Are Your Blog Questions for Learning or Judging?


Questions open our minds, says executive coach Roz Savage, but we need to go from judging to learning. While old-style leaders ask questions to elicit facts, new-style leaders ask questions “to unlock the intelligence of the team”. In her book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, Marilee Adams compares judging questions with learning questions. When we leap to judgment, that prevents us from learning very much, she teaches.

At Say it For You, always on the hunt for ways to improve the way we go about business blog content writing, we wondered how questions can be used in blog content itself, in which the “conversation”, at least at the start of the encounter, is one-way! Neil Patel suggests asking questions on social media as a way of learning more about your target audience for the blog. The first and most important question you need to ask, Patel says, is What are my readers worried about? The answers will allow you to provide a better customer experience and blog reader experience.

A question in a blog post title is an invitation to participate in a conversation, Patrick Armitage of BlogMutt suggests in uplandKapost.com.  And, while in a blog post, Armitage says, you’re often providing answers to questions that your potential customer might ask, the very fact that it’s in the form of a question allows readers to feel you’re helping them form them form their own opinions.

Visitors are, without a doubt, judging your website. If it does not appear attractive, easy to navigate, or knowledgeable, you’ve lost your customer, cautions Webociti. Relevant information they should find includes questions and answers, Joe Mediate explains.

As Marilee Adams emphasizes, learner questions lead to discovery and understanding, while judger questions more often lead to blame and frustration. In keeping with that concept, blog content should focus on expansive and productive questions, such as “What’s possible?” “What are my choices?” “What’s useful here?” In the real blog marketing world, I’ve found, the content writers focus on appealing to consumers’ fear. My own thought has always been that, to appeal to a better kind of customer – the one who buys for the right reasons and remains loyal, the content must appeal to readers’ better nature – and to their ability to arrive at intelligent answers to “learning” questions.

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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!

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Blog Content Writing is Our Knowledge Test

Up until a year and a half ago, I had been unaware that, in order to become a certified taxi operator in London, drivers must study up for what is considered to be the world’s most challenging exam, involving detailed recall of tens of thousands of streets, along with the locations of clubs, hospitals, hotels, parks, theaters, schools, restaurants, government buildings and churches. The “10 Things About Britain” article in Mental Floss Magazine was making the point that “Cabbies are smarter than Google Maps.”

At the time, I remember reflecting that online visitors searching for a product or a service typically have no idea what it takes for you as a business owner or professional practitioner to do what you do until you make them aware through your blog content.  Without your blog, those readers won’t realize how much effort went into acquiring all the expertise you’re now offering to use for their benefit.

In today’s click-it-yourself, do-it-yourself world, I observed, your blog content needs to demonstrate to online searchers that, in your field, you are smarter than Google Maps, or eHow, or Wikipedia.  What’s more, your corporate blogging for business must make clear, you’re a lot more caring of your customers!

Now, more than a year later, I’ve come upon another article about the “Knowledge Schools” where the cabbies train,  usually for four years or more. Author Barclay Bram was interested in “why, in the age of Uber and Google Maps, people would still put themselves through this process, and what it’s like to do so.” In fact, Bram points out, the Knowledge has been getting harder, as new railways stations, hotels, and restaurants are being built.

As a blog content writer and trainer at Say It For You, the most interesting fact I gleaned from the Bram article is this: Researchers have used MRI scans to show that the hippocampus of people who pass the Knowledge grows by more than 25%! “Retired black cabbies have one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s on Earth!” Yes, there is an infinite amount of knowledge which exists apart from us in a device, Bram muses, but shouldn’t we value having knowledge we have earned and which has become inextricably a part of us?

When you blog, you verbalize the positive aspects of your business in a way that people can understand. You put your recent accomplishments down in words. You review the benefits of your products and services and keep them fresh in your mind. In other words, you are constantly providing yourself with training about how to talk effectively about your business.

For bloggers, content writing is like preparing for our own knowledge test!

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