Six questions your content creator should ask you

If you want a content creator to write for your business, do you just say “Write this, and make it viral”?

Not THAT viral. (Too soon?) By Alexey Solodovnikov (Idea, Producer, CG, Editor), Valeria Arkhipova (Scientific Сonsultant) – Own work. Scientific consultants:Nikitin N.A., Doctor of Biological Sciences, Department of Virology, Faculty of Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University.Borisevich S.S. Candidate of Chemical Sciences, Specialist in Molecular Modeling of Viral Surface Proteins, Senior Researcher, Laboratory of Chemical Physics, Ufa Institute of Chemistry RASArkhipova V.I., specialization in Fundamental and Applied chemistry, senior engineer, RNA Chemistry Laboratory, Institute of chemical biology and fundamental medicine SB RAS, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=104914011

Six words of instruction will not result in great content.

Even if you just say “Write this” and leave off the viral part, this will not work either.

You and your content creator have to have a shared understanding of what the content will be.

For example, as I indicated in a previous post, you and your content creator have to agree on the tone of voice to use in the content. The content creator could write something in a tone of voice that may not match your voice at all, which would mean that the content would sound horribly wrong to your audience.

Imagine a piece for financial executives written in the style of Crazy Eddie. Ouch.

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ml6S2yiuSWE

And that’s just one thing that could go wrong when you and your content creator are not on the same…um, page.

Bredemarket’s content creation process includes six questions

When Bredemarket works with you to create content, I use a content creation process. I’ve revised my original content creation process several times, and I’m sure I’ll revise it more as I work with more of you.

But as of today, Bredemarket’s kickoff meetings with clients begin with six high-level questions that set the scene for everything that follows.

Question One: Why?

As I noted in my Simon Sinek post, the “why?” question needs to be answered before any other question is asked.

Before you ask a content creator to write a case study about how your Magnificent Gizmo cures bad breath, you need to understand why you’re in the good breath business in the first place. Did you have an unpleasant childhood experience? Were you abandoned at the altar? WHY did you care enough to create the Magnificent Gizmo in the first place?

(As I write this post, I’m going to look at how each of these six questions can be answered for the post itself. After all, it’s fair to ask: Why does Bredemarket do what it does? Short answer: because I write. You can pry my keyboard out of my cold dead hands. For the longer answer, read the “Who I Am” page on the Bredemarket website.)

Question Two: How?

You also need to make sure your content creator can explain how you do what you do. Have you created your own set of algorithms that make breath good? Do you conduct extensive testing with billions of people, with their consent? How is your way of doing things superior to that of your competitors?

(Now if you’re asking the “how” of Bredemarket, my content creation process is the “how.” After these initial six questions, there are other things that I do, and things that you do. Here’s how I create content of 400 to 600 words. Here’s how I create content of 2,800 to 3,200 words.)

Question Three: What?

Once these are clear in your mind, you’re ready to talk about the “what.” As Sinek notes, many people start with the “what” and then proceed to the “how,” and may or may not even answer the “why.” But when you ask the “why” first and the “how” second, your “what” description is much better.

(Again, you may be asking what Bredemarket does. I craft the words to communicate with technical and non-technical audiences. For additional clarification, read “What I Do,” which also notes what I don’t do. Sorry, finger/face/ID document vendors.)

Question Four: Goal?

Once the Golden Circle is defined, we’re ready to dig a little deeper into the specific piece of content you want. We’re not ready to talk about page count and fonts, yet, though. There’s a few other things we need to settle.

What is the goal of the content? Simple awareness of the product or service you provide? Or are you ready for consideration? Or is it time for conversion? The goal affects the content dramatically.

(In the case of this post, the goal is primarily awareness, but if you’re ready for conversion to become a paying customer, I won’t turn you away.)

Question Five: Benefits?

I’ve written ad nauseum on the difference between benefits and features, so for this question five about benefits I’ll just briefly say that written content works best when it communicates how the solution will help (benefit) the customer. A list of features will not make a difference to a customer who has specific needs. Do you meet those needs? Maintain a customer focus.

(Bredemarket’s primary benefit is focused content that meets your needs. There are others, depending upon your industry and the content you require.)

Question Six: Target Audience?

This one is simple to understand.

  • If you’re a lollipop maker and you’re writing for kids who buy lollipops in convenience stores, you’ll write one way.
  • If you’re a lollipop maker and you’re writing to the convenience stores who could carry your lollipops, you’ll write another way.

Now sometimes content creators get fancy and create personas and all that (Jane Smith is a 54 year old single white owner of a convenience store in a rural area with an MBA and a love for Limp Bizkit), but the essential thing is that you understand who you want to read your content.

