Leslie J. Thompson

Dynamic Writer and Speaker with a Background in Journalism, Marketing Communications and Ghostwriting

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Entries Tagged as 'Freelance Writing'

Successful Marketing Starts With the End in Mind

April 14th, 2015 ·

To be successful in business, you must begin with the end in mind. Who is your audience? What are your sales quotas? What is your exit strategy? The same maxim holds true for your marketing content. Too often, I see companies put out website copy, blog articles and white papers that enumerate the features and benefits of their product or service, accompanied by a list of their credentials or industry awards. This information is important, but before hitting readers over the head with all of your expertise, you first need to answer two fundamental questions:

1. What problem do you solve for your customers?

2. What do you want readers to do next?

When writing marketing copy, know your destination before you start
Know Their Pain Point
Listing the features and benefits of your products or services does little good if you don’t first identify your readers’ needs. What problems do you solve for them? How can you make their life easier, help them earn more money, keep them healthy, or protect them from external risks?

For example, say your company specializes in outsourced benefits administration. You use the latest technologies and industry best practices to serve your clients. That’s great. But, exactly what do you do with those technologies and best practices? Your readers need to know that you can help them reduce paperwork, minimize overhead costs for administrative staff, ensure regulatory compliance, and streamline their business operations.

If your business sells the most nutritious, organic dog food on the market, explain to your audience why they should spend 25% more for your product. Talk about the scientific research that shows the specific ingredients you use can reduce the risk of certain diseases (saving them on vet costs) and prolong their dog’s life by 2-3 years, so they get more time with their beloved companion.

Lead Them to Your Door
Once you have explained how you solve problems for your customers, don’t leave them hanging. You need a clear call to action in all of your marketing to get readers and viewers to take the next step. I have seen dozens of websites that have exceptional content but don’t even include a phone number in the header. More importantly, the business has missed a great opportunity to capture leads by simply adding a short contact form on the homepage, or a button to request a quote or order a free download. Your reader may not be ready to buy, but an effective call to action can motivate them to share information that helps you stay connected.

In all of your marketing materials, make it as easy as possible for people to reach you, and to incorporate multiple call-to-action messages throughout your content. In a white paper, include your website URL on the cover and in the footer of all pages, and include an email and phone number in the closing paragraph for readers to request more information. In a marketing brochure, put the contact information on the back cover, and also include text throughout that encourages readers to call your office for personal assistance. Even blog articles should include an invitation for readers to share their thoughts and leave a comment. When you engage them in a dialog, they are more inclined to keep the conversation going, and to refer your business to others.

Take a Load Off
Even if you understand your reader’s pain points and you have a strategy in place for capturing leads, you may not have time to create content yourself or have an in-house marketing team to whip up copy on demand. That’s where a freelance writer like me can come in handy. I help entrepreneurs and small- to mid-size companies define their audience’s needs and create compelling content to promote a long-term relationship. Whether you need a press release, case study, blog articles or eBook, I will immerse myself in the subject matter and deliver text that hits the mark, at a price that fits your budget. If I can be of any help, just give a call at [two one four] 704.6661 or email leslie [at] lesliejthompson [dot] com.

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Tags: Freelance Writing

The Art of Asking Questions

February 19th, 2015 ·

Earlier today, I received a phone call from an entrepreneur who has invented a new product. She wanted to know whether I had any experience writing scripts for direct response commercials. You know, the kind of “As Seen On TV” spots that air in the wee hours of the night? I told her that I have written dozens of scripts, from news stories to educational segments, but had not specifically done a direct response ad. Then she asked whether I thought it was something I could handle. With complete confidence, I told her, “Yes.”

How could I be so certain, when I didn’t have specific expertise in that industry? The answer is that I have made a career out of being a generalist. Although as a freelance writer I have considerable experience in certain sectors, such as financial services and education, my primary talent is asking questions. Ask the right questions, and you’ll get the answers you’re looking for–the answers you want to give your readers and viewers.

Whether I am writing a video script, white paper, blog article, or press release for you, I focus on collecting the needed information from the best sources. Sometimes that means interviewing experts by phone or in person, while other times I am doing background research online or culling through a competitor’s marketing collateral. Once I am done gathering intelligence, my job is to rephrase and reframe it in the format, voice and tone that you have requested for your intended audience. For me, the key is not the subject matter itself, but asking the right questions. As a result, I have created content for industries ranging from insurance and financial services to food manufacturing, benefits administration, travel and tourism, data network security, industrial cooling systems, nonprofit charities, and senior living centers. These writing samples from the past year illustrate the diverse nature of the projects I take on:

D.R. Saur Financial corporate brochure

SQL Injection Attacks Put Businesses at Risk for Data Breaches
(blog article for cybersecurity firm)

PacMoore website copy (food manufacturing)

5 Tips for Buying an Independent Insurance Agency
(blog article for business broker)

Destination Discovery promotion flyers (sent to IHG partner travel agents)

I credit the excellent instructors in the graduate journalism program at NYU for teaching me the art of asking questions, and am grateful that I’ve been able to use this skill throughout my career as a writer. If you need help with a writing project of any kind, please give me a call at [two one four] 704-6661. I’ll ask you a lot of questions–about your audience, the voice and tone of the piece, and whether you need a strong call to action–and then I will gladly get busy helping you get your message out.

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Tags: Freelance Writing

Dallas-based Freelance Writer – Leslie J. Thompson

January 1st, 2010 ·

Freelance Writer - Leslie J ThompsonIn my freelance writing career, I have worked with large multinational companies and small privately-owned businesses, as well as numerous trade and consumer publications. I have written about topics as diverse as pet food nutrition, retirement planning, women’s fashions, and neurological research on Alzheimer’s in the elderly. One of the joys of being a freelance writer is that I get to work on a variety of writing projects for print and Web that draw on my experience in both journalism and marketing. It’s like circuit training for the brain.

When I am approached about a freelance writing project, often one of the first questions I hear is, “How does the process work?” Generally speaking, it goes something like this…

  1. We have an initial discussion via phone or email concerning the nature and scope of the project. Questions that I commonly ask include:
    – What type of content are you looking for? (E.g., are you in need of a white paper, marketing brochure, e-newsletter, etc.?)
    – Will the project require independent research (e.g., interviews or online searches), or will background material be provided?
    – What is the time frame?
    – What is the review process? (E.g., is there one point person for feedback, or will the copy go through a committee for comments and approval?)
  2. I will submit a proposal that summarizes the scope and timing of the project and includes a quote for an hourly rate or flat project fee.
  3. We get started!

Three simple steps, really. My goal is to understand your needs, and my job is to make your job easier.

If you would like to read more on this topic, I encourage you to check out my blog post on Tips for Working with a Freelance Writer. To inquire about a project, please email me at leslie@lesliejthompson.com.

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Tags: Freelance Writing