Divergent Blog Post Formula
Write Business Blog Posts with Purpose and Effect
The biggest life lesson from Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting is “become that which you seek”. Every business owner is told they should have a blog as their most important marketing asset. However, this advice usually comes from a struggling writer without a successful business or a marketing agency that sells blog and related website services.
You always hear the same generic tips to post something regularly and content is king. Next add in a few other often repeated do-it-yourself hints. Then the emotional hook is that’ll you beat the competition in Google and become rich from all the new customers. Just take a second and Google “how to write a blog post” and you’ll be quickly bored by the monotony and hit with the realization that everyone is doing the same thing with few if any results for sales.
I don’t sell blog services and have over 25 years of success as a cyberist in the ultra-competitive managed IT services industry – largely by playing a different game than everyone else.
If you want to impress prospects and customers as an industry expert to convince them to buy, then bookmark this divergent blog post formula now:
- Know the Why – valuable for customers, show your unique expertise, and be useful for other marketing aspects.
- Unique and Unexpected – unique title in Google, offer counter-point or unknown specifics about a topic, reverse or non-linear order, non-obvious graphics, and no selling of products or services.
- Comprehensive and Digestible – Average 2,000 words, approximately 5 subheading sections with supporting keywords to the main title and use of lists and videos for dwell time and interest.
- Defensible and Authoritative – Only true and transparent statements with a minimum of three links to a reputable source, your website, and a related blog post.
- Strong Opening and Close – Start with why or celebrity or prestige place attachment or an important date and tie back the ending to your beginning with one or more calls to action.
Once you master this technique, you’ll be able to decide whether a topic is worthwhile in minutes and able to publish powerful business blog posts in approximately 2-4 hours that convert sales.
The only reason to have a business blog is to demonstrate your unique expertise. Defining your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is something it may take years to refine, but every blog post should support that concept.
Each post must be strategic as part of a marketing campaign that leads to a sale like promoting an event, a book or video, or a keyword phrase to drive traffic to your website. Other examples may be telling a story that is a common objection rebuttal or providing a guide of tips previously undisclosed.
A strong piece of content every 30-45 days is much more valuable than mindless posts daily or weekly just to say you published something. You can then reuse posts for a chapter in a book, reformat for an e-book, convert to a presentation or video, or narrate for a podcast.
There is nothing more powerful than sending a prospect or customer a link to an authoritative article you previously published that ranks well on Google and completely answers their questions. Then the discussion moves to next steps while everyone else must defend their positions and haggle on price.
The biggest mistake most business owners make is simply purchasing a $200 per month service that streams duplicate content to hundreds of other customers or hiring a marketing person and letting them write whatever. The first approach simply harms your search rankings and the second option is just noise and money burned. Blogging won’t make you rich, but it will make you expert in the eyes of prospects and customers to help in converting more sales.
The “why” is something valuable for customers that shows your unique expertise and can be used as other marketing assets.
Unique and Unexpected
At the same time Apple launched the now iconic iPhone in 2007, a startup competitor to our business seemingly sprung up out of nowhere to capture a large part of the market. At that point, we had been in business over 25 years and I discovered they simply did a little bit of search engine marketing with some press releases. It became apparent that not only us but most companies market very poorly and when they do it is often predictably boring and off-putting.
As much as possible, every aspect of a blog post should be unusual and surprising. In 2013, IBM publicized a big-data report stating that 90% of the world’s data had been published in the previous three years. The question is how much of the web today is duplicated, mundane, rubbish, or just plain wrong?
Search expert Brian Dean developed the skyscraper technique where you research top ranking articles for a subject in search and then develop 2x or more comprehensive content to rank higher. It’s a sound concept but built upon taking someone else’s ideas and expanding.
When doing post topic or keyword research, a better option is using the diverse rule:
- Create a title that is unique in Google with special emphasis on the topic not covered by the current competition.
- Avoid repeating any well-known ideas and offer counter-point or unknown specific details.
- Present content in a non-linear fashion or reverse order from how an idea would be normally presented.
- Don’t use obvious stock images. Instead use custom graphics or your photos that most people wouldn’t readily associate with the content.
- Rather than images a better option is offering a related video. (TIP: When you develop your own videos, you can provide a backlink to your blog post or website.)
- Forget about selling your product or service and try to educate, entertain, or tell a vulnerable story with a business moral.
