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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. 

Filtering by Tag: writing

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

5 Must-Know Blog Post Ideas For Your Business

Dave Delaney

When it comes to building our businesses online a blog is an essential tool. Your company blog earns organic (unpaid) traffic from search engines. You can use it to network with your customers, potential customers, employees, and industry peers. Blogging for business helps to promote your products, services, and culture. Consider your site as your brochure and your blog as your business' heart and soul.

The trouble with blogging for business is you can easily run out of ideas for new topics to write about. The following are five ideas (and a bonus item) for blog posts that will help inspire you to keep hitting the publish button.

1. Ask your customer service department for the most common questions they receive.

Your customer service department is on the front lines of your business. They are the first to receive and answers calls and emails from your customers. By asking them for the most common questions, you will be inspired to answer them in blog posts. Not only does this help you create new content, but your customer service team can then point customers to the blog post for further help.

2. Subscribe to industry blogs and trade journals. Write an opinion post about a new trend in your industry.

A quick Google search will help you discover industry specific publication websites. These sites typically have blogs of their own with an array of different content related to your field. Write a blog post sharing your opinion about a story. Be sure to link back to the original post. Bonus points if you take the time to include the author's Twitter handle, so they will see your post. I also recommend tagging the publication on Facebook when you share your blog post on your Facebook Page.

3. Feature your favorite customers or partners.

Use your blog post to shine the light on your biggest fans. Ask them for their own advice about using your products or services and include it in a blog post. Ask them for a photo and how they wish their name be credited in the post. Be sure to follow up and send them a link when the blog post is live, so they may promote it to their friends and colleagues too.

4. Search YouTube.

YouTube is still the second most popular search engine. Pop on and do a search for industry terms or experts. Watch a presentation or documentary video and share it in a blog post. Use the embed code from the video to display it within the post, so readers can click play and not leave your blog to view it. Don't forget to let the presenter or brands know you wrote about them on your blog.

5. The Mini Book Report

Be diligent about taking notes as you read your next non-fiction book. Write a mini book report blog post that includes the key things you learned reading it. Don't give everything away, but use the post to help promote the book. Link back to the author's page and be sure to let them know you wrote the blog post.

So often we rush from post to post without letting people know we wrote about them. Directly reaching out to a person featured in your blog post can lead to a new relationship. They may even share your blog post with their own friends, fans, and followers driving organic traffic back to your site.

According to Blogher, eighty-one percent of US online consumers trust information and advice from blogs. A study from InsideView found that business to business marketers who use blogs generate sixty-seven percent more leads than those that do not. If you aren't blogging yet, or if your blog has run out of juice, it's time to get it back up and running.

Something for you.

I have a five-step, super-secret blog strategy that I share with my clients. I've made it available to you here: supersecret.futureforth.com.

 

This article was originally published in The Tennessean Newspaper.

Psst, Blog Strategy Ahead...

Dave Delaney

Super secret blogging strategy

Psst, want to hear a secret? I have come up with a blogging strategy for businesses who wish to connect with their local communities. This is a simple way you can use your blog to network with fellow small business owners. Using this technique will also promote your people, which is essential in employee retention and growing a sound company culture. 

How does this sound to you?

Are you ready to have my secret strategy revealed? There is no cost to you. All you need is about twenty minutes. You can watch this video during your lunch break, in fact, I encourage it because it will leave you hungry. Ok, enough teasing from me. 

Check out my super secret five-step blog strategy

When you use this, please leave a comment. I would love to hear how it works for you.

5 Must Know Marketing Copy Writing Tips

Dave Delaney

5 Must Know Marketing Copy Writing Tips

How often do you stop and consider the content you are producing for your business? Whether you are writing a blog post, newsletter, proposal, advertising or marketing copy, you can often get so busy you don't consider the main outcome you wish to achieve.

On September 16, the Tribe Conference will take place in Franklin, TN. It is a gathering of creative entrepreneurs who wish to get the attention their work deserves. Organizer, Jeff Goins, has produced an impressive line-up of speakers. I am excited to be among them.

While reviewing the line-up, I realized the speakers are all leaders in business communications. I reached out directly to share their insights with you about ways to improve your marketing content.

5 Expert Business Writing Tips

Jeff Goins Tribe Conference in Franklin Tennessee

 

1. "You must go to unreasonable lengths to deeply understand the problems, pains, fears and frustrations your readers face. Identify the pain — or need as they experience it — describe it to them in their own words, and give them valuable solutions even in your marketing materials. Think of marketing copy not as a way to sell, but a way to serve. Marketing should be something we do for people — not something we do to them." said Ray Edwards, founder and CEO, Ray Edwards International Inc.

