Conversational Blogging Takes Practice – Part B

Counter-intuitive as that may seem, Gallo explains, “Conversational delivery takes practice,” Gallo stresses in Talk Like TED, tracing the creation of a Dr. Jill presentation in Indianapolis.

As a content writer for marketing blogs, I often explain to clients and to newbie writers that that blogs (compared to, say, brochures, white papers, and newsletters) are casual and conversational.  In fact, that’s precisely what makes it convenient for companies and professional practitioners to use blogs to achieve the frequency needed to win online search engine ranking.

But, as Gallo so aptly points out about the Dr. Jill TED talk, “conversational” still takes practice. The point I want to make is that the steps Dr. Jill used in preparing for her talk can be extremely valuable in blog content writing. Earlier this week, I discussed idea generation and the method any serious blog writer must develop for capturing ideas – from conversations, magazines, radio, billboards, for later blog post content. After typing out her longhand notes, Dr. Jill condensed the material into major points. Gathering ideas, then selecting one central concept to emphasize in each post are each vital steps in blog marketing.

Having honed her ideas and condensed the content, the next step for Dr. Jill was perhaps the most challenging – figuring out how to deliver the message. “Great speakers act out a story,” Gallo says, noting that Dr. Jill “weighs the entertainment component of her presentation as equally as she does the others.” In fact, Gallo’s opinion is that “the problem with most technical or scientific discussions is that presenters fail to make their content visual, interesting, and entertaining.”

When it comes to business marketing blogs, a true content contribution solves customer problems in three ways:

  • by educating
  • by informing
  • by entertaining

While good blog posts can and should be entertaining, most online searchers are not pursuing a recreational activity, but instead are on a fact-finding mission. On the other hand, images can go a very long way in adding excitement and interest.

Dan Hughes of jtvdigital observes that “In this day and age, pictures and video are powerful promotional tools that cater to the attention span of the modern digital consumer.” However, Hughes continues, “well-crafted copy is an essential part of success.”

Conversational blogging may not take all the prep time of a TED talk, but it certainly takes practice!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Conversational Blogging Takes Practice – Part A

 

When Dr. Jill gave her TED Talk in Indianapolis, reports Carmine Gallo in Talk Like Ted, her presentation seemed natural, authentic, animated, and conversational. Counter-intuitive as that may seem, Gallo explains, “Conversational delivery takes practice. Dr. Jill rehearsed her presentation not once, twice, or even 20 times. She rehearsed it 200 times!” Gallo notes.

Dr. Jill went through several important steps in preparing to deliver that TED talk, Gallo says:

  1. walking the beach with a notepad, writing down words and ideas
  2. reading what she had written out loud to feel how the words and sounds worked together
  3. typing out the notes she’d written in longhand
  4. condensing the material into five major points
  5. figuring out how to deliver the message in a visual, interesting, and entertaining way
  6. rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing

As a blog content writer, I often explain to clients and to newbie blog writers that that blogs, unlike brochures, client newsletters, online magazines, and websites, are short and concise, less crafted and more casual and conversational than other marketing pieces. In fact, that’s what makes it so feasible to use blogs to achieve the frequency that’s needed to win online search engine rankings – there simply aren’t as many steps to the process.

But, as Gallo so aptly points out, “conversational” still takes practice. It may not be feasible to create 200 different iterations of each blog post, yet in great part, the steps Dr. Jill in preparing for her conversational TED talk can prove extremely valuable in blog content writing.

While walking the beach with a notepad may not always be feasible in the Midwest, idea generation begins the blogging process. “The best blog ideas often happen during a conversation, in the shower, or while listening to a seminar. Don’t fight it. Instead, have a method for capturing these ideas so you can save them for later,” advised Michael Reynolds in a guest post for Say It For You.

Condensing is a crucial step in blog marketing; the rule I cite when offering business blogging assistance is simply: “Make blog posts as long as they need to be to get the point across (and just one or two points should be emphasized in each post to begin with), but not a single sentence longer.

Conversational blogging may not take all the prep time of TED talk, but it certainly takes practice!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Opening Gambits in Blogging for Business

 

When you’re serving up seventeen articles about the very same topic, how do you keep things different and engaging? It’s all in the opening lines, I discovered, looking through TIME’s special edition, The Science of Exercise.

