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"What's In It For Me?" Why People Really Read Your Blog
December 20, 2017 •Chandler Smith
Blogs, like the one you’re reading now, are the cornerstones of inbound marketing. Maybe you’ve dipped your toe in the blogging pool and wondered why you weren’t getting the results people said you could. Maybe you devised a content strategy, but you weren't among the 84 percent of bloggers that claimed their blog delivered strong or some results in 2017.
But, were you thinking about helping your future customers or exclusively the future you? If your answer is the latter, don’t expect any success.
None. Zero. Zilch.
Thinking inwardly when planning a blog is the first step towards failure. You’ll plod along publishing blogs wondering when people will start engaging. You’ll keep telling them why your product is so great, maybe offering some paltry advice on the side. You’re thinking about your ideal customers’ pains indirectly, and you expect that just telling them about your product or service will convert them into raving fanatics of your brand.
Here’s why that approach doesn’t work and what people really want when they’re searching for blogs online.
Address Visitors’ Pains, Not What You Want Them to Do
Inherently, your product or service should solve some kind of pain point. If you sell bikes, you solve a transportation need, a cost-efficiency need, and maybe your competitive differentiator is seat comfort (people won’t be waddling like penguins after long rides). You’re proud of your bikes — and you should be.
That said, when someone starts reading your blog, they don’t care about your bikes yet. They care about the pains they’re feeling. When searching for solutions, they might enter a Google search as follows:
- How to deal with soreness after bike riding.
- How do I make my bike ride more comfortable.
- Cheap ways for travelling in the city.
- Does it make sense to buy a bike for a city commute?
People want answers to their pain points before they start looking for solutions. They might not even be thinking about replacing their current bike, but they know they need a way handle an uncomfortable commute somehow.
A blog such as “5 Ways to Make Your Bike Ride Less Painful” will be more successful than a blog that explains why your bike is more comfortable than your competitors’ brands. By addressing the pain first, you plant the seed for them to explore your product later because what you write actually solves their need.
Again, Don’t Talk About Yourself So Much
You wouldn’t want to go on a date just to listen to someone talk about themselves for an hour. You couldn’t care less about that guy’s love for IPAs, his affinity for 70’s French films or his college drinking stories.
Talking about yourself too much is a turn-off. As a blogger, you’re there to help, inform and entertain, not brazenly advertise your products and services.
Too many companies believe that if their product isn’t directly mentioned in their content, then that content has no real utility. Those companies are focused too much on their own goals and what they want visitors to do. They’re unlikely to convince their readers.
Like in dating, your best course of action is to listen. Listen to your target audience’s pain and actually get to know them as people, not just walking dollar signs. Once you see that a certain topic resonates — more cost-effective commutes, for instance — drive that topic home in a way that doesn’t megaphone your product to the masses.
This is how trust begins.
Though like in dating, inevitably you’ll have to talk about yourself. Just be sure, once you do, your readers are ready to receive the message. You wouldn’t sit down at a dinner table and rattle off your life story, but you would start to hint at it once your date’s curiosity builds.
Be Relatable, Like a Friend
Beyond talking about yourself, the next worst thing you can do is create blogs that feel corporate, dry and lacking voice. No matter the industry, B2C — and especially B2B companies — deserve a developed voice. You’re marketing yourself, not writing an academic paper.
People are more likely to trust their peers, which is why so many trust Yelp in their quest for the best brunch spots. The reviews are raw and real, and they’ll shoot straight when they tell you the avocado toast is consistently burnt or the mimosas are too expensive.
As such, they’re more likely to listen if they feel they’re being genuinely helped, rather than have a company talking at them.
Yes, readers can tell the difference.
You Can Always Get Help
Finding the time and the personnel for regular blogging can be challenging to mix in with other responsibilities. Not only do you have to write the blogs themselves, but you also need to devise a content and promotional strategy that makes sense for your business.
Basically, doing it all yourself can be terribly overwhelming if you're not staffed for it.
That said, you don't have to miss out on the potential results that blogging and inbound marketing can bring to your business. An inbound marketing agency can help you get your blog rolling and, as importantly, support your content with the right promotional tactics that attract leads and convert those leads to customers.
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