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Welcome to Futureforth

We teach companies how to reach their people.

We are a social media strategy, digital marketing consultancy, and communications company based in Nashville. Our goal is to teach you inbound marketing, social media best practices, and everything you need to succeed with content marketing including your blog, email newsletter, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other favorite social networking platforms.

Don't have the time to produce content? We can help with that too.

The Futureforth Blog

Helpful tips and articles about social media strategy, content marketing, and business networking. 

5 Significant Recruiting and Retention Issues for 2019

Dave Delaney

If you're an HR professional in a growing company, your skills matter now more than ever.

Unemployment has reached record lows, and recruiters are finding it difficult to get candidates to consider their open positions. Moreover, companies are struggling to keep current employees from jumping ship for better offers.

Here are the five most significant recruiting and retention issues HR will face this year, according to a range of industry experts.

1. Company culture depends on corporate communication.

Corporate communication and company culture go hand in hand. A company that fails to effectively communicate goals, expectations and impending changes to current and future employees can undermine its own effort to improve the quality and productivity of both individual employees and teams. Poor communication can ruin employee morale and create a toxic work culture that can leach into customer interaction. Companies where this occurs will lose customers and eventually fail.

"The larger the organization, the larger the potential problem," said Mark Lewis, co-founder and CEO of HelloCecil, an automated video-interviewing software provider in Newport Beach, Calif. "An organization is always well-served to invest time and money on training programs and workshops that elevate verbal and writing skills, presentations, listening skills, dispute resolution skills, and [the ability to] provide and accept feedback; systems for addressing complaints or dissatisfaction; and the like."

2. Time management is imperative.

Recruiters and HR generalists are responsible for finding and hiring the right people, screening resumes, scheduling interviews, documenting feedback and writing offer letters, training new hires and reinforcing the organization's culture. Time management is a top priority.

The problem, said Trent Bryson, adjunct professor of human resources at Long Beach State University, is that the HR staff typically is mired in everyday tasks and can't carry the banner of the company's brand or focus on big-picture items.

"HR professionals wear so many hats that they do not have the time to focus on company culture, strategic initiatives and supporting future plans," said Bryson. "Instead they get stuck doing payroll, basic office management and reactive tasks."

HR analyst Laura Handrick agreed: "HR is about people, and HR staff need to focus on improving people's performance, not managing paperwork and building PowerPoint [presentations]." Handrick works at FitSmallBusiness in New York City, an online resource devoted to helping small-business owners. 

If there's any time at the end of the day, HR staff may want to work on bigger initiatives that will have a lasting impact, such as finding ways to hire more high-performers and improve company morale by, for example, offering competitive salaries, workplace benefits, free food, staff outings and more. 

"Reduction of manual HR processes provides lots of promising opportunities for HR professionals. Automation and digitization will free HR leaders to do more strategic work, like workforce planning, coaching and talent management-related activities," said Chris Groscurth of Slalom Consulting, a business and technology consulting firm headquartered in Seattle. 

3. Leadership support is crucial.

Achieving strategic initiatives is difficult when there's no budget for them. This is when leadership investment becomes critical. HR needs a champion in the C-suite to get the buy-in to achieve talent acquisition and retention goals. Such initiatives can help reduce the number of dissatisfied employees, which lowers turnover and saves the company money. 

HR professionals should seek a champion among vice presidents and in the C-suite to help them push their initiatives through the higher levels of the company. They should also work closely with senior leaders and educate them on the companywide problems that HR can help solve.

4. Avoid hiring the wrong people.

It happens: You've hired the wrong person. Now you've noticed a definite decline in the mood and satisfaction of the employees who work with the new hire. You're reminded why the business adage "hire slow and fire fast" is so important. 

When you realize you've hired the wrong person, remove him or her before too much damage is done.

"It's the most difficult decision to make, but letting people go at the right time is the best you can do for all stakeholders, [new hire] included. Trying to make [a negative relationship] survive is not the right thing to do," said Emna Everard, founder and CEO of Kazidomi, a health and beauty product e-commerce business based in Europe. 

