Blog Posts Don’t Seal – They Enable


Will blog marketing “close” deals in the same way as face-to-face encounters between prospects and sales professionals? The answer is obviously “no”. This week’s Say It For You posts are devoted to the topic of blog marketing and its place in the overall sales process.

In the book Close the Deal, authors Sam Deep and Lyle Sussman suggest that a salesperson faced with a demanding prospect ask “What concession do you need from me to close the deal right now?” In blogging for business, of course, such a “bargaining” exchange would not be taking place between the business owner/practitioner and the reader/customer. On the other hand, one purpose of blog content is to persuade readers to act.

A very non-technical way I have of explaining the concept of blog marketing is this: Rather than running traditional ads for your brand of hats, vitamins, travel, or paint, you provide lots of information on the history of hats, on why vitamins are good for you, about exciting places to go on safari, and on the psychology of color. Consumers interested in your subject, but who never even knew your name, come to see you as a resource.

When blog readers follow your “calls to action” by phoning your business or practice, faxing in a request or an order, signing up for your newsletter, subscribing to your blog through an RSS feed, or proceeding to your shopping cart to buy your product or service, you know your blog marketing strategy is working Understand, though – it’s entirely possible that none of those things will happen at the first “meeting”.

Just as in traditional selling, you need to use blog content writing to “prove your case” by:

  • offering statistics about the problem your product or service helps solve
  • comparing your product or service with others on the market
  • providing testimonials from past and present customers and clients

Generally speaking, as I often stress when I offer Say It For You corporate blogging training, blog posts are not ads, and there should never be a hard-sell or boastful tone to the content. Blog posts are closer in nature to informative “advertorials”, positioning the company or practitioner as helpful, well-experienced, and knowledgeable.

Primarily, the blog post has to add value. Not just a promise of value if the reader converts to a buyer, but value right then and there in terms of information, skill enhancement, or a new way of looking at the topic. The best blog posts are never about yourself, your company, your services, or your products, but about why you see things the way you do.

Typically, a blog post doesn’t “seal” the deal, so much as it “enables” the deal.

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Blog Posts May Not Close the Deal, But They Deliver Sales Results

blog marketing
“Sales professionals are expected to generate the best possible win rates for their effort,” explains Adam Wiggins in a Hubspot blog post. Choosing the right phrases to seal a deal is crucial, because the close is “the final verdict determining whether or not your efforts will amount to anything at all.” Wiggins reviews seven close types:

  1. Now or never close (some special disappearing benefit prompts an immediate decision)
  2. Summary close (reviews value and benefits)
  3. Sharp angle close (prospect asks for price reduction or add-on, but you agree only if they close today)
  4. Question close (“Does what I’m offering solve your problem?”)
  5. Assumptive close (salesperson monitors prospect’s engagement throughout, assuming a close)
  6. Takeaway close (remove a feature or service if customer balks on price)
  7. Soft close (low impact question: “If I.….would you be interested in learning more?)

Will blog marketing “close: deals in the same way as a face-to-face encounter between a prospect and a sales professional? The answer is obviously “no”. Interestingly, a second Hubspot blogger, Corey Wainwright, explains the indirect selling benefits of blogs and their place in the sales process:

  • If you’re consistently creating content that’s helpful for your target customer, it’ll help establish you as an authority in their eyes.
  • Prospects that have been reading your blog posts will typically enter the sales process more educated on your place in the market, your industry, and what you have to offer.
  • Salespeople who encounter specific questions that require in-depth explanation or a documented answer can pull from an archive of blog posts.

In the book Close the Deal, authors Sam Deep and Lyle Sussman suggest that a salesperson faced with a demanding prospect ask “What concession do you need from me to close the deal right now?”

In blogging for business, of course, such an exchange would not be taking place between the business owner/practitioner and the reader/customer. On the other hand, one purpose of the content is to persuade the reader to act. For every fact about the company or about one of its products or services, a blog post addresses prospects’ unspoken questions such as “So, is that different?”, “So, is that good for me?”

The traditional selling sequence of appointment, probing, presenting, overcoming objections, and “closing” may be totally dead, as Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, asserts. What has replaced it, Gitomer says, is a step-by-step risk elimination, a process for which blogs are well-suited. Business blogs, I “preach” at Say It For You, are nothing more than extended interviews, and blog posts are an ideal vehicle for demonstrating support and concern while being persuasive in a low-key manner.

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Blog Posts Can Have Similar Settings, Yet Tell Different Stories

settings for blog posts

 

Readers first meet both J.M. Barrie’s character Peter Pan and Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist in bedrooms, we’re reminded in Everything You Need to Ace English Language Arts in One Big Fat Notebook. But of course these two texts tell very different stories, because each author wants to emphasize different things. Life is peaceful and private in Peter Darling’s home, while Oliver sleeps on a rough hard bed in a large orphanage.

It’s the same with blog posts, I teach at Say It For You. Today’s post can slant in one direction; tomorrow’s can take the same theme and deal with it in a different way, perhaps appealing to different segments of the business’ (or the practice’s) audience. Different posts can offer valuable information and advice relating to different aspects of your product or service offerings.

