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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The Barnum Effect Can Be Used Ethically in Blogging for Business

Barnum effect in blogging

As humans, we tend to crave to be “understood”. Sometimes, though, due to the Barnum effect, (named after famed manipulator and circus man PT. Barnum), we tend to give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of our personality. We believe we are being understood and that the descriptions (the “fortune”, the horoscope, the reading, the assessment) are tailored specifically to us. In reality, though, the descriptions are general enough to apply to a wide range of people.

Psychologist Bertram Forer tested this idea by giving a personality test to his psychology students, then asking them how well they thought the results matched their self-perceptions. Unbeknownst to those students, they had all been given the exact same summary of results “describing” their personalities. Almost all the students thought their “tailor-made” description was “spot-on” in describing their “one-of-a-kind“ personalities!

“Consider that marketing and advertising is also quite dependent on people believing that they are the ‘kind of people’ who would benefit from a product, or have a ‘specific problem’ for which they could purchase a solution,” observes Kate Kershner in How Stuff Works.

In a way, I explain to new Say It For You blogging clients, blogs are the perfect marketing tool for niche markets.  Remember, I tell them, you, the business owner, are not going out to find anyone! Blogs use “pull marketing”.  The people who find your blog are those who are already online looking for information, products, or services that match up with what you know, what you have, and what you do. Your online marketing challenge is not to seek out the people, but to help them seek you out!

The Barnum effect, when it comes to business blog posts, is what draws in those searchers, who perceive that the information and observations you’ve provided in the blog has “high accuracy” in terms of their own needs and wants. And, while Barnum’s tactics are now seen as having been manipulative, when it comes to business blogging, online searchers tend to make very accurate assessments of whether what they find is what they need!

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Business Blogs – the Importance of Being Real – and Specific

be specific in blog posts

 

Business blog content writers today can take the title (if not the content) of a satirical play written 125 years ago, The Importance of Being Earnest, well, seriously. Sincerity in social media and self-promotion matters, as Katherine Erllikh so eloquently points out in the redbubble blog. “Optimizing things, getting followers, getting subscribers, advertising…those things are just half the puzzle,” Erlikh states. “It’s about sincerity.” You should be as real as possible, is the advice.

Jayson DeMers, writing in Forbes, agrees. “Your blog posts give you a unique opportunity to share your voice and personality, building up trust and increasing your brand’s likeability quotient.”  “As you build up authority in your niche,” DeMers adds,  “this breeds trust and familiarity, keeping you top-of-mind when your prospects are ready to buy.”

One way content writers can “get real” is to post blogs with history-of-our-company background stories.  Those personal anecdotes can have a humanizing effect, engaging readers and creating feelings of empathy and admiration for the business owners or professional practitioners who overcame adversity. As a corporate blogging trainer, I remind newbie writers that there’s no lack of information sources available to our readers. In our blogs, therefore, we need to go beyond presenting facts, statistics, features and benefits.

In addition to being real – in fact, a way to be real – is to be specific. One concern business owners and practitioners express to me is that they don’t want to come across as boastful in their blog.  At the same time, they need to convey the reasons prospects ought to choose them over their competition. This is where being specific comes in – let the facts do the boasting, I explain.

As the first of “Seven Easy Ways to Write Better Titles for Your Blog Posts”, Ali Luke of problogger.com lists “Be Specific, Not General”. While some bloggers believe vague titles intrigue readers, who will click to find out what the title means, Luke says, the truth is readers have too many calls on their time and attention – they need to know what to expect.

“Details, specifics, and granularity can take otherwise generic writing and instantly make it shine,” asserts Hurley Write, Inc.  Imprecise business messages sound like double-talk. Good writers think hard about their goals and the direction they want to give others.”

Playwright Oscar Wilde knew “the importance of being earnest”, but business blog content writers need to understand the importance of being real – and specific!

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