5. Brush up on local legislation.

Businesses that grow beyond their hometown need to know the employment laws of the areas where they are doing business. That means understanding the rules regarding hiring, training, privacy and other workplace issues. 

HR pros may be faced with several compliance or practical challenges as their company grows into a multistate operation, and they must create policies that will cover and benefit all employees.

"If a business operates across state lines, neighboring states may have separate and sometimes conflicting laws related to overtime pay or sick-leave accrual," said Stacey Dennis, a senior human resources specialist at Houston-based Insperity, a provider of HR and administrative services.

If a company is expanding globally, its policies must take into account the different countries' labor and employment laws and customs and traditions, and the organization should carefully manage communications between different cultures.

Need solutions? Download our free guide, 5 Essential Ways HR Pros Can Survive and Thrive in 2019.

Video: Dave Delaney Sizzle Reel

Dave Delaney

2018 has been a busy year, I have loved speaking and delivering workshops. I have traveled quite a bit of the US and Canada speaking on behalf of Google. I have also been delivering my Communication Reboot communication workshop. I continue to receive excellent feedback from my Master Communicator’s Secret Weapon presentation that I am already booked to deliver next year.

I connected with Mick Jacob a few months ago. Mick is a gifted young filmmaker who offered to produce a sizzle reel for me. Mick runs and clearly knows his stuff. I was thrilled with how this speaker video turned out.

Special thanks goes to Mick, Pamela, Angus, Mitch, Steve, Jamie, Alison, C.C., Chris, Jeff, Arnie, and Sean and Paula at McNamara’s Irish Pub.

Without further ado… here is my brand new speaking video.

I would love to chat with you about speaking at your next conference or special event. Let’s do it.

Three Ways Improv Can Help Your Business

Dave Delaney

Reprinted from the  Nashville Business Journal  by Joel Stinnett - October 19, 2017.   

Reprinted from the Nashville Business Journal by Joel Stinnett - October 19, 2017.

Have you heard the one about the company that hired a social media strategist to teach their employees how to perform improv comedy, with the expectation it would improve office communication skills and improve employee retention?

Probably not, because it hasn't happened yet. But networking guru and public speaker Dave Delaney is hoping that will change.

Delaney, who runs a consulting practice called Futureforth, is launching Communication Reboot, a new service aimed at teaching improvisation to businesses.

Many business leaders may wonder why they'd want their employees learning how to crack jokes on the fly and goof off. But Delaney, who graduated from Second City Toronto's improv course and still performs with the Nashville Improv Company, said he knows firsthand how improv can help a company.

"I know what it's like to work in an office and how mundane it can be," said Delaney, who also teaches improv to non-corporate clients. "I also know how valuable the lessons learned in improv can be to anyone, but especially to teams and businesses."

With that in mind, Delaney shared three ways improv can benefit your organization.

3 Ways Improv Can Benefit Your Organization

1. Improved listening skills and acceptance — Delaney said improv teaches you how to be silent and truly hear people. He said the fundamental rule of improv is, "Yes, and...," and he incorporates exercises into his training that emphasizes that principal. In one drill participants must listen to their scene partner to know what to do next and always begin their reply with, "Yes, and..."

"It's the idea that, 'Yes, I accept what you are saying and I am going to build on it,'" Delaney said. "If we are doing a scene as two plumbers working on a toilet and I say, 'Hey pass me that wrench,' and you say, 'It's not a wrench, it's a hammer,' then the scene doesn't flow. But if instead you replied, 'Yes, and here are some pliers,' then we have an idea to build on."

Delaney said this not only teaches people to listen, it teaches them to be open-minded. People become more accepting of other people's ideas and learn to build on them rather than automatically dismissing them. When teaching improv, Delaney also has students participate in a drill called, "Yes, but..." to demonstrate how much more difficult it is when you start from a place of contradiction.

