The lionfish lesson: Tips for writing a business blog post

The lionfish lesson: Tips for writing a business blog post

At the moment, I’m researching cruises as a holiday option, and thanks to clever Google advertising (and more than likely creepy behaviour tracking algorithms), I’m now quite regularly shown blogs and content marketing from cruise lines.

I’m totally enjoying it.

Most business blogs have a little bit of personality, and are authentic and engaging – so I usually don’t mind browsing in the interests of ‘market research’.

However, yesterday I came across a cruise line business blog that completely stopped me in my tracks. While extolling the virtues of Fiji as a family-friendly destination among a list of Pacific Islands, the writers included a charming picture of a young child snorkelling…with a few friendly but highly venomous lion fish.


Now I’m not sure about you – but for me, the above immediately put me off this particular cruise company! Here’s why … and here’s how to avoid doing the same thing to readers of your own business blog.

1. A tiny bit of research can save many a bad moment

Possibly the most valuable skill any aspiring business blogger can have is the ability to research thoroughly. It would have taken approximately 10 seconds of Googling to find out what a lion fish is (and why you shouldn’t be snorkelling with one!).

Cross-checking information is neither difficult nor time consuming, and can mean the difference between credibility and … none.

2. Understand your audience.

If your audience is young families looking to go on a cruise, spruiking snorkelling in waters with venomous fish is probably not a good advertising approach.

As soloists, it’s likely that you understand your audience so I’m more than likely preaching to the choir here. However, if you can’t nail down exactly who you are targeting your business blag writing towards (down to how they like their coffee, if that’s relevant), you might miss the mark more often than you hit it.

3. Understand that simple mistakes impact your brand heavily.

You know what? Even though I highly doubt that this particular cruise line actually had anything to do with the authoring of this post, I’m probably never going to book a cruise with them now. It’s not because I’m afraid I’ll be exposed to lion fish…it’s because if there’s a lion fish accidentally in their blog, who’s to say there won’t be a stranger in my accidentally double-booked room or a stray hair in my food?

Poor attention to detail in one area reflects badly on the entire company, and the Internet has a way of remembering these things. You don’t want to end up as the next PR disaster to hit the headlines.

BONUS TIP:  it’s always worth getting another set of eyes on your business blog posts before you press Publish. What you might miss in the flurry of writing, another person will pick up in two seconds.

Otherwise, you might find yourself being thrown to the lion(fish), and nobody wants that.

Have you had any memorable lion fish moments on your own business blog?


This post was originally published by Sarah-Joy for Flying Solo.

The Three C’s of Communication (possibly…?)

The Three C’s of Communication (possibly…?)

You know that moment when you can only remember two-thirds of a very important saying?

We came across that moment earlier this week when talking to a client. The three C’s of communication are a principle that any comms person worth their salt learned in university…and hopefully retained for use in their working life.


We were trying to list out the Three C’s with no luck…so we did what most people would do in this situation and turned to the mighty Internet to help solve our problem.


The first result told us that the Three C’s were definitely consistency, clarity, and courtesy. I’d never heard of courtesy being included, so we moved along to the second result.

This was quite similar, stating that the Three C’s of effective communication were clarity, consistency and confidence. We already knew about clarity and consistency (they were the only two we could remember to start with!), but again, confidence didn’t sound quite right.

So we moved to the third result, which said clear, consistent and customer-centric communication was the way to go.

Of course, by this stage we were in stitches of laughter and no closer to the actual answer.

For those of you who are interested, the fifth result finally gave us the answer that we were looking for – clear, consistent and concise communication is what you’re after.

But if you ask the Internet, the third C could be anything: croissant, cookie, community, coffee (I think that’s not a bad one myself!).

Lesson learned: research is important when one decides to use the Internet as their source of information. Whatever the first result tells you may not necessarily be the correct answer!

And, of course, lesson re-learned: clear, consistent, concise communication!


This post was originally published by Sarah-Joy for Generate PR.

3 things we can learn from Essena O’Neill quitting Instagram

3 things we can learn from Essena O’Neill quitting Instagram

This post was first published on Flying Solo, Australia’s microbusiness community.

This week we saw a rare sight – an ‘Instagram star’ (yes, that’s a real thing) dramatically quitting the platform and declaring that the photos of her perfect life were mostly fake.

If you spend any time on social media at all, you’ll know that this week Instagram star Essena O’Neill made waves among her followers and the online community by editing the caption of many of the images on her Instagram account to reflect the reality behind them … and then, even more spectacularly, entirely deleting the account that started the week with 500,000 followers and had ballooned to 800,000+ followers by week’s end.


What can you take away from Essena’s experience? These three things:

1. If you have an audience, treat them with respect.

This is a huge lesson that Essena has learned – the images that she was ‘selling’ to her hundreds of thousands of followers just weren’t real, and that wasn’t respectful to them.

For businesses, respecting your audience might mean not promising something you can’t deliver or making your online persona consistent with your face to face offering. It might even mean respecting your audience by not posting to your accounts 50 times a day. Think about why someone would follow you, and then try to deliver on those expectations – respectfully!

2. Your audience likes to know you’re authentic.

There’s just no need to put unnecessary pressure on yourself or your business to put the ‘perfect’ posts on social. Some of the most liked and shared posts that I’ve been a part of creating were completely genuine, candid moments that reflected the personality of the people behind the business. Cookie-cutter ‘branded’ posts aren’t what customers connect with – it’s the dad-joke because you’re a dad running a small business, or the great picture of the town your business is based in that connects with your customers on an authentic level.

In a huge twist of irony, when I first read about Essena O’Neill she had 500,000 followers. Even though she’d ‘quit Instagram’ her follower count jumped to 885,000 followers just through the sheer amount of media attention she’s received (before she deleted the account entirely). How’s that for the results of authenticity?

