Achieving Eudaimonia in Business Blog Writing

The Stoics realized that there are things we control, and things we don’t. To get to the good life, we should focus on things we control, accepting the rest as it happens. When it comes to the things we can control, Stoics believe it’s not an external situation that makes us happy or miserable, but our interpretation of that situation. The idea is to achieve a supremely happy life, which Stoics call eudaimonia.

That ancient philosophy can help business entrepreneurs today, theconversation.com comments. As I read this article, it occurred to me that three business concepts based on Stoicism can serve as great guidelines for those of us involved in blog marketing:

  1.  “Before we try to control events, we have to control ourselves.”

Twelve years ago, in the process of explaining the way my company Say It For You came about, I talked about the “drill sergeant discipline” needed by blog content writers. What I meant was that, while all my business owner clients knew that writing blogs in their area of expertise was going to be a great idea for them, not very many of them felt they could take the time to compose and post content on a regular basis.  I also knew that the main key to business blogging success was going to be simply keeping on task. Meanwhile, our business owner clients can’t throw in the towel before success has been given the chance to develop. We can’t control the market or our customers – first we have to control our own activities.

2. “Stoicism means leveraging your uniqueness.” (Don’t let emulation turn into imitation.)

To have any hope of moving higher in search rankings and engage readers’ interest, blogs must provide fresh, relevant content. But, with the sheer volume of information on the Web on every topic under the sun, how do we keep providing new material in our blog posts week after week, month after month, even year after year? Two strategies include bringing in less well-known facts about familiar things and processes, and suggesting new ways of thinking about things readers already know.
But, besides offering unique tidbits of information, we must incorporate one important ingredient – opinion. Taking a stance, using blog content writing to express a firm opinion on issues, is how companies and practices can leverage their uniqueness.

   3.  “Stoicism turns problems into opportunities.”

I teach freelance blog writers in Indianapolis to include stories of their clients’ past mistakes and failures. Such stories have a humanizing effect, engaging readers and creating feelings of empathy and admiration for the business owners or professional practitioners who overcame not only adversity, but the effects of their own mistakes! When customers’ complaints and concerns are recognized and dealt with “in front of other people” (in blog posts), it gives the “apology” or the “remediation measure” more weight. In fact, in corporate blogging training sessions, I remind Indianapolis blog writers to “hunt” for stories of struggle and mistakes made in the early years of a business or practice!

Studying the Stoics gives us a chance at achieving blogging eudaimonia!

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Blogging to Bust Myths and Build Trust

mythbusting

“Was the oldest woman a fraud?” asks Smithsonian.com, referring to French socialite Jeanne Calment, who appeared to be making history when she died in 1997 at the age of 122. (Later investigation revealed that Jeanne had actually died at the age of 59 in 1934. Her daughter had actually assumed Jeanne’s identity, later dying at the age of 99.) Valery Novoselov, assistant professor of the Department of Gerontology and Geriatrics of RUDN University, known for studying medical documents to investigate the deaths of famous Russians, was actually the mythbuster, revealing that the reason for the hoax had been to avoid the payment of inheritance taxes on Jeanne’s estate.

One of the bigger myths about trust, says Charles Green in trustedadvisor.com, is that trust takes a long time to create, but only a moment to destroy. That in itself is a dangerous myth, Green contends. Human emotions take roughly as long to get over as they take to develop in the first place. Trust formed quickly, Green agrees, can be lost quickly; trust formed at a shallow level can be lost at the same level.  But trust formed deeply, or over time, takes deeper violations, or a longer time, to be lost. Thinking of trust as something you can lose in a minute makes you cautious and unlikely to take risks. But the absence of risk is what starves trust, is the point Charles Green wants to make. There simply is no trust without risk – that’s why they call it trust.

Business blog posts are actually the perfect medium for “mythbusting”, I teach at Say It For You. Blog content writing has the power to clear the air, replacing factoids with facts, allowing readers to see their way clear to making decisions. Offering little-known explanations that explode common myths is a good way to engage readers’ interest. Done right, blogging about myths related to our own products, services, and company history can provide value-packed “verdicts” on each false claim or misunderstanding. Citing statistics that disprove popular myths gives business owners and practitioners the chance to showcase their own knowledge and expertise.

There’s a proverbial fly in the ointment here, though. People don’t really like being proven wrong. And, since one of the purposes of any marketing blog is to attract potential customers to the business’ website, it would be a tactical mistake for blog writers to prove those online visitors wrong.  The skill lies in engaging interest, but not in “Gotcha! – I’m-the-expert-and-you’re-not” fashion. (Anyone might reasonably have come to the conclusion you did, should be the message, without knowing the facts I’ve researched and which am providing here.)

Many misunderstandings about a product or service present themselves in the natural order of business, in the form of questions and comments from readers and customers. Shining the light of day on that misinformation is one function of blogging, and, provided your blog post is well written, perhaps with a bit of tongue in cheek, it can offer enlightenment in a way that engages searchers and keeps them coming back.

The goal – blog to bust myths while building trust!

