a response, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

A word to the wise, though: If you do receive an inquiry, be sure to respond quickly. Editors and writers are often on deadline and need to be able to quickly turn stories and articles.

Know the art of a good pitch. 

A pitch isn’t a press release. A pitch is a short note to a member of the media suggesting a story idea or a subject matter expert for a show or feature article.

It needs to be short, sweet, and to the point, because those in the media, especially now, have limited time to weed through a lengthy email.

When you do craft a pitch, take time to study what the journalist has covered previously. Doing this legwork will increase the likelihood of getting a response.

The media work hard, and they appreciate knowing their stories are being seen, heard, and watched. And even more, they appreciate your pitch landing in the right email inbox! 

Define your audience. 

Knowing your audience is Publicity 101.

Clearly define who needs to read your book so that you’re targeting the right media and journalists with your promotion efforts.

Your list should include TV news outlets, newspapers, magazines, and digital publications. Podcasts also provide a great platform, especially for subject matter experts, and have grown in popularity in recent years. 

Take advantage of observances, holidays, and other events. 

Take some time to focus on key events, observances, and holidays where you can position yourself as a subject matter expert.

For example, maybe you’ve written a book about family dynamics. With the holidays approaching, you might be the perfect expert for an article, TV segment, or radio interview on how to handle stressful conversations at the dinner table.

Or maybe you’ve written a book on adoption. Media outlets might be looking for experts to address how to navigate the adoption journey for National Adoption Day.

The news media are always looking for sources to include in stories that tie into timely news topics. And, luckily, there is virtually a day for everything.  Use these observances to pitch yourself as an authority on a particular subject as a way to plug your book. 

Give away your books. 

Media outlets love giveaways and contests because they drive more traffic to their websites, initiate more call-ins, and engage listeners, readers, and viewers.

Sign a few copies of your books and use them to help get the word out.

Write a good press release. 

While publicity isn’t just about issuing a press release, it is an essential piece of a public relations campaign.

But just because you’re a book writer doesn’t mean you know how to write a press release.

A press release is written in a particular format and style. Journalists can see right through someone who knows how to write one and someone who thinks they know how to write one.

If you’re not sure how to write one, it might be a good idea to hire a professional writer to help. 

Send a media kit.

Editors and reporters receive thousands of emails every single day and don’t have time to wade through them all.

You might consider sending a personalized media kit in the mail with a copy of your book and some background information, including a bio, professional headshot, and other information relating to you, the topic, and your book.

These days, so much is done digitally that receiving an actual package may quickly set you apart from the competition.

Make your book newsworthy. 

Lots of people write nonfiction books, and millions are published every year. So, what makes your book different or unique?

Take time to brainstorm with someone else who is not familiar with the book. An outside perspective sometimes helps define what makes a story newsworthy. 

Watch and read the news.

We know that consuming too much news is not the best thing for us right now. However, you need to absorb enough of it so you have a good understanding of what’s trending and where your expertise could fit in. 

Promote early and often. 

It’s best to start publicizing your book about six months to a year before you publish it. If this isn’t possible, you need to begin promoting it as soon as you have a book deal.

By creating a buzz about it before it goes on sale, you will attract readers and make them excited for its release.

Plus, it takes time to initiate, create, and execute any publicity strategy, so you want to have plenty of time to develop press materials.

Remember that publicity is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes perseverance, patience, and mental toughness to do publicity of any kind.

Other Tools Besides Publicity

Promote on social media.

Besides promoting your book via the news media, social media is another avenue where you will want to invest some time.

Consider launching a website, and establishing accounts through Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And, once you have those accounts, be sure to post new content regularly.

You will also need to engage with your followers by responding to comments and reviews. It’s called “social media” for a reason, and people will expect some level of interaction.

Another great way to capitalize on social media is to follow journalists and trendsetters on their pages. Occasionally you might catch someone looking to interview a source with your area of expertise.

Take it on tour.

Nothing gets the word out about your book quite like doing a book tour.

Consider hosting in-person tours and doing book signings as a way to raise awareness about your upcoming book launch.

These days, especially now as we continue to grapple with the pandemic, the idea of hosting a “virtual” book tour is also catching on. According to the Nonfiction Author’s Association, a virtual book tour is a promotion where you schedule two to four weeks and put yourself on “tour” to help gain visibility ahead of your actual book launch.

Consider hiring a publicist. 

You thought writing the book was the hard part. That is only one piece of it.

Public relations is tedious work. It takes time to craft the appropriate materials, research the correct journalists, pull together a media list, and distribute your press release. And then, you need to follow up and follow up again.

If you would prefer to delegate this task to a publicist, it is recommended that you find one with experience specifically in book publicity.

You’ve launched a nonfiction book. Now what?

You completed an item on your bucket list. You wrote a book about a topic you’re passionate about, and you created a buzz about it.

Now that you’ve laid the foundation, you need to continue your efforts by looking for avenues to publicize your expertise as a chance to mention your book whenever you can.

Just as with any public relations campaign, you need to sustain the publicity so you can remain top of mind and be well-positioned for when you decide to write your second book.

The 108 Most Persuasive Words In The English Language

It’s a long known fact that the secret to persuasive writing isn’t in the adjectives, it’s in the verbs.

Copywriters know power verbs sell and convince.

Internally, we have a list of 108 verbs that we’ve been using for a good decade, and we recently thought we should share it with proper credit to the original author.

We found that although the list is being recirculated (and in many cases claimed as original by several different authors!), the original author is, in fact, nowhere to be found.

If anyone knows who wrote this, we’d love to know!

With or without the original author, it’s still a great list…here it is!

The 108 Most Persuasive Words In The English Language

According to legendary advertising man, Leo Burnet, “Dull and exaggerated ad copy is due to the excess use of adjectives.”

To prove it, he asked his staff to compare the number of adjectives in 62 ads that failed to the number of adjectives in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and other age-old classics.

Here’s what he discovered:

Of the 12,758 words in the 62 failed ads, 24.1% were adjectives.

By direct comparison, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address contains only 35 adjectives out of 268 immortal words – only 13.1% adjective-to-total-word ratio.

Winston Churchill’s famous “Blood, Sweat and Tears” speech rates even lower and has a 12.1% adjective ratio (81 adjectives from 667 words).

Burnett found that similar ratios applied to great works such as The Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Conclusion: Use more verbs, not adjectives.

Verbs increase the pulling-power and believability of ad copy.

That’s why it makes sense to keep this 108-VERB “CHEAT-SHEET” close-by whenever you begin to draft your next space ad, sales letter, Website, or email campaign.

