Brand Language: How Do Real People Use Your Brand’s Buzzwords?


My friend (Jenn Cusick of Luminate Wellness) and I got into one of those crazy Facebook thread conversations about the word “authenticity” the other week. She’d just read a blog post I’d written about Elon Musk and she had a question. In the post, I said Elon had real “authenticity” even though I thought that word had become “terrible.” She wanted to know what the word meant to me. So I explained that

I find it’s a buzzword that people want to associate themselves with without contemplating its meaning too deeply. Are people really that honest when they have strategic intent? Also, can ‘too much honesty’ be a professional liability or even just plain bad for your team/workplace/life? In general, I prickle a little bit when marketing lingo seems to appropriate moral concepts glibly.

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July 8, 2015

Communication Core FAQs

Read about the Communication Core first. 

What if I’d like to book more time with you? Do you only do two sessions and that’s it? What if I have more questions or a communications challenge comes up in my life that I need help with?

I am A-OK with booking more sessions with you. In fact, building longer-term relationships with clients who want ongoing communications support and a creative collaboration partner is the best possible outcome. In one instance, I co-authored a book with a client!

What if I want help writing things other than my Mission Statement, Personal Brand Statement, Elevator Speech, or ‘About’ page? What if I need help writing my LinkedIn summary, or I have a speaking engagement or a video interview that I need help preparing for?

Ask me for a Communications Menu and feel free to tick off the boxes that apply to you. Or if you have a bigger project like a course you’re delivering or a non-fiction book you want to write we can talk about designing a workplan for Creative Collaboration.

I’d really rather meet in person than over the phone. Can’t we do that?

I love meeting clients in person! I totally understand the desire to just sit with someone, make eye contact, and cut technology out of the equation. If this is a strong preference of yours, I can add a surcharge for travel costs (within reason).

What if what you write for me in the Communication Core isn’t quite ‘it’, or I want to request some changes?

No problem. I will do up to three rewrites based on your feedback. The idea is to produce something that feels like a brilliant reflection of your unique message, and frees you to start communicating with more unbridled confidence in your own value. Although my clients say I can get to that goodness pretty quickly, a little bit of refining work is a normal part of the process.  

I like this so far, but I’d like to ground my branding process and communications work in more than just ‘what I feel’ or who I think I am. How can we ensure my message is going to resonate with the clients I want?  

You are smart. Ask me about my Client Research Report. In my experience, if you want to undergo a market research process that has maximum bang for your buck, you need to involve your best clients in the conversation. Ultimately, you will have so much more clarity about how your clients see you, why they value you, and how you need to be communicating with them.

Sounds good. Let’s say hi to each other and explore the possibility of working together. 

February 20, 2015

The Communication Core



When I first launched Salvo Communications, I thought, ‘Ok cool, I’ll just have a little copywriting business, wear pajamas all day, and be left alone.’ I was a couple years out of an excruciatingly painful period in my life, and I relished the idea of establishing a simple homebound self-employment. I just wanted peace and quiet.

But entrepreneurialism doesn’t work that way, does it?

At first, I struggled to market my services and define my niche in a world of Internet-expanded possibilities. I wasn’t 100% clear on how I offered unique value that would result in financial and social security. But after a while I noticed something. Instead of landing those quiet jobs writing brochures, I was being approached by people who wanted to get together and just…talk. They wanted help figuring out how to express their ideas and explain what they did to other people.  They wanted help articulating their brand, their mission, and their message. They didn’t feel 100% clear and as a result they didn’t feel 100% confident.

The following describes a process I found myself developing as I worked with entrepreneurs, speakers, and leaders who needed clarity about their core messages. I call it the Communication Core, because it is designed to help my clients lay the groundwork for on-point messaging in all of their marketing efforts, and it even starts them off with a foundational piece like a mission statement.

So please read on and consider whether you could benefit from investing a little time and money into clarifying your core mission and message. My goal is for you to walk away from this process with the ‘magic words’ that free you to start expressing yourself, kicking down doors, and making powerful contact with the people who are ready to reward you financially, socially, and emotionally. They will be the words only you could speak.

