If you’ve ever played the “hide the thimble” game as a child, you may recall that we began at the door very “cold.” As our search for the thimble brought us closer to the prize, the other players would giggle and tell us we were getting “warmer.” At times we may have been “hot” for several minutes, yet unable to get our hands on the object.
I evaluated the content of a new client last month, and discovered she had diligently written one great post or article after another, for months on end, without an appreciable increase in traffic, subscribers or leads.
It was technically solid writing. The spelling and grammar were fine. The information was carefully researched and factual. The writers had demonstrated a high level of expertise and there was a strong call to action. Each post had been promoted through several social media channels. They were so close, but something was missing.
Readers respond to people they have grown to know, like and trust. What we were looking for was the “personal connection” that was somehow absent.
There’s a popular venn diagram that has been circulated through the web for a few years, in which three circles intersect: knowledge, experience and passions/desires. It’s in the small centre intersection that we find personal connection, the sweet spot of engagement.
Let’s look at them for a moment:
This is where well-researched, factual information comes into play. It can take many forms, like news, answers to frequently asked questions, educational articles or product information.
Well written, informative articles do provide value to the reader, but in themselves are unlikely to build a following, stimulate engagement or encourage sharing.
My own blogging journey had a very slow start because I focused too much on providing quality, factual information. I’m the first to admit, it was seriously dry reading.
One of the buzzwords we keep reading about is story telling. Many business bloggers believe this means boasting about themselves, their many years of experience, problem-solving capabilities and achievements. Your readers don’t want to read “your” stories.
It’s when you share your customer’s stories, and their interests, through your brand that your audience will begin to resonate with your content. As they begin to see themselves as the heroes in the upcoming chapter, you’ll capture their imagination. You want them to respond to a post, a photo or video by thinking, “Hey, that’s totally me! I should tweet this to Joey.”
For that to happen, you must know your audience personas inside and out. Red Bull has done an exceptional job of making their stories all about the customer.
People don’t generally follow products and services. They connect with real live people who have passions, desires, disappointments and triumphs, just like they do. When your readers discover that you’ve had the same challenges, and you found a better way, they’ll want to follow your journey, so they can experience the same outcomes.
Don't be afraid to weave your personality, opinions and perspective into your posts.
Many of the bloggers I've coached over the past years feel inadequate. They believe the results they've achieved have been below expectations because they suck as a writer. They suffer from imposter syndrome.
Connecting with prospective buyers is more important than brilliant composition. Acceptable spelling, grammar and style are accessible enough. There's even an app for that. 🙂
Often, business bloggers are closer to the mark than they can possibly imagine. One of the three circles may be missing from their approach. Something as simple as shifting their stories from the company to the customer can make all the difference in the world. Dig deep. What questions are your prospective customers asking? What are their fears and concerns? What teaching do they require. And now, how can you connect with them and answer those questions with complete transparency, honesty and authenticity?
Blogging is all about your "voice", rather than acquired "professional" writing skills. We respond to the content when we connect with the person behind it.
A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.
— Richard Bach
Always remember that when you improve the outcome for your readers, your "hope it's good enough" writing may have become a their "awesome." Ask yourself, "Have a I included personal connection in my post? Will they come away 'feeling' something, and committed to taking some form of action?" Your audience wants to live richer, more fulfilling lives. The actions they are inspired to take need not involve a purchase from your company... at least not right away. You have the opportunity to educate and inspire.
If you hate writing, but feel you must to promote your brand, then hire someone who specializes in writing great content your readers will love. But if you have a story you feel you must tell, then you must share it.
Cole Wiebe helps brands and professionals grow their influence and value online; so they can “out content”™ their competition. Cole is a content strategist, content writer, conversion copywriter and online marketing coach.