Winning Traits of Innovative Blog Posts

Ray Anthony and Barbara Boyd wrote Innovative Presentations for Dummies to help speakers get their audiences committed and acting upon their orator in publicrequests. “Competition, technology, and the ever-tightening economy have made out-presenting your competitors more important than ever,” the authors caution professional speakers.

That particular warning is one all of us blog content writers must heed, and all the practical tips offered by Anthony and Boyd for specific types of presentations are perfect reminders for us as well:

  • Motivational: Your presentation will contain personal anecdotes and memorable stories that your audience can relate to – how you faced a difficult situation and overcame it, and what you learned.
  • Progress update: Give more than a simple state-of-affairs presentation.  If you’re reporting on something negative, explain the reasons and provide a solution.  If it’s good news, explain why.
  • Solutions: When you sell a product or service, what you really sell is a solution to a problem your audience is facing.
  • Technical: Convey enthusiasm about the process or product, showing how the latest technology can help solve their problems.

Remember the Five Cs, the authors say.

  1. Clear: Use words the audience understands, and make points in logical order.
  2. Concise: Say what you have to say in as few words as possible.
  3. Compelling: Use words, visuals, and powerful information to demand total interest.
  4. Captivating: Tell impacting stories and keep the presentation moving forward.
  5. Convincing:  The ultimate test is: have you swayed your audience to your point of view or persuaded them to buy what you’re selling?

Not only are these elements winning traits of innovative presentations, they are winning traits of innovative blog posts!


Help Blog Readers Know the Difference Between Related and Causal

Man Hand writing Cause and Effect concept with markerIn statistics, variables are considered related if, when the value of one increases or decreases, so does the value of the other (even if it’s in the opposite direction). But does that mean one caused the other?  Not necessarily.  Only after investigating whether one action causes the other, explains the Australian Bureau of Statistics, can we “put in place policies and programs that aim to bring about a desired outcome.”

The article gives three examples of questions about whether the difference between two things is simply incidental versus one causing the other:

  • Is there a relationship between a person’s education level and their health?
  • Is pet ownership associated with living longer?
  • Did a company’s marketing campaign increase their product sales?

In writing blog content, citing causal statistics certainly is one method used to capture readers’ attention.   “Insomnia costs U.S. $63 billion annually in lost productivity“ is a great opener for a furniture store blog about mattresses, for example.  And if the content also contains a human interest story about how Jimmy’s lack of sleep caused him to flub an all-important job interview, that combination packs a real punch with blog readers.

Statistics can actually serve as mythbusters.  If there’s some false impression people seem to have about your industry or about a product or service you provide, you can bring in statistics to show readers that the numbers they’ve been hearing about may be related, but that one factor is not the cause of the other. From there, you can offer more relevant solutions to their issues.

In everyday life, people routinely make causal claims that would require a counterfactual analysis to confirm, says “Thanks to a new diet, your neighbor lost thirty pounds. But did your neighbor not also take up jogging? To assess the claim that A caused B we need to consider a counterfactual: What would have happened if A had been different? To evaluate whether your neighbor’s dieting caused his weight loss, we need to consider what would have happened had he not dieted, and so on.”

In the natural course of doing business, misunderstandings about a product or service often surface in the form of customer questions and comments. Addressing misinformation in a company’s blog shines light on the owner’s special expertise, besides offering information that is valuable to readers. De-mystifying matters can make your blog into a “go-to” source for readers seeking information in your field.

How can you use myths and “counterfacts” to enhance your credibility as a business owner?


Just Who Do You Think You’re Talking To

What’s with the New Yawk accent?” asks Arika Okrent of Mental Floss magazine, referring to the well-known tendency of New Business challengeYorkers to drop their r’s.  In the 1960s, a Columbia University grad student named William Labov, hypothesizing that the missing r might be explained by social factors, tested his theory by visiting luxury department stores and bargain basement shops. The classier the joint, he found, the more likely salespeople were to pronounce the r.

The study was repeated in 1986 by Joy Fowler, finding precisely the same pronunciation difference between high-end and low-end store personnel. That begged the question: if more r means more prestige, why are the r’s dropped at all?

A recent inquiry by Maeve Eberhardt and Corinne Downs found the answer at the famous New York bridal salon Kleinfeld’s (featured on the TV reality show “Say Yes to the Dress”). The researchers discovered that the higher the client’s budget, the more likely the salesperson is to retain the r! However, the salespeople tend to drop the r when providing emotional support!

