2017 Social Media Battle Plan

As the new year begins it is time to take stock and re-evaluate one’s social media strategy, and pledge to not make the same mistakes as one did in 2016 but instead employ only those actions that actually worked or are empirically effective.

First, let’s establish what doesn’t work.

Posting Once or Twice a Week – you might as well not be posting at all if this is your frequency. You should be posting a minimum of 3 times a day. Worried that you will annoy your user-base? Worry not! Only 5% of them will see your posts anyway, so there is nothing to fear.

Ignoring User Comments – a good social media manager responds to every single message/comment that he receives from his user-base. He doesn’t consider it work or nuisance, as it is this type of engagement (interacting with people) via social media which helps to humanize businesses and establish better relationships. And ‘relationships’ is the byword for marketing in this modern age.

Not Doing Ads & Retargeting on Facebook – you cannot leverage Facebook unless you are doing paid ads and then retargeting. Simply doing organic posts is not enough to get anything done, and will not increase revenue; unless you have a hundred thousand or more fans.

Not Using ‘AddThis’ Social Media Buttons – You need to lose your boring old social media buttons and get hip with AddThis. It is free, has analytics, its customizable, and is the most user-friendly social media button service in existence. http://www.addthis.com/

Working on a Multitude of Social Media Platforms – Focus your efforts and focus on a maximum of two different social media platforms. Facebook & Pinterest, or Twitter & Instagram, or Youtube & Facebook. Whatever it is, trim the fat, focus up and just work one or two social media platforms.

 

What works, and therefore you should be doing:

Posting Non-Business Related Content – If you’ve broken out of the rut of only posting coupons and instead are posting famous quotes and cat pictures then bravo to you! It is important for businesses to keep their social media properties social and human.

Using Analytics – nearly every social media platform comes built-in with some form of analytics. Use this data to find out which of your posts are performing the best, thereby zeroing in on the right content, as well as finding the right time to post, thus receiving the most engagement.

Staying Hungry for Knowledge – a ‘know best’ attitude will prevent you from achieving success with your strategy. Those who research social media and become more knowledgeable are exponentially more likely to be successful. One has to admit that they don’t know, before they can learn.

Using BuzzSumo and Research to Find Viral Content – reposting viral/already popular content works and is highly recommended.

Dove-tailing your Social Media and Content Marketing Efforts – your campaigns should be working together and not be disjointed. There should be a precise and known result from your social media promotion activity, and it should fit in with your other marketing work.

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2017 Email Marketing Battle Plan

Make 2017 a year where you take your newsletter initiative to a whole new level!

What type of emails are you sending out to your list?

Are they getting you results?

Do you have a way of determining whether or not they are getting you results?

If you’re not satisfied with the performance of your current email marketing efforts then pay heed.

In this new year, adopt a whole new strategy:

  • Start using Maichimp or Constant Contact or Aweber, if you are NOT already. You need these services so you can get analytics on your emails, and there by find out what is working and what isn’t. There is no way of tracking/measure success unless you have analytics.
  • Get INFORMED and educated on the subject of email marketing! It is in itself an entire subject. This can’t be over-stressed. Read blogs, books and take courses on this. A good book on the subject is “Email Marketing Machine” by Ryan Deiss.
  • Take what you have learned and apply it, bit by bit. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to implement something that you don’t have a firm grasp on. Just start taking action, step by step. EXAMPLE: taking your list and dividing it into small, more specific lists. A list for paying customers, a list for subscribers who have never bought anything. A list for subscribers who have never opened any of your emails. Simply by sorting your list into different groups you can then communicate to each one more in a more tailored fashion, and get better responses. You would need to have an email service like Mail Chimp in order to determine the open rate of the subscribers on your list. This is an example of something non-complicated you can learn about and apply simply to your setup, and get great results.
  • Keep statistics of your email marketing before and after your new implementations. If you notice statistics getting worse, don’t be afraid to admit the fact that it got worse, and what you did, did not work. Stay objective and be willing to admit mistakes and learn from them. When you do see improvements, make sure you figure out exactly what caused the improvement, and keep doing it.
  • Find successful actions of others and test them out. This is obvious but often gets over-looked.
  • After the pattern of learning, testing and measuring, once you finally get a working installation and are seeing measurable results with certainty, do NOT go and change or reinvent the wheel! What works, works. Don’t let some new gimmick or technique persuade you to undo something which is already working and getting you results. That would be willful suicide. At this point you should only make changes very gradually in a ‘micro’ fashion. If there is some new thing you want to implement, but it would undo certain aspects of your setup, then you should try experimenting this new thing on a smaller list first. Consider it a ‘pilot’ approach.

