Using the “It’s Not Your Fault” Appeal in Blog Marketing

An advertisement I happened upon incorporates what I think was a very effective form of “reverse psychology” as a say to appeal to customers: “It’s not your fault”, the ad read. 
If your hot water heater “chose” a weekend to break down – well, that’s not your fault and you shouldn’t be charged extra for the service call.  Carl’s Heating & Air’s value proposition, in fact, is this: “We Keep the Same Price 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week”.

Making prospects feel “in the right” can be a good marketing tactic when it comes to blogging content as well as in advertising copy, I believe. Think about it – so much marketing is based on “why you need to….” and “have you been using the wrong…..” . In general, negative marketing attempts to form a bond with customers by commiserating about their daily pain, identifying something that the customers hate, and ridiculing it, explains 602communications.com. In a way, the Carl’s Heating & Air ad IS commiserating about the customer’s frustration at having their hot water heater go down (and even worse having it happen on a weekend). But rather than focusing on their own inconvenience (having to hire workers and pay them overtime to work on a weekend), the Carl’s ad is all about the customer’s unhappy plight.

Even when it comes to myth debunking in corporate blogs, addressing misinformation about our industry, our content has the potential of rubbing readers the wrong way. People generally don’t like to have their assertions and assumptions challenged, even when they came to a website seeking information on a particular  subject. That’s because part of us resents being told that something we’d taken for granted as true is in fact a lie.

Prospects, like customers, aren’t always right. As blog content writers, we know that. But putting them “in the wrong” is a bad, bad idea.  The blog can set forth a unique value proposition while at the same time reassuring readers that It’s Not Your Fault!

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Self-Checking Your Business Blog

 

 

 

 

 

“These 5 fast and easy self-exams can tell you if it’s time to see a doc,” Kate Lawler writes in ATM Magazine, encouraging readers to check the inner lids of their eyes, the appearance of their skin and hair, their balance, and their heart rate.

As a content writing trainer, I had to applaud the organization of that two page AARP  article.

  • Formatting, including boxed sections, bullet points, images, and bolding, made skimming and reading easy.
  • For each type of check (eye check, skin check, hair check, balance check, heart check), there were three sections: an introductory paragraph on how to perform the check, then a “What you want to see/feel” section followed by a “IF you see or feel” section, listing signs you need to have a doc check you out.

Of course, I couldn’t resist thinking about ways for blog marketers to do similar self checks, not on themselves, but on the “health” of their content.

Business blog “heart check”:
Are you delivering new content on a regular and frequent basis? Is your subscriber list growing?

Business blog “eye check”:
Staying informed – and keeping your readers informed – on what’s happening in your field increases your credibility and value. Subscribe to – and occasionally cite – industry or professional journals, culling information you think your own readers will find useful.

Business blog “skin check”:
Business owners and professional practitioners will inevitably need to deal with a dissatisfied customer or two. Dealing with complaints and concerns “in front of other people” (in blog posts), offers you the chance to offer useful information to other readers and explain any changes in policy that resulted from the situation. Being “thick-skinned”, yet having the ability to be flexible are the marks of a healthy blogging process.

Business blog “hair check”:
Just as sudden hair loss can be a sign of anemia or thyroid disease, a sudden drop in readership can alert blog marketers that a change in approach is needed. Regular analytics checks can show which categories were most frequently viewed by readers.

Business blog “balance check”:
Balancing different types of content adds variety to a business blog. Opinion pieces can be balanced by “curating” contrasting views of other people in your field. News posts offset how-to posts. First person writing can be offset by third-person narrative, and short and long sentences can balance each other.

Why not carry out a self-exam on your business blog?

 

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Double Duty Business Blogging

 

“Provide valuable information to people who need it, and let word-of-mouth marketing do the rest.” No, this advice wasn’t being given to bloggers; practice management consultant Susan Kornegay, CFP® was telling financial planning practitioners (in the Journal of Financial Planning) about the benefits of using informational booklets as marketing tools for their professional practices. “When clients take home your booklet or checklist, it’s almost as though you’re going home with them. They’ll be reminded of how well you take care of them whenever they look at it or show it to someone else,” Kornegay adds.

When readers “take home” or access the content of our blog posts, even if they are not yet clients (and therefore do not yet have proof of how well we are going to take care of them), the hope is that they will, in fact, share that content with others. In surveys, it was discovered that the main reason people share online content is that they enjoy bringing value to others, potentially changing opinions and nourishing relationships. The key word here is “value” – pack your content with more information, more practical advice, and more thought-provoking statements, Garrett Moon of coschedule.com advises.

