Ken Lizotte

Article Summary:

Writing and publishing articles can be extraordinarily effective for your business.

How Publishing Articles Can Improve Your Business

Tired of looking exactly like all your competitors when it comes to advertising and marketing your products? Looking for a visibility vehicle offering an edge that's new and different? Here's an approach rarely even considered by most businesses, yet extraordinarily effective: writing and publishing articles.

Not long ago practically any kind of marketing approach seemed to work well for attracting new business. Even a modest website, your standard glossy brochure, or a mediocre ad campaign could do the job. But the economy shifting unpredictably, many companies have turned to promoting themselves and their executives as "thought leaders" so as to break away from the competitive pack.

Why this tactic? For one thing, it's far less expensive than traditional advertising campaigns, no small side-benefit in lean, worrisome times. For another, writing articles and publishing them in industry or business journals affords dual benefits promotion-wise by disseminating practical information in the same context as the advertisement of one's wares. In effect, writing an article on an issue in your field of expertise permits the teaching of clients and prospects and promotion of products/services all at the same time.

Of course, any articles published can neither be direct ads or blatant testimonials to your company's products or services. However they can showcase your insight into problems your customers face every day, thereby distinguishing your firm as a higher-level expert capable of thinking up and applying customized solutions. Unlike, your competitors, this implies, your product/service is no cookie-cutter methodology or off-the-shelf "solution".

For example, a client of mine who provides engineering services for companies in the medical industry, had found itself pigeonholed as a "fix-it" shop, expected to drop in on clients only when called for a pre-arranged repair job. So the company decided to convert itself into a true consulting operation, and to make clients and prospects aware of this new image, began writing and publishing articles. Initial ones explored various high-tech problems relating to medical products and potential applications. By getting these articles published in publications read by those decision-makers who tended to hire them - CEOs, CFOs, IT Managers - before long it had re-positioned itself as the "go-to" firm for more thoughtful long-range strategic projects as well as major technical systems overhauls.

Should you make a similar a decision to go in this unique marketing direction, what issues ought you consider before getting started? One psychological one is realizing that writing articles needn't be something to fear. Many executives get hung up on this one and thus never get the process a chance. Yet many editors will work with business experts new to writing and publishing, understanding as they do that writing is not the expert's first profession. Also, a good ghostwriter can be hired to help the new writer out on a regular basis, so that one way or another a competent article can be both written and accepted, getting the publishing campaign off to a successful start.

Another important question to consider is WHEN to write your article. Some prefer writing their article before even pitching it to a publication in order to fully conceptualize it and clarify their thinking. The other school of thought is to approach the publication first and find out if a proposed article idea will even be of interest to a targeted publication. Either way can work, though the second way is favored by professional writers so that no time is wasted researching and writing a piece that may never find a final resting pace.

Having answered these two critical initial questions, the next and ultimate step considers how to actually approach a busy editor. One method NOT to use seems to be the old-fashioned way: snail-mailing your pitch in a formal letter. In these times of communication overload, editors rarely respond any longer to traditional letters. Instead cold-call editors (courteously) with your idea or email it to them if they have made their email address public. Even with email, however, call a week or two later if you haven't heard. There's just no substitute for direct if succinct human interface especially in these days of jammed-pack communications channels. This is true when it contacting prospects and customers, and it's just as true when dealing with publications and their editors.

If you are respectful of their time and willing to listen to their needs, the truth is most editors will appreciate your call as they are always on the lookout for good ideas. Thus they are usually eager to hear from someone like you on the "front lines". So by endeavoring to supply their article needs, you will soon become proficient at this remarkable if under-used marketing channel and integrate it into the flow of your other marketing efforts. Before long, as publishing credits pile up, you'll begin encountering prospects that recognize your name and have studied your ideas.

Such prospects will be pre-sold, viewing you and your firm as recognized industry leaders, commenting, "I really enjoy reading your articles. Can you tell me more about your products and services?" When this happens, you'll have attained a new plateau.

Ken Lizotte CMC, Chief Imaginative Officer (CIO), emerson consulting group inc. (Concord, Massachusetts), transforms companies and consultants into "thought leaders" by helping them get their articles and books published, arrange speaking engagements, conduct original research projects, and gain media exposure. President of the Institute for Management Consultants/New England chapter, Ken is author of four books and a popular keynote speaker at professional conferences. Contact him at 978-371-0442 or www.thoughtleading.com.

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