Indianapolis Content Marketing – Examples for Inspiration

Interest in content marketing is growing exponentially. As with any other marketing effort, great advice and terrible advice swim in the same pool.

One way to sift through the murky sea of conflicting advice is to look for concrete examples. The same examples tend to get repeated so I took a different approach.

Indianapolis, my hometown and a great city to start a business (according to Kiplinger magazine), provides some great examples for a variety of content marketing approaches. Here are four that range from small-and-local to billion-dollar-multi-national: [Read more...]

Simplify and Supercharge Your Writing

It’s hard to make your content stand out on the web.


There is no shortage of advice that will have you second-guessing every word you write. You’ll be worried about punctuation, style manuals, catchy headlines, appealing to search engines and sounding smart.


Vivek Wadhwa wrote an article for LinkedIn that captured four points every writer should post to their wall (I already have). Follow this advice and keep writing. You’ll be fine, I promise.

Speak fearlessly from the heart;

Get to the point immediately;

Keep the message simple and focused;

Use the fewest words you can.


Simple Is Hard


As I stared down at the buttons of yet another basketball scoreboard system, this one made sense.

You would think it would be easy. Just make adding or subtracting the score simple, be clear on where and how to add team fouls and make my passion for the game the only obstacle to correctly starting and stopping the clock.

However, at each basketball venue, a different system stared back at me. From new to antiquated, tabletop to handheld, some of the systems were complex to the point of being impossible to use without a brief training session.

Shouldn’t putting six minutes on the clock every quarter be simple?

At some point along the way, the complexity of the technology and all of the potential uses of the scoreboard complicated the design.

Have you ever walked into someone’s house only to find five remote controls that operate their television, satellite dish, dvr and game console?

Turning on the TV is a complete guessing game.

None of the controls are intuitive.

It’s as if the complexity somehow justifies the expense.

And so it goes with our writing.

Everyone can write so they assume clear, concise writing is easy.

If that is the case, why is it so hard to find a well-written website?

The words flow and the copy envelopes the site. Page upon page explain the reader into submission. In the digital world, submission means clicking onto a different site. Submission is not your goal.

A clear message with the fat judiciously removed flows so easily.

A captivating story, a 30-second video script and an explanatory tagline make all of the difference in a noisy, crowded digital world.

You might be able to fall into this occasionally or have a special gift for this kind of writing. More than likely though, you have drafted, studied, invited feedback and worked diligently to develop this talent.

The end result is beautiful and simple…and everyone thinks they can do it themselves.


How Experts Blend SEO With Their Content Strategy

Search engine optimization is one topic where you are guaranteed to find conflicting information. With changing algorithms and some firms still employing outdated tactics, expert advice is needed now more than ever.

Fortunately, someone has already done the hard work of polling the experts to find out the information you have to know in order to integrate SEO into your content strategy. That someone is Erin Nelson, Press & Communication Manager of international start-up exploreB2B.

Tell me  a little bit about ExploreB2B?

Our start-up, exploreB2B is a professional network and publishing platform for professionals. The goal is to share ideas and expertise in the form of articles. Articles serve as a means to promote industry leadership, communicate valuable marketing messages, and inspire relevant connections.

I, personally, have used exploreB2B as a platform to share (and leverage) my experience with content marketing and brand strategy. I’ve achieved a degree of social media influence by running several interview series, most recently, with SEO experts.

What did you learn from interviewing these SEO experts?

So much more than I anticipated! First, I learned that someone’s professional history has a large impact on their relationship to SEO. While almost everyone I interviewed focused on the necessity of optimizing high-quality content to provide value to the reader, their attachment to the term “SEO” varied, depending on their past and current roles. [Read more...]

How A Copywriter Evaluates A Great Website Like Square

I love Square.

They value beautiful, simple design in both their product and website design. When you see their product in action, you will notice that it fascinates first-time users with its ingenious utility. Square is a wonderful example of designers driving entrepreneurialism.

Square will serve as an example to give you insight into what a copywriter and content marketer thinks about when evaluating a site. It will also help you know what you are getting when you hire a great copywriter.

Main Message and Navigation

Start accepting credit cards today.