Marketing Buzzwords Demystified

If you have turned on the TV or engaged in social media over the past decade, you have almost certainly heard the buzz about buzzwords. They are everywhere. From politicians to celebrities to company CEOs, it seems that everyone is using buzzwords. But, what exactly are buzzwords? And what are they used for?

Let’s start with a basic definition. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a buzzword is:

1: an important-sounding usually technical word or phrase often of little meaning used chiefly to impress laymen

2: a voguish word or phrase

The original point of a buzzword was to make things easier to understand and to give terms a common phrase that encompasses everything that has to do with them. Frequently, though, buzzwords are overused in an attempt to make oneself sound smarter or more impressive than they actually are.

While buzzwords may seem like a new phenomenon, they have actually been used in American English since the mid-1940s. In fact, the word buzzword was originally coined by 1940s Harvard students, to describe key words used in a lecture.

It is likely, though, that popular buzzwords from the 1940s no longer have the same meanings today. That is due to the fact that buzzwords are just a trendy party of the living language that is English. And being that it is a living language, it is constantly changing and adapting to the times.

Take the word boat, for example. In today’s culture, the word likely brings to mind images of a water vessel.  However, in the 1940s, boat was a common buzzword that referred to a large, luxurious car.

But, why do we use buzzwords?

As much as buzzwords frequently appear to just be a trendy way of speaking, they actually do have functional purposes.

In the business world, buzzwords are often used as a type of shorthand between people who are already familiar with a particular subject and do not need lengthy explanations of ideas. For example, “touchpoint” may not mean much to the average Joe, yet anyone in the customer-service industry knows that it refers to the first moment of contact a prospective customer has with your business.

Buzzwords are also a very popular sales marketing tool. And when used carefully, they can compel and convince audiences to buy a product or take a specific desired action.

Take the word “superfood,” for example. As one of the latest buzzwords in the health-food world, seeing something labeled as a “superfood” makes consumers believe that the product has some kind of magical, life-changing quality.  In reality, there are no legal qualifications for calling something a “superfood,” so it truly is just a fancy buzzword used to sell food.

What’s the buzz on marketing buzzwords?

The marketing world is full of buzzwords— some valuable and helpful, and some just fancy sounding filler words.

If you do marketing for your business, though, it’s important to know what these words mean (and be able to use them when necessary). So, to help break these words down, here is a list of the top eight buzzwords you should know:

Authority Marketing 

Authority marketing is the art of putting yourself in a position where you are the expert, or authority, on a particular subject or industry. This is an effective way of marketing because, by establishing yourself as an expert in your field, consumers will be more likely to go to you for the products or services they need. Being an authority allows you to dominate your competition.

Branded Content

Branded content is the strategy of putting the focus on the value of your brand, instead of on the actual products themselves. Branded content uses the emotions of consumers to make them feel a certain connection with a specific brand, motivating them to be loyal to it.

Branded Journalism

Much like branded content, branded journalism differs from traditional advertising methods. However, branded journalism focuses on building stories to highlight a company or organization’s value. Through branded journalism, companies can build trust and establish themselves as an authority with their audience.

Content Marketing

:

Content Marketing focuses on the strategy of creating and putting out valuable and relevant content, and then letting the content do your marketing for you. Content marketing can refer to anything from social media posts and YouTube videos to blogs and newsletters. Content marketing differs from traditional marketing in that it focuses on what the consumer wants or needs, instead of the actual product that is being offered.

Content Marketing focuses on the strategy of creating and putting out valuable and relevant content, and then letting the content do your marketing for you. Content marketing can refer to anything from social media posts and YouTube videos to blogs and newsletters. Content marketing differs from traditional marketing in that it focuses on what the consumer wants or needs, instead of the actual product that is being offered.

Long-form content

Long-form content is basically just what it sounds like: content that is lengthy, comprehensive, and detailed. While shorter, more concise articles used to be considered “best practice,” it has actually been proven that long-form content generates more leads than shorter articles and improves a site’s rankings.  Long-form content is also viewed as being more authoritative and generally gets more shares (which, in turn, translates into more views to your site).

Native Advertising

Native advertising is the use of paid ads that match the look and feel of the forum in which they appear. Native ads frequently appear in social media feeds or as recommended content on a web page. Unlike traditional ads, native ads don’t really look like ads. They are made to match the editorial flow of a page, so that the reader is getting a subtle view of what is being advertised, instead of a disruptive in-your-face kind of ad.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

:

SEO refers to a collection of marketing tactics used to organically increase the quality and quantity of traffic to a website by increasing the position of the website in search results on Google, or other search engines. In other words, the better your SEO, the higher you will rank, and the more likely that your website will be viewed.

Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is all about using your experience and expertise to consistently answer the questions that are on the minds of your target audience. While being unique is a great selling point, thought leadership focuses more on giving the best answers and solutions to your customers on a consistent basis. By presenting your deep knowledge on a subject, you allow your audience to get to know you, and add credibility to your brand.

Top 5 Strategies For Using Your Nonfiction Book As Part of an Effective Branding or Marketing Campaign

Many new authors find that once they have their book written and published, they rarely see a return on their investment simply by book sales alone.

While frustrating, it’s certainly not uncommon. In fact, hardcopy book sales have been on the decline since digital publishing was introduced and has grown in popularity. For authors publishing with traditional publishers, it’s getting harder to get noticed, and book advances are getting smaller.

If you are lucky enough to catch the attention of a trade publisher, you might get an average advance of $10,000 to $15,000, or you could get one as low as $1,000. With many nonfiction books only selling an average of 3,000 to 5,000 copies within a book’s lifetime, often you’ll never earn anything beyond that advance.

For self-published nonfiction books, the numbers can get worse as the author is doing all the writing, publishing, and marketing work with no advance at all.

So, why would anyone ever bother writing a book at all?

I can answer that question in one word: Leverage!

Why you need to use your book as part of an overall branding or marketing campaign

Don’t let the above numbers put you off. Writing and publishing a nonfiction book is still a worthwhile endeavor.

Many savvy business people know they aren’t writing a book to sell tons of copies and make it on the New York Time’s Best Sellers List, although that would certainly be an added perk. They are writing a book that gives them leverage — to build their brand, make more business sales, gain more gigs, or lure new clients and build on the clientele they already have.

They are writing a book for a purpose. If they sell copies of their books along the way, even better!

If you are also looking to build your personal or business brand, win new customers, gain exposure, or position you and/or your company as an expert in your field, the following are some key strategies to doing just that.

Top 5 strategies for leveraging your book in a branding or marketing campaign:

Strategy #1:   

Use copies of your book as a giveaway item (known as a premium) within your marketing campaign. Why?

