I work with dozens of independent business owners to help them develop their online platforms. One of the cornerstones of their platforms is blogging. I believe blogging is a wonderful vehicle for new-paradigm marketing, as it enables us to provide rich content for the public while establishing our brand and expertise at the same time. It really is one of the best forms of ‘selling without selling’ I know.
Used correctly, your blog can be a tremendously powerful asset for your business. However, few people actually know how to use blogging correctly or understand where and how it fits within their business. Today, I’m going to touch upon both of these factors by exploring two critical points in your blog article that render it effective or ineffective:
- The beginning
- The ending
The subject of beginnings and endings is something I continually find myself working on with my clients. Mastering good beginnings and endings in your articles is contingent upon two things:
- Knowing what people want when they ‘knock at your door’
- Knowing what people want when they ‘leave your house’
So let’s look at each of these two vital elements of blogging in turn.
Beginning Your Article: Meeting Your Readers at the Door
When you sit down to write your article, it’s essential to take a moment to ask yourself, ‘What would someone type into Google if they were looking for this information?’ Being able to anticipate this question is what I call ‘Meeting Your Readers at the Door’.
Here’s an example of what I mean. Many of our clients have been in various areas of the holistic wellness world, such as naturopathy, fitness, etc. These clients are highly trained in their fields, and have very advanced understanding of their subjects. However, what I notice is that they will often launch into a subject with an assumption that their audience knows why it is important, or how different ideas may be linked.
For example, a naturopath may know that frequent colds and respiratory infections might be due to adrenal imbalances that have compromised the immune system. Because they already know this information, they may begin their article by immediately telling the reader how to restore adrenal balance. While ultimately this might be the information the reader needs to know, it’s not where most of them will be coming through the door. While some informed readers may be Googling the question, ‘How do I balance my adrenals?’ it is likely that the majority will be Googling a much more fundamental and immediately relevant question like, ‘Why do I keep getting sick?’
In this case, a good way to begin your article could be to talk about how, while many people get colds and flu in the winter, some people get long-lasting colds, coughs and respiratory infection many times a year, making them feel like they are always sick.
AFTER you have established that you understand their fundamental question, you can then move on to making the connection between that question and what you are going to talk about in the article. For example, your next few sentences would talk about how chronic health issues are often due to imbalances in the adrenal glands, and give a bit of scientific information on that.
Once you have done that, you will have successfully ‘met your readers at the door’ and told them they’re in the right place. Only then can you guide them ‘into your house’, i.e. begin talking about how to restore balance to their adrenals.
Closing Your Article: Knowing What Your Readers Want When They Leave
Assuming that you are actually an expert in your field and you know what you’re talking about, the middle part of your article will probably be the easiest for you to write. Of course, many will find it a challenge to write in a structured fashion or to explain things in language that is appropriate to their audience’s understanding, but let’s jump over those hurdles right now and talk about the end of your article.
I’ve spoken many times on this blog about being sure to include a ‘Call to Action’ (CTA) at the end of your blog articles. The challenge for many is they don’t often know what that means. Most old-school marketing and sales gurus will tell you that a CTA is where you tell people to ‘act fast’ and ‘buy now’. But new-paradigm marketing – especially in blogging – is different from the old-school approach. The primary difference is that old-school methods view all ‘leads’ as being equal, whereas the new-paradigm approach takes into account the different types of relationship we have with our audience at different points in our history with them.
While this is something we go into in depth in our 7 Graces ethical marketing courses, let me try to give you a brief understanding of it here. People have come to your blog via various channels. Some have found you via a Google search, while others may be connected with you on social media. Others (hopefully) have become your regular readers and loyal followers. All of these people have a different relationship with you.
Those who found you via a search don’t know you at all, while those who know you via social media may be only slightly acquainted with you. Those who are regular readers will know you, your brand and your message much better than the others. Statistically, far more of your blog visitors will be people who know you not at all or very little than people who are your ‘fans’ and loyal readers. It’s just the way marketing works.
Thus, a good CTA at the end of a blog post needs to take into account the journey your reader has just been on. Going back to our naturopath as an example, she met her readers at the door aware of and ready to answer their fundamental question, ‘Why do I keep getting sick?’ Hopefully, her readers got some great answers to this question within the main body of the article. So they’ve already been on a journey from not knowing anything to knowing something. They are in a different place from when they knocked on your door and entered your house. Now, when writing the ending of her article, the question she should be asking herself is…
‘What do my readers want NOW?’
