The Art of Breaking Character in a Business Blog

“No matter your genre, readers are drawn to the unexpected,” asserts Jessica Strawser in
Writers’ Digest. Strawsers’ talking to novelists, explaining that “once you’ve established who your story’s players are, it’s actually out of character behavior that can propel them in more interesting ways.”

Out-of-character behavior adds depth and complexity, which adds interest, Strawser goes on to explain. But, for the tactic to be successful, the reader must understand that “how you were behaving wasn’t actually out of character at all, but a part of your character that others don’t usually see.”

It’s this very observation about revealing character that I believe is so relevant to blog content writing.  In Creating Buzz With Blogs, veteran business technology consultant Ted Demopoulos explains, “Blogs create buzz because people will feel like they know you, and people like to do business with people they know.” But, because it is so very human to act inconsistently, revealing seemingly out-of-character aspects of yourself and of the people involved in your business or practice is a way to create buzz.

There might never have been a time more suited for testing this “anomaly” than right now, with social distancing creating a craving for closeness and a genuine sharing of ourselves.  Sure, everyone wants to buy from or work with the person who has the reputation, credibility, and knowledge of an expert, as Jorgen Sunberg of maintains.

In the long run, though, and on a deeper level, “highlighting your humanity helps your brand stand out, as Scott Gregory so aptly pointed out in Forbes. And when MarketWatch spoke to four independent operators about how they’re coping with the Coronavirus crisis, all of them spoke about “finding an unexpected symbiosis with the customers they serve.” The crisis, all say, affirms how much their services mean to their communities.

Perhaps you’re thinking it’s “out-of-character” for you to get all “touchie-feelie” in your business blog. I suggest you think again. Readers will readily appreciate that your newly personal approach to your blog content is not actually out of character at all, but a part of your character that others don’t usually see!

What-It-Would-Do-For-You Blog Content Writing

“When asking ‘What do you want?’ you are seeking an answer that is very specific and positive. ‘I don’t want . . ‘” is not something for which you can coach,” explains Laura Poole, author of the book Perfect Phrases for Coaching Employee Performance.


How can that coaching insight apply to the content we create for business owners and professional practitioners to offer their online readers?
Some of the areas in which employees often crave coaching, Poole notes, include:
  • Applying new skills
  • Dealing with task management
  • Balancing work and life
  • Improving communication skills
  • Launching a pet project

And, while blog content can address each one of those things, offering valuable information and advice to readers, it’s important to remember what coaching is not, as Poole cautions.  “Coaching assumes individuals know what they want and need. The process helps them uncover it, take ownership of it, and move forward in a productive, sustainable way.” The ‘coachee’s desire should be specific and measurable, so that the result becomes obvious when it’s been achieved, the author asserts.

Three questions Poole suggests coaches ask their clients demonstrate clearly why blog content can often achieve what static web page content cannot:

  1. What would it do for you?  (It’s the employee/client who must find the answer for him or herself)
  2. Who else would be affected?
  3. What is it costing you not to have this?
Like coaching, our Say It For You content writers have come to understanding, blogs are not there to admonish, or warn, or even inspire online readers, who have arrived at a particular blog post on a fact-finding mission, looking specifically for information about what that business or that practitioner does and knows about. The tone of the blog content should assume that with complete information, readers will translate that information into action.
The coach/practitioner/business owner is posing the three questions (what would our product/service do for you, who else would be affected by your action or inaction, and what is the cost of your failing to act), allowing the reader to own that choice.

How Not to Quote-Bomb in Your Blog


When you quote someone else’s remarks on a topic you’re covering in your blog, that can be a very good thing. Why?

  • you’re reinforcing your point
  • you’re showing you’re in touch with trends in your field
  • you’re adding value for readers by aggregating materials from different sources,
    adding variety in the way an idea is phrased

On the other hand, the “re-gifting” of content needs to be handled with restraint. “Set up a quote within a paragraph, leading readers to the quote so they are prepared for it and do not feel ‘quote-bombed”, C.M. Gill advises in Essential Writing Skills for College and Beyond.

Curating others’ work – bloggers, authors, speakers – is a wonderful technique for adding variety and reinforcement to your own content.  Remember, though, when it comes to writing marketing blogs, you’re trying to make your own cash register ring.  It’s your voice that has to be strong throughout the post, so readers will click through to your website or shopping cart.

Since, as a professional blog content writer, my “workspace” is the World Wide Web, I can’t help but be awed by the fact that the Internet has become the largest repository of information in human history.  Trillions of words are added to it daily, and literally anyone with access to a computer or cell phone can add content to the mix at any time.