(This particular piece is targeted for business owners, executives, directors, and managers, especially in California’s Inland Empire, who have a need to create focused content that speaks to their customers. The target audience not only affects how I am writing this post, but also how I will distribute it.)

What if you use a different content creator?

I am forced to admit that not everyone chooses Bredemarket to create their content.

  • Maybe you create your content yourself.
  • Maybe you already have access to content creators.
  • Or maybe you have a limited budget and can only pay a penny a word to your content creator. Let’s face it, a five dollar blog post does sound attractive.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use these six questions. I did publish them, after all, and they’re based on questions that others have asked.

If you create your own content, ask yourself these six questions before you begin. They will focus your mind and make your final content better.

If you have someone else create your content, make sure that you provide the answers for your content creator. For example, if you seek a content creator on Upwork or Fiverr, put the answers to these questions in your request for quotes. Experienced writers will appreciate that you’re explaining the why, how, what, goal, benefits, and target audience at the very beginning, and you’ll get better quotes that way. If someone knows your target audience is crime scene examiners, then you’ll (hopefully) see some quotes that describe the writer’s experience in writing for crime scene examiners.

And if you provide the answers to those six questions and your content creator says, “That doesn’t matter. I write the same for everyone,” run away.

You’ve probably seen the film. By Wikifan75 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29042440

Maybe the resulting content will even go viral. (The good viral.)

What if you want to use Bredemarket?

Or perhaps you’ve decided that you don’t want to trust your content to someone on Upwork and Fiverr, and you want to work with me instead. After all, I can help you with white paperscase studiesblog postsproposal responses, or other written content. (Well, unless the written content involves finger, face, driver’s license, or related identity services. There’s the day job, you know.)

Ah, we’ve moved from awareness to consideration. Great.

If I can work with you to create your written content, please contact me.

And to make our meeting even smoother, start thinking about the answers to the six questions I posed above.

Donning…archetypes?

I have done a little bit of acting in my life, and have learned that acting often involves removing aspects of yourself and replacing them with aspects of your character. Just like donning a mask to cover parts of your head.

By JamesHarrison – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4873863

Perhaps the character you are playing as an actor may be dramatically different from your own self. To my knowledge, Carroll O’Connor did not insult non-white people like his character Archie Bunker did.

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3gHj5LHB6s

Yet at the same time, the character necessarily acquired some traits from the actor, and the actor identified with the character.

When we spoke to (O’Connor) prior to his death, he explained to us that he constantly had to battle writers who thought they understood the character better than he did.

From https://www.hollywoodoutbreak.com/2022/09/13/carroll-oconnor-the-burdens-of-being-archie-bunker/

But this post is not about “All in the Family.” It’s about “All in the Business.”

When a business’ archetype is not your own

I’ve previously written about archetypes before, in the August 2021 post “Why is Kaye Putnam happy that I’m IGNORING her marketing advice?” That post describes how I took an online test to see which of twelve brand archetypes matched the personality of Bredemarket, and also myself. The results clearly showed that I was primarily aligned with the Sage archetype.

From https://bredemarket.com/2021/08/05/why-is-kaye-putnam-happy-that-im-ignoring-her-marketing-advice/

For those unfamiliar with the Sage archetype, Kaye Putnam explains:

Primary Goal of the Sage Brand Archetype: To understand the world and teach others what you know. To seek and share the truth.

From https://www.kayeputnam.com/brand-archetype-sage/

So when left to my own devices, I tend to get somewhat curious, investigative, and explanatory.

But we can’t always be left to our own devices, and sometimes I have to don the mask of a different archetype.

Such as a maverick.

By Warner Brothers Television – eBayfrontback, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30035548

No, not that guy. THIS guy.

By Alberto Korda – Museo Che Guevara, Havana Cuba, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6816940

(Ignore the political ramifications. Stay with me here.)

So how do you doff a “Sage” mask and don a “Maverick” mask, or perform some other archetype switch?

You need to understand the brand archetype you are targeting, and consciously adapt your communication to fit that archetype rather than your own.

So perhaps I might write a sentence like this in my normal Sage mode:

Finding the perforations in the wrapper, I carefully unwrapped the ice cream sandwich.

But how would a Maverick open an ice cream sandwich?

Removing the barriers that separated me from the final product, I boldly unwrapped the ice cream sandwich.

In the past, I guess I’ve subconsciously absorbed the tone of voice for a client or employer for whom I was writing, but in most cases I never thought of this in archetype terms.

What is your archetype? And should you care?

So when Bredemarket starts to write something for you, should you fret and fuss over what your archetype is?

If you feel like it. But it’s not essential.

What is essential is that you have some concept of the tone of voice that you want to use in your communication.

And how do you know what tone you want to use? You have to answer some questions.

