You’d-Be-Surprised Blogging for Business

While strange-and-unusual lists help spark readers’ curiosity and keep them moving through our blog Pinatapages, as blog content writers we can’t stop there. We need to take readers to the next step, which is telling them about surprising things they can do and accomplish (with our professional help, of course!).

For example, it’s all well and good for David Moye to write in the Huffington Post about Strange Things That Get Sent in the Mail. Strange and unusual tidbits most readers wouldn’t be likely to know can make for engaging blog content.

It’s just that strange and unusual simply isn’t enough. Unless the information is somehow tied to the reader’s problem or need, unless the blog content explains why the writer cares about that information or why that information could make a difference to the reader, there can be no Call to Action.  You’d be surprised how many businesses and practices create valuable content for their blog without going that extra step!

Online searchers must be assured they’ve come to the right place to find the information, products, and services they need. Without guidance, those searchers are unlikely to make the connection between the startling statistic, the strange-and-unusual tidbit, or the new information – and the actions they ought to consider taking!

Let’s compare that Moye article about strange things that get sent in the mail to one offered by Michele Porucznik on called “21 Things You’d Be Surprised You Can Actually Mail”. (First off, the personal pronoun “you” takes the topic from theoretical curiousness to stuff the reader can USE!  While the average reader might never be inclined to put stamps on a coconut, a potato, a flip-flop, or a sombrero, it nevertheless offers ideas readers might use for a birthday gift or a business promotion.

You’d-be-surprised blogging for business focuses less on the surprise and more on the YOU!


Blogger Writing Basics

The ideas highlighted in this week’s Say It For You blog posts were sparked by Tony Rossiter’s Effective Business Writing in Easy Steps.  “Whether you’re drafting a lengthy company report or sending a short email to colleagues, it’s vital to get it right,” cautions Rossiter, defining “right” as meaning clear and concise prose, in a style that’s acceptable to your readers.

Different layouts fulfill different purposes, Tony Rossiter explains, such as:The word Write on a cork notice board

  • Attracting attention
  • Saving space
  • Selling something
  • Summarizing a topic
  • Raising questions

Good, clear layout is essential, the author cautions.  “Remember that every line on every page is the result of someone’s conscious layout decision.”

Layout applies to business blogs in different ways, with one of those being the Calls to Action.

  • There should be more than one CTA, so as to appeal to different readers who might be at different. Stages in the sales cycle. Those ready to buy can do that right away. Those who need more information before making a decision can choose to pick up the phone.  There should be something for those not quite ready for even a phone conversation – they might be guided to watch a video or read an article, for example.
  • The CTAs themselves can be in different formats, with some in the text, some in separate “boxes”, and with different CTA’s linking to different landing pages or sign-up pages.

If the purpose of the blog post is to attract attention at first glance, you may wish to use special formatting:

  • Put the opening sentence in bold or in italics
  • Use the first sentence as the entire first paragraph
  • Center the first sentence (rather than justifying it to the left with the rest of the text)

The content of the opening sentence, in addition to the formatting, can be designed to grab readers’ attention:

  • Begin with the conclusion, using the remainder of the blog post to “prove” the validity of that bold assertion
  • Raise a challenging question in the opening sentence, then use the post to propose an answer.

Every line on every page should in fact be the result of YOUR conscious content and layout decisions!


Cutting Blog Words Down to Size

L National Geographic Kids collects quirky, fun facts, and this week’s Say It For You blog posts are based on some of these.

I’ll bet you didn’t know this one: There is a hill in New Zealand named Raumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakotanatahu. (Really?)

That’s enough to inspire hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (fear of long words) in any business blog content writer, I’d say, certainly enough to bring on didaskaleinophobia (fear of going to school – or at least of participating in the class spelling bee).

“Should you use long words?” asks Emphasis. The answer: “Writing guides generally agree that short words are preferable. Many take their cue from traditional authorities such as the Fowler brothers, who on page one of their influential The King’s English (1906) told readers:  ‘Prefer the short word to the long.’  In fact, advises Emphasis, “using unnecessarily fancy phrasing is a reliable way to alienate readers. It makes prose puffed-up and heavy, so that reading it becomes a chore instead of a pleasure.”

