Remember the Golden Triangle in Blogging for Business

 

 

 

 

“Remember, human nature never changes,” cautions Jeanette Maw McMurtry in Marketing for Dummies. While design trends for websites may change, she says, the way our unconscious minds process information never does.

The term “Golden Triangle” refers to the way English-speaking people view search results, starting at the upper left side of the page, moving our eyes right, then browsing down the left side of the page, reading the top three items, choosing one. That’s actually a “big what”, according to McMurtry. If your call to action buttons and key message are in the space outside the “triangle”, visitors won’t find something relevant before switching to another site.

While the author is discussing web pages in general, the same principles hold true for blog pages.

Pow opening lines: 
In any marketing blog, it’s the keyword phrases in the title that start the job of getting the blog found.  Burt, once the online visitor has actually landed, it takes a great opener to fan the flicker of interest into a flame.  In fact, a big part of blog content writing, I’ve found, involves getting the “pow opening line” right.

Bolding, bullet points, and italics:
With readers’ eyes browsing down the left side of the page, having bold face subtitles helps them “settle” on key points that are of interest.

Focusing on one “lane”:
Focus on just one or two  important ideas in each post.  Doing that lends more impact and helps readers quickly conclude they’ve come to the right place for what they need.

Powerful closing line:
Assuming you’ve been successful in keeping the reader with you, deliver  a powerful closing line that repeats the main idea of the post.

Remember the golden triangle in blogging for business!

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Showing Them How Shows Them YOU In Blogging for Business

how-to bloggingFor making content king on your website, Jeanette Maw McMurtry recommends, think about the top content themes readers most often seek:

  • product comparisons
  • purchasing guides
  • how-to guides
  • research findings

When it comes to how-to guides, McMurtry is making a point that I often stress when training blog content writers: “Even if you offer a service, customers tend to bond better with brands that show them how to do it themselves. They often realize that they’re not an expert or don’t have the time, so they call you to come do it for them.”

It’s interesting that I originally became an Indianapolis blogger in keeping with the “don’t-do-it-yourself” outsourcing trend I was seeing in writing for business. Still, for business owners with a preference for doing it themselves, it became important for me to offer business blogging assistance and training.

Few business owners have the time to create and post blogs with enough frequency to attract the attention of search engines. Still, I have learned, each prefers a different ratio of help vs. Do It Yourself. At one end of the spectrum, the business owner might want certain employees to receive corporate blogging training so that they can then take over the function of business blog writing. At the opposite extreme a company might turn over to a business blogging service the entire effort of crafting the message and maintaining the consistent posting of corporate blog content.

Serving as a “go-to” source for online readers can be a winning strategy for business owners, showcasing the blog content writer’s own expertise while offering useful, actionable, information to readers. In the beginning, many business owners and practitioners who are just beginning to blog feel uneasy about giving away valuable information “for free”, fearing that searchers will be able to do it themselves! They need to realize that their blog will become a way of selling themselves, showcasing their experience and expertise.

Showing them how to – shows them YOU!

 

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Respect the Rules of Reversal in Blogging for Business

first impressions in blogging

 

First impressions can affect many elements of your life course, from how you fare in job interviews to whether you gain friends at social gatherings, Psychology Today explains. Yet first impressions can be reversed, as Melissa Ferguson, head of Cornell University’s Automaticity Lab found after conducting some very interesting experiments….

In the first series, test subjects were introduced to a fictional character named Bob, initially portrayed as good, displaying nice behaviors such as helping a woman carry groceries and donating to a soup kitchen. Only after that initial impression had formed were subjects told Bob was convicted of a heinous act involving a child.  The good impression of Bob completely flipped.

In the second test series, Bob was introduced to participants as a nasty guy who hunts deer out of season, yells at his girlfriend in public, and refuses to help a child fix a bike. When it is later revealed that Bob donated a kidney to a stranger, subjects did think a  little better of Bob, but never really thought well of him. The negative first impression was much harder to turn around than the positive first impression.

Negative first impressions, however, were found to be completely reversed when they had been the result of mistaken information. When participants were told Bob was found knocking over furniture in a neighbor’s house and taking precious items out of the house, the negative impression that gave was totally reversed when subjects learned the house was on fire and that the precious items Bob was saving were the children living there.

Amazing, I teach Say It For You client company owners and professional practitioners, the difference your customers’ first encounter with you will make to your success in business!  And, if that encounter takes place online (as so often proves the case today), the one chance you’ll be given to make a great first impression is going to come through your business blog. You want online readers to get a good first impression of not only about what you do, but of who you are and why you see things the way that you do.