To be continued

ArcGIS StoryMaps: Every story has a place, and every place has a story

B2B content creators often find themselves telling stories to drive their readers to take action. Usually the desired action is to do business with the company telling the story. But as Redlands-headquartered company ESRI demonstrates with ArcGIS StoryMaps, there are many ways to tell a story.

Why tell stories?

Now you could easily adopt a “just the facts” approach to sharing the necessary information, but your potential customers’ eyes may glaze over.

Joe “The Facts” Friday was not a content marketer. By NBC Television – eBayfrontback, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33340402

About a year ago, when I was selling Bredemarket’s services to a potential biometric client (obviously before I announced Bredemarket’s change in business scope and stopped providing services to finger/face clients), I started off by presenting a SWOT analysis. For those not familiar with the term, “SWOT” stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

By Syassine – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31368987

For the topic of discussion with my potential client, I went through my independent analysis of all four of these items, engaging the people in the meeting who suggested some improvements. This SWOT analysis led into a presentation of the services that I could provide to the firm—services that addressed the weaknesses and threats that we had mutually identified.

What happened? I signed a contract with the company and worked on multiple projects to successfully address those weaknesses/threats.

Do you see what I did there?

As you probably noticed, I just told a story that had a conflict, actions, and a final resolution. “And they all sold biometric products happily ever after.”

Now SWOT analyses may not be your preferred type of storytelling, and frankly I usually don’t use SWOT analyses to tell stories. Stories can be of the “what happened to a company” or “what happened to me” form. For example, I recently told a “what happened to a company” story when talking about Conductor’s use of Calendly.

And some stories emphasize the “where.” No, not as one of the six factors of authentication, but as a setting for the story.

Enter ESRI and its ArcGIS StoryMaps product.

What does ArcGIS StoryMaps do?

On April 20, 2022, ESRI announced its introduction of ArcGIS StoryMaps, saying that “StoryMaps Allows Content Creators to Unify Digital Experiences in One Place Furthering Esri’s Mission to Bring the Geographic Approach to All.” In its announcement, ESRI started by presenting the problem:

Capturing and sharing life’s experiences today often requires multiple platforms and tools, which can result in disjointed storytelling.

From https://www.esri.com/about/newsroom/announcements/esri-brings-powerful-mapping-technology-to-everyone-with-new-storytelling-tool/

ArcGIS StoryMaps seeks to allow marketers and other content creators to use a single easy-to-use tool to tell their stories. As ESRI’s video on ArcGIS StoryMaps states, “Every story has a place, and every place has a story.” StoryMaps helps people tell place stories.

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kl-J9GjieYM

For an example of a StoryMap, go to https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/42b1a6fe6a524b578becd12c0bee4b4c to view “Sounds of the Wild West: An audio tour of Montana’s four major ecosystems.” Be sure to unmute the sound! (It’s an audio tour.)

What about YOUR story?

Now ESRI hasn’t asked me to tell stories for them (yet), but perhaps your Redlands-based company might want a storyteller. Consider the Redlands, California content marketing expert, Bredemarket. I provide marketing and writing services in the Inland Empire and throughout the United States.

Here are just a few examples of what Bredemarket can do for your firm:

I can provide many more B2B services; a complete list can be found here.

Before I create a single word, I start by asking you some questions about your content:

  • Why, how, and what do you do?
  • What is the topic of the content?
  • What is the goal that you want to achieve with the content?
  • What are the benefits (not features, but benefits) that your end customers can realize by using your product or service?
  • What is the target audience for the content?

After you’ve provided the relevant information to me, I’ll create the first iteration of the content, and we’ll work together to create your final content. The specifics of how we will work together depend upon whether you have elected the Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service, the Bredemarket 2800 Medium Writing Service, or something else.

When we’re done, that final content is yours (a “work for hire” arrangement).

If I can help your business, or if you have further questions about Bredemarket’s B2B content creation services, please contact me.

Why the Toyota Arena’s square footage is unimportant in Zurdo vs. Boesel marketing…or YOUR marketing

There is a LOT going on in Ontario, California that escapes the attention of most of us. For example, only dedicated boxing fans may know what is happening here on May 14.

Former world champion and light heavyweight Mexican boxing star Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramírez (43-0, 29 KOs) of Mazatlán, Mexico, will face former WBA Interim Light Heavyweight World Champion Dominic Boesel (32-2, 12 KOs) of Freyburg, Germany on Saturday, May 14….The event will take place at Toyota Arena in Ontario, CA, and will stream live exclusively on DAZN.

From https://www.ringtv.com/638236-gilberto-ramirez-dominic-boesel-set-for-may-14-in-ontario-california/

So why didn’t I learn about the Ramirez-Boesel fight until a week after this April 22 announcement?

