If you just want to read through the bullet points, here's an Imgur album with 6 key points.
Hi, I recently came across a few questions about copywriting from a small business owner. Here they are with my answers.
Question 1: How can business owners come up with text copy on their own?
Here's a very basic (but great) approach business owners can take to write great copy.
1. Put yourself in your customer's shoes.
I've worked with a ton of enthusiastic entrepreneurs and most of them have one thing in common – they see their product as their baby which means most of the time they're wearing mom-goggles. It's hard for them to see the short-comings that might be glaring to customers.
So forget that you know how it works, forget what it's intended to do, and look at your landing page like you're seeing it for the first time, as a customer.
2. Focus on benefits, not features.
Feature – r/entrepreneur has over 600,000 users.
Benefit – Participate in meaningful discussions with over 600,000 like-minded users.
A feature is what your product does. A benefit is what your product does for the user. An extremely important distinction between the two.
3. Consider A/B testing (test different copy and see which one performs better).
A/B testing is simply figuring out which copy converts most. A simple implementation of this would be to write to pieces of copy and share it with your peers to get their feedback.
You can also use different combinations of copy, web elements, and graphics to see which works. Alternatively, show different people different landing pages (when they come from different sources).
4. Include statistics/numbers
This isn't too complicated. Statistics inspire confidence and are great for grabbing your reader's attention. I like to start my content pieces with a powerful statistic.
5. Check out web copy on your competitor's site.
When I am creating a content strategy, I do something called a competitive audit along with the content audit on the client's site. A competitive audit is basically seeing what pieces get them the most traffic, where they're getting their backlinks from, etc.
If you're completely blank and have no idea where to start, just type in your service into google like [product development] and check the copy of others.
6. Do not buy courses (please). You can learn a lot more for free if you really want to.
Yes, they are some genuinely good courses on copywriting but a vast majority teach things that you can learn for free. Also, they cost $500 to $1,000… Here's what you should do instead.
Step 1: Take the $1,000 you were going to use to teach yourself copywriting.
Step 2: Give it to a decent copywriter.
Step 3: Roll in money you get from conversions, thanks to the new copy.
Step 4: Do the course.
Step 5: Profit?
Question 2: Do you get a brand agency, marketing company, or copywriter? Who does this sort of thing? What in particular do they do?
If you don't have the budget for it, don't hire a copywriter or an agency. A landing page can cost you anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. If you already have a healthy marketing budget, hire a copywriter, if you don't, use those funds for paid marketing.
Organic reach on social media is almost dead in late 2019 so I would suggest experimenting with ads and boosting your posts depending on which platform you use. This, of course, is more complicated but learning how ads work is a lot more beneficial in the long run.
As your company grows, you can hire agencies and freelancers to take care of all of this but in the initial stages, getting the word out should be your top priority.
Now, if you've got zero writing skills and think you couldn't sell something if your life depended on it, discard most of the advice above and hire a copywriter to help you out because you DO need good copy to convert your visitors.
That's it, boys and girls. Thanks for reading and I hope this was useful.
Demonstrating Persistence And Consistency In The New Global Culture by @coachlorimcneil
by Lori McNeil
There are a few times in a women’s life that make such a substantial impact on them to which they will never forget. Your wedding day. Your first child. Your first love. Your first break up. The list could go on. However, as it relates to business there is one day that no one will forget. The day that the world changed globally. 2020 has begun with some amazing changes in how businesses are showing up for their clients, but more importantly, themselves and their families.
One of the greatest asset’s female entrepreneurs have is utilizing our natural ability to multi-task life into the business world. This new global culture is paying attention more intently than ever before, and women business owners have never been better positioned to lead this new economy.
Two concepts come to the forefront in order to accomplish this: Persistence and Consistency.
Persistence is Power
Persistence in its simplest terms is sustained action. Action creates movement. Momentum moves mountains. That movement is powerful. Alongside of that power comes influence. One of the purest emotions is influence because no one knows just how deep their influence goes. Because of that there is a sustained humility that often comes with persistency. Every entrepreneur knows the importance of influence and women take that emotion to heart in every moment.
For persistence to gain traction and momentum one must first show up. Remembering next to never give up. Accepting the fact that laziness is nothing more than manifested excuses and the end result of persistency is in how it blesses others, is a great leveling and positioning tool. Operating in the global culture demands for sustained action. This action fuels consistency.
