Tag Archive | "Idea"

How to Grow an Idea into a Fruitful Product or Service

Let’s take it back … Way back … Before the internet was a part of creating your business. What steps…

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How to Turn One Content Idea into a Fascinating Four-Part Series

Be careful what you wish for … Once you’ve persuaded people to keep reading your content, you have to keep…

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How to Turn One Content Idea into a Fascinating Four-Part Series

Be careful what you wish for … Once you’ve persuaded people to keep reading your content, you have to keep…

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Real Talk about Moving Forward with Your Big Idea

Great to see you again! This week on Copyblogger, we looked at how to make progress on projects and opportunities that might seem intimidating at first. Stefanie Flaxman showed us how to take that Big Idea (exciting, challenging, scary) and break it down until you discover your first (or next) move. She shared a process
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How to Break Down Your Big Idea and Make Your Next Move

You know when you get a Big Idea for a project that lights you up and derails your to-do list for the day? It could be a content series or a whole new business concept. You might even spend a few hours writing down why you’re qualified to do it and who it will help.
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How to Find a Juicy Writing Idea When Your Creative Well Has Run Dry

It’s the hard part. The thing about being a writer that isn’t necessarily all that awesome. Sometimes it’s the part that makes you doubt yourself, doubt your creativity and abilities, maybe even doubt whether this whole professional writing thing really makes sense for you. “What the &$ %# am I going to write about this week?”–
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If I Was Only Allowed To Share One Marketing Idea With You, This Is It…

Think of a movie or television star… …Now think of the movie or show they are most known for. (Arnold Schwarzenegger = Terminator, David Schwimmer = Friends, Kate Winslet = Titanic, Julia Roberts = Pretty Woman) Next think of an author. What book are they best known for? (Elizabeth Gilbert =…

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How to Write 16 Knockout Articles When You Only Have One Wimpy Idea

How to Write 16 Knockout Articles When You Only Have One Wimpy Idea

Serious content creators know that each article they publish is a piece of a larger content marketing arena.

But the thought of generating content ideas on a regular basis often knocks us out before the opening bell even rings.

It can be difficult to consistently write exceptional content that encourages visitors to stick around and learn about your unique selling proposition.

For example, let’s pretend you’re the marketing director for a store that makes and sells boxing equipment. You need to convey the passion, care, and expertise your company puts into creating its specialized gear, but the problem is that your message is only a couple paragraphs.

Your wimpy, single piece of content reads more like a press release or “About” page than a compelling story that spreads across multiple blog posts.

You’re stuck with limited material when you need to develop many different articles that help boxers and boxing enthusiasts find your merchandise. Instead of “throwing in the towel” and losing a marketing opportunity, view your situation from a creative perspective.

With that in mind, here are 16 ways a boxing equipment business could approach blog post writing. Note that each idea below can be applied to your niche to make your website a fresh and valuable resource in your industry.

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Focus on products

1. Tell stories

Feature your individual products in separate blog posts, rather than merely listing that you sell gloves, bags, mouthguards, tape, etc. What are their special benefits? Which qualities make them the perfect purchase for your ideal customer?

2. Customer testimonials

After you’ve posted articles that spotlight each of your products, create complementary posts with testimonials about those products. Link the new posts to relevant old posts.

3. Reader discounts

Show your appreciation for your blog readers by rewarding them with special offers or giveaways. As an incentive to subscribe to your website, you may also want to offer a freebie or discount on a physical product.

4. Neighborly love

If you don’t sell clothing and accessories, such as boxing trunks and water bottles, promote other businesses that do sell those items. Write posts about your favorite boxing stores and link to their websites to initiate camaraderie.

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Share your company’s story

5. Employee profiles

Demonstrate that your team members are true boxing aficionados — people with relatable interests. You can structure these posts in a “Question & Answer” format to make them easy to read. What’s his or her daily role? How does his or her skill set contribute to the company’s business objectives?

6. Behind the scenes

Tell stories about day-to-day activities. They may seem mundane to you, but routines at your organization give insight into your operations. What’s it like to work at your company? Which best practices differentiate you from competitors? Why do customers love your products?

