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Say It Like You Mean It

Three Good Things // five

begin// THREE GOOD THINGS: a regular feature in which I share three good things about my month, mostly personal, in the hopes that you will also reflect on the good in your life. //

2018 is off to a good start. I’m staying busy. Doing good work THAT MATTERS. Loving my family. Eating well (for the most part). Moving my body. Connecting with new people. Here are three good things about my month:

One good thing about my month is all the work I am doing ON my brand and not just IN my brand. It’s a big focus this whole year, and I’m making good strides so far. Watch this space.

Another good thing about my month is that I am getting clearer and clearer on WHO I serve (and who I don’t serve) and HOW I serve so that my work can be of the most value to YOU.

One more good thing about my month is that it’s winter in Florida, which means the weather is delightful even when it gets “cold” for a few days. #blessed

Make it Personal

make_it_personalYou sit down at your desk to write an email to your list. You know the topic. You know your audience. You know the goal of the email. You picture the email hitting the inboxes of your readers as you type, “Hi everyone!” or you close with, “I can’t wait to reveal my big news to you all next week.”

It feels natural to write to “everyone” because technically, you ARE writing to everyone.

But really, you’re not.

Your reader is sitting in front of her computer or on her phone reading the email on her own.

She is not sitting in a room with your other subscribers, reading the email aloud. So when she reads, “You guys are going to love my new [whatever],” she will feel a disconnect.

Write to Your ONE Favorite Client

Next time you sit down to write copy—anything at all that you want your clients or customers to read—pretend as though you are writing to your one favorite client. Pull up a chair and write to HER.

“Hi Ella,

Did you hear about the latest menu change at Bellini’s? They’ve gone Paleo. What would grandma Gianna think?

[and so on] . . .”

Now, unless your client spends A LOT of time lunching, you might choose a different opening topic, but you can still address that one favorite client. What does she want to know? How does she speak with you? A conversational tone, even with the most formal of topics, will make her feel heard.

“Hello Jeff,

Have you been swamped with work and haven’t had a chance to catch up with the latest news in [our industry]? Check this out. I’ve got something that might help.

[and so on] . . .”

Make it personal. Because it is.

Link Worthy // six

link-worthy-six

[Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash]

Patagonia might want to consider a new marketing campaign (and hire Kathleen Founds). Patagonia for the practical-minded.

From Austin Kleon: Why you need an editor. And a bliss station.

How to become a ‘superager’—you know, how to age gracefully. It’s all about strenuous exercise and mental activity. The kind that makes you not want to do it, but you do it anyway.

Happiness is fleeting. Pursue meaning instead. Timeless advice.

I am partial to the Oxford comma. Punctuations matters.

The most beautiful library in every state. Road trip!

From Bernadette Jiwa, how to communicate value beyond describing features and benefits, and what are you in a hurry to do?

Also, I felt like Bernadette validated my tagline, Say It Like You Mean It, when she wrote this.

This is art. A piece on the unfolding of a fiction writing. (What writers really do when they write.)

“‘The hard part of standing on an exponential curve is: When you look backwards, it looks flat, and when you look forward, it looks vertical,’ he told me. ‘And it’s very hard to calibrate how much you are moving because it always looks the same.’”

—Elon Musk to Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator

Do you have a story to share or want to hear good stories told by others?

What I learned from 100 days of rejection by Jia Jiang.

What we look like when faced with a deadline.

The power of an hourly beep.

“The purpose of being a serious writer is not to express oneself, and it is not to make something beautiful, though one might do those things anyway. Those things are beside the point. The purpose of being a serious writer is to keep people from despair. If you keep that in mind always, the wish to make something beautiful or smart looks slight and vain in comparison. If people read your work and, as a result, choose life, then you are doing your job.”

—Sarah Manguso (via Austin Kleon)

A long and extremely satisfying read about how to do nothing.

You don’t think of new ideas, you find them. Phenomenal.

How to Cultivate Curiosity

cultivate-curiosity

[Photo by Alexander Solodukhin on Unsplash]

Infants are born curious. They learn about the world around them by checking things out, poking and prodding, and jumping headfirst into whatever it is that piques their interest. The same curiosity that helps them figure out how to be in the world also gets them into trouble, and sometimes hurt. Slowly, they are taught to “follow the rules” and “listen to Mommy and Daddy” (or the teacher), and that curiosity morphs into compliance.

Sure, compliance is great when you want people to work in factories and follow a set of rules, but today’s market is quickly outgrowing the industrial-complex mindset that benefitted from workers who would do what they were told (and no more), yet our penchant for curiosity is still being stifled in school.

So how do you cultivate curiosity when you’ve spent years or decades getting better and better at that one thing (or two things) you REALLY know how to do?

“Think outside the box” is great advice, but what does it really mean? If we’re not used to thinking outside the box, how can we even attempt it?

Ask, “I Wonder . . .”

You’re sitting at your desk trying to find a solution for X problem. Usually, you do a little research to find out what other people are saying about it or doing to solve it. Instead, consider that the answer may not already exist.

