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Blogging About Potatoes, Eggs, and Coffee Beans


The story “Adversity” in Steve & Jacks Home News reminded me how powerful stories can be in moving readers to action by appealing to their emotions. After his daughter had complained that, due to her dyslexia, she needed to work twice as hard as her classmates, a father brought three pots of water to a boil, placing a potato in one pot, an egg in the second, and some ground coffee in the third. Each of the ingredients, he explained, had faced the same adversity in terms of the boiling water. The potato, which had gone in strong, became soft, the father pointed out. The egg, originally fragile, had become hard. The coffee beans had created something entirely new.

“Consumers are used to telling stories to themselves and telling stories to each other, and it’s just natural to buy stuff from someone who’s telling us a story,” observes Seth Godin in his latest book, All Marketers Tell Stories. Essential elements of effective stories, he explains, include:

  • authenticity
  • an implied promise (of fun, money, safety, a shortcut, emotional satisfaction)
  • appeal to the senses rather than to logic

The story Steve and Jack Rupp chose for their newsletter is a very good example, I think, of the type of story we blog content writers can use in blog posts. The father-daughter relationship is one to which readers can relate; the message is inspirational and emotionally appealing. It uses trivia, pulling together facts we had probably not considered (the different effect boiling water has on eggs, potatoes, or coffee beans).

A big part of providing business blogging assistance is helping business owners and professional practitioners formulate stories about themselves and their own business or practice. The history of the company and the values of its leaders are story elements that create ties with blog readers. Online visitors to your blog, I teach at Say It For You, want to feel you understand them and their needs, but they want to understand you as well. The stories content writers in Indianapolis tell in their marketing blogs have the power to forge an emotional connection between the provider and the potential customer.

The “boiling water” represents both the environment in which that business or practice operates and the complex of problems for which they offer solutions. Every business or practice has wonderful stories just waiting to be told, describing how the “boiling water” made them stronger, more empathetic, and better able to bring something entirely new to their marketplace.

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People-to-People Blogging for Business

Skimming through my now-pretty-extensive collection of business books, I came across Hollywood producer Peter Guber’s book Tell to Win.  Guber thinks storytelling is a professional discipline, and in the book he examines the way people use stories to do business.

As a professional blog content creator and trainer in corporate writing, I think that what Guber calls a “purposeful story” describes a perfect vehicle for blogging. Guber himself ties storytelling to salesmanship, saying that the goal of your story must be to show what’s in it for the listeners (readers, in the case of blogs) – the audience must win.

While marketing blogs should be designed to “win search” (from an SEO standpoint), once the searchers have arrived, what needs winning is their hearts, and that is precisely what content writers can achieve best through storytelling.

Tim Nudd of Adweek.com agrees.  “The more compelling, clever, insightful or entertaining the stories are, the better your chance of engaging the viewer and delivering a memorable brand message,” he states.

So where do those compelling, insightful, and entertaining stories come from? Start with the business owners. Why did you choose to do what you do? What are you most passionate about in delivering your service to customers and clients?  What are you trying to add to or change about your industry?  Your customers have stories. What problems did they have that you helped solve? What funny things happened to them, to their kids, to their pets that relate to your product or service?

“It’s so simple, it’s embarrassing,” Peter Fuber says.  “You, the storyteller, must first know what your own intention is and then be transparent about it to establish trust.” People shop for product, sure.  But – and this is as true today as ever, Guber points out – people want to do business with people!

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In Business Blogs, Quotations Can Be a Good Idea

Quotation MarksHow good an idea is it to use quotations in your business blog? Very good, once you allow for certain caveats. You can use a quote to:

  • reinforce your point
  • show you’re in touch with trends in your field
  • add value for readers (by aggregating different sources of information in one business blog)
  • add variety to your material
  • add to the authority of your claims

In “How to Use Quotes in Your Speech”, Andrew Dlugan says that a quotation is more powerful than simply repeating yourself in different words. But Dlugan offers a caution I want to emphasize to business bloggers: Avoid closing your speech with a quote. “Your final words should be your own,” he cautions.

