Book-Review Blogging for Business

Book review word cloudOnline visitors are “test-driving” your company or practice through reading your blog posts. They want to see whether you understand their problems and can quickly and effectively help solve those. Often, the way to be of most help to searchers is to offer “book reviews”, collections of material you have “curated” (gathered and presented) for them.

Remember, though, a review is more than a mere summary. Whether you’re blogging for a business, for a professional practice, or for a nonprofit organization, you’ve got to have an opinion, a slant, on the information you’re serving up for readers. In other words, blog posts, to be effective, can’t be just compilations; you can’t just “aggregate” other people’s stuff and make that be your entire blog presence. But, even while putting your own unique twist on the topic, give your readers links to websites from which you got some of your original information or news.

There’s another reason to curate and review other sources in your own business blog – you need to read what others are saying in blogs and in the press about your field. If there are bloggers whose writing you especially enjoy, create links between your websites.  Your own blog content will be all the richer for this back-and-forth sharing.  What’s more, you’re likely to win the wholehearted approval of the search engines; you’ll notice that “approval” in the form of upward movement of your blog in the rankings!

Omnivoracious, Amazon’s official book review blog, is focused on books, author interviews, and industry news. As  business blog content writers, we are aiming for an Omnivoracious-like effect – making our blog the “go-to” place for target readers interested, not only in the things we sell, the things we know and that we know how to do, but in what our colleagues and competitors know and what they know how to do.

Condensing information is a general term whereby the source message is reduced in length without impacting meaning or grammatical accuracy, says “Writing for online readers is distinctly different than traditional writing; this means your online content must cater to these readers to grab and keep their attention,” adds.

Try book-review blogging for business!


Why and Why-Not Blogging for Business

book Aliens


Aliens would probably come to Earth in peace, quantum physicist Jim Al-Khalili assures readers in his book Aliens, proceeding to bust no fewer than five commonly held myths-from-the-movies about encounters with visitors from other planets.

The author uses scientific knowledge to debunk each myth:

Aliens will eat us. No, because, in order for them to process our molecules of amino acids and sugars, they’d need to have a biochemistry similar to ours, “a long shot for a species that hails from a different world”.

Aliens will breed with us.  No, we can’t even reproduce with our nearest evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee.

Aliens will look like us.  No, because their evolution would not have been parallel to human evolution and it’s “near impossible that they would have human-like features.”

Aliens will be living creatures. No, should aliens contact us, “we will hear not from fellow organic creatures, but from the robots they produced.”

Aliens will come to steal our water and metal.  No, most of our metal is in the Earth’s core, not its crust; asteroids would be better for mining, and icy moons would be easier places to stock up on water.

The Time article about Aliens is a good example of mythbusting, which is used in many fields to counteract counterproductive thinking. For that very reason, I’m a firm believer that myth debunking is a great use for corporate blogs.

In the normal course of doing business or operating a professional practice, misunderstandings about your product or surface are bound to surface.  (It’s even worse when those myths and misunderstandings don’t surface, but still have the power to interrupt the selling process!)

That’s why the de-bunking function of business blog writing is so important. It’s our way of taking up arms against a sea of customers’ unfounded fears and biases.  Blog content writing can “clear the air”, replacing factoids with facts, so that buyers can see their way to making decisions. The technique is not without risk, because customers don’t like to be proven wrong or feel stupid.  The trick is to engage interest, but not in “Gotcha!” fashion.

In other words, business owners and professional practitioners can use their blogs to showcase their own expertise without “showing up” their readers’ lack of it, assuring prospects and clients that they, like movie aliens, are coming in peace!.



Posing the Question in Business Blog Content Writing

people question markI tell new Indianapolis blog content writers that, in creating content for marketing blogs, we need to keep in mind that people are online searching for answers to questions they have and solutions for dilemmas they’re facing.  But, even if those searchers haven’t specifically formulated a question, I suggest we do that for them by presenting a question in the blog post title itself:

  • “Is the U.S. Ready for Future Disease Threats?”
  • “Can the Mind-Body Problem Be Solved?”
  • “How Many Lego Bricks Would It Take to Build A Bridge from London to New York?
  • “Do Baby Boomers Deserve Social Security?