Bloggers, believe it! There is actually a government department devoted to spreading the use of shorter, plainer language. Yes, really! Their web address is called! The introductory paragraph sounds is if it was composed by someone with a sense of humor combined with realism: “Vocabulary choice is an important part of communicating clearly. While there is no problem with being expressive, most federal writing has no place for literary flair. People do not curl up in front of the first with a nice federal regulation to have a relaxing read.“

Now that I’ve discovered this website, I plan forevermore to train corporate blog writers to use the example given in the PL Guidelines section:

Poor: There is no escaping the fact that it is considered very important to note that a number of various available applicable studies ipso facto have generally identified the fact that additional appropriate nocturnal employment could usually keep juvenile adolescents off thoroughfares during the night hours, including but not limited to the time prior to midnight on weeknights and/or 2 a.m. on weekends.

Good: More night jobs would keep youths off the streets.


Think about it: How can you say more with less in your business blog?


Blog About Both Kinds of Goodwill

Fountain pen writing GoodwillWhen you’re looking to buy or sell a business, Troy Patton of Archer Investments explained at the Financial Planning Association, one really important factor to weigh is goodwill.  How much of the business’ goodwill is “enterprise” and how much is “personal”?

Professional business valuator Linton Kotzin agrees. “Segregating the intangible value of a company between personal and enterprise goodwill is becoming increasingly relevant,” he says, explaining that personal or professional goodwill attaches to a particular individual, while enterprise goodwill is derived from the characteristics of the business itself, regardless of who owns or operates it.

Content marketing through blogs needs to consider both those aspects of the company’s – or the professional practice’s goodwill. There are many different possible forms a blog post can take, of course. Hubspot, in fact, lists no fewer than 44 “fantastic types of content”, including:

  • How-to’s
  • Case studies
  • Charts and graphs
  • FAQs
  • Question/answer sessions
  • Guides
  • Glossaries
  • Opinion pieces
  • Surveys
  • Quotes
  • Quizzes
  • Book summaries

Patton’s presentation on valuing a business or practice, though, made me realize how important it is for us blog content writers to focus on creating “goodwill value” on both the enterprise front and the personal front.

Blogging for business has the potential to reach different groups, including new (recent transaction) customers, repeat customers, other companies’ customers, potential customers, and strategic partners (including vendors, colleagues, professional associates).

All of those readers need to know about enterprise value. In other words, have they come to the right place to find the particular kind of service or product they need, and is that product or service competitively priced and of good quality?

But that’s only the half of it. It’s the personal goodwill that’s going to invite readers to “connect” and “buy in”. If you’re to enjoy any success in content marketing through business blogging, I’m convinced, personal goodwill needs to be operative. Not only must searchers see your blog as a go-to source for ongoing information (the enterprise value of the business), but they need to feel engagement with the people who provide the product or service. Of course, the typical website explains what products and services the company offers, who the “players” are and in what geographical area they operate. The better websites give at least a taste of the corporate culture and some of the owners’ core beliefs.

Blog about BOTH kinds of goodwill!





In Business Coaching or Blogs, It’s All About Time, People, & Production

hWhether things are going wrong or right for an organization or business almost always has to do with time, people, and production, explains executive and corporate coach Kim Stoneking. Are the people working well together?  Is everyone’s thinking aligned on best practices for that business or practice? Is work completed on time?  Are the products and services of the very best quality for that market and price point?

You may be sure those are the very questions going through the minds of online searchers as they begin reading your blog posts to learn about your company or practice. Of course, the typical website explains what products and services the company offers, who the “players” are and in what geographical area they operate. The better websites give at least a taste of the corporate culture and some of the owners’ core beliefs.

But it’s the continuous business blog writing that “fleshes out” the skeleton, describing those things that make any company or practice stand out from its peers. The blog is where readers can gain a deeper perspective about the time, the people, and the production. For every fact about the company or about one of its products or services, a blog post addresses unspoken questions such as “So, is that different?”, “So, is that good for me?”

It’s interesting to me, after all these years as a blog writing trainer, to see all the things the process of producing a corporate blog tends to reveal about the people in that company and how they manage time and production.

I often begin by questioning the blogging client: “If you had only 8-10 words to describe why you’re passionate about what you do, what you know, and what you sell, what would those words be?”

And what I’m finding is this: the very process of creating content to “put out there” in your blog forces you, the business owner or professional practitioner, to keep answering the question “What-do-I-want-my- business/practice-to-be-as-it-grows-up?”

In business coaching or blogs, it’s all about time, people, and production!