There’s nothing more powerful than positive customer reviews to help build your business authority and credibility. But there are other types of user-generated content that are up for grabs out there, which can all be gathered in the most efficient and surprisingly simple ways. Entrepreneur, author, professional speaker, and host of More than a Few Words, Lorraine Ball, joins Juliet Clark to showcase her creative ideas, practical tips, and decades of real-world experience in their engaging conversation. Leaning on her experience as a business owner and former corporate executive, she explains how to collect content in a manner that will motivate your audience to action. They also talk about the right way to design a business website, as well as whether you should not let another person write your bio.
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Lorraine Ball On How To Take Advantage Of User-Generated Content
We have another great guest. Before I jump into her, I want to remind you guys to go over and take our quiz, the Promote Profit Publish Quiz. You can find it at www.PromoteProfitPublishQuiz.com. Find out if you’re ready to publish. If you want to get your book out there in a big way, most people don’t, their books flop because they haven’t built an audience, then you have some things that you need to get into place. Find out from the quiz if you have them in place or if you need a bit more work. Also, I want to remind you go over to our YouTube channel, Superbrand Publishing. You can see all the videos over here. You can see all of these people in real life.
Our guest is Lorraine Ball. She’s an entrepreneur, an author, a professional speaker, and the host of More than a Few Words podcast. Lorraine brings creative ideas, practical tips and decades of real-world experience to every conversation. She leans heavily on her experience as a business owner, a former corporate executive, and she delivers solid, usable content in a style that will motivate your audience to action. Welcome, Lorraine. It’s great to have you.
It is nice to be here. Thanks for the invite.Sometimes, it takes other people for you to realize your skillsets that resonate with others. Click To Tweet
You’re welcome. We’re going to talk about something a little different. Lorraine and I talked about how sometimes our podcasts get where it seems we’re talking about the same thing over and over, and maybe somebody has a bit of spin, but this is something we haven’t delved into before, and it’s user-generated content. Can you tell us a bit about that?
The idea behind user-generated content is creating a channel for your fans, your followers, your audience, to put information online about you and your business in a way that you can then repurpose. The most common user-generated content is reviews, all of those review sites. Every time you stay at a hotel, every time you check out a grocery store, “Fill out this survey online. I get points at Starbucks if you buy my coffee.” Reviews are that first step, but that’s just scratching the tip of the iceberg. If you want to build a library of information, you can do all sorts of things that will cultivate that information. Some of my favorite examples, you can run a contest where you encourage people to submit photos if you are a visual brand. We did this with an eye doctor, and he was launching a Pediatric Optometry practice. We ran a contest where you had to share a photograph of your kid wearing glasses. The prize was fabulous, but we got hundreds of photos of kids wearing glasses that we could use in other marketing material. We could never have gotten that level of authenticity and realism without it. That’s one example, but there are lots more.
It’s almost like the cartoon drawings when you go to the dentist or the pictures of before and after in there. That’s a great idea. How would you repurpose stuff like that? What would you do with it?
We turned around on Facebook and gave people an opportunity to vote. We collected their email addresses and then we could then market to them again. Another example, and maybe more relevant for some of your readers, is you’re a professional speaker, you’re an author. You want to build that audience. You want to get feedback. Ask a question and collect the answers. Somebody who is a master at this is Jimmy Fallon. He will, sometimes on Twitter, throw out a question. He gets those answers via Twitter. If you’re paying attention, they’ll show up in his monologue that night. It’s a great way to get a variety of responses, things maybe you would never have thought about. It also gives your writers a bit of a break, but if you’re an author and you’re trying to build credibility of yourself as a subject matter expert, throwing out questions and then collecting all those answers or running a survey and collecting all of that user-generated information. You might create a blog post.
I did one once where I asked a question of a bunch of women business owners about what they were planning on for the fourth quarter of the year. I had all these little one-paragraph answers. I stack them all together in a blog post. I wrote the intro. I had 600 words written by other people. All I needed was a conclusion. You can’t do it every week, but every now and then, it gives you a little break. There’s another benefit to user-generated content.Business websites must be about the customer, not the owners. Click To Tweet
That is when you share my stuff, I’m more likely to comment, share, retweet your information, “Did you hear, I got mentioned on Jimmy Fallon? Check out this blog post I’m quoted. Look at this photo, that’s my kid.” User-generated content gives you information that you can share and gives you a way to reach a new audience based on the people that you are featuring in your content.
