The Memo Meme for Blogging

Memos are usually written for one of the following reasons, explains Tony Rossiter, author of Effective Business Writing in Easy Steps:

  • to provide a written record
  • to give the reader background information for a specific visit or event
  • to make a suggestion or proposal
  • to give advice or make recommendations about a particular issue or problem

Interesting – I couldn’t help reflecting: the key characteristics of a good memo which Rossiter lists are remarkably similar to the key characteristics of good blog posts:

  • they’re short
  • they’re clear and concise
  • they’re reliable, with information that is 100% accurate
  • they’re reader-friendly
  • they’re easy to read

To be effective, both blog posts and memos must clarify the issue (explain the need for action), provide “arguments” in favor of taking that action, based on essential facts surrounding the issue or topic.

You might like to do several things in your memo, Rossiter suggests (every one of these, our Say It For You content writers know, can apply to effective blog posts):

  1. draw attention to a track record of successful involvement in similar actions or projects
  2. acknowledge the expertise of the people who will be heading up the project
  3. suggest next steps (perhaps a planning meeting or further information-gathering)

In the case of a marketing blog post, that next step might be signing up for a newsletter, subscribing to the blog, downloading a paper, or clicking on a link to a landing page showing various product or service options.

A printed or emailed memo typically begins with a “to” (“to: managing director”, “to: all technical staff”, “to: all regional managers”… While a blog post relies on incoming online traffic, it’s crucial for the content writers to direct their message to a specific target audience.

When composing a blog post, it helps to remember the memo “meme”!


Selling Dreams Through Blog Marketing



“Apple’s strategy involves selling their consumers a global package of dreams, personal experiences, and status,” explains Camila Villafañe of “Apple is different from all other brands because for Steve Jobs, consumers weren’t just consumers, they were people. People with dreams, hopes, and ambitions, and he got Apple to create products to help them achieve their dreams and goals,” she says.

There’s been a lot of buzz around the “Starbucks experience” – the crackle, the aroma, the barristas – all of it. I think there’s a lesson here for blog content writers: online visitors to your blog need to find an experience along with information.  “Analyze how it feels to use and buy your products, and think what you need to improve, and what you need to focus on”, Steve Jobs taught.
Each blog post needs to get readers to visualize themselves benefiting from an experience: “You won’t know how good you’ll feel until you do”, one bankruptcy attorney’s commercial says. After using your product or service, will new users feel relief? Pride? Belonging? Strength? Security? When you’re composing business blog content, I tell writers, imagine readers asking themselves – “How will I use the product (or service)?” “How will it work?” “How will I feel?”

Villafane pointed out another Steve Jobs marketing lesson:  Find an enemy. “Make it clear who the enemy is, and try to get people to take a side. The idea is that people are drawn to belong to the ideology of a brand that matches their own thoughts and values,” she says. “If you don’t stand up for what you believe in, you’ll go unnoticed. And what better way to state what you believe in, than stating clearly what you DON’T believe in,” she asks?

In training new blog content writers, I always remind them of the importance of including opinion in marketing blogs. Whether it’s business-to-business blog writing or business to consumer blog writing, the blog content itself needs to use opinion to clarify what differentiates that business, that professional practice, or that organization from its peers.
Before you publish, subject each blog post to two tests:

  • Is it designed to get readers to visualize themselves benefiting from an experience?
  • Does it reveal what you do and don’t believe in?





The Hire or DIY Decision in Blogging


Should you hire an accountant or do your own taxes? That’s the Point/Counterpoint question John Peragine tackles in Speaker Magazine this month.

“Don’t hire” responses included:

  • “Organized people can do their own taxes.”
  • “I’m a trained CPA, so I don’t need outside help.”

“Yes” responses included:

  • “Tax professionals know their stuff.”
  • “I hate taxes and billing. I sleep well at night knowing the experts are doing what they know how to do best while I am doing what I do best, which is bringing in the money that they have to work with.”

Reading Peragine’s column, I couldn’t help thinking that the same two “camps” would form when it comes to hiring professional content writers for a corporate blog. Just as many speakers felt they can handle their own financial records; others felt they lacked the time, the expertise, and the inclination to prepare their own tax returns.

In the same way, while a minority of business owners and professional practitioners prefer to do their own writing, most lack the time – or the inclination – to compose corporate blog content with enough consistency and frequency to make a difference in search results and customer engagement.