Of course, that’s hardly “new news” – I’ve always stressed to new content writers that opening lines have a big job to do. “Cute-sy” writing may not cut it, either, because, as blog content writers, we can hardly afford to be enigmatic in our attempt to arouse curiosity. We have to assure readers they’ve come to the right place to find the information that satisfies their need for answers. On the other hand, a “pow” opening line may be just what’s needed to keep a reader progressing through the page.

  •  “Ever since high school, Mark Tarnopolsky has blurred the line between jock and nerd.”
  • “Is your DNA your destiny? Not if you exercise, suggests new research.”
  • “If you’ve ever opened a birthday card to a message that reads ‘It’s all downhill from here’, you’re likely at an age when, according to popular opinion, your best days are behind you.”

Openers come in different flavors and sizes.  To help my business owner and professional practitioner clients and their freelance blog content writers focus on their blog post openers, I’ve selected several personal favorites out of The Science of Exercise:

Bold assertion
“Exercise is a miracle drug,” is the opening statement of “The Incredible Medicine of Movement”, in which New York sports medicine physician Jordan Metzl reviews scientific research providing “irrefutable evidence of the medicinal value of exercise.”

In-your-face statement
“There’s such a thing as good pain.” Robert Davis is referring to DOMS, the  delayed-onset muscle soreness that comes after exercise, but that opener is counter-intuitive enough to grab attention.

Thought provoker
“There’s no denying that running is one of the most democratic ways to work out.” Author Alexander Sifferlin explains that running can be done anytime, anywhere, with the only requirement being a good pair of running shoes and stamina. That opening line leaves readers wondering just why Sifferlin selected the unlikely descriptor “democratic” for exercise, and encourages them to keep reading to learn the answer.

Personal anecdote
“As I huffed and puffed up the subway stairs, trying to catch the elevated train to work one recent morning….” Blog readers respond to first and second person nouns. It can be highly effective to relate how you personally went through the same failure stages.

When you’re a blog content writing serving up many posts over time, all revolving around the very same general topic, how do you keep things different and engaging? It’s all in the opening lines!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Text Still Tops in Delivering Information

infographic

“For years now, I have been listening to numerous digital marketing experts preach about the end of written content as we know it,” Milica of fourdots.com writes. “Even though the entire Web is basically built on it, more than a few experts believe that sooner or later, video is going to take over.”

According to those text-doomsday-ers, Milica explains, the two main reasons text is nearing its death are a) the dramatic decrease in the average attention span of readers, and b) lack of time. Of course, there’s also content overkill, she adds, expressing sadness over the fact that, “although almost every brand is creating and publishing at least some type of content on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis – the overall quality of it has never been lower.”

As a Say It For You blog content writer and trainer, of course, I share Milica’s commitment to words, appreciating the despite-all-that, 4-point case the author makes for text’s continuing viability as the primary driver of online communication:

  1. Unlike video, text gives you the option to stop exactly where you want to, wrapping your mind around a certain piece of information.
  2. Unlike video, text can be easily updated and upgraded.
  3. B2B buyers consume whitepapers, case studies, and webinars, looking for industry thought leadership.
  4. Text stimulates the mind like nothing else.  Video communicates many different things all at one, destroying focus.

The Infographic Design Team agrees. “First, consider the fact that nothing can replace the spoken or printed word. Words are the most important center of our system of language. They express things in a direct manner that carried more meaning than any amount of images, graphics, or pictures could do. At the same time, the Infographicdesignteam authors admit, infographics “captivate the eye in a stronger way due to their attractive images, colors, shapes, and forms, allowing you “to have a more minimalist type site that focuses more on images and graphics to tell a story”.

At Say It For You, we like to cover both bases with “infographic blog posts” designed to include both visual elements and text in a “show-and-tell” combination. As infographicdesignteam.com aptly puts it, “Graphics and infographics complement the text you write in your blogs”.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Would-You-Rather Blogging for Business

People like hearing other people’s opinions almost as much as they like expressing their own, which accounts for the popularity of the party game “Would You Rather”, in which a dilemma is posed the form of a question beginning with the words “Would you rather”. Would you rather be forced to wear wet socks for the rest of your life or be allowed to wash your hair only once a year? Wear someone else’s dirty underwear or use someone else’s toothbrush? Always have to tell the truth or always have to lie?

The format is highly adaptable to different audiences. The Seventeen Magazine version, for example, asks whether you’d rather live in a fro-yo shop or own your own ice cream truck, and whether you’d rather get thrown into the pool fully clothed or get caught skinny-dipping.

