Blogging the What-Do-I-Do

In creating content – whether for blogs or newsletter, we’re sometimes so close to our own project that we forget to look at it from the reader’s point of view. Humor speaker Todd Hunt must have been reading a recent Say It For You blog post about the three questions prospects ask themselves: What is it? Is it for me? What do I do? No matter what, you can’t leave that third question unanswered. “Always remember where our customer is coming from,” Hunt cautions, showing a copy of an ad from the Twin Cities Pioneer Press touting the Doyle & Debbie Show.

The show is advertised in glowing terms: Brilliant! Drop dead funny! Fall-off-the-barstool fun!
Clever, Hilarious, Wacky & Brilliant! Extended Due to Overwhelming Demand! The only problem? Nowhere is the reader told either where the show is taking place or how to buy tickets! In other words, the what-do-I-do question goes frustratingly unanswered.

“If you find that your leads and prospects aren’t taking the next step in your sales process—whether that’s buying or simply requesting more information—the problem could be a faulty or non-existent call to action,” writes Mindy Lilyquist in It seems obvious to let people know the next step in doing business with you, but the truth is, many business owners don’t have calls to action in their marketing. Lilyquist thinks there are two possible reasons for this omission:

  1. a belief that the prospect already knows what to do if they’re interested in buying or learning more
  2. concerns that calls to action are obnoxious and will annoy the potential customer

Calls to action don’t need to be “calls to buy – now!”. In fact, the what-do-I-do question can be answered by suggesting the reader:

  • subscribe (to the blog via an RSS feed or to a newsletter)
  • share (via social media)
  • follow (on social media)
  • download (a white paper or book)
  • click to learn more (leading to more information-intensive landing page)

    The what-do-I-do can be in short form (a link or an icon to click on) or a sentence or two, explains. “Love learning about…… and want to learn more? Subscribe now for weekly updates….”):

While Todd Hunt reminds us to remember where our customer is coming from, “What-do-I-dos” and Calls to Action offer blog readers options for “Where do I go from here?”!


Blogging for Business’ Sake


It’s a wonder more companies don’t do it,” Paul Gillin, B2b Content strategist, observes, referring to topical blogs. Topical blogs, Gillin says, connect with customers about topics that are mutually interesting. The purpose of a topical blog, he says is to “offer practical information that helps readers be more successful and productive, thereby associating the sponsor with that expertise.”

Serving as a “go-to” source for online readers can be a winning strategy for business owners, showcasing the blog content writer’s own expertise while offering useful, actionable, information to readers. This is in no way disingenuous, we firmly believe at Say It For You, because when people go online to search for information about a product or service, they’re aware of the fact that the providers of the information are out to capture business.

“An advertorial is ‘softly softly’ advertising,” cautions The art of writing a good advertorial, explains, is getting the right balance between story and sale. “An effective call to action will act as a logical extension of your blog posts, the authors of the Ivy Tech Study Power Leaders’ Guide add. “Your calls to action should never seem abrupt, or you’ll struggle to get the reaction you’d hoped.”

According to About.Com, “a Subject Matter Expert is an individual who understands a business process or area well enough to answer questions from people in other groups who are trying to help.” Individuals designated as subject matter experts (SMEs) are sought out by others interested in solving solve specific problems meeting challenges. Provide good useful information and establish trust and credibility – sales will follow,” Think eBiz Blog concludes.

The stance we’ve adopted at Say It For You in our blog content writing is this: If the information in a blog is “topical”, meaning it’s relevant to the search, helpful and useful, with no hint of a hard-sell, most readers are perfectly OK with the concept that the company providing the information would like to have them customers or clients.

Because readers understand that they are the ones in control, we believe, they have no trouble being “softly softly sold”.


Give Blog Readers Something to Walk Away With – But Add Something to Act On

“Give your audience something to walk away with,” Lindsay Kolowich Cox advises in a HubSpot piece called “Blogging Tips for Beginners”. “Your goal in creating content should be to provide value to your readers,” Peg Fitzpatrick asserts in another blogging advice piece, suggesting printable checklists and the sharing of expertise. At Say It For You, we suggest adding value by aggregating materials from different sources, then adding the blog content writer’s own unique twist on the concepts presented.

Earlier this month, a networking friend of mine used her blog for the first week of September to recount the history of Labor Day, explaining that the special day had been planned by the Central Labor Union in New York City back in 1882. I enjoyed the material and felt the blogger had offered value – I had “walked away with something”, for sure. What was missing, though, was the Call to Action. In other words, there had been no attempt to tie the subject (the history of Labor Day) to the sender’s own business (investment planning).

In corporate blogging training sessions, I do often recommend including interesting information on topics related to your business (or, if you’re a freelance blog content writer, related to the client’s business). If you can provide information most readers wouldn’t be likely to know, so much the better. Tidbits and “startling statistics” are important in blogging for business, because that information helps engage online readers’ interest. Still, the connection between the material and the business relationship (or potential relationship) between the sender and the reader needs to be related to the information.