Because I’m not part of the target market for this fight.

The announcement that I quoted above was shared on The Ring website. Obviously people who visit that particular site are interested in boxing.

And the Toyota Arena is certainly promoting it. (“Zurdo” is Ramirez’s nickname.) Notice the prominent “BUY TICKETS” call to action. The Toyota Arena wants you to attend the event in-person.

And the DAZN streaming service is obviously talking about it and hoping that you sign up for the service. The yellow “SIGN UP NOW” buttons (two of them in this screen alone) are hard to miss. Unlike the Toyota Arena, DAZN doesn’t require you to be in person to view this fight.

DAZN website, Zurdo vs. Boesel streaming sign up.
From https://www.dazn.com/en-US/sport/Sport:2x2oqzx60orpoeugkd754ga17/abtjyjpn1btla7vxkzowzh5h5

What the Toyota Arena and the DAZN streaming service DIDN’T do when marketing the fight

Let’s look at one aspect of how the fight is being marketed.

Have you ever noticed that some companies believe that the best way to market themselves is to talk about themselves? They’re worse than a self-obsessed narcissist on a date.

Major Frank Burns (Larry Linville).
Major Frank Burns (portrayed by Larry Linville) of M*A*S*H fame. (Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan not pictured.) By CBS Television – eBayfrontbackeBayphoto front & release, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30082123

If the “my company is most important” people were promoting this fight, the Toyota Arena could have started its Zurdo vs. Boesel page with the text below.

Toyota Arena, built and owned by the City of Ontario, operated by ASM Global, can accommodate over 11,000 guests. The 225,000 square foot venue features 36 luxury suites located on two levels and a continuous concourse hosting a variety of concession and refreshment stands, merchandise kiosks, the VIP Club and other fan amenities. Toyota Arena hosts over 125 events annually including concerts, family shows, and sporting competitions. The Arena is home to several sport teams including: Ontario Reign (American Hockey League), Ontario Fury (Major Arena Soccer League), Aqua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (G League Basketball), and LA Temptation (Legends Football League).

From https://www.toyota-arena.com/arena-info/about

This text appears on the arena’s “About Us” page. Why not also put it on the page for the fight, to ensure that the readers see it and realize the sheer awesomeness of the arena, the City of Ontario, and ASM Global?

Why not talk about the arena at the beginning of the fight announcement? Because fight promoters are smart. Fight promoters know that to make a sale, they need to maintain a customer focus.

Let’s say that you’re a boxing promoter and YOU have to promote this fight. Which of the following two facts is more important?

  1. Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramírez has a boxing record of 43-0 with 29 knockouts.
  2. The Toyota Arena is a 225,000 square foot facility.

Now perhaps the janitorial staff that has to service the Toyota Arena is more concerned about item 2, but if you want boxing fans to buy tickets or streaming access, you’re going to aggressively promote item 1 and maintain your customer focus.

So what is MY call to action to YOU?

If I were to ask you, there is a high probability that you are not a boxing promoter. I know this because I’m not submitting this post to The Ring as a press release, but am instead sharing it in various Inland Empire West business channels.

However, there is a pretty good probability that you own or manage a local business, and you have your own news that you want to get out.

And this news must resonate with your customers.

  • Perhaps you want to share a customer success story, case study, or testimonial—a casetimonial, if you will. This document must appeal to your customers, speak to their needs, and ideally lead to them considering your company’s services or products.
  • Or perhaps you want to share a white paper that addresses your customers’ needs, but also drives them to consider your business. For example, you might distribute a white paper that lists seven critical criteria for customer success—and coincidentally, your company’s offering satisfies all seven critical criteria. (What an amazing coincidence!)

Regardless of your desired written content, you need the services of an Ontario, California content marketing expert who can work with you and maintain a customer focus in your content marketing.

Ontario Convention Center.
By Mack Male – originally posted to Flickr as Ontario Convention Center, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9512928

I, John E. Bredehoft, through my Ontario-based DBA Bredemarket, can write casetimonials, white papers, and other types of content, working with you to answer these and other critical questions BEFORE producing the content:

  • Why, how, and what do you do?
  • What is the topic of the content?
  • What is the goal that you want to achieve with the content?
  • What are the benefits (not features, but benefits) that your end customers can realize by using your product or service?
  • What is the target audience for the content?

After you’ve provided the relevant information to me, I’ll create the first iteration of the content, and we’ll work together to create your final content. The specifics of how we will work together depend upon whether you have elected the Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service, the Bredemarket 2800 Medium Writing Service, or something else.

When we’re done, that final content is yours (a “work for hire” arrangement).

If I can help your business, or if you have further questions about Bredemarket’s B2B content creation services, please contact me.