People love free! They’re also impressed by people who have written a book. Using this strategy gets your audience engaged while getting your name and business out within your market.

Giving out a copy of your book is a great way to build trust and thank existing clients for their business or new client referrals, as well as a way to capture potential client information for new leads. You can also provide it as a prize for contests.

Strategy #2:  

If your book is in hardcopy form, turn a chapter or two into a free digital, downloadable sample and upload it to your website. Why?

This can be used as a premium that potential clients can have in exchange for their contact information and permission to be put on your email marketing list. Many people will give you their information just to receive your free offer. And it gives you a list of people you can contact in the future to sell your services or products to.

Plus, if you give them the option to purchase the book in full, you’ll be making money on the backend as well.

Strategy #3:   

Leverage your book by giving it away as a bonus to another customer purchase or as a package of products. Why?

Bonus is just another word for free, and like I said, people love free! When you use it as a bonus to other services or products you’re selling, it increases the perceived value of those services or products. Customers see your offer as a better bargain. Therefore, you make more lucrative sales!

Strategy #4:  

Send copies of your book to the media. Why?

Oftentimes when you send a free copy of your book to TV outlets, radio, and even newspapers, this gains the attention of the people who can get your name out to the masses.

Being highlighted in the media gives you further opportunity to be seen as an expert in your field and leverages your ability to build trust with your audience. You can also gain more speaking engagements (either paid or unpaid) with this publicity and it can give you something to build your other marketing or branding efforts around.

Strategy #5:  

Sell your book on the backend. Why?

If you do presentations at conferences or have other public speaking gigs, leverage your book to further cement your expertise to your audience. It helps you promote yourself and your services to those in attendance while potentially selling copies of your book at the same time.

Regardless of how you use your nonfiction book as leverage within your branding or marketing campaign, publishing your own book is a valuable asset to your overall success.

Copywriter Q&A: Repurposing Marketing Content with Merrisa Milliner

The Writers For Hire (TWFH) team member Merrisa Milliner has a background that makes her uniquely suited for content creation: She got her start as a magazine editor, where she honed her skills developing content and maintaining an editorial calendar. From there, the self-described “big-picture thinker” moved into a series of corporate communications and marketing positions, where she combined her editorial acumen with her gift for planning and strategic thinking.

Merrisa sat down with us recently to discuss fine art of repurposing content. The quick-and-dirty takeaway: If you follow a few best practices and choose the right pieces, repurposing content is a great way to get the most bang for your marketing and copywriting buck.

TWFH: First off, let’s define “repurposing.” What is repurposing, exactly? How is it different than simply duplicating work you’ve already done? 

MM: A lot of times, the format is going to dictate that. For example, if you have three existing blog posts, add an intro, and put them together into an eBook, that’s repurposing. Or, vice-versa: If you have, say, an eBook and you take a couple of individual chapters and edit them slightly for your blog, that’s repurposing. You’ve packaged the content differently. I don’t consider that duplication.

TWFH: What is the benefit of repurposing content, from an internal perspective?

MM: You save time and money; you get more bang for your buck, marketing-wise. You can use the content you’ve created to serve different purposes and to help you further your marketing strategy. You can repurpose content to meet certain goals. For example, if you have an eBook that’s a free, downloadable pdf it’s serving as a lead magnet. But if you’re pulling it apart and using it for blog content, it’s more about informing customers, staying in touch, and helping your SEO.

TWFH: What are some types of content that can be repurposed?

MM: One thing that immediately comes to mind is a company history book. That’s a great example of something that can be repurposed. You’ve spent time and money on a massive company history book, and you’re searching for blog or newsletter idea — why not pull something out of the book and use it?

Or let’s say you have a blog post with four images or infographics. Can you pull out those images and use them to create four new social posts that direct traffic to your blog? You could also take information from your existing content and use it to create an infographic. Infographics are highly shareable. People don’t read as much anymore, but infographics and images are very popular because they’re easy to scan and they grab the eye.

TWFH: How do you decide if something is worth repurposing?

MM: Most companies have some standard keywords or hashtags they’re using for SEO. That’s definitely a relevant thing to look at. It’s worth repurposing a piece of content that can help in any of those channels. And, obviously, anything that you think would be interesting to target audience.  

TWFH: Is there any type of content you would NOT repurpose?

MM: I think that depends on a few factors. Is the information still relevant and useful? Is your audience is going to be interested? Before you say, “Hey, I think our blog post could make an eBook,” ask yourself, “Will my audience read X number of pages about this topic?” If the answer is “no,” don’t do it. 

TWFH: Is there a “waiting period” for repurposing content?  

MM: No. The reason for that is, very often, you can use repurposed content to cross-promote. Let’s say I just launched my new eBook. Now I’m going break it apart and pull out some pieces for a series of blogs — and in each one, I’m going to promote my new eBook. In that case, I wouldn’t actually want to wait. I’d want to do that pretty close to launch. Really, you want to be thinking about how your pieces of content all play into each other and how you can use them and re-use them to get the most bang for buck.

TWFH: So, do you always create new content with an eye toward repurposing it?

MM: Yes. That’s partly because that’s just how my mind works. I’m “big-picture.” But I think it would make sense for anyone to do that.

TWFH: Do you use any strategies to make sure that a piece is easy to repurpose?

MM: I think some of it can come down to the format and style you use. For example, if you want to create an eBook that will be easy to break into blog posts, format it accordingly. Use lots of subheads and bullet points. Keep chapters and sections brief. It’ll be harder to do that if you’ve got something that’s very dense and text-heavy.

TWFH: It seems like this is where planning might be helpful. Do you find that you draw on your experiences creating editorial calendars?

MM: Yes. It’s easy to overlook all the different ways you can use content. But if you purposely set out with that in mind, that’ you’re going to see opportunities for repurposing right away. If you don’t plan, you’ll often end up with a bunch of blogs on random topics. For example, if you have a blog, you can create a 12-month editorial calendar and organize it with the goal of creating a series of e-books. You can plan to do three or four blogs per month on a specific topic, and then at the end of the year you can combine them and re-purpose them into an e-book. You could also do this on a quarterly basis. What’s really important is that you have content that fits together.

TWFH: What about industries or companies that rely on very timely blog content that’s hard to plan? Or departments that don’t do editorial calendars?

MM: If planning is not your forte or if it’s simply not the way you do things, I’d suggest taking a look at your existing content once a quarter or so. Some of your content might seem a little random and unrelated, but then you might notice themes that show up naturally. For example, you might notice that you’ve got three articles about manufacturing. Can you combine them and repurpose them into a single eBook? 

