How business blogs can use their human side to capture hearts and minds

small__4475425560If you blog for business in an area that’s pretty serious – law, accountancy, insurance, etc. which some might even think are “boring” subjects – it’s easy to think that you can only blog about serious business issues that some of your clients might find, well, a little on the serious, impersonal side. But that’s not true.

We need to go for something better … deeper … topics that reach down further into people’s hearts and minds to engage all their attention, not just the bit that deals with nuts-and-bolts business.

How on earth do these professional topics drill down into personal issues? Here’s how…

Lawyers

You may think blogging for a law practice is as dry as a bone (well, a bone after it has been stripped by one of my dogs, anyway.)

So, so wrong. Why? Because although lawyers deal with dry, crisp, unchangeable law on the one hand, they deal with very human issues on the other.

At a recent networking event I spent a long time chatting with a lady lawyer who specializes in family law. She was recounting some of the vile, horrible things couples do to each other – or try to do to each other – out of spite, jealousy, anger, bitterness and numerous other awful emotions. Often at the expense of their children, too.

After I asked her whether she considered that she could often find herself in a counselling role, she admitted that she is, even though the advice she can give must, ostensibly at least, be restricted to the legal variety. But what a host of human interest blog posts her stories would make … and what power those stories would add to the supposedly staid and dreary image of a law practice.

At a blogging content workshop I gave recently, one of the breakout groups was working on blog ideas for a lawyer specialising in trust, wills and probate. Boring? No way. They came up with some wonderful ideas – many of them humorous – for example…

  • Not letting the government take more than its fair share of your stuff when you die
  • How to handle will making where there have been estrangements in a family
  • How to deal with greedy relatives haggling over a will
  • how to handle the difference between what you feel obliged to do and what you really want to do when making your will
  • how to set up trusts so the beneficiaries don’t get lazy
  • …and many more.

They were extrapolating the human elements and stories from the seemingly dry and dusty legal topics. And that’s the key here: it doesn’t matter how dry and dusty the subject matter – it still affects humans.

Accountancy

small__8265146095Another person in the same workshop was an accountant and his elevator speech included the lovely line, “you have to pay the taxman, but you don’t have to leave him a tip.” Cue here, I suspect for some of the many taxman jokes that have been around for a long time, but if suitably edited and personalized would make a great “Jokes Corner” element on his blog.

As I have written about elsewhere, there’s no harm in using humor in your business writing, provided that it’s suitable for your audience and doesn’t offend (although the taxman is fair game – even for taxmen…)

But accountancy will have some powerful human interest stories attached to it, too, not just “get your tax return in by next week” or “how to save and file all your receipts neatly.” How about:

  • Comfort for clients who hate keeping their own books
  • Methods of handling your finances on a regular, frequent basis so it doesn’t freak you out at the end of the financial year
  • How to teach your kids to budget and handle their money
  • The tactful ways to help seniors with their finances if they’re no longer coping
  • Tips on how to cut business or personal costs when cashflow is tight
  • Firefighting tactics you need if you think your business is in trouble
  • Etc…

Insurance

Large insurance companies cottoned on to the idea of powerful human interest stories to help sell their products a long time ago. I remember writing speeches for three senior insurance sales people at their company’s annual convention in the Royal Albert Hall in London, England, whereby they had to speak for 20 minutes without note or prompters and share their most memorable poignant human interest stories resulting from their having sold an insurance policy.

small__256934977I wrote their speeches and coached them, even to the point of holding the hand of one speaker and literally leading her to the stage area because she was so sh*t-scared. But through the day they told their stories. Each one of them got a standing ovation from 3,000 of their colleagues, many of whom were in tears. And the audience consisted only of more insurance sales people.

Moral of that story? Remember the words of our producer who, when I became nauseous after reading the schmaltzy human interest brief, said “If you want to get paid, write schmaltzy. Schmaltzy works.”
It doesn’t have to be schmaltzy, but you get the picture. Stories about people rescued from certain destitution by a wise insurance policy, a widow who was able to remain in her modest home to raise her children, a corpse which could be flown home from a far-flung location for a proper burial, etc… these stories – provided they’re true – reach hearts and interest minds.

If your business is pretty serious and lacking in “human interest,” with luck this article may trigger some ideas for you. Please share your thoughts – and any questions you may have – with us here.

While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family…

photo credit: Gerry Dincher via photopin cc
photo credit: StockMonkeys.com via photopin cc
photo credit: Franco Folini via photopin cc

Comments

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Thoughts

  1. Sage advice, love this!
    I was very much concerned about this formal aspect when I first started on the blogging trail, being a counsellor and all!

    And there you have it, within this article . People want to know how human behaviour resonates in their life, and what it means – from a safe distance.

    “There, I’m not alone with that worry, and still no-one else ‘knows’ I feel and think that way, phew!”

    There is so much material available from my work for blogging to raise my company profile, and educate and share with the intended audience – without compromising confidence, and it is even possible to bring some lightness to the subject.

    Great article!

  2. Stories drive just about any profession. I love the examples here Suzan!

    Law in particular provides you with so many wild stories. As noted, some of the crazy stuff that couples or families do to one another is unreal. Plenty of content ideas here.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Ryan – good to see you here. So glad you found these tips helpful. As you suggest, good content for blog posts can be found almost anywhere provided you know how to look for it. Watch this space, as we’ll be doing quite a bit more about blog writing a bit later on this year!

  3. Thanks for these lovely ideas, Suzan. It’s easy to think of a certain industries as boring. I’m going to put a little post-it on my computer that says “Think of the human story!”

    • That’s a great idea Deborah – and thanks so much for your kind words! Glad you found the article helpful. Some years ago I did some work with a lovely E2L writer/teacher in SA called Frances Gordon. Have you ever run into her? If so please give her my love! And although I have yet to visit your beautiful country my brother-in-law lives in Rivonia and I really would love to come out there one day. Please stay in touch!

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