Now, you wouldn’t drop your r’s in a printed blog, of course, but there are tests you can put your blog through to see how you’re doing in terms of readability – are you reaching the right people and doing it by using words and sentences to which they can relate?  Readability Index Calculators (the most-used is the Flesch-Kincaid) can show where your writing is on the bargain–basement-to-“classy” scale.

As content writers, we try to keep blog content relevant to the topic and up to date with what’s happening in the field and in the news. Going light on jargon and technical terms without “dumbing down” the material shows respect for readers’ intellect – and for their time. But refining the content based on the target audience is the lesson we can take from the New Yawk accent story.

 The idea, of course, is to match your writing to your intended audience. Does the site target a more educated demographic, people with specialized knowledge or expertise in a particular area, or is it meant to cater to a general audience.

A good question for us blog writers to ask ourselves might be “Just who do you think you’re talking to?“


Questions Readers Shouldn’t Need to Ask at an Open Blog

“The best way to find out if a school is a good match for your student and your family is to visit the school in person.” offers a list of questions to ask at the next open house:

Does this school have a particular educational philosophy or mission? For blogs to be effective, they must serve as positioning statements. The “visit” has to cute boy sitting at table and writing. conclude with readers understanding exactly what your particular philosophy or mission is.

What is this school’s approach to student discipline and safety?

Prospects are always mentally posing the “What’s In It For Me?” questions.
What’s the benefit in this for ME? How will MY interests be protected and served if I choose to do business with you or become your client or patient? What will you do to keep me “safe” from risk?

What kinds of library resources are available for students?
Serving as a “go-to” source for online readers can be a great formula of success for
business bloggers. Readers could, in theory, have sought information from sources
more authoritative than your blog. Yet those same readers will be sure to appreciate that  you’ve gone to the trouble of culling valuable nuggets from a variety of sources and  helped them make sense of the information.

How do students get to school? Is free busing available?
Generally, online searchers want to find out what they’ll get if they buy and want to gain
perspective about how the pricing and the quality stacks up against the competition.

Online searchers who visit your business blog are very much like those parents at a school
open house. The parents are looking for the very best institution to help with their children’s
education. Online searchers arrive at your business blog needing to know how to find products
and services, how to do something, how to solve very specific problems.

Don’t wait for readers to pull out that list of prepared questions – your
blog content should address those questions ahead of time. That way, the answers will be
there waiting when visitors arrive!



Business Blogs Must Magnetize and Mesmerize Before Monetizing

Magnetizing, then mesmerizing your audience is all about you stepping out of old fashioned magicthe realm of mediocrity as a speaker or trainer and into the realm of magic, says Callan Rush, the self-dubbed Maven of Motivation. Only after those first two steps are accomplished, she explains, can any speaker monetize his/her business.

I was struck by how relevant Rush’s advice is to business blog content writing. Problem #1 for seminar leaders, she explains, is low attendance.  Isn’t “getting found” online the first step for businesses?  Doesn’t every business or practice need to draw online traffic before anything else can happen?

The first three steps on Rush’s Magnetic Marketing Checklist are:

  •  Choose a specific audience
  • Choose a specific problem
  • Create a tantalizing title

The Say It For You “take”:

Your knowledge of who your target audience is must influence every aspect of your blog  – the words you use in the title, how technical you get, how sophisticated your approach – all of it meant to magnetize the specific type of customer or client you want and those who will want to do business with you.  That’s why we content marketers use and repeat keyword phrases to help search engines  recognize us as the best match for the right online searchers.
Millions of people are putting ideas and information out on the Web, often just to share knowledge and give others the benefit of their opinions.  But in your case, you’re using your blog as part of your marketing campaign. The blog is your “podium” – you get to showcase your business so customers will want you to be the one to provide them with the product or the service they need. But, like the seminar presenters whom Callan Rush advises, even after they arrive, if you fail to mesmerize your audience – you’re toast!

Captivating readers, just as captivating audiences, depends on what Rush calls WDYD – (What do you do?)  In other words, you need to choose a very specific problem or need, and offer a very clear and compelling solution.

We business bloggers are faced with a tall order: our content must magnetize, then mesmerize. Only then will any “monetizing” become possible!