“Why your own?” asks Kornegay, acknowledging that broker-dealers, wholesalers, and organizations offer plenty of brochures, booklets and checklists financial planning practitioners could simply order and hand out to their clients. “But wouldn’t your clients appreciate having something that represents your thoughts, your experience, and your perspective as their trusted adviser?” she suggests. Kornegay’s steps on how to put resources together might serve as a tutorial for business blog content writers:

  •  Think about your ideal clients and what would help them
  •  Base the content on your own experience and process
  •  Use graphic design, incorporating your own branding and contact information
  •  Make copies available (Kornegay mentions placing brochures on your credenza, bookshelf, table, conference room and waiting area, but digital availability can be enhanced through email, social media promotions, and guest posting)

Creating materials of “your own” does not rule out aggregating resources for the benefit of your readers. Even Kornegay mentions that “online research can help you organize your thoughts and perhaps spark some additional ideas.”  But, I agree, aggregating resources is hardly enough; business blog content writers need to add their own “spin” to the material based on their own business wisdom and expertise.

Use your online content, first and foremost, to provide value.  When readers “take home” your content and share it with others, it’s almost as if you’re going home with them!

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Business Blogging Earns High Scores

“There’s no doubt that blogs afford small businesses big payoffs. They humanize a business, position you as an expert in your field, and work hand-in-hand with your website and social media presence to improve your search engine rankings,” the SCORE website advises its members.  But, since finding the time or an eager author to write an original blog for every slot in your calendar isn’t always possible, Score offers tips for “staying afloat” in your blogging efforts, including:

  • freshening up old blogs
  • distilling white papers or webinars into quick tips or how-to’s
  • using “filler blogs that link to other sources
  • showcasing photos from an event that you recently held

“Think of your website as a garden. If it’s left unattended, weeds will grow and your plants are likely to shrivel up and die,” cautions crazyegg.com. “To get the most out of any garden, you must prune, trim, fertilize, aerate, plant, and remove pests in a strategic manner.” Interestingly, one piece of advice crazyegg offers is this: “If you don’t have a business blog, get one! It’s a great way to update your site—even if you only have time to do it once a month.”

If you’re lacking ideas for your blog, crazyegg offers suggestions:

  1. Review something – the newest business book or hit movie. In a way, I’ve often reflected, what we do when we write business blog content offering information and opinion is comparable to a book review. Online visitors are “test-reading” your company or practice through reading your blog posts. They want to see whether you understand their problems and can quickly and effectively help solve those. A review, though, is more than a mere summary. Whether you’re blogging for a business, for a professional practice, or for a nonprofit organization, you’ve got to have an opinion, a slant, on the information you’re serving up for readers.

2. Take a poll. Then, write content to address those things. Using blogs to perform a focus    group function could be a very feasible marketing strategy.  Blog readers would weigh in on their own time in the form of responding to surveys, offering ideas or ratings – all good techniques to stimulate interaction with target customers. 
  
3. Interview someone. You can do this via email or phone. As a blog-content-writer-for-hire by business owners and professional practitioners, I’ve found, there’s an interesting way to get the job done: the interview format. In a face-to-face (or Skype) interview with a business owner or executive (or professional practitioner), I am able to capture their ideas and some of their words, then add “framing” with my own questions and introductions, to create a blog post more compelling and “real” than the typical narrative text.

As SCORE advises its business owner members, business blogging earns high scores!

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The Right Words – Business Blogging Power Tools

Cordless power tools, isolated on a white background
It’s too bad that in the course of doing business, we get so tied up in making a good, marketable product and in serving our customers’ needs, we often forget how much help the right words can be. In fact, when it comes to web-based communication, words, along with images are our only tools. As a blog content writer, not only do I derive special pleasure in nicely turned phrases, I consider those “word tidbits” to be business blogging power tools.

Use “I did” phrases, not. “I am” phrases
Just as on a resume or in a job interview, employers want to see strong action words that highlight specific accomplishments rather than titles, a blog should focus on how the business or professional practice has been able to deliver value to customers and clients. In composing the blog content, think “we achieved”, “we improved”, “we created”.

Avoid zipping points
Zipping points, according to witty public radio host Michael Feldman, are over-used phrases he believes should be kept inside our heads and never allowed to escape our lips – or pens! Avoid once-popular expressions such as “going forward” and “low-hanging fruit”, or “game-changer”.

