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Don't Start With a Blank Page, Use Content Blocks

Feb 27, 2008
Recently I helped a small business owner totally re-write his marketing and business plans. The owner was grateful for the new copy, but expressed a concern that he may have issues writing copy for marketing materials or responding to bid proposals later in the year.

He said,"It is so hard to start from scratch writing a marketing document when you have a blank piece of paper staring you in the face." I understand completely and recommended how we could help him create "branded copy" quickly.

If you are a typical business owner, there are many times in the day when you must write about your business to inform, educate or communicate about your unique products and service offerings. Using this technique, you will no longer have to start with a blank page.

I refer to it as the Content Blocks writing technique. This method has personally saved me many hours of writing time as well has kept my marketing messages consistent and focused in proposals, company flyers and websites. It is a simple yet effective technique and here's how to use it to build your business marekting campaigns. Here's how to create your own content blocks document.

Start with a Word document and name it content blocks with a date in the title. Here is an example: abc_company_content_blocks_02152008.doc

You want to put a date in the file name because this is a work in progress, as your company grows and matures, the content will evolve. Keep this document on your desktop so you can easily click on it to retrieve information with one click.

Now it's time to map out what to put into this important marketing reference document. You will want to write the information in a short paragraph format with a couple of spaces around each one to form "content chunks". Take the time to write about three to five sentences in each paragraph. It is better to include a little too much information and be able to erase as needed, rather than having to think about and add additional information.

One of the easiest ways to add the best information to your content blocks document is to review a proposal and see what types of information they are requesting. Fortunately, over 50% of the information they request will be on the next proposal, therefore you have a competitive edge in getting proposals done quicker using this menthod.

Once your document is prepared, you can open it in a second window on your screen and as you are responding to a proposal you can quickly cut / paste information. Not only does this save time in preparation, you are able keep spelling errors to a minimum since your content blocks document has been run through spell / grammar check.

Think of the time you will save responding to proposals, writing article publications, and preparing other documents in a normal marketing business cycle.

Checking back with the owner, he has used his content blocks in several ways including sharing it with his webmaster to get the correct wording for extending his brand on the homepage.

Another important suggest is to revise your information regularly and as needed, so that your marketing materials are current and consistent in "voice" and terminology. Time marches on, your company flexes and grows - so does your need to refine your content blocks.

Here are the topics we included:
Board of Directors (and a quick description)
-Company Summary: include founder and founding date
-Competitive Comparison: what types of businesses do you compete with?
-Competitive Edge: what makes you different
-Competitive Landscape (includes five competitors)
-Contact Information: name, address, cell, fax, email
-Company Owner Biography (including professional memberships, patents, degrees)
-Executive Summary (break up into 1-2 sentences, easy to cut / paste in other docs)
-Market Segmentation: public vs private?
-Mission Statement: no more than three sentences
-Company Objectives (stating where business income comes from in percentages)
-Positioning Statement: contextual reference
-Promotional Strategy: how do folks hear about you?
-Sales Literature: include links to websites,PDF documents, audio files, video files
-Target Clients: describe who is your target client
-Technology overview: are you high or low tech?
-Testimonials (quotes from clients): audios are better

In addition to words that describe your company include visuals that "brand" as well including:
-Logos: website, products, affliate programs
-Pictures of company owner, business site, website, clients, processes, products
-Links to audio files with testimonials, music or the company owner telling about the business

Using content blocks is a simple way to organize the most current and important information about your company. Take time to create this simple Word document and save hours agonizing over attempting to create proposals and other important documents at the last minute.
About the Author
V. Karen Miller is the founder of Design2Train Design2Train.com, an instructional design /training development company helps business owners prepare training and information products.
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