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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In Business Blogs, Quotations Can Be a Good Idea

Quotation MarksHow good an idea is it to use quotations in your business blog? Very good, once you allow for certain caveats. You can use a quote to:

  • reinforce your point
  • show you’re in touch with trends in your field
  • add value for readers (by aggregating different sources of information in one business blog)
  • add variety to your material
  • add to the authority of your claims

In “How to Use Quotes in Your Speech”, Andrew Dlugan says that a quotation is more powerful than simply repeating yourself in different words. But Dlugan offers a caution I want to emphasize to business bloggers: Avoid closing your speech with a quote. “Your final words should be your own,” he cautions.

I agree.  Curating the work of others (bloggers, authors, speakers) is a wonderful technique for adding variety and reinforcement to your own content.  Remember, though, when it comes to writing marketing blogs, you’re trying to make your own cash register ring.  It’s your voice that has to be strong throughout the post, so readers will click through to your website or shopping cart. (In the case of Say It For You ghost blogging clients, the blog writer must become the voice of each business owner or professional practitioner.)

“Depending on how you deliver the quotation,” Andrew Dlugan adds, “you can create anticipation, suspense, or drama.”  (As much as I’d like to imagine otherwise, “Abraham Lincoln once said” or “Microsoft founder Bill Gates once said…”, will probably capture more attention than “I always say…”.)

Dlugan offers a couple of warnings:  a) Don’t use a quote that everyone knows: you’ll receive no benefit from repeating it. b) Don’t overdo.

In blogging for business, quotations can be a very useful tool!

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No Need for Those Serious, Sometimes Fatal Effects

Successful business illustration concept

“In recent months, the FDA has been talking with drugmakers, medical groups and consumer groups about ways to make (pharmaceutical) ads clearer and drive home the most important safety risks,” reports the Chicago Tribune on August 11th. As an example, reporter John Russell talks about Humira, the best-selling drug in the world, made by AbbVie of North Chicago.  While the video portion of the ad portrays an attractive, self-confident woman leading a very healthy and active lifestyle and modeling “that dress”, 35 seconds of audio informs viewers of all the “serious, sometimes fatal events” that can result from taking the drug.

While I’ll leave it to the FDA and the drug industry trade association to carry on their discussions about the optimal length of side effect warnings, I look at the issue from the point of view of a marketing content writer.

Just why do these ads, with 50% of their verbal content so negative, even frightening, work so well (at least well enough to entice pharma companies to keep shelling out millions of dollars to get them in front of consumers’ eyeballs)?

Science teaches us that visual content reaches our brains in faster and more understandable ways than textual (or auditory) information. 40% of nerve fibers to the brain are connected to the retina (and not to the ears), Felicia Golden of eyeQ.com reminds us. In the Humira commercial, the images of that attractive woman doing yoga or dressing for a date cancel out, in large part, the awful list of drug side effects. (In fact, that’s precisely the concern on the part of the FDA.)

The main message of a blog is delivered in words.  Where the visuals come in, whether in the form of “clip art”, photos, graphs, charts, or even videos, is to add interest and evoke emotion.  People absorb information better when it is served up in more than one form.

There’s a second phenomenon to explore for blog content writers, which appears to contradict what we noted in the power of the visual portion of the Humira ad. The “negativity bias” refers to our tendency to attend to, learn from, and use negative information far more than positive information.

My experience with reading and creating hundreds, even thousands of different blog posts over the years tells me that if we blog writers can go right to the heart of any possible customer fears or concerns by addressing negative assumption questions even before they’ve been asked, we have the potential to breed understanding and trust.

If there are misunderstandings or negative myths surrounding our products and services, let’s get those questions – including the ones the readers don’t even know how to ask – out on the table. In the final analysis, I’m convinced, positive messages pack more power than negative ones.

 

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8 Ways to Find the Right Words for your Business Blog

Open Dictionary And Reading Glasses“If you want to become a great writer, you need to understand how to choose words that will make your writing more vivid, precise, bold, original, and memorable,” says Stephen Wilbers in Writer’s Digest. People who write with authority,”Wilbers adds, “are people who pay attention to language.”

Wilbers offers 8 wordsmithing tips (every one of which we business blog content writers can put to good use):

  1. Be on the lookout for useful words.  That includes browsing the dictionary.  When you encounter a word you like, make it your own.  Consider its meaning and context and look for occasions to use it.
  2. Use a thesaurus to remind yourself of alternate ways to express an idea.
  3. Be as specific as possible.  Effective writing, Wilbers says, draws it energy from specificity, not from abstractions and generalities.
  4. Appeal to readers’ all five senses.
  5. Opt for action verbs rather than abstract nouns.
  6. Don’t trust modifiers.  Even when meant to intensify, they can diminish.  Try the sentence without it.
  7. Avoid sexist language.  Instead of “his”, “her”, or “his/her”, use plural subjects.  “Good managers know their strengths and weaknesses.”
  8. Use natural language as opposed to formal or fancy language.

