This is an interesting article from Lesley Rice of Easy Content Blueprints. Not only is a good article, I also liked it on a personal level because…cough, cough…I might have played D&D at “some” point in my life. So take it away Leslie…
I have been a sorcerer for some time, working my way up from the lower levels and learning to use the magic in my blood, but that’s only on Saturdays when we play Dungeons and Dragons.
Most of the rest of the time I’m just me, a short, Scottish, red-haired, writer with a particular penchant for shortbread and ginger biscuits.
A couple of days ago I got a call from a friend. She was finally taking her company online (about time) and wondered if I could give her some advice. Her offer was simple; a reasonable fee plus a supply of Earl Grey tea, shortbread and ginger biscuits. She knows how to put together an irresistible offer! I said yes, she came round and we got to work.
I was about half way through my ‘you need to integrate all your marketing’ speech when she stopped me. There was a problem. Somewhere, back at the beginning I had mentioned the word ‘article’ and the word ‘blog’. She knew both in the abstract sense. Where, she asked, would she get ideas for things to write about? I’ll get to the answer in a minute.
If you’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons then in my view you’ve missed out on one of life’s great pleasures. It’s a role playing game in which anything can happen, and that’s important. If you are walking down the street (in the game) and the dungeon master says ‘a huge dragon appears in your path’ then in most cases you have a problem. And that’s what happened to me last Saturday. I had barely popped in to the make-believe inn to meet my fellow dungeoneers and pick up a new adventure, when boom. There it was, large as life and twice as fictional. A huge, black, winged dragon apparently of the fierce variety.
The rest of my adventuring party scattered, but not me. It’s not that I was brave, it’s just that I was too close. I considered various actions, but the sort of puny spell I could manage at the time was not really going to get me far. Magical orbs of energy tend to bounce off dragons.
So I tried something else, because in Dungeons and Dragons, you can.
I said ‘Hello Dragon, what do you want?’
Not very imaginative I know. But guess what happened next?
How do you decide what to write about? If you’re writing to promote a business, you have to look at things from your customer point of view. You need to ask that all important question – what does my reader/customer want to know?
You can brainstorm with friends, but the most reliable method is easier than that.
That’s where the dragon comes in. When I asked the dragon what he wanted, what do you suppose he did?
And that’s the great thing about the Internet. Never before has it been so easy to ask readers what they want to know or customers what they want to buy. Surveys, polls, newsletters, even blog posts which ask for comments are all types of digital dialogue, and dialogue takes the mystery out of marketing.
I belong to a very good private forum where business owners often ask questions like ‘what sort of marketing works best’ and ‘which is the best niche to choose’ and even ‘what sort of thing should I write about on my blog’. The only truthful answer is that we don’t know. Every market is different, you have to test something to see whether it works, and if doesn’t, try something else. We don’t know the answer, but we know how to find out. That’s where the dialogue comes in.
You can build a dialogue through
- Blog posts – ask for comments
- Tweets – ask for replies
- Surveys – send them with your emailed newsletter
- Polls – add them to the sidebars of your blog
- Quizzes – build them in Hub-pages and send a link to your readers
- Questions – ask your existing customers in your regular newsletter
- Articles – take a controversial view in your newsletter and ask for a response.
- Email – send a question to your list and ask what them they need to know.
And if you’re just starting out you can check the questions being asked in the forums which deal with your topic or in something more central like yahoo answers.
As long as you keep asking the question, you’ll get your answer.
The essence of business is very simple. Find out what people want. Sell it to them. Bloggers or e-business owners, we all do the same thing. What works for one person, doesn’t work for the next. No one knows what will work for your particular business, so face up to the dragon; you need to know what it wants. So ask.
Steve’s Note: It’s pretty cool how Lesley relates a widely popular game to sound, fundamental Internet marketing principles. If you want to read more from her, you should check out Lesley’s site where she talks about article marketing, social media, SEO, and viral content.Take Action. Get Results.