What’s in a Name When Blogging For Business


Richard Lederer, author of the book the Joy of Names, has a vested interest in his subject: his own name, he reveals means “powerful estate ruler leather worker”. But, “Must a name mean something?” (as Alice asks Humpty Dumpty).”Of course it must!” is Dumpty’s reply.

In writing to promote a business or practice, using stories about names and nicknames makes for engaging content. In fact, it’s an excellent idea to share anecdotes about people on the team who have earned a complimentary sobriquet.

Just this week, paging through a special edition of People Magazine devoted to The stars of Food Network, I noticed several examples:

  • Bobby Flay is “the elder statsman of Food Network”.
  • Ina Garten is “the ultimate hostess”.
  • Valerie Bernelli is “hot in the kitchen”.
  • Duff Goldman is “the designated baker”.
  • Guy Fiere is “mayor of Flavortown”
  • Alton Brown is “the geek of gastronomy”

As fellow blogger Michael Fortin reminds content writers, getting personal is a huge element in the success of business blogs. Sharing this type of fond moniker, along with an anecdote, adds interest to blog posts. Did you know that Alton Brown once invented a turkey derrick with ropes, pulleys, and a ladder, to facilitate safe and accurate fryer of a Thanksgiving bird?

Storytelling has the power to move from lifeless to life-filled copy, Luana Spinetti writes in

The following poem by Charles Delint (included on page 11 of the Lederer book) sums up the astounding power of names and the stories behind those names:

A name can’t begin to encompass the sum of all of her parts,
But that’s the magic of names, isn’t it?
That the complex, contradictory individuals we are
can be called up complete and whole
In another mind through the simple sorcery of a name.

As the People Magazine Food Network issue demonstrates, blending 6 cups of the power of names with 6 cups of intriguing anecdotes and – you’ve got some very delicious business blog content!


We’ll-Just-Tell-You-Why-It-Should-Be-Us blogging for Business

introducing you in your blog

At first glance, the WageWorks ad (the company provides Health Savings Accounts for employees) seems incredibly boastful:

“We won’t tell you which HSA to pick.  We’ll just tell you why it should be us.”

On second glance, this ad reminds me of two points I made about thought leadership in recent posts on this Say It For You blog. One refers to a Wall Street Journal Magazine story about Kasper Egelund, the Danish kitchen company CEO. Egelund tells customers they can have his kitchen in any color,” so long as it’s black”. The very arrogance and self-assuredness embodied in that statement makes customers want to follow his recommendations.

When it comes to blogging for business, positioning ourselves (or our business owner/professional practitioner clients) as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) is obviously a worthy goal. We might be able to go one better, however, by presenting ourselves as thought leaders, willing to strike out in a direction that is a little different from the common wisdom – and being definitive about our opinions.

The WageWorks ad may be boastful, but it offers reasons employers should choose their HSAs over others available in the marketplace. In my “There’s-a-Reason-and-What’s-the-Reason Blogging for Business” post earlier this week, I explained that readers need to be offered a “because”, presented in terms of advantages to the reader of reading further and then following the Calls to Action in the blog post.

“When it’s your turn to speak, start with a bang, not the white noise of housekeeping,” Laurie Guest, CSP advises emerging public speakers. Opening strong, Guest explains, means being purposeful about your opening, with no quotes from famous people, or “Nice to be here…”, or humorous “ice breakers”.

In blog marketing, the idea is to powerfully position what you do and what your company does. Like CEO Egelund and WageWorks, be strong and bold – let them know why it should be YOU!


New Blogging Means Being Controversial

Be controversial, is the advice Ryan Deiss and Russ Henneberry, authors of Digital Marketing for Dummies. give writers. The idea – making yourself stand out by bringing up controversial topics even if you worry some of your readers won’t agree.

Whatever the topic, you have to answer four questions that will be in readers’ minds, Deiss and Hennberry stress:

  1. Why now? (Why is the information you’re offering timely?)
  2. Who cares? (Who in the target audience is likely to be affected by having or not having what you’re selling?)
  3. Why should they care?) How will their lives be different with your product or service?)
  4. Can you prove it?  (Here’s where case studies, testimonials, and news stories come in.)

Daniel of Freerange Communications agrees. “One way to increase organic traffic and build engagement is by writing controversial content while backing up your opinions”.  But, he cautions, “You cannot simply contradict what everyone else is saying…You need to support your arguments with accurate sources and data.

Daniel lists three possible approaches to writing controversial blog posts:

  • Riding coattails:
    Using an already popular subject to prove your point. For example, “Why Steve Jobs Constantly Ignored His Customers”
  • This versus that:
    “5 reasons email marketing is better than social media marketing”.
  • Being the messenger:
    “The  ——-  Myth Debunked”

If you decide to write about a heated topic, tackle the topic boldly, using clear sentences. You can even present arguments for both sides while making sure that the side you pick is clear, Daniel advises.