Rancho Cucamonga, California Fast Business Facts

The U.S. Census provides “quick facts” about U.S. jurisdictions, including business facts. While the business facts are ten years old, they still provide an indication of business health.

For Rancho Cucamonga, the U.S. Census Bureau has documented over 15,000 firms, over $3 billion in manufacturers shipments, and over $2 billion in retail sales. These figures have presumably increased in the last ten years.

If you own or manage one of these thousands of businesses, and you need to let other businesses know about your offerings, perhaps you should turn to the Rancho Cucamonga, California content marketing expert. Bredemarket can assist your firm with the following:

If I can help your business, or if you have further questions about Bredemarket’s B2B content creation services, please contact me.

Bredemarket announcement: change in business scope

Effective immediately:

  1. Bredemarket does not accept client work for solutions that identify individuals using (a) friction ridges (including fingerprints and palm prints) and/or (b) faces.
  2. Bredemarket does not accept client work for solutions that identify individuals using secure documents, such as driver’s licenses or passports. 

Why I Raised Bredemarket’s Consulting Package Prices

Author’s Note: this is one of two seemingly unrelated Bredemarket blog posts that form a cohesive whole. Actually PART of a cohesive whole.

Introduction

I’m making a lot of changes at Bredemarket right now, but I haven’t announced all of them.

For example, when I discontinued two of my editing packages (see my previous post “Bredemarket announcement: discontinuation of editing offerings”), I simultaneously raised the prices of two of my writing packages. I didn’t make a formal announcement at the time, for the obvious reason that potential clients usually don’t respond positively to a price increase.

But as I thought about it some more, I realized that there are benefits to explaining why I raised my prices, both from a “macro” perspective and from a “micro” perspective. (Yes, my BA is in Economics.)

Once I explained my rationale in raising consulting package prices, I knew that some potential clients would NOT want to do business with Bredemarket, but that other potential clients definitely WOULD use Bredemarket’s services. And I want to work with the latter group, because they pay better.

Service pricing from the macro perspective

Simplistically, there are two price tiers for people like me who offer writing services. I won’t characterize them with positive or negative adjectives, but those two tiers can be decribed as follows.

One pricing tier for writing services

One of the pricing tiers is definitely lower than the other tier, and these writing services can be provided by anybody, in any location, for a low price.

Selected Fiverr prices for case study writers, starting at $5.
From https://www.fiverr.com/search/gigs?query=writing%20case%20study. And yes, one of these profiles mentions “HAVARD” (sic).

In fact, price is the main driver for clients who pursue writers in this tier. This Reddit comment illustrates how conversations between contractors and clients proceed in this lower pricing tier.

I had this exchange last week:

Guy: What is your rate for 1000 words?

Me: $50

Guy: That is so expensive! My other writers do that for $10-15.

Me: Then why don’t you get them to do it?

He was not very impressed with my tone. I burned that bridge, I guess. Damn shame.

From https://www.reddit.com/r/freelanceWriters/comments/8e24y1/gee_1_cent_per_word_you_are_a_generous_one_idiots/dxsn8fb/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

Ironically, as another commenter pointed out, this contractor’s pricing isn’t all that high either. Let’s do the math:

  • $10 for 1,000 words works out to $0.01 (one cent) per word.
  • $50 for 1,000 words works out to $0.05 (five cents) per word.

In order to make a decent living at these rates, you have to write quickly.

Living wages protest in New York City.
By The All-Nite Images from NY, NY, USA – Fight for $15 on 4/15, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44970534

And now you know why so many pennies per word writers live in the Third World. They can afford to live on these rates.

And why the “guy” quoted in the Reddit comment above didn’t immediately go to his $10 writers. I guess his $10 writers weren’t turning out quality writing at those rates.

The other pricing tier for writing services

Some writers choose not to compete on price, instead competing on expertise and level of service, and/or by targeting a particular clientele. Morning Brew cites a Business Insider behind-the-paywall post about one high-end offering.

Some ghostwriters on LinkedIn are making $500–$700 an hour writing posts for high-powered execs and LinkedInfluencers, according to Insider. 

From https://www.morningbrew.com/daily/stories/linkedin-ghostwriters-hourly-rates
A very expensive watch.
By Rama – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1958013

First, look at the market these ghostwriters target: executives and influencers. While the term “LinkedInfluencers” has extremely negative connotations, there are people on LinkedIn who write posts to achieve very specific (and measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely, or SMART) goals, such as talent attraction, lead generation, or revenue realization.

To help their clients reach these SMART goals, the ghostwriters need to provide a superior level of service. The ghostwriters must understand the clients’ goals for the project and work closely with the client to ensure the final written text addresses those goals.

