How to Write a Blog for Your Business

Where do you start when sitting down to write a blog to market your business? Overcome whatever inertia is holding you back. You may only need a half hour to an hour to do this. You also need not be the greatest writer in the world – you just need to be good at writing.

In this blog, I will walk you through three basic steps to writing a blog.

  • Pick a topic and break it down into a series of related blogs
  • Aim to write about 500 words per blog
  • Edit yourself!

Blogging a Marketing Campaign

You have a lot to say; you built a better mousetrap and want the world to beat a path to your door. But, it’s complicated. Your business model is complex and your product’s value proposition is hard to explain in short order. This is why it is OK to give away some basic information for free. You are not giving away the farm, but instead getting people interested. Now, they view you as a resource and if you are good at what you do, they are more likely to buy. Speak from experience, use real-life examples to tell a story and paint the picture of what your product or service will do for them.

By stringing out a series of blogs under an umbrella topic you can showcase your product or service more in-depth. If you were selling mousetraps, you could first blog about why a breakthrough has been long overdue and highlight the simplest reason your product provides that. The next blog could be a quick history of how your product was developed and who is behind it. The third blog could be a customer experience story (how your product solved a problem for a customer). The fourth blog could overtly pitch the better mousetrap.

By mapping out a structure for yourself, you can easily write with purpose. Keep your audience in mind and write as it you are answering their questions:

  • What is this about?
  • Why do I care?
  • Why should I trust you?
  • Is this of value?

Always keep the writing fairly simple. You are not writing the Great American Novel. Speak as if your prospect is sitting across from you. The tone should be straightforward. Try not to get to casual or comedic; it’s still business.

Organizing Each Blog with Purpose

Create a roadmap or outline before you begin typing. I believe in the power of threes and usually set out a bulleted list of the three most important things I wish to convey. I developed this habit when I was a news reporter. I would come in fresh from an assignment and feel slightly overwhelmed by everything I gathered. My mind was awash with ideas. To get started, I would jot down the three most important aspects of the story. Then, I would ask myself, what is the lede (lede is news speak for lead sentence) that will hook the reader? It does not have to be sensational, but it needs to be interesting. Some ledes write themselves while others take some thought. Once you write that introduction and fill out the three sections, you will be amazed at how quickly you have written close to 500 words. Maybe you even ran over that amount.

Proofreading is Essential

To start editing yourself, take advantage of the tools in the program you are using. For instance, in Word, the tools menu includes word count. The red, squiggly underline will point out spelling errors. To catch other boo-boos, read your content from the bottom up. Print out the page and proofread the copy with fresh eyes and a pen to scratch out what’s wrong. Walk away for a few minutes and return with a critical eye. If you think it will help you, read it out loud. We often catch our own mistakes with a dramatic reading.

Pop question: did I follow my own advice with the structure and tone of this blog? Let me know what you think. Contact consultant Katharine Fraser.

News flash: Digital Marketing Should Be Specific

In the news business, editors write headlines to be a specific as possible to quickly convey the news and not leave room for ambiguity. They also do it to grab attention. A dull headline just won’t keep the attention of readers. This craft applies to digital marketing.

This practice must be applied to business marketing in the digital space as well. You don’t have much time or space to speak to your target audience. This is why you must be economical with your words. Pick precise words to quickly get your message across.

Remember, you are speaking to a specific audience, not mass media, so there is no need to speak to billions when your objective is to address millions or thousands. Be direct. People don’t have time to dillydally and will scroll past vague wording. A friend of mine is fond of noting “if you don’t say it straight, it comes out crooked.” Even if not crooked, indirect wording is a time waster. In reaching your selected audience, say something of value to them by being instructive with your content.

You are competing for attention in a crowded marketplace. Do you have a browser or two open right now? How many tabs are open? Are you looking at your phone too? digital marketingAll day long, there is a digital barrage of information flying at your audience. To hold their attention, you will need to project: authority, integrity and appeal. Your authority rests on your subject matter expertise. Stick to your knitting. Don’t get way off topic and try to appeal to too many people. For example, why are so many businesses using motivational slogans for self-improvement in their marketing of businesses that have nothing to do with self-improvement? Yes, I like #MondayMotivation, but I’m not clear on what it has to do with pastries, meteorology, animal rights, financial news, etc. We all know it’s a gimmick to rise in the pile of tweets by using that hashtag, but unless you are a motivational speaker or life coach, I would not use #MondayMotivation every Monday or in your Twitter profile. What are you selling? Build your online brand around that. If you sell pretzels, by all means go to town on #NationalPretzelDay, but for the most part most of us do not need to participate in every trending hashtag to garner attention.

