Some people think it’s all about “how you say it.”
Others think it’s all about how many times a week you post.
Both groups are wrong.
What you say matters more than how you say it or how many times.
Before you’ll succeed with a business blog, you need to truly understand a simple 9-word sentence offered by old-school copywriting genius Rosser Reeves (as channeled by Gary Bencivenga):
A gifted product is mightier than a gifted pen.
Your “product” is what you offer, whether goods or services, and the overall substance of that offer. Whether you want to call it your USP or your big story, it still needs to be solidly in place before you’ll ever have a truly effective business blog.
You can’t tell compelling small stories with your posts if your big story sucks.
Let’s look at it another way.
If I give you a hand-scrawled note riddled with typos and grammatical errors that tells you that the other side of the paper contains the winning lotto numbers, and this is the ticket, you’re highly receptive to that message, right?
But the most dazzling sales pitch ever about the latest fall line for women at Neiman Marcus will never matter to me one bit.
If you’re about to start a business blog (or if your current one is going nowhere), stop, take a step back, and ask yourself this:
Why should anyone care about what I’m blogging about?
That’s another 9-word sentence that makes it perfectly clear that painting a cow purple is not the same as owning a purple cow.
What you say will determine if you can sell at all.
How you say it will determine how much you can sell.
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Reader Comments (24)
Brian Brown says
This post boils down to “If the product isn’t any good, no amount of marketing is going to make it sell.” Is this accurate?
Although that might seem to be a given, I can see where some people might start a blog thinking it will help sell a product that won’t sell any other way. Boy, are they in for a disappointment.
On the other hand, if the product is decent, I can’t think of a more cost-effective way to educate the public, inform them of promotions, and build relationships with them. If the business is successful without a blog, adding a blog is a no-brainer.
Here’s another 9-word sentence for you:
Divyansh Sharma says
I am looking forward to buying this book purple cow
I agree that you have to have some kind of decent product to start with, otherwise no amount of great copy will be able to sustain sales for very long. That being said, there’s no reason for a business to have a related blog these days…
Mark Goodyear says
Great post, Brian. I really appreciate and admire your insights. What you are saying here goes hand in hand with the concepts in The Corporate Blogging Book.
Yes, thank you CopyBlogger!
Reading this site has noticeably improved my writing, and the number of responses to my blog posts.
Today’s message is simple, but the advice is very important.
Easton Ellsworth says
If I could boil the post down to 3 words, they would be:
That’s why navel-gazers and boring biz bloggers fall flat on their faces.
Great thoughts, all.
That sound like the “truthiness” to me Easton. 🙂
With all due respect, it seems like you’re talking about two different concepts here.
Product effectiveness vs. Branding.
The quote by Mr. Bencivenga, I believe, refers to how a great product makes selling or marketing that much easier.
Good ol’ Salesdogs, however, would say that its a cop out to wish for a great product; not everyone has that luxury. Real marketers or salesmen deal with what they’ve got and do their thing regardless.
I think Seth Godin, in his encyclopedia of marketing books, did make the case of trying to go BACK to the product for precisely this purpose though:
Make the product something worthy enough to talk about, and it makes your marketing efforts effort*less*.
As for the “branding” issue, you sure have hit upon the heart of it.
If you can’t answer the classic “WIIFM” (whats in it for me) question; if you can’t distill your raison d’etre into a single 30 second elevator speech; if you have a hard time justifying why YOU and not your competitor —
… well all the fancy copy in the world won’t save you.
And that’s all branding is, isn’t it? Fancy ZeFrank videos aside, branding is more than experience. Its an action. its fulfillment of a promise you’re making to your potential customer.
Everyone does it. Not everyone does it well. 🙂
Apologies for the lengthy post …
Great topic 🙂
t @ dji.
I never really talk about branding, I talk about offers.
Branding is for cattle.
People who think “branding” and “product” are completely divorced are in trouble.
An offer is the actual product or service itself, plus the manner in which it is presented and incentivised.
I’m not trying to talk to “sales dogs” here. I’m talking to people who are in charge of running their own business and doing their own marketing.
So, the product, the offer, and the marketing are all in the hands of one person who is responsible for making and selling something great.
You said “People who think “branding” and “product” are completely divorced are in trouble.”
Well, I don’t disagree — everything flows from the brand.
But I’m not sure if you’re being facetious when you say “branding is for cattle”.
But with no disrespect intended, I think you’re doing your readers a disservice by dismissing the concept of branding out of hand if that’s the case.
As you mention — you’re not talking to grizzly ol’ salesdogs after all, but bloggers, and those new to marketing.
t @ dji
A brand is created by what you offer, and how well, and how you treat your paying customers.
It is not something separate that you “manage.” As a separate discipline, I find “branding” contrived and a lot of what’s wrong with advertising and marketing.
I guess you’re trying to separate small business and Madison-avenue type branding.
Its interesting that classic copywriting ‘guru’s also typically rail against “Madison Avenue” types, whose marketing methods deviates from direct-response marketing — the natural home of copywriting.
I think there’s absolutely no question that the most efficient and cost-effective method of marketing is direct-response methods. For small businesseses who have to manage their time and costs, this is obviously the way to go.
What’s interesting is when large corporate types discover direct response marketing and the power of copywriting (AIDA and so on).
Jon Spoelstra wrote a great book called “Marketing Outrageously” where he describes having to develop a marketing plan for the New Jersey Nets and Portland Trailblazers — with almost no budget, and a poorly trained staff.
He ended up resorting to some pretty imaginative tactics, but many of them hinge on direct marketing concepts — and copywriting.
Just goes to show that typical ‘small business’ branding tactics can scale up to organizations of any size, I guess. 😉
t @ dji
This will really help when I start blogging on my website!
; – )
I truly appreciate your view that What you offer is more important but it needs to reach the consumer first (atleast for the new products) and thats when “How you say (about the product) gain importance
I need to follow this advice more often. AJ
azman md-ali says
“What you say matters more than how you say it or how many times.”
As a newbie this will be my guiding principle. Thanks a lot.
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