Finally, the ghostwriters need to have one or more types of expertise.

  • General expertise in writing. Can the ghostwriter effectively communicate the client’s message, incorporating a focus on the client’s customers and an explanation of the benefits the client’s customers can realize by following the client’s advice?
  • Expertise in the client’s industry. Can the ghostwriter communicate the client’s message in a way that is convincing to the client’s customers, and in a way that establishes the client’s expertise?
  • Expertise in LinkedIn. Can the ghostwriter produce something that readers on LinkedIn will find? I hesitate to use the word “viral” because of its negative connotations, but if a client wants a LinkedIn article to be read by potential purchasers of electric cars, then the article has to be written in such a way that it will appear on the LinkedIn feeds of potential electric car purchasers.

Guess what? You’re not going to get someone to write that for $10.

Service pricing from the micro perspective

Now let’s look at (some) specifics of my own business, and how my initial pricing affected my business. I’m going to concentrate on two of my service packages: my Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service and my Bredemarket 2800 Medium Writing Service.

When I initially started Bredemarket and created these (and other) service packages, I already envisioned that these offering would include production of one (or more) drafts with review by the client, and submission of the final copy.

A short four-bullet description of the Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service.
September 2020 description of the Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service.

And then I started offering both packages to clients, with rates that fell between the $0.01 per word category and the $700 per hour category. Over the next 16 months, I worked on client projects based upon these packages and prices, using Toggl Track to keep track of the time I actually spent on each project.

At the same time I iteratively expanded my process for completing these packages, adding more value to my offering by beefing up the beginning stages of the project (most recently by incorporating new kickoff questions based on Simon Sinke’s Golden Circle) and adding additional services through the course of the project.

At the beginning of 2022, I audited these hours to see the time that I spent on each package project. Then I asked myself: if I had charged my hourly rate instead of the package rate, would I have made more money with the hourly rate, or more money with the package rate? I figured that if I would make more money by charging an hourly rate, then I was losing money with my then-current package rates.

Guess what? I was losing money (from an opportunity cost perspective) because I had underestimated the hours that I would spend on these package projects. In some cases I would have made twice as much at my hourly rate than I did at the package rate.

To address this opportunity cost revenue gap, I had two choices:

  • Work faster by doing less. (“Who cares about benefits? Who cares about your goals? I’ll just put some words together and we’ll be finished. No, this doesn’t include HAVARD citations.”)
  • Charge more by raising my consulting package pricing.

Rather than reducing the level of service I provided to clients, I chose to raise my consulting package pricing.

But should I tell anyone that I raised my consulting package prices?

If you look at the September 2020 description of my Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service above, you’ll see that I didn’t provide my package pricing. I just said “$Quote.” I figured that I would only share this pricing with potential clients who were well into the sales funnel.

This is not uncommon for service providers or product providers. How many times have you gone to a company website to find the price of something and encountered the words “contact us for pricing” or something similar?

In essence, the company will have a salesperson contact you, explain the benefits of the solution in question, and THEN quote the price after you are awed and dazzled by the solution’s benefits.

But there are other views on the matter of exposing vs. not exposing pricing, and there people who state the benefits of providing transparent pricing for services. You can find many sources for the “show pricing” argument, but I like the way that Pia Silva stated the “show priing” case in this Forbes article. Here are two of Silva’s benefits for this approach:

Pricing transparency immediately weeds out bargain shoppers, which are people I’m not interested in working with. If you want a healthy, profitable service business, you must have a decent margin on your work, and that will never be in line with a customer whose only concern is the price point (which is a short-sighted way to make business decisions)….

I believe the best way communicate [values]…is by doing something very transparent that demonstrates integrity, i.e. being upfront about our pricing and not changing it based on what we think the client can afford.

From https://www.forbes.com/sites/piasilva/2018/09/26/should-i-put-my-prices-on-my-website/?sh=43c2aed314f5

So my pricing for the Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service and the Bredemarket 2800 Medium Writing Service is now public. But there’s a catch.

I’m not posting the pricing in this blog post. (What if I decide to raise the prices in May 2022?)

I raise my prices often…

Pia Silva, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/piasilva/2018/09/26/should-i-put-my-prices-on-my-website/?sh=43c2aed314f5

I’m not even posting the pricing on the two web pages in question.

Instead, you have to go to the web page(s) in question (Bredemarket 400, Bredemarket 2800) and download the appropriate service brochure.

What happens when you read one of the two brochures?