2. Overcoming fear — Delaney said improv puts people in vulnerable situations and teaches them to think on their feet. Most people have a crushing fear of public speaking, he said, and improv gives people the confidence that they can handle stressful circumstances in front of a crowd.

Delaney said he was once giving a presentation to a health care company in front of 200 executives in a room and 20,000 employees streaming it online. He said instead of using his own equipment he used the company's. Shortly into the presentation, he was impressed that everyone knew the answers to the questions he was asking the crowd.

"I like to use slides and visual aids. I asked the crowd how many people they thought were on LinkedIn and every single hand went up. I turned around and the slides were advancing on a timer instead of with my clicker," Delaney said. "Under those circumstances some people would jump off the stage screaming and crying but I really tapped into the improv skills that I have learned and was able to push through."

He said it also teaches people to share ideas with colleagues and management without fear of rejection.

3. Employee retention — Delaney said businesses today, especially technology companies, are becoming more aware of the importance of culture. He said there is a talent gap in Nashville's tech industry and programs like Communication Reboot can help with employee retention by improving morale and team building.

Delaney said he tailors the course to the company and the department he is teaching and that pricing is determined by the size of the group. He said he is offering the improv training in Nashville and throughout the Southeast.

"Improv is a great way to improve company morale and educate people on communication," Delaney said. "And it's fun. It's a fun way to spend a half of a day with your coworkers."

Reprinted from the Nashville Business Journal by Joel Stinnett - October 19, 2017.

Your Communication Reboot awaits! Contact us today

Improve Communication with a Reboot

Dave Delaney

Business improv for tech companies

Picture a six-year-old boy standing on a stage in front of an audience. The school production is of Little Red Riding Hood. The little boy stands erect, his arms spread out on each side, facing stage left and stage right. He's wearing Buster Brown shoes, brown corduroy slacks, and a forest green colored turtleneck shirt.

At an earlier date, the boy was to play the woodsman, who would rescue Little Red Riding Hood in her moment of wolf-related terror. He had trouble paying attention in class and was considered the class clown. One too many antics led to his demotion from playing the courageous hero to becoming a background actor as a boring, old tree.

His direction was simple. The replacement woodsman would act as he was chopping the tree (played by the boy), when suddenly he would hear Little Red Riding Hood's screams for help. He would take one final swing of his axe into the tree, and run off stage to her rescue. The tree, would simple tilt to the left as if slightly cut from the axe. The lights would go to black and the scene would end. That was the only action the boy would have in the play.

The proud parents in the audience were enjoying the children in the performance that evening. Everything was going as planned until the scene with the tree and the woodsman. When the woodsman heard Red's cries for help, he swung his axe one final time, only something unexpected happened. The tree tilted forward instead of to its side. The boy, standing erect, fell forward to land flat on his chest in the center of the stage. He probably yelled, "Timber!" in his mind as he slammed down onto the stage. The audience roared together in a moment of absolute hysterical laughter. The only face in the audience not laughing was the angry teacher, who directed the performance. Her punishment of the class clown had backfired. The boy's improvised fallen tree scene stole the show.

That boy was me.

I have always had a love for comedy and performance. This is why I bring humor into my presentations and workshops. I've seen presentations on similar topics that I speak on which lacked humor and ended up being dry and dull. I always aim to get the audience laughing as I present, so we all have fun together.

Improving with Improv

Back when I lived in Toronto, I studied and graduated from The Second City's improv training program. If you're not familiar with improv, picture the TV show, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"

I went on to perform improv in Canada, England, Scotland, and Ireland. In fact, when I lived in Galway, Ireland, I founded an improv troupe. We performed every Thursday night at a local wine bar, and I also provided corporate improv training.

When Hubspot hired me to speak at their Inbound Conference a couple of years ago, I decided to create a new presentation entitled, "Improve with Improv". I've included the twelve-minute video below for your viewing pleasure. I wanted to share how I apply some of the key lessons from improv to my everyday life, so that others can too.

