Blogging as Long as It’s Black

Blog readers need to perceive you as an expert in your field, I teach at Say It For You.  And for that to happen, I believe, you need to clearly state a firm perspective on your subject. There’s no lack of information sources – and no lack of “experts” (purported or real) on any topic and that is the reason we need to go beyond presenting facts, statistics, features, and benefits, and get authentic and yes, even opinionated.

Around six months ago, I came across a wonderful feature story in the Wall Street Journal Magazine, featuring the Danish kitchen design company Vipp.  Explaining ”How a Salon Trash Can Turned a Design Brand Into a Phenomenon”, reporter Natalia Rachlin discussed CEO Kasper Egelund’s take-it-or-leave-it-approach:

“The first thing I always tell someone about the kitchen is that they can have it
in whatever color they want, as long as it’s black.”

 Vipp’s success is not in spite of, but precisely because of this firm posture. In the “lucrative and highly competitive kitchen market, which tends to be all about customization”, Rachlin posits,  being opinionated presents a picture of self confidence and expertise.

Expertise and exaggeration, of course, are two different things, and exaggeration is something blog marketers need to handle very, very carefully.  After all, we’re trying to build trust, and it’s crucial that we be factually correct in describing the extent to which our products and services can be of help. “Claiming to have expertise you don’t have can create customer dissatisfaction and complaints, ultimately eroding your reputation,” cautions the Ethics Center.

No, it’s not exaggeration we’re after in crafting blog posts, but influence. As blog content writers, our goal is framing our story in a way that this audience will focus on and respect. Chris Anderson, head of TED Talks, would remind speakers: Argue the rarer point or elucidate as only you can.”

Readers are looking to us for expertise and a firm perspective. It appears Vipp kitchen buyers, knowing  there is a rainbow of cabinet and backsplash finishes available to them, still love having Egelund tell them “as long as it’s black”. Shouldn’t we be “blogging as long as it’s black”?


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Should Blog Posts Be Op Eds?

opinions in business blogs


“Opinionated editorial essays are often the most fun, fast and furious pieces to get into print – especially for nonfamous  witers with strong opinions and day jobs in other fields,” opines Susan Shapiro in Writer’s Digest.

What about business blog content marketing? Should posts do more than describe the products and services being offered and include the opinions of the business owner or professional practitioner? Three insights from Writer’s Digest can help answer that question….

1. “Convey a strong link to your subject,” Shapiro advises.  “Unless you have fought in the Iraq war, have lost a family member there, or are yourself from Iraq, your chances of selling a piece about it are slim.”

We must be influencers, I advise clients and blog content writers alike. Whether it’s business-to-business or business to consumer blog writing, the blog content itself needs to use opinion to clarify what differentiates that business, that professional practice, or that organization from its peers.

2. “Be aware of your audience…..Beware of making too many New York or Los Angeles references in a piece aimed at the Detroit News.”

As writers, when we tell the story of a business or a practice to consumers, we “frame” that story a certain way. “Your opportunity,” Seth Godin tells marketers, “lies in finding a neglected worldview, framing your story in a way that this audience will focus on.”  Chris Anderson, head of TED Talks, reminds speakers to do a jargon check based on audience research, eliminating technical terms and acronyms that will be unfamiliar to listeners.

3.  “Don’t share the obvious slant. Nobody wants to print what everyone already knows…Argue the rarer point or elucidate as only you uniquely can.”

One point I often stress in corporate blogging training sessions is that,  whether you’re blogging for a business, for a professional practice, or for a nonprofit organization, you’ve gotta have an opinion, a slant, on the information you’re serving up for readers. In other words, blog posts, to be effective, can’t be just compilations; you can’t just “aggregate” other people’s stuff and make that be your entire blog presence.
In “Ten tips to write an opinion piece people read”, A. Stone advises starting with an attention-grabbing opening line that cuts to the heart of your key message, evoking an emotion or curiosity.  It can be a strong fact, statement or even the beginning of an anecdote that has audience connection, he explains. “The first line is the display-window for all the goodies you have inside.” In opinion piece posts, the, the opener should at least hint at the “slant”.

Providing information about products and services may be the popular way to write corporate blog posts, but in terms of achieving Influencer status – that takes opinion!



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