My point in all this? The Would-You-Rather format can work for business blogs. (As a corporate blogging trainer, I’m always considering different ways of communicating with online readers.)

While my writers at Say It For You offer a sort of matchmaking service to help our clients “meet strangers” and hopefully convert at least some of them into friends and customers, we need to realize that the readers will process the information we offer in the context of their own past experience and form their own opinions.

Opinion is compelling. When your blog reveals your unique slant or philosophy relating to your field, potential customer and clients feel they know who you are, not merely what you do. Revealing what you would rather, why you chose to do the kind of work you do, why you’ve created the kind of company or practice you have – that’s powerful stuff.

But what if we find that a business owner or practitioner hasn’t yet formed an opinion on some important trending topic? That’s where the blog can “take a poll”, asking readers for their slant! It’s even valuable to readers when you clarify and put into perspective both sides of a thorny issue within your industry or profession.

“Would You Rather” is popular because people like hearing other people’s opinions almost as much as they like expressing their own. Taking advantage of that in a business blog makes great business sense!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Wedding and Pro Bono Business Blog Gifting

If you’re going to disregard the preferred wedding gift list, what you give has to be good, advises Nicole Garner in Mental Floss Magazine. But, amazingly, the author adds, the most unique and valuable wedding gifts might not cost you anything except some thought and effort. You might pass on a family treasure, offer your skills in floral design, dress alternation, or invitation design, Garner suggests, or offer your time pet or house sitting while the couple is on their honeymoon.

At Say It For You, we believe that same concept of “freebie- gifts-with-thought” can apply to business blogs as well. When I’m helping new clients who are business owners or professional practitioners, I often find they feel some ambiguity about planning their blog post content.  In the beginning, many feel uneasy about giving away valuable information “for free”, even though they realize their blog will become a way of selling themselves and their services to online searchers.

Coschedule.com’s Julie Neidlinger talks about the power of blog giveaways, including portable content  in the form of downloads that don’t require people to stay on the site to enjoy. Blog giveaways get shared, and Neidlinger recommends giving away material that is:

  • fun
  • educational
  • reputation-building
  • ongoing

“The reason there is disagreement on giving things away is because some bloggers are approaching it purely from the viewpoint of marketing, while other bloggers are trying to make their living off of content,” she notes. (In the case of our Say It For You team, we’re coming at blogging from the marketing side, helping business owners and professionals tell their stories.  Neither our writers nor the clients are in the business of selling content to readers.) That means there’s every reason to openly “give away” tips and how-tos that relate to each client’s expertise.

Through the blog content we write:

  • A caterer “gives away” recipes and table decorating tips.
  • A hospital operating room supply company “gives away” tips on pressure ulcer prevention.
  • An insurance company “gives away” tips on workplace safety.
  • A jeweler “gives away” tips on safety cleaning and storing necklaces.
  • A search firm “gives away” valuable resume-building and interviewing advice.

Yes, as Nicole Garner points out, what you give has to be good, but the most unique and valuable pieces of advice offered on a good business blog might not cost readers anything!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

In Business Blogs, Keep the Downbeat Upbeat

Orchestra conductor
In blogging for business, the last thing you’d want to be is “downbeat”. (One dictionary definition of “downbeat” is pessimistic, gloomy, negative, and fatalistic.). On the other hand, “downbeat” might be the very effect I want to achieve in order set the mood for my blog post. (The word “downbeat” is a musical term referring to the opening bars of the music, in which the composer sets the mood for the concerto to come.)

The equivalent in blog writing of an orchestra’s downbeat (the conductor’s baton is raised while a hush falls over the audience, then comes down to start the music) is the opening sentence of each post.

From a search engine optimization standpoint, of course, I want to use keyword phrases in the title and in the first sentence, because that helps search engines match my content with the search terms online readers use. Even more important, though, it’s imperative to make the first ten words of any post count.

“Great opening sentences are critical when you’re writing for the internet, where readers have the attention span of fruit flies,” John Hargrave of Mediashower.com says, citing a survey done by Microsoft of more than 2 billion page views, and found that users spend ten seconds on an average Web page On the other hand, the longer you retain them, researchers learned, the more likely they are to stay. At Media Shower, Hargrave says, “we train our writers to spend more time on the opening sentence than any other part of the article.”

