By Matt Brennan
The Internet’s a crowded place. There’s no shortage of tips, tricks, how-to’s, and lists. That’s not to say you need to avoid these types of posts. To the contrary.
What you need to do however, is play to what the Internet is short on: you.
Don’t simply regurgitate what’s already out there, and expect people to gravitate toward your blog instead of everybody else’s. Instead, it’s important to understand that your readers are looking for a way to connect. It’s important to tell stories, write conversationally, and in your own voice.
Telling Stories That Connect You To Your Reader
I took part in a Twitter chat recently that revolved around using your blog to tell stories. The conversation was on #blogchat, which takes place at 8 p.m. central. (To participate you simply search for the tweets using that hashtag, and chime in to the conversation when inspiration strikes.)
There were a lot of great ideas shared. For instance, in a crowded, competitive marketplace, product differentiation is crucial. Stories help your business stick out. Stories help us identify with the human experience. They make us happy. They make us sad. They make us feel a whole range of emotion.
So tell people the story of how you got in business. Tell people your customers’ story on how they solved their problem using your product (but make them the hero). Just make sure that you’re always telling stories. Don’t stop there.
Picture yourself face-to-face with a customer or client who has some questions about your industry. What kind of language would you use as you answer their questions, and offer explanations? This can mean a wide range of things for various businesses.
It’s important to educate customers with the information they’ll need to make an informed decision. In many cases your customer probably doesn’t have the industry vocabulary that you have. So it’s important to make sure that you can explain things in ways they’ll understand, without talking down to them.
In most cases your customers aren’t looking for an academic article. They’re looking for some information and a friendly disposition. They’re looking for a way to connect. So just be yourself.
Writing In Your Own Voice
Think about the ways that you conduct business. When you network or meet with clients, do you wear a suit and tie, or are you less formal? There is a difference between professional and formal. A guy in blue jeans who knows his stuff can be just as professional as the guy in a suit.
The same is true for your writing. You can be friendly. You can be casual. You can offer your readers a reason and a way to connect. Tell anecdotes. How do the little things in your life relate to your business? What sports teams are you obsessed with? What albums can you not get enough of? It’s OK to drop these kind of hints in your blog posts.
The people who know me on Twitter know I’m a hopeless Cubs fan because of my background picture. The people who know me on Facebook know that I’m a distraught Bears fan. I’m also a happy dad. I’ve written blogs about what being a dad has taught me about business. All of these things have stirred up conversations with colleagues and clients.
You need to be helpful and informative, but you need to do it in your own way. A friend of mine, and Internet marketer Brian Basilico recently wrote a book about how to connect in the digital world. Check it out. People who read blogs and do business online are looking for a reason to connect.
Give them one.