  • You read a high-level description of the service.
  • You see a cutesy picture of a town crier or library, as appropriate.
Town crier.
The “town crier” image that I use with the Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service. By Unknown author – postcard, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7691878
  • You read about the Bredemarket content creation process. While there are slight differences between the Bredemarket 400 and Bredemarket 2800 content creation processes, each process is extensive, with nine steps. I’m not in the business of “you ask me to write something, and I’ll complete it 27 minutes later.”
  • Only AFTER you have read about the service and the content creation process do I provide my pricing. It’s kind of like a traditional sales pitch, but in written form.
A vegetable salesman in a Third World country.
Would you buy a writing service from this man? By Rrinsindika – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18357924

So if you’re in the market for writing services, go to either of these two pages and download the brochure at the top of the page.

For written content between 400 and 600 words, go to the Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service page.

For written content between 2800 and 3200 words, go to the Bredemarket 2800 Medium Writing Service page.

Once you download the appropriate brochure(s), you’ll have one of three reactions:

  • “I can get writers to do that for $10-15!” (I burned the bridge with you, I guess. Damn shame.)
  • Sorry, but you sound amateur. I need a real expert. I’ll find someone who charges ten times that amount and get excellent service.
  • Hmm, that sounds about right. When can we talk further?

Well, if you’re in the third group and want to talk further…

Fontana, California Fast Business Facts

The U.S. Census provides “quick facts” about U.S. jurisdictions, including business facts. While the business facts are ten years old, they still provide an indication of business health.

For Fontana, the U.S. Census Bureau has documented almost 14,000 firms, over $1 billion in manufacturers shipments, and over $2 billion in retail sales. These figures have presumably increased in the last ten years.

If you own or manage one of these thousands of businesses, and you need to let other businesses know about your offerings, perhaps you should turn to the Fontana, California content marketing expert. Bredemarket can assist your firm with the following:

If I can help your business, or if you have further questions about Bredemarket’s B2B content creation services, please contact me.

Two TERRIBLE ways to promote your business

Both small and large businesses need to attract customers to their companies, their products, and their services. Once potential customers are aware of the company’s business, then they can consider the benefits of the company’s offerings and (hopefully) decide to purchase the company’s products and services.

But what if you don’t want people to buy your company’s products and services?

When you DON’T want to promote your business

With little effort—REALLY little effort—your business could look like this! By Joadl – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 at, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4993153

For example, what if you business is simply a money laundering front, for which making sales would actually be a detriment? Take this example from the Department of Justice:

Edgar Porras, 49, of Moreno Valley, was charged in a criminal information filed today with one count of bid rigging. In a plea agreement also filed today, Porras agreed to plead guilty to the offense.

During the scheme that ran from 2013 through August 2018, Porras conspired “to suppress and restrain competition by rigging bids to obtain selected food contracts offered by the BOP,” according to court documents. To further the scheme, Porras, who was a contractor to a food company identified as “Company A,” agreed with co-conspirators not to compete to obtain the BOP contracts, and collectively they decided which conspirator would submit the lowest – and presumably winning – bid for a contract.

From https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/pr/inland-empire-man-agrees-plead-guilty-bid-rigging-scheme-obtain-contracts-provide-food

By spending his time on rigging bids, the guilty party made sure that he couldn’t actually spend valuable time improving prison food. And we certainly don’t want that.

If you want to ensure that your business doesn’t make money, then I have two helpful tips for you.

Two TERRIBLE tips for business promotion

Tip 1: It’s all about you

When potential customers research businesses, they are usually looking for a company that can solve their problems. In other words, customers want a business that speaks to the customer’s needs.

However, we all know that the customer is always wrong, and that customers don’t realize what is important to YOU, the business owner. (What is wrong with these customers?)

Therefore, it’s important that your marketing materials talk about YOUR concerns, rather than the concerns of the customer. This will impress the customer, who will obviously realize that their concerns are unimportant compared to YOURS.

Here are three examples of things to include in your marketing materials:

  • Spend a lot of time talking about when the company was founded, the number of patents and awards held by the company founder, some early stories that you find funny (why isn’t the Bill Gates arrest story on the front page of Microsoft’s website?), and how the company has changed since its earliest days.
  • If your company is a startup that just received Series C funding, spend a lot of time talking about the funding and the dollar amount. Customers will be impressed at the monetary value. And if not, they should be.
  • When talking about your company’s products and services, be sure to concentrate on the features that impress your employees. Don’t try to apply these products to actual customer needs; customers should be able to figure this out themselves. Or just take the word of your engineers that the product is great.

If you write company-centric rather than customer-centric materials, then you are guaranteed to have customers ignore you, or even better avoid you.

Tip 2: Never update your content

Set it and forget it. It’s an easy way to maintain online content.

Granted, when you first create a website, a blog, or a social media account, creation of initial content is unavoidable. Now it’s quite possible that you can delay the appearance of that content by not posting anything until the content is perfect, but at some point the content is going to have to go live.

