In Blogging and in the Air, a Bit of Explanation Goes a Long Way

explanations in blogging“Although many frequent fliers think they know what to do in an emergency, in fact most probably haven’t listened to the safety videos in years and if you quizzed them about the content, they’d flunk,” writes George Hobica in USA Today.

The basic content of safety videos, Hobica explains, is established by the International Civil Aviation Organization, with room for additional advice at each airline’s discretion. It’s all super-important content, he says, because whenever there’s been an emergency on a plane, we see footage of passengers doing the wrong things – escaping a crash landing carrying luggage and not wearing shoes, or not knowing how to put on an oxygen masks, for example.

So what can be done to get passengers to watch the videos? (As a blog content writer and trainer who’s occupied with getting people to read the content we prepare, I was really interested in what Hobica would have to say on the subject.)

“I truly believe that if the videos explained the reasons behind the instructions they give, then people would listen more,” he says. “For instance, the exhortation to ‘place the mask over your mouth and nose’ could be changed to ‘place the mask over both your nose and mouth, because otherwise you won’t get enough oxygen and you’ll pass out'”.

Blogger Michel Fortin says he’s a big fan of reasons-why advertising. “Good, successful copy,” Fortin adds, “tells the reader why right up front.” (If you don’t, he warns, they’re left wondering why you left that information out.) Why are you highlighting a certain topic now? Why is the solution you’re proposing particularly relevant for this reader?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

The post In Blogging and in the Air, a Bit of Explanation Goes a Long Way appeared first on Say It For You.

Build the Thesis Ahead of the Blog

thesis building in blogs

“Before you begin writing an essay or writing a research paper,” the Research & Education Association’s QuickAccess laminated writing guide advises, “draft a working thesis statement.”

That’s great advice for student, even better advice for business blog content writers, I believe.  It’s advice too often neglected, I find, with the operative work being “before”.

The thesis statement should contain two parts, REA explains:

  1. the subject of the essay
  2. your opinion on the subject

As an example of a weak thesis, REA offers this: “High school dropout rates are increasing.”

What’s wrong with it?  Lacks an opinion and is too general.  A stronger version, the guide suggests, would read:  “Because higher education is needed more than ever before in order for members of today’s workforce to be successful, the rising high school dropout rate is harmful to society.”

For business blog writing, though, that second version is far from ideal – too wordy, for one, and lacks “pow”. Two shorter, related sentences might create more impact: Here’s my version:

“Our kids are dropping out of high school; to staff our workplaces, we need to give our education system two major tweaks.”

Writing with impact, as REA is correctly telling students, requires thinking. And not just any thinking – it takes pre-thinking and planning. Composing an effective college essay is serious business; composing an effective marketing blog post IS business. Sure, our blogs may state a business owner’s or practitioner’s case in less formal, more conversational style than essays, but preparing a working thesis statement forces writers to focus, which translates into impact.

Just as REA teaches, the thesis statement should contain two parts:

  1. the subject (ONE main idea, ONE aspect of the business or practice)
  2. the opinion (a slant or unique value proposition, the answer to the online searcher’s questions – Why should I do this now? Why should I choose you?)

Build the thesis ahead of the blog!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

The post Build the Thesis Ahead of the Blog appeared first on Say It For You.

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!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

The post Business Bloggers Can be Authors of Defining Moments appeared first on Say It For You.

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!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

The post Business Bloggers Can be Authors of Defining Moments appeared first on Say It For You.

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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

The post appeared first on Say It For You.

The-Truth-About Business Blog Titles

The Science of Exeercse

 

The table of contents in Time’s special edition “The Science of Exercise” lists seventeen different articles, all of which sounded interesting enough to induce me to take the magazine off the display and add it to my shopping cart. And the articles did turn out to be interesting, every page worth a read by anyone interested in physical wellbeing. But, as a blog content writer, I was interested in not only the articles, but in the table of contents. Why had I found some of the titles more intriguing than others, tempting me to read certain articles first?

There were titles with an “agenda”, where you knew the writer’s point of view before reading the article, such as:

  • “The Incredible Medicine of Movement”
  • “How Exercise Keeps You Young”

There were emotional “grabber” titles, such as:

  • “When Athletes Beat the Odds”
  • “Confessions of a Couch Potato”

There were how-to titles, including:

  • “How to Beat Muscle Pain”
  • “How to Exercise When You Have No Time”

And then there were “the Truth About” titles. You may have chosen otherwise, but for me, these Truth-Abouts were the most compelling.  In “The Truth About Weight Loss”, titles, there was a hint of mystery, a promise an expose, perhaps – I was going to be given the “real scoop”… I suppose there’s something enticing about a title promising to “bare the truth”, especially when it concerns a topic on which we didn’t expect there to be any secrets to speak of.