Consistency Carries the Control
Showing up and pushing through challenges (there are always challenges along the way) is the fruit of persistence. In other words, is consistency lets others know your serious. The rhyme and reason for your consistency is your own. Whether you show up once a month, once a week, or once a day is not as important as just showing up. Consistency is like visiting your great grandmothers house knowing that each time you do she has hot, homemade cookies ready for you to devour.
Consistency says that you value other people enough to give of your time for them. As others see the value you bring, they will reciprocate. This is where the control is. Not a control as in power but a control that brings people into alignment. That alignment allows for relationships to grow and prosper.
The Voice Of Reason And Truth
The new global culture is screaming for authenticity and honesty from all four directions. What sets a person apart from another is their calling card. The stronger your foundation is, the easier it is to maintain the momentum of persistence.
Allow consistency to be your calling card.
Would you like to learn how to maintain persistence or create consistency? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.
International Educator, Speaker, Author, and Business Coach, Lori helps entrepreneurs and organizations focus on foundational tools needed for sustained success. As a Curriculum Designer and Business Professor, Lori has helped grow hundreds of organizations organically to build a true, long-lasting purpose. Lori has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, & various regional markets. She has authored / co-authored several books and works globally to support literacy, cancer research, young entrepreneurship, and military programs. Helping raise over three million dollars for literacy, Lori was awarded the Lifetime Presidential Service Award for her work. For more info visit www.lorimcneil.com.
The post Demonstrating Persistence And Consistency In The New Global Culture by @coachlorimcneil appeared first on She Owns It.
How to Make Sense of the PPP Loan Program for VC-Backed Startups
There is so much confusion and misinformation out there about the government sponsored “payroll protection plan” loans to companies that the heads of every small business CEO in the country must be spinning. We have been advising a lot of entrepreneurs so I thought I’d “open source” some of the advice I have been sharing.
I am not claiming to be the world expert on this. But I have been in close contact with the NVCA, many of the major law firms and many of the major VC firms. Along with my partner Stuart Lander, who runs operations at Upfront and is a former lawyer, we have scoured through, debated and helped scores of companies make this determination. So my only goal is to give you insights into the conversations we’ve been having in case you don’t have the same access or advice.
I am not a lawyer nor can you use my advice for the basis for your application but I’d rather provide more public information to help you have the right conversations so please take this posting for what it is (and accept that I may have typos or inaccuracies, which I will amend if pointed out).
Am I eligible for the PPP Loan?
If your US-based business is adversely affected by Covid-19 such that you would need to lay off employees imminently and having access to capital would enable you to keep more employees on the payroll then you might be eligible. You need to:
- study the rules,
- make sure that you don’t violate the “affiliate rule” (more later),
- consult with your Company Counsel,
- consult with your board and investors and then make your own determination.
If you do apply you must certify that your information and application are true and honest.
Who is this program for and why does it exist?
The CARES (Coronavirus Aid Relief & Economic Security) Act provides $2 trillion to businesses and individuals affective by Covid-19.
$350 billion of this money is dedicated to small businesses under a loan program called the PPP (payroll protection plan). This money is administered by the SBA (small business administration) and is obtained through an approved bank who reviews your application.
The goal of the program is in the name — payroll protection. The US government believes that keeping more workers employed, even if they’re not immediately productive due to WFH (work from home) or loss of revenue is better than all of these employees being laid off, where they will likely seek relief via unemployment insurance claims. There were 10 million claims in the past 2 weeks alone, the largest 2-week request in history. The government believes that it not only is better keeping employees in jobs where possible but also in helping these businesses remain solvent.
Am I ineligible since I’m VC-backed?
There is nothing in the rules that state that VC-backed businesses are ineligible. There are certainly some people who are publicly saying that VC-backed businesses shouldn’t take government money. There are some business people who think this is ethically wrong for a VC-backed business with a highly-educated founder and there are also likely to be some populist outcries that the money should have been reserved for Main Street workers and not tech workers.
This is a matter of opinion or belief system but not a matter of legislation or policy. The program is designed to keep employees on the payroll so ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether you are a worthy recipient and to weigh the benefit to your company and your employees against the potential perception the market may (or may not) have in the future.
One thing that is clear. If you plan to lay off employees and if the PPP Loan will help you to keep more people on your payroll and you ultimately believe that getting through the next couple of months will enable you to productively employ these people on your own dime in the future — this is precisely the policy goal of the US Government. Perception is not equal to policy or legislation. If you want to be perceived well in the future then make sure that your grounds for applying are sound and that you’re truly preserving jobs.