I agree.  Curating the work of others (bloggers, authors, speakers) is a wonderful technique for adding variety and reinforcement to your own content.  Remember, though, when it comes to writing marketing blogs, you’re trying to make your own cash register ring.  It’s your voice that has to be strong throughout the post, so readers will click through to your website or shopping cart. (In the case of Say It For You ghost blogging clients, the blog writer must become the voice of each business owner or professional practitioner.)

“Depending on how you deliver the quotation,” Andrew Dlugan adds, “you can create anticipation, suspense, or drama.”  (As much as I’d like to imagine otherwise, “Abraham Lincoln once said” or “Microsoft founder Bill Gates once said…”, will probably capture more attention than “I always say…”.)

Dlugan offers a couple of warnings:  a) Don’t use a quote that everyone knows: you’ll receive no benefit from repeating it. b) Don’t overdo.

In blogging for business, quotations can be a very useful tool!

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Made-‘Ya-Look Blog Post Topics

Headline concept.

 

“If you can make people look twice at a blog topic or title, they will definitely want to check it out,” observes Ken Myers in blogherald.com. Myers suggests fighting “the borings” by basing blog posts on some of the following, tying each to your own subject:

  • Holidays (decorating ideas, recipes, tips)
  • Celebrities (little known facts, causes they promote)
  • Nightlife (gambling, drinking clubs, parties)
  • Gross – (disgusting animal and human tidbits)
  • Food (growing, cooking, recipes, restaurant review)
  • Brands (the very names will assure your posts will attract interest)
  • Love (relationships, anecdotes)
  • Technology (latest cool toys, how-to tips)
  • Nostalgia (comics, collectibles, memories from childhood)

I have a theory about human curiosity that I think taps into this “made-‘ya-look” concept:  Our curiosity is at its most intense when it concerns testing our own limits. So, yes, readers like juicy gossip tidbits about sports and movie stars.  And, of course, readers have interest in how stuff works in your field, (since they’ve been directed to your blog, the search terms they used indicated an interest in your field).
But (or so my theory goes, anyway), blog readers are most curious about themselves, about how they “work” and the limits of their own knowledge and their own physical capabilities. That’s why, for example, I think magazine “quizzes” are so hard to resist.

The one thing I’d add to Myers’ list for making searchers look again is Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things. Blogging about unusual ways your products or services have been applied in different situations is a good way to capture interest. It’s best if the new information relates, not only to your topic, but to something with which readers are already familiar.

Fight “The Borings” by making people look twice at your blog topic or title!

 

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Wouldn’t You Do It Every Single Blog?

“If you knew something as easy as adding images to your blog posts would increase your readers, Orange Megaphonesubscribers, followers, and leads, wouldn’t you do it every single time?” asks Neil Patel of HubSpot.com.

We live in an age of visual culture, observes Jeff Bullas.  In fact, Bullas points out, 10% of photos taken by humankind took place in the last 12 months, and photos are becoming “the universal language”!

Bullas lists a number of rather startling statistics to demonstrate the reason images and photos need to be part of any business’ marketing tactics:

  • Articles with images get 94% more total views.
  • 60% of consumers are more likely to consider or contact a business when an image shows up in local search results.
  • In an online store, customers think the quality of a product’s image is more important than product-specific information and even more important than ratings and reviews.

Images need to have a purpose, though, as Neil Patel observes, and not be there merely as decoration or “filler”.  Purposes include:

  • Emphasizing a point
  • Explaining a concept
  • Showing personality

I teach content writers that, even though the words you use to tell the story are the most important part of blogging for business, visuals add interest and evoke emotion.  Personally, I like “clip art”. Why? These commercial images aren’t original to my client’s business or practice and they don’t depict the actual products or the customers or colleagues of that business or practice. But what clip art does accomplish, I find, is capturing a concept, helping express the main idea that is articulated in the post.

When it comes to writing headlines, Neil Patel advises, focus on the 4 U’s: unique, ultra-specific, useful, or urgent. At Say It For You, we try to use images the same way, selecting one for each post that gives readers an idea of what to expect in the post. Wouldn’t you do that every single time?  You bet!

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