Steve Jobs and Pixar Illustrate an Important Principle of Blogging


My realtor friend Steve Rupp sent me a piece with the following story about Steve Jobs….

After purchasing computer manufacturer Pixar, Jobs relocated the company to an abandoned factory, re-organizing the physical structure with offices and workspaces around a large, central atrium. Under this new (at the time) very unusual arrangement, the mailboxes, meeting room, cafeteria, coffee bar, and gift shop were all in the center of the space. The underlying principle? “When people run into each other and make eye contact, things happen.” Of course, electronic messages could have been sent throughout the Pixar building in a millisecond, Jobs realized, but the community context of the message is the part that would help people understand each other and work together.

Could Jobs have avoided restructuring the entire complex of buildings, relying on mandatory periodic meetings or even informal periodic staff get-togethers to accomplish his goal of employees “running into each other”? Perhaps, but that “eye contact”, “context-sharing” and cross-pollination of ideas, Jobs understood, needed to happen frequently in order to be meaningful.

At Say It For You, after years of being involved in all aspects of corporate blog writing and blogging training, one irony I’ve found is that business owners who “show up” with new content on their websites are rare. There’s a tremendous fall-off rate, with most blogs abandoned months or even weeks after they’re begun. That sense of community Steve Jobs was after in the redesign of the Pixar facility? You might say the first job of a blog content writer is to help a business or a professional practice “get its frequency on”. What the blog does is get the business owners and practitioners into the “atrium” to “run into” their readers!

Good things happen in the blog frequency “atrium” for business owners who make blogging part of their routine as part of an overall business marketing strategy, with blog posts providing a steady stream of “sound bites” – little bits of different, interesting, and helpful content.

Steve Jobs building design was meant to encourage employees to “hang out” with each other in the Pixar atrium area whenever their schedules allowed, with no regular times posted. Over the years, relates, various studies have analyzed data to find out the best time to publish a blog post. Most often, though, we find that the issue is less that of choosing the optimal posting time and more about finding the time to create content to post in the first place!

Our mission, then as blog content writers, is to create an “atrium” where business owners and practitioners can share ideas with readers.


Blog Posts Take Prospects Through the BRAN Process

BRAN process for blogs
“The BRAN analysis is a tool that you can use when faced with making a decision,” Dr. Sara Wickham explains in What’s Right For Me?: Making decisions in pregnancy and childbirth.

BRAN consists of four areas:

B = What are the benefits?
R = What are the risks?
A = What are the alternatives?
N = What if I/we do nothing?

“When we seek out content, it’s because we have a problem that needs to be solved or a question that needs to be answered,” sproutsocial reminds us. “Not only should your blog post solve a problem, but do so in a meaningful way,” Brent Barnhart adds.a “Top-tier posts go beyond basic information and dig into specifics.”

Hitting precisely the right “advertorial” (as opposed to advertisement) note is one of the big challenges in blog marketing, I teach in Say It For You blog marketing tutorials. That means finding ways to demonstrate the benefits of your product or service while avoiding any hint of “hard sell”.

In blog content writing, the R (risk) focuses on “the hurt”, meaning the problems readers are trying to solve or the negative effects they’re trying to avoid. Once readers are hooked by your understanding of their hurt, you can offer the “A, meaning the solutions your expertise and experience bring to the table. And, just as newbie suspense novel writers are taught to “put characters that readers care about in jeopardy”, blog readers can be shown how certain things readers care about might be put in jeopardy if they choose inaction as an alternative.

  1. What would it do for you? (the benefits)
  2. Who and what else would be affected (the risks along with the benefits)
  3. What is it costing you NOT to have this? (what if I do nothing?)

Use blog posts to take readers through the BRAN process!


Frame Around What They Can DO

The term “framing” comes from behavioral science, which teaches that people decide on options based on whether an option is presented with positive or negative connotations. Certain features of a topic can be emphasized more than others through framing. For us business blog content writers, it’s important to remember that every choice of words we make involves framing. Our goal is positioning our story in a way that our audience can focus on and respect.

At a recent Financial Planning Association meeting, Victor Ricciardi, author of a book about the psychology of client communications, offered a piece of advice about framing for financial advisors, advice that we blog content writers can put to good use. When talking about retirement income, Ricciardi said, “link your discussion to what clients will be able to DO or BUY with that income”. Too many retirement planning discussions, he observed, center around number of dollars that will be needed to carry the client through retirement. Such discussions are merely arithmetic, the social scientist pointed out, and they do not carry enough emotional impact to compel action.

When you’re composing business blog content, I tell writers, imagine readers asking themselves – “How will I use the product (or service)?” “How will it work?” “How will I feel?” Our job as content writers: empathize with their pain or challenge, help them envision a good result. Rarely is it that readers find your blog based on a search for your brand. They think about what they want. The blog must do more than convey the fact that you can fulfill their need. You must give online searchers a “feel” for the desired outcomes of using your products and services.

“Customers are buying the experiences they get from the products and services they purchase, points out. That’s why framing is so important in blog content writing, we teach at Say It For YouHelp readers envision the sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that awaits. Frame around what they will be able to DO!