 

The key take-aways from this is that you update your system by using a mass email service (Mail Chimp, etc), and study, test, measure and repeat.

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Leveraging Instagram for your Business [Part Two]

How can I make viral-type content for my Instagram?

Creativity can be very tricky. Something you can always do, to help you get ideas is to see what other companies or people are posting, and see how you could make something similar or better. You are guaranteed to find some clever types of content ideas if you do this.

But let’s try an exercise right now, in creativity.

Take one of the companies we mentioned above… the landscaper. This isn’t that bad actually, it would be far more challenging if it were a bank and an insurance company. The reason it is not that bad is because landscaping is a CREATIVE industry. Things are made. And when things are made, anything can be made. Things can be altered, modified, to the creators liking. He is bound only by his budget and imagination. We can’t same the same for Tax Perpetration or Insurance… not a lot of creativity there.

Let’s take the landscape company and see what we can do:

  • Inspirational (use the same quotes everyone else does, these do NOT have to be industry specific)
  • Aesthetic and beautiful (professional photos of gardens, with macro lens, wide lens, high saturation on the colors, unusual angles, artistic, use drone cameras for high angle still shots, or to shoot a video tour)
  • Weird, silly or surprising (a landscape done a la ‘Minecraft’, or any landscaping/gardening done to replicate something from pop culture, like Disney movies, etc etc.)
  • Really cool (a functioning castle and mote, built with retaining wall pavers)
  • Funny (close up, macro photos of Lego people (or other popular toys), in perilous/odd circumstances in the garden. Like getting stuck in paver sealer, while being confronted by ants… etc)

 

As you can see, there is MUCH you can do, it just takes some digging around, persistence, looking at what people are doing, and putting your own touch on it.

Now that you have an idea of what you can post, you should make your account.

 

Making your account

Naturally the first thing you need to do is make an Instagram account, you will do this using a smart phone (Android or iPhone), and you can start by making a personal page, and once you have that you can make a business account. You can put your phone, address, and domain name, logo etc.

BEFORE you create your business account, you should first keep it as a personal account for a while, so you can then find and follow all your Facebook friends who have Instagram, And they will most likely follow you back. This will let you start your Instagram account with a decent number of followers.

If you start right off the business profile your Facebook friends won’t recognize that as you when you follow their Instagram accounts.

Note: Once you achieve 100 followers Instagram will then allow you to start direct messaging users.

 

How to use Instagram

You have your account, you’re ready to rock and roll. For now, you simply need to worry about three things:

  • Right photos
  • Right hashtags
  • Right time/frequency

We have already gone over photos.

Let’s talk about hashtags next, and for that let us quote our friends over at Social Media Examiner:

 

How to use hashtags:

One of the ways people find content and contributors they enjoy on Instagram is to search with hashtags.

Here’s how that works.

Each piece of Instagram content you post can be accompanied by a short message or caption and a few hashtags. The hashtags help organize and categorize images and video content, which aids the process of content discovery and optimization.

Read their full article: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/instagram-hashtags/

 

Time and Frequency

You should be posting 3 time a day, honestly. The times you will get the most engagement (meaning the times when most of your followers are online), will be lunch time, dinner time, and an hour or so before bed. This holds true on many social media platforms.

 

Conclusion

This basic guide should get you started using Instagram for your business the right way, and give you a foundation which you can build upon, and then add further complexity once you are familiar with the app.

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Leveraging Instagram for your Business

Why even use Instagram for your business?

You already have a company Facebook, Twitter, and maybe even a Pinterest. And despite your social media omnipresence you’re probably still not even getting the results you want.

The last thing you need is another social media platform to zap your energy, disperse your focus and cause you more disappointment.

Or maybe not?