7. Philosophy

Use your blog to describe your mission statement in a personable way. The casual tone that is appropriate on your blog allows you to make professional jargon more understandable. Why do you make and sell boxing equipment? What problems do your products fix? Why is your quality unparalleled?

8. Captivating visuals

Show your products in action with photos, slideshows, and videos. This is especially useful if you are in an athletic or active industry like boxing. Images help potential customers get a sense of what it’s like to own your specific brand.

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Discuss important events

9. Journalism

Keep your content current by writing about local and national fights on a regular basis. You can make announcements about upcoming events and also write blog posts about their highlights and pitfalls after they’ve occurred.

10. High-profile fights

Standard blog posts may be 300–500 words, but special occasions are a chance for you to produce longer, in-depth articles closer to 1,000 words. Provide comprehensive details and analysis.

11. Field reports

Do you have correspondents at a big fight or tournament? Is a trade show or conference nearby? Explain what you’ve learned about your customers’ needs from associates who interact with a broader range of consumers.

12. Training and classes

Consider offering boxing training in your store, and use your blog to see if your customers would be interested. It might even be possible to create an online course that could help your target audience. If that’s not a possibility, discuss the classes or online courses you’d recommend.

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Educate and illuminate

13. Exclusive interviews

Look for ways to educate your audience by tapping the wisdom of other people in your industry. Ask professional boxers and trainers to share their knowledge with your readers.

14. Insider instructions

Continue educating with boxing tips and techniques. What are the best ways to treat wounds? How do you strengthen your muscles for optimal performance? What should boxers eat?

15. Reviews and resources

You can review apps, websites, books, or magazine articles related to boxing. Are they helpful or a waste of time? Guide your customers to the right resources.

16. Direct correspondence

Listen to your customers’ questions. You probably don’t answer all of them on your website, so address them in blog posts. If you already have a thorough “Frequently Asked Questions” section, repurpose or update your text and publish it in a series.

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Build your own content marketing arena

Content helps you expand the “know, like, and trust” factor that you need to satisfy before customers feel comfortable buying from you.

When you write content with a focused editorial strategy, your website becomes a channel that broadcasts your news. It’s a media outlet that potential customers regularly visit to get the next installment of your unfolding narrative.

Your readers focus their attention on your boxing ring and become interested in fighting the good fight with you.

How do you use blog posts to share your business’s unique story and attract customers?

Share in the comments below!

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Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on January 7, 2014.

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How to Convince Your Skeptical Readers to Accept a New Idea

3 ways to write convincingly

If you look at the last 30 years of the men’s 100-meter finals at the Olympics, you’ll find a number of athletes who didn’t make it to retirement without getting saddled with a doping allegation. 

  • Carl Lewis: failed drug test, 1988
  • Ben Johnson: failed drug test, 1988
  • Linford Christie: tests positive for pseudoephedrine, 1988
  • Justin Gatlin: failed drug test, 2006
  • Maurice Greene: admits to buying performance-enhancing drugs, 2008

And then Usain Bolt comes along. He not only wins the gold in both the 100-meter and 200-meter finals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing — he also breaks two world records for those races.

Can anyone blame you if you’re cynical? Don’t you want some sort of proof that Bolt didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs?

Not surprisingly, so does your reader. 

When you write an article, you may do it Usain Bolt-style — full of gusto and glee. Yet, your reader is still skeptical — and rightly so. Stating something does not necessarily make it believable.

So, how do you enhance the believability of your article?

You do so by addressing objections.

When you write your article, it’s important to have it flow both ways — in your favor and away from it — to build trust. You do this by taking on the objections that sprout up in your reader’s mind.

There are three main ways to bypass a reader’s skepticism. Let’s look at all three, shall we?

  • Direction 1: Disagreement
  • Direction 2: Proof
  • Direction 3: More Information

We’ll tackle Disagreement first.

Direction 1: Disagreement

When you make a statement such as: “Discounting is bad for a business,” I may choose to disagree. I may feel that discounting is necessary in my business or else I’d go out of business. 