3. Transparency is really important.

Transparency follows on from authenticity, and this relates particularly to those small business owners trying to build their personal brand. If you post about a product or service you love, but you’ve been paid to do so (or are compensated by the makers of that product or service in any way), you should be open about disclosing your connections. Problogger’s Darren Rowse has some excellent resources around this, as does Jo Macdermott.

While quitting Instagram (or any other form of social media) might be a bit of an overreaction from a business perspective, it’s a timely reminder of the importance of lining up your social strategy with your business goals.

If you don’t have a social strategy, given the current conversation now is as good a time as ever to create a respectful, authentic and transparent one!

4 Ways that Marketing a Business is like Renovating a House

4 Ways that Marketing a Business is like Renovating a House

Did you watch the House Rules season finale last week? If you didn’t catch it (or the rest of the season), here’s all you need to know – a bunch of couples battle it out to have their mortgage completely paid off, but like all good reality shows, there can only be one winner.

While chatting to a few friends about House Rules the other day, I started thinking. Renovating a house reveals more than a few similarities to marketing your own business.

For starters, those who renovate usually have all their spare time and extra cash tied up in their house – it’s their biggest investment. I’ve yet to meet a small business owner who is only ‘a little bit invested’ in the success of their business!

Here are a few more similarities:

1. The work never stops

As anyone who has ever renovated a house can relate to, it seems like the work never stops. Even when the paint has dried and the sawdust has been cleaned up, there’s always something else to do.

It’s the same with small business marketing – you have to be consistent and there is always something else to do. The trick to beating the burnout is to have a plan in place from the start, and to be as smart as you can in using all of today’s technological advantages to make the execution of your plan easy.

Social media is a prime example of the work never stopping. But social media consistency is easy when you can stick to a routine, and have a smart plan for creating consistency.

2. You should want to tell everyone about it

Your business isn’t a secret that should be kept close to your chest. There’s nothing wrong with telling the world about what you do – and why you’re good at it!

When you’re renovating, it ends up being something that consumes you. You tell people about it, you post pictures to Instagram in your best renovation clothes, and everyone who stops by your house has to sit through the before and after photos (or is that just me?). Kitchen appliances and paint colours have never been so interesting – all of a sudden you’ll notice that your local coffee shop has walls very similar to White Mist.

It’s exactly the same with your business. Your passion is what makes you, as a business owner, exciting to work with. Let your passion shine through in your marketing, and tell everyone about what makes your business special.

3. Don’t try it in front of a giant audience unless you’re great at it.

As we were nearing the end of our renovation journey, I jokingly said to my husband, “Hey, we’re pretty good at this – we should try out for a reality show!” He looked at me and said, “Yeah, but the problem is, only one of us is good at renovating.”

(I’ll give you a hint…I am not that person.)

The truth is, putting yourself out there in front of a giant audience is a big risk. There’s a delicate balance between this point and the previous one. When you’re marketing your business, enthusiasm won’t get you all the way there – there needs to be a professional plan and strategy behind what you’re doing. Consumers (and reality TV viewers) are pretty good these days at spotting someone who’s making it up as they go along.

My advice would be, try your marketing out on a small scale – think family, friends and trusted advisors – before you put yourself out there on a large scale.

4. At the end of the day, a professional will give you the ultimate peace of mind.

Doesn’t this go without saying? I know we’re never DIY renovating again. After all, you’re looking for return on investment, just like a renovator!


Sarah-Joy Pierce is a copywriter, marketing strategist and consultant. She is passionate about small businesses reaching their full potential and telling the world what they do. More at

Why the best social marketing campaign is one you hardly notice

Why the best social marketing campaign is one you hardly notice

I read a great article this week about adidas’s ‘clean sweep’ of the World Cup.

A few numbers that blew my mind:

  • 1.59M conversations about adidas and the FIFA World Cup
  • 5.8M new followers across multiple adidas social media platforms
  • 38M views on YouTube (that’s just the videos published during the tournament)
  • 917K uses of the brand hashtag #allin

(that’s millions and thousands – and that’s pretty impressive!)

Now while I might not be the world’s biggest soccer fan, soccer obviously is a big part of adidas’s product offering. They created a ‘Battle Pack’ series of boots specifically for the tournament, and can claim that the adizero f50 boots were the ‘highest scoring boots’ of the tournament. #f50 was also the most used ‘football footwear hashtag’ during the tournament with 275K mentions.

So if you’re like me and don’t really care about football, why does this all matter?

Because it was a brilliantly executed social media campaign: and I bet you hardly noticed it.

That’s because the best social marketing campaigns are the ones you hardly notice.

The reason adidas’s assault on the World Cup was so successful was because they were everywhere. They chose channels that were relevant to their brand and then absolutely conquered those channels.

We’ve seen companies tentatively dip their toe into the pool of social media, only to quickly lose interest and lose consistency.

One of the most important things in social media is consistency – it’s what boosts your Google rankings and what brings you new followers (and potentially even new clients!).

And while you might be a bit overwhelmed when looking at all the social media channels you can use, there’s usually a way to narrow it down by looking at where your target customers might be looking. For some brands, it’s Facebook, others might need to focus on LinkedIn.

But the main thing you need to remember is consistency. adidas had an entire social media ‘war-room’ with forty-plus staff and a year’s worth of content preparation – while I wouldn’t advocate that for most businesses, it certainly suited the huge brand opportunity that was the FIFA World Cup. A simple plan of what you’re going to post and when goes a long way towards creating consistent content.

Lesson learned – when you do social marketing, you have to go #allin.

What’s one area you could apply consistency to your marketing?