Blogging to Answer the Question “What Do You Do At Work?”

"Coca-Cola and General Motors don’t have to explain to the outside world what they make," puzzledpoints out James Hagerty in a fascinating Wall Street Journal piece. But, he explains, as enterprises become more complex and multi-faceted, image and branding consultants are coming up with fanciful names that do little to answer the question "But what do you actually DO?" 

Goes back to what I’m always teaching about blogging for business: focus each blog post on one very specific idea you want to convey to online searchers.  In your blog post, make that concept absolutely clear – none of this "We have ways…." stuff!

Hagerty gets a chuckle out of Parker-Hannifin Corp., which styles itself "the global leader in motion and control technologies," saying that description might apply to a maker of lingerie! Why not just go ahead and mention the brakes and safety belts Parker-Hannifin manufactures? he asks. Similarly, 3M Company says it makes "life easier and better for people around the world", rather than simply coming out and saying it makes scotch tape.

Hagerty’s article really resonated with me when it comes to blogging for business. In composing blog posts meant to drive business by attracting search engine indexing, specificity becomes even more important than in corporate mission statements.  After all, there can’t be a "match" unless your description of what you do, what you know about, and what you sell dovetails with the words searchers use to describe their needs!

Even assuming online readers find your blog post, and even in the unlikely event they’ve read it through in its entirety, all your effort to host and post blogs could turn out to be the most colossal waste of your time and theirs if they’re left asking, "So what do you DO, actually?"

In the Wall Street Journal article, Hagerty lists a number of companies with cryptic answers to that question:

  • Terex Corporation: "Materials processing." Huh? (They make rock-crushing machines for the building industry.)
  • DXP Enterprises: "Leading products and service distribution focused on adding value and total cost savings solutions to MRO and OEM customers."  Huh? (They make pumps, tools, nuts, bolts, and hard hats.)
  • TRW Corp: "Global leader in active and passive safety."  Huh? (They make brakes and safety belts.)
  • Ingersoll Rand:  "World leader in creating and sustaining safe, comfortable, and efficient environments." Huh? (They make locks, air conditioning equipment, and battery-operated golf carts. 

I don’t know about you, but as a professional ghost blogger and business blogging trainer, I find a powerful what-not-to-do lesson in these corporate statements:

Every single one of your business blog posts needs to leave readers asking "How can I get some?" NOT "Huh?"

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