Business Blog Writing to Boost Readers’ Brains – and your Own

blog writing to boost memory

Turns out I was right about the “training effect” of a business blog. When you blog, I like to say, you verbalize the positive aspects of your business in a way that people can understand. You put your recent accomplishments down in words. You review the benefits of your products and services and keep them fresh in your mind. In other words, you are constantly providing yourself with training about how to talk effectively about your business.

“Learning to express yourself clearly and compactly is useful not just in terms of coming across well when speaking to others, but it also helps you to think with great clarity,” the Paragon Books Brain-Boosting Challenges explains.

“When we think we can remember a first letter but no more, there’s a good chance we’re actually correct,” the authors say. The first letter of a word is a critically important part of our ability to identify it.”  Two creative writing techniques that can make your blog post titles, as well as some of the text content, memorable and interesting are alliteration and assonance. Alliteration repeats the same consonant (Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers) or the same vowel sound (Honesty is the best policy).

“To help make a memory stronger, when you go back over the same material, it’s helpful to try presenting the content to yourself in a difference way to force yourself to think it through from a fresh angle.” Isn’t that precisely what business blogging is, continually approaching the same core topics from different angles?  What you can do with the blog is offer different kinds of information in different blog posts. Each time you post you’re pulling out just one of those attachments on your “Swiss army knife” and offering some valuable information or advice relating to just one aspect of your business.

As a blogging trainer, one concern I hear a lot from business owners or professional practitioners is that sooner or later, they’ll deplete their supply of ideas for blog posts. “I’ve already covered my products and services on my website – what else is left to say?” is the common thread in the questions I’m so often asked.

That’s when it’s important to remember the readers. Smart blog marketers know there are many subsets of every target market group, and that not every message will work on every person. At Say It For You, we realize online searchers need to know we’re thinking of them as individuals.

Repeating the same information in different forms is not only  good for your own memory – it helps your blog readers remember YOU!

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Can Business Blog Writing “Make the Man”?

ShakespeareWhen Shakespeare’s Polonius was sharing his wisdom with Laertes, he mentioned how important clothing is in making a good impression:

“Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man.”

Generations later, Mark Twain quipped, “Clothes make a man.  Naked people have little or no influence in society.”

But clothes affect not only the impression we make on others, Dr. Jordan Gaines Lewis points out in Psychology Today. What we wear affects how we perceive ourselves. Lewis cites a study done at Northwestern University that revealed that when researchers wore a white coat when interacting with participants and parents, they not only received more respect, but subconsciously felt more professional.

“How we behave is clearly affected by the clothes we wear,” Dr. Helene Pavlov opines in the Huffington Post. It is important for individuals to realize that maybe the clothes DO make the man or the woman!

I’ve actually expressed something of the same sentiment on the Say It For You website.   “When you put up a blog with excellent content that engages your potential and current customers, you will typically receive the following four types of benefits: An SEO benefit, a promotional benefit, a credibility benefit, and (this is the one that comes closest to the “clothes make the man” concept), a training benefit.

The way I explain the training benefit is this: When you blog, you verbalize the positive aspects of your business in a way that people can understand. You put your recent accomplishments down in words. You review the benefits of your products and services and keep them fresh in your mind. In other words, you are constantly providing yourself with training about how to talk effectively about your business.

Can it be that the words in which you “clothe” your business or practice, as you presenting it to the world in your blog, will have an effect on the passion with which you  actually run your business or practice?

Can business blog writing “make the man”?

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Business Bloggers Can be Authors of Defining Moments

bloggers as authors of defining moments

In The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, authors Chimp and Dan Heath posit that there are certain brief experiences jolt us, change us, and elevate us. What if a teacher could design a lesson he knew students would remember twenty years later, they ask.  What if a manager knew how to create an experience that would delight customers?

And what if, reading this book made me ponder, we knew how to create content that would delight readers and emblazon our clients’ brands in their prospects’ and their customers’ minds and hearts? Isn’t that, I asked myself, really what this business blog marketing thing is all about?