Using a question in the title of your blog post can arouse readers’ curiosity about which side of the issue your opinion is going to represent, and about the answers you’re going to provide in the content of the post itself. The question-title also informs the reader that you’re going to be providing information specifically relating to their search:

Blog questions can be either confirmatory (closed-end, yes-or-no) or exploratory (open-ended). Remember, unlike marketing research firms, business owners or professional practitioners are not out to gather consumer data; they want to engage their blog readers and show that they understand the dilemmas those readers are facing.

  • Did you know….?
  • How do you….?
  • What’s one of the most common problems in…..?
  • Do you want to learn how to…?
  • Have you ever…?
  • you ever wonder if…?

Besides offering readers a promise of relevant content in the body of the blog post, the title question can include keyword phrases to help Google index the blog.

Question: Does your business blog deserve better titles?



Your Business Blog Can Be Their User Manual

User guide book illustration design
“In the olden days – say the 1980s – if you bought a piece of technology, a paperback user guide came with it.  It was the manufacturer’s one big chance to explain its engineers’ thinking to you, to communicate what the designers and marketers had in mind,” David Pogue writes in Scientific American. Then, Google happened, Pogue says ruefully, and physical manuals began disappearing from our hardware and software boxes.

It’s not that users understand all the features of the devices they’ve purchased, although the kind of technologies we use has changed, Pogue explains. “People increasingly spend time in apps and social sites that have a fairly simple interface”. To this day, however, “it’s astonishing how little we know about our phones, computers, and software,” he observes.

Hardware and software makers still operate with their traditional business model: Every year or so they sell us a new version, whose appeal is supposed to be more features. Yet our access to documentation remains scattershot and incomplete, Pogue concludes. That is true, he asserts, despite the availability of answer sites, online communities, and YouTube mini-tutorials.

Enter business blogging.  In fact, according to Forbes, the #1 most important component of the perfect business blog post is answering this question: “What’s the unique angle of this post, and how will it help my audience?”  A blog post can be well-written, but it will be virtually worthless if it doesn’t speak to its audience’s interests, needs, preferences and pain points.

People are online searching for answers to their problems.  They might be there because they need answers to questions they have or solutions for dilemmas they’re facing – or because they don’t know how to use a product or service they’ve already paid for.! That’s when, if you’ve been consistently blogging, they find you, because your blog post gives them just the information they’re looking for in terms of “how-to” content.

Now, I’ve been touting “how-to” content in business blogs for years.  yet it often happens that new blogging clients have a fear that, if they “teach” in their blog, demonstrating the steps in their process, they’ll lose, rather than gain, customers and clients, because the customers will be able to “do it themselves”! In reality, the opposite is true: Consumers who feel fairly informed often prove more willing to make buying decisions.

Let your business blog be their user manual!


The Power of Place in Business Blog Content Writing

The Power of Place
“Branding helps people identify and recognize your products and organization,” asserts And just how does that happen? Branding:

  • makes your company different from the competition
  • helps you connect with customers emotionally
  • helps consumers know what to expect
  • allows you to be clear with your strategy and stay focused

So, in today’s world of online marketing, is physical location important?  Obviously it is  for businesses that sell goods or services directly at brick-and-mortar establishments, states. Location influences operating expenses, taxes, and regulations. But, even for home-based businesses, I think it’s important for customers to envision you at work; a photo of you at your desk should be included on your website.

“In a world where the movement of people, capital and ideas is more fluid than ever, a strong place brand is more important than ever,” Resonance explains. Having done online marketing for the past decade, I couldn’t agree more.

The story of the O.K Corral bears out that idea of the power of place in consumers’ minds.  The OK was a livery and horse corral from 1879 to about 1888 in the mining boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona, near the Mexican border. It was there that the most famous shootout in the history of the American Wild West, portrayed in 1957 film Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, was supposed to have taken place.

Truth is, the gunfight did not take place either within or even next to the O.K. Corral, but in a narrow lot six doors west of there. Despite the historical inaccuracy, the corral is currently marketed as a tourist attraction where visitors pay to see a reenactment of the shootout between Wyatt Earp and his brother in a faceoff with the Clanton-McLaury gang.

“Today’s world of commerce is not kind to those who serve average products to ‘average Joes’,” remarks “You’ll need to identify your niche, or your unique value proposition.” For blog content writers seeking to attract readership in their niche markets, I add the reminder, “Don’t forget the power of place in business blog content writing!”