Ask, “I wonder how . . .” and allow your mind to wander. How would someone in an entirely different field try to solve this problem? Sometimes, looking to other industries can get you thinking in different ways about how to approach your own circumstances.

Ask, “I wonder if . . .” and think about what would happen if you didn’t solve the problem at all. What if it wasn’t actually a problem? What if your problem was the solution to ANOTHER problem?

Ask, “I wonder when . . .” and relax about the timeline. Imagine a different framework altogether. What would it look like? What would it achieve? How could you incorporate at least some of those elements into your current expectations? What could change?

Ask, “I wonder who . . .” and connect. It’s easier than ever to connect with like-minded or even not-so-like-minded individuals. Who could offer insight that you haven’t yet considered? Again, it might be helpful to look outside your industry.

Next time you feel stuck, stagnant, or just ho-hum, turn your senses outward (and inward) and ask, “I wonder . . .” The path it takes you on will likely be insightful (and wonderful).

Three Good Things // four

// THREE GOOD THINGS: a regular feature in which I share three good things about my month, mostly personal, in the hopes that you will also reflect on the good in your life. //

Mmm. 2018 is my year to connect. My year to hang out here, and with YOU. Thanks for being here. This collection will be three good things about my year. It’s a reflection of sorts.

One good thing about my year is my baby boy, who’s now a toddler. So much love, goofiness, and sweet kisses. My boys are my light.

Another good thing about my year is that I continue to attract clients who are caring individuals doing work that matters. They are purpose-driven. Helping them get their work into the world helps me connect to my own purpose. Their purpose becomes my own. It’s a lovely synergy.

One more good thing about my year is that I am planning and working behind the scenes to help you get your own voice out into the world in ways that captivate your audience. Stay tuned. I can’t wait to delight you on a regular basis.

Is Your Business Thoughtful?

thoughtful-business

[Photo by Javier Molina on Unsplash]

Think of the most thoughtful person in your life. You know, the one who shows up with chocolates when you’re feeling down or chicken soup when you’re sick. The one who gives you a hug at exactly the right moment. The one who goes out of her way to show up when you need her most. The one who makes you say, “That Charlie. He’s so thoughtful.”

What if your business was that thoughtful?

What if you were able to anticipate your clients’ needs and show up at the just the right time with just the right thing to help them get out of a funk or through a challenge?

What if your emails were those chocolates and chicken soup that show up just when your readers need it?

What if your website visitors felt like they were meeting a new friend as they read your copy?

What if your opt-in felt like opening a birthday gift?

Who Is Your Audience?

The days of flashy, watered down mass-media messaging are numbered. For decades, businesses have put out ads and copy with the goal of capturing the most attention possible. They cast a wide net in hopes of appealing to as many random people as they can.

Sure, they may have narrowed down their “demographic” to the millions of middle-aged women who watch X, Y, or Z television show, but people are so much more than an age, gender, income, and television preference.

We have the tools today to REALLY understand the hearts of our audience. The most important tool, though, is your attention.

To Be Thoughtful, Listen

Listen to your clients and customers. Listen to the people who you would love to work with. Listen to the comments on your social media posts and blogs. Create a short survey with open-ended questions. Ask about what your clients are longing for and what keeps them up at night. Ask about their goals and struggles. And listen, oh so carefully, to the replies.

When you listen intently to your audience, you’ll be able to tailor your services and products to their needs and desires. Their answers will provide a guide for how to move forward, ever more thoughtfully.

What are you doing to be thoughtful this week?

Link Worthy // five

link-worthy-fiveEmotional intelligence, as it turns out, is as important or arguably more important than traditional intelligence. EQ is the new IQ. Once you get past the corny nature of these videos, you’ll see the value of this emotional intelligence training.

Is your attention focused in the right direction? Bernadette Jiwa, a gem as always.

“Making things is an art. Making things meaningful is an art and a science.”
—Bernadette Jiwa in Meaningful.

A fascinating and educational look at how to pair typefaces. “You have to become an expert in the subject you are working on and put yourself in the audience’s shoes and help them find the best bits of content. That’s the mark of a real designer.”

Organic Valley nailed this campaign.

Jump start—it’s only up from here.

“But it’s hard to resist a generous question. We all have it in us to formulate questions that invite honesty, dignity, and revelation. There is something redemptive and life-giving about asking better questions.”
And on love:  “Love is something we only master in moments.”
—Krista Tippett, a master of the interview, shows us how to better connect in her book, Becoming Wise

Are you a procrastinator? Watch this. (Your distraction monkey wants you to.)

Need some blog ideas for targeting your keywords? Look no further. So cool.

Three Good Things // three

//THREE GOOD THINGS: a regular feature in which I share three good things about my month, mostly personal, in the hopes that you will also reflect on the good in your life.//

home office Jamey Jones

Okay, so it’s been more than a month. I’ll reflect on the past couple few months. They have been filled with movement, settling in, and interestingness.

Let’s do this.

One good thing about my months is that I have been working on a very interesting project with an  intelligent, colorful, and passionate researcher. Can’t talk about it, but the science part of my brain is so pleased.

