Hara Estroff Marano, writing in Psychology Today, says she won’t tell you what to think, but will tell you what to think about. While in this article the psychologist is offering food for thought in the sphere of dating and self-motivation, I couldn’t help but love that line of hers, realizing how very apropos it is for us business blog content writers.
In fact, this is the very point I often stress in corporate blogging training sessions – whether you’re blogging for a business, for a professional practice, or for a nonprofit organization, you need to voice 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.
On the other hand, if you, as a business owner or professional practitioner, try telling people what to think, that’s a surefire way to lose friends and customers in a hurry. Yes, your blog is your “podium”, meaning you get to showcase your business so customers will want you to be the one to provide them with the product or the service they need. But they need to arrive at that point as a result of their own thinking. Dr. Marano hit the nail on the head – don’t tell readers what to think; give them all the facts they need to think about.
How can blogs help potential clients and customers make better, sometimes complex, decisions?
- By suggesting questions readers can ask themselves while choosing among many options. (Do they want ease of use? Current functionality? Future capabilities?)
- By “mapping”, meaning showing how choices are related to consequences. How much sooner will your mortgage get paid off if you add $100 each month to your payment. How should the prospect feel about the purchase (Relief? Trust? Premier status?)
- By offering easy ways to make choices, so that the decisions are not pressure-packed.
You might say the art of blogging consists of supplying facts, and then putting those facts in context. As bloggers, we’re giving them the raw materials to think about, but we need to go one step further, demonstrating why those facts matter, suggesting ways readers can use the information for their own benefit.
To the woman concerned that the man she’s been dating has been legally separated for the past twenty years, Marano suggests, “Could it be that your online friend values clinging to the comfort of the status quo?”
What are you giving your readers to think about?