One of my naturopath clients used to end her articles with ‘to learn more about…’ or ‘to understand more about…’ and then sent them either to another article, another website or (sometimes) a place where they could buy her book. But the problem with saying ‘to learn more’ is that it does NOT adequately address what her readers wanted right then and there. They’ve already found out what they wanted to know. What they want right NOW is advice on how to fix their original problem:
- They asked: ‘Why do I get sick all the time?’
- They learned: ‘My adrenals are out of balance.’
- They WANT: ‘Please help me balance my adrenals so I don’t get sick all the time!’
Once they’ve found out the answer to their question, most of her readers will not care about ‘learning more’. They are probably not all that interested in the nitty-gritty technical, scientific knowledge the naturopath has. Yes, they want to feel confident that the NATUROPATH is knowledgeable, but they do not need OR want to know everything she knows. If the information in the article was clear and relevant, what they want now is to DO something. They want to change their situation. They want help. They want solutions. They want to feel healthy again.
Of course, you want to give some of those solutions within the body of your article, or the article will be of little use to your readers. But at the end, your CTA must give options to those who want to go beyond what they’ve learned in the article. For example, rather than saying ‘to learn more…’ my naturopath client could say something like,
‘The tips I’ve shared in this article can help you get started on your wellness journey. But if you’re ready to take serious action to overcome your adrenal issues once and for all, and stop getting sick all the time, my book XYZ provides a detailed but easy to follow life plan. You can check out the book at ABC. And if you feel you need a more personal approach, feel free to book a complimentary consultation with me at XXX so we can discuss what might be the best wellness treatment for you.’
Of course, your CTA can include other things, like inviting your audience to ask questions, leave a comment or subscribe to your blog so they can get more information on the subject. But providing a way for your readers to take action – if that’s what they’re ready to do – is what turns your article from simple content to an organic, no-pressure, new-paradigm form of marketing.
To put all this in ‘7 Graces’ terminology, throughout this article I’ve really been talking about three things: the Grace of Connection, the Grace of Invitation, and the Key Relationship with Our Audience. Being able to put ourselves in our readers’ shoes is a quality of the Grace of Connection. Being able to ‘meet them at the door’, guide them into our ‘house, and empathetically know what they really want when they have finished their ‘visit’ with us is all about the Grace of Invitation. And, of course, understanding the subtleties around the different kinds of relationships we have with our readers and where those relationships sit within our ‘marketing funnel’ is all about the Key Relationship with Our Audience.
Unless we are able to step into our readers’ shoes when blogging, we will probably fail to open and close our blog articles in such a way that they serve both their needs and ours. Our articles should not be technical or academic treatises for their own sake, but something that must serve their business, as well as provide information to our readers. And knowing how best to serve our readers requires a deep understanding of the relationship they have with us at every stage of the way.
This complex, but fascinating, subject of relationships is one that I go into detail in my upcoming book The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging. In that book, I also explain how to use blogging as a ‘grace-full’ (as in ‘7 Graces’) marketing tool, that provides value, expresses meaning and creates a closer connection between you and your audience. I also share my strategies for knowing what to write, how to write it, how to promote your blog, and how to build it into the larger structure of your business. If that sounds interesting to you, I invite you to sign up for a ‘launch reminder’ so I can let you know when the book comes out later this year. When you do, you can also download a free 5-page blogging template where I share the exact structure we use with our own clients. You can find all that at http://the7gracesofmarketing.com/blogging-book.
Blogging is an integral part of your new-paradigm marketing funnel. If you’re looking for help building the online marketing platform for your business, feel free to drop me a line via the Contact form on this site to enquire about our upcoming ethical marketing courses, or to set up a free 30-minute consultation to discuss your needs and our 7 Graces Platform Building and Growth Packages.
And, as always, do feel free to ask questions or share your thoughts and comments below.
Let the dialogue continue!
18 July 2014
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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
The Social Entrepreneur’s Guide to Successful Blogging: An Effective, Creative & Ethical Way of Marketing for Visionaries & New Paradigm Business Leaders. To receive an update when that book is available, just click here. As a thank-you gift for showing your interest, you’ll get instant access to an exclusive, free 5-page PDF revealing the exact same blogging template we use with our clients and we teach to participants on the ethical marketing training courses at the 7 Graces Project.
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)