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What's Your Unique Brand Voice?

Rules Were Made to Be Broken {+ How to Live, Lead, & Do Business Authentically}

rules were made to be broken

 
Last night, I reached into my vanity nervously shuffling to find the amber-tinted luxury glass bottle. It’s routine for me to slather the stuff inside from forehead to chest DAILY before bed. I’m not necessarily a K-Beauty follower, but you could say that I’ve adopted some of the 100-step wash-your-face-and-do-all-the-things habits.

So, when I couldn’t find my Marie Hunter Beauty Rapid Repair Serum for Step 38 in my routine, I became super annoyed.

I’m on the serum step. I. NEED. SERUM.

The skincare rules are simple:

Cleanse
Exfoliate
Tone
Plump
Treat
Moisturize

In that order.

The products that fulfill the rules for each step are specially designed to grace a certain part of your face for maximum benefit. Eye creams pack soothing, energy-boosting ingredients to plump the skin and make you look awake. Moisturizers pack oils and hyaluronic acid to nourish dry skin. And serums – that little joy I couldn’t find – pack concentrated blends of vitamins to tighten and brighten.

One is applied before the other in an order that I’ve come to respect and follow, religiously. I’ve been trained to believe that toner goes before serum, but eye cream before that. Break a rule and nothing will work effectively, right?

Tone after cleansing, or the treatments won’t absorb.

Dinner before desert or your appetite will spoil.

Pantyhose for interviews, or you won’t be taken seriously.

Use proper grammar or you won’t have clarity.

Write like a professional, not how you talk, or you won’t sell anything.

Share part of the story, not the whole thing, or you’ll lose everybody.

Show some personality, but not too much, or you won’t be appealing.

FOLLOW ALL THE STEPS, OR YOU WON’T HAVE SUCCESS.

THE RULES FOR LIFE, BEAUTY AND BUSINESS ARE BRUTAL. AND THIS IS JUST A SAMPLE.

But, what if these commands were as empty as the serum bottle I finally found without a single drop of juice left in it?

What if the widely-adopted industry rules for showing up, marketing yourself, and writing were made to be broken?

Could you finally attract the right people to your business if you started showing up as the right person to serve them, and stopped acting like everyone else?

Could your message connect better if the words in it were chockfull of your personality?

Could your sales page feel like a genuine offer of service, rather than a used car salesman pitch, if you shared your own story of transformation?

I wonder how much faster we’d all grow, both personally and professionally, if we stopped following the “how-to” rules of others and started living, leading, and doing business AUTHENTICALLY.

After accepting the fact that I wouldn’t be able to follow my normal skincare ritual last night, I slathered my anti-fatigue herbal eye gel on my forehead, chin and cheeks. I broke the rules. And my skin and mood this morning is brighter and better for it.

WHAT LIFE, BUSINESS OR WRITING RULE DO YOU NEED TO BREAK, STARTING TODAY?

 

Talk Soon,

-xoxo, amber

 

Best Practice Brand Strategy {Krispy Kreme}: Lights, Traffic, and Free Donuts

best practice brand strategy case study:

 

All we saw were lights.

I knew they weren’t the celebratory kind because they’d be accompanied by balloons, signs, music, and maybe some confetti, right?

And if it was an emergency, I certainly couldn’t decipher which kind since the lights had no sound and they weren’t going anywhere.

Despite their stillness, the disco-like rotation of them nearly blinded us.

But, we’re in the suburbs!

It was our anniversary and we had already prayed for calm children, a smooth ride, and zero drama. Plus it was only 5 pm and the sun was still out.

WHY WERE SO MANY POLICE IN THIS SHOPPING PLAZA WITH FLASHING RED AND BLUE LIGHTS ON?

My parents house, where our kids are, is just 5 minutes away from this scene. Do they know what’s happening? Is it on the news?

Six police cars surrounded half the plaza bordering the Giant grocery store and the gas station. No one could enter the parking lot from the main entrance or exit to Route 301. There was one way in and one way out. All other paths were taped off and physically blocked by a blue and red barricade.

