One of the things I do in my work at the 7 Graces Project is help people market their businesses through blogging and social media platforms. Unfortunately, many articles I receive from clients suffer from the same tragic flaw: they are primarily about the person writing them, when they should be about the person reading them. There are at least 3 ways this tends to show up:
- The article is a stream of consciousness. It seems to have been ‘downloaded’ wholesale from the author’s mind without going through any kind of filter. Because it says more about what is going on in the author’s head than about what the reader wants to read, it is impossible for anyone (other than the author) to follow.
- The article is littered with personal stories from the author’s life. Stories are great if they help to illustrate a concrete point, but all too often the author makes little or no attempt to connect these stories to the subject of the article or to the reader’s experience.
- The author assumes an unrealistic level of understanding on the part of the reader. If an author uses jargon or non-conventional language without explaining it within the context of the article, or if an author makes intellectual leaps between ideas without joining the dots so that the reader can see the connection, it leaves the reader completely on his/her own to guess (or make up!) the meaning of what the author is trying to say.
Apart from the fact that these authors lack a clear structure that keeps them ‘within the lines’ of what a good blog article should look like (you can read one of Lynn Serafinn’s articles on how to structure your blog posts here), the key thing they are missing is reader-focus. So, in this article, I want to talk about putting your reader at the heart of your blog posts.
It’s for Them AND for You.
Here’s the hard truth about use blogging as part of your marketing strategy:
It’s primarily for your benefit, NOT your reader’s!
I know this might sound contradictory, when I just said that good articles should be reader-focused, so let me explain. While your content needs to provide value and information to your audience, the ultimate purpose of using blogging as a marketing strategy is to promote your business and get clients/make sales. Thus, it is your responsibility to get your readers’ attention and keep it. That means you must not expect your readers to work too hard. If you want someone to keep reading to the end of your blog post – and hopefully read other articles and come back for more later – you have to make it easy for them. This means you need to have to plan a smooth journey.
FIRST: Decide on the destination
Before you even start writing, get really clear about what you want to tell your reader and why. Know where they are starting from and decide where you want to take them. Ask yourself:
- Who is my audience (who am I writing for)?
- What does my audience want/need to know about today?
- What expertise do I have that addresses this ‘want’ (what is my business)?
SECOND: Plan your route
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can then decide how you are going to get to your chosen destination. You need to plan the shortest possible route to get there and decide, in advance, what you will point out along the way. Don’t throw in the whole kitchen sink; just include the bits that are most interesting and relevant to your audience.
Here’s an example to show what I mean. There’s a game show on BBC Radio in the UK called ‘Just a Minute’ where contestants have to talk for a minute ‘without hesitation, deviation or repetition’ on a subject that is given to them. It’s very funny and definitely worth a listen. This should also be your goal when you write a blog (ok, ‘hesitation’ is probably not really that relevant, but I like the analogy so, indulge me here!):
- No deviation – this means avoid going off on tangents. Stick to the planned route.
- No repetition – make sure that each sentence says something new, not the same thing as the last sentence but in a slightly different way. If your first sentence wasn’t clear enough then expand it or take it out.
THIRD: Walk Your Reader through Your Thought Process
Once you have your destination and your route planned out, you can finally start writing. This is when you take your reader by the hand and walk them through your thought process, like so:
- INTRODUCTION: What the problem is that you will be addressing in this article? Why is it of interest to your audience? Why should they take the time to read what you have to say?
- MAIN BODY: What is your proposed solution to this problem? How can they apply it in their lives, businesses or relationships?
- SUMMARY: What do you want your readers to have learned from reading your article? How can they take this topic further (e.g., contact you, enrol on a course, buy your book, etc.)?
Staying on Course throughout Your Article
- Always remember that your readers do not live in your head and do not have a window into the workings of your mind. You need to guide them step-by-step, showing them the connections you are making and explaining why these connections are important to them. Just because it’s obvious to you does not automatically mean anyone else gets it.
- Always keep it simple. Choose just one subject for your article and stick to it.
- Avoid the use of jargon, and be sure to explain any words you are using in a way that could be ambiguous or open to misinterpretation.
- Use stories only to illustrate the points you are making. Stories should be the shortest bits of your articles. Use them to set the scene by all means, but always remember that your stories are tools; they are NOT the main point of the article (one example is how I told the story of the BBC Radio show above).
- Keep your language, punctuation and structure clear and simple. Use only one idea per sentence. When you try to include several ideas into one sentence, you will have to use more commas, colons and semi-colons and your message will lose clarity. If your reader has to run their finger along the lines in order to follow what you are saying then they are working too hard!
Blogging is an extremely useful (and ethical) marketing tool when your articles are well-written, well-structured and reader-focused. Your blog articles should inspire people to read right to the end of your article, browse through other articles you’ve written, and come back to read more in the future. Soon they’ll look forward to reading your new posts, having come to trust they will always be interesting and informative. As they develop this trust, they will be more likely to share your content with others, which helps spread the word and build your network.
With time, as people get to know you and your message through your blog, they will be likely to think of you when they’re looking for products or services in your line of business (especially if you include a call to action at the end of every post). And that’s when blogging becomes an effective marketing tool that promotes your services and products without any real ‘sellling’ at all.
Blogging is at the core of our own marketing strategy – and our training and consultancy services – here at the 7 Graces Project. If you’re an ethical, independent business owner or you operate a social enterprise, and you’re looking for assistance to help grow your business platform through effective use of blogging and social media, drop us a line via the contact form on the 7 Graces website so we can discuss your needs.
29th November 2013
Nancy V Goodyear is business mentor & life coach who loves to help social entrepreneurs and small business owners get focused and organised. With a BA (Hons) in Learning Disability Nursing, she has extensive professional experience working in health & social care within the non-profit sector. She is fluent in French, having lived in France for some time, and is a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute and the Co-Active Leadership programme. Nancy is also Co-Director of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a non-profit social enterprise that provides training and mentorship in ethical marketing to independent business owners, social entrepreneurs and change-making corporates. She works closely with 7 Graces Founder Lynn Serafinn to develop training and consultancy packages for business owners seeking to build and develop their marketing platform ethically. Her over-riding aim in all her work is to help others reconnect to who they and to their business. http://nancyvgoodyear.com
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Find out more about how changing the paradigm can help make the world a better place:
The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing.
Brit Writers Awards Finalist
eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically, by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media.
eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)