Mythbusting Blog Content is More Than OK



“There may be more stories about the origin of ‘OK’ than there are uses for it,” a Mental Floss magazine article points out. Writers have attributed it to:

  • the Haitian port Aux Cayes
  • a Puerto Rican rum labeled “Aux Quais”
  • the German alles korrekt
  • shipbuilders marking wood for “outer keel”
  • Civil War soldiers carrying signs for “zero killed”

The truth, as Allan Metcalf explains in OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word, is that the expression “OK” was born as a lame joke by the editor of the Boston Morning Post in 1839, meant to poke fun at poor spelling habits.

Today, Mental Floss points out, “OK” has become an all-purpose expression in dozens of languages, used as:

  1. an enthusiastic cheer
  2. an unenthusiastic rating of a movie or a meal
  3. a way to draw attention to a topic shift in conversation

What Metcalf has achieved is a myth debunk, and myth-debunking is one great use for business blogs. Many misunderstandings about a product or service present themselves in the natural order of business, in the form of questions and comments from readers and customers. Shining the light of day on that misinformation shines light on your own expertise.  If your blog post is well written, perhaps with a bit of tongue in cheek, it can offer enlightenment in a way that engages searchers and keeps them coming back.

In the process of debunking a myth, I tell business blog content writers, you can:

  • Offer little-known, interesting information related to your industry
  • Season that information with your own unique slant
  • Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise as a business owner or  practitioner

An important caution is in order when it comes to myth busting in blogs, however. As a blog writer, you want to use myth busting in your corporate blog to showcase your knowledge (as opposed to “showing up” your readers’ lack of it).

So long as you keep that important caveat in mind, mythbusting blog content is more than OK!


Deep Dive to Create More Blog Content


Diving suit equipment isolated over white
Deep dive, advises blog content writers. “Take articles with more general information and create a separate article focusing on one specific area.”

All the way back in 2008, I wrote about target marketing in a Say It For You blog post titled “If the Parents Hate It, the Kids Will Love it”. I had based the post on an article in Speaker magazine about the Alice Cooper rock music group, whose stage show was considered “over the top” by anybody’s standards at the time, complete with guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, live chickens, and a boa constrictor, with a male in tattered women’s clothing holding a snake. The band, according to professional speaker Terri Langham, had made a brilliant career decision, focusing on one target audience – kids.  “If the parents hate it, the kids will love it” became the motto.

In that post about the Alice Cooper band’s marketing strategy, I advised blog content writers to emulate that kind of targeting, narrowing down their market focus. It doesn’t matter, I advised blog writers, if other segments of the market hate your blog, so long as your target customers love it.

In the years following, I’ve come back to that target marketing theme time and again to take a deeper dive:

  • In Blogs and Podiums – Choose Yours Wisely: “Who are your target customers or clients? What approach would have the most appeal to that segment of your market?  Will the emphasis be on your product or on special service and expertise?  Pick one primary area of focus – don’t try to do everything in one blog.”
  • In Befitting Bloggery:  “Everything about your blog should be tailor-made for that customer – the words you use, how technical you get, how sophisticated your approach, the title of each blog entry – all of it.”
  • In With Blogging, a Small Business Can Have a Long Tail: “Regular, high quality content, posted consistently on your blog, can have a huge effect in a small market.”
  • In Scoping Out Your Blogging Niche:  “Blogs, after all, use “pull marketing”.  The people who find your blog are those who are already online looking for information, products, or services that relate to what you know, what you have, and what you do! Your online marketing challenge is not to seek out the people, but to help them seek you out!”
  • In Smaller Targets, Better Hits: “Blogs are smaller, shorter and more centered around just one idea than e-zines or newsletters or even web page content. And blog posts will stick around forever. Blogs can link to other blogs and web sites, turning mini-power into maxi-power, and increasing exposure to the search engines.”

Deep dive into your own blog content, creating more content and more detailed information.



Above All, Do No Puzzling in Blogging for Business

Confused Geeky Woman“Many claim that the word “forte”, coming from the French fort, should properly be pronounced with one syllable. Common usage, however, prefers the two-syllable pronunciation (for-tay), which has been influenced by the music term forte, borrowed from Italian. Speakers can continue using forte as one syllable knowing that the origin of the word supports this pronunciation, but they do so at increasing risk of puzzling their listeners.”