Wayne Schmidt agrees. “Whether a story’s fifty words long or a hundred thousand, the most important passage is the opening paragraph. In the few seconds it takes to read it, most readers decide if finishing the tale is worth their time.” Start with a sentence that makes the reader ask a question, Schmidt suggests. (People hate unanswered questions.) It doesn’t have to be a literal question, just something that piques the reader’s curiosity.

Another approach for the “downbeat” is a “tease”, Michael Pollack suggests, withholding a key piece of information till later in the piece so the reader is compelled to keep reading. “What if I said that every TV network, movie, blog, book, and other forms of media use this same tactic?” Writing something that goes against the status quo or conflicts with conventional wisdom is another way to get attention, Pollack points out.

In business blogs, it’s downright important to keep the downbeat upbeat!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

It’s Been Said Before, and That’s OK in Blogging for Business

Repeat - 3D image of colorful glass text on vibrant background

“Good writing doesn’t get hung up on what’s been said before,” advises Ann Handley in Everybody Writes. “Rather it elects to simply say it better.”

That piece of advice, I believe, applies not only to what others have written on your topic, but to what you’ve had to say in earlier blog posts. In corporate blogging training sessions, I often explain that it’s perfect OK – in fact a good idea – to repeat themes you’ve already covered in former posts, adding a layer of new information or a new insight each time.

Rather than asking yourself, each time you’re preparing to blog, whether you’ve already covered that material and how long ago, I teach newbie content providers to plan around key themes. Then, what you’re doing in any one post, I explain, is filling in new details, examples, and illustrations.

And when it comes to writing on topics that others have already written about, remember that ideas are not “copyrightable”. As one writer put it, “You are absolutely free to use someone else’s idea as a jumping-off point for your own expression.”

One interesting thing I’ve discovered over the past ten years of writing Say It For You blogs and offering business blogging help to others, is that blogging forces business owners and professional practitioners to verbalize the positive aspects of their own products and services.  Those “training benefits” are not lost to those who hire freelance content like me to be their voice. That’s because the very process of choosing themes, sharing strategies, and planning for content creation involves both owner and writer.

When that synergy is created, something much better than OK happens, resulting in nothing less than great blogging for business!

 

 

 

 

 

 

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Even More About Words to Use in Blogging for Business

 

Word Of Mouth Represents Social Media Marketing And Connect
“Having something to contribute to a conversation makes us feel good,” schoolwebmasters.com points out, advising schools on communication strategy. “Everyone likes to feel knowledgeable, included, and validated. It’s even typical in group conversations for someone to be thinking more of what they can add to the conversation than actively listening to what other people are saying”.

Rule #4 schoolwebmasters offers school personnel is this: “Keep your mission and message short and memorable.  Think about what you want people to say when they start talking, and work that message into your communication strategy.” As blog content writers, we can truly appreciate this next piece of advice: “A long, complicated message isn’t going to be repeated in word-of-mouth instances….Keep things positive and simple.”

Since the words we use in business blog content are our most important power tools, how can we use words to enhance word of mouth marketing results for our business owner and professional practitioner clients?

Marketers used to focus on the 4 Ps, Kimberly Whitler writes in Forbes. Now, Whitler claims, we need to focus on the three Es: Engage, Equip, Empower. In blog marketing, I teach, one of the goals is to “put words into readers’ mouths”, equipping them to make meaningful contributions to conversations – about you and about your products and services.

Often what really makes up a consumer’s mind is a word-of-mouth recommendation from a trusted source.  “As consumers overwhelmed by product choices tune out the ever-growing barrage of traditional marketing, word of mouth cuts through the noise quickly and effectively,“ observes the McKinsey Quarterly.

In blogging for business, we need to “put words into consumers’ mouths”!

 

 

 

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Still More About Words to use in Blogging for Business

Words have power text on notepad
It’s the one lesson blog content writers can never afford to forget – the right words are our business blogging power tools. Sure, images (pictures, video clips, infographics) have power of their own.  But never forget that, in blogging, words matter, as Jennifer Olney of bealeader.com points out. Words are art, Olney emphasizes, and, as bloggers, we must “convey our message in words so that we can be understood without distraction”.

“Blogging has become the best possible way to leverage your online presence and gain traction with Internet searches performed by your potential clients.”(No surprise there, but what I did find surprising is the source of the remark – none other than the National Association of Realtors!)

 “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 Renee Evenson in “Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service.”  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.