The copy is well-written and specific. Specificity is essential on the web. Readers have to know what you can do for them quickly.

The design is uncluttered and you almost miss the ultra-light gray navigation selections at the bottom of the page. Not a bad idea for keeping you focused on the main call-to-action while maintaining choices for those seriously searching for more information.

The main message and desired action are clear while important secondary actions are available but not distracting.


The clear call-to-action is to sign up and get your free card reader.

But is there enough information to compel a reader to sign up? In other words, is it too early in the buying process to ask for a sign up? [Read more...]

Can You Really Tell Your Brand Story Through Email?

Brand storytelling is the latest craze in content marketing. Forget that storytelling has been around since the beginning of time…it’s a craze, OK!

Most businesses slap their story on their “About” page and forget about them.

They move on to more important things like building their email list and writing blog posts. However, these companies are missing the importance of their history.

Your company story gives you a chance to connect with your audience in a way that allows them to know why you are in business in the first place. That story alone can validate your mission in a way that makes your audience want to join you. See TOMS or Charity Water.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could tell an interesting story about your company and build your email list at the same time? (Pause for fake suspense.)

You can!

Tell Your Brand Story With An Email Series

There is a formula that you can use to start building your audience, email list and relationships. The formula combines your company story with the elements of narrative storytelling and bite-sized emails segmented into an autoresponder series.

Splitting your story into an email autoresponder series builds interest and prevents the reader fatigue that will occur with a lengthy “About” page. People sign up to learn your story, you get to tell it in short, digestible segments and you build a deeper understanding with your audience as they learn the reason your company exists.

Although I gave you two examples earlier, I’m going to resist the urge to focus on non-profits or companies involved in promoting social change because that might not be your business. You might run a boring law firm or content marketing agency. (I kid because I know.)

So what are the three parts of a narrative story?

The Setup

Your first step in a narrative story (and one of your emails) is to define the main characters and their situation.

This is the perfect opportunity to talk about your founder and why she started your company.

Describe in detail the main characters and what was going on in their lives at the time they started your company. Think about the stories of young college dropouts starting a company in a garage while sleeping on their parents couch as an example of a great setup.

Provide enough tension to make your audience understand your founder and want to read about what happens next. Do NOT give into the urge to lie in order to sound interesting. The story alone will be interesting enough and is not worth compromising your business or ethics over.

The Conflict

The conflict here is the inciting incident that shocks your founder into action.

Imagine a small town watchmaker in the early 1940s listening to the stories told by his pilot cousin about how difficult it was to navigate a plane because he couldn’t properly time the distance between two points from the air. With war on the horizon, the watchmaker devotes all his time and energy into developing something that can save his country from the ravages of war.

For a company that created paper scanners, the inciting incident could be the frustration of spending an entire day stapling expense receipts to paper forms in order to ask for reimbursement. There has to be a better way, right?

The conflict sets the stage for you being able to tell the company inspiration and why you are different.

The Resolution

The final step is the resolution. Here, the characters confront the conflict and create a solution.

For example, the watchmaker develops the first chronograph used by fighter pilots and improves the entire aviation industry.

Or, after seeing the possibility of pattern recognition integrated with technology, the first paper scanner is developed and expense reports can now be categorized and emailed, staple-free.

Your company resolved to solve an important problem and your product or service is the incarnation of that vision. Problem resolved.

Get Creative

The three steps of narrative storytelling will form the core of your email autoresponder.

Now it’s your turn to get creative. Make your story interesting.

You could tell your story through a series of video interviews.

The watchmaker could create a comic book series that tells their story in a more visual and nostalgic format.

Some companies have created a fictitious over-the-top character to tell a funny version of a story that gives their brand a laid back and informal feel.

Your story matters to your customers but it’s your job to tell it in an interesting way.

Any questions?

That’s why there is a comment section.


Eliminating Tension Between Content Writing And Web Design

“Good web design starts with content.”

-Jeffrey Zeldman keynote at An Event Apart Washington D.C 2012 via Luke Wroblewski, Design Consultant

Content and web design go together. Content shapes design choices, site structure and user experience. The words themselves even take on a design element with font selection.