Was this an active shooter situation? A crime scene under investigation? A hostage negotiation in progress? An officer down? Or some yet-to-be-reported suburban horror story playing out as we were driving by to pick up our barbecue?

I googled to find the answer.

The explanation for all of the lights was found in just two words.

They would also make sense of the half mile backup of cars that grazed the highway exit waiting to pass through the single lane entry into the plaza – cars filled with faces that somehow didn’t seem alarmed.

Two words:

“FREE DONUTS”

Now, why didn’t I think of that!?

Yesterday, Krispy Kreme launched its “Celebrate Your Grad” promotion, offering a FREE “Graduate Dozen” of specially-decorated donuts to graduating high school seniors across the ENTIRE COUNTRY.

If you fit the bill, all you had to do was wait in line with a cap and gown (or some other proof of your status).

The line at the Krispy Kreme drive-thru near my parents’ house was so long that it required traffic redirection, entryway barricades, and county police escort. In Long Beach, California, a three-block traffic jam ensued that required emergency police intervention.

All in the name of complimentary sugar highs.

I THINK IT’S GENIUS BEST PRACTICE BRAND STRATEGY.

And not because of the themed dough decor or even the nationwide “free offer” tactic. Let’s be real – on-the-house overdoses such as this are not novel concepts.

I think it’s genius because the brand offered a simple answer to one nationwide loaded question that was never even directed toward them …

HOW CAN WE?

How can we celebrate in a time of crisis?

How can we recognize our graduates who will no longer have a ceremony?

How can we put a smile on the faces of our children who aren’t able to see their friends before heading off to college?

How can we say, ‘Job well done’?

Krispy Kreme’s answer injected a major dose of joy into a present-day society filled with news and rules that offers everything but that.

And for the next generation stepping into adulthood during such a season, this little sprinkle of sugar made the moment something to truly remember – for good reason.

NOW, ASK YOURSELF HOW YOU CAN DO THE SAME. 

What kind of loaded questions are people asking that your brand can answer through its products or services? How can YOU inject a little something unexpected into society, your community, or your customers’ lives?

 

TALK SOON,

-xoxo, amber

 

Words That Work: How to Get Your Customers to Click

words that work

 

CIRCA 2009 …

I was a cocky little somebody in graduate school. Being a writer before I arrived at the best place to learn writing blinded me with an unjustified, overly-confident disposition. In all my naivety, I believed there wasn’t much these professors could teach me in Advanced Writing 101 about how to form a show-stopping sentence.

I had just landed in Chicago from NYC after completing an externship at Armani. Before leaving, my words for the brand’s new “About” page were published online. It was my written pitch that got our new Spring collection in Elle, and it was my writing about why the Armani Exchange story aligned with their next issue that garnered a response from fashion editors all over the City.

I could write better than most, without any formal training on the craft. In my 24-year-old mind, I had it mastered before seeking a master’s degree. So, Northwestern University … what can you teach me?

Are you sensing my young millennial arrogance yet?

Back to class …

OUR VERY FIRST ASSIGNMENT – AND ONE THAT I WILL NEVER FORGET – WAS TO COMPOSE A COVER LETTER TO OUR DREAM COMPANY. 

How we would add value to their organization and change their lives needed to be put into words that filled just one page. The objective, as is the objective of any cover letter, was to grab attention, engage, and pique someone’s interest enough to want to learn more through an interview. I wrote my letter at lightning speed, said all kinds of amazing things about myself, proofread every sentence, and submitted it with 100% confidence in my professor using my submission as a “best work” example next class.

Except he didn’t.

The next week, a paragraph of my cover letter was recited to 117 students from around the world (thankfully, without attribution) as an example of what NOT to say when writing to persuade a person or audience to take action.

My heart sank.

I was so embarrassed.

So scared he would say my name.

So confused.

WHAT DID I DO WRONG?

After handing me the remnants of a letter with more red pen edits than white space left on the page, my professor turned to us all and said:

LOOK DOWN AT YOUR PAPER AND CIRCLE ALL MENTIONS OF “I, ME, AND MY.”