Customers and clients talk to each other. “Research generally supports the claim that WOM (word of mouth marketing) can be more influential than print sources,”  An essential part of business blog marketing, I’m convinced, is “putting words in blog readers’ mouths”, helping them feel knowledgeable and in control in discussing the buying choices they’ve made with friends, neighbors and family.

“Building a successful word of mouth marketing machine is a dream for nearly every small business,” explains Chelsea Segal of Targetwise. “Word of mouth is about making your product and customer service so incredible that people can’t help but talk about it.”  Segal advises combing through what’s being said about you on various social media channels.  As blog content writers, we should look for congruence between the words customers use and the words we use to describe the product or service.

The words we use in our blog content, the words our clients use in talking to us and to others about us – it’s all about words.  The right ones are our business blog marketing power tools!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Magic Marketing Words to Use in Blogging for Business

 

Hand drill
Certain words and phrases are time-tested to boost response and conversion rates, vertical response.com explains. Those “magic” words include “free”, “value”, “guaranteed”, “amazing”, “easy”, “discover”, “new”, “proven”, and “secret”.

Since your marketing message is often the very first contact between you and a potential customer, it’s important to nail that first impression, adds Brandon Redlinger of kissmetrics. Since people make buying decisions with emotion and then justify those decisions with logic, your message must use psychological triggers to elicit a feeling in the reader’s mind.

Every time someone in your target audience reads your primary marketing message, you want to create an implicit question that follows your statement – “How do you do that?”  Rather than describing your business or profession by its title or category (plumber, dentist, tutor, hardware merchant), think mission statement, describing how you help customers.  Instead of “XYZ is the largest recruiting firm in the Midwest”, try “At XYZ, we help customers find better paying jobs that they love.”

There are four simple rules to help blog marketers choose words for a persuasive post, explains Henneke of enchantingmarketing.com. Pick:

  • words your readers use
  • precise words
  • sensory words
  • relevant words

There are bland words, which should be avoided, Henneke adds:

  • Chewy and tasteless words (really, actually, very) that slow down the reader without adding meaning
  • Stale words (ultimate, amazing, awesome) that have lost meaning over time
  • Doughy words (them, there, is, was, are) no longer flavorsome
  • Low nutrition words (good, nice, bad, successful, effective) whose meaning is weak

Cut out unnecessary words, advises Kayla Izard of resoundcreative.com, listing examples that include:

  • essentially
  • really
  • due to the fact
  • past history
  • for all intents and purposes
  • in terms of

Remember, the right words are our business blogging power tools!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

The Right Words – Business Blogging Power Tools

Cordless power tools, isolated on a white background
It’s too bad that in the course of doing business, we get so tied up in making a good, marketable product and in serving our customers’ needs, we often forget how much help the right words can be. In fact, when it comes to web-based communication, words, along with images are our only tools. As a blog content writer, not only do I derive special pleasure in nicely turned phrases, I consider those “word tidbits” to be business blogging power tools.

Use “I did” phrases, not. “I am” phrases
Just as on a resume or in a job interview, employers want to see strong action words that highlight specific accomplishments rather than titles, a blog should focus on how the business or professional practice has been able to deliver value to customers and clients. In composing the blog content, think “we achieved”, “we improved”, “we created”.

Avoid zipping points
Zipping points, according to witty public radio host Michael Feldman, are over-used phrases he believes should be kept inside our heads and never allowed to escape our lips – or pens! Avoid once-popular expressions such as “going forward” and “low-hanging fruit”, or “game-changer”.

Use keyword phrases effectively
Proper use of keyword phrases to enhance Search Engine Optimization is the “science” part of the blogging equation. But avoid “stuffing” by keeping the percentage of keywords in the text below 5% of total content, incorporating the keywords in the text in an unobtrusive and natural way to that readers’ attention is focused only on the message.

Use words to put statistics into perspective
Using numbers in blog post titles is a great way to set expectations for a post. But where the words come in, I believe, is that one of the primary functions blogs serve is putting statistics into perspective, so that readers are given the answer to the “So what?” and “So, what’s in-it-for-me” questions.

Words you never use in blogging for business
There are three categories of potential trouble in choosing words, asserts Jay Baer, author of Hug Your Haters:  words that lack humility, words that diminish the customer, and words of argument and avoidance.  As business blog content writers, of course, we’re trying to create great online interactions with customers and prospects, so Baer’s advice is particularly apropos.