 

Let’s look a little closer

Maybe your business was never suited for Facebook and Twitter to begin with, or the more likely reason it never took off is that it wasn’t used properly.

Twitter and Facebook are ‘relationship’ social media platforms, they are communication tools best used to interact with your user base, in a one-on-one fashion. This is why you will never get anywhere on your FB and your TW by just posting your daily photo and a caption, or a link to an article. Facebook is best used for ads, and Twitter is best used for directly communicating to specific users about content they are posting.

Youtube and Pinterest are ‘content’ social media platforms, they are where users go to get good free content, in the form of photos and video. They are going there to find something, not to communicate, they are there to find useful or entertaining content.

 

Where does Instagram fall?

Where does that leave Instagram? Instagram is content-based, as users go to it to find entertaining photos (content). But, Instagram also allows you to reach out and interact with other users, in the same way that Twitter does. Another element it borrows from Twitter is the use of hashtags, however with Instagram they are more versatile and you’re able to reach more people with them. We describe that further down in this article.

Before you dismiss Instagram as being too minor for your attention, I’d like to direct you to an ‘active monthly users’ survey from last year:

  • Facebook: 1.59 billion (December, 2015)
  • Instagram: 400 million (September, 2015)
  • Twitter: 320 million (March, 2016)
  • Google+: 300 million (October, 2013)
  • LinkedIn: 100 million (October, 2015)
  • Pinterest: 100 million (September 2015)

As the number 2 social media platform it definitely warrants some investigation.

Now that we have gone over very briefly what Instagram is, what it is not, and its relevance, let’s talk about how you can use it for your business.

 

Can my business even leverage a photo-based content social media platform like Instagram?

The answer is: Yes, IF you are creative! And the corollary is a resounding NO! if you are not creative.

Unfortunately, a carpet cleaner who only posts pictures of the carpets he has cleaned will not really get far on Instagram, Pinterest, or any other content-based social media platform (and he will certainly not get anywhere posting that on FB or TW). Nor will a landscaper who only posts pictures of the landscapes he has done, get any success. This is all far, far, far too banal for social media. Save these photos for your website’s project photo gallery. They have no place on social media.

The photos posted on Instagram or Pinterest must be either:

  • Inspirational (these are text-based images with excellent quotes, which uplift, or invigorate people)
  • Aesthetic and beautiful (attractive people, vistas, performances, making art out of unusual medium)
  • Weird, silly or surprising (a cat playing a piano, amazing feats)
  • Really cool (a customized AR 15)
  • Funny (any kind of meme or humorous video is at home on Instagram)

How can I make this type of content?

Stay tune for Part Two!!!

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Re-Evaluating Your Company Facebook [Part Two]

But I have a boring landscaping company and there is no popular or viral landscaping content on the web

This is a good point.

While it is best if you can keep the content you post tied to the industry/field that you work in, and keep everything on the same topic; you shouldn’t however let this idea restrict you to a life of monochrome! More importantly, who says the content you are posting MUST be popular or viral?

If you look back earlier, you’ll see we determined your audience simply wants:1) useful content which makes him better, 2) something funny, entertaining, 3) coupons great offers.

Obviously, it is best if you can post viral content which is relevant to your brand and audience. But if you CANT, then fear not. All you should do is post VALUABLE content (not necessarily virally popular), and your audience will be pleased. In this case, you wouldn’t use Buzz Sumo. Instead you’d search the web to find quality blog posts and articles on topics relating to your industry.

 

How often?

You should post three times a day. Once at lunch, once at dinner, and one late at night, around 10pm. However, this may vary from time zone to time zone; be sure to check your analytics to find when most of your users are online.

If your posts are quality (good content which makes people better) you won’t need to worry about people unfollowing you and getting annoyed (however, there will always be a small percentage who will unfollow you no matter what you do). BUT, if your posts are low quality, then you don’t want to post frequently, as your audience will get sick of seeing your low-quality content.

 

What you should NOT be doing

Let’s summarize what you shouldn’t be doing in your business Facebook campaign.