There’s another important way in which business tax reporting and maintaining a blog are similar. No speaker’s CPA (who is not the CFO of the company, keeping track of finances throughout the year) can prepare tax returns for that speaker without being given correct and detailed information by the client. As one professional speaker described her process, “I have a bookkeeper for my everyday finances and payroll, and a CPA for my tax returns.”

Similarly, a freelance blog content writer can do the most effective job on any business owners’ behalf when there is a free flow of information from owners and from their boots-on-the-ground  sales and customer service employees to the writer.

Just like a CPA, a ghost blogger is a specialist – in writing, and in particular, writing for online marketing, and writing with consistency over extended periods of time. Most business owners lack the time to keep up that effort.




Accentuate the Negative?


dog food

“Eliminate the negative an’ latch on to the affirmative” was Johnny Mercer’s musical advice back in 1945. Playing to one’s strengths has, in fact, been a popular fad in management development circles. As a blog content writer, though, sometimes I wonder.

The latest issue of Modern Dog magazine features eight article titles on its cover:

  1. How Not to Train Your Puppy
  2. Gift ideas galore
  3. Big Dogs and their Puppy Counterparts
  4. Winter Survival Tips
  5. Great Gear
  6. I’m Adoptable
  7. Find a New Best Friend
  8. “Why is My Dog Staring at Me?”

Guess which one attracted my attention the most? Yeah, gotta admit… it was the negative one telling me how NOT to train my puppy. And guess what? It’s not just me.  People are drawn to articles with negative titles, my friend and fellow blogger Lorraine Ball pointed out a year ago. Posts with negative titles stand out in a blog roll, on a Twitter feed or LinkedIn page, and the negative posts are more likely to be shared, retweeted and read.

What’s with us? Well, “Edgy language draws attention”, Lorraine explains. (Lorraine’s title “Why Your Blog Titles Suck” is one too edgy for me, but I get the idea. I do.) Fact is, I would’ve picked “Why is My Dog Staring at Me?” before “How to Train Your Puppy”.  It was that How-NOT-to that drew my attention.

But that doesn’t jibe at all with Rich Brook’s advice on socialmediaexaminer: “The how-to is the most powerful of all the blogging archetpyes.”  Your prospects and customers have a problem and you can help them solve it by creating a step-by-step post that walks them through a solution, he says. That may be true, counters Lorraine Ball, but fear of failure is core to who we are as people, and it’s hard to resist reading material about how to avoid it.

Could it be that first accentuating the negative, and only then latching on to the affirmative is the best advice for us business blog content writers?


We’ll Say It For You – “Happy New Year!”

Hard to believe, but my little ghost-blogging and content writing company, Say It For You, is New Year's champagnecelebrating its eighth New Year’s today!

Our content, some 20,0000 unique writing selections by now, may be found in clients’ corporate brochures  and website pages, in press releases, “nurturing emails” and Facebook posts. Primarily, though, our pieces populate the blogosphere.

2015 was certainly a year of learning for me, and ideas for material were everywhere I looked, from magazine and newspaper articles, radio and TV broadcasts, and even billboards and print ads. Networking groups were my classrooms, and our Say It For You clients our best teachers.

More than ever, I realized, our readers need even more from us than expert advice and information.  We need to put all of that information into perspective and become thought leaders. It became more and more evident to me that at least half the time I spend creating a blog post is reading/research/thinking time. That meant continuing to build my collection of books that serve as blog content writing resources.

As 2015 draws to a close, I’m revisiting my Say It For You mission statement:

Say It For You is a premium blogging and marketing service that provides your business with    enhanced potential for improved standing in search engine results and reader engagement. More than just a collection of keywords, our blog posts are strong, thought-filled messages about your business or practice.

Basically, what that means is when you use Say It For You, you receive the following benefits in addition to impeccably written posts:

  • A single writer dedicated to understanding your business and keeping abreast
    of topics in your industry. That writer is ready to interface with your SEO expert, marketing consultant, or web designer.
  • Say It For You works with only one client in each field of business, so that all research and promotional efforts are devoted towards benefiting you and your business.
  • You will have personal contact with your writer, including regular in-person meetings or phone conferences. Your writer is always available to discuss content and strategy.
  • The ideas and input of writers with strong background in business. Our writers have expertise in finance, marketing, operations, event planning, autos, seniors, international commerce, healthcare, and more.

    Eight and a half years and 20,000 pieces of writing later, we find that every day there’s something new to celebrate and to share!  Happy New Year!