In my other writing life as a restaurant reviewer, I spend a lot of time writing sentences like:
I decided to go for the gusto and sample three of their Mexico-City-style tacos: the carne asada served with pico de gallo and cotija; the chile lime shrimp served with a pickled cabbage slaw and a tomato pasilla chile salsa that had a pleasant kick; and the pork carnitas taco dressed in tomatillo salsa and cotija.
…and looking for synonyms for the word “delicious.”
But I discovered that when I started writing sentences more like this:
If Beehive were a person instead of “a West Pearl Eatery + Bar,” as the website says, she would be that unbelievably hip acquaintance of yours who always looks perfectly chic, who dances ballet instead of going to the gym and who uses mason jars in her décor without a hint of irony.
I was really, really hoping that someone—preferably dressed in a newsboy cap, horn-rimmed glasses, and a tweed waistcoat—would amble over to the piano and start belting out a soulful version of something by Mumford & Sons.
…suddenly people were talking about the reviews and responding more. In fact, if I go back and look at the articles for which I have won awards from my journalism colleagues they are almost always stories about the experience rather than descriptions of the food.
Because here’s the thing: People don’t actually read restaurant reviews to find out what the shrimp tacos taste like. If they want to know what the shrimp tacos taste like, they will go to the restaurant and eat a shrimp taco.
People read restaurant reviews to find out what the experience of dining at the restaurant was like. They want to live vicariously through me and picture themselves in my seat—and then decide if they want to go there and try the shrimp tacos.
It’s not enough for me to say that the shrimp tacos are good. Any hack on Yelp can say that the shrimp tacos are good—or bad. Or delicious. Or disgusting.
I need to go one step further. I need to put my readers in my seat and give them a taste of the experience, not the tacos.
And this is true of all good writing.
You may have heard the old writing chestnut, show don’t tell.
It absolutely applies to you. Yes, you. The one blogging about your massage therapy business, your personal training business, your veterinary practice.
It doesn’t matter what your business is or what you’re writing about on your blog; if you give your reader a taste of the experience of working with you (or buying your product), you will engage them.
If you tell them about your product, you will lose them.
Lots of small business owners have heard that they ought to have a blog to keep readers (aka: potential customers) coming back to their website and keep their business top of mind.
But too many take the plunge into blogging without ever asking themselves: who am I blogging to?
Does your small business need a blog? According to Bloomberg Business Week the answer is probably yes. But the more important question might be, are you ready to commit to a small business blog? Ask yourself these questions to find out:
Small business owners are notoriously busy, but that doesn’t mean that a blog is out of your reach. Updating your blog once every two weeks, or even once a month is sufficient, as long as you’re consistent about it. You can also delegate the job of writing posts to one or more trusted employees; giving an employee a byline and a forum to share his or her passion for your business can be a great motivational perk for the right person. You can also hire a professional blogger (like me!) to write posts for you.
Be honest with yourself up front about the amount of time you can dedicate to a blog for your business, and decide on your blog strategy accordingly.
There are also lots of different ways to make a blog work for different businesses—and the personalty types of different business owners. For example:
You can also use a blog as a FAQ (frequently asked questions) database for your product or service. If you find yourself answering similar questions for your clients over and over again, making the answers available on the web can be a boon for you and your customers. Plus, it will show that you are serious about customer service and that you listen to your customer’s needs.
Your blog can also become an ongoing conversation with your customers that you might not otherwise be able to have. Think of all the valuable feedback you could receive by asking your ideal customers their opinions about your business—and the strides you could make by applying that knowledge.
Think you’re ready to take the plunge? Click here to schedule a free 15-minute blogstorming session with me.
Photo Credit: Frank Gruber via Compfight cc