You may have a ton of valid points to support why discounting will suck the life out of my business. And you may be right. But at this specific moment, I’m fiercely on the discounting side of the fence. To get me over to your side, you have to tackle the discounting argument very quickly. 

When a topic is highly controversial, or likely to be debated, you need to place the objection right at the top of your article. There’s no point in keeping the objection submerged somewhere down the page. 

Here’s an example: Let’s say you’re losing clients because they’re hiring consulting firms that are cheaper. In this case, your article needs to address the problem head-on.

Your headline may be: Why It’s a Good Idea to Hire a Consulting Firm that Costs 20 Percent More than the Competition. Now you’ve got your reader’s attention. 

Present the disagreement immediately. The opening of your article could look like this:

“Imagine going to your boss and telling him that you’ve hired a consultant who’s 20 percent more expensive than average. What will that get you? A raise? Or will you instantly get fired?

The answer is: It depends. Although it seems like a pretty good idea to hire a consulting firm that’s a lot cheaper, you may want to know how that decision will come to bite you (and your firm) in the bum in the months to come. So, let’s find out three big reasons why the big guns don’t hire the cheaper outfits.”

You see what’s happening in that example? 

The objection isn’t waiting in the wings. It jumped on stage and is hogging the spotlight. And it doesn’t let go until the rest of the article unfolds. When you present an objection at the start of your article, it gets and keeps attention.

If you know your client is going to disagree like crazy, add an objection right away.

This leads us to the second way to address objections, namely Proof.

Direction 2: Proof

Proof isn’t like disagreement. It’s not quite as volatile.

For instance, you may just need to support a valid point. You may have said that smart firms don’t hire cheaper consultants. Fair enough. But where’s the proof? You need to demonstrate your point with a case study or two.

Testimonials offer another way to back up your claims. No matter how magnificently well you craft your article, there are times when your audience will simply need proof.

Why are they looking for that evidence?

It’s human nature to seek a second opinion. Or maybe the person reading the article doesn’t have the proper knowledge to make a decision and needs to present the argument to someone else.

Second opinions help us justify our decisions. When we have proof, we feel a lot better. We can talk to our partners, coworkers, and friends about the situation and get their opinions about it.

In the case of the person needing to sell the idea to a superior, you can see that evidence is necessary to help make his or her case.

And this leads us to the third method: More information.

Direction 3: More information

If you face a disagreement head-on, that’s all very fine. But often it may not be necessary to go over the top. And having proof is certainly very dandy, but again, case studies and testimonials may not be needed. In many of your articles, all your reader needs is more information. They’re not sure, that’s all.

If you give them more information, they’re more than happy to agree with your point and take the next step.

For example, let’s say your article is about convincing someone to try a new flavor of ice cream. There’s really no factor of disagreement. And proof won’t matter much because taste is subjective. All you really have to do is take on the objection.

And what is the objection? You know the answer. It’s: what if I don’t like the flavor? 

To tackle the objection, you simply need to be rational or emotional. But what’s rational and what’s emotional?

Rational is when you simply state the facts. For example: The store doesn’t require you to buy the ice cream. You can taste it and decide for yourself.

The emotional way to defuse an objection is to use a story. For example: My niece, Keira, doesn’t like anything but her usual gum-drop flavor of ice cream. Yet, she was all over this new flavor and even asked for more.

For an even more powerful information package, you can combine both rational and emotional information into a single objection-defuser.

Adding an objection at just the right time

Let’s take a breather and summarize. There are three main ways you can overcome objections.

  1. Disagreement: You can address a disagreement head-on. 
  2. Proof: You can show proof with case studies and/or testimonials.
  3. More information: You can add rational or emotional information to defuse the objection.

The objection can go anywhere it is needed in your article. It can go in your introduction. It can be in the middle. It’s most often found toward the end of the article. However, there’s no fixed rule.

If skepticism needs to be managed right away, there’s no point in saving the objection until later. Bring it on with full force as soon as possible.

If you feel the need to create a little “speed bump” and change the pace of the article, slip in an objection.

And yes, you can address more than one objection in an article. Just be sure not to overdo it or you’ll weaken your case. 

