Blogging Wisdom in a Puzzle Book

I’ve always been a puzzle book junkie, and one of my favorite puzzle types is the Quotefall. The other day, after solving one of the puzzles, I realized the puzzle creator must know something about business blogging…

The secret of good writing is to say an old thing in a new way
or a new thing in an old way.

(The adage, I later learned, has been attributed to Richard Harding Davis.)

Saying “old things, is, in fact, a concern of many business owners and professional practitioners when it comes to their blog. Even if they understand the overall marketing value of having a blog, their concern is that, sooner or later, they (or their blog content writer) will run out of things to say. In blogging training sessions, I need to explain that it’s more than OK – in fact it’s a good idea – to repeat themes already covered in former posts. The trick is to adding a layer of new information or a new insight each time.

To us blog content writers, “saying old things in a new way” means that each time we’re preparing to compose content for a bog, rather than asking ourselves whether we’ve already covered that material and how long ago, we ought to plan content around key themes. That way, we can be using the same theme while filling in new details and illustrations.

What about writing new things in an old way? In the process of introducing new information or suggesting a new attitude towards certain features and benefits of a product or service, behavioral science tells us that we must create a perspective or “frame”. The “new” concept needs to be presented in a way that relates to the ”old” and familiar, so that readers can envision an improved result for themselves.

So, what happens when you realize that information you’d put in a blog post months or even years ago isn’t true any longer (or at least isn’t the best information now available in your industry or profession?) Maybe the rules have changed, or perhaps there’s now a solution that didn’t even exist at the time the original content was written.

This is the perfect example of saying old things in a new way. Armed with your new understanding or with a better solution to a problem of which you’ve now become aware, explain what you used to think, (linking back to the old blog posts), then share the new, better information you have today.

That Quotefall puzzle was a good reminder that the secret of good blog content writing is saying old things in new ways and new things in old ways!


Blog Reading Based on Different Motivations


“There was a time when archaeology was commissioned privately by wealthy individuals,” I learned from the incredibly fascinating tome of trivia, Publications International’s The Big Book of Big Secrets. One of the most interesting chapters described the day in 1922 when, some 300 years after the death of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, a way to enter the tomb of “King Tut “was discovered. (I remember visiting the “Golden King” exhibit of these artifacts at the Children’s Museum back in 2009 right here in Indianapolis.)

From a blog marketing standpoint, I was fascinated by The Big Book authors’ insight into the differing motivations those wealthy individuals had for their ongoing efforts, spread over many years, to open the tomb. “Some of those benefactors desired to advance historical knowledge, while others simply hoped to enhance their personal collections of antiquities.” As things turned out, both types were rewarded for their efforts: Ancient plunderers raided the tomb for smaller items, making huge profits from mummies and from recovered items, while the historians were able to “catalog piles of priceless artifacts”.

Firstmondayorg, reporting on a study for the motivations of blog readership among recent college graduates, observes that readers used blogs for step-by-step instructions for hobbies, do-it-yourself household reports, and money management. ”Today, blogs mean a host of things to bloggers, blog readers, and new media researchers.”In the survey, most graduates said blogs were useful in helping them pick up skills they had not learned in college but which they now needed for their careers. Some interviewees reported that blogs provided them with essential professional tips. According to some interviewees, blogs served as niche learning resource tailored to their information problems.

At Say it For You, one valuable coaching tip we offer to blog content writers is to tailor individual blog posts – or series of posts – to different segments of the customer base (as opposed to trying to reach them all in any one post). In a way, each time you post you’re pulling out just one of those attachments on your “Swiss army knife” and offering some valuable information or advice relating to just one aspect of your business. Another day, your blog post can do the same with a different “attachment”.

Brenda Stoltz of Ariad Partners suggests accomplishing that very goal by designating “days” for different targets: Corporate accounting Mondays, Small Biz Wednesdays, or Freelance Fridays. As a variation on the concept, we’ve advised setting aside a section on the website for blog posts for certain specialty readers.

Just like the archaeologies of old, some historians, others antique dealers, blog reading is based on different motivations.


