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Business Blogging – Staying Silent is the Wrong Choice

“The COVID19 pandemic has put much of the world on pause. Blogging shouldn’t be one of them, writes Manish Dudharejia in the Search Engine Journal. Staying slilent is the wrong choice. Dudharejia names several reasons why:

  • People are on their digital devices more than ever now.
  • You have an opportunity to produce messaging that is not about anxiety-inducing topics.
  • You have the chance to discuss what your brand is doing to keep people safe.
  • Continuous communication and support builds customer trust and loyalty.
  • You have the chance to gain followers, even if they are not yet buyers.

“Customers want to know that you are surviving this new normal with them, so taking your customers along for the ride through various outlets of online marketing will ensure you have the support to get to and through these difficult times,” explains Makenzie Walker of topfloortech.com. “Positivity and reassurance are a business’ best friends,” Walker adds.

As a business owner myself, I loved the viewpoint of Karen Lombardo of Put Another Way.
Sales mentality, she says, can be divided into two categories: farming and hunting. Hunters find opportunities to close business; farmers engage with clients and forge and strengthen relationships. “The hat to wear in today’s environment,” Lombardo advises, “is the farmer.” Consistent communication is key right now. You have valuable knowledge and expertise. Put it out there, she says.

Way back in 2009, Tony Fannin, president of BE Branded, commented on the fact that in the economic environment of that time, businesses were cutting back their marketing and advertising. In effect what those business owners were saying, Fannin quipped, is “Let’s put less gas in the car so we can drive further and save money!” Without consistent reminders, brands are easily forgotten, he warned.

At Say It For You, we’re acutely conscious of the fact that it’s never been more important for brands to show purpose, going from information-dispensing to offering perspective on issues related to both the search topic and the times in which we’re living.

“May you live in interesting times” is a translation of a traditional Chinese curse, and we are certainly living in interesting times now. One thing’s for certain when it comes to business blogging – staying silent is the wrong choice!

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Design Thinking for Blog Content Writers


Design thinking is a process that helps companies and organizations solve problems, address challenges, and develop products,” a fascinating article in a recent issue of the Indianapolis Business Journal begins. Eureka!  At Say It For You, our blog marketing efforts are designed to demonstrate that our client companies and organizations can do those very same three things, I thought…

There are several different steps in design thinking, IBJ authors explain, and it’s best to move among the steps as needed. Meanwhile, I asked myself, how can we as content writers, use the first design-thinking step (Empathize) as a guide?

“See the problem you’re trying to solve through the eyes of the people facing it,” the authors suggest, exploring what the potential users of your product or service are saying, thinking, and feeling about the problem. 
I’ve written before about the concept of framing, meaning positioning a story in such a way that readers will focus on it and respect our blogging client’s expertise. In the course of delivering information (facts, statistics, features, and benefits, instruction and advice), we must create a perspective or “frame”.

Framing, a term that comes from behavioral science, is all about the Empathize step in design thinking. It’s about understanding in as much detail as possible what the target audience of readers is thinking, doing, and feeling about the problem our client is proposing to help solve.

While design thinking involves understanding what prospects are saying, thinking, and feeling about a problem, as content writers we need follow the advice client communications consultant Victor Ricciardi offers to financial planners: “Link your discussion to what clients will be able to DO or BUY with that (investment) income.”

When you’re composing business blog content, I teach at Say It For You, imagine readers asking themselves – “How will I use the product (or service)?” “How will it work?” “How will I feel?”  In other words, besides empathizing with prospects (where they are now), our job as content writers is to move them forward by helping them envision a good result. Readers found your blog in the first place, I remind writers, not because they were in search of your brand, but because of their own need. Needless to say, the blog must convey the fact that you can fulfill that need and that they have come to the right place. You must give online searchers a “feel” for the desired outcomes of using your products and services.
Blog by design – design thinking!
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Turns of Phrase Catch Readers By the Curiosity


Blog post titles have two seemingly contradicting jobs to do – arousing readers’ curiosity while still assuring them they’ve come to the right place, I’ve often explained to blog content writers at Say It For You.
Sometimes, in either the title or the body of a post, “misdirection” adds humor. I remember Jeff Fleming of the National Speakers Association of Indiana teaching us that speakers and magicians use misdirection to cause a surprise, which tickles listeners’ funny bones.

Just the other day (Employee Benefit News is just one example of the “reading around” I do to keep content fresh),  I came across two examples: “Not-So-Sweet-Dreams” was the title of an article about lack of sleep on the part of workers. (We’re used to the expression “sweet dreams”, so the title sort of brings readers up short.) A second article in the same issue was called “Thank God It’s Thursday”, discussing the merits of a four-day workweek.  Since the expression “Thank God It’s Friday” is so ubiquitous, the insertion of “Thursday” arouses curiosity.