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O.K., You’re Biased. Your Content is There to Tell ‘Em Why

opinion in blogging
Is coming across as biased a bad thing? Not when it comes to blog marketing, I concluded, after reading in the Guardian about a great lecture by writer Neil Gaiman. Gaiman started out the lecture he was giving on the importance of libraries by saying “It’s important for people to tell you what side they are on and why.” As an author of fiction over the last thirty years, Gaiman has been earning his living through his words, so it’s obviously in his interest, he admits, for people to read.

Journalists often feel compelled to try to prove they are “unbiased,” Walter Dean admits in a piece for the American Press Institute . “But what if they took a different approach, acknowledging that bias is built into the choices they make when deciding what to leave in or leave out? Draining a story of all bias can drain it of its humanity,” he says.

Serving as head of the Say It For You team of blog content writers, I’ve had a lot of time to ponder the notion. Our mission is to help business owners and professional practitioners frame their stories, letting readers know what they know how to do and what they offer. But in addition, they need to show what they stand for and what they stand against. One of the gurus I follow is Seth Godin. In the book, All Marketers Tell Stories, Godin says something really powerful: “Your opportunity lies in finding a neglected worldview, framing your story in a way that this audience will focus on.” That “worldview” is a bias.

As content creators, we are influencers. We have to be. The content itself needs to use opinion – call it bias if you wish – to clarify what differentiates that business, that professional practice, or that organization from its peers. Just why have you chosen this particular model for your business or practice? I loved this sentence from the University of Sussex Department of Communications and External Affairs about opinion pieces in general:

“The most important thing to remember is that “readers are not necessarily interested in what you do; they are interested in what you have to say.”

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Blogging Who You Are

Ahead of the launch of its inaugural flight from Indianapolis to Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, Spirit Airlines announced two new year-round flights coming to market this November.  Since Spirit is new to our airport, John Kirby, vice president of network planning, delivered some introductory remarks at the press conference:“We are a leisure airline, so we look for opportunities to enhance our leisure position in the marketplace.”

In training Say It For You business blog content writers, I can use this one sentence to talk about niches. A niche is all about serving a particular group of clients with a particular need, applying a solution to that need.  After all, that’s what we do as blog content writers – serve niche markets.  As writers, we define a narrow target audience made up of people who are already looking for products, information, and services relating to a particular need they have.  For our part, rather than presenting ourselves (or the clients who’ve hired us to write for them), as knowing a little about a lot of things, we demonstrate that the owners are uniquely informed – and passionate – about just one or two.

“When approaching a new market niche, it’s imperative to speak their language.  In other words, you should understand that market’s ‘hot buttons’ and be prepared to communicate with the target group as an understanding member – not an outsider,” advises Kim T. Gordon, writing in Entrepreneur Magazine. That advice is particularly applicable to business blogging, and that principle is part of the “Power of One” concept on which Say It For You was founded. “The more focused a blog is, the more successful it will be in converting prospects to clients and customers.

Spirit’s “We are a leisure airline” is a great example of “blogging who you are.” It relates to what I call the “training benefit” of blogging.  When you create and maintain a blog, you’re verbalizing the positive aspects of your business in a way people can understand.  You’re putting your accomplishments down in words. You’re reviewing the benefits of your products and services, keeping those fresh in your mind.  You reveal some of the early struggles that helped you forge your business beliefs.  In other words, the very act of blogging provides constant training on how to talk effective about your own business or practice.

 

 

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Are-Both-Sides-Right Blogging for Business

“Are both sides right?” asks veterinarian Carrie Donahue, writing in Good Health magazine, alluding to the debate about whether dogs should be on a raw diet or a conventional one. The raw camp emphasizes raw or lightly cooked meat, including organ meat and bones. The conventionalists are concerned about bacteria in raw meat and the threat of choking on bones.

The author concludes by saying that regardless which method is chosen, supplementation is important, going on to offer tips on which supplements help a dog have a healthy coat and skin, and which are beneficial for a pet’s brain, eyes, and heart..

Whether the topic of your blog marketing efforts is plumbing, pets, or pharma, the content itself needs to use opinion. It’s opinion, after all, that clarifies what differentiates your business, your professional practice, or your organization from its peers.  This Good Health article, takes a slightly different approach – airing both sides of a debate.

At Say It for You, I train content writers to reveal their unique “slant” or philosophy within their field.  That way, I explain, potential customers and clients feel they know who you are, not merely what you do,  and they are more likely to want to be associated with you.

For that very reason, one important facet of my job as a content writer is to “interview” business owner and professional practitioner clients, eliciting each one’s very individualized thoughts. The Carrie Donahue article about pet food suggests an alternate approach – present both sides of the story to readers.  When you clarify and put into perspective both sides of a thorny issue within your industry or profession, you’re performing a valuable service for readers.

On the other hand, I have observed, whether you’re blogging for a business, for a professional practice, or for a nonprofit organization, there needs to be a slant on the information you’re serving up for readers. In other words, blog posts, to be effective, can’t be just compilations; you can’t just “aggregate” other people’s stuff and make that be your entire blog presence.

There’s value in Are-Both-Sides-Right blog posts, no doubt, as Carrie Donahue so effectively demonstrates in this article. In the big picture, however, I have to conclude that, to achieve the status of “thought leader” and inspire action, business blog posts will need to involve taking one side of an issue, not both.

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