So, although the piece my friend had included in her blog post about Labor Day was interesting and appropriately timed, that information was not tied to the reader’s problem or need, nor was there any call to action. No sentence indicated why the writer herself cared about the information, nor was there anything explaining why that information should be of special help to readers.

Blog content writing has an enormous advantage over traditional “push marketing” tactics, because, what blogging does best is deliver to corporate blog sites customers who are already interested in the product or service they’re providing! However, there needs to be an “ask”, and in blogging for business, the “ask” comes in the form of calls to action.

Give blog readers something to walk away with, but add something they can act on!



Blog Posts May Not Close the Deal, But They Deliver Sales Results

blog marketing
“Sales professionals are expected to generate the best possible win rates for their effort,” explains Adam Wiggins in a Hubspot blog post. Choosing the right phrases to seal a deal is crucial, because the close is “the final verdict determining whether or not your efforts will amount to anything at all.” Wiggins reviews seven close types:

  1. Now or never close (some special disappearing benefit prompts an immediate decision)
  2. Summary close (reviews value and benefits)
  3. Sharp angle close (prospect asks for price reduction or add-on, but you agree only if they close today)
  4. Question close (“Does what I’m offering solve your problem?”)
  5. Assumptive close (salesperson monitors prospect’s engagement throughout, assuming a close)
  6. Takeaway close (remove a feature or service if customer balks on price)
  7. Soft close (low impact question: “If I.….would you be interested in learning more?)

Will blog marketing “close: deals in the same way as a face-to-face encounter between a prospect and a sales professional? The answer is obviously “no”. Interestingly, a second Hubspot blogger, Corey Wainwright, explains the indirect selling benefits of blogs and their place in the sales process:

  • If you’re consistently creating content that’s helpful for your target customer, it’ll help establish you as an authority in their eyes.
  • Prospects that have been reading your blog posts will typically enter the sales process more educated on your place in the market, your industry, and what you have to offer.
  • Salespeople who encounter specific questions that require in-depth explanation or a documented answer can pull from an archive of blog posts.

In the book Close the Deal, authors Sam Deep and Lyle Sussman suggest that a salesperson faced with a demanding prospect ask “What concession do you need from me to close the deal right now?”

In blogging for business, of course, such an exchange would not be taking place between the business owner/practitioner and the reader/customer. On the other hand, one purpose of the content is to persuade the reader to act. For every fact about the company or about one of its products or services, a blog post addresses prospects’ unspoken questions such as “So, is that different?”, “So, is that good for me?”

The traditional selling sequence of appointment, probing, presenting, overcoming objections, and “closing” may be totally dead, as Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, asserts. What has replaced it, Gitomer says, is a step-by-step risk elimination, a process for which blogs are well-suited. Business blogs, I “preach” at Say It For You, are nothing more than extended interviews, and blog posts are an ideal vehicle for demonstrating support and concern while being persuasive in a low-key manner.


Contagion on Purpose Through Blogging

In recent months, the word “contagious” has certainly taken on frightening meaning.  But in his book Contagious, Jonah Berger explores ways to create contagion around good ideas, products, and services. “Regardless of how plain or boring a product or idea may seem,” Berger says, “there are ways to make it contagious.”

Every one of Berger’s ideas for achieving contagion, I found, is directly applicable to blog marketing:

1.  Find inner remarkability (break from what people expect from the experience of using the product or service). For every fact about the company or about one of its products or services, a blog post addresses unspoken questions such as “So, is that different?”, “So, is that good for me?”  

2.  Leverage game mechanics (use elements of a game to keep people engaged, motivated and wanting more. A core mechanic is the essential play activity players perform again and again in a game. Each business blog post should impart one new idea or call for a single action. 

3.  Make people feel like insiders (scarcity and exclusivity drives desirability). Hitting precisely the right “advertorial” note is the big challenge in corporate blog writing. Exclusivity is one of the five “key copy drivers” which business content writers should use to enhance audience response.

4.  Use “triggers” to keep ideas and products fresh in the minds of consumers, associating your product or service with some familiar aspect of life. In your blog content, link your products and services to prevalent trends.

5.  Use emotional content to evoke feelings that drive people to share and to act. Evoking emotion creates a feeling in your audience of being connected with you and the people in your business or practice.

6.  Provide practical information that helps others save time, energy, and resources. Chunking, or breaking down information into bite-sized pieces , allows readers to digest and more easily use new information.
7.  Embed your ideas in stories that people want to hear and retell. Let stories about people tell the story of your company, your products, and of the services you provide.

When it comes to spreading ideas through blogging for business, the word contagious can be a very good thing indeed!