Using unlikely comparisons is another technique content writers can use to engage readers. Putting ingredients together that don’t seem to match is not only an excellent tool for creating engaging business blog content, but also a good teaching tool. Going from what is familiar to readers to the unfamiliar area of your own expertise, allows your potential customers to feel smart as well as understood.

One point I keep stressing to business owners and practitioners hesitant about launching a blog
on the grounds that “I’ve already covered my products and services on my website – what else is left to say?” is that the blog is there to provide relevant, useful, and timely content to your prospects and customers to help them solve problems, understand industry trends, and make sense of the news and how it relates to them.

One caution about surprising readers – far-fetched can come across as “bait ‘n switch” if the unlikely comparison doesn’t clarify and help readers get the answers they came to find. You might say that, when it comes to blog content writing, misdirection needs to end up by offering direction!
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Words That Command Attention in Blog Post Titles

 

Are there certain words, words that are quite common, yet which command a reader’s attention? Leafing through the July issue of TIME magazine, I found the answer to that question is a definite “yes”. Mind you, none of these attention-commanding, curiosity-stimulating words (or set of words) offers the slightest hint of the topic of the article to follow. Instead, these attention-commanding words hint of the tone of the content to come.

  • Finding….
  • How…
  • Could…
  • A new….
  • Singing….
  • Things just….
  • The best…
  • The impossible…
  • The hidden…
  • Is it O.K if….
  • Don’t…
  • Who is….

What these attention-commanders do so subtly and skillfully is to set expectations. The title words “finding”, “the hidden”, the “impossible” might engender the expectation of discovery or of gaining a new insight. “Things just”, “could”, and “the impossible” hint at an opinion piece, even a rant. “The best, “how”, and “don’t” imply that valuable advice and cautions will follow. “How” hints that information about the way a certain process works is to follow, while “Is it O.K if” suggests readers might be asked to weigh in on an ethical dilemma of some sort.

Between Shakespeare’s Juliet asking “What’s in a name?” and father-of-advertising David Ogilby’s emphasis on headlines, there’s simply no contest when it comes to blogging for business – titles matter! There are two basic reasons titles matter so much in blogs, we emphasize at Say It For You. First, key words and phrases, especially when used in blog post titles, help search engines make the match between online searchers’ needs and what your business or professional practice has to offer.

But after you’ve been “found”, you’ve still gotta “get read”, and that’s where these attention-commanding words can be so useful. TIME editors obviously understood this point when it comes to magazine readers. Blog content writers should follow suit, creating titles that are relevant, but which also set the tone and arouse curiosity.

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Blog Reader Encounters of the Right Kind

 

client encounters

When it comes to blog marketing, there’s a lot of talk (too much talk, in my opinion) about traffic. Yes, blogging is part of business owners’ or professional practitioners’ “pull marketing” strategy, designed to attract readers’ eyeballs. At least a percentage of these readers, the hope is, will become customers and clients.

In a sense, however, fewer might well prove better when it comes to the numbers of online searchers who find your blog, then click through to the website. Remember the 1977 movie about aliens called “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”? I like to remind both the blog content writers at Say It For You and the clients who hire us that the goal of a business blog is to bring in customers “of the right kind”. These are customers who have a need for and who will appreciate the services, products, and expertise being showcased in the blog.

Long-time friend and fellow blogger Thaddeus Rex had it right, I believe, when he said: “If your marketing is not getting enough people into the pool, you’ll find the problem is in one of three places.  You’ve either got the wrong story, the wrong stuff, or the wrong audience”. Rex recommends filtering: the audience by differentiating your own business or practice in some way:

  • Your product or service can do something your competitors can’t .
  • Your product/service is more easily available relative to your competitors’.
  • You offer a better buying experience.
  • You’re less expensive.

Years ago, I remember a speaker at a wine-tasting event explaining that, when a customer finds a product or service that appears to be the exact right thing, it’s as if a light pops on. By offering a “content-tasting” on your blog, and doing that regularly and frequently, I tell business owners and professionals, you’ll have put yourself in a position to attract those “encounters of the right kind”.

Getting it “right” takes planning and thought, to be sure. Are you selecting the “right” keyword phrases? Are you establishing the “right” clear navigation path from the blog to landing pages on your website? Are you blogging for the right reasons and with the right expectations?

Remember, the goal is not lots of blog reader encounters; it’s blog reader encounters of the right kind!

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