If your idea for a post doesn’t have an important why and isn’t unique and unexpected, then you should pick another topic and not waste everyone’s time.
Comprehensive and Digestible
Blog expert Neil Patel did a study about blog post length in 2014 that reported the average as 2,000 words for articles that rank highly on search engines. While there are many other factors like substance and style, the main supporting reasons were stronger keyword potential in search, more backlinks as an authority, and greater number of social media shares. Even though attention spans may be short, true prospects want to find out more information and will have no interest in short after thoughts about products or their company posted by your competition.
After you create a unique title in Google, then the drill is to quickly come up with about 5 descriptive subheadings for your post. Surely you can think of 5 ideas that most people don’t know around your topic. Next you have to create just 400 words per subheading. Use the lessons you learned from the above section and then creating a few supporting ideas becomes a much easier and less daunting task.
You can write a story or present expanded lists and break up sections with a video, a quote, or a call to action like download an e-book, register for an event, subscribe to the blog, or purchase a book. As an expert in a subject, you should strive to easily create a half-page of novel content in 15-30 minutes.
This is the time to think out of the box and cover the gotchas, risk points, or fallacies in a topic – as well as basics like expected results, how long, and what things cost. By having third-party supporting references or links as described in the next section, you avoid opinion and innuendo while conveying authority and trust.
Your prospect simply wants to be entertained or educated and see results, time, and cost at a glance.
Defensible and Authoritative
Stop and never mention again that you’re leading, best, or most whatever. Business is not a finite game where we all get together each week and decide the rules and tally who wins. Such puffing is just noise and only serves to damage your reputation in the eyes of prospects and customers who will instantly ignore anything else you have to say.
Resist any attempt to drift into selling in your blog and if you list a statistic or an idea you must be able to easily support it with demonstration or third-party reference. Never lie in your marketing and some of your best defenses are registered intellectual property like a trademark or patent filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
At minimum you should have a link to an authority site, a landing page on your website, and a link to a related blog post.
So that you’re not fake news you should have at least one outbound link by keyword to an authoritative source like a book, government or education article or site, or an industry leader such as a recognized expert or manufacturer. Sites like Wikipedia are not considered authoritative sources, and neither are most blogs, forums, or social media.
The whole point of having a blog is to promote your goods and services on your website, so you should have one link to the website product or landing page that is most relevant to the post. You also need to promote your blog and should always have a link to a related blog post.
Backlinks are the nemesis of Google. You need them to promote your blog and website. Linking out to reputable third-party websites is also necessary. However, you should limit your links on each post and understand that you are endorsing a third-party website by using a backlink.
Strong Opening and Action Close
Start with end in mind of what action you want a reader to take. Then start by telling your why for the post rather than the boring what or how as explained by leadership expert Simon Sinek. Another good approach is to open with an important date or celebrity attachment to a personality in a movie or a prestigious place. The psychology around any of these uncommon approaches grabs attention by both peaking curiosity and making a connection with the reader’s personal experiences.
The best closing sections tie back to the opening with some type of lesson or truth. People will think you’re clever If you can work in famous quotes or rhymes. There should be an offer at the end to signup for the blog, register for a trial, book an appointment, or purchase a product. Many blog templates automatically include a subscribe option and links to related posts. It may be counter-intuitive but many successful writers develop the introduction and ending together first and then create the middle sections.
Massive Action and Promotion
Like the Nike motto, “Just Do It”. It’s common to get overwhelmed in thinking about writing a blog post, not to mention creating a call-to-action like an e-book with an offer. Wouldn’t it be nice to a have a bunch of your own YouTube videos to embed too?
Perfection doesn’t exist so write that post and publish it today because someday is not a day of the week. If you’re just beginning, then having a subscribe to your blog offer at the end is appropriate. You can add trial link to your website or book purchase at any point in the future. The same is true for adding graphics or videos.
Remember, you can count the number of rich bloggers on one hand. You’re posting to your blog to move prospects and customers down the sales funnel and to show that you are reputable with something valuable to offer. Once a post is finished the real work begins in promoting it.
Sure you can promote on social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook or e-mail customers and vendors. However, blogging like everything else in business doesn’t stand alone. If you’re really striving to provide the best service for your customers, then you already know that it takes the will to do things your competition won’t even try.
Most people never get to see how brilliant they can be.
– Tom, Good Will Hunting