Did you know that kids who regularly have dinner with their families tend to be healthier, happier, and more successful in school? I’d like to say that I sit down with my family every night for dinner, but y’know, life. Our son is nineteen and has cooler people to hang out with now (or at least he thinks so). However, when he was still a kid, we did make an effort to spend a few evenings around the table together each week.
Those family dinners gave us an opportunity to share funny stories, to ask for advice, to offer support, and to generally take time to remember why we like each other so much.
Ideally, you should approach your business blog with the same generosity of spirit and camaraderie that you’d approach a leisurely family dinner. The tips that follow could be applied to either situation.
You’ll gain more from any conversation if you start by listening to the other person. As a parent, you’ll stay in the loop longer if you actually listen to your kids when they’re rambling on endlessly about the latest video game, anime, or crush.
Likewise, when you take time to listen to your clients and your prospects, putting aside any compulsion to interrupt or respond, you gain something more valuable than you’ll get from even the most finely-crafted sales pitch. You’ll gain insight into what your audience is interested in, what concerns them, and how you can best contribute to the conversation.
Let the other person lead
Back in 2013 (my first year as a copywriter), the data company Oribi released an analysis of 100 blog post titles that caught my eye. The study found that blog titles with words like announcing, wins, celebrates, and grows tended to rank low in popularity.
Let’s face it, the feats and accomplishments of your company probably don’t rank high on your prospects’ lists of things to read about. By comparison, just try telling a twelve-year-old about your newest client. His eyes will glaze over like a side of carrots
The good news is that if you’ve taken time to listen to your clients (or your kids), you should have a pretty good idea of what they’re interested in. Let the other person’s interests guide the conversations happening on your blog, even if that means backing away from tales of your own entrepreneurial heroics and focusing instead on topics that are only indirectly related to your brand.
For example, if you sell high-end fabric, even the most heady descriptions of those gorgeous bolts of mustache-printed burlap won’t hold the same charm to your prospects as they do to you. However, using a blog post to demonstrate how that bolt could be incorporated into a particular design scheme might be riveting to your audience.
Seek out interesting things to talk about
Even when you’ve listened and let the other person lead, meaningful conversations aren’t easy. After all, you can’t continue addressing the same concerns and solving the same problems ad infinitum. You’ve got to mix it up.
Whether you’re blogging to gain prospects or to retain clients (or you’re gathering ’round the kitchen table to spend more QT with the family), expanding your knowledge base will help you tell more interesting stories.
That might mean making time each day for a little extra-curricular reading or to take a quick TEDTalk break. The goal is to gather material for more captivating conversations, and so the farther you extend your reach, the more adept you’ll be at putting a new spin on topics that could potentially become boring.
One of the perks of being a copywriter serving various unique industries is that I’m constantly reading from a diverse array of materials. The power of that cross-pollination is surprising even to me. It’s inherently easier to come up with new ideas when I’m constantly feeding myself information from a broad range of topics.
It also makes dinner conversations more engaging. We’ve spiced up conversations about peer pressure and respecting authority figures with anecdotes about the Milgram and Stanford Prison Experiments. The kid appreciated that we didn’t preach but rather provided compelling information to help him make his own best decisions. That’s what your readers want, too.
If you want your audience to seek you out for advice and support, you’ve got to show up consistently. A regular blog post schedule let’s prospects and clients know that you’re always thinking of new ways to serve and engage with them.
Of course, this is just about as easy as sitting down to dinner with family every night, so don’t be hard on yourself if you need a little help. Talk to your employees to see if they’d be willing to share the responsibility of blogging or consider outsourcing to a copywriter who can transform your ideas into a weekly or monthly dialogue with your readers.