Thursday, July 25, 2013

How to write a more punchy speaker or author bio

Is there anything more cringe-worthy than writing a bio?

Yes, actually: hearing one that you've written read out loud as you're being introduced as a speaker!

So whenever I come across a clever (and mercifully short) bio, I take note. I look for clues about how to communicate better without the cringe.

So imagine my joy when I came across a loooooong page of clever bios. And what makes them even more impressive (or potentially depressing if I think about it too much) is that they're written largely by teenage girls!

I'm talking about the bios at Rookie Mag, a site for teenage girls that I learned about when I saw the 17 year old founder was coming out to speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

A few of my faves:

Tavi Gevinson is the editor-in-chief and founder of this site. She is 16 and lives under your bed, so she can eavesdrop on teenage girls and then report back to Rookie’s advertisers and the Walt Disney Corporation with her findings.

Stephanie Kuehnert got her start writing bad poetry about unrequited love and razor blades in eighth grade. In high school, she moved on to punk rock and feminist zines. She’s published two young adult novels, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia, and is at work on another.  

Ragini Nag Rao lives in Calcutta and writes pretty much anything for a living. She loves dogs, baking, and fashion and considers herself a cyborg because of the ancient iPhone attached permanently to her hand. She occasionally blogs about fashion and feminism at A Curious Fancy.

Gabby Noone is an 18-year-old college student in NYC. When she’s not busy writing to support her glamorous waitressing career, you can catch her tweeting, embroidering, blogging, or definitely not reading Food Network fan fiction.

So I know this sort of irreverant style isn't always suitable, but let's look at what makes these work:

- They communicate their skill or experience
- They reveal something personal so you get a sense of why they are
- They are actually interesting and fun to read
- They do all this in no more than three sentences

So there's inspiration here people!

PS. Why am I talking about bio writing on a marketing blog? Getting out there as a presenter or writer is a great "zero budget marketing" tool.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why or why do people keep forgetting a CALL TO ACTION?!

We marketers work hard to get a campaign out. We need to come up with a concept, work with a designer, fit into a schedule, set up an email, test a million times, clean up the data, then finally hit send.

So why would you do all this work WITHOUT a call to action of some sort?


What has inspired me to write all this in shouty-capitals? This eDM I received from ING Direct yesterday (on 9 July).

I'm a customer and I was interested to learn a little more about these free seminars they say they're starting. It says registration open on the 10 July - so the very next day. But you can't pre-register your interest or click through to a page for more information.

I could have chalked that up to a ho-hum "teaser" and moved on, but it got worse.

It says to keep an eye on their Facebook page - but then you can't click through to their Facebook page! So I'd have to be SO motivated to learn more that I'd head on over to Facebook, SEARCH for them and then like them to maybe learn about it (assuming Facebook deigns to feature it in my feed which it may very well not due to the way EdgeRank works.)

This eDM has missed TWO opportunities to inspire action at the exact moment it had my attention. I just see this as a massive waste of effort. And as we zero budget marketers know, "effort" is a huge part of your marketing "budget".

So this serves as a great reminder to ALWAYS have a call to action - preferably multiple ones - in any outbound marketing communication. And on your website pages. And in your social media. And on your voicemail. And on your email signature.

You get the picture.

In summary: Don't leave your "Call to Action" missing in action.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Review: Cool free image editing tool to check out - Pic Monkey

Oh, I do love a free online tool. The latest one I've come across is PicMonkey and I'm rather sad I've only just learned about it. It allows you to do a whole host of photo editing but without the complexity (and expense) of Photoshop or the clunky-ness of apps like Acorn.

You can do a bunch of things - colourise, add text, add effects, use filters, fix blemishes, round corners - all very useful stuff. I've been a little OTT with the "before and after" below, but you'll get the idea. This is super-easy to use and uses "real" language to explain the effects.

So if you're not a graphic design pro but need to make occasional image edits - personally or for marketing activities like social media- it's a great solution.

And as it's free it's a tool to test drive and then bookmark in your zero budget marketing toolkit.

Off to have more of a tinker....