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Start By Being on Their Side

being on the side of the reader

In his 30-second “elevator speech” introducing himself at our InfoConnect2 networking meeting, fellow member Cody Lents shared something I think blog content writers need to hear.

Most sales processes, Cody said, go as follows:

  1. Here’s what we have to offer….
  2. Here’s how it works…..
  3. Here’s how it can help you……
  4. What do you think?…..

In contrast to that features/benefits model, Cody’s message to a prospect runs more like this: “I understand you have some problems with ……. Let’s figure it out together.”

Cody’s words reminded me of a post I published six years ago, called “Business Blog Readers Need Content Writers to Get One Thing Straight”. Recommending anything, I reminded blog content writers, before you’ve demonstrated you’ve done your homework and that you understand the readers’ needs, well that is not likely to have them following any of your calls to action.

There’s just so much information out there for searchers to use, so many bloggers telling  what they have to offer, how it works, and how they can help. What needs to come across loud and clear is that the business owners or practitioners understand the readers and those readers’ specific needs and problems.

Another aspect of putting ourselves in prospects’ shoes comes into play when our blog post is sharing industry and company or practice news and announcements. Readers must buy into the idea that this news is going to be important to them. In a way, the blog content writer is playing the role of an advisor, and people look to advisors for more than just information, even if the topic is highly relevant to their needs. Readers will be saying to themselves, “OK, I get it, but how does that news affect me?”

When it comes right down to it, the whole blog marketing thing is not really about search engine optimization, although that may be one motivating factor for starting a blog. What I believe it IS really about is providing those who find your site with a taste of what it would be like to have you working alongside them to help with their challenges and issues. (That’s true whether the business owner or practitioner is writing his or her own blog posts or working with professional content writers at Say It For You.)

You’ve gotta start on their side!

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What’s-Really-in-Your Blogging For Business

fear blog titles

There’s a reason the cover of Consumer Reports has a picture of a cow on the cover of this month’s issue, along with this very compelling question: “What’s Really In Your Meat?”  Titles catch the eye (that one certainly did mine) and set up readers’ expectations for what kind of content they’ll find if they open the magazine and read the article. As a blog content writer, I’m interested in titles.  What elements in the titles listed on a magazine cover, for example, are most likely to induce a browser to buy that issue? Then, which titles tempt the magazine reader to read those articles first?

I categorize this particular title, “What’s Really in Your Meat?”, as a “truth-about”. This type of header is meant to instill fear, one of the two dominant buying motives (desire for gain and fear of loss). In fact, people are drawn to articles with negative titles, my friend and fellow blogger Lorraine Ball pointed out a year ago.

A few other salient titles in the October Consumer Reports issue fall into the “How-To” category:

  •  “Beating Back Surprise Bills”
  •  “Keeping Your Data Private”
  •  “Simple Ways to Add Convenience and Security”
  •  “Good Riddance, Robocalls!”

Less disturbing (some might argue less compelling) than “truth-abouts”, in blogs, “How-To” titles perform the very important function of confirming to searchers that they’ve arrived at the right place to find precisely the kinds of information they need. 

Using a consumer question in a title, then answering that question in the article or blog post is yet another approach.  Three such pieces in Consumer Reports were:

  • “My car is starting to smell musty, and an air freshener isn’t cutting it.  What else can I do?”
  • “Can I catch food poisoning from another person?”
  • “How can I keep my leftover paint fresh enough to reuse?”

Truth-abouts, how-tos, and question titles, I teach at Say It For You, can all be effective blog titling techniques, with the purpose being to tell readers why they should bother to read what you’ve written in the blog post.

Most important, when choosing a title, design it so that it conveys not only the nature of the content, but the value readers can expect to receive from that content! Ask yourself this question:

For my readers, what’s really in my blogging for business?

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Business Blog Title Threesomes

 

A couple of years ago at Say It For You, I began calling attention to the idea of using certain literary devices in business blog titles with an eye to making them more “catchy”.  In addition to alliteration, a second creative writing technique is “threesomes”. The same Fortune magazine that used those ten alliterative titles I named in my last post also had at least two good examples of the Power of Three:

  1. Introducing MUFG Bank – trusted, global, seamless
  2. Right place, right fit, right now (WorldBusinessChicago.com)
  3. “Real Reliable”, “Real Service”, and “Real Pride” (parts of an advertorial series about the Stihl Company)Like alliteration, The Rule of Three is a language device. We’re all familiar with these examples in which three related words or points presented in quick succession for literary effect:
  •  “Friends, Romans, countrymen”
  •  “I came, I saw, I conquered”
  •  “Of the people, by the people, for the people”

Things that come in threes are more persuasive, Moodle explains. Since we process information using patterns, threesomes make content more memorable.

