September 4, 2020

Striking the Right Note: How Writing a Persuasive Blog is Like Ripping an Epic Guitar Solo

By David Wasserstrom, Public Relations/Content Director, Marcum Strategic Marketing

Striking the Right Note: How Writing a Persuasive Blog is Like Ripping an Epic Guitar Solo Strategic Marketing

As an avid guitarist, I know I’m destined for rock stardom. Limos, stadium tours, hotel trashings, probably a tabloid scandal or two…it’s all waiting for me at the end of the rainbow. Until that day arrives, I patiently ply my craft as a content director at Marcum Strategic Marketing.

Through years working in marketing and music, I’ve learned many lessons. Yet, one stands above all others: Writing persuasively and crafting memorable guitar solos are remarkably similar in their approach and execution. If you know how to do one, you can apply that knowledge to the other and be successful.

To illustrate, consider a hypothetical example.

You, dear reader, have joined a blues band, and tonight, you’re on stage in front of adoring family and friends. You strap on your guitar, plug into an amplifier, take a swig of carrot juice (or something along those lines) then launch into the opening song. After a few obligatory verses and choruses, your time to shine has arrived…it’s your guitar solo moment.

What to do? Three approaches come to mind:

First, you could shoot out of the gate with a bang and fire off a volcano of 16th notes (translation: lots of notes) that fill every beat of every measure but convey little to your listeners thematically or emotionally.

Second, you might aimlessly riff random notes in the given song key and tie some trusty guitar licks together – again, with no forethought or organization in mind.

In both cases, you’d pump out lots of notes—but they wouldn’t be arranged logically; they wouldn’t grab the listener and make them take notice; your audience would be hard-pressed to make sense of what you were saying musically; and as a result, you’d fail to connect with them on a meaningful level.

The third approach? Well, you could begin your solo deliberately – perhaps even with one simple note – to draw your audience in and create curiosity. You could play softly at first, and then, as your solo progresses, you could start to boost your dynamic attack. You could also leave space throughout your guitar solo—let it breathe, don’t clog every measure with notes, allow the audience to process it all without being overwhelmed. Finally, as the conclusion of your solo nears, you could let it all hang out in an unforgettable crescendo…hit dramatic notes with passion (accompanied by distressed guitar face expressions), nail gut-wrenching high-octave bends and toss in some 16th note flurries for good measure.

When you’re finished, your guitar solo will have told a story, complete with a beginning, a middle and an end. You’ll have engaged your audience emotionally, instilled a sense of trust and admiration in your guitar wizardry and compelled your now raving fans to take actions you’d hoped for all along—in this case, applauding like crazy and begging for more.

Now, consider this challenge in the context of your business. Say you’ve decided to write a blog geared toward manufacturers that highlights strategies for maintaining inventory levels during supply chain disruptions.

What should you write, and how should you write it?

Like your guitar solo moment, many pathways exist. But whichever one you choose, begin by answering some fundamental questions:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What are some characteristics that define them?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What don’t they know that they really should?
  • How (and be specific) can my advice and insights ease their burdens and position them for success?

With answers in hand, start writing. Not sure how? Again, harken back to your guitar solo – in this case, the third approach described earlier – and begin assembling the introduction. For example:

Inventory

(Like the beginning of your guitar solo, this single word leading off the blog stands alone as a paragraph unto itself to grab attention and create tangible impact.)

If you’re a manufacturer, you depend on optimal inventory levels to keep production running smoothly and get products out the door on schedule. (This phrase, leading off the next paragraph, defines a common characteristic of the target audience, which forges an important connection between them and you.)

Yet, supply chains are never 100% reliable—they are subject to an array of disruptions small and large. You know that, and that’s why inventory and supply chain worries keep you up way too many nights. (Here, you’ve defined the problem and zeroed in on their pain point. Just like the guitar solo, you’re outlining the narrative, moving it in a specific direction and building tension along the way.)

You’re not alone. According to a recent study, 79% of small and midsize U.S. manufacturers cite supply chain disruptions as their most pressing concern. (The study and statistic are hypothetical, but chances are you can find a real one to cite. You’ve now quantified their pain point, informed them with useful information and strengthened your connection.)

Supply chain disruptions lie beyond your control, and while you can’t eliminate them, there are smart steps you can take now to prepare your business and help ensure operational continuity during rough patches. (You’ve acknowledged the reality your readers face, but like your guitar solo, you’re moving toward resolution—in this case, by providing hope in the form of bulleted strategies that follow.)

However you choose to present your supply chain strategies, you should conclude your blog in a way that ties everything together and hits an emotional high note. In this case, supply chain disruptions cause them tension, and your strategies are the prescription for resolution and relief. Be specific in explaining precisely how the information you’re sharing can solve their problems and ease their burdens.

Lastly, consider two pro tips for writing clearly and succinctly:

  1. Read your copy out loud. If you stumble, that’s usually a sign of something that can be improved. It’s also helpful to “hear” the copy because rhythm is an important element to powerful writing.
  2. Take a breath test. If more than one breath is necessary to get through the sentence you’re reading, that sentence more than likely is too long.

Guitar solos are nothing more than stories told through the language of music. Conversely, words that are thoughtfully chosen and logically arranged in a finished piece have an almost musical quality to them. Music and writing are different means to a common end. So the next time you sit down to write something, think about audience, structure, cadence, spacing, connection, trust, tension and release. Plot your strategy in advance. Identify something – a statistic, a bold prediction, a harsh reality – that establishes an instant connection with the reader and draws them in. Maybe lead off with a story or a hypothetical example. Grab their interest, acknowledge their pain points, then provide solutions and takeaways that will make their jobs – and by extension, their lives – better. Just like an epic guitar solo, your writing will be sweet music to those you seek to influence.

Do you have questions about developing powerful marketing content for your business? Please reach out to start a conversation. Call David Wasserstrom, Content Director at 440-459-5957 or email David.

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