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September 2018

How Do I Blog You? Let Me Count The Ways…

Perhaps you blog for your business. Or post weekly to social media. Have you ever run out of ideas on what to post? Wonder what to say that’s new?

 

It’s something we social media folks all run into from time to time. So here are a few interesting ways to post material for your blog, Instagram, Twitter feed, or even email outreaches to customers that will not only keep them reading, but looking for more from you.

 

It all breaks down into format, really – how you present the info. Pique your reader’s interest by offering a how-to, teasing out a list, providing new ways to use something, or provide an interesting opinion. The best part of this is that you can upcycle something you have previously talked about by offering the information in a brand new format.

 

Here’s our “how to” list:

 

  • The how to — 
Teach the reader something. “21 radical ways to use your yoga mat,” or “The single most effective way to train your puppy.” You get the idea. Use an attention-getting adjective in the headline. Make it simple to follow.
  • The list — 
Offer your readers the most interesting selection of ideas, tips, suggestions, or resources out there. Keep the copy snappy and to the point.
  • The review — 
People like to know what others think about a product or process they use. Writing a review or testimonial offers an informed opinion that will be of interest to them. Use plenty of quotes. Photos add even more appeal.
  • The oped – Much like the review, you are offering insight from a personal perspective about something. In this case, however, the person offering the commentary is a trusted source that isn’t you. And outside source, a famous person, or maybe (gasp!) even a competitor.
  • The interview – This is written by you, interviewing someone relatable to your audience. Perhaps that’s a client, or an outside source, or maybe the inventor of your product. You get to guide the direction of the chat, and add your thoughts.

 

So, let’s say about a year ago, you wrote a blog about a new business innovation. Looking back through your blog, you realize that the information in that blog is still very relevant. So, use the information but present it as How-to, or List, or even interview the inventor of that product, and get his take on how the product has changed the way customers now do business (the Interview).

 

Presto! Fresh new blog!

 

See what we mean? Same info. Different presentation. Even though the overall topic is the same, there is a virtually endless variety of ways the subject matter can be tweaked to make a new blog post.

Cool!

 

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Taking Your Blog To The Next Level

It doesn’t take much to set up a blog on your website. It is quite a bit more difficult to find someone who knows how to write well for the media and do it with consistency, thoroughness and accuracy.

 

The real challenge comes when you discover how to use blogging as the actual tool it is meant to be, (1) to help you become easier to find on Google and (2) improve reader engagement on social media. After all, a great blog can be the ticket to change a passive reader to become an active loyal customer.

 

So how do you go from “let’s start blogging,” to attracting a devoted following and seeing search results tick steadily upward?

 

At Focal Point, we’ve been blogging for years. We’re here to tell you that nothing happens overnight. Even the best blogs take time and practice before getting noticed for the right reasons.

 

That said, we do have a few suggestions for you to help that search curve trend upward a little faster:

  • Research what your blog competitors are saying. Read their stuff and do a little analysis. What are they writing about? Who is writing their blogs (First person? Guest bloggers? Testimonials?)
  • Blogging is an extension of you – your brand. Is your brand just one thing, seen in only one way? Of course not. Be open to how you are blogging. There is a lot to be learned from bloggers in related industries. Consider hiring a guest blogger (or even a customer) now and again.
  • Apply writing or research strategies from other successful blogs into your own. How do they structure their blogs? Listen to their voice and identify their writing style.
  • Make sure your blog personality matches your readers’. Folksy and down-to-earth or technical and savvy, humorous or full of breaking news. If you know your readers, you’ll know what they want to hear and more importantly, how they want to hear it.
  • Once you have done your research, fine-tune your blog style. So, even if you occasionally use a guest blogger, your usual reader can tell the blog is your blog.

 

Nobody likes criticism, but –

Once you have figured out how you are writing and what you want to say, make sure you use the services of a keen editor. It’s rare to find a writer than can also edit his or her own work.

 

If you are blogging for your own company, this goes double. You may believe you know how to reach your customers, and think you know how to write effectively. But – be open to the idea that you may be wrong about both A and B.

 

You need thick skin. Ask others you trust to look at and check your work before you send it out. This is a terrific opportunity to get some open and honest feedback about your work. Accepting constructive criticism from others about structure, flow and style is the best way to learn from mistakes, tighten up your content and get better at what you write.

 

Lastly, don’t stop.

 

It takes awhile for your blog site to do its job. If after posting multiple blogs, you (or your corporate blogger) find you cannot consistently produce good blogs, hire someone to do that for you.