When people assess an experience, the Heath brothers explain, they tend to forget or ignore its length and rate it, in retrospect, based on the best or worst moment (“the peak”) and the ending. Translated into the construction of a marketing blog post, while its’ the keyword phrase that starts the job of getting the blog found, a big part of blog content writing, I’ve found, involves getting what I call the “pow opening line” right.

The opener might consist of an anomaly (a statement that, at first glance, doesn’t appear to fit). Or, the opener might be a bold assertion or “in-your-face” statement. The “pow” opener puts words in readers’ mouths – when talking to others about this topic, readers will tend to use those very words which you will have, figuratively, “put in their mouths”. Seth Godin’s “There are actually two recessions” is a perfect example of impactful, thought-changing discussion-piece openers..

The Power of Moments authors talk about ”flipping pits into peaks”, turning customer complaints into positive, memorable experiences.  You want to get things wrong, have customers bring those mistakes to your attention, so that you can create a memorable “fix”. For us blog content writers, the lesson is this: writing about past business failures is important! True stories about mistakes and struggles are very humanizing, adding to the trust readers place in the people behind the business or professional practice.

Readers, I explain to business owners and practitioner clients, even the ones who have subscribed to your blog, are not going to peruse, much less study every word in every one of your blog posts, however relevant the information, however artfully worded.  What we’re shooting for as blog writers is to be authors of defining moments for readers rather than merely waiting for those moments to happen!

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Business Bloggers Can be Authors of Defining Moments

bloggers as authors of defining moments

In The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, authors Chimp and Dan Heath posit that there are certain brief experiences jolt us, change us, and elevate us. What if a teacher could design a lesson he knew students would remember twenty years later, they ask.  What if a manager knew how to create an experience that would delight customers?

And what if, reading this book made me ponder, we knew how to create content that would delight readers and emblazon our clients’ brands in their prospects’ and their customers’ minds and hearts? Isn’t that, I asked myself, really what this business blog marketing thing is all about?

When people assess an experience, the Heath brothers explain, they tend to forget or ignore its length and rate it, in retrospect, based on the best or worst moment (“the peak”) and the ending. Translated into the construction of a marketing blog post, while its’ the keyword phrase that starts the job of getting the blog found, a big part of blog content writing, I’ve found, involves getting what I call the “pow opening line” right.

The opener might consist of an anomaly (a statement that, at first glance, doesn’t appear to fit). Or, the opener might be a bold assertion or “in-your-face” statement. The “pow” opener puts words in readers’ mouths – when talking to others about this topic, readers will tend to use those very words which you will have, figuratively, “put in their mouths”. Seth Godin’s “There are actually two recessions” is a perfect example of impactful, thought-changing discussion-piece openers..

The Power of Moments authors talk about ”flipping pits into peaks”, turning customer complaints into positive, memorable experiences.  You want to get things wrong, have customers bring those mistakes to your attention, so that you can create a memorable “fix”. For us blog content writers, the lesson is this: writing about past business failures is important! True stories about mistakes and struggles are very humanizing, adding to the trust readers place in the people behind the business or professional practice.

Readers, I explain to business owners and practitioner clients, even the ones who have subscribed to your blog, are not going to peruse, much less study every word in every one of your blog posts, however relevant the information, however artfully worded.  What we’re shooting for as blog writers is to be authors of defining moments for readers rather than merely waiting for those moments to happen!

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Business Blogging 2.0

business blogging

“Your Best Staycation May Be in Your Own Back Yard” is the theme of the latest issue of Travel Indiana magazine“.  “Statistics show that one-third of Americans visit coastal areas each year, confirming our strong draw to the water and the activities surrounding it. But if you think you have to travel outside of Indiana to get your fix – think again.”

