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The Time is Now

Nil Desperandum.  Some Compelling (and Quite Controversial) Thoughts on What the Hell is Going on from a Former Sales and Marketing Director.  Now a Copywriter with 12 years’  Experience, Don’t Drop the Ball on Marketing, says Susan Beckingham

Alert: A Very Personal Piece.  With business stuff included.

Like the third person introduction?

You know that expression, “Physician, heal thyself”?  Well, it SO applies to me that it’s just embarrassing.  Why?  Just look at the last time I wrote and published a blog.  Pathetic.  My excuse is that I write blogs for clients all the time, plus web content, plus all manner of stuff.  Plus plus plus. I’m at the bottom of my own marketing list, it would appear.

In a sunny pub in Brighton.  Where we no longer go…

(Andy Kerr Photography)

Apart from now.

It’s March 2020, and this is THE most extraordinary period of time I have EVER lived through.  And, I’m super-old (56).  Hah.

The Worst of Times?

I’m so glad my parents aren’t around to experience the consequences of all this revolting panic-buying.  This virus is real, the pandemic is real, the curtailment of our lives is real.  The astonishing arsehole behaviour is out there, it’s happening right in front of our eyes.

For me, as a committed networker, nearly everything is cancelled.  I’d consider myself a “people person”, so this is dreadful.  Whilst I develop my business through my own search engine optimisation, referrals and via word-of-mouth, networking events have disappeared from my professional and social calendar .  For good reason, of course, I understand that.  I feel their loss.

And, I fear this virus.  No point in saying otherwise. Not only for my family, but also for the human souls out there whose futures now may not happen.  Children unborn, lives unfulfilled.

But, I know this much is true: whilst it may be challenging for me, it’s much more of a problem for other people.  Much harder.  I chose not to have children, for example, and I have a second income with Utility Warehouse.

Here’s Where We Are

My Facebook and LinkedIn feeds have changed dramatically over the last few days. Reading between the lines, there’s not a lot of sunshine out there.

Where once there was light and positivity, there’s now a truckload of tension. I’m picking up subtle hints of increasing concern. Many of my colleagues, friends, associates and the people I meet at networking are hard-working, talented freelancers.  They’re decent.  They’re nice.  Good company, too.  They offer valuable services to other businesses and, at the risk of stating the completely obvious, their livelihood depends on regular cash flow. These people have families, financial commitments, regular payments to make.

Bam.

It seems like the safety curtain has suddenly come down mid-performance.

So far so obvious.  This applies to me, too.  Do us “creatives” offer nice-to-haves, rather than essentials?  Is refreshing your website content a luxury now? Has a well-crafted sales letter suddenly become pointless? Well, no.  The opposite, in fact. The problem is that while we’re contemplating Coronageddon and an end to all that we know and love (I like to exaggerate for effect), we’re all sort of, well, frozen.  Suspended in aspic, caught in a stop-frame whilst we were trying to get on with our lives.

Here’s the problem in the shell of a nut:  It’s all about the extended delivery chain.  Let me explain.

Bookings for your driving lessons have declined.  Your trade fair has been postponed.  People have stopped coming to your fitness classes.   So, you try to save money by cutting back on..your marketing.

Something’s got to give.  Or, has it?  Well, yes and no.  It could be a false economy.  In difficult times, your clients and prospects still want to hear from you.

My take on it?

The Time is Now. 

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the time to work ON your business rather than IN it.  Yes, everyone says this, blah blah.  But they’re right.  Deep down, you know I’m right, too. What do I mean, though? Well, this is business stock-piling, but in a good way, and it won’t make other people want to kill you.  Regarding your business development, it’s time to pay it forward.

With everyone standing still…your forwards motion is a Good Thing.

Let’s get real here: Your competitors may be grinding to a shuddering halt.  How about getting ahead while you can?  They’re waiting, waiting, waiting.  You could overtake them.  Think about it.

Here are a few things to know 

Google isn’t ill. 

It’s a massive computer with all sorts of algorithms.

These algorithms dovetail with what I do and from experience and results, support my skills. Namely, relevant, high quality content and good, relevant backlinks.  Yeah yeah, enough about me.  Google wants to make sense of all the information chaos out there.  But it’s not ill.  It won’t get ill.  Once this is all over (and it will be over at some stage in the near future), it will STILL be ranking websites that have:

  • Lots of excellent content
  • Fast-loading pages
  • “White hat” on-page SEO
  • Good quality links from other sites

I work with people who can create great websites, and I’ll do all the rest.  Good, organic search engine rankings are hard to explain in a few words.  Watch this space for the next blog on SEO.

Power is the Ability to Act

Any good Business Coach or Mentor will tell you about a Big Thing.  It’s not a secret, but it does work.

It’s…

Action.  Take action.

Doing stuff is where you need to be.. If you do nothing, nothing will happen.  Freeze, cut down, stop acting, and in the months to come, you’ll be facing one hell of mountain to climb.  We live in troubled times, so getting your message out there well, no – I mean really well – is not easy.  The solution?  Oh hello.  You’re on a copywriter’s blog.

  • Blogs are good.  I’ve got 10 million wonderful subject ideas and I can write them for you.
  • Newsletters.  Explain, communicate and reassure your audience.
  • Re-vamp your website content.  I’ve written web copy for over 250 sites.  I’m good at this kind of thing.
  • Consider your on-page SEO.  Got a WordPress site?  Great.  I’ve got some powerful software that actually shows me what people are looking for when they search for your services.  And, I’m an SEO person, too. Yes, I know – I’m shameless.  Get over it.

The Opportunity Cost

I used to share an office with someone just starting out in business, in a highly competitive sector.

Apologies, but I simply can’t tell you how much I disliked this person.  Why?  Because she tapped away endlessly on her computer keyboard, tip-tapping away (I called her Little Miss Tippy Tappy in my head), writing her own (very poor) web content.  She’d already spent several working days if not WEEKS “learning about SEO”.  When I looked at her website – it was terrible.  The whole thing was appalling.  It lacked empathy, had spelling mistakes, rambling long sentences, no keyword positioning…

And how much business did she have?  Nothing.  Zilch.  Zero.  But she was just sooooo busy.

Don’t waste your time like this.  Focus on developing your business whilst outsourcing all the words and the SEO stuff to someone who knows what they’re actually doing.

And breathe…

Can You Afford It? 

I hope so.

Am I cheap?  No, no and no.  If you’ve put money aside for your marketing, now could be a good time to commit to a professional content writer.  In my opinion, you will gain a great deal in terms of awareness, branding and potential leads.  Excellent web copy will “sell” you as a business long before you receive that all-important website enquiry.

A note of caution: there are no guarantees.  Google can take a while to wake up and smell the coffee.  Or rather, those search engine robots aren’t always on your case immediately.  But, it does work. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

Oddly, regarding fees, someone recently told me that they weren’t expecting my costs to be “that high”, yet their charging structure was the same as mine.  I think that’s a whole other blog topic right there about perceived value and what’s worth paying for, I guess…

And Finally,

Where am I at the moment?  Still working, still busy, I’m glad to say.  I hope that you are, too and that your business, whatever you do, continues in its present form at the very least.  On a personal note, I’m a bit anxious, I must say.  All this has come on so fast.

It’s 19th March 2020.  My Dad Jack died 14 years ago today at the grand old age of 89.  He was a radar operator in the Second World War, and married my Mum Dorothy in 1946.  I wonder what he would have made of all of this.  I hope he’s proud of me.  I think of him every day.