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Write for Everyone and You Write to NO ONE!

You want to know the secret to effecting change with the written word?

Write to one person.

It’s that simple.

Write for everyone and you write to no one…

Blogging is not enough… The words you write in your blog or on social media or in your newsletter must deliver value first to drive engagement, subscriptions and conversions.

But the problem is so many of us write and write and write and write and write and nothing happens.  No one clicks the “Contact Us” button.  No one subscribes to our newsletter.  No one even bothers to leave a simple comment.

Write for everyone and you write to no one…

The problem is far to often (And I am infinitely guilty of this at times especially in the first year or so of this blog) we write to everyone.

business blogThis is akin to throwing your fishing line in the ocean and attempting to catch all the fish with just that one cast.

It’s silly to think we would have a chance to catch all the fish in the ocean with one cast, right?  It’s common sense, the ocean is so big, it’s just not possible.

I mean think about that.  Someone would have to be crazy to think that they could catch every single fish in the ocean with one cast of their fishing pole.

If you were watching someone try to do this you would think to yourself, “This guys had too much sun and too much beer and probably had a screw loose to begin with…”

And you would not be wrong.

But let’s look at this rationally.  Why is considering the possibility of catching all the fish in the ocean with one cast a ludicrous notion?

  1. The shear size and scope of the ocean make it impossible for every fish in the ocean to be aware our bait is in the water.
  2. Our bait would have to include so many different flavor variations to accommodate the particular tastes of each individual fish it would not include the exact flavor of any particular fish.
  3. Our bait would simply not be big enough to entice every fish.
  4. Some of the fish would be turned off by the feeding frenzy at our bait.
  5. Fish that were aware of our bait and enjoyed the taste of our bait would not be hungry at the time our bait was in the water.

Write for everyone and you write to no one…

After reviewing the reasons listed above, I think we can all agree that it is a ludicrous notion to believe that you can catch all the fish in the ocean with one cast.

So why do we try to do with with our writing?

  1. The Internet is HUGE, no one can their message to everyone.
  2. A little bit of solution for everyone means no awesome solution for anyone.
  3. There are going to be people with bigger issues than your solution.
  4. There will always be contrarians to every solution.
  5. Just because you have a solution doesn’t mean that everyone has a need.

Why do we write blog posts that attempt to attract as many people as possible?

Attracting as many people as possible should not be the goal of your writing, attracting the Important People should be.

The above example may be little “left-field-ish” but I’m hoping that a convoluted metaphor gets the point across.  When you write someone that you want people to take action on, write to one person.

When I write my insurance blog posts over at Murray Group.  I pick one very specific insured in my head and I answer the question that I think that person would want answered in the way I think will deliver the most value to them.

Do I think everyone cares what Uninsured Motorist coverage is? No way.  Do I think that someone you gets T-Boned by an uninsured driver cares what uninsured motorist coverage is?  Absolutely Yes!

Write for everyone and you write to no one…

This is a concept I am in no way a master of yet, but I’m getting better.  I created my SEO experiment to test this exact theory. Does a series of solution oriented blog posts that address one specific need, talk to one specific person, yield revenue producing results? We’ll find out…

For now I’d like you to try this.  The next blog post you write picture the person you are writing for sitting right in front of you.  Write as if you were talking to that person.  The things you would say in conversation say in your writing.

Then let me know if it works!

Discussion Topic: Has anyone practiced this type of writing before?  Do you find that readers are more engaged in the article if you speak to one specific person?  Am I full of crap?

Your thoughts are graciously appreciated!

Thank you.

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About Ryan Hanley

Ryan Hanley is founder of Hanley Media Lab, an advanced content marketing agency helping companies grow their audience, to grow their business. He is also the creator of one of iTunes top content marketing podcasts, Content Warfare TV.

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  • http://www.iquestintl.com John Ernest

    The secret to successful blogging s to target an audience and deliver them information they wouldn’t find nowhere else! Thank you this is such a wonderful post. It will be a staple in my bookmarks I promise you that.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thank you John… I’m glad the post spoke to you. It’s been great to connect with you.

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

    Veeh, this post was talking to you… Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/VeehCirra Veeh Cirra

    Reading through this post, I felt like you were talking to me. I feel that when someone writes in the same voice they talk with, then it’s easier to relate. More so,when focusing on someone in particular.

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

    That is very good and perfectly fine!!!  Thanks for visiting!

  • http://www.deblogacademie.nl/ Kitty Kilian

    I have a specific person in mind. I will never tell who!

  • http://www.TheDADvocateProject.com Anonymous

    I find that my writing style varies on the type of article I’m writing and I guess that makes sense In some styles I’m incredible at talking to that one reader but often when I’m talking about graphs or something like that I find I’m much more scientific in my discussion and tend to write more  like a college professor lectures which I know is terrible. I wonder if I use your tips here if I can make those articles more persuasive and interesting. Thanks for the post. 

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      I certainly think it will help unless the audience you are trying to reach appreciates the tone you use when talking about graphs… Then there is no problem.

      All depends on who you are writing to and what they want.  Thanks!