Take care & talk soon,


The Communication Core process looks like this

  1. Send me an email. Just say hi.
  2. I’ll say hi right back, then send you a customized questionnaire intended to focus your thinking and get me up to speed on what you do.
  3. Within 2 days, I will contact you to schedule a one hour-long Clarity Session over the phone or Skype. Then, during our session, we will nail down what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for.
  4. Within 2 days of the Clarity Session, you will receive a Communication Blueprint that puts everything we discussed into words. The Communication Blueprint will be your quick and dirty communications cheat-sheet, the essential information you need to share when you talk or write about your business, brand, or Big Idea.
  5. Then, if you want to go deeper, we will book and conduct a second hour-long Clarity Session over the phone or Skype. This second session will be devoted to fleshing out your message, brainstorming creative and effective ways of putting it all into words, and identifying the most important stories and sources of information for strengthening your pitches and legitimizing your mission.
  6. Within 2 days of the session, you will receive a Communication Core document that puts everything we discussed into words, and also includes the Mission Statement, Elevator Speech, Personal Brand Statement, or ‘About’ copy for your website (your choice) that I will write for you. This document will function like a seedbed for the copy you end up writing, speeches you end up delivering, and pitches you end up nailing. It will assist you in delivering your singular message in a voice that is uniquely your own.

It will cost

The first Clarity Session + Communication Blueprint is $150

The second Clarity Session + Communication Core is $150

Or purchase Two Clarity Sessions + Communication Blueprint + Communication Core together for $250

The Communication Core process is best for…

Solopreneurs or small business owners who have a lot of direct, personal contact with their clients

Speakers & gifted verbal communicators who connect easily with people but struggle to translate their essential ideas & values into coherent written messages

Entrepreneurs who have been doing their thing for a while & are ready to get to the next level in terms of having a polished, powerful, on-point brand

Visionaries & future thought leaders who know they have an online course, non-fiction book, or presentation series in their future

Sound interesting? Email me and we’ll have a chat about it. 

Learn more, read the FAQs.


Market Research Interviews That Make You Better, Faster, Stronger…And Nicer



The voice on the other end of the line was emotional yet authoritative. ‘You want to know why I hire her? She is an honestly a good person. And those are few and far in between.’

‘Wow,’ I said. ‘Fair enough.’

If you want to fall more deeply in love with your client, there is one failsafe method I’ve found: interview her clients. And believe me, it will serve you to fall more deeply in love with your client, no matter what kind of work you do.

Personally, as a writer of various marketing communications, I conduct this kind of interview when I need to understand the emotional core of my client’s services or products. Which, by the way, is ‘always’, no matter how straightforward and prosaic the service of product appears to be. (The same crazy fireworks-display emotion-driven regions of the brain will help us to decide both which toothbrush to buy and which mate to marry.) By interviewing people about their feelings, ideas, and experiences, I can start to crack the code of what ‘solution’ my client’s services or products represent. Personally, I prefer over-the-phone or in-person interviews over any other method of research, because the voice itself is a rich source of information, conveying meaning in a way that written answers or a survey results cannot.

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January 16, 2015

In Medias Res: For Marketing Communicators And Dorks Alike


I am a big fan of using story when we are advocating for our businesses, brands, or big ideas. I believe that story is the royal road to understandable and engaging communication. It’s a time-saver, actually. Art: enhancing efficiency. Who would have thought?

In my own business, I offer story-based communications services, which means different things at different times. The ‘story’ in ‘story-based communication’ is anything that helps a reader or a listener to effortlessly imagine a concrete situation, rather than struggle to comprehend abstract ideas. That might mean I’m only using a briefly described scenario, example, or analogy, depending on the communications piece. But whenever it is appropriate or effective, I will include a fleshier, more traditionally story-like narrative. And when I do that, I get to use dorky literary devices. Why not? These devices exist to make the stories we read ‘for pleasure’ more interesting, compelling, and artful, and they function exactly the same way when we use them in business storytelling.

‘In medias res’ (from the Latin for ‘in the midst of things’) is a storytelling technique that builds intrigue quickly by starting the narrative from the middle of the action rather than the beginning. So in order to understand the significance of the scenario they have wandered into, the reader or viewer has to keep paying attention. They have to hang around to hear the ‘backstory’.

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December 23, 2014