After the Hubspot event, I was craving to perform improv again. So, I auditioned to join the Nashville Improv Company. To my happy surprise (and Heather's shock), I was accepted as a cast member! For the last year, I've been performing improv every month or so. It's been wonderful to tap back into a deep passion of mine.

My consultancy, Futureforth, is all about helping others learn how to use digital marketing for their businesses. What I didn't really consider until recently was the fact that what I do is all about communication. In fact, I did the famous Strengths Finder personality assessment and discovered my top strength is - communication (followed by consistency, woo, activator and harmony).

Being a solopreneur means working alone most days - not by choice, it's just how it is. My favorite moments are spent with my clients and audiences in-person. This got me thinking about how I could offer something new to help my clients improve their communication.

Light bulb moment! IMPROV.

There are countless articles about how improv training can help companies improve their communication, employee morale and retention, culture, listening and presentation skills, plus… it's a heck of a lot of fun to spend half a day (or a full day) away from your computer and playing with your colleagues.

"Whether you're selling a product, an idea or yourself, learning to listen, connect and play like an improviser can make all the difference." - Inc Magazine.

"If you want to get ahead, work on your improv skills." - Wharton College School of Management.

"Improvisation – and the improv toolkit – offers great grounding for leaders challenged to thrive in a business climate that demands agility, resilience, quick thinking, and ease with ambiguity. Counterintuitive as it might seem, business is often an act of improvisation, not planning. So we say “lights up” on the era of the leader as an improviser." - Harvard Business Review.

If you want to improve your business, I have no doubt that improv will help. I want to prove this to you by coming to your office and providing your team with a fun-filled morning or afternoon of improv exercises. 

I'm calling this my Communication Reboot. Let's talk about how I can help you use improv to improve your business today. Hit contact and let's chat.

How to Become an Expert at Public Speaking

Dave Delaney

Public Speaking Tips.jpg

Do you have glossophobia? Are you familiar with the term? Glossophobia is the anxiety of public speaking and approximately 75 percent of people have this fear. Jerry Seinfeld jokes that at a funeral, most people would rather be lying in a casket than delivering a eulogy. 

All jokes aside though, we still need to give presentations during our lifetime. Perhaps you have one scheduled with your senior team soon. If so, this article is for you. I am also writing this for those of you who wish to get better at public speaking, and to those who would even like to become professional speakers. 

I reached out to some of my favorite speakers to ask them for their recommendations to help you get better at public speaking. To make your presentations amazing, you need to research the topics and practice frequently, even rehearse in front of your friends and colleagues before taking it to the board of directors. Keynote speaker, Bryan Eisenberg from Buyer Legends says, “Identify how you want your management to feel and what you want them to do before you even think about presenting.” 

Stay cool

Tamsen Webster, Executive Director of TEDx Cambridge reminds us to stay cool.

 “Admit your nerves, but don't apologize for them. Admitting them relieves the pressure from you — you don't have to add the stress of trying not to be nervous to the stress of being nervous," Webster said. "It also puts the audience in the role of encouragement and support.” 

From novice to experienced speakers, you want to create a stellar presentation

Thom Singer from NYP Speakers shares his advice: “Have a clear opening and close. Think about how you will start and how you will end. Then make the middle match.” This will make for an enjoyable presentation that your audience will happily follow along with. 

Take it to the next level

If you get a taste for speaking and want to do it more, it’s time to take it to the next level. Join your local Rotary Club or National Speaking Association Chapter to practice and improve your art.

Start local

Judson Laipply, President of Evolution of Dance recommends, “Start locally, seek out every local group that has weekly or monthly meetings and offer to speak. Actually speaking is the best way to get more opportunities.”

The more you speak, the more you speak!

Rob Cottingham from Social Signal suggests, “Look for worthy causes and events whose mandate dovetails with the subjects you speak about, and volunteer. And don't just think keynotes: in fact, at first, don't think about keynotes at all. Instead, look for panels, breakout sessions and conference tracks. Find the smaller venues where you can over deliver on your audience's expectations.” This is truly powerful advice that will help you advance your speaking career.