To keep blog posts both short and powerful, pay attention to word choice.  As Wilbers puts the matter, that can make the difference between “hooking your audience or pushing the reader away”!

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Don’t-Worry-We-Organized-Them-For-You Blogging for Business

Cleopatra

“Turns out someone left a whole world of ridiculously interesting facts out there. Don’t worry! We organized them for you,” Mental Floss magazine editors assure readers. How? Well in the May-June issue, seemingly diverse pieces of information are organized by tens:

“10 Ways Beauty Gave History a Makeover: covers pharma discoveries based ancient Egyptians’ eye makeup to Winston Churchill’s meeting with women’s magazine editors to frame the wartime rationing of textiles as the new stylish and patriotic fashion in dress, while “10 Services You Never Knew You Needed” discusses gift certificates for unusual services, from lawn-mowing goats to grandma rentals.

Using a unifying theme to organize different pieces of information is called chunking. Chunking is, in fact, a good way for business bloggers to offer technical information in easily digestible form.

Just as the Mental Floss editors took separate anecdotes from history, and separate units of product descriptions relating them to a unifying theme, bloggers can use chunking to show how individual units of information about their industry or business are related, perhaps in ways readers hadn’t considered.

Mental Floss is also using the “list” technique that is so very useful in freshening up blog post content: Starting with one idea about your product or service, put a number to it, such as “2 Best Ways To …,”  “3  Problem Fixes to Try First….”, or “4 Simple Remedies for…”

The point of the “lists”, of course, is to demonstrate ways in which your product or service is different, and to provide valuable information that engages readers and makes the information easy to grasp and retain.

In every business or profession, there’s no end, it seems, to the technical information available to consumers on the Internet. It falls to us business blog content writers, though, to break all that information down into chewable tablet form, helping readers make sense out of the ocean of information available to them.

Looking for information on a particular topic? Don’t worry, business owners can reassure their blog readers – we organized it for you!

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Going for Words that Sell in Business Blog Writing

Words That Sell book

 

I like calling attention to books I’ve come across that are must-reads for business blog content writers, and Words That Sell, by Richard Bayan certainly falls in the must-read category. Words, after all, are our basic tools in conveying our business message to online readers.

After all, as I remember social media consultant Jason Falls commenting way back in 2009, when he discussed with business owners why they wanted to use social media, the answers came down to one thing – selling more stuff.

On the other hand, as business coach Jack Klemeyer pointed out, going directly to the selling stage without first satisfying all the prerequisites such as establishing rapport and gaining a complete and mutual understanding of the client’s needs is probably going to mean failure. Plus,
“Online marketing is about help, not hype,” Mitch Meyerson writes in the book I highlighted earlier this week in my blog.

It’s important, then, to find word that do some of the selling for us, and that’s where Bayan’s tips and categories can be so useful to us content creators.

Open with a challenge:

  • Prepare yourself for…..
  • Beware of….
  • Join the…..
  • Recapture the…..
  • Take a deep breath and…..
  • For once in your life…..

Appeal to their sense of belonging:

  • You’ll stay in the loop….
  • You’ll be privy to….
  • You’ll join the ranks of…..
  • You’ll feel the warmth of….
  • You’ll build strategic alliances….
  • Take part in….

Avoid wordiness:

  • Instead of “at the present time”, say “now”
  • Instead of “on the grounds that”, say “because”
  • Instead of “be in receipt of”, say “get”
  • Instead of “during the time that”, say “while”
  • Instead of “make use of”, say “use”
  • Use provocative question openers:

Use provocative question openers:

  • Have you thought about….
  • Are you drowning in a sea of…..
  • What’s the most effective way to…..
  • Did you ever ask yourself…

Go for words that sell in your business blog writing!

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Your Blog Has Three Jobs: Solve. Excite. Speak

 

Frong Prince lipstick

“Things aren’t always what they seem. Sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs before your find your prince!” Those rather unoriginal observations are attributed to Poppy King, founder of Lipstick Queen, the company that gets heads turning with Frog Prince, “a remarkable lilypad green lipstick that transforms lips into a pretty rosebud pink”.

I’m not exactly into the green lipstick thing, but I do absolutely love the statement I heard Poppy make during an Evine TV promotion:

“Every company,“ Poppy said, “has three jobs to do:

  • Solve the problem.
  • Excite the imagination.
  • Speak the truth.”