You don’t have to go far outside your own company or practice to get material for your business blog, either. A number of years ago, I remember, I introduced companies who had made the list of Forrester’s Top 15 Corporate Blogs. One pick that caught my attention was Accenture, whose blog was chosen because their writers tap the company’s own employees for insights about technology, hiring, and consulting. The concept, I realize is that of a “staycation”; you don’t need to travel far afield to get your writing idea fix for blog posts. Important to note is that, even if it’s not practical for your employees or associates to actually write blog posts (and, of course, for the majority of my Say It For You clients, it’s not), their input can immensely enrich the company’s – or practice’s blog.

More recently, Forrester named Top 10 B2B Marketing Blogs, with the most-read blog of that year, written by Laura Ramos, making two important observations:

1. The best marketing mix varies by company at any given time
2. What you have to say is more important than the channel of tactic you use to say it.

“Staying close to home” in terms of blog content marketing involves focus, as Mark Leccese and Jerry Lanson emphasize in the book “The Elements of Blogging: Expanding the Conversation of Journalism”. “Force yourself to break your topic into three potential sub-topics,” advise the authors.  Then “Ask yourself whether one of these along might be rich enough for a blog…The tighter your focus, the better your odds of success.”

Focus means “staying at home” in individual blog posts, as well. Each post should have a razor-sharp focus on just one story, one idea, one aspect of your business. Other important things you want to discuss?  Save those for later blog posts! Focused on one thing, your post has greater impact, since people are bombarded with many messages each day. Respecting readers’ time produces better results for your business.

At Say It For You, our business model is based on the Power of One, taking on only one client per type of business per metropolitan area, and assigning one writer to each client. In every way, we believe, your best blogging “staycation” will be in your own “back yard”!

 

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Why-In-The-World Business Blogging

It wasn’t a blog post, but the article might well have been just that, I thought, reading the advertorial in Senior Living, in which David Ring, owner of Indiana Funeral Care, answers the question “Why In the World Would I Plan My Own Funeral?”

Last November, in my Say It For You blog, I quoted the advice of speaker Todd Hunt.  Hunt suggests “the next time someone asks you a seemingly stupid question, stop and look at it from their side.”  As business blog writers, we need to impress readers before they’ve had the chance to ask us their questions, “stupid” or otherwise, I explained.  In fact, readers find our blogs precisely because they’re searching for answers to questions they have and solutions for dilemmas they’re facing.

In the Senior Living article, Ring does just that – he anticipates, and in fact lists, the many questions our survivors are going to face our survivors if we don’t face them ourselves:

  • Full tradition service or private graveside?
  • Open casket with cremation to follow or cremation with memorial service?
  • Wood or steel casket? (What’s the difference?)
  • What’s a burial vault?
  • What should be done with cremated remains – bury, scatter, in an urn?
  • Newspaper obituary, online obit, or both?
  • List several charities for memorial contributions or just one?
  • What if I move to another city or state?

The final paragraph of the Senior Living article reminded me of a second important business blogging principle: Since our content is often being ready by people who are not yet our clients or customers, how can we address their expectations? Readers need to envision how they will be helped by using our products or services.

As a retired financial planning professional, I know that most planners begin a meeting with new clients by asking the simple question “What is it that brings you here today?” One innovative planner, though, goes further, as a Journal of Financial Planning article reports, asking, “At the end of our meeting today, how will you know that it has been successful?” Through the design and language of each of the corporate or professional practice blog posts we compose, we need to bring readers to the point of figuring out “why in the world” their time with us has been – and will be – well spent.

“The other comment we often hear,” Ring relates, (referring to surviving family members of someone who has passed), “I am so relieved they planned this ahead!”

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Blog Content Writers Take Lessons from the Past

Alexander Pope and Sir Ross Smith lived centuries apart, but both came to the same conclusion on the topic of arguing. Both men are quoted in Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People.  “Why prove to a man he is wrong? Is that going to make him like you?  Don’t argue – proving you’re right doesn’t win hearts,” Smith said 100 years ago.  200 years earlier, poet Alexander Pope used different words to convey the same idea: “Men must be taught as if you taught them not.”