For the readers, I’m going to give you a little exercise. If you don’t think this works, try this. Go over to Facebook and simply put it in a post, “Brussels sprouts or not?” You will be amazed at all the answers you get. I had a social media person say that at an event, and we did it. I couldn’t believe, I never knew people had such strong opinions about brussels sprouts.
While we’re on that food direction, we do a lot of marketing for a company called Randall Beans. They sell beans in glass jars. January, all over the country, is chili month. It’s football, it’s Super Bowl, it’s chili. “Chili, beans or no beans? Chili, meat or no meat?” We get this great conversation going. About halfway through, then I’ll put up a note and go, “What’s your favorite chili recipe?” People start linking with that. All of a sudden, you’ve got all of this great content that you can then share. We also do recipe submissions. I’ve seen it with Lay’s potato chips. They run a contest every year, and you suggest a flavor for a potato chip. Some of them are interesting. That one year that I thought was weird was biscuits and gravy. That was somebody’s idea, and they made money for it. Sometimes if you have enough budget and you’ve got something that you can make a little higher profile, even putting a price behind it can be effective.
My mom made the best biscuits. I can’t imagine that a potato chip is going to grab that. I’m skeptical. You also work a lot with websites. One of the big challenges that I have with authors is that they immediately want a website. A lot of new business owners do this as well. They think the website is the first thing that they need to put up. For a lot of them, they need to go out and have a brand and a style guide, these basic things in content written. What do you see is the biggest thing that businesses are doing on their websites that are a big no-no?User-generated content is an excellent way for writers and creatives to take a break. Click To Tweet
One of the critical mistakes that businesses make, and particularly coaches, consultants, authors, is they are under the mis-impression that the website is about them. It’s not. Your website is not about you. You think it is. Your website is about your customer, your reader, the conference planner who’s going to hire you as a speaker. When someone comes to your website, whether it’s a one-page or a 100-page, the first thing that they need to know is that they’ve come to the right place. They’re looking for something, they’re looking for a speaker for an event, an information on a topic that you are a subject matter expert on, and you need to be able to tell them they’ve come to the right place, “Are you looking for X, Y or Z? Here you go. In today’s world, gender diversity is a hot topic. That’s my primary focus. Click here to learn more or read this to learn more.”
Once you prove to me that I’m in the right place, that you have something of value that you can give me that will help address my problem, then you earn the right to talk about you, to give me your bio, to give me your credibility, to invite me to buy your book. Too often, I get to a website and there’s a great big picture of the speaker, and it’s great on their ego, “Here’s all about me,” there are two pages of bio and I’m like, “What do you do? Why should I read all of this?” The first thing is to remember who your website is for. That’s huge.
One of the things that I see when our clients come in is, we will write a quiz and then they’ll say, “Where should I put it on my website?” We go over to the website, and I can immediately tell when you wrote your own copy. Spend the money and have a professional do it. The first mistake I’ll see is that you’re telling people your process, nobody gives a damn how you do it. They want to know about your results. The second thing is, do the colors match you? There is this healer, her website is red. That doesn’t feel healing to me. You have to get into a lot of things like that style guide. Those colors, are they in alignment with who you are and what your message is? It’s not just, “I like yellow and blue.”
Number one, yes, you do have to like your colors. If you don’t, you’re never going to love all of your branding, but you also have to be aware of what those colors mean to other people. You may love red. I have a love-hate relationship with red. On the one hand, it gets your attention. It gets your heart pumping, but it’s also the color of danger and warning. There’s that push-pull. I like orange rather than red for calls to action and buttons. Green is usually associated with wealth. Blue is usually associated with trust. There are variations. Getting a great color palette, writing your own copy, it’s interesting because you work with a lot of authors, these people can write, but somehow when you’re writing about yourself.