The right words are our business blogging power tools!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Blogs and Lawyers’ Briefs

lawyers guide
Having spent years trying to write like a lawyer (I think the number of blog posts I’ve created for attorneys is now approaching 5,100), it was amusing to learn they might be trying to write like me! In fact, there’s a new book out called Thinking like a writer: a lawyer’s guide to effective writing and editing. 

Lawyerist.com teaches lawyers how to create powerful introductions when arguing a case in court. An effective introduction, the authors teach, does three main things to and for a judge:

  1. It rouses the judge.
  2. It gives the judge an overview.
  3. It tells the judge what to do.

Lawerist offers one example of an opening line that does all three things – grabs the judge’s attention, explains what the motion is about, and gives the judge a reason to keep reading:

“Plaintiffs’ complaint could not violate more fundamental pleading requirements….”

Rousing the judge
Unlike trial lawyers, we blog content writers can ill afford to bash our competition, much less in our opening line.  Our task is to assure readers they’ve come to the right place to find the information that satisfies the need that brought them online in the first place. Of course we need to arouse interest and curiosity, but it’s important for us to be quick to clarify where we’re going with the content of the post.

Giving an overview
As in a press release, in a blog post the most important information needs to be delivered up front, so the reader knows the overview of the story before you go into the details.

Telling the judge what to do
One core function of a blog marketing strategy is to engage audiences and drive action. What corporate blogging does best, I’ve often remarked, is deliver the kind of customers to a business website who are already interested in the product or services that website is touting. But then what?  In any marketing blog strategy, something needs to happen next.

“As a lawyer, you spend much of your time writing – so why not do it well?” asks ResearchGate. “You may think you’re an excellent lawyer, but you will not be a successful practitioner unless you can communicate the law effectively in writing to the person who must read and act on your letter or document.”

In blogging, as in lawyers’ briefs, we can be successful only by communicating our messages effectively in writing to readers.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Good Business Writing Attracts Good Business

All Or Nothing Keys Meaning Entire Or Zero

 

Poor business writing can never be undone, the American Marketing Association cautions in Business Writing Tips for Professionals. “It can cause you to lose business to your competition and could even cost you your job.”

Good business writing, on the other hand, is marked by using a strong, active voice, avoiding company acronyms and buzzwords. “Be clear, concise, and get to the point,” guiding readers by including a clear call to action, The AMA advises.

One AMA tip I found particularly relevant for business blog content writers is this: “Replace hyperbole with solid facts and reputable testimonials. Phrases like ‘We’re #1’, ‘We’re the leader in our field’, or ‘We provide the best service’ aren’t going to get you anywhere.”

I couldn’t agree more – blogging is not boasting.  In fact, the whole idea behind blogging is that, rather than running traditional ads for your brand of hats, or vitamins, or travel, you provide lots of information on the history of hats, on why vitamins are good for you, and about exciting places to go on safari.  Consumers interested in your subject, but who never even knew your name, come to see you as a resource. When blog readers follow your “calls to action” by phoning your business, faxing in a request or an order, signing up for your newsletter, subscribing to your blog through an RSS feed, or by proceeding to your shopping cart to buy your product or service, you know your blog marketing strategy is working.

But there are millions of other blogs out there for searchers to find, so what is it that can transform yours into a powerhouse?  Fellow blogger Michel Fortin answers that question in one word: PROOF!  People are skeptical, he explains, today more so than ever before.  If there’s reasonable doubt, you’re going to lose the sale.

There are several kinds of proof you can use:

  • Factual proof:  Offer statistics about the problem your product or service helps solve
  • Reverse proof: Compare your product or service with others that are on the market.
  • Credentializing proof: Tell about your years of experience, degrees, newspaper articles you’ve written or that have been written about you.
  • Evidential proof: Clinical trial results, testimonials, company or professional awards.

“A well-written article or report can be like that Porsche 911 Turbo, “the AMA concludes. “It will generate a ton of new business in half the time with more fun.”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

How Will They Know They’ve Been Helped?

Composite image of hands showing expectations

 

Financial planners could start the meeting with new clients by asking a simple question: “What is it that brings you in today?” the Journal of Financial Planning suggests. Another question to ask to get a sense of expectations is: “At the end of our meeting today, how will you know that it has been successful?”