For us blog content writers, of course, the “listeners” are our readers and, needless to say, puzzling those readers is absolutely the last thing we should aspire to do. (For bloggers, that is equivalent to the “above-all-do-no-harm” warning in the Hippocratic Oath.)

One way we can inadvertently puzzle readers is by using allusions (figures of speech) where the reference is unfamiliar. If we allude to someone’s “Achilles’ heel”, for example, we need to be pretty sure our readers’ level of education will allow them to know what we mean. If we mis-calculate their ability to recognize the allusion, the danger is they’ll find our content frustrating rather than illuminating.

“Basic English” simply means using words that people will understand,” says business humorist Todd Hunt. Blogging for business means using understandable, clear language. My own observation, based on working with different industries doing corporate blogging training, is that lack of clarity between writer and reader is worse with business-to-consumer corporate blog writing.  But even among suppliers, consultants, and retailers within a single industry, there’s no question that the clearer the words are to all the parties, the easier it becomes for transactions to happen.

Clarity is the soul of business blog writing. Not only does making yourself clear keep online searchers from quickly “clicking away” to another website to find what they want, but clarity avoids misinterpretation of the message in each post.

Above all, do no puzzling in blogging for business!




Use the First Minute to Make Blog Readers Feel Safe

27 Powers of Persuasion
“Use the first five minutes to make people feel safe,” advises Chris St. Hilaire in 27 Powers of Persuasion. (This week my Say It for You blog is devoted to business books that offer wonderful guidance on selling and presentation skills.)

  • Politicians know: You can change a conversation by touching the other person’s arm.
  • Lawyers know: You don’t ask a question unless you already have the answer.
  • Reporters know: People hate silence. They fill it with stuff you can use.

And the most relevant to online marketing through blogs: “Marketers know: It’s easiest to convince people of what they already believe.”

When your main goal is to persuade, the first five minutes are not so much about impressing other people as they are about putting them at ease, the author asserts. (According to, after seven minutes’ time on blogs, the average reader’s interest has peaked, so perhaps it makes sense to consider the first minute as the limit for putting your readers at ease.)

“If you already know the people you’re meeting with, use the first five minutes to make them feel valued,” St. Hillaire advises salespeople. Since a target market represents a set of individuals sharing similar needs or characteristics that your company hopes to serve, business blogging is the perfect tool for niche marketing.  After all, the people who are finding your blog are those  who are already online looking for information, products, or services that relate to what you know, what you have, and what you do!

Now they’ve found you, your two-part, first-minute challenge is to:

  1. put readers at ease by assuring them they’ve come to the right place
  2. make them feel valued

Searchers who’ve found your blog site won’t linger longer than a couple of seconds if what they see doesn’t reassure them they’ve come to the right place for the information they need. Each claim a content writer puts into a corporate blog needs to be put into context for the reader, so that the claim not only is true, but feels true to online visitors.

Use the first minute to make blog readers feel safe!


Using the Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs in Your Business Blogging


Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs


“Your listeners are asking themselves ‘Why should I care?’ Carmine Gallo reminds marketers in his business skills and development book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Jobs, the author reminds readers, is the guy who transformed business presentations into an art form. Using those presentation secrets, a top Apple executive said, you can:

  • take charge of any room
  • sell products
  • build brands
  • engage teams
  • convey ideas persuasively
  • turn prospects into clients

That sounds almost too good to be true, but, hey, if using some of those presentation skills in business blog content writing can turn prospects into clients – count me in!

Gallo points out Jobs’ unrelenting focus on results – will using your product or service help prospects:

  • make money?
  • save money?
  • have an easier time of it?

“Remember, your widget doesn’t inspire,” Gallo reminds marketers. Whichever the primary benefit you have to offer, tell prospects about that, and tell it to them early, often, and clearly, Gallo says.

Gallo pinpoints 3 practical applications of Jobs’ style speakers can use (and, of course, we content writers are nothing if not presenters):

  1. Casual language is what the people want. (Make the numbers relevant to something with which readers are already familiar.)
  2. Minimal content is best suited for long term memory. (Create a memorable moment for the audience, revealing some new and unexpected information, or telling a story.)
  3. Create ways to use the villain/hero narrative. (Spend time describing the problem in detail. “Build the pain.”)

The goal of each business blog post should be to leave readers absolutely knowing why they need to care, not about your product or service, but about the way they are going to feel after using it!

Use the presentation secrets of Steve Jobs in your business blogging!