Earn trust by presenting objections

Does every article need an objection? Can you write a strong article without one? Sure you can.

Many articles don’t need to bring up objections, but there are times when your enthusiasm alone won’t support your point. You’ll need an objection to drive the facts home.

And it helps satisfy that human nature quirk. We’re not saying you’re wrong. We’re just saying, “prove it to me.”

Objections are needed for some articles — but they’re incredibly critical when selling a product or service.

Get a taste of where objections live and thrive in the sales process with this free goodie.

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What’s it Take to "Go Viral?" 11 Traits to Give Your Idea Wings

Posted by mattround

Before joining Distilled I worked for UsVsTh3m, an experimental Trinity Mirror project, where we created hundreds of games, quizzes and daft “toys.” We had unprecedented freedom to try out new interactive formats, learning a great deal about what works… and what doesn’t.

The key to success was “viral” traffic. You’ve probably heard the term bandied about in reference to something popular, and might even have rolled your eyes; it’s a much-abused buzzword.

The idea is that online word-of-mouth can drive exponential traffic growth and broad media coverage with little or no traditional promotional support, but achieving this requires a certain way of thinking. This article focuses on interactive content, but many of the same principles will apply to other formats.

The viral life cycle

It’s useful to aim for interactive content to be…

  1. Clickable — When someone sees a link and description (on social media or a site), it seems compelling enough to take a look.
  2. Playable — The visitor sticks with it and finds it enjoyable or interesting.
  3. Shareable — There’s a strong urge to tell others, often involving the visitor sharing their individual result/score.

You usually need all three aspects to be strong to get a viral hit. It’s easy to focus on one, an experienced team can usually achieve two, but it’s difficult to consistently get the full set.

Crudely, you can think of it in terms of losing potential sharers, ultimately needing to end up with more than one to start the next cycle(s). This image explains it nicely:

Congratulations, it’s going viral! That’s a massive simplification, but a helpful one.

11 ways to make it shareable

1. Attributes

Develop a concept that ties in with the player’s personal attributes: age, location, abilities, personality, etc. For example, measuring reaction time in milliseconds is fine… but if you can correlate it with age, then you’ve immediately got something far more compelling.

2. Tribes

Reinforce a sense of belonging; tribes can be regional, generational, interest-based, political, etc. Perhaps play different tribes off against each other so that your interactive content can address niche groups while having broad appeal overall.

3. Insights

It tells you something about yourself or, more likely, confirms a flattering/intriguing attribute, leading into…

4. Humblebrags

Sharing to make yourself look good… but without it seeming too blatant.

5. “One more go…”

Ensure the player is hooked and will want others to share in that. Although bear in mind that the best games often aren’t the most viral — adding multiple levels and features to a game tends to put off non-gamers and can actually reduce sharing (enthusiasm has a chance to ebb away, and the game will tend to end on a low note when the player finally fails or quits).

6. Topical

People are impressed by fast-turnaround topical content, and sharing it can show you’re up-to-date (perhaps even the first in your social circle to discover something). We regularly developed and launched games in half a day at UsVsTh3m, and more than once within an hour. This obviously isn’t feasible for most commercial projects, but with more agile development and approval processes you can reduce lead times.

7. Delight

Overwhelm the senses: strong use of music, dance, animation, spectacular explosions, anything that’s a straightforward pleasure.

8. Competition

“Can you beat this score?”

9. Comparison

“I got this result, how about you?” This is much “softer” than direct competition and typically more welcoming for a broad audience.

10. Collaborating

Things like global counters, polls, or territorial maps can create the sense of playing your part in a bigger cause. Even just clicking something to increment a number can be made hard to resist with the right “cause.”

11. Quality

It’s still possible for something to succeed simply by being good, but in the absence of any other aspects it’d better be really good. Knock-your-socks-off good.

Of course, all of the above overlap and interrelate, and it’s by no means an exhaustive list.

Telling the world

Something that’s strongly viral can actually just be exposed to a few hundred people via Twitter or Facebook. It won’t need a big push; the viral mechanism will ensure it spreads and attracts media attention.