  • One or fewer posts per day
  • Posting only pictures of your products, or only posts about your products
  • Posting only things in your industry/field
  • Insisting that all content originates from your brand, and nothing from outside sources
  • Ignoring comments
  • Arguing with your audience

 

What you SHOULD be doing

  • You should be posting at least three times a day, at peak user online times
  • If you’re going to post about your products it had better only be one in every 20 posts. People did not follow your company’s FB page to hear about your products constantly
  • You should mix it up and post things in related fields, and even completely disrelated things, such as famous quotes, and yes, even cat videos. (it is still social media, after all)
  • Amazing content exists on the web, don’t deprive your audience; share it, and they will love you
  • You should respond to every single comment your channel gets, be it FB, TW, G+, whatever. It is important to engage with your audience and let them know someone is there
  • You should maintain good PR at all times on your social media channels. If you have a disgruntled fan/follower, use this as an opportunity to turn him into a zealous supporter, by giving them great service
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Re-Evaluating Your Company Facebook

Does your company Facebook campaign feel like a random ambiguous activity?

Do you feel a disconnect between your company’s Facebook page and your sales & marketing campaign?

Are you not getting any results with your business Facebook page?

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions then let’s take a moment and re-evaluate your Facebook campaign strategy.

 

Facebook for business is different

For some reason, people think that they can only post photos of their products and coupons for their products. Although this ‘gut feeling’ is logical and understandable (after all, it is your business page and not a personal page, right!?), but what results does this actually get? How much engagement from the audience do you get when you post a photo and info of your product? I’m going to hazard a guess: not much.

It is not what people want.

 

But what do people want?

People typically expect a few different things from a business FB page:

  • Useful information. Emphasis on ‘useful’ information
  • Entertainment
  • Incentives (good deals, coupon codes, good special offers)

This tells you at once what you should be posting on your business social media campaign.

The above three times are in order of what you should be posting most frequently.

This also tells us that the subscriber, follower, fan or whatever you want to call them is interested in valuable content. Content which either makes them laugh and feel good, or content which gives them understanding, certainty, ability.

 

Where do I get this content?

Don’t make the mistake thinking that you must be the creator of all content you post on social media. And don’t let experts dissuade you saying that you’re diluting your brand by promoting other people’s content. This is simply not true. The idea of sharing is the very backbone of the web. It is perfectly acceptable for you to share great content created by others on your business Facebook page. Your audience will love it.

Of course if you had more time and energy you could hire your own people to create your own amazing content. But until you reach that level, content curation is a viable alternative to providing your audience with good content.

You can use free services like Buzz Sumo to find what content is the most popular and viral in particular fields or for certain keywords. And then just post a link to that article in your social media posts. This allows you to avoid the growing pains of not being sure if what you’re posting will be popular or not, as, you’re only posting content which has already proved to be popular.

The content you curate from the web could be anything from ‘how to guides’, white papers, or just really interesting articles a la BuzzFeed.

But I have a boring landscaping company and there is no popular or viral landscaping content on the web; what can I do?

This is a good question. Read Part Two for the answer.

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Marketing Blind-folded [Part Two]

Why bother doing this in the first place?

Why should you go through the effort to create content which does the above?

Because we are in a new era of marketing called: The Relationship Era. Great content fosters great relationships.

It is no longer enough to simply do advertising, especially on the web. Because there is so much competition and so many businesses selling the same thing, one has to go to great length to capture the attention of the consumer.

And who will capture the attention and favor of a consumer? A company with standard content, or a company with superlative content?

A company which gives a better user experience, which actually enhances the consumer will be remembered, and promoted by word of mouth.

The only way a site generates revenue is if the user likes the site and contacts the company to give them money (or if the pricing is extremely low, but who can compete with that?). If good SEO work gets people to the site, but they don’t then convert, the SEO work is for nothing! And there will be no conversions… and no extra revenue. Therefore, bad content repulses business, and good content sucks it in. It doesn’t matter how good a site’s SEO is, if the user experience is poor then the person will not convert. If they have a poor experience they won’t call in, or fill out the contact form

 

How do I know if my content is of superlative quality?

Very simply.

Ask yourself this question:

If your web server went offline, and your website deleted, would anyone miss your content? Would people be genuinely upset or disappointed if they could no longer access your content?

That is the question.

If your answer is no, then don’t worry. It just means that there is considerable room for improvement.