Two “Ifs” to Making Interview Blogs Intriguing

Job applicant having an interview


Just one of “101 blog post ideas that will make your blog ‘hot’” offered by is this:  Interview someone. But interviews, the author warns, are popular only in two cases:

  1. You deliver an interview with an important “someone” who rarely speaks in public

You rally useful and practical tips and content.

As a blog-content-writer-for-hire by business owners and professional practitioners, I’ve found, the interview format very useful in creating posts that are more compelling in many cases than the typical narrative text. I do the interview blog in two steps:

Step One: In a face-to-face (or Skype) interview with a business owner or executive (or professional practitioner), I am able to capture their ideas and some of their words.

Step Two: I then add “framing” to the post with my own questions and introductions.

Although this Say it For You blog has a non-monetized business model, unlike Mi Muba’s, I like what Muba has to say about the five most common objectives of publishing an interview blog post:

  • To help your readers learn from the expertise of interviewee
  • To inspire your readers with the success story of the interviewee
  • To practically guide your readers how to succeed in a given field
  • To provide your readers the chance to interact with interviewee through commenting
  • To add variety to your content after several simply descriptive posts

When you think about it, business blogs themselves are nothing more than extended interviews.  Just as in a face-to-face job interview, searchers who read your blog evaluate the content, judging whether you’re a good fit for them. Most modern job interviewers follow a behavioral interview style, meaning they focus less on facts (the employer already has read those facts on your resume) but on how you, the prospective employee, tend to function in various situations. In other words, the employer is trying to discover the person behind the resume.

We blog content writers need to conduct interviews the same way, and, for the benefit of the readers, reveal the business owner behind the blog!





7th Century Dance Plague Could Be a Plus in a Business Blog


Fitness dancing

The first outbreak of “dancing mania” occurred in the seventh century, Mental Floss magazine relates, and cases sporadically struck every few decades after that. France, Holland, and Germany all suffered, we’re told.  Worst, though, was the July 14, 1518, when Frau Toffea of Strasbourg, France danced for three straight days.  By the time she was hauled away, more than thirty other dancers had joined in, and within a month, one hundred people were frantically jogging without being able to stop! Dancers hyperventilated and hallucinated, unable to stop for food or rest.  Heart attack, heat, and exhaustion claimed lives. After striking 400 people, the Strasbourg plague, which had lasted until September, suddenly ended.

Medical historians have ventured opinions as to the possible causes for the plague, attributing it factors ranging from ergot, a poisonous mold to Sydenham’s chorea (a disorder linked to rheumatic fever that causes twitching).One theory attributes the plague to stress-induced mass psychosis (smallpox, syphilis, and famine were everywhere at that time).

I love “reading around” and “learning around”, as I call it, and encourage all blog content writers to do the same. This piece about dancing mania, like any piece of trivia, can be used to spark curiosity and entertain readers. You may use trivia to:

  • put modern-day beliefs and practices into perspective
  • explain what problems can be solved using that business’ products and services
  • define basic terminology
  • offer statistics showing that many others have faced the same issue as the one concerning the current reader

It’s easy to imagine using the dance mania story in the business blog for a dance studio or a, disk jockey, but it might also be used by a nutritionist or exercise coach to stress the importance of regular meals and maintaining hydration during exercise.

Continually coming up with fresh content to inform, educate, and entertain readers is a pretty tall order for busy business owners and employees. Trivia can solve the problem! 


Healthy Plate Business Blogging



In honor of National Nutrition Month (last month), my friend Mary Ann Wietbrock published a blog post that exemplifies some of the key advice points I’ve been offering in my Say It For You business blogging tutorials:

