Michelle Salater

They say that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something. So we’re rounding up experts who’ve put in all those hours, so you don’t have to. All you need to do is spend 10 minutes reading an interview with them. Not a bad deal, eh?

Today we’re chatting with Michelle Salater, an award-winning writer and the CEO of Sūmèr, LLC, a full-service copywriting firm. Michelle also regularly speaks to business owners on how they can draw more attendees to their events and how they can communicate effectively. We asked her some interesting questions around SEO, online marketing, and why she loves dogs.

What, in your opinion, is the single most important thing that people or companies often neglect to consider when it comes to marketing themselves online?

Too many businesses focus their message on the product or service itself—overloading the prospective buyer with too many benefits—rather than addressing what’s in it for the buyer. While it’s important to describe the details, placing too much emphasis on that means the message won’t emotionally engage.

People buy on emotion, so tapping into their pain or showing them how your service/product will solve their problem or avoid a future problem is what will take them from a prospect to a customer. The most conversion-ready messaging showcases that the business understands the problem. When you write about the pain your prospects feel, you show them that you come from a place of understanding and empathy. The best way to convey that message is through storytelling and personable marketing copy that people can relate to.

Your slogan is “Reinvent How you Communicate.” Can you give a brief overview on how you do that for your clients?

Let me give you a brief background on this: Our name is inspired by the Sumerian civilization because they had enough foresight to know that in order to convey the significance of their ideas over distance and time, they needed to write and record a language to communicate and connect. Their innovation inspired us to approach brand messaging and online marketing possibilities in a new way.

With the rapid changes in online marketing and in technology, companies are forced to engage in a new, more transparent and authentic way. We help each of our clients reinvent their message and find their story to tell so that it not only attracts, but also engages prospects the way they want to be communicated with.

You make an interesting statement on your website that says, “Sūmèr stands for the power of personal connection and for the hope and conviction that capitalism across the globe can be healed through conscious entrepreneurship, whether in small businesses or large corporations.”

Can you expound on what you mean here and how what you do aids in this healing of capitalism?

Before I started this company, I lived in the Balkans and know first hand what business can do to revitalize a community or country after mass devastation. When people do business together, they stop fighting and start creating. When this happens, government intervention isn’t that necessary.

It was then I realized that anything is possible and that amazing things can occur in this world if we all learn to communicate effectively. I thought, what if I could create a company that allowed for better communication—for business to business and business to consumer? And that’s what I’ve done. I’ve seen the results we’ve produced for clients and how it’s impacted their communities. It’s really amazing to see the ripple effect.

Why do you think capitalism is currently under so much scrutiny, especially, as the media seem to be saying, with the younger generation?

This is a tough one to answer. I think part of it is the media spin and a minority group of people trying to speak for the majority. I could be wrong. Overall, I think capitalism receives so much criticism because we’ve forgotten how it functions. It’s about working hard, being creative, finding solutions to problems, and empowering others in order to make a profit—thus, being able to contribute back to our communities.

Instead, the younger generation is shown images of scheming bankers instead of driven entrepreneurs and business owners, and they aren’t taught capitalism in school. Really, for those who’ve grown up in the era of mass banking corruption, do you blame them for being so down on capitalism?

Tell us a little bit of your past – you did a lot of traveling? What was the strangest place you ever went to? Or the strangest thing that happened to you on your travels?

I have so many stories, but if I could pick one, I would say the strangest thing happened was while I was visiting Lamu, an island off the coast of Kenya. It was Christmas day, and I was walking along a path to meet some friends and almost got run over by a donkey race. How I didn’t hear the pack of donkeys and their riders, I’ll never know! As I jumped out of the way, all I could think about was how funny it would be when people read my obituary, and it said: death from donkey stampede.

Mama Mia, Office Manager at Sūmèr.

Tell us more about how Mama Mia, your office manager, inspires you

Animals are pure positive energy. They don’t worry, don’t freak out over deadlines or what’s going on with the markets. Just having her around the office helps lower stress and reminds me and those on my team not to sweat the small stuff.

Why are you passionate about what you do?

Seeing our clients’ visions turn into realities and seeing the results we produce. What really jazzes me is doing the happy dance with clients when we reach or surpass campaign sales goals.

What, to you, is “good SEO”?

I’m going to upset a lot of SEO companies out there, but there’s more to good SEO than a high search engine ranking. Yes, it’s important to rank on page #1 and build a more solid reputation through search results; it’s just as important to pay close attention to quality content—a captivating message written for prospects. SEO-rich content needs to sound conversational and natural in order to engage and convert. If not, it won’t matter how many hits your website gets.

Ranking high on search engines is only half the battle. There needs to be just as much focus on keeping prospects on the page as there is on ranking. If you don’t create content that’s search engine friendly as well as captivating, prospects will hit the back button.

How do you think SEO, social media, online content and the online environment in general has changed the way companies / people should look at marketing?

There’s no question: our new way of being “plugged in” to an online environment has altered the way we look at marketing and how we communicate. I think it’s changed how small business approaches marketing. Social media and the ease of sharing content has leveled the playing field and allowed smaller companies to succeed in ways they wouldn’t have before. No longer do you have to drop tens of thousands of dollars to have a campaign produce results.

Thanks Michelle – very interesting insights! To get in touch with Michelle, see writtenbysumer.com or check out Sūmèr’s Facebook page and Sūmèr’s Twitter feed.

Ryan Peter is a ghostwriter, journalist, copywriter and author of amazing books.