 

What are some examples of this level of content?

Here is a stellar example of high quality content, created for the user, in an effort to make him smarter, better and more able:

The Food Lab’s Definitive Guide to Grilled Steak

http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/05/food-lab-how-to-grill-steak-cuts-of-steak-marbling-salting-charcoal-technique-resting-tips.html

 

Other Reasons Content is King

  • If your content is good enough it establishes you as a thought leader and authority, therefore people will listen to what you have to say
  • It puts the user in your debt, since you have done so much for him, in the way of work and research, they feel benefited by you, and don’t mind at all putting down some money
  • Good content spreads itself, people share it, it becomes free advertising for your company
  • 94% of people who visit your website are not ready to buy. But 100% people who visit are ready to be enlightened and enhanced by your content. This means you can optimize what occurs when people reach your site. People who normally would click back or leave who aren’t ready to buy, can instead download/access your excellent free content, and then be that much further down your sales funnel (maximizing the efficiency of your website).
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Marketing Blind-folded [Part One]

Is your internet marketing and website marketing strategy NOT getting you the results you want?

Do you feel you feel a disconnect from the money you spend on marketing and the results you get in your revenue?

If ‘yes’, do not despair, something can be done about it.

What is needed is a better strategy. A strategy that has worked and continues to work, and is empirical.

 

A Better Strategy: Leading with Value

First, let’s go over the obvious. Since a commercial website’s purpose is to sell and generate revenue the copy, structure and pages are geared towards selling.

Informational websites like Wikipedia have the purpose to inform, so the copy, structure and design are all geared to inform.

So, commercial websites go sales heavy, and info websites go content heavy. And this is how websites are distinguished. However, as the internet evolved commercial sites saw less and less profits, and so some businesses had to change up the game a bit. They took the hint from informational sites and started putting focus on content, while still selling. This is what you see when you find a business website with a bunch of articles or blog posts on their industry or field.

It is no longer sufficient to simply have a website. You must have content. Business have been doing this because, as everyone knows ‘content is king’. And so they go; making the company blog, informational articles, product reviews, white papers, etc etc etc. But what level of quality is this content are they creating? Mediocre at best.

And while this content DOES help a site’s SEO, it does not NECESSARILY help your site generate revenue.

This is not to say that this content is garbage, or spam. Not at all. But it does say that the content being created isn’t doing enough for the prospect. It’s not helping him enough. The content helps the search engines more than it helps him.

 

But why is content king, and why must you have it?

First, let’s zero in on this and find out WHY content is king. And why having good content on a commercial website should increase your revenue.

The first thing to know about this is that content is created for the USER not for the Search Engines.

Content created for the prospect/consumer is designed to help him.

How do you create content that will help the prospect?

Find out his needs and pain points. His difficulties. What he is trying to solve by using your product/services. You’re trying to make him a better person. This is applicable in any industry, space, field, etc. The content should:

  • Fill an un-met and un-known need
  • Help them to solve a problem/situation
  • Enhancing their intelligence
  • Make them feel better
  • Raise their status or confidence

Good content should do one or more of the above and one’s content strategy should be based upon this.

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Using Scarcity to Sell

The power of scarcity is something to behold. Many times it is the sole reason a prospect moves from ‘decide’ to ‘action’ in the sales funnel and lays his money down.

The worry and anxiety of losing something is so visceral, that very few people can resist it. It creates an instant pull towards the object/thing.  Even if they don’t end up buying, they do feel an actual pull to the product, and the desire increases; unless they totally had no interest/desire for it in the first place.

Marketers have beat this to death, in the most mundane banal way. You have seen it. It is the: “limited time offer” text added to a deal. That is usually as far as most will take the phenomena of scarcity.

It is interesting to note that if a product just became scarcer (or became perceived to be scarcer) it would increase in sales. Nothing changed about the product itself, it wasn’t better, smarter, faster, stronger, it just became less available.

 

Using Scarcity on Product Availability

Simply put, it is: the fact that the product actually will not be available to purchase in the future, and techniques of communicating this so that the prospect understands what he will be missing out on.