For most of us, nearly every paragraph started with one of those. For me, it was nearly every sentence. His point started to click. The lecture that followed my humble awakening flowed in S-L-O-W  M-O-T-I-O-N.  I soaked in every point on how to write in a way that captivated an audience (and not just the fashion elite in NYC)  enough to want to learn more about you.

THE KEY WAS IN ONE WORD: “YOU.”

Failure to address your audience and pull them into the conversation using words that work would always result in a failure to compel, a failure to connect, and in business, a failure to convert. Leaving out the simple usage of “YOU” in my cover letter meant that I hadn’t taken the time to get to know the company enough to clearly articulate how I would add any value to who they already were. How could I possibly convince them to get to know me if I skipped this critical step?

THE SAME IS TRUE FOR YOU.  

How can you convince your customers that you understand who they are and what they need if your copy is chockfull of “I, me, and my?” 

MARIE FORLEO CALLS THE PRACTICE OF ADDING “YOU” TO YOUR BRAND NARRATIVE “THE SPOTLIGHT METHOD.” 

I CALL IT “MANNERS”.

Because that’s exactly what it is when two perspectives are present in a conversation.

If you want to learn how to inject words that work into your brand messaging so your customers are prompted to press the “learn more” or “buy now” button faster,  join me in Copymastery™ to catch my “Making Your Message Count” training.

Now, if your copy is flawless and converts quicker than you can reapply your red lipstick, feel free to ignore this entire message.

 

TALK SOON,

-xoxo, amber

The Profound Power of Words & How to Use Yours Wisely in Business

the power of words:

 

A few weeks ago, I did a virtual keynote for the Women Entrepreneurs Inc. Conference on how to “Get Your Message Out of Your Head and Into the World.” My hook and introduction to why better messaging should be a priority, especially now, was simple:

WORDS ARE THE CURRENCY OF CHANGE.

All of the greats knew this.

From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to JFK to Steve Jobs and even Oprah, anyone looking to successfully persuade an audience to do or think differently has always placed an inordinate amount of attention on their words.

And it makes sense – for society and for business.

The right words have the power to move massive audiences to action, to push someone from a state of indifference to a stance of certainty, to spark irrational spending, to restore self-worth, to motivate new habits, and to try and buy new things.

Think about it …

TWO EXAMPLES ON THE POWER OF WORDS:

1.  In the ’60s, massive clusters of society (and ultimately the nation) didn’t follow MLK and agree to risk their lives to march for a cause of justice because he was charismatic or because of his civil service record in Alabama. They followed him because of his intensely-emotional and irreverent one-word classification of their movement: “NONVIOLENT.” They followed him because of the deeply-rooted significance and power behind it, too.

Ultimately, this one word would help to grant civil rights to an entire race of people.

2.  Steve Jobs chose two simple words to move an almost-as-massive tech audience to believe in his mission. In the brand’s 1997 viral ad campaign, “The Crazy Ones,” Jobs calls out “the misfits, rebels, troublemakers, and round pegs in square holes” as modern-day heroes. Using words that glorified their disrespect for the status quo, the ad narrative cited the rare abilities of some – picturing Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, MLK, and Amelia Earhart – to “see things differently.” At the end of the campaign, an industry-changing, generation-defining, behavior-shifting, and brilliantly-written line of copy is spoken:

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

These words gave birth to one of the most powerful brand statements of our time: “Think Different.”

It single-handedly motivated an entire subset of the population to celebrate their uniqueness, thinking and now feeling like the only way to do that – from a tech perspective – was to buy a Mac.

Genius.

What’s my point?

WORDS ARE LIKE CURRENCY.

WE SHOULD ALL SPEND THEM WISELY IF WE WANT TO MAKE ANY KIND OF CHANGE TODAY. 

As a CEO in the present digital economy, the copy you write to move your audience to action should be equally as powerful as the greats. Perhaps more importantly, it should convey your call to action with equal clarity and concision.