David Ogilby, aptly named the Father of Advertising, stressed that “advertising is not an art form, but a message with a single purpose – to sell. Postcron’s Camila Villafarie points out that the “Ogilvian” techniques that worked in the 70s can be applied today in blogging. “The man goal of creating ads, Ogilvy was fond of saying, “is not to prove who’s more clever or witty.  People don’t have that much time to stop and read, so if you think you should surprise them with your words and creativity, you can do it, but never at the expense of making the sale,”,

There are several things the purpose of blogging is not. Not only isn’t the purpose to prove how clever or witty the writer is, it’s definitely not to prove how uninformed the reader is! Still, myth busting is a popular (and rightly so) use of corporate blogs, the idea being to disprove misconceptions about the product or service being offered.  Addressing misinformation is certainly one way to shine a positive light on a business owner’s or professional practitioner’s expertise in the field. The only problem is that people don’t like to be “argued out” of their misconceptions, and they definitely don’t like to be proven wrong!

What about issues where there’s no “myth” involved, but on which there are differing opinions? As a long time blog writer, I tell business owners that it’s fine to take a stand, using various tactics to bolster that stance in the eyes of readers. Then, through including guest posts on their blog and also citing material expressing the opposing viewpoint, they can demonstrate that there can be a productive exchange of ideas. Blogs, after all, are not ads.

The typical website, I believe, is more like the catalogs of an earlier era, explaining what products and services the company offers, who the “players” are and in what geographical area they operate. Of course, the better websites give at least a taste of the corporate culture and some of the owners’ core beliefs.
Where the continuously renewed business blog writing comes in is to offer ideas and inspiration. 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?” A good idea is its own “advertisement”!

Sir Ross Smith was so right – proving you’re right doesn’t win hearts.  But, unlike Ogilvy’s insistence that the prime goal is making a sale, the purpose of business blogs may be a different one – winning hearts and inspiring action!

 

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Say It For You 2018-01-25 01:00:44

Every communication you send to your team is an opportunity, explain authors Steve Chandler and Scott Richardson in the book 100 Ways to Motivate Others. “Your first job,” the authors tell managers, ”even before your job of informing others, is to motivate others…A true leader never wastes the opportunity to instill optimism, they explain.

But, for business blog content writers, is that really true?  “Negative titles often work better than positive ones,” Lorraine Ball of roundpeg.biz pointed out. “The posts with negative titles stand out in your blog roll, on your Twitter feed or LinkedIn blog page.” Why? “People are drawn to articles with negative titles because they are afraid of doing something wrong or the title connects with something they were feeling but hadn’t been able to put into words,” Ball explains.

In many marketing blogs, in fact, the content writers appear to be focused on appealing to consumers’ fear.  Fear is one of seven emotions that are considered “key drivers” for successful ad copy writing. (Others include greed, guilt, anger, salvation, and flattery.) After decades of writing question/answer columns and blogs, one of the questions I continue to ask myself is whether “scare tactic”, or at least negative, marketing is ever appropriate for use in business blog writing.

First, the blog represents just one aspect of any company’s  (or any professional practitioner’s) overall marketing strategy, and its tone needs to be consistent with the client’s overall brand. These clients want to appeal to a better kind of customer (the ones who buy for the right reasons and then remain loyal, not those who are “scared” into action.)

On the other hand, I teach at Say It For You, we blog writers do need to go right to the heart of any possible customer fears or concerns by addressing negative assumption questions before they’ve even been asked. In the final analysis, though, I agree with the Chandler and Richardson concept – positive messages pack more power to motivate the right people for the right reasons.

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Blog Content Writers Try to Hit Their Own – and Readers’ – Time to Shine

“Many leaders are at their best in the first hours of the morning; others hit their prime in the late morning; others still, in the afternoon”, authors Steve Chandler and Scott Richardson explain in the book 100 Ways to Motivate Others.