  • “Grabber” opening line or focus sentence
    “What is on your plate?” Wietbrock asks.  Sure, in any SEO marketing blog, it’s the keyword phrases in the title that start the job of getting the blog found.  Burt, once the online visitor has actually landed, it takes a great opener to fan the flicker of interest into a flame.  In fact, a big part of blog content writing, I’ve found, involves getting the “pow opening line” right.
  • Visual
    The picture is colorful and illustrates the precise points the author is stressing in the text. In business blogging, every post needs a visual element in order to be truly effective.  While the words you use to tell the story are the most important part of blogging for business, what visuals do is add interest and evoke emotional responses.
  • Easy to understand chart
    “This plate of food has the following essential nutrients and takes less than 5 minutes to prepare,” the blogger assures readers. For each nutrient, she lists the amount and the reason that nutrient is important (the 112 grams of protein help build muscle, while the 292 mg. of potassium help keep the heart calm). Charts help organize the information in readers’ minds, aiding the learning process.
  • Offer of resources
    “Menus available at” takes readers to the relevant page on the website. One way to add value to a blog is aggregating resources for the benefit of your readers, in the form of outside content  – giving proper credit – along with your own. In fact, by “marinating” our own ideas in others’ material, we never run out of fresh content to satisfy both the search engines and the searchers.
  • Calls to action
    There are at least four calls to action in this one short post: Contact at… phone number and website. Request menus.  Sign up for Lunch & Learn. Comment. Does asking for a customer’s business invalidate the good information provided in the blog? Not in the least.  When people go online to search for information and click on different links, they’re aware of the fact that the providers of information are out to do business.  As long as the material is valuable and relevant for the searchers, they’re perfectly fine with knowing there’s someone who wants them for a client or a customer.

Does your business blog include all the elements of a “healthy plate”?





For Business Blogging, Get in the Remote Mindset


Photographer Willie B. Thomas


“In the last decade, remote work has exploded in popularity,” says Skillcrush. “It’s totally feasible to land a lucrative, fulfilling career without selling your soul to the daily commute,” Browning assures readers, cautioning that interviews for remote jobs come with their own set of pitfalls.

Interviewees for remote jobs have to demonstrate they are pros at managing time, prioritizing tasks, and communicating with boss and coworkers. Business blog content writers, I reflected, reading this advice, have precisely the same challenges. Without being face to face with the prospect reading the blog, the business owner or professional practitioner (or the blog content writer they’ve hired) must demonstrate expertise, reliability, and empathy.

With all the different communications options, including not only blogging, but social media, mobile apps, forms, webinars, etc., “It’s easy to forget that Expertise is the #1 ingredient for  successful content marketing and blogging,” according to “Without expertise, all these methods are reduced to fancy magic tricks that capture your reader’s attention for a moment.”

Readers come to your blog looking for the answer to two questions, pushing explains:

  1. Can this person/company/practice help me?
  2. Do these people know what they’re talking about?

Without being face to face with readers, blog content writers use words to prove that the answer to each of those two questions is a resounding “Yes!”

But how do you demonstrate that you can help a prospect when you have no proof  – no case studies, testimonials, or clients yet? That question was actually asked of John Jantsch of ducttapemarketing. Jantch’s three-point response:  Publish, Partner, Podium. “Start sharing your expertise and point of view on your own blog,” Jantsch advises, and ”Offer to write guest blog posts.”

Whether you’re a newbie or veteran blog content writer, for business blogging, get in the remote mindset!





In-Command Business Blogging

COMMAND -   3D stock image of Red text on white background
Messages have two aspects, explains Elizabeth J. Natalle in Teaching Interpersonal Communication, the report aspect and the command aspect. Since we blog content writers are always looking to find the right tone to translate corporate message into people-to-people terms, I found Natalle’s explanation of the two categories very useful.

I put the well-written article “50 Ways to Live a Longer, Healthier Life” (in the March issue of the AARP Magazine) to the control/command test. Author Nick Farrai offers lots of information and statistics from credible sources, including:

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel review
  • 15 studies published in the European Heart Journal
  • New York University’s Langone Medical Center
  • Harvard University’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health
  • JAMA Internal Medicine
  • American Heart Association
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Concordia University
  • U.S. Department of Transportation

So how did this long article fare when it came to the command aspect? (Remember that the command aspect related to the relationship between the communicants – the people offering the advice and those for whom the advice is intended). I gave Farrai high marks for knowing his audience, and for showing how the information he was serving up would help you (he uses the word “you” a lot, which is great for creating a relationship). He’s “giving away” highly useful tips with no hint of salesmanship. “With this collection of some of the most important longevity findings, you’ll have the road map you need to get to 80, 90, 100 or beyond.”

The 50 healthful hints following each set of statistics and findings come in the form of definitive “commands”.

  • “Go nuts”.
  • “Keep watching LOL cat videos”
  • “Get social”
  • “Watch your grandkids”
  • “Read more”
  • Practice home fire drills”
  • “Take the stairs every day.”

