Befitting Bloggery

I’m fond of  thinking of ghost blogging as an art, but, truth be told, there’s quite a bit of science to it as well. Part of the science has to do with targeting an audience.  By that I mean your blog can’t be all things to all people, any more than your business can be all things to everybody.  The blog must be targeted towards the specific type of customers you want and who will want to do business with you.  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.

Science comes into play in another sense as well.  As your ghost blogger, I’ll be using, and repeating, “search terms” to help search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or MSN “notice” your blogs and move them higher and higher on their list. In other words, your blog becomes a marketing tool to achieve SEO, or search engine optimization.

Earlier, I wrote about blogs bringing you to “top of mind” status with customers. Well, in the same concert program booklet where I found the specialty license plate ad I was writing about, I saw a second advertisement.  Very interesting, this one, called “Make Every Day A Great Performance”.  Talk about targeting an audience –  this ad is printed in a symphony concert program book, remember, and every word of that full-page ad had to do with performances and with music.  The ad was’nt about music at all – it was promoting a retirement living facility!  ”  My compliments to the ad agency or whoever created that page! It was designed to appeal to the type of customer they knew would be seeing that ad.

Your company blog is definitely not an ad and should not sound like one.  What it is, though, is an invitation to learn more about your field of expertise and about the kinds of products and services you have to offer.  Everything about your blog needs to be targeted for your audience.  And everything about my work as a ghost blogger,  both the science and the art of it, must be targeted to Say It For You – to the right people!

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What’s On Your Blog Bumper?

As a ghost blogger, I’m always alert for interesting ways in which words are used. Leafing through my program book at the symphony concert, I noticed an ad for Arts Trust license plates.  You’ve no doubt seen these specialty plates that can be ordered through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.  The extra fee you pay for a specialty plate supports a not-for-profit organization of your choice.  The Arts Trust plate carries a colorful logo and just three words, “celebrate the Arts”.

Thinking about this for a moment, I realized there’s not much room on a license plate for more than a very few words.  And, when you’re driving behind another vehicle, glancing at the license plate, you don’t have a lot of time for reading.  But, there you are, in traffic, with the arts the last thing on your mind, and suddenly, even if just for a moment, you are thinking about the arts!

In a way, that’s precisely the effect you want your company blogs to have.  Your potential customer is searching for something, scanning various pages ‘s relevant, it’s about what he/she is looking for.  In just an instant, you and your company are top of mind for that customer.  The blog, just like a speciality license plate, is there to seize the momen€ and Say It For You.  You want that customer to”drive on” – right to your company website!

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Enuf Is Enuf In Blogs

When it comes to spelling, we Americans appear to fall into four camps.  First we have the functionally illiterate (around 30 million of us) who lack basic writing skills, with spelling being the least of the problems.  At the opposite end we have the reformers, the ones lobbying Congress to simplify English spelling.  (At spelling bee sites, you’ll see reformers carrying signs with slogans such as ‘I’m thru with through”, or “Enuf is Enuf, but ‘enough is too much!”   A third group just doesn’t care, devoting no thought to spelling issues.  The last, and apparently the largest group, may not be spelling experts, but they admire and celebrate spelling mastery (if producing and attending movies, plays, and TV programs about spelling bee heroes is any indication). As a ghost blogger whose stock in trade is words, I was fascinated to learn that a Broadway musical I’d attended last year, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”,  ran for more than 1100 performances around the country.

Whatever your position on spelling, that reformer sign motto is worth remembering when it comes to your company blogs.  Blog audiences are scanners, not readers, by and large.  As your ghost blogger, I need to make your blog serve as your invitation to come on in (to your website) and join the party.  The blog offers just enough information to entice the searcher to visit the website to find out more.  I’m nono spelling reformer, but I know a great line when I see one.  When it comes to corporate blogging, enuf is enuf!

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What Goes On In Blogs Must Go Up

In an earlier blog, ” From Meat To Mustard”, I explained that as a professional writer, I take pleasure in nicely turned phrases.  Since words are the tools of my trade as a ghost blogger, I’m a bit more aware than the average Jill of how writers and speakers use words.  So, whether I’m reading a novel or a news magazine, listening to a talk show or to a weather report, I always have a sharp eye and ear out for ways in which ideas are given impact through the choice of words. In the April’s Washington Monthly Magazine, editor Charles Peters comments on various political doings.  He mentions a government-wide problem of people at the top not knowing what’s going on down below.  Peters explains that in an organization, and specifically in our national government bureaucracy, bad news tends to be buried. “No one wants to tell bad news to the next fellow up the ladder, for fear that….his or her career will suffer”.  It’s the title of this little section of the editorial page that I found so fascinating: “What Goes On Must Go Up”.  First of all, in just six small words, Peters is able to capture the essence of a monumental problem prevalent in large organizations. He “hits the nail on the head”. Since ghost blogging is never far from my mind, once I started thinking about those six words, I saw that they could contain a valuable lesson about business blogs.  In an organization, stuff is “going on” all the time. But nothing changes so long as nothing “goes up” to a level where there’s some call to action and where there’s someone with power to make the change.  In a way, the situation is the same with a business blog.  A lot can be going on – lots of good information and content, posted frequently, well-written, relevant – it’s all great. But absolutely nothing is going to happen unless your blog has some “call to action”.  Your potential customer needs to progress to your website, and the blog has to have created an urgency – something the reader now wants to do, to get, or to find out more about. In short, not much will be going on unless the customer is going up to the next step in the process of doing business with you.

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Blogs And Podiums – Choose Yours Wisely

Talk about traffic congestion – you wouldn’t believe how many folks are venturing into the blogosphere.  Millions of people are putting ideas and information out on the World Wide Web, often just to share knowledge and give others the benefit of their opinions.  But if you’re a business owner, you’re probably using your blog as part of your marketing campaign.  The only reason you’re establishing a blog is to attract new business to your website.  Your blog is your podium – you get to showcase your business so customers will want you to be the one to provide them with the product or the service they need.

The other day, In BusinessWeek magazine, I read a short piece called “Choose Your Podium Wisely”. The article talked about the fact that top corporate executives get lots of speaking invitations, so many that they need to choose which engagements to accept.  A consulting firm named Burson-Marsteller took a survey of CEO’s to see how they measured “return on investment” for a speech. Was the speech rewarding because it brought in business leads?  Did it attract new talent to the CEO’s firm? Did the speech build the company’s reputation?

The consultant’s rule for executives planning speaking engagements is actually a perfect fit for business bloggers: Keep a specific goal in mind.  Then find the audience most likely to deliver that benefit to your company!

As a ghost blogger, I find this rule to be absolutely essential to keep in mind when I’m doing planning with business owners. Before your blog can be used as an effective tool, you need to focus in on one specific goal.  Who are your target customers or clients? What approach would have the most appeal to that segment of your market?  Will the emphasis be on your product or on special service and expertise?  Pick one primary area of focus – don’t try to do everything in one blog.  In other words, choose your blog “podium” wisely.

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