Statistically, marketing blogs are most likely to be read by potential clients as opposed to existing ones. As a content writer, you have only a few seconds to help readers put themselves into the scene, envisioning the savings, the satisfaction, the pride, the increased health and improved appearance they’ll enjoy after using your product or service.

Respect the rules of reversal in blogging for business!

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Blogging for Business While Inspiring Three Types of Trust

blogging to inspire trust

Trust is a powerful intangible asset,” Allen Harris, CEO of Berkshire Money Management Inc. reminds financial planners.  A Knowledge@Wharton special report describes three types of trust between financial advisors and clients:

  1. trust in know-how
  2. trust in ethical conduct
  3. trust in empathetic skills

“Trust is everything in the online world,” writes A.J. Agrawal in Forbes. In fact, Agrawal cites a recent Econsultancy study showing that 61% of customers read and trust online reviews when making a purchase. By producing quality information that’s true and reliable in every blog, you are making sure you yourself become reliable, Agriwal advises.

As business blog content writers, we can work to inspire three types of trust in the business providers and professional practitioners who hire use to convey their message:

Trust in know-how
Sharing know-how, I’ve found, is sometimes a cause for concern to some business owner and practitioner clients of Say It For You – they don’t want to come off boastful and self-serving or be perceived as using hard-sell tactics to promote themselves. But browsers on the Web “stopped” at your particular business blog because they need advice about a subject you know about, I remind them. Those readers want to feel trust in your know-how and professionalism and you won’t be able to help them until that trust happens.

Trust in ethical conduct
The second level of trust addresses the question all buyers ask themselves, “Do I trust you not to steal money from me and to deliver on your promises?” In training blog writers, I often use the example of job interviews. These days, interviewers focus less on the facts (which they’ve already read on the resume), but on how the prospective employee tends to function in various situations.  Employers are trying to discover the person behind the resume. In the same way, readers who visit your blog are trying to learn about the business owner or practitioner behind the blog.

One way to address that need is to use opinion to clarify what differentiates your business or practice from its peers. Primarily, the blog has to add value, not just a promise of value should the reader convert to a buyer, but real value in terms of information, skill enhancement, or a new way of looking at the topic. Searchers will sense that they’ve come to a provider they can trust.

Trust in empathetic skills
In meeting a financial advisor, Tucker observes, potential clients are asking themselves, “Do you care about me?” Soft skills such as relationship-building and interpersonal communication are going to be more important in coming years than technical skills, he adds.. Your content helps visitors judge whether you have their best interests at heart. Even if you’ve come across as the most competent of product or service providers, you still need to pass the “warmth” test.  Does your blog present you as “real people”, with a passion for serving in your field? In today’s click-it-yourself, do-it-yourself world, our content writing needs to demonstrate to online searchers that, in our fields, we ARE smarter than Google Maps, or eHow, or Wikipedia. Most important, we need to make clear, we’re a lot more caring for our customers – they can count on us!

 

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A Nutritious Business Blog Diet Balances Features and News

 

Like newspapers, business blog content writing can balance feature stories with news. News stories cover breaking, time-sensitive stuff; feature articles might have the same impact whether you read them today or two months from now.

The word “news” when it comes to blog marketing, can mean two entirely different things.  The first type centers around you and your company or practice. Readers need to know about new products and services they can now obtain through you, any new partners or employees you want to introduce, and your recent or upcoming activities in the community; your blog is the perfect way to keep your audience informed as these things are happening. It’s very important, I explain to newbie content writers, to present this “you news” in a way that appears to be “all about them”. For every piece of news about your company, you need to address the unspoken questions such as “So, is that different?”, “So, is that good for me?”

The second type of news relates to your community, your city, your country, even worldwide events, “what’s-going-on-and-how-do-we-fit-in news. In fact, reading daily newspapers is just one of many strategies for blog content development. In a blog post, you might cite material from the news story, relating it to new developments in your own industry or field. The idea is not to regurgitate what’s already been said, as waxmarketing.com points out, but to showcase your own expertise and experience, offering a new perspective on that very news item.

The second type (most blog posts would likely fall into this category) is the feature story. These offer helpful “how-tos”, questions consumers ought to be asking, and stories about how you solved clients’ or patients’ problems. Feature posts are non time-sensitive, and in fact, the goal is to have the material be “evergreen”. (When someone searches for information on a topic, it’s quite possible for them to “matched up” with content written a long time ago.) Good informational content, after all, can have relevance even months and years later after it was first published!

A nutritious business blog diet balances features and news!