“We all have 24 hours.  It doesn’t matter how rich or powerful you are, you still only have 24 hours..Only you can slow time down by choosing what you choose to do.”  As a professional blog writer and corporate blogging trainer, I often talk about the “drill-sergeant discipline” it takes to maintain the frequency and longevity needed  for successful blog content writing.

“All the world’s a stage,” Chandler and Richardson tell leaders. “When it’s your turn to be in a scene, try being really enthusiastic……Glow. Sparkle. Radiate leadership and solutions.” For blog writers, I believe, this line in the book is one to remember:  “Whichever is your best time to shine, don’t waste it on trivial, low-return activities.” We should be doing our writing at our own “prime time”, when we are at our absolute best emotionally, physically, and mentally. Unfortunately,  Chandler and Richardson explain, we too often “find great pleasure in spending our highest-energy state on small tasks.”

“Timing is everything, and maintaining a blog is no exception to the rule,” cautions the Kissmetrics Blog.  “Learning when your audience is tuning in, and therefore when to post, is mandatory for any successful blogger.” There are pros and cons to posting during high-activity hours; although there might be more visitors, the content can lose prominence due to “noise”. Posting at night, conversely, affords easier front page promotion, but your post is likely to draw less engagements.

Specific insights offered by Kissmetrics include:

  • The highest percentage of users read blogs in the morning.
  • The average blog gets the most  traffic at the beginning of the week.
  • The average blog gets the most comments on Saturday.

If timing is everything, then what about frequency?  “You should be making a concerted effort to keep up with a consistent publishing schedule to maintain fresh content,” blogmutt.com asserts. “Search engines regularly crawl your site looking for new content…if you are posting new, quality information frequently, you increase your chances to rank even better the next time your site is crawled.”

Blog content writers must try to hit their own – and readers’- time to shine!

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Giving it Away to Get ‘Em – the Other Side of the Useful Info Story

useful info in blogs

No, (as I spent some digital “ink” saying in my last post), I don’t think sports scores or snow statistics belong on the blog sites of jewelers, dentists, or veterinarians, when those are used primarily as a way to attract visitors. My take on that form of marketing is that it works counter to the purpose of establishing trust and credibility for the business owner or practitioner.

But there’s always an “on the other hand”, as I will be first to admit. Offering tidbits of information loosely related to the industry or field represented in the blog is something readers tend to like. It “puts words in their mouths”, gives them “ready-to-microwave” cocktail conversation consisting of little-known or just plain interesting things to mention at the appropriate moment.

Humor speaker Todd Hunt doesn’t have a blog, but his e-newsletter, Hunt’s Headlines, does that “words-in-the-mouth’ thing for me. This time, Hunt explained the difference between acronyms and initialisms:

An acronym is a word, Hunt reminded me, that is formed from initial letters and pronounced as a word:

Scuba = Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (I’d forgotten this)
NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization (I knew that one)
Laser = light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation (who knew?)
Zip (code) = Zone Improvement Plan (I would’ve missed this on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire)

Now that I think of it, to illustrate my Say It For You blogs and emails, I use JPEGS. I was never informed (until now) that the acronym stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group.

In an initialism, in contrast to an acronym, the letters are actually pronounced individually (not as one word). Examples are:

FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation
IRA – individual retirement account
AAA – American Automobile Association
ATM – automoated teller machine

One initialism pertaining to our work as blog content writers is HTML, which (I should’ve known this, but somehow didn’t remember)) stands for Hyper Text Markup Language.

I’m far from actually reneging on my earlier assertion that “you cannot afford to tax their (online readers’) patience by distracting them with sports scores or weather updates; you’re best focusing on the search topic that brought those readers to you in the first place. Still, in blog marketing it’s well worth the effort of digging up curious and little known facts relating to your business or profession.

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