If the US Government didn’t want to support VC-backed businesses they easily could have excluded them and they knowingly did not.
I am hearing from all of my peers that everybody’s applying — shouldn’t I?
The short answer is “no.” Applying for a government loan that was created to serve US small businesses and employees in the times of an economic crisis is not something you should do just because all of your peers are telling you that you should. It is not “free money.” You should apply if your business is in duress, if the loan can help you preserve jobs, if you qualify and if you’re supported by your board and your investors.
Do I need to repay the loan?
You might. It depends. Below lists how the loan program is calculated. If you maintain your employment level at your current rate much of this loan can be forgiven but it’s likely that a portion of it will not be. If you do massive layoffs (RIFs) you can assume that you will need to repay your loan since the intent of the loan is to protect jobs.
Do I need to rush my application?
One of the most unfortunate aspects of the legislation is that it states that applications will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis. That means that every business who believes it qualifies is rushing in its applications, which doesn’t leave much time for reasoned discussions with your relevant stakeholders on whether or not you should and it means that banks and lawyers are being forced to rush things. I get that in a crisis the government needs to act quickly and fix things later. But this FIFO approach has created undue urgency. So sadly you do need to rush things if you want to improve your chances of being approved.
Why is there so much confusion about whether banks accept applications?
Banks have a difficult task. They don’t want to hand out loans and later learn they gave money to fraudsters. They have regulations that dictate things like KYC (know your customer) and AML (anti money-laundering) and other regulations designed to avoid abuse of our financial institutions. As a result, many banks are only taking applications from existing customers and in some cases only customers who have existing credit arrangements. Additionally, some Main Street banks aren’t able to process VC-backed applications because they are designed to handle individual owned, local businesses.
The two primary banks that service the VC industry are SVB (Silicon Valley Bank) and FRB (First Republic Bank) and both understand the intricacies of VC-backed businesses and are more easily able to assist you.
Everybody is talking about the “Affiliate Rule” — what is that?
Ok. Now things get complicated.
Step 1 is deciding “am I qualified for a loan under the rules” and step 2 is determining whether or not you can validly apply based on something called the “affiliate rule.” It’s complicated but essentially if a SINGLE VC can veto certain actions that are approved by the board then you violate the Affiliate Rule (or if a single firm owns > 50%). There is a lot of chatter about companies that own > 20%. This is completely unrelated to the Affiliate Rule. The application form states that any > 20% owners must disclose certain information in the application process so it often gets confused as being related. It is not. The NVCA (National Venture Capital Association) Guidelines are below.
Am I free and clear as long as no investor owns more than 20% of my company?
No. This is another misconception. The 20% threshold has nothing whatsoever to do with eligibility. It simply determines whether you have to provide additional information.
So to be clear, if a company owns 8% of your company but has negative blocking rights as outlined above in the NVCA guidelines, you are ineligible for the program unless you modify your legal governing documents.
How do I amend my legal documents so that the Affiliate Rule doesn’t stop me from applying for a loan?
For starters you will require investor consent to amend your governing documents and since some of these terms were negotiated to protect shareholder rights they may approve the changes and they may not.
I have found that it is easier to get VCs to amend the governing documents when there are several VC investors such that none has the overwhelming majority ownership relative to others. This is because the affiliate rule is only tripped if one single firm has blocking rights. Therefore you can amend the governing documents to a “simple majority of the preferred shareholders” can block one of the known affiliate rules rather than a single firm. I have found VCs to work collaboratively on these to help entrepreneurs in this time of need.
It’s slightly harder if you’ve only done an A-round and therefore have just one VC around the table who owns more than a majority of the preferred stock. In this instance they would need to give up the right entirely. If your company is in dire straits (let’s say you’re a transportation company or a hospitality company) then you’re likely to find an amenable investor. If you’re in a company where the investor views your application as more of a “gray area” then you may not easily receive consent for changes.
Finally, there are several discussions about how to “get around” the Affiliate Rule. Please be careful because having a “side agreement” (verbal or written) to “spring back” to the old agreement in the future is tantamount to fraud. You can expressly mention that the governing docs are only valid for the period of the loan but I believe this may open you up to the SBA second guessing the validity of your loan on a “look back basis” (meaning in the future they come back and state that you violated the rules).
If you’re going to amend, then amend. If you’re playing games — don’t apply.