Today, consumers around the world are looking more than ever to the leaders and brands that they trust to motivate their own change. Some looking for new ways to manage their money, some in need of practical tips for taking the leap from their 9-to-5, and some looking for ways that they can better prioritize their self care.

Whatever the change is that your audience seeks, ask yourself if the words in your message are set up to move them to action – in a real and powerful way.

 

 

I’M TEACHING ON THE POWER OF WORDS INSIDE COPYMASTERY™ AND YOU’RE WELCOME TO JOIN! 

If you believe that your message could use some refinement or even if you’re starting from scratch, I’m inviting you to join me on the next coaching call to learn how to craft meaningful brand messages for your website, social media channels, email newsletters, sales pages, and more.

It’s all happening on Monday, May 18 at 6 pm EST.  I honestly can’t think of any kind of business looking to thrive right now who wouldn’t want to learn more.

CLICK HERE to see how coaching works and get in on the next Copymastery™ training for just $49.

Let May be the month you invest in something that’s actually going to move the needle in your business: an effective message.

 

TALK SOON,

-xoxo, amber

Just say “when” & other words that sell

need more words that sell right now?

 

Want to know the biggest question your target customers are asking themselves before deciding whether or not they should spend their “uncertain” dollars on your product or service right now?

When am I going to need/use/want/apply this?

The one WORD to help you sell, even through this wave of new hesitation (which is actually not sooo new)? Brace yourself , because this is stupid simple:

 

“WHEN”

 

Easy, right? Just. Say. “When.” Let me explain …

Over the past few months, the dynamics of product and service consumption have drastically shifted. Millions of people around the world are on stay-at-home orders, schools are shut down, plush toilet paper has vanished, and the internet fairies can barely keep up with the number of Zoom meetings and Netflix series we tune into each day.

Because of this shift, the spaces, places, and occasions for which someone would find a need for your product or service have also changed. Depending on what you sell, it could be for the better. For most, it presents a new marketing challenge – one that requires a shift to how you describe the necessity of what you’re selling. 

Put simply, today’s game is about relevancy. To win, you need the right words that sell.

 

THE SUCCESS OF ANY SALE LARGELY DEPENDS ON THE LANGUAGE YOU USE TO INTRODUCE WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER. 

 

I know you know this. So, why are so many CEOs lately crippling themselves into a state of rushed innovation?

A pandemic arose and all of a sudden, nothing their entire brand sold was valuable or needed anymore. Whaaaaaat?

Are you one of them?

 

COULD IT BE THAT YOU ACTUALLY DON’T NEED TO LAUNCH SOMETHING NEW, YOU JUST NEED TO SHIFT THE WORDS YOU USE?

 

Maybe a new message for an existing product that better reflects your customers’ current situation is all that’s needed.  Maybe you just need to explicitly say when this thing that you’re selling fits into their newly-altered lives and why. Think about it.

I just went deep into this subject of converting through crisis with my Copymastery™ Coaching community a few weeks ago.

I referred to the practice of timely language modification as “Choosing the right red for today’s occasion.” We spoke about the brands that are cutting through the clutter by implementing this strategy and replacing their old copy with words that sell … right now.  You’d be surprised at how much consumer perception shifts when you spell out exactly when someone can or should use your product, even when the environment or circumstances surrounding why and how have changed.

 

SOME IDEAS TO GET YOU THINKING:

 

The accessories you need when working from home. (LoveSac)

Calming sounds when you need to unwind.

Indulge-worthy skincare when all you have is time.

Homeschool resources when you’re new to the task.

Bold lipstick when you still need to make a statement.

Freshly-prepared meals when you’re dining in.

 

JUST SAY “WHEN.” TRUST ME, IT WORKS.

 

Want to give it a shot? Drop a comment below with your new product one-liner and I’ll respond with some quick feedback!

By the way, with the exception of the first one, I made all of these lines up to give you some inspo. If something resonates for your brand, take it!

 

TALK SOON,

-xoxo, amber