In Business Blogging, Avoid the Cynic’s Sidebar

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Sure, you could say, “If I can’t avoid mentioning the competition altogether, I’m certainly not going to say anything nice about them,” author Jeff Thull tells his audience of salespeople. But that’s what Thull dubs “the cynic’s sidebar.”  After all, he points out, they may be your competitors, but they are viable alternatives for your customers.

Those competitors, Thull reminds salespeople, aren’t the customers’ competition, perhaps even an entirely viable option they’re already considering, and, if you unfairly misrepresent that option, you risk losing the customers’ trust.

I agree. In offering business blogging assistance, I reassure owners that addressing problems and misinformation in their blog posts shines light on their special expertise and on their particular slant on the work they do. At the same time, readers don’t like to be “made wrong” by having their assertions challenged directly, including their having checked out what your competition has to offer.

Yes, as content writers for business owners or practitioners, at least one of the goals we’re working towards is converting online searchers into to customers and clients. And, although one approach in a business blog is comparing your products and services to others’ it’s important to emphasize the positive rather an “knocking” a competitor.  That means that, rather than starting with what the competition is doing “wrong”, use the power of “We” to demonstrate what YOU value and the way YOU like to deliver your services.

Before you can do a good job positioning yourself (or the client for whom you’re creating the blog content), you need to go through a systematic thinking process, a 3-step self-examination of sorts:

  1. Who is my competition?
  2. How am I different (3 reasons per competitor)?
  3. How am I similar (3 reasons per competitor)?

That very thought process leads to what I’ve nicknamed “the training benefit” business owners can derive from corporate blog marketing. That benefit holds true, I’ve found, whether owners do their own blogging or collaborate with a professional ghost blogger, because the exercise helps train you to articulate those things to clients and customers.

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