I am lucky to belong to an amazing network of professional speakers. Many of them contributed the tips I’ve included in this article. I will leave you with one of my favorites from Attention Expert, Neen James, “Remember it’s a conversation, not a presentation — it's not about you, it's about standing in service of your audience.” 

Are you still not sure about public speaking? There is a remedy for glossophobia — speak more. The more you practice the better you become. 

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

Saving Twitter

Dave Delaney

If you missed the news, Twitter is reported to be testing a $99 subscription service. It’s not very pretty.

I’ve been an active Twitter user for over ten years. I’m even verified which makes me special (I joke). What got me into Twitter in the first place was the community. The community has dropped off considerably over the last several years. 

Anyone who follows the technology space knows that Twitter has had many ups and downs trying to find itself since its launch in 2006. Back then our biggest issue with Twitter was its ability to stay up. I immediately envision kittens with screwdrivers thinking about all of the down time. 

From Microblogging to Link Promoting

I liked the term “micro-blogging” because that defined what Twitter was. A place for people to share what’s on their minds - or what they were doing (or eating). It was more about connection, community, and writing than pushing links. 

And yes, I do this too. I’m guilty as well. I constantly share links to interesting articles and promote my own content. I do this more than I engage because the engagement has dropped off considerably since the good ole days. And now we are all fighting to be heard through the noise. I'm such a sellout, right? 

Every so often, I will ask a question on Twitter. I usually get one or two replies. When I ask the same question on my Facebook profile, I get many more replies. I’m in denial about this because I *want* Twitter to succeed. But without the engagement and with its wonky algorithm, its value as a social network has deeply diminished to me.

I still think there is value in connecting with specific people by mentioning them or writing directly to them. But the group chatter is more like the sound of a group of crickets now.

Twitter Link-Free Fridays

Here’s an idea. What if Twitter removed the ability to share links on Fridays? I bet this would substantially increase user engagement. Instead of having the ability to include a link, Twitter could prompt you to ask a question or share what you are doing. 

Or, as a test, Twitter could add an option to turn off tweets with links. A simple switch to remove any tweet with a link. They could then see how many people actually use it to gauge user’s interest. Not a bad idea!

Ah yes… users. Twitter sucks at interacting with their own users. This is something that has always irked me. Why not reach out and ask us?!

I would love to see Twitter become the social networking water cooler once again. The place to pop in and out of to send some messages and to share what’s on our minds. Twitter could return to the place where we keep in touch and meet new friends.

So the latest news? For $99 a month, Twitter will offer some accounts to promote up to ten tweets a day in addition to running month-long Promoted Account ads to increase followers. Sounds like a cash grab to me. More followers are lovely but I want quality over quantity. I'm over the vanity metrics anyway.

Meh, I would just like to see engagement return to what it was. And yes, I’m putting my own sentimentality ahead of my understanding that Twitter has investors to please. But if all of the tweets become link-bait ads… I’ll probably just return to Facebook for the conversation instead and I bet most people will too. And without users, the investors won't be pleased. 

Automation: A Good Idea for Online Marketing?

Dave Delaney

Marketing Automation

Automation online can be a wonderful thing. It can help us to speed up processes that otherwise take time. For example, I created an email series using a company called ConvertKit (Affiliate Link).

I wrote 15 emails that walk the reader through a step-by-step process to find a new job or launch a side business. The email series automatically delivers a new message every few days. This method is a wonderful way to automate the process of email marketing campaigns.

A few weeks ago, I experimented with sending automated direct (private) messages to my new Twitter followers using Crowdfire. This has commonly been considered a no-no in the minds of Twitter's original users, but Twitter has changed since 2007 when I began using it. As a marketer, it's my job to test how new tactics perform so I can relay this information to my clients.

I sent a simple automated tweet to each new follower, "Thanks for the follow. What are you working on today? — via @crowdfire."

The last part was automatically affixed to the tweet using the service. I felt it helped to relay that the message was automatically generated. To my surprise, I began to get replies.