It seems obvious that content developers and designers would be part of the same team (sometimes they are the same person). Both are intertwined in such a way that they should be part of the same process. However, this is not always the case.

An often unspoken tension exists between content development and design.

In the past, this topic has been addressed by 37signals in a chapter of Getting Real called Copywriting is Interface Design. Joshua Porter, Director of UX at HubSpot, responded with his post Interface Design is Copywriting. Both assert that words direct the experience of the audience.

The fact that this topic needs to be addressed and commented on suggests that there was disagreement in the first place. The issue is not as simple as art versus business because many on either side believe that both matter (although clearly some, if you surf the web even occasionally, do not share this belief).

Assumptions often create this tension. Addressing the accuracy of the assumptions as well as the process of implementation can help alleviate this tension. This article will explore some of these issues and propose solutions that will benefit the most important party in this process, the site user.

This is not an attempt to build a case on who serves in the role of content creator. A variety of factors, including talent and economics, dictate who serves in this capacity. Generally, it is either going to be the web designer or someone within the design company, a dedicated writer or someone from the marketing department within the client organization, or an independent copywriter or content marketer.

So let’s take a look at each assumption. [Read more...]

Content Marketing Tips Straight From Your Reader’s Brain

As a content marketer, you are always trying to get inside of your customers’ head to know what they want and need. You search analytics, take surveys and monitor comments to see what content is connecting with your readers.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just take a potential customer and read their mind?

For those of you that are mind readers, you can go back to what you were doing. (You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?)

The good news for the rest of us is that someone read the minds of our customers for us!

Modern neuroscience has developed amazing technology to conduct studies that assist marketers in understanding the brains of their customers. In his book Brainfluence, author and marketing consultant Roger Dooley uses the findings from a multitude of studies to give you 100 actionable techniques to build your brand.

You’ll have to buy the book for all 100 techniques but here are a few that will help your content marketing efforts immediately.

Tell Stories To Engage Their Brains

According to research, good stories reach parts of our memories that statistics cannot. When you hear a good story, your brain connects to the vivid details. [Read more...]

What Ryan Lochte Can Teach You About Blogging

If you are like me, you are captivated by the accomplishments of Olympic athletes.

The thought of being the best in the world at something (or even among the elite) is invigorating. As a child, it probably inspired you to imitate your favorite athlete or try a new sport that caught your attention.

As an adult, the Olympics and elite athletes are just as inspiration but in a different sense. Adults know their athletic capabilities are limited but we still want to strive for greatness.

Swimmers are often in the Olympic spotlight because they participate in sport that most of us have at least attempted at a recreational level. We realize the difficulty of their achievements and want to know how they got to such a level. Someone like Ryan Lochte seizes the stage as we all wait to see if he can, even for a moment, be considered the greatest swimmer in the world.

In the world of blogging, some estimates put over 150,000,000 blogs in existence! With that much competition, elite status, just like for Olympians, does not come easy. Instant success is out of the question.

However, deep within you resides the desire to overcome mediocrity and reach the limits of your own writing capabilities. Excellence is exciting and the idea that you could grow your blog to a level that would affirm all of your hard work is motivating.

So what can Ryan Lochte teach you that will help you take your blog to elite status? [Read more...]

Essential Business Blog Design Tips For Every Marketing Director

Do you have the optimal setup for your business blog?

As a marketing director, you have to be an expert in multiple areas that have a direct impact on your business. You have to understand advertising, branding, email marketing and lead generation. You manage internal employees, external resources and often jump in and create campaigns and content on your own.

You probably thrive off of having so many responsibilities but you also know that you can’t possibly have time for everything.

As for your blog, you know that an effective business blog is built by providing great information to your readers. In turn, your readers will view you as a trusted source and move from visitors to warm leads, fans or buyers.

In order to reach your business blogging goals, your blog (and site for that matter) needs to be designed to facilitate this progression.  Whether you are building a brand new blog or embarking on an ambitious redesign, there are specific tips and techniques you can follow to create a high performance business blog.

You can use this blog post as a checklist to see if you have the essential elements of your design in place so that you are capturing all of the benefits of your traffic. [Read more...]