Use keyword phrases effectively
Proper use of keyword phrases to enhance Search Engine Optimization is the “science” part of the blogging equation. But avoid “stuffing” by keeping the percentage of keywords in the text below 5% of total content, incorporating the keywords in the text in an unobtrusive and natural way to that readers’ attention is focused only on the message.

Use words to put statistics into perspective
Using numbers in blog post titles is a great way to set expectations for a post. But where the words come in, I believe, is that one of the primary functions blogs serve is putting statistics into perspective, so that readers are given the answer to the “So what?” and “So, what’s in-it-for-me” questions.

Words you never use in blogging for business
There are three categories of potential trouble in choosing words, asserts Jay Baer, author of Hug Your Haters:  words that lack humility, words that diminish the customer, and words of argument and avoidance.  As business blog content writers, of course, we’re trying to create great online interactions with customers and prospects, so Baer’s advice is particularly apropos.

The right words are our business blogging power tools!

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Book-Review Blogging for Business

Book review word cloudOnline visitors are “test-driving” your company or practice through reading your blog posts. They want to see whether you understand their problems and can quickly and effectively help solve those. Often, the way to be of most help to searchers is to offer “book reviews”, collections of material you have “curated” (gathered and presented) for them.

Remember, though, a review is more than a mere summary. Whether you’re blogging for a business, for a professional practice, or for a nonprofit organization, you’ve got to 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. But, even while putting your own unique twist on the topic, give your readers links to websites from which you got some of your original information or news.

There’s another reason to curate and review other sources in your own business blog – you need to read what others are saying in blogs and in the press about your field. If there are bloggers whose writing you especially enjoy, create links between your websites.  Your own blog content will be all the richer for this back-and-forth sharing.  What’s more, you’re likely to win the wholehearted approval of the search engines; you’ll notice that “approval” in the form of upward movement of your blog in the rankings!

Omnivoracious, Amazon’s official book review blog, is focused on books, author interviews, and industry news. As  business blog content writers, we are aiming for an Omnivoracious-like effect – making our blog the “go-to” place for target readers interested, not only in the things we sell, the things we know and that we know how to do, but in what our colleagues and competitors know and what they know how to do.

Condensing information is a general term whereby the source message is reduced in length without impacting meaning or grammatical accuracy, says dailycues.com. “Writing for online readers is distinctly different than traditional writing; this means your online content must cater to these readers to grab and keep their attention,” write.com adds.

Try book-review blogging for business!

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Your Business Blog Can Be Their User Manual

User guide book illustration design
“In the olden days – say the 1980s – if you bought a piece of technology, a paperback user guide came with it.  It was the manufacturer’s one big chance to explain its engineers’ thinking to you, to communicate what the designers and marketers had in mind,” David Pogue writes in Scientific American. Then, Google happened, Pogue says ruefully, and physical manuals began disappearing from our hardware and software boxes.

It’s not that users understand all the features of the devices they’ve purchased, although the kind of technologies we use has changed, Pogue explains. “People increasingly spend time in apps and social sites that have a fairly simple interface”. To this day, however, “it’s astonishing how little we know about our phones, computers, and software,” he observes.

Hardware and software makers still operate with their traditional business model: Every year or so they sell us a new version, whose appeal is supposed to be more features. Yet our access to documentation remains scattershot and incomplete, Pogue concludes. That is true, he asserts, despite the availability of answer sites, online communities, and YouTube mini-tutorials.

Enter business blogging.  In fact, according to Forbes, the #1 most important component of the perfect business blog post is answering this question: “What’s the unique angle of this post, and how will it help my audience?”  A blog post can be well-written, but it will be virtually worthless if it doesn’t speak to its audience’s interests, needs, preferences and pain points.

People are online searching for answers to their problems.  They might be there because they need answers to questions they have or solutions for dilemmas they’re facing – or because they don’t know how to use a product or service they’ve already paid for.! That’s when, if you’ve been consistently blogging, they find you, because your blog post gives them just the information they’re looking for in terms of “how-to” content.

Now, I’ve been touting “how-to” content in business blogs for years.  yet it often happens that new blogging clients have a fear that, if they “teach” in their blog, demonstrating the steps in their process, they’ll lose, rather than gain, customers and clients, because the customers will be able to “do it themselves”! In reality, the opposite is true: Consumers who feel fairly informed often prove more willing to make buying decisions.

Let your business blog be their user manual!