  • http://junhax.com/ Paul Jun

    This post reminded me of a part in the book Stephen King wrote, On Writing.

    He goes about talking on who he writes for — his wife — and how that has helped him focus his writing and story-telling.

    Having our reader in mind, who they are, what they like, what they want to read, are all very important aspects of powerful writing.

    Nice post Ryan

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Paul!

      It all depends on who you’re for.  One day it might be your wife the next day it might be your friend the next day it might be your daughter.

      But having that person in mind can certainly help.

      Thanks!

  • Jack Price

    So true, Ryan. One interesting thing I’ve noticed is that, when I read something that’s not targeted to me, I still find it compelling.

    For example, if I’m reading something on a topic that interests me, and it’s written by a woman for target readers who are women, I still find it very appealing. I feel like I’m eavesdropping on an intimate conversation and catching a glimpse of their world as an outsider.

    It’s not a turn-off at all. In fact, it actually helps me absorb the content better, even though I’m not the target reader.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      That is a really excellent point… Thanks Jack!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Ryan – I definitely try to do this whenever I write. I have a specific friend in mine when I write my posts and I try to write to her. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but it certainly helps to give my writing focus.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      Focus is an excellent tool when trying to put together powerful writing… Thanks!

  • Denise

    Really specific niche’ marketing can be scary – you worry that you’re missing out on something. How could you just walk away from more business – or fans – or comments.  But you’re right – focus the energy and give your voice a voice!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      “Give your Voice a Voice” That is great. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/rourketraining Kirsten Rourke

    So true! I have started refining my “ideal reader” profile to be much more detailed. I had just a vague idea before but have started putting in things like “favorite movies” and “secret fear”.

    This has actually helped me write more, because it’s more like a real conversation. I wish I had known this YEARS ago. It should come in a little packet for new bloggers that someone sends you if you start a blog for the first time (I can dream can’t I?).

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      If you we’re interested in writing an eBook I think you just found your topic!  That is great advice Kirsten thank you!

  • http://salesclicks.com Dick Foster

    Hi Ryan, 

    Great advice. In this post, you set the stage with your headline. If someone is not interested in “writing” then they are not likely to read beyond the headline or the first paragraph. 
    I’ve heard this before and when I follow it, I find that it is better for both me and the reader. By picturing a single individual while writing a post (or any document), the words seem to flow easier for me. But more importantly, most posts have a flow that is conversational and therefore easy to read.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      You are completely correct Dick… In most blog formats a conversational tone helps the reading to connect with Author… Best of luck and have a great weekend!

  • Kitty

    So.. Who did you picture while you wrote?

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      For this article… I pictured someone struggled to connect with their audience…

  • http://twitter.com/RtMixMktg Right Mix Marketing

    Ryan. I agree with you. It helps to be focused on one person and one problem or set of related problems you’re addressing. I’m curious to hear how your SEO experiment goes!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      So far the SEO experiment is going well.  I’m learning a lot about what gets people to respond (or convert) and what doesn’t.  Check for updates every Monday.

      Thanks!!

  • http://bit.ly/vsjx5m Jeanne Pi

    Yup, that’s how I approach every post I write. I’m not successful every time (having to shed my legalese tendencies), but I’d like to think that I’m improving.

    What I’ve found is that it’s actually much easier to write when you write conversationally. I’ve heard people dictate their writings in order to force themselves to write that way. If you can’t see yourself speaking the way you write, then it’s time to re-examine your writing style.

    Trying to cast too wide a net is a common rookie mistake. I’m guilty of that, too. It’s hard not to. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that it many cases, it’s better to go deep than to go wide.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      I think that at times it’s OK write big and broad if the topic is appropriate.  But more often than not a specific post focused on a specific person is going to be more powerful.

      I’ve been to your blog Jeanne… You do a great job!  Thank You!

  • http://twitter.com/JimKinmartin Jim Kinmartin

    Thanks Ryan. This parallels the LCD “Least Common Denominator” concept taught by BNI which no doubt is a very valuable concept I’ve learned over the past six months myself. Good post.   

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      BNI is an amazing tool… I’ve been a member for 4 years.  So much good comes from a fantastic group like minded business professionals!

  • Anonymous

    Awesome information Ryan. This is one of my biggest difficulties when writing my blog. I will keep this in mind when writing my next post. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      Brent,

      It mean seem weird at first but once you get used to it and focus on it I think you’ll see some amazing things happen.

      You got the chops bro now go rock shit!

  • http://www.moneytized.com/ Angel

    It’s a brilliant idea! Since you can’t please anyone, when you write, write for a specific person. It will help you while you write and many more people will relate.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      Angel,

      Think of each blog post an individual salesman pitching one aspect of your brand, product or service.  One salesman talking to one specific person.  

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://rickmorganconsulting.com rickjmiv

    Great thought Ryan. Hmm… a focused message for a specific audience (of one). I like it.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com/2012/01/02/how-my-experiment-in-seo-will-change-the-game-on-small-business-blogging/ Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Rick!  That’s what I’m trying to do with the 100 questions thing.  one client one question one solution.