Ellen Cline, writer
Creative communication that markets, informs, and entertains

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Blogging for the Dog

Author: ; Published: Aug 27, 2010; Category: Editing and Proofing; Tags: , , , , ; No Comments

Marcie Davis and her assistance dog Whistle

This summer I haven’t written for my own blog at all. I’ve been busy with a variety of projects, but the one that was the most involving, and fun, was National Assistance Dog Week.

Yes, I really was blogging for the dog:  Whistle, my client Marcie Davis’ assistance dog, to be exact. Just like his partner, Marcie, that dog is an overachiever. Being the co-host of the Working Like Dogs show on Pet Life Radio just wasn’t enough.  He also had to start blogging. But he needed a little help from me and Marcie to pull that off.

I wasn’t just blogging for the dog; I was helping Marcie promote National Assistance Dog Week to individuals and organizations around the country. We put together a website, www.assistancedogweek.org, with Evolution Web, promoted NADW and the website, posted events being held in various states and organized our own events here in New Mexico. 

We partnered with Assistance Dogs of the West and got Governor Bill Richardson to sign a proclamation, had an Assistance Dog Fair at Zoe & Guido’s Pet Boutique, and received press coverage for these events.

Then we got Betty White and Ali MacGraw to be guests on the Working Like Dogs show in honor of National Assistance Dog Week. Having celebrity guests brought lots of attention to Marcie’s show, and to NADW. Since then, I’ve also helped Marcie contact and book animal issues reporter Jill Rappaport from the Today Show, and entertainer and guide dog partner, Tom Sullivan.

I’ve been involved with helping my amazing client, Marcie Davis, with a number of her projects. She does so many different things, it makes my head spin. Besides Working Like Dogs and National Assistance Dog Week, she has a nonprofit called Soulful Presence and a company called Davis Innovations. All the work these organizations do is to help people and animals, both locally and globally.

Marcie is ceaseless in her efforts for others. But despite all the work she did, and does, nobody really knew about it. I’m trying to help her get more attention for her causes and projects, in hopes of building awareness and enabling her to be able to do even more good.

You Know Too Much

Author: ; Published: Dec 14, 2009; Category: Business Writing, Message Simplicity; Tags: ; No Comments

“It’s so obvious, why doesn’t anyone seem to understand what we do?” Well, it’s not and they won’t get it if you keep explaining it to them the same way you always have. Let’s face it:  You know too much.

This happens sometimes to people in companies that offer technical products and services. So it might seem that it’s just about things being too advanced and specialized for us non-rocket scientists to get. But no, it can happen to just about any company, no matter what they sell.

You see, you know your product or service inside out. So it seems perfectly simple to you. But you spend every waking hour (and maybe even some dream time) thinking about this thing—the rest of us don’t. You’re immersed in this world that you are privileged to belong to, but nobody else, even your potential clients, lives there.

Your customers, they might live in the same solar system, so yes, they should have some background and care about your world. But they’re busy and distracted, so you need to make it easier for them to understand.

To simplify your messages, it generally takes moving back a few steps to get an objective view. Or maybe a bit farther than that to capture the proverbial 10,000-foot view. And it’s going to be hard for you to do this alone, because like we’ve just been talking about, you know too much.

So think about who your customers and potential customers might be. What do they care about? What do they need? How does your product or service fill that need?

This all may seem so obvious and Marketing 101. But sometimes we all need to be reminded. Getting an outsider to help you get a more objective take on your key points can make all the difference.

If it’s technical, try explaining it to this outside person as if they were in kindergarten. You want the big points, not every technical detail. Even if you have 25 great features, try narrowing it down to three, or even better, one.

Later you can use the details if they support your top points. You know, there’s this benefit provided by that feature, and here’s how and why (the finer points) for the people who care.

This is the first step to creating targeted marketing messages, which is the first step of creating effective marketing materials.