I ended up having a brief chat with several people who replied to my question. I even got into a debate in a Twitter #mediachat about using automated direct messages. I have always disliked them in the past but I felt it was worth testing for myself.

I don't always have time to review each new follower, so I had hoped this would work to speed up those connections and get to know them a little faster.  

My ultimate decision was to disable the service. Not enough people responded and I feared annoying others who received my message.

I sometimes see people trying to automate high-priced services via email automation. This makes me cringe because it takes time to build a relationship and earn trust to do business together.

In the case of my free email series, my intention is to help people find jobs. And it's working. I've already heard from some of them directly. And no, I did not reply with automated messages. Each message was original and sent straight from little ol' me.

It's important to understand why you want to use automation in your marketing efforts. Always put yourself in the recipient's shoes to consider whether this process is right for them. Test different methods to see what works best for you.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper. 

Secrets to Breaking the Ice

Dave Delaney

10 Must Know Conference Networking Tips.  Free download here .

10 Must Know Conference Networking Tips. Free download here.

Networking at conferences is not always easy. Have you ever arrived at a networking event or conference alone? It can be daunting to walk up to someone and introduce yourself. What do you talk about? How can you break the ice?

The first step to meeting new people at a conference or networking event is to understand that you are not alone in being alone. Look around the room and note the other people who are standing by themselves, too. This is your opportunity to ease the tension by introducing yourself.

The badges are your invites

If there is one thing every attendee has in common at a conference, it is that they are wearing a badge. That lanyard is your invitation to approach and introduce yourself. Every person wearing one has likely already experienced something similar to you, like perusing the exhibit hall, eating the lunch buffet or attending a keynote presentation.

Use the person's name from their badge when you introduce yourself. Shake their hand and look them in the eye. Your smile and use of their name will be most welcomed. If they have an unusual name, ask how they pronounce it and then repeat it multiple times to help you remember it and to earn their respect.


Kio Stark, author of "When Strangers Meet," uses the term "triangulation" to define finding a common point of interest to discuss. For example, if you are meeting someone exiting the lecture area, you can ask her what she thought of the keynote speaker. If you are leaving the leaving the lunch buffet, you can ask her what she thought of the salmon.

--- Grab my Ten Must Know Conference Networking Tips ---

Picture a triangle. You are on one point. The person you are speaking with is on the other point. And something you both have shared is the third point. This makes breaking the ice much easier. Look around the room for other ideas on something you can talk about, like a piece of art or a view from the window.


As you speak with someone, consider the ice-breaking acronym F.O.R.D. Each letter represents a different topic you can discuss. F is for family, O is for occupation, R is for relaxation and recreation, and D is for dreams and aspirations.

I don't recommend necessarily asking these questions in order. Instead, begin by asking about their occupation since this is more of a general topic. You may learn that the person moved to a different city because their spouse has a new position there. This gets into the topic of family, where you can ask about children, how long they have been married and where they met their spouse.

You can follow up by asking them what they do for fun in their new city. This will lead the conversation into how the person relaxes or finds recreational activities on the weekends. And finally, you might get into talking about career goals and where they would like to retire to or what their summer travel plans are. I don't know about you, but when I think of travel and retirement, I definitely think of relaxation and recreation.

So the next time you arrive alone at a conference, remember that nobody goes to remain alone. People want to talk with you.

Break the ice, ask the questions, listen carefully to their answers, and remember to ask for a business card if you enjoy the conversation. Don't forget to follow up when you return to the office. Following up is the second most important step in networking after showing up.

For more conference networking tips visit:

Disrupt or Be Disrupted

Dave Delaney

I have been working in social media marketing for more than ten years. I have worked in marketing, promotions and communications for nearly twenty. When I learn new things about this industry, I can’t help but be inspired and excited.

This week, I had the good fortune of being invited as an attendee of a digital marketing conference in Nashville. Sprinklr, a social media management platform, held it’s first conference, Digital Transformation Summit (#unenterprise on Twitter).

95% of CEOs think going digital is critical, but only 25% have a digital strategy.

