When I stand up and deliver a little spiel about my business during a weekly networking meeting, I often discuss the value of a business blog. How it helps you build trust, educate, establish your expertise, improve your search ranking, and earn the reader’s business or referrals.
Last week, somebody in my networking group approached me and asked, “What’s a blog?”
Not “yikes” because that’s an unreasonable question. “Yikes” because I just assumed everyone knows what a blog is.
As business owners and marketers, it’s our responsibility to assume nothing. We can’t assume people have a certain level of knowledge about what we do. We can’t assume people will be able to connect the dots on their own.
We need to do the opposite.
Leave no doubt. Leave no room for interpretation. Be crystal clear. Be precise. Do all of these things while speaking the language of your target audience.
Be Captain Obvious.
Years ago, I stopped saying “copywriting” during conversations after I realized some people were confusing it with “copyrighting.” I write content, or copy. I don’t do anything that involves a “C” with a circle around it.
On paper, “copywriting” is fine. In conversations, it’s not always obvious.
Here are a few examples of places where it’s critical to be obvious.
Does the home page of your website explain what you do and the value of what you do? Is that explanation clear and indisputable to someone who isn’t as familiar with your industry and product offerings as you are?
If it takes someone more than a few seconds to gain at least a basic understanding of what your business has to offer, there’s a good chance visitors won’t get beyond the home page before they bounce away to a competitor.
Does the headline of your blog post set an obvious, specific expectation for the reader? Most people don’t have the time or the patience to read content with the hope that they’ll find something of value.
Does your marketing content, whether it’s a website, brochure, email, or LinkedIn page, convey at least one clear distinction between your company and your competitors? Without an obvious differentiator – a real differentiator, not an empty marketing cliché like “best service” – there’s nothing separating you from the pack.
Does your call-to-action tell your prospects exactly what action you want them to take? Are the steps required to take that action as clear and easy as they could possibly be?
I read an article on HubSpot that explained how an online retailer got 49 percent more people to add products to their carts. They changed a button. Instead of simply showing a picture of a shopping cart inside the button, they included the words “Add to Cart.”
That’s the difference between assuming the next step is obvious and removing all doubt.
“Obvious” does not equal “boring.”
It’s easy to get caught up in features and benefits and bells and whistles. It’s tempting to try to be creative and funny. After all, being obvious is widely viewed as being boring and even unsophisticated.
But before you hit “publish,” “send” or “print,” ask yourself one question.
Are my features, benefits, bells, whistles, creativity, and humor making what I do and my core value proposition less obvious?
If they are, you’re increasing the risk of losing the sale.
I’m all for features, benefits, bells, whistles, creativity, and humor if:
- they make someone more likely to do business with you.
- they support and strengthen your marketing message and value proposition.
- the primary reasons for doing business with you aren’t made any less obvious.
Hate to burst your creative bubble, but in many cases, the most effective way to win someone’s business is with a very direct, straightforward message that shows how you can solve a problem, fill a need, or make someone’s life better.
When it comes to marketing, being Captain Obvious is better than getting lost in a land of confusion. As Phil Collins used to say.