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Three Essential Considerations Before You Blog in 2016

If you want your business blogging efforts to be well rewarded in 2016, you’d better be on the top of your game. It’s no secret: there is a wider choice of content online than ever before, and your prospect needs a compelling reason to choose your company blog over the myriads of others out there.  Even though a blog is an opportunity for potential customers to see for themselves your expertise and ability without first parting with any hard-won dollars, there is still a cost for them to read what you have published. That cost is the most precious of all human resources – time.

Their time is precious. To make it even more difficult, the ubiquitous smartphone, a relentless 24/7 news cycle, and the siren call of social media means they are also more distracted than ever. To hold their attention, your business blog needs to deliver real value.

If all of this sounds a bit intimidating, fear not. To make it as simple as possible to ensure business blogging success in the New Year, I’ve broken it down into just three things you need to consider before you start typing.  Sound good? Great. Let’s leap right in!

Consideration One: Your Audience

Vague, meandering posts that seek to please everyone, upset no one, and appeal to as wide an audience as possible will rarely get a good response. To be successful in blogging now, think super-targeted, with a laser focus on a narrow demographic – your business’s core customer, model client, the type of buyer your business most wants to attract.

This is powerful. The majority of blog content that gets put out is meaningless corporate waffle, studied by almost no one. By taking the time to think about your audience, you will open up a clear difference between the content that you produce and that which your competitors are likely churning out.

Here are some of the reasons why this works so well:

  1. It’s specific. No longer do we want generic solutions to our problems. We want targeted, super-specific resolutions. The internet has made us that way.
  2. It’s SEO-friendly. This is an extension of point number 1. When the world’s biggest search engine has their publicly stated mission as “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” it naturally follows that a blog post that addresses a very specific issue will be rich in keywords related to that issue. Provided it’s not a topic that already generates thousands of new pages of content each day, this should be enough for you to start getting organic search results leading to your blog – provided it is set up in an SEO-optimized format.
  3. It appeals to our emotions. We love to read blogs of organizations we agree with. It reinforces our view of the world. A well-targeted blog post finds an echo deep in the reader’s consciousness, as he or she feels like the writer is on the same side, fighting the same kind of issues, having similar experiences.
  4. It gets a negative reaction. Hold on there! Surely that’s the last thing you want? Not so fast – if your business blog is edgy enough to attract some kickback, to stir some reaction, you can be sure it will be shared a lot more, and possibly even attract publicity in the media. You must maintain complete professionalism of course, and your aim should never be to “shock for the sake of it” – but don’t be afraid to take a contrary position to established or received wisdom on a matter. You will stir some debate, and even those that don’t agree with you will respect you for having the boldness to state your company position on a matter passionately and clearly.

So think about your audience. Create an avatar of your target reader, give him or her a name, think about their lifestyle, their business concerns, what keeps them awake at night. This will give you a rich list of options for topics sure to hit the spot when you start your blog post!

Consideration Two: Your Purpose

Why are you doing it?  Just because you noticed your competitors are doing it and thought you should too?   Just because you love to share your thoughts online?!

No, you need to get more specific about your purpose for this blog post before you begin to type. Write out some simple goals that you would like this blog post to achieve for your business.   This will help you in two ways: it assists with the writing of the post, (you can even use each goal as a subheading) and it will also serve as a useful checklist before you go to publish to ensure that you included everything that will ensure it is genuinely useful for your reader.

Think about goals from both the perspective of the reader and yourself.  For the reader, there has to be a reward for them to spend the time reading your blog. Let’s face it, it is unlikely that your reader is someone shut in a remote location, with nothing but your blog to pass the time of day!

The reward can take several forms, for example:

  1. Teaches a business lesson (e.g. “This Cloud Computing Mistake Almost Took Down The Pentagon”)
  2. Shares a personal experience (story-telling – we humans love to hear stories!)
  3. Entertains the reader (amusing, interesting, bizarre, unusual)
  4. Gives a step-by-step guide to achieving something, (e.g. “How to Become a Self-Published Author in 10 Steps”)

For you, there must be some “measurables” – some way of gauging how much of a success your blog post has been after it is published. It could be social shares, email newsletter signups, sales leads, entries to a prize draw….whatever the measurable, make sure it is documented before you start to type. Again, you can use this both as a support when writing your post and as a checklist once done, to make sure that your business blog post is optimized with the purpose in mind.

Consideration Three: Your Tone

I’ve seen so many company blogs fall into the trap of using the wrong tone. It’s as fatal as snakebite for the long-term prospects of your business blogging efforts in 2016.  Before you begin, review your avatar, and consider the type of language he or she would use. Consider the terminology, the expressions, the words that would be part of their daily lexicon.

By now, you should know what I’m going to recommend next. That’s it – make a list! Start a document with a bullet-point list of all the words you hear your clients use. Even if they are words that you are already using in your day to day speech, you should still make this list, and encourages others on your team to contribute to it also.

This is business blogging dynamite! Almost no one is doing this. The reason? Because to some ears, it sounds un-academic – it may even make certain types of reader look at your business as over-simplified. In almost any field of business, however, you can safely ignore the blogging critics that suggest you should use a high-brow, complex, corporate, artificial tone. OK, if your target audience is high-end lawyers, maybe your business blog will need an equally high-end tone, but the point here is that you should consider your audience carefully and select the right tone to communicate most effectively with them.

By using their own terminology and phraseology, you will be connecting with your audience at an intimate and personal level. Your business blog post will be read (all the way through!) by more of your audience, and at a conscious or a subconscious level, they will not fail to be impressed by your company’s tone.  The tone is largely set by the type of language used, but it is also important to think of business blogging as a conversation. Imagine your prospect were in the room. How would you describe the topic of your blog post to them?

When you are writing your business blog posts in the same way that you talk to your clients when face to face or over the phone, you will display a constancy. Again, this will be noticed at some level by everyone that deals with you. It’s what makes your company brand so powerful – consistency at every level.

That concludes our post for today. Hopefully you enjoyed it and found it useful. Why not share it with someone in your network?

Just a final thought, I hope you have some fun with your business blog. There are so many opportunities to let your personality shine through when writing! Even though you are blogging for business, you are dealing with humans, not robots, and a strong personality will always outshine a weak one.