As profound a statement as I believe I’ve ever heard in a sales pitch, Poppy’s words certainly apply to the work we do as business blog content writers.

Solve the problem.
People are online searching for answers to their problems and solutions for dilemmas they’re facing.  If your business consistently posts content offering valuable information and advice, those people are going to find you and  at least some will want to become your customers..

Excite the imagination.
Readers came online searching for information, products, or services, and they are not going to take the time to read the full text of your blog post without assurance that they’ve come to the right place and that this will be a short, fast, exciting read. Use the title to establish a “hook” to excite visitors’ imagination.

Speak the truth.
Myth debunking is a great use for corporate blog content. That’s because in the natural course of doing business, misunderstandings about a product or service often surface in the form of customer questions and comments.

Your blog has three jobs:  Solve. Excite. Speak.

 

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Stop Asking for More in Business Blogs

 

Hand writing A to Z with marker, business concept
“The more information you offer to people, the more likely they’ll be confused.  When people are confused, they don’t become customers,” warns Neil Patel in his quicksprout.com blog.

I couldn’t help remembering those words while enjoying the humor in a recent Dilbert comic strip. Carol’s  babysitter canceled, but Wally said “I will not watch your kids tonight.” “I was going to ask you to adopt them,” Carol said.  “Absolutely not,” Wally says. “The best I can do is watch them tonight.” This seems to demonstrate that, if you ask for a lot more than you want, you might get the customer to agree to what you really wanted in the first place.

Sorry, folks, that just won’t work in blog content writing.

What can work, says kissmetrics.com, is, in your marketing message, teaching your leads how to move as close as possible to Z (the point they want to reach) before you ask for their money or their commitment. The closer you get them on the road from A to Z, the more likely they are to buy from you in order to go the final few steps needed to arrive at their desired end result.

Even more powerful, advises kissmetrics, is using the pain motivator, showing your prospects all the dangers on the road from A to Z, and how your product or service is the weapon they need to defeat those dangers and discomforts.

In “Say This, Not That”, Christine Georghiou advises salespeople to justify a request or statement with the word “because”.  That word immediately answers the question on every prospect’s (and every online reader’s) mind – “What’s in it for me?”

Your team will love our software because we offer email response tracking.

“Emphasize value over price when presenting your product,” adds Georghiou. Value is results-oriented, and results are precisely what you want the prospect to be pondering, not price (which highlights what he/she will lose).

As a trainer in corporate blogging, there’s another reason I think the Dilbert ask-for-more-than-you-want technique would fail miserably in blogs:  Carol doesn’t like sitting for his own kids, but is trying to get someone else to want to do it. Blog content is at its most compelling when the writer is immersed in the lifestyle whose participants they’re trying to attract as customers. “It’s not an essential key to a successful business but it does help that you are immersed in the lifestyle of it, says Steve Watts on Shopify.com.

Stop asking for more in business blogs; focus, instead, on moving prospects closer to Z!

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Tips on Business Writing for Bloggers – Part B

 

All Or Nothing Keys Meaning Entire Or Zero

This week, I’m sharing Susan Adams’ “Ten Tips on Business Writing”, offered in Forbes Magazine, with my Say It For You readers (again, I’ve added my own thoughts in italics):

Start by asking yourself what you want the person to do as a result of reading this post.
Each business blog post should impart one new idea or call for a single action. 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.

Avoid using big $10 words because you want to sound intelligent.
Unfortunately, as a blog content writing trainer, I see a lot of the kind of overused buzzwords hiring expert Carina Chivulescu sees on resumes, such as “best of breed”, or “results-driven”. “Employers want to see words and phrases that clearly and succinctly define your skills, experience, and accomplishments,” Chivulescu explains. That’s precisely the type of words and phrases your business blog readers need to find when they visit your site.

(The last three of Susan Adam’s tips have to do with English grammar)

Choose pronouns wisely. “Send the memo to Bob and myself’” is incorrect.                                                                                                           Think how you would word the sentence if you removed mention of other people. In fact, as “Grammar Girl” Mignon Fogarty points out, the pronouns a writer chooses, she explains, set the point of view and the tone of a passage. 

Know when to use “that” and “which”.                                                                                                                                                                           “Which” introduces extra information and it isn’t essential to the first clause. In a sentence such as “Computers are the only products that we sell,” the clause “that we sell” is essential to the meaning of the sentence, so the correct word is “that”.

Affect is a verb meaning “to influence.” “Effect” is a noun that means “result.”
What’s the big deal? Grammar mistakes in content writing for business call attention away from the kind of impression we intend to make on behalf of our businesses or professional practices. 
Would your latest blog post pass the Ten-Tip test?

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