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Mention-Worthy Business Blogging

 

“Remarkable things are defined as unusual, extraordinary, or worthy of notice or attention, Jonah Berger observes in his book Contagious. Something can be remarkable, he says, because it is:

  • novel
  • surprising
  • extreme
  • just plain interesting

But the most important aspect of remarkable things is that they are worthy of remark. If something is just so noteworthy, you just have to mention it, Berger explains.

With the desire for social approval a fundamental human motivation, the author continues, if we tell someone a cool fact, a novel story, or a secret, that makes us seem more engaging. And, because I work at creating blog content for Indianapolis businesses and professional practices,
getting those clients more “shares” is one of my fundamental motivations.

A 16-country global survey by Social@Ogilby and SurveyMonkey revealed reasons for sharing content via social media, with the most frequent motive being to stay in touch and bring attention to issues they care about. Another study conducted by Ipsos showed that 61% of online shares share interesting things, 43% funny things, and 29% content that is unique.

But novelty and humor are not quite enough, Berger reminds his readers, if your intent is to generate social sharing. He found that articles most shared with not only humorous, interesting, novel, extreme, or surprising, but also informative. “People like to help others, so if we can show them how our products or ideas will save time, improve health, or save money, they’ll spread the word.”

Whether a business owner is composing his/her own blog posts or collaborating with a professional “ghost blogger”, it’s simply not enough to provide even very potentially valuable information to online searchers who’ve landed on the company’s blog page. The information need to be “translated” into relational, emotional terms that are so noteworthy, visitors will simply have to mention it to others!

 

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How-I-Did-It Blogging for Business

“Starting and running a business is traveling a landscape filled with opportunity and hazards.  Knowing which is which can make the difference between growing your company and blowing it up,” begins the special issue of Inc. magazine in which twelve company founders describe how they rose to success.

‘How-we-did-it” stories make for very effective blog content for both business owners and professional practitioners, I’ve learned. In a post a couple of years ago, I quoted The Moth founder George Dawes Green, who teaches storytellers to share their own human failures and frailty. “It’s easier to connect with someone who is or has been where you are,” is the way Beccy Freebody of the Australian charity realisingeverydream puts it.

Sounds great, but how can sharing secrets and failures help when you’re trying to market a business or a practice?

  1. True stories about mistakes and struggles are very humanizing, adding to the trust readers place in the people behind the business or practice.
  2. Stories of struggles and failures can be used as a means to an end, using the special expertise and insights you’ve gained towards solving readers’ problems.
  3. Blogs also have a damage control function.  When customer complaints and concerns are recognized and dealt with publicly (there’s nothing more public than the Internet!), that gives the “apology” – and the remediation – a lot more weight in the eyes of readers.

The interesting thing I’ve noticed is that many business owner and practitioner clients are so close to the subject matter of their own past and present business battles, they can’t see how valuable those “failures” can prove to be in terms of blog content. That’s where the outside eye of a professional blog writer becomes especially valuable.

In “how-I-did-it” blogging for business, failures can sometimes be the secret to success!

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If-We-Haven’t-Moved Blogging for Business

Nine years ago I posted a Say It For You blog about an experiment concerning the way people’s attention is engaged. The subjects of the study were people who drove the same route every day to work and back, passing a giant billboard advertising new cars.  When questioned, almost none of those people remembered even seeing a billboard, but the moment any individual was in the market for a car, he’d notice the billboard immediately. The point was that if whatever a billboard is advertising is not relevant to our life just then, our brain brushes off the information and doesn’t make room for it in memory.

Anyway, I used that experiment to make the point that everybody’s blog posts are out there on the Internet “super-highway”, available for anyone to see, but that the only people likely to notice your blog at all are those searching for the kinds of information, products, or services you offer.

The other day I had an experience that showed me  an interesting twist on that whole theory. I took a different route than usual driving home from a meeting and, coming across E. 96th, happened to pass a billboard advertising a Chipotle’s restaurant.  Here’s what the sign said: “Chipotle – ½ mile ahead – if we haven’t moved!”

Now, I was returning from a lunch meeting; I’d had plenty to eat, believe me, and so wasn’t consciously or otherwise craving food. What caught my eye and aroused my curiosity was the “if we haven’t moved” thing. What was that about? Were they planning to move? Were they being forced out?  Why weren’t they saying what their new location might be?