When I was in advertising, everybody, those copywriters, they wanted to write a book. Everybody who writes a book thinks they can write copy. They are two different skills. It is rare that you can do both. Here’s why. I can copyright all day long. I’ve written several books. My editor will tell you, I’m the worst writer on the planet. I’m a great storyteller, which adds to the copywriting, that’s pulled from the copywriting, but the two are rarely intertwined together.
In a book, you have so much more time to develop an idea, because if somebody is committing to reading a book, they’re committing to reading pages, and so you can weave that idea. When someone comes to your website, they have the attention span of a flea. If you can’t get them a message in two sentences, you’ve lost them. That kind of gravity and punch is different. It’s a different skillset. I’ve done both. My copywriting is much better than my long form content for similar reasons. I’m good in little soundbites. That’s a real challenge. Guys can get away with this longer, women can’t. I worked for a guy and his company photo when he started the company, when he retired several years later, he had the same crew. He was a little older and there were some little crow’s feet here, but women, we change our hairstyle and look, on us 5 or 10 pounds up or down changes us.Never resort to cheap strategies when creating content for your website. Click To Tweet
I know you loved that picture of you that was taken several years ago, that you Photoshopped the wrinkles out of several years ago. You don’t look that anymore. You have to take and update the pictures. It’s hard because every time I look at a picture, I’m like, “I didn’t like that photo several years ago, but that was a good picture. I don’t like the new one quite as much.” That’s the way it is, people. We change, our looks change. The last thing you want is to have this publicity photo, and then you get on a Zoom call and the other person just stares.
It feels out of alignment. I sold real estate when I thought I was going to be a stay-at-home mom. I sold a lot of real estate. I remember I used to see a big person in our company’s ads. She met me out at a house and I was like, “That was 30 years ago.” It feels egocentric. You’re not accepting you for you. People feel that out of alignment piece with it. Let’s get back to the bios. You started to say something important about writing your own bio. I think you should never write your own bio, because a lot of times you don’t see your gifts the way others do. I’m going to tell you a secret, even though I’m a good copywriter, I have Gina Hussar. I write it, and then she comes back to me and she says, “You call yourself a copywriter?” That’s what happens with my own stuff. She captures when I write and say what I do. She goes back and she makes it sound like it’s coming out of my mouth. You can hear me talking. How do you feel about that? Do you think that you should write your own?
I used to say I had a writer that worked here with me that Alison did the Roundpeg voice better than I did. It was my company. Her writing style was much more authentic, and she could reflect on paper what I would say out loud. When she would edit an introduction to a blog post for me, I’d look at it and go, “That’s what I meant.” I have gotten better. I do have some bios that I have written, but one of my favorites is the one that’s on the Roundpeg website, which was written by one of our other writers. We sat down and he interviewed me. He pulled out these little nuggets that were not necessarily things I would ever think to put in a bio, but when I read it in its entirety, it’s such a wonderful and unique reflection of me. When you’re talking about gifts, maybe you don’t know what part of your skillset is going to resonate with someone else and letting someone else write it. It still has to feel authentic to you. If I listened to you introduce me, and you’re reading my bio and I’m thinking, “That does not sound like me,” that’s never going to feel right. Getting that input from someone else and then going back and tweaking it is a great way to go.
My first webinar, someone helped me write it, and it wasn’t me at all and it didn’t convert. I have this little gift in a hand and say, “I have a gift for you.” The webinar coach I hired to help me said, “Who the heck was that on that video? I’ve never seen you.” Where can we find you, Lorraine, if we want to know more about what you’re up to and how you help?
More than a Few Words, our marketing podcast is available wherever you listen to podcasts. That’s a great way to start. Much like, you, they’re short conversations. I do a Sunday morning, little one-minute inspirational dropped in there as well. You can go to The Digital Toolbox, which is our online training community at DigitalToolBoxIN.com.
Thank you so much for being on.
Thank you. This was a lot of fun.
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About Lorraine Ball
Entrepreneur, author, professional speaker, and host of More than a Few Words, Lorraine brings creative ideas, practical tips, and decades of real-world experience to every conversation. Leaning on her experience as a business owner and former corporate executive, she delivers solid, usable content in a style that will motivate your audience to action.
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