When using technical language, elaborate with explanations in layman’s terms. Not only will you endear yourself to someone trying to quickly get up to speed on a topic, but you’re creating more searchable content with the synonyms.

Precise wording will appeal to people who don’t have time to mess around, such as decisionmakers. I just scrolled through my Twitter feed and saw a lot of mumbo jumbo and then two Tweets that were crystal clear. One was a writer seeking to interview ovarian cancer patients, and the other was about the latest debate over transgender rights. Did I click on them? No, but the next one is about business trip savings tips and that grabs my attention. What do these Tweets have in common? They are direct. They are specific. They are precisely worded.

For more communications consulting, contact Katharine Fraser.

 

Telling Your Business Story, Conveying Value Propositions

Websites and other digital content venues are living documents in which we communicate where we are going… together with our customers. Has your business model changed but not your content? Do you have new products, services or hires that clients and prospects should hear about in newsletters, on your website, social media, etc.? Then you need some new content.

Let me tell you how I go about my work as a business communications consultant. When I get a grasp of what a business is and how it works, then I want to write about it. The type of work I typically handle are blogs, other website content, social media and presentations.

What I do is tell a business story. Sometimes that is selling someone on an experience. For instance, the About Us section of a website should give someone the sense they have visited with your company in person and more importantly, that they want to buy from you.

Business stories should build confidence in the customer. When I covered Wall Street as a financial writer, the expression my editor used was “numbers tell the story.” I find out what metrics and other key indicators mean the most to you and your customers and make sure we get those points across to drive home your business story.

Enhancing communications, elevating the brand

I’ve worked on website launches where the client has a web designer who is expert in web development and SEO, but not a business writer. This is where I come in and craft unique content for that business that ensures all the key points and key words are addressed. This is not just writing for search engines, but writing for people and speaking in a voice conversant in your business culture.

Strong business writing is a specialty unto itself. My background covering a variety of businesses as a news reporter gives me a huge scope of expertise in different sectors. I can speak your business language and your customers’ language.

I interview the business principals to get in depth about what differentiates them, what their reputation is, what they are going after.

In one such conversation, I realized something major was missing from the initial website content. Turns out, a company has a star player who attracts business and that person’s name wasn’t on its website. I crafted paragraphs on this person and their contribution to the clients, and got that over to the web developer. If you had Google searched for that person in that business sector, I don’t think you would have found them at their new company.

In other cases, a business may be running on autopilot and remaining profitable with its existing customer base. And, it wants to reach new pools of customers. It’s time to rev up some fresh content targeted to those audiences. You don’t need to change everything. You are expanding on your messaging. It’s not a costume change. Instead, we can reach more people with added vocabulary. The new content can keep you engaged and relevant.

Tips for Better, Clearer Writing

The first one sounds simple, but I know professional writers who skip this step:

Edit yourself. Let’s use email as an example. This is not a quick glance through what you just banged out. Read the content from the bottom up – sentence by sentence – that’s how you catch the big oops you would have glossed over when glancing down to the end.

When approaching writing, especially a presentation, blog or new marketing material, some people may feel like Charlie Brown with the football. Every time they intend to write something, it is as if the blank screen is Lucy taunting Charlie Brown with a football kickoff. They intend to do it, but don’t want to flop on their back.

Reimagine your audience as your friendly neighbor over the fence. You cannot see his facial expression, but you know who they are, a nice guy, a smart guy. Let’s say he doesn’t know anything about your business – how would you explain the situation to him? You’d simplify it. You wouldn’t dumb it down, but you’d frame your business scenario in a way that would be clear, sensible and persuasive. Now, write down what you just said in that imaginary conversation and work from there! Most of the time, good writing is matter of a reflection. Or, as a good editor will tell you, “Think before you write!”

For more tips on better business communications or to obtain customized consulting, contact consultant Katharine Fraser.

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