Some more modern examples include:

  •  Stop, look and listen
  • The good, the bad and the ugly
  • The Olympic motto Faster, Higher, Stronger.

“It’s no accident that the number three is pervasive throughout some of our greatest stories, fairy tales, and myths,” writes Brian Clark of Copyblogger.com. the combination of pattern and brevity results in memorable content, which is why three bullet points are more effective than two or four, Clark adds.

Blog posts, I teach at Say It For You, have a distinct advantage over the more static website copy. Each post can have a razor-sharp focus on just one story, one idea, one aspect of your business, and call for a single action. The single topic focus, though, can be supported by three points.

Alliteration, according to Hubspot, makes text “lovelier to read.”In business blog content writing, threesomes might not add “loveliness”, but they do tend to leave an impression!

 

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Opening Gambits in Blogging for Business

 

When you’re serving up seventeen articles about the very same topic, how do you keep things different and engaging? It’s all in the opening lines, I discovered, looking through TIME’s special edition, The Science of Exercise.

Of course, that’s hardly “new news” – I’ve always stressed to new content writers that opening lines have a big job to do. “Cute-sy” writing may not cut it, either, because, as blog content writers, we can hardly afford to be enigmatic in our attempt to arouse curiosity. We have to assure readers they’ve come to the right place to find the information that satisfies their need for answers. On the other hand, a “pow” opening line may be just what’s needed to keep a reader progressing through the page.

  •  “Ever since high school, Mark Tarnopolsky has blurred the line between jock and nerd.”
  • “Is your DNA your destiny? Not if you exercise, suggests new research.”
  • “If you’ve ever opened a birthday card to a message that reads ‘It’s all downhill from here’, you’re likely at an age when, according to popular opinion, your best days are behind you.”

Openers come in different flavors and sizes.  To help my business owner and professional practitioner clients and their freelance blog content writers focus on their blog post openers, I’ve selected several personal favorites out of The Science of Exercise:

Bold assertion
“Exercise is a miracle drug,” is the opening statement of “The Incredible Medicine of Movement”, in which New York sports medicine physician Jordan Metzl reviews scientific research providing “irrefutable evidence of the medicinal value of exercise.”

In-your-face statement
“There’s such a thing as good pain.” Robert Davis is referring to DOMS, the  delayed-onset muscle soreness that comes after exercise, but that opener is counter-intuitive enough to grab attention.

Thought provoker
“There’s no denying that running is one of the most democratic ways to work out.” Author Alexander Sifferlin explains that running can be done anytime, anywhere, with the only requirement being a good pair of running shoes and stamina. That opening line leaves readers wondering just why Sifferlin selected the unlikely descriptor “democratic” for exercise, and encourages them to keep reading to learn the answer.

Personal anecdote
“As I huffed and puffed up the subway stairs, trying to catch the elevated train to work one recent morning….” Blog readers respond to first and second person nouns. It can be highly effective to relate how you personally went through the same failure stages.

When you’re a blog content writing serving up many posts over time, all revolving around the very same general topic, how do you keep things different and engaging? It’s all in the opening lines!

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Still More About Words to use in Blogging for Business

Words have power text on notepad
It’s the one lesson blog content writers can never afford to forget – the right words are our business blogging power tools. Sure, images (pictures, video clips, infographics) have power of their own.  But never forget that, in blogging, words matter, as Jennifer Olney of bealeader.com points out. Words are art, Olney emphasizes, and, as bloggers, we must “convey our message in words so that we can be understood without distraction”.

“Blogging has become the best possible way to leverage your online presence and gain traction with Internet searches performed by your potential clients.”(No surprise there, but what I did find surprising is the source of the remark – none other than the National Association of Realtors!)

 “Using powerful phrases – the right words – when you communicate gives you the confidence that you’re communicating your best…What you say can make all the difference in how your customers view you and your company,” says Renee Evenson in “Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service.”  As blog content writers, we need to be conscious of the difference the right words can make in marketing our clients’ businesses or professional practices.

Customers and clients talk to each other. “Research generally supports the claim that WOM (word of mouth marketing) can be more influential than print sources,”  An essential part of business blog marketing, I’m convinced, is “putting words in blog readers’ mouths”, helping them feel knowledgeable and in control in discussing the buying choices they’ve made with friends, neighbors and family.

“Building a successful word of mouth marketing machine is a dream for nearly every small business,” explains Chelsea Segal of Targetwise. “Word of mouth is about making your product and customer service so incredible that people can’t help but talk about it.”  Segal advises combing through what’s being said about you on various social media channels.  As blog content writers, we should look for congruence between the words customers use and the words we use to describe the product or service.

The words we use in our blog content, the words our clients use in talking to us and to others about us – it’s all about words.  The right ones are our business blog marketing power tools!

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