“Managing expectations, for me, is the single most important aspect to maintaining a healthy and rewarding relationship with my clients,” Annie Pace Scranton writes in Forbes. Scranton suggest five ways to manage client expectations:

  • Be honest from the get-go
  • Under-promise and over-deliver
  • Anticipate the client’s needs
  • Be accessible for communication
  • Use reports to track work done of the course of a week or month

In thinking about how all this might apply to blog content writing, the question I want to raise is this: Since our content is often being read by people who are not yet our clients or customers, how can we address their expectations?

Sure, it’s easy to fall back on analytics: If readers remain on the page for a certain number of seconds or even minutes, if they click through to our website landing pages, if those readers call or email us, if they sign up for our RSS our blog or newsletter, etc., etc., we’ll know our blog posts have been successful.

But I’m fascinated by that image of the financial planner, before the interview has even begun, asking the prospects how they plan to judge whether or not their time was well spent in sitting down with her. Are there ways for us, through the design and language of each of our corporate or professional practice blog posts, to challenge readers to define in their own minds what would make them feel their time on our blog site was well spent?  Here are a couple of thoughts from Darren Rowse of problogger.com:

  • Communicate your own expectations clearly (how often you’ll post, what topics you’ll be covering, etc.
  • Identify common unmet expectations and pre-empt them
  • Don’t hype yourself

For my part, I put a lot of stock in the opening sentences of blog posts, because that’s where I think readers get a cue as to whether they’ve landed in the right place to find the information, products and service, or advice they were searching for.

Sure, it’s the keyword phrases in the title that start the job of getting the blog found. But, once the online visitor has actually landed, it takes a great opener to fan the flicker of interest into a flame, is how I see it.  In fact, a big part of blog content writing, I’ve found, involves getting what I call the “POW opening line” right. That line might be a bold assertion, an in-your-face statement, a stage-setting phrase.

Whichever tactic you choose, you’re setting the stage for the reader to make a judgment about their own expectations, forcing them to answer that financial-planning-interview question, “At the end of the encounter, how will you know it’s been successful?”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Him/Her Blogging for Business

You Can Get Your Ex Back

 

“If you want your ex back, but you lash out against them in hurt and anger, they will probably have trouble getting over that,” Gene Morris assures readers in the little book You Can Get Your Ex Back.”

Getting an ex back is not something I need help with just now. But as a business blog content writing trainer, I couldn’t help noticing something very interesting about this little paperback book: In just 56 short pages, the author managed to use the pronouns “they”, “them”, and “their” no fewer than 192 times when referring to ONE ex-spouse!  In addition to the opening line which I quoted above, examples include:

  • “Now, if the relationship ended because the other person cheated and left, you might be tempted to think that they left and you did not do anything wrong.”
  • “Do not slander, insult, or otherwise speak ill of your ex to anybody, because it will get back to them eventually, and that will kill your chances of getting back together with them.”
  • “”Let your ex have their new relationship, because you will still have a chance.”
  • “When it is time to contact your ex, they will notice the improvements.”
  • “Show them that you are serious by getting out of the depressed state and putting a smile back on your face.”
  • “You have been eagerly awaiting your moment where you can contact them and profess your love and your regret to them.”

The grammar question, of course is this: Is there a pronoun to use when referring back to a singular noun? Actually, as englishstackexchange.com explains, “singular “they” enjoys a long history of usage in English. For example, it’s OK to say “Each student should save their questions until the end.”  It’s standard to use the masculine: “Each student should save his questions until the end”; feminists might prefer “Each student should save her questions until the end”. One solution might be to use pronouns of both genders together, like “he or she” or “him/her”, but that quickly becomes awkward. You might, the website authors suggest, reword sentences to always use a plural:  “Students should save their questions until the end.”

In doing online marketing through blogs, the last thing we content writers want is awkwardness – the whole idea is to engage readers, not frustrate them! To me, using “they”, “them”, and “their”, referring to just one ex-spouse in every other line of that little paperback was awkward enough to derail the message that book was obviously designed to convey.

I think the answer in blog content writing is to be direct.  “Your ex will notice the improvements you’ve made.” “Show your ex that you’re serious”. “You’ve been eagerly awaiting the moment when you can convey your love and regret to your ex.”

Above all, in blog content writing, avoid the awkward!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

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 dailycues.com. “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,” write.com adds.

Try book-review blogging for business!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

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!.

 

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

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?

 

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

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!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

* indicates required

Subscribe To This Blog

RSS Feed Icon Click the RSS icon to subscribe to the RSS feed and receive regular content updates

Categories

Archives

Search This Blog