TWFH: Is there a limit to how many times you’d repurpose something? 

MM: I think it depends. For social media, you can repurpose content several times and just take a different angle each time. For blogs or e-books, on the other hand, I would recommend repurposing the content just once. There aren’t many to change it up so you’re not just saying the same old thing or duplicating your content. 

TWFH: So, how do you avoid saying the same thing? How do you keep repurposed content fresh?

MM: This is another reason an editorial calendar or quarterly review is helpful. This gives you an opportunity to get purposeful and go back through your content. Have there been any new developments? Is there anything you can add to refresh or make this content more relevant? 

TWFH: What about unsuccessful content? For example, a blog post that never really attracts readers — how do you know if it’s worth trying to repurpose? How do you know if it’s NOT worth trying?

MM: I think most people have a good feel for whether content should succeed. Ask yourself this question: Were you surprised that the content didn’t succeed? If your post was unsuccessful but your gut is still telling you it’s good, interesting information, you should look at different ways to present that information. But if you look at it and say, “That’s not very interesting, and I can understand why it didn’t succeed,” it’s probably not worth it.

TWFH: We’ve talked about the “standard” sources of content for repurposing – blogs, eBooks, social, etc. But are there any surprising, under-the-radar places to find reusable content?

MM: When I was working at in marketing at an engineering firm, we entered a lot of industry competitions. Typically, you’d have to fill out these huge entry forms, and they ask for detailed descriptions of past projects and areas of expertise. There are some really good stories in there, and they’re not typically published anywhere else. Another surprising source is proposals. They can be kind of dry and technical, but sometimes they have good information and good stories. Because again, a lot of times when you’re writing a proposal you’re thinking about successes you’ve had, or you’re presenting case studies.

What’s Different – and What’s the Same – in Today’s Job Search Game

You haven’t looked in a job for 10 years. But for a variety of reasons, you’ve decided to get back into the job search game… and you’re noticing that things have changed.

From LinkedIn profiles to targeted keywords, resume writing is a whole new ballgame – and a confusing one, at that. Our internet-centric world has made job searching trickier than in the past.

So what do you need to do?

We’ve compiled a cheat sheet to help get you up to speed on the latest job search trends and strategies.

It's (Still) All About Who You Know

Networking is still king.

Because of the limits of faceless online anonymity, the personal meet-and-greet is as important as ever. Keywords – even “the right keywords” – will never take the place of a handshake and eye contact. Having someone personally vouch for you can often preclude anything in your resume.

“Job search continues to be personal,” HR expert Laura Handrick tells The Job Network. “People don’t hire from paper, they hire people they trust will do a great job in the role.”

And hiring isn’t the only thing that’s moved away from paper.

Today, most open positions aren’t even posted on traditional sources like online job boards or classifieds: According to Forbes, up to 80% of all available positions are nestled within the so-called “hidden job market.”

These positions aren’t advertised in traditional sources like online classifieds or job boards because companies are increasingly avoiding open online applications that can lead to a lengthy (and expensive) hiring process. Instead, they’re using recruiting firms, headhunters, and even referrals from their own employees. This means job seekers often have to rely on networking to find out about available positions.

But what if your network has shrunk (read: You’ve burned some bridges)?

Or what if it wasn’t very wide to begin with (read: You’ve never particularly enjoyed those meet-and-greet social functions)?

Start by contacting anyone and everyone you know or worked with in the past – from employers and coworkers to clients or suppliers to friends and college roommates. Mention you’re looking for a new gig, and don’t be afraid to send them your resume. You never know who’s aware of those hidden jobs.

Then reach out to people you don’t necessarily know. Use social media platforms like LinkedIn to find like professionals and invite them into your circle, and to join a few associations with strong social presence. And really, if you’re not already on LinkedIn, stop reading now and take care of that!

Leveraging LinkedIn

These days, LinkedIn membership is really not an option. In addition to establishing a network of folks who might be able to help you in your search, you can use the platform itself to find advertised positions.

New to LinkedIn? Not sure how to leverage your account to help in your search? Here are a few pointers:

1. Your Profile

Unlike your resume – which is a static document once you send it out – your LinkedIn profile is a living, breathing, and ever-evolving creation. You can (and should) change it regularly to keep it current.

Think twice about publicizing your job search, though. For one, that might not be information you’d like to share with your current employer (who’s likely tracking staffers’ profiles). For another – and possibly more important – reason, announcing the fact that you’re looking for a job could make you vulnerable. Recruiters shy away from desperate-looking professionals and have even been known to even weed out profiles containing the word “seeking.”

Thinking about leaving your current job off your profile? Consider this: JobHunt reports that this action could drop your ranking and push your profile “several pages lower than what it would have been.” Of course, if your current job isn’t something you’d like to publicize, by all means omit it.

2. Your Keywords

Keywords have become a big deal in today’s job market. TopResume tells us, “The algorithm behind LinkedIn looks at keyword density to rank your profile in a search.” Sure, this might sound daunting, but the casual consumer does essentially the same thing: When you search for ANYTHING online, you want only the most applicable results.

Same goes for recruiters. They are looking for candidates with very specific skills, and they target their searches to find only those who fit the bill. This means that your LinkedIn profile needs to include those target words. Be sure to use the exact wording of those desired skillsets included in the job posting. Try this hack: Copy the position description into a free word cloud app. WordItOut is particularly user-friendly and lets you visualize a summary of the qualifications that the posting highlights most.

Meanwhile, JobHunt claims that “the keywords in the Job Title field (an area highly indexed within LinkedIn’s search algorithm) can draw additional traffic to your profile.” And adding the sought-after keywords in your Skills & Endorsements section can also increase your page ranking and profile views.

3. Your Photo

Definitely post a current, professional-looking headshot. Recruiters tend to think that profiles without photos look suspicious. Plus, LinkedIn flags photo-less profiles as “incomplete,” which can negatively impact your search rankings. One statistic even claims that profiles with photos get up to 21 times more views.

4. Your Search

Use the “Jobs” tab to search by keyword, country, and even zip code. Use “Advanced Search” to refine your search by date posted, experience level, specific location, job function, company, and industry. If you have a specific company in mind, visit the company profile to see if they’ve posted job openings on their LinkedIn pages. LinkedIn can also save your job searches and send you emails about new job postings.

5. Your Contacts

Before applying, secure an introduction so someone will be watching for your application. In addition to linking with colleagues from your current endeavors, join your university alumni group to connect with names from your past.