The lineup of impressive speakers included smart people like Cisco’s John Chambers, Altimeter’s Charlene Li, Twitter’s Chris Moody, and Sprinklr’s Ragy Thomas and Carlos Dominguez. There were also many breakout sessions with speakers from a wide variety of large brands and agencies. I loved the networking too but I'm partial to that.

I learned new things like, ninety-five percent of CEOs think going digital is critical, but only twenty-five percent actually have a digital strategy. That’s shocking to hear but also not a surprise based on my own experiences with many of my clients.

As a business leader, the important thing is to be constantly changing to grow your company. Technology adoption takes time it requires an evolution of both tool capabilities and human processes to be successful.

I learned that we should focus a little less on measuring what we have and instead concentrate on measuring what we need. I was also reminded that while content is king, context should be queen. As marketers we all need to stop and ask ourselves why we are creating a particular piece of content like a blog post or video.

"If you stay in silos and don’t disrupt yourself; you will be Ubered."

Another important takeaway from the summit is to consider how silos in your company can effect employee moral and customer outreach. I heard everything from tips on tearing down the silos to finding ways to at least build windows within those silos to improve communication.

John Chambers from Cisco was probably the most empowering of the speakers I saw. He said, “If you stay in silos and don’t disrupt yourself; you will be ubered.” That was the first time I had heard someone use Uber as a verb. It was a sobering realization for many of the attendees I spoke with after his impressive presentation.

It is essential to consider how your business is disrupting your industry. John Chambers said, “disrupt or be disrupted.” He told the audience that change makes us all uncomfortable, but not changing has much graver consequences. If you won’t make a bet on the future of your company, you have already determined your future.

Let's Chat

Need help with your digital marketing strategy? Let's chat.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

20 Ways to Become a Better Writer

Dave Delaney

20 Ways to Become a Better Writer

In order to build and grow your brand you must create content that people can discover. It is this content that will tell the reader more about you, your products and your services. We write articles, proposals, blog posts, emails, Facebook updates, tweets and more every day. We are all writers. We just need to get better. 

I decided to re-read Ann Handley's wonderful book, "Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content." Whether you are a scribbler or a scribe, a poet or an editor, there is something in Handley's book for all. The following are quotes from her book that will leave you inspired and ready to improve your own writing. 

20 writing tips from Ann Handley's "Everybody Writes".

  1. Write with economy and style and honest empathy for your reader.
  2. If you stripped your branding from all your properties and lined up your words alongside a competitor's, would you recognize yourself? Would you stand out?
  3. Whenever possible, specify geranium instead of flower.
  4. Utility x Inspiration x Empathy = Quality Content.
  5. Writing is a habit, not an art. Set aside time each day when you're freshest.
  6. Put the needs of your audience first.
  7. Every bit of content you create should be to please the customer or prospect — not your boss or client.
  8. Start with empathy. Continue with utility. Improve with analytics. Optimize with love.
  9. The first words of every sentence should make a friendly first impression to encourage the reader to keep going.
  10. The primary idea — the important words — should be placed at the beginning.
  11.  Anything you write should always be aligned with a larger (business or marketing) goal — even an individual blog post.
  12. Reframe the idea to relate it to your readers.
  13. The more personal you are, the more universal you become.
  14. Write to one person.
  15. If you get stuck, think about what's sticking. Do you need more research? More examples? Another point?
  16. Good writing serves the reader, not the writer. It isn't self-indulgent. Good writing anticipates the questions that readers might have as they're reading a piece, and it answers them.
  17. Empathy for the customer experience should be at the root of all of your content.
  18. Start by getting to know your customers.
  19. No one will ever complain that you've made things too simple to understand.
  20. Don't tell me who you are — tell me why you matter to me.

Writing is a wonderful way to share what you know with important people around you. Become a better writer this year by reading Ann Handley's "Everybody Writes." I have already picked up a few new tips to use for my writing; I know you will, too.

And now I am off to the store to pick up some geraniums for my wife.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper