JC Hutchins has been breaking rules even before he started his blog in an attempt to give away his science fiction novel, 7th Son, which publishers didn’t want, as a free podiobook, one of the first audio books published as a weekly series of podcasts. He has come up with a variety of interesting viral campaigns to promote his book, blog, podcasts, and writings, turning his unpublished book into the most popular podiobook series in history, and becoming a specialist in the true sense of social networking and marketing. His innovative online self-marketing techniques attracted St. Martin’s Press, and his book will finally be published in 2009.
Titles and headlines work really hard. Ask any copywriter worth their salt. They need to grab the attention of the casual observer, the passerby, and the multitasker and pull it right onto the page. In a split second, your reader will decide wether to stay or go.
Give your posts the green light by leveraging the craft of brilliant headlines and advertising. Learn from some of the most persuasive and groundbreaking advertising copy, and make it yours.
“Look for it! Wait for it! See it! It is coming” P.T. Barnum
They called him the Shakespeare of advertising. When you read lines like:
“Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”
“Limited edition collector’s item at an unbelievable low special discount price”
“Going out of business, last and final liquidation closeout sale! All items must go! We’re closing our doors forever!”
You are reading pure Barnum. His style was to translate the everyday situation into a commercial via popular (or vulgar) language. It’s a skill. Words like “jumbo” are his. He single-handedly manufactured hype.
If you’re a self-promoter, Barnum blazed the trail for you. He understood one fundamental principle of advertising – and that is how important it is to gather a crowd. And he sold the exotic: the circus!
“Magic Lies in Pretty Teeth – Remove that Film” Claude Hopkins
This is the guy who understood that the goal of the advertiser is to get to the path of desire – today we call this positioning. Blame research and analytical psychology on him. One thing is for sure – he took his audience seriously.
Hopkins established the reason why you buy a product. And it has very little to do with the product itself and everything to do with what you think the product will do for you. Never compare your blog or post to that of another writer.
“People are like sheep.” he said “They cannot judge values, nor can you and I. We judge things largely by others’ impressions, by popular favor. We go with the crowd.” And indeed the most effective thing in advertising is the trend of the crowd.
How did he move people to buy? Look at that headline. Hopkins staked a claim that was obvious – you can rub just about anything on your teeth and get a sense of cleanliness. We all have a membrane on our teeth, and if you roll your tongue over them, you can feel it. That claim sold millions in Pepsodent.
“Magic lies in pretty teeth” is the precursor of “for skin you love to touch”. Akin to saying that blogging will improve your sex life. The power of magic. What magic promise is in your titles?
“How can you make two months’ salary last forever?” N. W. Ayer
I bet you know what this ad headline is selling. How would you like to write a title like that? This was the brilliant campaign started by Ayer for De Beers. The ads did their job. they intercepted and reformatted desire.
And they did not talk specifics. They just went directly to how the product would make the person it is bought for feel. Now take a look at your headline, how can you make it timeless, aspirational, and still keep it simple?
“A diamond last forever” – will your headline?
“Does she… or doesn’t she?” Foote, Cone & Belding
Maybe she’s born with it… maybe it’s marketing. Two generations, same kind of attraction. Instilling the doubt as in the famous Miss Clairol’s campaign is an old technique. It dates back to the ‘50s. If you think this is sort of cheesy, remember that the campaign propelled sales 413% higher in six years.
The secret lies in not revealing everything with the headline. In fact, if you look at the examples I listed here, they all contain powerful hooks that will prompt you to consider the product.
What kinds of headlines light you up? Have some fun and share your best headlines. Better yet, let’s craft some here together using this material as inspiration. For a limited time only! Come on in and let’s do some marketing magic.
The 24-7 Wall Street blog analyzed what makes a blog valuable and came up with The Twenty-Five Most Valuable Blogs, offering some insights into how to value your own blog.
I’ve written on the topic of selling your blog in Selling Your Blog: What Are Buyers Looking For, Selling Your Blog: What Goes Into the Selling Price, Can You Sell Your Blog?, and How to Buy or Sell a Blog, and my research came up with a list of things buyers look for when considering buying a blog. It’s also a good list of things you should be aware of and doing with your blog to maximize profitability.
However, the biggest challenge in determining how much a blog is worth is putting an economic and investment value on blog elements and marketing techniques. Douglas A. McIntyre admitted the same challenges, saying:
Jim Kukral, the guy behind Scratchback, among other things, is playing with Twitter. He’s doing Twittermethis, a marketing experiment, and a game where you can win $5 by answering trivia questions sent by its Twitter user. Jim explains:
All great brands have one main thing in common – what they promise and what they deliver are aligned. In other words, the experience of the user, reader, or customer is the value-add component. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore first talked about our shift from goods and services to events in The Experience Economy.
Experience implies being affected by what you meet with – it could be a happening, an event, or an adventure. It definitely has to do with perception. These are not terms usually associated with business; they are however the quickest path to making your blog content sticky and keeping people returning to it.
You give something more when you provide an experience – it starts with a core, unifying idea. Maybe you are thinking – wait a moment, I do not have a product, or a service, this is a way to showcase my writing skills, or the way I think. Language too is an experience. Words are not mere semantic twists. Words are funny things – they can change everything.
So go take a look at your blog and think about the plot it conjures:
– Is it clear?
– What’s the difference?
– What’s the point?
– Do yo have a point of view?
– Are you selling a certain something? A lifestyle, a specific idea, for example.
– Do readers know what the story is?
When you are delivering a blog brand experience, people can’t wait to read the next episode. You will know because the quality of your discussion changes dramatically from merely following some advice, to delivering a story worthy of time and attention. Today’s marketers are contending with grabbing these scarce resources. You have the ability to win them over.
Experience takes a mere “it works” to “it leaves an indelible memory” and makes a satisfied reader into a member of a club, a fan. Can you think of a couple of examples of blogs that deliver a full brand experience?
What gives you the right to tell me how to do something? Why should I trust what you have to say about blogging? About politics? About money? About making money with my blog? About fixing cars? About anything? What gives you the right?
As I prepare for the “Biz School of Blogging” program in May at SOBCon, the terms authority blog and authority blogger keeps popping up in the program discussions. Chris Garrett has even helped create the Authority Blogger blog.
The term, authority blogger, was coined a little over a year ago labeling a blogger and their blog as the “authority” on their blog subject, thus making the blogger an expert in their field. Blog branding is the marketing effort to turn your blog into an authority blog through visual and content connections, establishing proof over time of expertise.
Yet, every day I run across bloggers claiming expertise and spewing nonsense – and no one challenges them.
Should they? Should we?
Blogging is about writing. That is a fact. You can video blog, podcast, and do all kinds of fun things with your blog, but it is the writing that makes or breaks a blog. What you say in the blog posts, descriptions of visual and audio elements, and what words you offer search engines for their indexing to help people find your blog.
However, blogging is not just about the writing, albeit it is a large part. Blogging today is about so much more. Are you ready? Do you know all the things you have to know about blogging before you start blogging? Or after?
Whether you are a new blogger or long time blogger, these are the things you are going to have to learn about in order to blog in today’s world.
I’m getting ready to speak at three conferences in a row about blogging and WordPress, and something Rachelle Chase said at a conference we spoke at recently keeps popping up in my head. She spoke about techniques for making yourself memorable that she uses when she meets people who can help her with her business and blog.
She contracted with a local artist to create autographed unique artwork in the form of a necklace and travel mirror. Decorated with text from her books and quotes about her books and blog, she sells them on her blog, but also gives them away to journalists and interview subjects as “reminders” of who she is and what she does. They are unusual and memorable, and say a lot about her, her work, and her blog.
In a recent conversation here at The Blog Herald, Chris Garrett asked a very good question:
What do you do when your well known brand doesn’t match with your business?
He cited Wendy Piersall’s eMom brands as a good example of an online brand that started as a blog and is now expanding into a full media publication for both moms and dads.
Rebranding or repositioning efforts can also be a move to package your site for a sale. Rob May of BusinessPundit.com did just that this past February. While May developed the voice and style of BusinessPundit.com, the site was well positioned to continue to appeal to readers in search of business news and information. The site lives on sans May.
While rebranding efforts online include potentially the redirect of a domain name to a new one or an expansion of the original brand, in addition to your readers, what you would like to transfer is the equity of your current brand into the new one.
Readers and business prospect will be more flexible than search engines in following your brand to a new place. They will do that because they follow you – in other words, your name is associated with the blog’s brand. That is a strength and it can be a weakness if you are working towards selling.
Brand Equity Can be Transferred
Equity means that you built a reservoir of characteristics and experiences that are identified with your brand. When the brand you own is one and the same with your name or person, you may need to work towards disassociating yourself from the brand before you can sell it.
Lorelle VanFossen wrote about the experience Aaron Brazell had when he put his blog for sale. One of the points she made was that the blogger counts. As more and more bloggers will look at selling their online properties and work:
The issue of separating the blogger from the blog will be a huge hindrance, but I think the value of the blogger and the blog may meld in an interesting way as more bloggers consider selling their blogs.
The plan is simple, develop a voice for the brand and begin to tone down the blogger’s personality – yours. This is exactly the opposite that you did when you built your blog. In the beginning it was probably all about you and developing a voice. Part of doing that today is also cross-networking your blog on Twitter and Facebook, for example. The more known you became, the better read the blog – because of you.
Do the opposite now. Build a stream on Twitter for your brand that is separate from you. If you have been using the brand’s name as your own, like in the case of Aaron with Technosailor, start a stream for Aaron and begin using Technosailor for the brand. Think it cannot be done? There are many memes on Twitter started by people with streams who developed a separate persona for a niche message.
What if I Use My Name?
If you use your name and have an eye on an exit strategy that culminates with a sale, what you need to do is find a name for that publication. Then you can begin to build equity into the brand by borrowing from your own. Here’s how you do it.
You begin by always associating your name with the blog name everywhere. Sooner or later, readers will begin to see you as one and the same. Then you start using your name a little less, making the blog/brand name more prominent while still using your voice.
Once you see that you are making headway with the new brand, you can complete the transferring of equity into that brand by working on making that voice separate from yours as I outlined above. The brand that can stand on its own and be seen as an asset with an established readership – metrics, please – and earning potential for a buyer, will be much more appetizing. At that point it will be neutral enough to appeal to someone else.
You Could Start by Developing Just the Brand
There is always the option to develop the brand as a publication with its own voice from the beginning. In this case you may be seen as the editor and not linked too closely with the posts. You plan it this way and play it detached for the very reason that you have an eye on transferring the asset in a sale.
Of course, even companies often start with the founder’s name and manage to be sold profitably and continue under a different leadership. In some cases it takes a long time – think about Ford – and many layers in the organization to make that happen.
I have a pretty good idea that online everything tends to move much faster – including the rate at which people may experience burn out. If an exit strategy is what you have in mind, you do want to think about making the arrangements to position your brand for it well before that critical moment. The value of your asset depends on it.
I have several bird feeders outside my window. My cats pass much of their day sprawled across my desk watching the birds feed. The window is covered with paw prints. I have a hummingbird feeder for the Anna’s hummers that pass through on their migration north and south, as well as the rare rufous hummingbirds which hang around year round. I have tiny seeds for the small birds, wrens, finches, chickadees, junkos, and sparrows, and larger black oil sunflower seeds and other goodies in another feeder for the spotted towhees, nuthatches, and northern flickers. On a fence, I have mounted a wooden box with a lid filled with dried corn, peanuts, and sunflower seeds for the squirrels and chipmunks to dig into with glee.
Each feeder is designed to service specific birds. A flat screen feeder that attaches to my office window allows ground feeders to land and feed. The hanging feeders have branch-like posts for the birds to land on and pull seeds from the holes in the side of the feeder. For small birds, I keep some feeders stuffed with thistle and niger, restrained with a smaller hole through which they can insert their beaks like breaking into a tree crevice or nut and extracting the seeds.