6. Your Connections

Remember that old party game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?” That’s kind of how LinkedIn works. Your contacts – or connections – are organized into  a hierarchy of first-degree connections (people you know directly), second-degree connections (people who have connections in common), and so on.

Ask your first-degree connections if they can introduce you. Additionally, you could see if any of your LinkedIn contacts works there or knows someone who works there.

Once you’ve applied, don’t just sit back and worry that your application got lost in cyberspace. LinkedIn makes it possible to find contact information for the actual hiring manager, using the search bar at the top of the page. Click “People,” then input your target company name in the “Current companies” filter pane for a list of employees.

Social Media Presence

Have you Googled yourself today?

Since you’re already updating your LinkedIn profile, it’s a good time to consider your online reputation.

Recruiters will be looking you up on Google – you should do the same. Tweet this

“Google yourself once a week,” career consultant Mark Anthony Dyson recommends. “Take note of any results that tarnish your image – including those that may be about other people who happen to share your name.”

In fact, The Job Network cites statistics that 70% of employers report screening candidates via social media before offering positions. Recruiter.com even claims this tops 90%. Add to that reports that 54% of employers say they have chosen another candidate after viewing the applicant’s social media profile and another 57% report being less likely to even interview someone they can’t find online, and the implications are clear: You must be active online to be competitive in the job market.

And being active is more than just setting up your LinkedIn profile.

Sure, that’s a good first step. And keeping it current is another. Then stay alert and engaged in your industry by keeping the conversation going with your online colleagues.

Not sure what to post? Consider:

  • Responses to posts you enjoyed reading
  • Articles you’ve recently published
  • Awards or accolades you’ve received

Modernize Your Resume

Today’s job recruiter spends maybe six seconds reviewing a resume. You read that correctly. And six seconds isn’t a lot of time. You need to “impress the judges” from the get-go with relevant details they can’t turn away.

So how do you do that? What are the new “rules” of resume writing? What’s changed over the past decade or so since you last actively sent out your resume? For one, you’ll be doing a lot more fill-in-the-blank online application forms these days. Still, keeping these tips in mind will beef up your resume so yours is sharp when you hand over a copy during a discussion about hidden jobs.

1. Forego Your Physical Address

Gone are the days of including your physical address. Hiring managers don’t send job offers through the mail anymore, so they don’t need to know where you live. They do, however, need to have an easy way to find you to schedule a meeting or even offer you the job. Make it easy for them by providing your email address, your phone number, and (yes, you guessed it!) your LinkedIn profile link.

2. Choose Your Email Address Wisely

If it’s been long enough, your last resume might not have even included an email address. That’s a must now – as is using an adult email address. Your resume is all about first impressions. Can you really expect a hiring manager to contact you via [email protected]? Even if you’re emotionally invested in that email address you set up in college, get yourself a professional-sounding handle for all your job search communications.

3. Give Yourself a Title

Add a concise (two- or three-word) position title that summarizes your skills as a professional. Run this just underneath your contact information as a quick way for recruiters to know what you do (or what you want to do for their company).

4. Use Plenty of White Space

Use plenty of cushion around the key ideas you want to be particularly noticeable. Too much copy overwhelms the reader. If your resume is hard to read, recruiters won’t bother. This means that you shouldn’t cram your resume onto one page. Keep as much white space as you need, flowing onto two (or even three) pages in a very readable font, ideally at least 11-point type.

5. Take Action

Use strong verbs and be concise. If you’re stuck using the same mundane words, check out this amazingly comprehensive compilation of resume-worthy verbs from The Muse. Describe your job responsibilities with the concrete skills you’ve honed over your tenure in the position. Better yet, detail your accomplishments and how your successes help the company. Provide specific measurements whenever possible.

While that resume tip hasn’t changed over time, there are a couple “accomplishments” you should omit at this point. Don’t claim to be an expert in Word and Excel. These “skills” are assumed at this point. And don’t state, “References available upon request.” That, too, is a given in today’s hiring world.

6. Mirror the Lingo

Many hiring managers try to save time by using software like an applicant tracking system (ATS) to scan applications for keywords and weed out the ones that don’t belong. Estimates vary, but reports indicated that more than three-fourths of resumes never even make it across recruiters’ desks – the ATS rejects them outright for missing the right keywords. Sounds a bit daunting… all the more reason to make sure that your resume, just like your LinkedIn profile, contains some of “the right words.” Match the exact wording used in the job post. JobScan is a handy way to compare the content of your resume with the language of the position listing to help earn you a nod.

7. Keep it Scannable

Employers will scan your document in a “Z pattern.” They start at the top left, scan to the top right, then move quickly down to the lower left, and end on the lower right (remember, this only takes about six seconds!). So, the strategy is to keep the important details toward the top left (above the top third of the page) and the extra niceties toward the lower right.

8. Ditch the Objective

In the past, many professionals were encouraged to add a few sentences to the top of their resumes that described their ideal positions. But let’s face it: Recruiters today don’t care about what kind of work you want. Instead, you need to convince them of why you’re the best person for the job at hand. Replace your old objective statement of “Avid bird-watcher in search of pet-sitting opportunity” with a professional profile of “Animal lover with 20 years of providing the best in-home care for pets.”

9. Highlight Key Skills

What are the 8-10 main skills you most want to highlight about yourself? Think of the tasks you complete regularly and how you most help your company; when possible, include things you can quantify.

Another “new” trend is to include a two-column list under your professional profile. Keep in mind that resume format options are infinite and extremely personal. And your resume, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. If your ideal job is a straight-laced corporate position, opting for a more traditional black-and-white resume. A role in the arts might lend itself more to a bolder look.

Regardless: Clean, concise, and easy to read are always the best choices.

Don’t Let a Crisis Freeze Your Business-Blue Bell’s 2015 recall is a lesson in crisis management

When it comes to customer loyalty and crisis response, communication is key.

And a little planning can go a long way toward repairing the damage.

Blue Bell is a great example of how a company can bounce back from a potentially reputation-damaging event.

For ice cream connoisseurs living in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and a few surrounding states, Blue Bell isn’t just a brand of ice cream – it’s THE brand of ice cream.

Known for its nostalgic packaging and down-home personality as much as for iconic flavors like Cookies ‘n Cream, Dutch Chocolate, and its original Homemade Vanilla – Blue Bell is a beloved Texas institution with a die-hard fan base.

But in the spring of 2015, “The Little Creamery in Brenham” – which is actually a $600 million-dollar corporation with manufacturing plants and operations in several states – was linked to a Listeria outbreak that originated in the company’s Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, factory.

Three people died, and at least ten people were hospitalized.

For the first time in its history, Blue Bell recalled its products from store shelves.