You might say the art of blog marketing consists of supplying facts, and then putting those facts in context, which is precisely what this AARP article does. As bloggers, we’re giving readers the raw materials to think about, but we need to go one step further, demonstrating why those facts matter, and suggesting ways readers can use the information for their own benefit. That’s exactly what in-command business blogging does!



Does Your Blog Post Command or Report?



remote control
There are two aspects to any communication, explains Elizabeth J. Natalle in Teaching Interpersonal Communication. The report aspects conveys information, while the command aspect refers to the relationship between the communicants. The command aspect sets a tone, which might be focused on:

  • this is how I see myself…
  • this is how I see you…
  • this is how I see you seeing me…

Natalle contrasts two statements about driving a car to make her point:

  1. “It is important to release the clutch gradually and smoothly.”
  2. “Just let the clutch go, and it will ruin the transmission in no time.”

One interesting perspective on the work we do as professional bloggers is that we are interpreters, translating clients’ corporate message into people-to-people terms, trying to find exactly the right tone. That first statement about the clutch would be purely informational, for example, with no connection being formed between the reader and the business owner or practitioner. On the other hand the second statement takes a “how to” tone, a tone that can be very useful in blog marketing.

Crystal Gouldey of AWeber Communications names five different “tones” to consider when planning a blog:

  • The formal, professional tone
  • The casual tone
  • The professional-but-friendly tone
  • The sales pitch tone
  • The friendly sales pitch toneConsistency is important, Gouldey thinks. “It will be very confusing for subscribers if you talk to them one way and the next week you talk to them in a different way,” Gouldey says.

’T aint necessarily so, I teach. For one thing, a company blog can have different contributors, each of whom might have a different styles of presenting information. But even with a single author, the use of different tones can lend variety and interest.  The only exceptions would be the “sales pitch” tones, probably better left out of the blog mix.

Does your blog post command or report? Your business blog can do both!



In Blogging, the More Things Change……

old newspaper ads


On a recent tour of interesting Indiana places, I picked up the most fascinating souvenir – The Daily Review newspaper published February 19, 1908 in Crawfordsville.

Since my work at Say It For You centers around business marketing, I was particularly fascinated with Page 3 of the paper, which sported a crazy patchwork  of advertisements. Needless to say, the prices of goods more than 110 years ago provided a source of entertainment: Men’s tailored suits were available for a cost ranging from $18 to $40, while two light brooms were advertised at 25 cents for the pair. Interested in real estate? 58 acres of good land, including a six-room house, a barn, a large orchard were going for $2,450.

Since a favorite topic of mine as a professional ghost blogger and business blogging trainer is commanding readers’ attention, even more interesting to me as I scanned the Daily Review were the different appeals advertisers used to grab readers’ attention:

Problem solving
“Is your heating apparatus working satisfactorily?  If there is anything wrong, just telephone me and I’ll fix it in a jiffy,” claimed Dan Pickett.  “If you have forgotten your laundry till Friday or Saturday, call on us.  We make a specialty of time work,” James P. Grimes & Sons assured prospects. “Kill the cough and cure the lungs!” is the way Dr. King promoted his cough medicine.

Price reductions
“Our entire stock of furniture and stoves to be closed out in the next 30 days at prices unheard of before,” said Joel Block, while jeweler and optician Otto announced he would be selling 101 Masonic Temple souvenir spoons, normally priced at $1.75 and $2.25, for only $1.00 each.

Special expertise
“I make a specialty of high grade enlargements consisting of all sizes and finish.  Remember this work is done by hand, which I make in my own studio,” claimed Bert Vancleave. “You get the benefit of our technical knowledge and of our persistently clear cut methods,” said corner jeweler J.A. Oswald.

Fear marketing
“How is your home?” asked O.W. Stafford & Co. “Is it fully insured? When the fire is started, it is too late to get it insured.  Better let us write that policy today.”

Appeal to customers’ desire to be part of a trend
“Smoke a clay pipe. They are the thing in pipes just now.”


Back in 1908, to be sure, no one was blogging. Still, today, although blogs should be more like advertorials than advertisements, every one of these advertising approaches might be used in business blog writing to appeal to consumers.

You know what they say:  The more things change, the more they remain the same!


Put Words in Blog Readers’ Mouths

Word Toolbox Teaching Tools Resources Spelling Reading Lesson Ai“Learn the lingo to beat the scammers,” advises Sid Kirchheimer in this month’s AARP magazine. “Knowledge is power” the author explains, proceeding to “put readers’ mouths” so that they can feel confident about protecting themselves from fraudsters.