Another good thing about my months is that I am almost about to pop. Baby boy will be here any day now. I will be off radar for a bit, soaking up some mama bliss.

One more good thing about my months is that I moved (because all pregnant women move during the third trimester!), and my new home office is everything I could ever want it to be. I work inspired every day. I am so grateful.

Trim the Fat—How to Write Clean Copy that Connects

write concise copyYour clients and customers have less time than ever before. When they arrive to your website, sales page, or blog, they want to know, right away, what’s in it for them.

You want to connect to your audience in a way that feels authentic, but in order to get your message across, it can sometimes feel as though you are writing a novel. There are so many details of your story that you want to convey! And so many nuances of speech you’d like to include to make it sound, you know, like you.

By the time you get to the end of writing your About page, your latest blog post, or even your next social media campaign, you may feel as though you’ve said enough, but is it possible that you’re saying too much? (Hint: You are almost certainly saying too much.)

Don’t get me wrong, your story is important. But it’s the heart of your story—the essence—that will grab your readers’ attention.

3-Step Clear Copy Method

I have a three-step process that I use to write clear, concise copy that honors the writer’s story and intentions. You can use it to get to the heart of your message so that your readers stay with you to the end. It involves three simple steps: brain dump, trim the fat, and add meaning.

Brain Dump

I give you full permission to begin writing about your topic without worrying about perfection. Just get it out. Stick to a general outline with beginning, middle, and end in mind, but don’t worry about getting it perfect. Write what you think is important for your audience to hear. Most important, don’t overthink it. Just let it flow.

Trim the Fat

Time to work. Get your red pen ready, or whatever finger you use to hit delete. Be on the lookout for extraneous words. Often, phrases at the beginning of sentences can go. For example, when you read a sentence that begins, “Now I want you to . . .” or “I think that . . .” or “In my opinion . . .” or “Go ahead and . . .” get rid of it! Be direct. If you want someone to do something, don’t beat around the bush. Notice the difference in impact of the following two sentences:

It would be best if you could eat a healthy breakfast each morning so you have plenty of energy to face the challenges of your day.

Eat a healthy breakfast so you have the energy to face the day ahead.

The last two sentences say the same thing, essentially, but one takes twice as long to read. (That’s twice the chance of losing your reader to fatigue or boredom.) If your sentences look more like the first, your readers will get tired. Learn to unpack your sentences. Ask yourself, “How could I say this in the most concise way?”

Add Meaning

Once you’ve trimmed the fat, read through your piece. You fill find that certain words or phrases come to mind that help not only connect one sentence to the next, but also connect you to your reader. Set an intention of connection. Take a look at the difference between the following two paragraphs:

To write with your reader’s most nuanced desires in mind means to forget your “5 Tips for Success” and your need to make money this week. When you sit down to write for your business, do it as though you are sitting down with your customer to sip coffee and chat.

To write with your reader’s most nuanced desires in mind means to forget your “5 Tips for Success” and your need to make money this week. How does your client want to feel? When you sit down to write for your business, do it as though you are sitting down for coffee with a good friend who needs some support.

To add meaning, simply ask this question, “Have I meaningfully improved my client’s life in any way?”

Simple as ABC—Always Be Concise

Your message will go far when your readers take the time to listen. They will do so when you are crystal clear, concise, and meaningful.

I’d love to help you trim the fat from your copy. Need some edits or  copy written from scratch? Browse my services here and send me an email to let me know more about your needs.

Link Worthy // four

Link Worthy Jamey Jones“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
—Mark Twain

I adore Bernadette Jiwa’s perspective on branding. It’s not all about SEO. Read why. Two more of her gems here and here.

And from Bernadette Jiwa, I was referred to this insightful read on being great.

Proper title capitalization is often overlooked. Get it right in no time flat with this tool.

Food for thought from Elizabeth Gilbert: “I’ve never met a bored person who isn’t also boring.”

On consistency, from this fascinating read on how the Simpson’s is made: “Characters are drawn to match a model sheet—a guide of established poses and expressions for the show’s characters. Whenever Homer shouts with joy, the style sheet explains, his mouth opens in just this way.”

Zen Habit’s rules for getting organized and decluttered.

40 hilariously honest advertising slogans.

Crave the background noise of a coffee shop without the $6 latte? Your wish is granted.

It’s like an oracle for your business.

On showing up and being seen. What it takes. Brené nails it, yet again.

Oh great. This means I’m doomed: Study confirms that ending your texts with a period is terrible. Guilty as charged.

The creative process, simplified.

Words to remember: “It’s preposterously uncomfortable to be inauthentic.”
—Jim Gordon in On Being interview with Krista Tippett.

Sometimes the truth hurts: “[Social media] is contrived images and edited clips ranked against each other. It’s a system based on social approval, likes, validation, in views, success in followers. It’s perfectly orchestrated self-absorbed judgement.”

Ironically, words I absolutely live by: “. . .but words rarely change things. Actions do.”
—Seth Godin

© 2018 Jamey Jones │ All rights reserved.