You’ve seen them – the blog articles that are just fluff with a sales pitch. “You too can make millions. Buy my system, and get started today!” Or it’s like a book, but it doesn’t ever tell you what to do with this knowledge. I’m always telling my clients to blog, but how to write effectively for a business blog – well, that’s not always obvious.
Sometimes, the slice of life is the best way to get a point across. As an internet marketing consultant, I do a bit of consulting not only for my clients, but for writers of marketing copy. This slice is what I told a writer I employ:
1. A good intro is light but sharp, like a good appetizer: We all know an intro is fluff – in blog posts, most people use it just to be sure they’re on the right topic. That’s what it’s for, but if it’s too long, drawn out, and elaborate, they’ll think it’s going to be all garnish and no meal, like so much empty marketing or spam, and they’ll quit reading. Make it “punchy fluff“. Don’t say “can be more difficult than anticipated” – say “can be rough”. Punchy fluff is like social niceties – we want the please and thank you but usually don’t need “I greet you with great gratitude, and humbly beg your pardon”. Punchy fluff – instead of “No one can disagree that recent sales comparables are the most important part.” – go with “Recent sales are all-important.” Writers talk about using the “active voice” and being concise – for the rest of us – just don’t put them to sleep at the beginning of the movie.
2. What comes after the intro has to be red meat. A lot of writers I’ve hired can’t deliver the meat – it’s all fluff. Dig down a bit. Go for the details, but don’t show off your knowledge with scholarly details. Knowledge that can’t be acted on is bad marketing. You want blog posts designed to get the client in the door (or on the phone), but give them a way to initiate that conversation with information and their own questions. Pure fluff won’t do that. With business blogging, we’re not publishing for the sake of publishing articles – it’s not a magazine (except when it is) – but you also can’t sell anything unless you give something away – so it’s got to be real information, not just all another way to pitch. Most marketing people don’t get that.
3. The conclusion is an action item. Here’s where you sell it or blow it. The adage for English majors is restate what you’ve stated. That’s great for an informative essay. For marketing copy, the goal is to prompt action, a specific action and one fallback action (always give them a choice), but without it being cheesy like “So call or log on now for the best mortgage options…” You need just one summary sentence in this kind of writing, and then you need to get intimate with the audience a bit, and say something like:
“Get your broker involved in making the decision. I’m available, if you’d like to come in for a consult – call first to make sure I’m not out closing for someone just then. Or call me on the cell to make an appointment, so we can put the big questions to rest and get some numbers on paper for you.”
Adding Woot: Give away solid, valuable information and advice – don’t try to sell absolutely everything – the internet has changed our expectations – you have to give us something for free – fairly consistently. But with that contribution, include a prompt to action (“get your broker involved“), be intimate but not pushy (“I’m available“), provide a choice of on how to proceed “come in for a consult or call for an appointment“. What you’re really selling, to someone reading your blog, is added value.
Look, most of us are products of adequate or perhaps even good English educations – but those didn’t (not when we were in school) make us effective marketers or bloggers. I was a magazine editor for a number of years before becoming a marketing consultant. I’ve been published a bit (pseudonymously), and I’ve written quite a bit of copy – more than the collective output of some small schools. Political writing, marketing, or fiction – in my experience you tell people they’re getting on a ride, you make the ride worth the admission (worth their time), and then you ask them to connect with you or think or act differently – perhaps even change the world but, at least, to take the next logical step. Write that way, and you can blog your business, your life, or whatever else you’re doing.
Now, yes, go write something. Update your blog, you lazy crumb! (just kidding). But not about writing something – that’s required. That’s right, go now. 🙂