A temporary shutdown – another first for the company – followed, as Blue Bell brought in outside specialists to clean and sanitize every piece of equipment used in the manufacturing process.

As the cleanup efforts got underway in the company’s plants, a different kind of cleanup began in Blue Bell’s Brenham, Texas, headquarters.

Blue Bell executives hired a public relations and crisis communication expert to help them craft a response and manage their interactions with customers and the community.

 

Hesitation isn’t an option

In the event of a crisis – whether it’s a Listeria outbreak, a defective product, or even a data breach involving sensitive customer data – you can’t afford to hesitate.

At best, your silence and inaction is interpreted as evasiveness; at worst, you’re opening the door to rumors, speculation, and accusations.

Blue Bell hired Gene Grabowski, a self-described “Crisis Guru” and public relations expert, to help them re-establish consumers’ and retail partners’ trust in Blue Bell ice cream.

Grabowski has seen this dynamic firsthand, and he has worked on crisis management campaigns for companies ranging from toy manufacturers to pet food companies to national restaurant chains.

The company’s efforts paid off.

With Grabowski’s guidance, Blue Bell survived the recall with its reputation largely intact.

Rather than pointing fingers or voicing criticisms, loyal customers rallied around Blue Bell and took to social media to voice their support, creating fan pages like “We Stand With Blue Bell Creameries.”

 

 

When the company released a limited selection of products post-recall, fans took triumphant midnight selfies in front of newly stocked shelves.

The lesson? When people really love a product or company, they’re willing to forgive and forget. Tweet this

Of course, not every company in crisis has the advantage of a big-name PR guru.

We interviewed Gene Grabowski to learn more about responding to a crisis with your reputation and your customer base intact.

 

Build your team

Grabowski says that effective crisis communication does not start with a plan.

He’s quick to point out that plans are important, but a good strategy should begin with people.

It’s critical to have a team already positioned when there’s a crisis--one that’s been carefully assembled beforehand, because it’s impossible to do that in the midst of the chaos.

There are too many variables in a crisis that can never be planned for – like looking up and seeing CBS on the doorstep.

Your plan can predict what 100 questions could be, but remember, there could be that 101st question that you weren’t expecting .

It takes creativity and experience to know how to answer that one as well.

-Gene Grabowski

 

For some companies, it might make sense to look in-house and build a team of creative, smart people who can remain cool under pressure.

Other companies – like Blue Bell, for example – may prefer to seek outside help from a consultant or company that specializes in crisis communication.

Either way, Grabowski’s advice remains the same: Build your team first.

From there, if you want to sketch out a rudimentary crisis response plan, that’s fine.

But remember that a plan can only take you so far, especially in a crisis where, literally, anything can happen.

 

Assess (and plan for) risk

Once you have a crisis team in place, it’s time to think about worst-case scenarios.

Grabowski recommends creating a matrix of high-risk, highly problematic scenarios.

The list will vary depending on the type of company, product, and customers involved.

For retailers and financial institutions, for example, data breaches and hacking might be at the top of the list.

For food companies, Grabowski says,  “It’s likely that sooner or later, contamination will become an issue.”

Once you have a list of potential crisis situations, think about how you’ll respond.

While every situation and company is different, a basic plan should cover a few broad areas like:

 

  • How are you going to notify your customers of the crisis? How will you ensure that people hear facts, not rumors or theories? Will you issue press releases? Sit for interviews? Who will be the point person for media inquiries?

 

Grabowski says it’s important to send the message that the company understands the problem and is completely focused on finding a solution.

He added that this is how Blue Bell managed to maintain its relationships with its customers and retailers during the time of the crisis. “We spent a great deal of time communicating directly with them about how we were resolving the problem, so that they would trust us enough to keep the product on their shelves when the recall was over,” he said.

Blue Bell made a point of communicating with customers early and often, issuing press releases every time they expanded a recall or learned more about the source of the outbreak.

 

  • Recalls and regulations. This is where an experienced team is critical, says Grabowski. Whether you’re working with in-house executives or an outside consulting team, you’ll want to make sure that you have people on your team who know the rules, inside and out. These are the folks who will help make key decisions — such as Blue Bell’s decision to issue a voluntary recall of their products, rather than waiting for a directive from the FDA.

 

  • Admit your mistake. And then apologize. Don’t underestimate the power of a sincere apology. Rather than sidestepping the issue, admit that you made a mistake – and let your customers know that you’re working to make things right. The company’s CEO and President Paul Kruse released a video apology, saying that the incident had left him “heartbroken.”

 

  • Media (and social media) coverage. “The rumor mill has to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible,” Grabowski said. “You have to react to rumors in real time. Correct everything that’s incorrect and set the record straight immediately.”

 

The best way to approach a media outlet that has published erroneous information is to be direct. “Contact them and say, ‘I know you want to be accurate, so please set the record straight.’ You can’t let rumors grow; they’re like weeds in a garden.”

It’s equally important to pay attention to social media.

Blue Bell made a point of communicating with its customers through social sites like Facebook.

And, not every company has been around as long as Blue Bell (the company is more than 100 years old).

Advantages aside, though, there are a few important lessons that business owners in every industry can take away from the Blue Bell crisis – and its well-crafted response.

We interviewed Gene Grabowski to learn more about responding to a crisis with your reputation and your customer base intact.

 

Build your team

Grabowski says that effective crisis communication does not start with a plan.

He’s quick to point out that plans are important, but a good strategy should begin with people.

“It’s critical to have a team already positioned when there’s a crisis–one that’s been carefully assembled beforehand, because it’s impossible to do that in the midst of the chaos,” Grabowski said. “There are too many variables in a crisis that can never be planned for – like looking up and seeing CBS on the doorstep. Your plan can predict what 100 questions could be, but remember, there could be that 101st question that you weren’t expecting. It takes creativity and experience to know how to answer that one as well.”

For some companies, it might make sense to look in-house and build a team of creative, smart people who can remain cool under pressure.

Other companies – like Blue Bell, for example – may prefer to seek outside help from a consultant or company that specializes in crisis communication.

Either way, Grabowski’s advice remains the same: Build your team first.

From there, if you want to sketch out a rudimentary crisis response plan, that’s fine.

But remember that a plan can only take you so far, especially in a crisis where, literally, anything can happen.

 

Assess (and plan for) risk

Once you have a crisis team in place, it’s time to think about worst-case scenarios.

Grabowski recommends creating a matrix of high-risk, highly problematic scenarios.

The list will vary depending on the type of company, product, and customers involved.

For retailers and financial institutions, for example, data breaches and hacking might be at the top of the list.