When the $350 billion is fully invested will more be made available?
Nobody knows for sure. There are lots of discussions about the need for more stimulus and the lasting effects of the Coronavirus, etc. Ultimately whether there is a further SBA stimulus will depend on whether it was deemed effective, whether the crisis is longer-lasting and deeper than expected and whether handing more money to small businesses is deemed politically acceptable.
I’m getting so much conflicting advice, whom should I listen to?
Ultimately it is up to you to make the determination if the PPP Loan program is meant for you. You should have a discussion with your legal counsel first. You should discuss with your board second. You should discuss it with your investors third. If you are convinced after this that you are eligible and worthy, then the only remaining thing before applying is to decide how the markets will judge your actions in the future. If you saved jobs, saved your company and are a productive member of our economy and if you feel that this program played an important role in helping you succeed and you didn’t have other options that were as immediately able to help — you can at least sleep better at night believing that this SBA Program met its intended goal.
How to Make Sense of the PPP Loan Program for VC-Backed Startups was originally published in Both Sides of the Table on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
How to Fix Broken Communications During a Crisis
Flooded with emails from companies you forgot even existed or don’t remember opting-in for? Hearing lots of gossip about what’s happening? You’re not alone.
In the past few weeks, our inboxes have been overwhelmed with crisis communications that are entirely off the mark. They’re often boilerplate and seem cold, overloaded with information that leaves you with more questions than answers, and, sadly, sometimes in bad taste.
During uncertain times, even the most well-intentioned spread speculation as they try to make sense of a situation that is confusing and overwhelming—a black swan that emerges rarely, maybe once in a generation or a century.
Here are some pointers I’ve shared with clients, which will turn these boilerplate emails on their heads and slow (and hopefully stop) the rumor mill:
Remember that gossip travels faster than fact.
As the saying goes, lies can race around the globe while the truth is still putting on its pants.
How you handle it makes the difference between the gossip controlling you—or you controlling it. We are currently in a time of incredible uncertainty, which is not only unsettling but a breeding ground for gossip.
According to a Harvard Business Review article entitled “Dismantle Office Politics by Being Transparent,” forcing people to read between the lines can result in “misinterpretation and gossip.” Don’t feed the rumor mill with a void of information. The article recommends being “open about your motives.” The rationale? “You can’t expect an organization to operate at a higher moral level than the one you hold yourself to.”
EO members, be sure to check the the #EOTogether site for the latest webinars and resources from the EO community. We’re in this together.
Be consistent and on-point with your internal and external crisis communications.
When you’re considering rolling out changes within your company, you must present yourself in the most favorable light—not just with customers, but with your employees. Your employees take cues from you, so make sure your written and verbal communications are calm and reassuring.
Your employees are the front line of your business. They represent your brand. During uncertain times (i.e., coronavirus, economic downturn, rumors of mass layoffs), have your employees focus on doing their jobs well. It won’t end the uncertainty, but it will give them a sense of purpose and take their minds off their anxiety.
Look at the situation from your customer’s perspective (not your own).
When crafting your messaging, frame it through the lens of the recipients. Their question is always the same: “How does this affect me?” Anticipate their concerns, and the framework of your message becomes clear. What remains is finding the right tone, the right words and the right imagery.
Use subject lines that tell the story at a glance.
People scan their inboxes like they scan the news. They see a headline and decide in a split second whether to read the article or move on. Need more space? Leverage the first few words that show up in email previews to drive the rest of your message home.
Pick up the phone and call your most important people (clients, vendors, investors, etc.)
We often forget the impact a phone call can have. It cuts through the noise and creates a deep personal connection. Even if you don’t get them on the phone, leave a voicemail to let them know you’re thinking of them.
Take a coffee break.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, emotional or distracted, don’t feel pressured to send something out immediately.
Stop and think: Will my actions harm or offend others? Put the material down and let it marinate while you take a break to work on or enjoy something else. When you come back, you’ll be refreshed and able to tackle it with a fresh perspective. It could be the pause that saves your reputation.
Eden Gillott is president of Gillott Communications, a crisis PR and bankruptcy communications firm. She’s the author of A Business Owner’s Guide to Crisis PR: Protecting You & Your Business’ Reputation. She participates in EO’s Accelerator program in Los Angeles, California and also sits on the EO Los Angeles Accelator Board.
The post How to Fix Broken Communications During a Crisis appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.
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