 

We hear from companies all the time with the best intentions that let their blogging ‘voice’ go by the wayside. They leave their (dated) blogs out on the website and let them die there – showing the world they gave up. And really, that’s the last thing you want your potential clients to think of you – that you stopped caring.

 

Blogging does take time and energy. It does take awhile to produce results. Do it anyway. Sometimes that means hiring a seasoned blogging professional, like us. We can help you find your ‘voice,’ achieve consistency and get the search results you want.

 

Shall we talk?

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How Do Folks Respond To Your Marketing Efforts?

According to business guru Seth Godin, marketing efforts can be separated into two very different categories (https://seths.blog/2018/08/two-kinds-of-marketing/).

 

He divides marketing and advertising into those that inspire, delight and provide something we want – versus the kind that potential clients positively hate, such as interruptive popups, spam, high-pressure overtures, and overpriced hype.

 

Here at Focal Point, we couldn’t agree more. We frequently scratch our heads over pricey marketing campaigns we see that miss their mark because they over-promise, hit too hard, look like everyone else, or fail to leave a lasting positive impression.

 

There are all kinds of ways to attract new eyes to products and services. So why be offensive and in-your-face to gain attention when you can generate interest, enthusiasm and good will with marketing that is noticeably different.

 

As Godin says, “The selfish marketer is marketing at us, trading money for attention to sell average (or below average) products to disinterested people. The successful marketer is marketing with us and for us.”

 

If the end goal is strictly improving sales numbers, then getting your name out in front of people – no matter how its done – might well justify the means. But if you are interested in creating goodwill around your business and products, your goal is more long-term. You want repeat business and perhaps even (depending on your business) creating customers for life.

 

This means giving your audience something they can trust. Marketing that is believable and respectful, delivered in a way that is effective, responsible and memorable.

 

This type of marketing is tricky to get just right. But when it is, you know it and your customers know it. It hits the mark and leaves a smile or a good impression.

 

So how do folks respond to your present marketing efforts? If you don’t know for sure, or feel you might be heading in the wrong direction, we have some delightful examples we’d enjoy sharing with you.

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Dare To Defy Convention

Who comes to mind when you think about marketing strategies that defied convention?

 

  • Steven Jobs with Apple
  • Certainly the Volkswagen print ads of the 60s
  • Old Spice “The man your man could smell like” TV commercials
  • Proctor & Gamble’s “Thank you, moms” Olympics video
  • Dos Equis “The world most interesting man” campaign
  • Dove’s print series for “Real beauty”

 

You probably can picture each of these. They were memorable for breaking the rules. They gained recognition because they defied conventional marketing in some way. They looked at things differently. Or said or did the unexpected.

 

Taking the unbeaten path rather than the quick route is liberating. But that’s because you take a risk in saying, doing or picturing something in a very different way.

 

Turning the usual on its head, so to speak, is energizing. It’s also risky. After all, you could get it wrong.

 

For all the campaigns listed above, chances are very good that there were multiple tries for each strategy that didn’t work. That missed the mark. Those that worked found the sweet spot of heartfelt sincerity, as in P&G’s “Thank you” video. Or said something quirky and completely over the top, as in Old Spice and Dos Equis. Or questioned our values very visually, as Dove did. And of course Apple famously turned everything on its head, from innovation to marketing.

 

How can you get off of the safe and reliable path and onto producing marketing materials that are memorable and get talked about?

 

The easy answer is “take the unexpected route” with something that is funny, off beat, brilliant, or charming. Of course, how to get there is a whole different story.

 

The good news is that it is less expensive than ever to use social media to explore what works and what doesn’t. Shooting and editing video is more direct and faster than ever before. You can tweet a new tag line out and get immediate feedback before launching an expensive campaign.

 

Technology has made defying convention a breeze. You just need to be able to stop taking the safe route, take a deep breath, and open up to the possibility of different.

 

Marshall McLuhan said, “Historians and archaeologists will one day discover that the ads of our time are the richest and most faithful daily reflections any society ever made of its whole range of activities.”

 

Question why you are presenting your services and goods in the way you are. Talk about the strangely curious aspects of your widgets. Invite different folks to your marketing table and gain new insight.

Then apply this new thinking to everything you do, from sales strategies to HR, product innovation to marketing new categories.

 

So — yes, project and reflect your organization’s values in unexpected, irreverent, exuberant, thoughtful, wild, and colorful ways. Why not? Taking an unexpected route just may open up a whole new path for you, your customers and your organization.

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