For food companies, Grabowski says,  “It’s likely that sooner or later, contamination will become an issue.”

Once you have a list of potential crisis situations, think about how you’ll respond.

While every situation and company is different, a basic plan should cover a few broad areas like:

 

  • How are you going to notify your customers of the crisis? How will you ensure that people hear facts, not rumors or theories? Will you issue press releases? Sit for interviews? Who will be the point person for media inquiries?

 

Grabowski says it’s important to send the message that the company understands the problem and is completely focused on finding a solution.

He added that this is how Blue Bell managed to maintain its relationships with its customers and retailers during the time of the crisis. “We spent a great deal of time communicating directly with them about how we were resolving the problem, so that they would trust us enough to keep the product on their shelves when the recall was over,” he said.

Blue Bell made a point of communicating with customers early and often, issuing press releases every time they expanded a recall or learned more about the source of the outbreak.

 

  • Recalls and regulations. This is where an experienced team is critical, says Grabowski. Whether you’re working with in-house executives or an outside consulting team, you’ll want to make sure that you have people on your team who know the rules, inside and out. These are the folks who will help make key decisions — such as Blue Bell’s decision to issue a voluntary recall of their products, rather than waiting for a directive from the FDA.

 

  • Admit your mistake. And then apologize. Don’t underestimate the power of a sincere apology. Rather than sidestepping the issue, admit that you made a mistake – and let your customers know that you’re working to make things right. The company’s CEO and President Paul Kruse released a video apology, saying that the incident had left him “heartbroken.”

 

  • Media (and social media) coverage. “The rumor mill has to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible,” Grabowski said. “You have to react to rumors in real time. Correct everything that’s incorrect and set the record straight immediately.”

 

The best way to approach a media outlet that has published erroneous information is to be direct. “Contact them and say, ‘I know you want to be accurate, so please set the record straight.’ You can’t let rumors grow; they’re like weeds in a garden.”

It’s equally important to pay attention to social media.

Blue Bell made a point of communicating with its customers through social sites like Facebook.

 

  • Think prevention. All companies have issues to manage — but Grabowski said that when a problem becomes a full-blown crisis, it’s often because the company didn’t deal with it before it got out of hand. Does your organization have any current problems that have the potential to spiral out of control? Make sure you don’t ignore present issues while planning for the future.

 

Crisis recovery—Blue Bell and beyond

Grabowski is the first to admit that Blue Bell has bounced back remarkably well from its listeria crisis. “Their case is very different from most other companies,” he said. “They had the benefit of over 100 years of brand loyalty . . . and they had successfully cultivated a family-owned, family-run image with good old-fashioned family values. That’s how they’ve survived this.”

Of course, that’s not to say startups or companies with a more corporate or edgy image can’t survive a crisis.

As Grabowski is quick to point out, accidents happen to everyone – and the key to surviving is preparation, plain and simple: “You get through this by keeping an open mind for solutions, by having the best people on your team, and by demonstrating that you’re ready to do whatever is necessary to prove the product is safe to be on the shelves again.”

 

How to Put Together a Winning Investor Presentation

One of the trickiest obstacles businesses face is crafting an effective presentation that will appeal to investors.

Both new and established companies at some point face having to raise capital to operate and grow their business.

The most popular way to introduce and solicit investment in a project is via the investor pitch presentation, which typically takes the form of deck of slides created with a program like PowerPoint or Prezi. The pitch deck has a lot of uses, for example:

  • A new company looking for institutional investors.
  • A private equity fund soliciting companies to manage through merger and acquisition, partnerships, or capital market listing.
  • An established company looking to take on additional debt obligation with a bank.
  • A financial advisor looking to present an alternative investment to an accredited investor.

At its core, though, the investor presentation’s primary goal is to raise money for your company.

It could be initial funding for a new business or it could be follow-on investment for an existing business. Or, perhaps it could be to explore taking on additional debt.

So, how do you create a presentation that’s compelling enough to entice investors and get results? You’ll need a well-constructed pitch that transcends the skeletal framework and ignites interest.

Before you dig into individual pieces, you need to consider architecture. Which slides will you use and how will you order them? How densely populated with information will each slide be?

By the end of this article, you should have a good idea of what you may or may not want to include in your presentation, and we’ll address some tips on how to get started crafting your own winning presentation.

Your investor presentation will only be limited by your imagination, the idea you’re pitching, and how well you know your audience. That said, most presentations share a few “standard” slides that form the foundation of nearly every successful investor presentation.

 

“Wait, Can’t I Just Download a Template?”

You can find a wealth of (often) free resources, templates or examples that you can adapt for your specific business goal. But keep in mind–as your business is likely to have unique characteristics,

the most important pieces of an investor presentation can’t be found in a canned formTweet this

And it’s unlikely that you’ll find a single template deck that addresses all the audiences to whom you may be pitching.


Who are you? What do you do?

The first thing you’ll want to present is a brief introduction to your company. At its longest, think “elevator pitch”: you’ll want something that immediately and concisely tells your audience who you are and what you do.

Be specific and focus on the things that make your company, idea, or product unique. Try to avoid describing your company in relation to other established companies, products, or services (for example, “Think of us as the Apple of underwater basket weaving” or “We’re the LinkedIn for anti-social people”).

Sequoia Capital, one of the most successful Silicon Valley investment firms recommends that you “define the company/business in a single declarative sentence,” just as Mapme did in their deck.

 

What Problem Do You Solve?

What need does your product or service fulfill? What problem do you solve? Why is your company qualified to provide the solution?

This slide is your chance to lay the groundwork for what you do, what you offer, a bit about your company’s philosophy, and, most importantly, to begin building out the narrative for your audience.

What makes you more qualified than anyone else to deliver on results? How is your product or service unique? Has your marketing team devised a clear, cohesive description of your unique selling proposition? Why should investors commit their capital to your project?

Airbnb perfectly articulates the problems it addresses in an example of one of the most successful startup pitches in history:

 

Market Size

Like all the components of your presentation, you should approach defining your market size thoughtfully before committing this to description.

Think about not only the markets currently covered but also take into consideration the way your market has shifted historically, the potential “unseens” you either anticipate or that have customarily affected your market, be they cyclical or otherwise.

Illustrate that you’ve put some thought into both vertical and horizontal pieces of the market size question.

You want your audience to have both a concrete foundation from which to realistically draw conclusions and stars in their eyes as far as potential. Dwolla’s payment solution pitch is unrivalled in the way it piques the investor’s imagination:

The Solution

Here’s where you get to show how your product or service addresses the problem you’ve outlined earlier – and, more importantly, where you get to explain why your product or service warrants a capital investment.