But once that unavoidable posting is complete, then your job is done. If you keep the same static content on there, you’ll maintain consistency. To maintain that consistency, be sure to avoid the following three things:

  • Avoid posting any new content. Once you post new content, then the search engines will flag and highlight the new content. And you don’t want the new content to appear more important than the old content, do you?
  • Avoid updating old information on your website or social media content. Outdated content such as 2015 copyright dates and references to Windows NT support are powerful messages that accentuate the long time that your company has been in business, without cluttering it up by mentioning anything modern. If your company was established in the 1990s, then animated GIFs and automated MIDI players convey an essential lack of innovation. For example, see http://www.netanimations.net/ (and yes, that’s http, not https).
  • Avoid updating outdated links. If you have a Twitter account that links to your website, and you fail to pay your web hosting bill, be sure that the Twitter account continues to link to the dead website. When the potential customer encounters the dead website, this will pique the customer’s curiosity and the customer will search for your new website, if any.
This screenshot was originally posted in “Three ways to prove to your customers that your firm is an ongoing, viable concern.” And no, I didn’t identify the business in question. Are you motivated to find it?

Professional salespeople often talk about pre-qualifying leads. If you follow the three steps above, then you will automatically pre-qualify your leads, since any customer who takes the time to find your current information is obviously motivated.

If you want to ignore my advice

Because I am always right, you will obviously follow my advice to alienate potential customers. If you instead choose to attract customers, then you’ll ignore my advice and do the exact opposite of what I say.

But what’s the fun in customer-centric, current content?

When I will style myself John E. Bredehoft, HubSpot Academy Content Marketing Certified…and when I won’t

TL;DR: Today I received HubSpot Academy certification in Content Marketing.

This post explains why it feels familiar to a previous post of mine, what this certification is, and when I will (and will not) use my shiny new HubSpot Academy certification. It also includes a different call to action than the one I usually use.

Deja vu all over again: remember my CF APMP certification?

While certification in and of itself does not necessarily indicate operating confidence, it provides some level of assurance that the certified person knows what he or she is talking about.

Which is why I pursued and achieved APMP Foundation certification (CF APMP) in September 2021.

For those who don’t know, the Association of Proposal Management Professionals provides many benefits, including improved service to Bredemarket clients because of my access to the APMP Body of Knowledge.

It also provides a mechanism for proposal professionals to certify their mastery of the proposal field.

Which is great, if you’re a proposal professional.

But I also do other stuff.

What does it mean to be “Content Marketing Certified”?

My Bredemarket consultancy can be sliced and diced in several ways, one of which is to look at the proposals side of my business and the content marketing side of the business. The latter concentrates on generating content that attracts customers to a company’s offering, leading to revenue. At Bredemarket, I practice content marketing on two levels:

  • I create content for Bredemarket that attracts customers to use my services.
  • I create content for my customers that attracts THEIR customers to use THEIR services.

In a sense, Bredemarket itself acts as a laboratory in which I can try out ideas that I can subsequently implement with my customers, ranging from creating a targeted LinkedIn showcase page for one customer segment (local customers) to creating initial versions of “pillar pages” that I can continue to iterate and flesh out with additional content.

As you can see from the text of the certificate above, content marketing encompasses numerous subtasks:

  • Long-term content planning. Haphazard creation of content is not as beneficial as creation of content to achieve a particular goal.
  • Content creation. An important part of the process, but ONLY a part.
  • Content promotion. If you build it, they may not come. They have to know about it first.
  • Content analysis. Analyzing pertinent factors about the performance of the content.
  • Increasing results. Does the content increase revenue?

What about the shiny new designation that comes with the shiny new badge?

Unlike other certifications such as an academic degree, PMP certification, or my APMP Foundation certification, there is not a suffix that I can add to my name to tout my credentials. So I can’t call myself “John E. Bredehoft, HSA CMC” or something like that. (You should only use acronyms sparingly anyway.)

But I can certainly refer to my certification in certain circumstances.

Here’s a quic: which of these would be appropriate?

If you answer the correct question in this quiz…YOU GET NOTHING.

A different call to action

If you read the Bredemarket blog on a regular basis, you’ve probably seen my usual three-bullet call to action ad nauseum.

So this time I’m going to use a different one.

If you will benefit from achieving a HubSpot Academy certification in content marketing, follow the link below.

You don’t need to be a paid user of HubSpot, or even a free user of HubSpot, to get this certification (although you will need a HubSpot account).

And the certification is not constrained to use of the HubSpot application; other tools are prominently mentioned in the course.

Timewise, I spent several hours a day over several days taking the course, including the time that I spent applying some of the suggestions.

To access the HubSpot Academy course in content marketing, go to

https://academy.hubspot.com/courses/content-marketing

Happy learning.