True, blogs are more informal in general compared to most other marketing pieces.  The fact is, though, people read blogs to get information.  My college students are taught to use citations and reference pages to show where they got their information.  That way, they avoid plagiarism by properly attributing statements to their proper authors.  In your blogs, you can give credit to the sources of your information as well.  The blogging equivalent of citations is links.  So even if you’re putting your own unique twist on the topic, link to websites from which you got some of your original information or news.

Besides offering a broader spectrum of information to readers, bringing in other resources has practical benefits for you as well. Electronic links have the potential to enhance search engine rankings, as you create back-and-forth digital ties with other professionals.

But, as Gill reminds us, we need to lead readers to the quote.


Look-Ahead Words of Wisdom for Blog Content Writers – Part B

This week, with an eye to the year to come, I’m sharing more words of wisdom from ”my bookshelves”, along with the links to the authors and book descriptions…

Sketch out an outline of events leading to a typical client needing you.
Choose a client from a typical demographic you serve, suggests Paul Smith in The Ten Stories Great Leaders Tell. Your sales story, Smith explains, relates what you did for one of your customers that is so impressive, other people will want to buy what you’re selling as well.

Build a blog post or two around a customer success story. Say you’re a realtor, and today you’re blogging about how important “curb appeal” can be when you’re marketing a client’s home to potential buyers. Rather than just offering advice, you can tell the story of how you guided Sam and Susie towards a successful sale by encouraging them to plant colorful flowers and painting their front door an attractive red. As a final touch for your blog, you can link back to the full version of Sam and Susie’s testimonial which is already part of your website. Customer success stories boost your credibility with new prospects, helping them decide to do business with you.

Our core values are… We pride ourselves on… We commit to… We encourage and reward…
The right phrases have the power to engage and develop employees, Laura Poole explains in Perfect Phrases for Coaching Employee Performance. Language has the power to establish personal connections, develop and reinforce strengths, provide constructive feedback, and encourage commitment to the company’s goals.

The best website content and the best blogs give readers insight into a company’s core beliefs in addition to information about products and services that company offers, I teach at Say it For You. Just as it’s important to tell readers what you have, what you know, and what you know how to do, it’s even more important to explain what you believe. Why have you chose to pursue this field or industry? Why do you choose to do business or conduct your practice in certain ways?

Customers want personalized solutions for their unique needs and preferences.
Driven by tighter budgets and dwindling natural resources, companies are now seeking new ways to appeal to their customers, Navi Radjou, author of Frugal Innovation posits. Products and services can be “co-created”, he says, with empowered consumers and external partners.

Try this highly useful exercise – make a list of ways your business individualizes and personalizes services to customers and clients. Drill down, I’d say to everyone offering blog writing services, to actual cases of clients’ personalized customer service, recalling times when unusual problems got solved, and when standard procedures were put aside to get the job done for that one customer..

By now you should have become a convert to the “reading around” habit. Over the past two weeks we’ve sampled a dozen precious gems that can motivate content writers and infuse blog posts with sparkle and meaning. But these represent just a sampling – blogging gems are all around, just waiting for each of us to add our own unique twist!


She-Did-It-To-Work-For-You Blog Content Writing

targeted readers


The full page ad in Employee Benefit News is a grabber, containing a photo of a young woman wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with the dollar figure $67,928. “Why did she borrow that money for tuition?” the ad asks, offering the response “She did it to work for you”.

“Every person who visits your site wants an experience worth their time. They want to know you understand their needs,” cautions Adobe Audience Manager. At Say It For You, we know. For readers of marketing blog content, each blog post must be created with a clear and very specific picture of the target readers in mind.

“Single your thoughts down to ONE specific person who’s experiencing ONE specific problem and you stand a better chance of capturing their attention,” writes Mo the Blog Coach. I agree. On my own website, I express the view that blogging has proven itself to have a distinct advantage over more static website copy, so long as each post is designed to have a razor-sharp focus on just one idea, one aspect of the business or practice, targeting one reader, with one desired outcome per post.

Apparently insurance sales consultant Mel Schlesinger has the same idea about the Power of One. Rather than a generic opening pitch, he suggests agents use idea-specific ones. In place of the old “I’d like to get together to learn a little bit about what you do to see if I can help you”, Schlesinger suggests the more specific approach “I have an idea that can help you reduce employees’ pressure for you to increase their wages.”

In addition to directly addressing the employers who are their readers, those Employee Benefit News ad writers got things right in another sense. “One of the simplest, yet most effective pitches comes in the form of a question,” as author Daniel Pink teaches. but you can also phrase questions that allow readers to independently speak to that pain point in their lives, Pink explains, giving the example “Do you feel safe in your home?”

The EBN advertisers, of course, answer their own question – “She did it to work for you.”