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The Power of Place in Business Blog Content Writing

The Power of Place
“Branding helps people identify and recognize your products and organization,” asserts thebrandingjournal.com. And just how does that happen? Branding:

  • makes your company different from the competition
  • helps you connect with customers emotionally
  • helps consumers know what to expect
  • allows you to be clear with your strategy and stay focused

So, in today’s world of online marketing, is physical location important?  Obviously it is  for businesses that sell goods or services directly at brick-and-mortar establishments, yourbusiness.azcentral.com states. Location influences operating expenses, taxes, and regulations. But, even for home-based businesses, I think it’s important for customers to envision you at work; a photo of you at your desk should be included on your website.

“In a world where the movement of people, capital and ideas is more fluid than ever, a strong place brand is more important than ever,” Resonance explains. Having done online marketing for the past decade, I couldn’t agree more.

The story of the O.K Corral bears out that idea of the power of place in consumers’ minds.  The OK was a livery and horse corral from 1879 to about 1888 in the mining boomtown of Tombstone, Arizona, near the Mexican border. It was there that the most famous shootout in the history of the American Wild West, portrayed in 1957 film Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was supposed to have taken place.

Truth is, the gunfight did not take place either within or even next to the O.K. Corral, but in a narrow lot six doors west of there. Despite the historical inaccuracy, the corral is currently marketed as a tourist attraction where visitors pay to see a reenactment of the shootout between Wyatt Earp and his brother in a faceoff with the Clanton-McLaury gang.

“Today’s world of commerce is not kind to those who serve average products to ‘average Joes’,” remarks eograndrapids.org. “You’ll need to identify your niche, or your unique value proposition.” For blog content writers seeking to attract readership in their niche markets, I add the reminder, “Don’t forget the power of place in business blog content writing!”

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Using the Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs in Your Business Blogging

 

Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

 

“Your listeners are asking themselves ‘Why should I care?’ Carmine Gallo reminds marketers in his business skills and development book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Jobs, the author reminds readers, is the guy who transformed business presentations into an art form. Using those presentation secrets, a top Apple executive said, you can:

  • take charge of any room
  • sell products
  • build brands
  • engage teams
  • convey ideas persuasively
  • turn prospects into clients

That sounds almost too good to be true, but, hey, if using some of those presentation skills in business blog content writing can turn prospects into clients – count me in!

Gallo points out Jobs’ unrelenting focus on results – will using your product or service help prospects:

  • make money?
  • save money?
  • have an easier time of it?

“Remember, your widget doesn’t inspire,” Gallo reminds marketers. Whichever the primary benefit you have to offer, tell prospects about that, and tell it to them early, often, and clearly, Gallo says.

Gallo pinpoints 3 practical applications of Jobs’ style speakers can use (and, of course, we content writers are nothing if not presenters):

  1. Casual language is what the people want. (Make the numbers relevant to something with which readers are already familiar.)
  2. Minimal content is best suited for long term memory. (Create a memorable moment for the audience, revealing some new and unexpected information, or telling a story.)
  3. Create ways to use the villain/hero narrative. (Spend time describing the problem in detail. “Build the pain.”)

The goal of each business blog post should be to leave readers absolutely knowing why they need to care, not about your product or service, but about the way they are going to feel after using it!

Use the presentation secrets of Steve Jobs in your business blogging!

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Put Words in Blog Readers’ Mouths

Word Toolbox Teaching Tools Resources Spelling Reading Lesson Ai“Learn the lingo to beat the scammers,” advises Sid Kirchheimer in this month’s AARP magazine. “Knowledge is power” the author explains, proceeding to “put words.in readers’ mouths” so that they can feel confident about protecting themselves from fraudsters.

A “catfish”, Kirscheimer explains, is someone who creates a fake online profile to intentionally deceive you, while “hash busters” are random words contained in spam emails that allow them to bypass your spam filters. “Pharming” refers to malicious programs that route you to their own websites, while “scareware” displays on-screen warnings of nonexistent infections.

“Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service”, a customer service training manual by Renee Evenson, is based on the same knowledge-is-power idea. “Using powerful phrases – the right words – when you communicate gives you the confidence that you’re communicating your best…What you say can make all the difference in how your customers view you and your company,” says Evenson.

We know. And, as blog content writers, we need to be conscious of the difference the right words can make in marketing our clients’ businesses or professional practices. But what the AARP article made clear to me was the importance of what they say (meaning the customers and prospects).

One very important use of the blog becomes arming readers with a sense of control. It’s that feeling of confidence tin knowing the lingo which allows readers to feel ease in making buying decisions.

Sid Kirschheimer spends an entire page teaching readers “scam-speak”.  An essential part of business blog marketing, I’m convinced, is “putting words in blog readers’ mouths!”

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