Top Ten How-To Titles in Blogging for Business


There’s a reason “how-to” blog post titles work, marketing gurus Guy Kawaski and Peg Fitzpatrick show in their user guide on social media. How-to titles might start out with those very words, or take forms such as:

  • Quick Guide to…..
  • Complete Guide to….
  • Questions to Ask Before…
  • Rules for….
  • Essential Steps to….
  • Most Popular Ways to…..
  • Tips for Busy……..
  • Tactics to….
  • What No One Tells You About……..

There’s a “biology” to selecting effective business blog post titles, I wrote in a blog post some five years ago. (Since, as blog content writers, one big challenge we face is selecting the best title for each post, I had found an exercise in an Ivy Tech Community College textbook in which students were to select the best out of four possible titles for an article about humpback whales.)

In composing business blogs, I reminded my Say It For You readers, we need to keep several goals in mind:

  • write engaging titles
  • include keyword phrases to help with search
  • be short and to the point
  • use power words

The overriding goal, though, in composing a title, I pointed out, has to be making promises we are going to be able to keep in the body of the blog post itself.

The correct answer in that student textbook was #3: “The Digestive System of the Humpback Whale”. That’s the one, the writer explained, that includes the writer’s focus in the paragraph.  The other titles were either too broad, too specific, or limited to only a portion of the paragraph’s content.

The best “How-to”s are neither too broad nor too limited. They have a “news-you-can-use” feel. The response you’re after from readers is, “Aha! “I have found the right place to get the information I need.

There are lots more How-to titles where those Top Ten came from, Kawaski promises. In fact, he’s got a chart of no fewer than “74 Compelling Fill-in-the-Blank Blog Post Titles” on a Twitter infographic. Try these on for size:

  • Key benefits of….
  • Essential things for….
  • Examples of things to inspire you…
  • Key benefits of….

How-to titles are the perfect tool in blogging for business!

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In Business Blogging, Focus on Attitudinal Variables

audience attitude in blogging

 

Laurie Hazard and Jen-Paul Nadeau wrote Foundations for Learning because they were keenly aware that many first-year college students have personal development issues.  It’s often not intellectual failings that affect achievement, the authors understand, but “attitudinal variables and personality traits”. Simply put, these authors understand that before their audience can be expected to respond to their “calls to action”, the students might need to be given some tools and techniques to help them succeed.

In blog marketing, we need to start out by really knowing the audience. In fact, that’s the only way that we can select items from our “tool kits” that are most likely to help those blog readers and move them to action. Every aspect of the blog needs to be based on that knowledge – the look, the content, the style of the blog – all must be based around your audience.

Hazard and Nadeau use “Jason” as an example. Jason perceives writing a term paper to be an arduous task, so rather than tackling the job, he avoids it. His anxiety fuels his fear of failure, since the young man assumes that a college student should already know how to do research for a college paper. The authors suggest students do a “cost-benefit analysis”, weighing the advantages of procrastination against the drawbacks.

Similarly, many of our blog readers think they ought to know how to deal with their issue or need. That’s the reason they’ve put off seeking help! The authors of this book invite students to imagine the end results of action – better grades, less pressure, greater sense of accomplishment. For blog content writers, that’s a pretty good model: Empathize with their pain or problem, then offer a path to a feel-better result. Stories, about both past successes and past failures can help our “Jasons” gain confidence. One way business owners and practitioners can demonstrate they understand their readers is by sharing tales of their own failures and the obstacles they needed to overcome.

In Hug Your Haters, author Jay Baer cautions marketers about three word choice categories that can cause trouble:

  • words that lack humility
  • words that diminish the customer
  • words of argument and avoidance

In blog marketing, we need to take a clue from the authors of Foundations for Learning: Before we can expect our readers to respond to our “calls to action”, we need to offer them tools and techniques to help them succeed!

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