In a business blog (or practitioner’s blog) “Truth-About” blog posts can be used in three basic ways:

  1. To de- mystify, offering information that makes your blog a “go-to” source for readers.
  2. To myth-bust, addressing misunderstandings about a product or service
  3. To offer actionable steps readers can take

In AuthorMedia.com, Thomas Umstattd advises authors to use the title to describe not the content of the article, but the value readers can expect to find in the content, making a case for why readers ought to even bother reading on.

Those three words – “The Truth About” constitute a promise of value when used in the title of a blog post. What will you tell your readers the truth about?

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

The post The-Truth-About Business Blog Titles appeared first on Say It For You.

Opening Gambits in Blogging for Business

 

When you’re serving up seventeen articles about the very same topic, how do you keep things different and engaging? It’s all in the opening lines, I discovered, looking through TIME’s special edition, The Science of Exercise.

Of course, that’s hardly “new news” – I’ve always stressed to new content writers that opening lines have a big job to do. “Cute-sy” writing may not cut it, either, because, as blog content writers, we can hardly afford to be enigmatic in our attempt to arouse curiosity. We have to assure readers they’ve come to the right place to find the information that satisfies their need for answers. On the other hand, a “pow” opening line may be just what’s needed to keep a reader progressing through the page.

  •  “Ever since high school, Mark Tarnopolsky has blurred the line between jock and nerd.”
  • “Is your DNA your destiny? Not if you exercise, suggests new research.”
  • “If you’ve ever opened a birthday card to a message that reads ‘It’s all downhill from here’, you’re likely at an age when, according to popular opinion, your best days are behind you.”

Openers come in different flavors and sizes.  To help my business owner and professional practitioner clients and their freelance blog content writers focus on their blog post openers, I’ve selected several personal favorites out of The Science of Exercise:

Bold assertion
“Exercise is a miracle drug,” is the opening statement of “The Incredible Medicine of Movement”, in which New York sports medicine physician Jordan Metzl reviews scientific research providing “irrefutable evidence of the medicinal value of exercise.”

In-your-face statement
“There’s such a thing as good pain.” Robert Davis is referring to DOMS, the  delayed-onset muscle soreness that comes after exercise, but that opener is counter-intuitive enough to grab attention.

Thought provoker
“There’s no denying that running is one of the most democratic ways to work out.” Author Alexander Sifferlin explains that running can be done anytime, anywhere, with the only requirement being a good pair of running shoes and stamina. That opening line leaves readers wondering just why Sifferlin selected the unlikely descriptor “democratic” for exercise, and encourages them to keep reading to learn the answer.

Personal anecdote
“As I huffed and puffed up the subway stairs, trying to catch the elevated train to work one recent morning….” Blog readers respond to first and second person nouns. It can be highly effective to relate how you personally went through the same failure stages.

When you’re a blog content writing serving up many posts over time, all revolving around the very same general topic, how do you keep things different and engaging? It’s all in the opening lines!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

The post Opening Gambits in Blogging for Business appeared first on Say It For You.

In Business Blogs, Keep the Downbeat Upbeat

Orchestra conductor
In blogging for business, the last thing you’d want to be is “downbeat”. (One dictionary definition of “downbeat” is pessimistic, gloomy, negative, and fatalistic.). On the other hand, “downbeat” might be the very effect I want to achieve in order set the mood for my blog post. (The word “downbeat” is a musical term referring to the opening bars of the music, in which the composer sets the mood for the concerto to come.)

The equivalent in blog writing of an orchestra’s downbeat (the conductor’s baton is raised while a hush falls over the audience, then comes down to start the music) is the opening sentence of each post.

From a search engine optimization standpoint, of course, I want to use keyword phrases in the title and in the first sentence, because that helps search engines match my content with the search terms online readers use. Even more important, though, it’s imperative to make the first ten words of any post count.

“Great opening sentences are critical when you’re writing for the internet, where readers have the attention span of fruit flies,” John Hargrave of Mediashower.com says, citing a survey done by Microsoft of more than 2 billion page views, and found that users spend ten seconds on an average Web page On the other hand, the longer you retain them, researchers learned, the more likely they are to stay. At Media Shower, Hargrave says, “we train our writers to spend more time on the opening sentence than any other part of the article.”