The Oliver Twist approach:
Using the Oliver Twist setting, content writers aim to demonstrate they understand the challenges the readers are facing. It must be clear that you (or the business owner or professional practitioner client you represent) understand online searchers’ concerns and needs.

The Peter Pan approach:
Using the Peter Pan setting model, in contrast, means helping readers visualize themselves “soaring”, picturing the end result – the relief, wealth, ease, pride, and comfort they stand to achieve through following the advice in the blog post. While the Peter Pan story is far from realistic, it’s important to describe realistic, achievable and easily identifiable signs that will tell clients that they are on a trajectory leading towards the desired outcomes.

Whichever approach you select for the “setting” of any one post, the authors of Everything You Need to Ace English Language Arts in One Big Fat Notebook offer a “sound argument checklist” blog content writers will find useful:

  1. Everything must relate to the central idea.
  2. All the evidence must be relevant.
  3. Word choice is important, including analogies and allusions.

“Fiction is imaginary,” the authors conclude, “but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn anything from it,” At Say It For You, our business blog content writers know that’s certainly the case!
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Sticky Words Stay With Blog Readers

We business blog content writers, always on the prowl for novel ways to present information to online readers, often rely on memory hooks; I like to call them “sticky words”. About a year ago in my Say It For You blog, I had talked about weight loss company GOLO’s TV commercial (“GO LOse weight., GO Look great, GO Love life”), and about the financial planner who used catchy names for the spending habits of different age groups of retirees (Go-Go – ages 55-54, Slo-Go – ages 65-74, and No Go – ages 75 and up).

In just the past couple of weeks, I came across other examples of “sticky words, phrases that keep popping back into my mind again and again. Phrases don’t have to be slogan-like, I realized after the surgeon who’d performed surgery on my hip cautioned: “Motion is lotion”. (I think about that one every day, careful not to stay seated at my computer too long.) Then, at a recent networking meeting, the owner of a merchant services company used the phrase “Any pay. Any way. Anywhere”. (I like that one, because it made me curious to learn just what was meant.)

“Use simple and sticky phrases people can use to share your beyond-the horizon vision in their own way,” writes Will Mancini in the book God Dreams. “Like the postman,” Mancini continues, “you and your core team must deliver meaning daily in packages both big and small.”

But what, exactly, makes some phrases more “sticky” and memorable than others? Chip & Dan Heath authored an entire book addressing that question – Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. The Heaths named 6 attributes memorable phrases have:

  • simple
  • unexpected
  • concrete
  • credible
  • emotional
  • story

For me, of course, the phrase “Motion is lotion” directly related to my own story (the recent surgery and my need to get back to normal as quickly as possible). Also important was the power of similar sounds. Alliteration (repetition of consonant sounds) and assonance (repetition of vowel sounds) are both ways to add “stickiness” to a phrase, particularly in a blog post title.

At Say It For You, one of our core teachings is that blog posts are not slogans or ads. While a goal of blog marketing is to help readers think of us and remember us, to borrow a Brylcream phrase, a “little dab’ll do ya”!

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Choosing the Best Blog Marketing Evidence is Crucial

In the Complete Middle School Study Guide, students are asked to read a story by Joshua Slocum called “Sailing Along Around the World”, and then to choose ONE piece of evidence, from the story which makes Samblich seem most generous:

Samblich was greatly interested in my voyage, and after giving me the
tacks he put on board bags of biscuits and a large quantity of smoked
venison. He declared that my bread, which was ordinary sea-biscuits and
easily broken, was not nutritious as his, which was so hard that I could
break it only with a stout blog from a maul. Then he gave me, from his own
sloop, a compass which was certainly better than mind, and offered to
unbend her mainsail for me if I would accept it. Last of all, this large-hearted
man brought out a bottle of Fuegian gold-dust from a placed where it had
been cashed and begged me to help myself from it, for use farther along
on the voyage.

The point of the lesson was for students to learn the difference between explicit evidence (things explicitly stated in the text) and implicit or implied evidence. “Most nonfiction texts are full of evidence, the author explains, but choosing the BEST evidence is crucial, selecting the details “that will get the point across quickly and convincingly.”

At Say it For You, we realize that’s precisely the rule blog content writers ought to follow. Having a focused topic is important in any blog post, but have a specific audience in mind and choosing the best evidence for that target audience is crucial. As I tell newbie blog content writers, everything about your blog should be tailor-made for that customer – the words you use, how technical you get, how sophisticated your approach, the title of each blog entry – all of it.

And since we are ghostwriters hired by clients to tell their story online to their target audiences, we need to do intensive research, as well as taking guidance from the client’s experience and expertise. But with millions of other blogs out there for searchers to find, it’s specific evidence that will resonate with the right audience. What kinds of evidence can transform your blog into a powerhouse?  Fellow blogger Michel Fortin believes that mamy blogs miss the mark due to lack of proof.

Fortin lists several kinds of proof that may be used in blog marketing:

  • Factual proof:  statistics about the problem your product or service helps solve
  • Reverse proof: comparing your product or service with others that are on the market
  • Credentializing proof: years of experience, degrees, newspaper articles written by or about the business owner or practitioner
  • Evidential proof: clinical trial results, testimonials

Choosing the best blog marketing evidence is crucial!

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