In blog content writing training sessions, I’ve always emphasized to content writers that blogs must have a strong, “opinionated” voice. Posts must go far beyond Wikipedia-page-information-dispensing and offer the business owner’s (or the professional’s, or the organization executive’s) unique perspective on issues related to the search topic.

In any field, there will always be controversy – about best business practices, about the best approach to providing professional services, about acceptable levels of risk, even about business-related ethical choices. Rather than ignoring the controversy, bloggers need to comment on the different views and “weigh in”.  New Blogging will consider controversy a tool for thought leadership.


Blog To Show Readers You’ve Got Their Number

numbers in blog titles

Numbers that can be expressed in one or words should be spelled out, while figures should be used for larger numbers the Purdue OWL advises. Following that guidance, you’d express ”two million dollars”  or thirty-one years in words, while writing “126 days”.

There’s a very good reason, however, that most magazine editors and blog content writers choose not to follow the first part of that OWL advice.  Few would choose to write “two million dollars”, “fifteen reasons”, or “thirty-one years”.  Numbers – in digits, as opposed to being spelled out in words – have more impact.

Here are just some of the titles I saw displayed on magazine covers at my local pharmacy only this morning::

  • 341 Cluster Solutions
  • 147 Tips From Home Cooks
  • 101 Hearty Dishes for the harvest Season
  • 50 Fall Ideas
  • 293 Fresh Looks for Classic Cuts
  • 145 Festive and Easy Decorating Tips

When colleagues at online marketing firm Hubspot analyzed their own blog posts to see which titles had performed the best in search results; the top eight, they found, each included a number!  Some of the numbers were short, and OWL would have had the authors spell those out in words.  But numbers in words simply lack the “punch” of numbers in digits, it appears.

Some of the Hubspot winners:

  • “How to monitor Your Social Media Presence in 10 Minutes a Day”
  • “22 Educational Social Media Diagrams”
  • 12 Mind-Blowing Statistics Every Marketer Should Know”

Several research studies have show that headlines with numbers tend to generate 73% more social shares. “Our brains are attracted to numbers because they automatically organize information in logical order.” And, for some reason, one study revealed, odd numbers are seen as more authentic than even numbers.

It’s interesting. The American Marketing Association’s Manual of Style tells us not to use digits to express numbers that occur at the beginning of a sentence, title, or subtitle! Another way Ryan McCready thinks the so-called experts have it wrong has to do with the number 10. Thought leaders have agreed the number 10 is too common and will not stand out on social media, but McCready found the exact opposite to be true – the number 10 is the best number to use for blog titles.

It’s not only in blog post titles that numbers wield power. At Say It For You, I advise business owners and professionals to use statistics (one form of numbers) in 3 ways:

1. Attention-grabbing
2. Mythbusting (statistics help prove the reality versus the widely held misperceptions about your product or service)
3. Demonstrating the extent of a problem leads into showing readers ways you can help solve it

Blog to show readers you’ve got their number!


Business Blog Readers are Looking for a Fix

“Can you email me the information?” is never a request any sales professional wants to hear, admits Paul Cherry, author of Questions That Sell.  What should the salesperson do? Agree, then clarify, is  his suggestion. Ask the prospect: “ What kind of information will be most useful to you? What are you looking to accomplish?”

Salespeople should look for certain key words in their prospects’ answers, Cherry says. Those words reveal if the “targets” have any real interest in the product or service.

“We are looking to:

  • achieve…
  • solve…
  • eliminate…
  • avoid…
  • secure…
  • improve…
  • fix…

For most business owners, when asked why they want to use social media, their answers come down to one thing – selling more stuff.  In fact, as internet marketing consultant Chris Garrett remarks, “The blogosphere is coming around to the idea that commerce is not necessarily evil, that in fact businesses need to make money and they do that by selling stuff.”

Effective blog content drip-drip-drips the necessary benefit-led, fact-filled, objection-busting content to your targeted audience, in such a way that they don’t feel they are being sold to, Garrett explains. His own way of describing the blogging sales cycle is as a series of small agreements, where the prospect clicks to the blog, reads content, subscribes to the blog, signs up for an e-newsletter, and finally decides to call or write.

Jeff Thrull, author of another sales training book, Exceptional Selling, advises sales professionals to act against type:, “When in doubt, so the opposite of what a salesperson would do.” The good news in blog marketing is the same as the good news Thrull describes as operative in direct selling. At Say It For You, I advise using blog posts to demonstrate the business owner’s or professional practitioner’s expertise, and to offer valuable tips to readers.

At Stage #1 of their search, what the majority of consumers are likely to have typed into the search bar are words describing:

  • Their need
  • Their problem
  • Their idea of the solution to their problem
  • A question

    In short, those searchers’ first encounter with your business or practice is based on their need for help to do the very things Paul Cherry named in his keyword list:  they want to achieve, eliminate, avoid, secure, improve, and FIX.

No, you’re not in their living room or on the phone with them, but, in order convert those “strangers” to friends and customers, then, address your blog posts to them, and write about how you can  help them do exactly those things.