A “catfish”, Kirscheimer explains, is someone who creates a fake online profile to intentionally deceive you, while “hash busters” are random words contained in spam emails that allow them to bypass your spam filters. “Pharming” refers to malicious programs that route you to their own websites, while “scareware” displays on-screen warnings of nonexistent infections.

“Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service”, a customer service training manual by Renee Evenson, is based on the same knowledge-is-power idea. “Using powerful phrases – the right words – when you communicate gives you the confidence that you’re communicating your best…What you say can make all the difference in how your customers view you and your company,” says Evenson.

We know. And, as blog content writers, we need to be conscious of the difference the right words can make in marketing our clients’ businesses or professional practices. But what the AARP article made clear to me was the importance of what they say (meaning the customers and prospects).

One very important use of the blog becomes arming readers with a sense of control. It’s that feeling of confidence in knowing the lingo which allows readers to feel ease in making buying decisions.

Sid Kirschheimer spends an entire page teaching readers “scam-speak”.  An essential part of business blog marketing, I’m convinced, is “putting words in blog readers’ mouths!”


Case Study Business Blogging

Case study
“To explore uncertainty reduction theory, I ask students to analyze a case study in groups of four to six people for about 15 to 20 minutes,” says Elizabeth Natalle in Teaching Interpersonal Communication. The case study, she adds, is a good teaching technique because students can participate actively and demonstrates choice making.

Stories of all kinds – customer testimonials, famous incidents from the news, Hollywood doings, folklore – you name it - help personalize a business blog. Even if a professional  writer is composing the content, true-story material increases engagement by readers with the business or practice. Case studies are particularly effective in creating interest, because they are relatable and “real”.

I think that’s why, back in Journalism 101 class, we were taught to “put a face on the issue” by beginning the article with a human example  A story about rising food prices, for example, might begin with “Susie Hellenbecker’s putting things back on the shelf. With the price of cereal and fruit so high, she’s decided there’s no longer room in the budget for those, or for her favorite salad dressing.”

A case study takes that personalization even further, chronicling a customer or client who had a problem or need, and taking readers through the various stages of using the product or service to solve that problem. What were some of the issues that arose along the way? What new insights were gained through that experience, on the part of both the business and the customer?

“Case studies are a great way to tell the world how valuable your products or services are. They go beyond simple testimonials by showing real-life examples of how you were able to satisfy your customer’s needs and help them accomplish their goals,” teaches. “With great case studies, you will be able to highlight your successes in a way that will make your ideal potential customer become your customer.”



Blog the Second Side of the Story


An anecdote submitted by a grandma to Reader’s Digest reminded me of something my own maternal grandmother taught us grandkids: there are at least two sides to every story.

The opthalmologist’s very cute assistant was examining my 20-year-old
grandson, when out of the blue she said, ‘You must really work out.’ ‘Well,
yes, I do,’ said my grandson, beaming.  ‘I run and lift weights. Thank you for
noticing.’ ‘Oh, you misunderstood,’ she said. ‘You have popped blood vessel
in your eyes.  We see that with people who work out.’

As a corporate blogging trainer, I’m always considering different ways of communicating with online readers.  Basically, I think of myself and my writers at Say It For You as offering a sort of matchmaking service that helps our clients “meet strangers” and hopefully convert at least some of them into friends and customers. At the same time, we need to keep in mind that readers’ will process the information we offer in the context of their own past experience.

Part of the secret to avoiding misunderstandings lies in our getting to know our target market. “There’s no hard and fast rule that governs what fields are mandatory for all landing page forms,” cautions Meghan Lockwood of HubSpot.  “Instead, marketers need to review their sales and lead generation goals and balance how much information they absolutely need from their leads vs. how much information those prospects will actually provide on a first form,”

Even with the best of research, different consumers are going to process our content in different ways. That’s not necessarily bad news. In blogging for business, why not present several aspects and opinions on an issue, allowing for the merits of each? In other words, make clear that this business or professional practice has chosen to carry on in a certain way, but that there were other options. Let readers come to their own conclusions about which approach is more in tune with their needs and opinions.

Understand your target market, but don’t be afraid to express a strong opinion. There’s something to be said for blogging the second side of the story!




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