It’s often useful to accompany a launch with relevant press material, perhaps teasing out key angles or supplementary content/data to suit each type of media outlet. Don’t force a story if there isn’t one, though; you don’t want to jeopardize later coverage based around “this cool thing is going viral.”

If the stats are showing it’s strongly going viral (this should be obvious within minutes), you’re then in the fortunate position of planning for success. Keep an eye out for initial coverage that may benefit from additional material, and look to do a follow-up press campaign at a suitable milestone (e.g. at X million visitors, or when you have interesting data to share), broadening the coverage.

If it’s not going viral, stop and consider whether minor changes to wording might make it more clickable. Look at whether it needs to break into a niche audience or broaden its appeal, and retarget accordingly. Although Twitter drives far less traffic than Facebook, it offers more freedom to experiment, target influential individuals, and re-promote over time. If a topical angle may arise, perhaps wait and be ready to repackage and relaunch at a moment’s notice.

Case studies: Two simple games that went viral

The North-o-Meter

UsVsTh3m’s North-o-Meter (sadly, this is currently broken due to hosting issues) used multiple-choice questions to guesstimate how Northern/Southern you are. Despite being entirely UK-focused, within just 4 days of launch it had 3.6 million visitors, 1 million Likes, 1.1 million comments on Facebook, and 41,000 tweets. It went on to get millions more visits, virtually saturating the potential audience. Countless similar quizzes had used this topic before, so why did this one make such a big impact?

  • It was clickable because the wording of tweets and Facebook posts worked well, teasing the Northern/Southern cultural identity element in a way that seemed intriguing and non-threatening.
  • It was playable thanks to working well on mobile (people were playing and comparing scores late into Friday nights down the pub), being easy to play and giving constant visual feedback, unlike many similar things that simply ape static magazine personality quizzes.
  • It was shareable by tapping into attributes (location/origin), tribes (north vs. south), insights (using mundane questions to infer something greater), competition, comparison, and quality (the visual feedback and often surprisingly accurate conclusions).
  • Northern/Southern cultural identity is immensely strong in the UK. It’s a key part of how many people define themselves.
  • The whole quiz was grounded in honest personal experience. One of our young journalists had written about moving to London, and the way it resonated with people led us to think about how to apply that to an interactive format.
  • Naming a specific place to go with the percentage meant it sometimes got the player’s location/origin spot-on, so they were then likely to share it in a very enthusiastic way.


How Old Are Your Reactions?

How Old Are Your Reactions?, produced by Distilled for JustPark, is a simple web game where you stop a car with a tap/click. Your reaction time is then used to look up the corresponding age for that score, based on a survey of 2,000 players.

Our thinking beforehand was that it would work well due to the following aspects:

  • It would be clickable by setting an intriguing personal challenge.
  • It would be playable thanks to clear, quick gameplay and good presentation, including full mobile compatibility.
  • It would be shareable due to attributes (age and reactions), insights (inferring age from reactions), humblebrags (impressively young age result), “one more go…” (few will play it just once), competition, comparison, and quality.
  • Age is a key personal attribute, and age estimation prompts a great deal of conversation and comparison, whether the result is accurate or lower/higher than the player’s actual age. Lively conversations on Facebook help ensure visibility.
  • Driving is a relevant, relatable way to dress the game up, particularly for this brand. A straightforward, bare-bones reactions test would have been “colder” and less engaging.
  • The combination of elements would allow for multiple storytelling angles in coverage, to do with good-natured rivalry between generations, road safety, etc.

This all seems to have been borne out by the stats since launch: Over 3 million unique page views, nearly 300,000 social shares, and links from over 400 domains.

In summary…

Always ask yourself:

  • How can we make it clickable, playable, and shareable? Judge your ideas harshly — you need all three.
  • Which sharing impulses can it tap into? It should be possible to readily pick out a few motivations, or refine the concept to strengthen this aspect.
  • What will be the best way to capitalize on success? Be ready to build a story around it, using popularity as the foundation for broad and varied coverage.

The way people share and interact is constantly changing, and reaching large audiences is always challenging, but the approaches I’ve outlined can help you to devise interactive content that’ll have a great shot at going viral.

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