Wayne Schmidt agrees. “Whether a story’s fifty words long or a hundred thousand, the most important passage is the opening paragraph. In the few seconds it takes to read it, most readers decide if finishing the tale is worth their time.” Start with a sentence that makes the reader ask a question, Schmidt suggests. (People hate unanswered questions.) It doesn’t have to be a literal question, just something that piques the reader’s curiosity.

Another approach for the “downbeat” is a “tease”, Michael Pollack suggests, withholding a key piece of information till later in the piece so the reader is compelled to keep reading. “What if I said that every TV network, movie, blog, book, and other forms of media use this same tactic?” Writing something that goes against the status quo or conflicts with conventional wisdom is another way to get attention, Pollack points out.

In business blogs, it’s downright important to keep the downbeat upbeat!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

The post In Business Blogs, Keep the Downbeat Upbeat appeared first on Say It For You.

Still More About Words to use in Blogging for Business

Words have power text on notepad
It’s the one lesson blog content writers can never afford to forget – the right words are our business blogging power tools. Sure, images (pictures, video clips, infographics) have power of their own.  But never forget that, in blogging, words matter, as Jennifer Olney of bealeader.com points out. Words are art, Olney emphasizes, and, as bloggers, we must “convey our message in words so that we can be understood without distraction”.

“Blogging has become the best possible way to leverage your online presence and gain traction with Internet searches performed by your potential clients.”(No surprise there, but what I did find surprising is the source of the remark – none other than the National Association of Realtors!)

 “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 Renee Evenson in “Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service.”  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.

Customers and clients talk to each other. “Research generally supports the claim that WOM (word of mouth marketing) can be more influential than print sources,”  An essential part of business blog marketing, I’m convinced, is “putting words in blog readers’ mouths”, helping them feel knowledgeable and in control in discussing the buying choices they’ve made with friends, neighbors and family.

“Building a successful word of mouth marketing machine is a dream for nearly every small business,” explains Chelsea Segal of Targetwise. “Word of mouth is about making your product and customer service so incredible that people can’t help but talk about it.”  Segal advises combing through what’s being said about you on various social media channels.  As blog content writers, we should look for congruence between the words customers use and the words we use to describe the product or service.

The words we use in our blog content, the words our clients use in talking to us and to others about us – it’s all about words.  The right ones are our business blog marketing power tools!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

The post Still More About Words to use in Blogging for Business appeared first on Say It For You.

Mythbusting Blog Content is More Than OK

OK

 

“There may be more stories about the origin of ‘OK’ than there are uses for it,” a Mental Floss magazine article points out. Writers have attributed it to:

  • the Haitian port Aux Cayes
  • a Puerto Rican rum labeled “Aux Quais”
  • the German alles korrekt
  • shipbuilders marking wood for “outer keel”
  • Civil War soldiers carrying signs for “zero killed”

The truth, as Allan Metcalf explains in OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word, is that the expression “OK” was born as a lame joke by the editor of the Boston Morning Post in 1839, meant to poke fun at poor spelling habits.

Today, Mental Floss points out, “OK” has become an all-purpose expression in dozens of languages, used as:

  1. an enthusiastic cheer
  2. an unenthusiastic rating of a movie or a meal
  3. a way to draw attention to a topic shift in conversation

What Metcalf has achieved is a myth debunk, and myth-debunking is one great use for business blogs. Many misunderstandings about a product or service present themselves in the natural order of business, in the form of questions and comments from readers and customers. Shining the light of day on that misinformation shines light on your own expertise.  If your blog post is well written, perhaps with a bit of tongue in cheek, it can offer enlightenment in a way that engages searchers and keeps them coming back.

In the process of debunking a myth, I tell business blog content writers, you can:

  • Offer little-known, interesting information related to your industry
  • Season that information with your own unique slant
  • Demonstrate the business owner’s or the practitioners’ knowledge and expertise

An important caution is in order when it comes to myth busting in blogs, however. As a blog writer, you want to use myth busting in your corporate blog to actually showcase (as opposed to showing off, or “showing up” your readers’ lack of knowledge).

So long as you keep that important caveat in mind, mythbusting blog content is more than OK!

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedintumblrmail

The post Mythbusting Blog Content is More Than OK appeared first on Say It For You.