I’ve reminded you about my theory on billboards and blogging. I also have a theory about human curiosity and how that tests out in corporate blogging.  This is it: our curiosity is at its most intense when it concerns testing our own limits, which is why I advise blog content writers to include quizzes and self-tests in business blog posts. Well, in those couple of seconds driving past that billboard, my brain went into high challenge gear – Where IS that restaurant?  Is it still there or will I see a “Moved” sign on the door?

The really curious thing is, even had I been in the mood for a meal, Mexican cuisine would never have been my first choice. It was the “IF we haven’t moved” that made that billboard serve as a come-on, making my brain make room for its message.

What curiosity factors can you add to your business blog so that online searchers will make room for your marketing messages?

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Conversational Blogging Takes Practice – Part B

Counter-intuitive as that may seem, Gallo explains, “Conversational delivery takes practice,” Gallo stresses in Talk Like TED, tracing the creation of a Dr. Jill presentation in Indianapolis.

As a content writer for marketing blogs, I often explain to clients and to newbie writers that that blogs (compared to, say, brochures, white papers, and newsletters) are casual and conversational.  In fact, that’s precisely what makes it convenient for companies and professional practitioners to use blogs to achieve the frequency needed to win online search engine ranking.

But, as Gallo so aptly points out about the Dr. Jill TED talk, “conversational” still takes practice. The point I want to make is that the steps Dr. Jill used in preparing for her talk can be extremely valuable in blog content writing. Earlier this week, I discussed idea generation and the method any serious blog writer must develop for capturing ideas – from conversations, magazines, radio, billboards, for later blog post content. After typing out her longhand notes, Dr. Jill condensed the material into major points. Gathering ideas, then selecting one central concept to emphasize in each post are each vital steps in blog marketing.

Having honed her ideas and condensed the content, the next step for Dr. Jill was perhaps the most challenging – figuring out how to deliver the message. “Great speakers act out a story,” Gallo says, noting that Dr. Jill “weighs the entertainment component of her presentation as equally as she does the others.” In fact, Gallo’s opinion is that “the problem with most technical or scientific discussions is that presenters fail to make their content visual, interesting, and entertaining.”

When it comes to business marketing blogs, a true content contribution solves customer problems in three ways:

  • by educating
  • by informing
  • by entertaining

While good blog posts can and should be entertaining, most online searchers are not pursuing a recreational activity, but instead are on a fact-finding mission. On the other hand, images can go a very long way in adding excitement and interest.

Dan Hughes of jtvdigital observes that “In this day and age, pictures and video are powerful promotional tools that cater to the attention span of the modern digital consumer.” However, Hughes continues, “well-crafted copy is an essential part of success.”

Conversational blogging may not take all the prep time of a TED talk, but it certainly takes practice!

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Conversational Blogging Takes Practice – Part A

 

When Dr. Jill gave her TED Talk in Indianapolis, reports Carmine Gallo in Talk Like Ted, her presentation seemed natural, authentic, animated, and conversational. Counter-intuitive as that may seem, Gallo explains, “Conversational delivery takes practice. Dr. Jill rehearsed her presentation not once, twice, or even 20 times. She rehearsed it 200 times!” Gallo notes.

Dr. Jill went through several important steps in preparing to deliver that TED talk, Gallo says:

  1. walking the beach with a notepad, writing down words and ideas
  2. reading what she had written out loud to feel how the words and sounds worked together
  3. typing out the notes she’d written in longhand
  4. condensing the material into five major points
  5. figuring out how to deliver the message in a visual, interesting, and entertaining way
  6. rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing

As a blog content writer, I often explain to clients and to newbie blog writers that that blogs, unlike brochures, client newsletters, online magazines, and websites, are short and concise, less crafted and more casual and conversational than other marketing pieces. In fact, that’s what makes it so feasible to use blogs to achieve the frequency that’s needed to win online search engine rankings – there simply aren’t as many steps to the process.

But, as Gallo so aptly points out, “conversational” still takes practice. It may not be feasible to create 200 different iterations of each blog post, yet in great part, the steps Dr. Jill in preparing for her conversational TED talk can prove extremely valuable in blog content writing.

While walking the beach with a notepad may not always be feasible in the Midwest, idea generation begins the blogging process. “The best blog ideas often happen during a conversation, in the shower, or while listening to a seminar. Don’t fight it. Instead, have a method for capturing these ideas so you can save them for later,” advised Michael Reynolds in a guest post for Say It For You.

Condensing is a crucial step in blog marketing; the rule I cite when offering business blogging assistance is simply: “Make blog posts as long as they need to be to get the point across (and just one or two points should be emphasized in each post to begin with), but not a single sentence longer.

Conversational blogging may not take all the prep time of TED talk, but it certainly takes practice!

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