Business Blogging – Staying Silent is the Wrong Choice

“The COVID19 pandemic has put much of the world on pause. Blogging shouldn’t be one of them, writes Manish Dudharejia in the Search Engine Journal. Staying slilent is the wrong choice. Dudharejia names several reasons why:

  • People are on their digital devices more than ever now.
  • You have an opportunity to produce messaging that is not about anxiety-inducing topics.
  • You have the chance to discuss what your brand is doing to keep people safe.
  • Continuous communication and support builds customer trust and loyalty.
  • You have the chance to gain followers, even if they are not yet buyers.

“Customers want to know that you are surviving this new normal with them, so taking your customers along for the ride through various outlets of online marketing will ensure you have the support to get to and through these difficult times,” explains Makenzie Walker of topfloortech.com. “Positivity and reassurance are a business’ best friends,” Walker adds.

As a business owner myself, I loved the viewpoint of Karen Lombardo of Put Another Way.
Sales mentality, she says, can be divided into two categories: farming and hunting. Hunters find opportunities to close business; farmers engage with clients and forge and strengthen relationships. “The hat to wear in today’s environment,” Lombardo advises, “is the farmer.” Consistent communication is key right now. You have valuable knowledge and expertise. Put it out there, she says.

Way back in 2009, Tony Fannin, president of BE Branded, commented on the fact that in the economic environment of that time, businesses were cutting back their marketing and advertising. In effect what those business owners were saying, Fannin quipped, is “Let’s put less gas in the car so we can drive further and save money!” Without consistent reminders, brands are easily forgotten, he warned.

At Say It For You, we’re acutely conscious of the fact that it’s never been more important for brands to show purpose, going from information-dispensing to offering perspective on issues related to both the search topic and the times in which we’re living.

“May you live in interesting times” is a translation of a traditional Chinese curse, and we are certainly living in interesting times now. One thing’s for certain when it comes to business blogging – staying silent is the wrong choice!

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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.

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The All-Important Call to Action in Blog Content Writing

 

One of the resources Ivy Tech offers to students is the Study Power Leader’s Guide. The Guide suggests students keep a daily activities list containing three categories:

  1. Must Do!
  2. Should Do
  3. Could Do

“We live in a culture of information-saturation. Consumers today are highly-distracted, which is why you need to end your posts with a bang, by including enticing, well-written calls to action,” writtent.com suggests. An effective call to action will act as a logical extension of your blog posts, the authors add. “Your calls to action should never seem abrupt, or you’ll struggle to get the reaction you’d hoped.”

Over the years of working with business owners and practitioners, I’ve encountered two very different attitudes towards blog marketing and specifically towards Calls to Action. At the one extreme are those who feel that any direct Call to Action is abrupt and obtrusive, believing that if the blog provides useful information, the reader will want, without being asked, to follow up with the company or practice. At the opposite end of the spectrum are owners who 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.

In response to the first fear, I explain that a CTA does not at all invalidate the good information provided in the piece. When people go online to search for information and click on different blogs or on different websites, they’re aware of the fact that the providers of the information are out to do business. But as long as the material is valuable and relevant for the searchers, they’re perfectly fine with knowing there’s someone who wants them for a client or customer.

Similarly, I can reassure business owners getting ready to launch a marketing blog that the only people who are going to notice their blog are the ones already interested in that topic. “Giving away” knowledge showcases the owners’ experience and expertise rather than threatening it in any way. More often than not, readers want to get it done, not by themselves, but by the expert you’ve shown you are!

Using those three Study Power categories might be a good way to vary the Calls to Action in blog posts, was my thought.

  • Must-do!s can include safety and health checklists, along with an offer to download a white paper or brochure.
  • Should Dos might include links to landing pages with more information.
  • Could Dos include an invitation to chat or telephone for further information.

Using the three categories can help students keep track of their activities, and varying your calls to action can help you get the reaction you’d hoped for, I teach at Say It For You.

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Tell Business Blog Readers: Review. Check. Evaluate. Consider.

call to action

That entire two page spread in Crossroads, AAA Hoosier Motor Club’s magazine, I realized, constituted one big Do-It-Yourself Call to Action. There were actually seven CTAs in a row:

  1. Know your coverage.
  2. Think about what’s changed since your last checkup.
  3. Review your home inventory.
  4. Check your liability coverage.
  5. Consider natural disasters.
  6. Evaluate your auto coverage.
  7. Call your agent.

As a blog content writer, I was glad to see that the AAA magazine authors had remembered to answer the question “Why should I?” before it was asked: “Just as an annual physical is good for your health, taking time to regularly examine your insurance coverage can help ensure your financial well-being.”

Too obvious? Too pushy?  Just plain too many AAA Calls-to-Action?  Perhaps. “Your blog can be a powerhouse when it comes to lead generation and reconversion, but you have to know how to use it, Pamela Vaughan writes in Hubspot. “The CTA you choose can make or break the conversion potential of any given blog post you publish,” Vaughan adds. Consider the stage of the sales and marketing funnel your visitors are in and narrow down the list of CTAs to match.

Neil Patel of crazyegg.com talks about using end-of-content CTAs, which appear right at the end of the article.  The logic – “If a reader reaches the end of an article, they are engaged and ready to convert.”

Does directly asking for the customer’s business invalidate the good information you’ve provided in the piece? Not in the least. When people go online to search for information and click on different blogs or on different websites, they’re aware of the fact that the providers of the information are out to do business. But as long as the material is valuable and relevant for the searchers, they’re perfectly fine with knowing there’s someone who wants them for a client or customer.

Content that provides value will indeed help readers:

  • review their own knowledge
  • check the information you’ve against what they already thought they knew
  • evaluate the current services and products they are using
  • (hopefully) consider what you have to offer.

But, for readers to follow seven different CTA’s is a bit much to ask, I’d advise. Better, in each blog post to focus on ONE message, ONE audience, and ONE outcome.  Business blogging, in fact, is ideal for using what I call the Power of One!

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