The below example from YouTube, concisely articulates its key benefits to end users and, ultimately, to investors.

 

The Competition

You claim that you’ve managed to revolutionize the underwater basket weaving process — but there are other players in your market saying the same thing.

What are they doing?

What threats do they pose to your market share?

How have they fared in the past and what are their plans for the future?

Potential investors will look for candor in your presentation of the competition, and it’s very possible that they will know the competitive landscape of your industry as well as you do.

This is your chance to let your audience know that you understand your market inside and out. One of the best ways to build your own credibility is actually by talking about what other people are doing.

This is perhaps the trickiest and, usually, the most glossed-over piece of an investor presentation. But as illustrated by Castle’s pitch below, your analysis of the competition doesn’t have to be complicated or over-massaged.

A single, simple slide can go a long way.

 

Your Team

You’ll want to introduce the most important members of your team, such as key executives. But don’t get carried away with their bios. Limit this component of your presentation to a few key items that are directly relevant to your pitch. This makes it easier for your investor to identify the common thread and connects the relevance of your team to the project being pitched.

Anne-Marie Maman, executive director for the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council at Princeton University, stresses the importance of presenting the right team face to potential investors.

“One of the most important things is for investors to know the team and to show that the members of the team are people that can lever their experience,” “And it’s extremely important to show how those team members have delivered in the past.”-Anne-Marie Maman

Investors, then, will want to see how well the key team members know their market, know their challenges, and display a good track record of success.

Wealthsimple, a Canadian investment management service, took a page out of LinkedIn’s pitch to provide just the right amount of relevance and firepower to lend legitimacy to its team slide, and found the right balance between individuality and cohesiveness.

Financials

This is a critical component of your pitch deck: Before they part with their money, potential investors will want to will want to know how you plan to use the proceeds from investment capital and debt, as well as your projected returns on investment, and your terms for repayment or investment exit.

Again, the audience, the context, and your unique pitch will all play a part in determining what financial information will be relevant to your presentation, but it will likely include some or all of the following:
EBITDA

  • Balance sheets
  • Earnings
  • Expenditures
  • Production
  • Growth markers
  • Sales figures
  • Stock performance

In presenting numbers, be aware of your audience. While net EBITDA or projected EPS may figure prominently in your pitch, always remember that the best way to talk about and present financials is to show, don’t tell.

Charts and spreadsheets might seem the easiest, most efficient ways to present financials, but strive toward simplicity for the sake of not obscuring the simple questions and trends that you want highlighted.

SEO company MOZ did a great job of keeping their finances simple, concise, and clear.

 

Milestones

You’ve presented a problem and solution by now, introduced the key members of the team, and laid out essential financial data.

Now it’s time to get investors excited about what you’ve accomplished to date and to walk them through your plan for what’s to come.

You might want to talk about new products launched or in the pipeline, year-to-date progress compared to stated goals, what next year’s plan looks like, and where you see the opportunities for driving growth. And while not all trajectories are as stellar as the example below from pay-per-click optimization company SteadyBudget, the slide below offers an example of a clear, concise infographic:

 

Everything Else: Appendices

If you’ve agonized about incorporating just the right amount of data and explanation into your presentation, appendices should take some of the pressure off constructing a streamlined deck.

Appendices serve as a catch-all for much of the meat you may have left out of your presentation for the sake of simplicity, such as:

  • Detailed financial statements or forecasts
  • A more complete breakdown of your competitive analysis, specific technologies or services
  • Key marketing data

Appendices serve two main purposes.

They allow you to focus on the fundamentals for clarity in your presentation and they provide you credibility in demonstrating to potential investors that you’ve done your homework and that it’s available for those who may want to dig deeper.

Putting it All Together

As you’ve probably already determined from looking at the standard guts of an investor presentation, there’s an art to presenting your information, whether it’s the key messaging in your company’s marketing platform or specific financial data critical to communicating what investors should expect, paramount is finding the secret sauce that speaks to your particular audience.

The most effective part of a successful investor presentation is the story.

Some businesses, most often startups, have been known to focus heavily on telling a story.

Many pitches owe their success to the crafting of a compelling narrative that speaks both to the mind and to the gut.

At its simplest, narrative form consists of delineating a lack and the liquidation of that lack.

As we’ve witnessed through time, folktales and legends illustrate how everyone can connect with a story that speaks to them.

Keeping in mind this basic paradigm can serve as your formal guide to crafting your message.

At the same time, though, it’s important not to lose sight of your goal.

Maman offers this insight: “Business plans for many startups seem to have gone by the wayside.” She says that, while a good story and an effective introduction to the key members of the team are critical, it’s still important to show that the business has put the work into really understanding its key metrics and plans.

Maman also recommends that “if you’re going to present a business plan, make it visual—use a short video, for example, but make sure it’s something that won’t put your audience to sleep.”

In summary, the best investor presentations feature a convergence of each of the important elements discussed in the right doses for the audience to whom you’re presenting.

Build a strong narrative, present it in as concise a fashion as possible, and know your business.

 

References:

Propp, Vladimir. Morphology of the Folktale, 1928 (translated to English 1958). The American Folklore Society and Indiana University.

 

Interview: Why Most Web Copy Fails

One of the most important things your business web copy should do is show potential customers, from the beginning, why it’s in their best interests to select your products or services.

Some business web sites accomplish that spectacularly, and some, well, don’t.

During her latest radio interview on The Price of Business, Wintress Odom, owner of The Writers For Hire, shares some of the more common web copy mistakes she sees, along with advice for avoiding those missteps.

Press play below to hear the interview.

Sales Emails: They’re Not About Selling (Really!)

Want to improve the click-through rate on your sales emails? Stop trying so hard.

Well, there’s a little more to it than that — but the bottom line is, if you want to make sure that your sales emails don’t end up in the spam folder, you need to make sure that you’re not striking the wrong tone with an overly salesy email (studies show that people get more anxious and apprehensive the more you try to sell to them). Your best bet, according to Flint McGlaughlin of MECLABS is to keep the tone helpful and no-pressure — think “customer service” rather than “sales.”

A few other factors that may be hurting your click-through rate? Vague subject lines; emails that look like landing pages, rather than messages; paragraphs that are too long (or too short!); and poor design choices such as the dreaded “white-text-on-a-black-background” look (And yes, people still do that. Even though they shouldn’t.)

To learn more about crafting a killer sales email, watch this free MECLABS copywriting clinic. It’s about 30 minutes long and totally worth it. The live critiques are super-helpful.