2. "Keep it succinct, and give it some personality so it will be remembered." Pamela Wilson, executive vice president of educational content, Rainmaker Digital (Copyblogger).

3. "Know the audience you are writing for, ideally, personalize the target group as if you are speaking to a single person directly. If you don't know the people who will read your pitch, you have no idea of how to not just meet their expectations but to exceed them to the degree that they are willing to change their minds and take the actions you recommend. Empathize with the audience above all and your work will be potent. What is their biggest problem? How can your work help them fix it? What story can you tell that will take them from suspicion of your motives to interest in your prescriptions? Those three questions must be at the front of your mind as you craft every sentence of copy." Shawn Coyne, writer, editor, publisher, agent, Genre Managment Inc. and Black Irish Entertainment LLC. 

4. "Write authentically to your voice, representing your mission, with integrity, and always for the betterment of your community!" McKel Hill, dietitian, founder of Nutrition Stripped, Nutrition Stripped.

5. "If you have something to say, write like you speak. Don't try to sound smart, impressive, or academic. If you need help, get it. Don't be ashamed because you don't know the difference between an appositive, antecedent, or auxiliary verb (I don't know what they are). I'm dyslexic, have trouble spelling some of the most basic words, and I've written 6 books. Some aren't bad. A few have been on the NY Times, WSJ, USA Today, and Publisher's Weekly bestseller lists. So there's that." Michael Port, NYT, WSJ bestseller author of 6 books including Book Yourself Solid and Steal the Show, Heroic Public Speaking.

 I recommend you print out this post and return to these expert tips as you prepare your next marketing content. If you plan to attend the Tribe Conference, be sure to say hello. 

10 Expert Tips for Business Blogging Success

Dave Delaney

10 Business Blogging Tips

Using a blog can drive a considerable amount of traffic to your site, which can result in more revenue and a stronger bond with your customers and staff. A study by Hubspot found eighty-one percent of companies consider their blogs "useful," "important," or "critical" to their business.

Are you blogging for your business?

When I first connect with a new client, I conduct an extensive content marketing audit. One thing I often discover is a neglected company blog. There is nothing worse than a blog with the last post from months or even years ago. Excuses can vary from not having the resources or ideas, to not having the time to compose blog posts. In fact, we just launched a service to help you with original, optimized, blog content for your company blog.

If you are stuck with your blog, or you are seeking ways to improve it, don't miss this valuable advice. I reached out to several blogging experts to share their best tips for creating great content for your business blog.

10 Expert Tips for Business Blogging Success

1. Quantity over quality. That doesn't mean bad or unprofessional grammar. It means stop waiting for the perfect blog post. There is always something to write about: New hires, company culture, product details, upcoming events and conferences, executive team profiles ... I could go on and on. - John Ellis, @johnwellis.

2. Spend more time writing the headline than the post itself. - John Michael Morgan, @johnmorgan.

3. 80/20 Rule = spend 20% of your time creating the content and 80% of your time distributing it. - Bill Faeth, @bfaeth.

4. Dig deeper into a topic. Don't write the same My Topic 101 stuff as every other business blogger out there. Show yourself as the expert, not the person who skimmed a couple other blogs before writing your own article. - Erik Deckers, @edeckers.

5. Don't get too chummy. Find a tone somewhere between formal and conversational. - Angela Misri, @karmicangel.

6. Dedicate time each week to reviewing your existing blog content performance. Setup a monthly testing plan to ensure you are continually optimizing. - Suzanne Kline Coblentz, @scoblentz.

7. Ask your community for help with guest blogging. You get expertise from someone else and they do the writing for you! - Courtenay D. Rogers, @courtenayrogers.

8. Spellcheck and proofread (get capable help if needed). Just a few typos can ruin an otherwise excellent post and undermine your credibility with readers. - Hunter Boyle, @hunterboyle.

9. Never publish a piece of content you are not proud of. A blog post is often the starting point of the relationship with a potential customer. Put your best foot forward. - Ian Cleary, @IanCleary.

10. Don't know what to write about or think your business can't blog? Start with FAQs about your business and industry. Write a blog post to answer each of those questions. It's stuff your customers will value and it's the stuff your customer searches for on Google. - Liz Jostes, @LizJostes.

Your blog is the heart and soul of your business

Your company site is like a brochure, while your blog is the heart and soul of your business. Create content about your industry, your business, and your people. If you need assistance with content, let me know. We might have just the solution to help get your company blog started or resuscitated. Here are the details.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.