Signs They’ve Found the Right Place

they've come to the right place

“How can you be assured your hundreds – or thousands – of dollars have been well spent?” James R. Healy asks, writing in the AARP Bulletin about finding the right auto repair shop. Reading through those 9 “signposts” Healy suggests shoppers use as guidelines to quality assurance, it occurred to me how very relevant those are to blog marketing.

Just as consumers would not be searching for the right auto shop unless they already felt the need for one, online searchers who land on your blog are already interested in and have a need for the type of products or services you offer. Several of the signs attesting to the competence of the auto repair shop are those you can stress in your blog content that will serve as “signs” to those readers that “they’ve found the right place”…

People you trust say good things.
Testimonials from clients and customers are a powerful form of social proof; we are more likely to follow actions others have already taken,

The shop has the right stickers in the window.
What needs to come across loud and clear in business blog writing is what preparation, training, and effort it takes – on your part and on the part of your employees – to be able to deliver the expert advice, service, and products customers can expect from you.

The shop shows pride in its appearance.
The main message of a blog is delivered in words, of course. Where visuals come in, whether they’re in the form of “clip art”, photos, graphs, charts, or even videos, is to add interest and evoke emotion. You should take pride in your blog’s appearance, ease of navigation, and correct grammar.

Management will stand by its work.
Blog content writers need to need to keep up on what others are saying on the topic, what’s in the news, what problems and questions have been surfacing that relate to that industry, and use the blog content to show how this practitioner or business owner has stood by his/her work.

Not all these things can be accomplished in any one blog post. But, if you’re consistently creating content that’s helpful for your target customer, it’ll help establish you as an authority in their eyes, and prospects who have reading your blog posts will typically enter the sales process more educated about what you have to offer.

Welcome blog visitors by offering signs they’ve found the right place!



Guest blog post: The Buyer’s Guide to Choosing a Differentiator


Today’s blog post was contributed by networking colleague Karen Sullivan, founder of Sullivan Solutions, which helps entrepreneurial companies augment their in-house marketing. Many of the insights offered here are useful for blog content writers…

In a world of so many choices, shopping can be harrowing. Whether you are shopping for the perfect pair of athletic shoes or for the best professional service provider for your growing business, you have so many options.

The shopping experience as education

Shopping is essentially education. Of course, in the case of an afternoon at the mall or a late-night binge on Amazon, it can also be largely entertaining. It’s exhilarating to find something that we didn’t know we needed. Maybe we buy it on impulse or make a mental note to consider it in the future.

In the case of buying professional services for your business, it’s often hard to understand the differences between providers. You don’t shop for bookkeepers or web developers very often, so you may feel you need to educate yourself by interviewing several. You might be frustrated because you get a different sales pitch every time. It’s never an apples-to-apples comparison.

The buyer has the biggest role in identifying a differentiator

In the age of the internet, there’s no reason not to do your homework before you start your shopping. You’ll find a wealth of good information with a simple and thoughtful Google search. Don’t be afraid to ask even casual business colleagues for some guidance or referrals. There’s no need to start from scratch.

1. Do start with a budget.
Don’t worry, your budget can be a broad range. However, you’ll waste everyone’s time, especially your own, if you start shopping features without some budgetary guidelines.

2. Identify your 3-7 key deal breakers.
These are only the absolute must haves. Keep them simple because these are the first things you will use to qualify or disqualify candidates. Don’t forget some deal-breakers may be soft-skills like “prefers to communicate by phone rather than email”.

3. Your short list probably should be more alike than not
When you finally invite sales pitches, your candidates should look pretty similar. They should certainly all be capable of meeting your deal-breakers. If they are vastly different in features or benefits, you may not have done enough homework.

4. Transparency is two-sided, too.
Don’t come to the table with the intention of getting free consultation buried in the pitch. That may be a pleasant bonus. However, healthy relationships are built on mutual respect. Be honest and open with your expectations and your budget. At the same time, you have every right to expect the same honesty in the pitch.

5. Ask for clarification.
Proposals shouldn’t surprise you. If you receive competing proposals that look significantly different in terms of deliverables and costs, consider whether you’ve been misunderstood or simply over-sold. Regardless, if you don’t ask for clarification, you may miss your best choice and your best, unsolicited learning opportunity.

Karen Sullivan may be contacted at