Last night, as my three-year-old pushed aside his green beans for the zillionth time, an irresistible thought popped into my head.
I’d had a busy day prepping for my upcoming editorial calendar workshop and pondering how to get the best return for the time we invest in our blogs.
As I sat at the kitchen table wondering how to encourage my boy to eat his greens, I had a sudden flash of understanding: Blogging for business is a lot like feeding a toddler.
Let me explain:
- They’re not going to taste it right away
Parents are often told that children may need to be exposed to new foods up to 10 times, before they will actually try it. The parent’s task is to keep on serving up that broccoli, while remaining unattached to whether or not it goes down the hatch.
It’s the same with your online business. The first time a potential customer stumbles across your blog, website or social media profile, they are not likely to make a purchase. Your task is to give them a reason to come back to the table (otherwise known as a lead magnet) and then keep on serving up a delectable dish, week after week.
- They want variety
Often my kids will tell me they don’t like a vegetable they’ve happily eaten, many times before. This used to drive me crazy, until I figured out they hadn’t changed their minds – they were just bored.
Just like kids, you’ve got to give your readers plenty of variety. Different readers will be drawn to different types of posts, so aim to serve up a wide range of content over time. Try to include a mix of posts that inform, entertain, educate, foster connection and promote your services.
Finding the right nutritional balance for your blog will be different for every entrepreneur, so don’t be afraid to experiment and see what gets results with your readers. Over time you’ll start to see which posts increase the vitality of your audience and your business, and which ones weigh you down.
- Bite-sized tastes
Kids don’t want to eat a whole bowl of stew straight out of the gate. Just give them a tiny taste garnished with things they love, like natural yoghurt and toasted nuts – and they’ll soon be asking for more more more.
Likewise, allow your readers the thrill of a quick win. Give them bite-sized tips they can implement right away, with clear and measurable results that not only prove your knowledge chops (so to speak) but leave them hungry for more.
- Touch, squash and sniff
Toddlers often won’t want to eat the food so much as play with it. They’ve got to get their hands in the mash, play beats with a drumstick and squirt out the innards of green peas between their thumb and forefinger (even better if it hits Mum in the eye). They want to look around the dining table to check whether their brothers and sisters are giving the pumpkin a go, or burying it beneath a pile of chicken bones.
And you guessed it, your readers are the same. They want to know how your product or service is actually going to achieve these results and whether it has a proven track record of happy customers. So give them customer case studies, “how tos” and personal stories that show how your knowledge or approach has made a difference in your life – or someone else’s. Let them get a feel for your business and whether they want to work with you.
- They want you to be direct
Yep. Forget the pureeing spinach to be worked carefully into the tomato paste in order to disguise it (not too much or it goes brown!). Nine times out of ten, kids are smart enough to sniff out a vegetable at 100 paces. In my view it’s better to be direct – no hiding the veg, no apologies. This is just how we eat.
Believe it or not, your readers also want you to be direct. They know you’re running a business and if you’ve warmed them up well, they are starting to think about working with you. So why are you making it hard for them to figure out how to do that?
Every blog should include a clear call to action. It doesn’t have to be pushy or salesy or smarmy, and it doesn’t have to be in-your-face – but it should clearly let your readers know exactly what you would like them to do next.
- They will surprise you
Sometimes the dish you least expect will be the one that creates the most favourable reaction. Pay attention to what goes down well and don’t take a popular dish off the menu! Think of other ways you can add more value, serve it up differently or create a logical follow up or second course.
Just like parenting, business blogging is a long game. You’ve got to be consistent if you want to get results.
Did you like the green bean theory? Sign up for my ‘Write to the Heart of Your Message’ workbook – 12 Essential Questions to Refine Your Core Message, so you can write for your business with clarity, focus and passion.