This is achieved very simply:

1)      The product is limited in stock and will not be available (things on clearance, etc)

2)      The special offer is time-sensitive and will end (flash sale, etc)

3)      Only a certain number of people are able to register/enroll, a cut off capacity

4)      Product about to be discontinued

5)      The product/service may be banned in the future, and is still legal now

 

Threat of Loss

If we look much closer at the psychology of scarcity, we see a few things. One the obvious, that value increases when something is more scarce, as in the above. This is plain and easy to see.

There is another factor however, which we can extrapolate and use.

One of the human responses to scarcity is the feeling of a threat of loss, or potential loss. We know that this makes them value it more. But what else does this tell us? It tells us that generally, simply and plainly that: the threat of loss by itself makes a person react.

In other words, instead of being mundane and saying “oh, it is a limited time offer, you should get it now”, you can go deeper and tell the prospect what he stands to lose personally if he does not have your product.

It means: “if you don’t get our product X, then all those undesirable conditions we spoke of earlier, will not get resolved, and in fact, will get worse, because they haven’t been dealt with”. In this case you are imposing on him a threat of some kind of loss, or harm, if he doesn’t do X.

This fits like a glove with marketing and sales because good marketing is defined as helping the consumer solve a problem, and communicating to him so that he understands our product/service will help him solve that problem.

So, right there we predicate the entire subject of marketing & sales on the fact that our consumers have problems. Therefore, since they have problems, these problems are likely to get worse unless they are dealt with. Enter: the threat of loss, or threat of harm.

All you have to do is find out what the prospects’ pain points/problems are, have him confront them and their ramifications, explain to him that your product/service can handle it, then have him confront what will happen if they don’t get resolved, and what he stands to lose if he doesn’t get your service/product; and that’s it.

When writing sales copy for a website or communicating with a prospect, know well the problems that your product/service solves, and communicate to clearly what a person has to lose by passing you up.

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Using Rapport to Sell

The more you have in common with someone, the more they are interested in listening to you. And therefore the more receptive they will be in hearing what you have to say or sell.

Generally, people like people who are similar to them or share something that is the same. It could be any number of things:

  • Same occupation
  • Same school
  • Fan of same sports team
  • From the same city
  • Know the same people
  • Same religion
  • Same nationality
  • Same political orientation

 

The marketer or salesman can artificially create this feeling of closeness with the prospect or website visitor by finding some common ground, some shared reality or similarity.

How to use it?

The easiest and most natural way to use this is in one on one communication. But it can be employed in static text of web pages.

Live Communication

You start up a bit of small talk, and start fishing for something for which you and your prospect have in common. If you’re having trouble with this, you can use your surroundings, the environment and features about the prospect himself to find something. Perhaps you notice that he has a Mont Blanc pen, or Ray Ban glasses. You can then talk about these.

However, the easiest way to go about this is to simply ask what are their favorite things. For instance: “what is your favorite restaurant in this city?” “what is your favorite place you’ve travelled to?”, “who’s your favorite sports team?”. And then respond accordingly. With enough probing you can find something you are both enthusiastic about.

The best and strongest similarities would be the ones listed at the top (the list is not exhaustive however). Particularly religion and politics. Ironically these two topics are strenuously avoided (and for good reason). But, if one is a skillful enough communicator he could discuss religion or politics in a business setting, upset no one, and end up having them like him more.

Nothing in common?

If you can’t find anything in common with the person after some chatting around, you can use sincere compliments about them, their company, their achievements, their attitude, etc. Anything positive about them you should give a sincere compliment, and actually mean it.

Web Pages

Applying this to static web pages can be a bit tricky.

It is important to find this shared reality before sales talk/text begins, it oils the machinery so to speak.

For instance, if you have a landing page, and your audience is ‘people learning foreign language X’, you must put yourself in their shoes, and talk to them about their difficulties, their goals, their reasons for learning it, etc. And how you have had those exact same things, and that is why you developed your product ‘X’. It is personal, and real. This format can be brought into other spaces, not just foreign language.

If your audience is ‘DIY home owners’, you can also put yourself in their shoes and write about what is real to them, and then proceed to introduce your product and services, and explain how it will handle the things you described in your earlier text.

The ‘realer’ you can make yourself to your prospect, the more they can relate to you and see you as a person and not just another sales machine.

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