Today I’m going to explain why speaking your mind in your blog is good for business. To do that, I first need to tell you about Mr. Horrell.
Mr. Horrell was the basketball coach for our eighth- and ninth-grade seasons at Ridge Junior High in Mentor, Ohio. I remember two things Mr. Horrell told us:
1. “Don’t give up the baseline when playing defense.” If one of us gave up the baseline during practice, he’d blow his whistle, turn red, and yell “DON’T GIVE UP THE BASELINE!” We’d all nod. The scene would be repeated a few days later when one of us gave up the baseline.
2. “If you’re not being called for a few fouls per game, you’re not playing hard enough.” I think he said this only once. It stuck with me because it was a surprising instruction; it ran somewhat contrary to what we were always told: “Don’t foul.”
Late last night, Mr. Horrell’s voice rang in my ears again.
I posted an article here yesterday, “What World-Class Salespeople Do That You Don’t,” that’s one of my all-time favorites. The post tells a long story from personal experience, delivers an unsettling truth about the need to sell, and describes a method for improving your sales skills. As a bonus, I included two relevant musical-performance videos below the post.
A personal story, an uneasy truth, a how-to, and two music videos. That’s the perfect post.
Not everyone agreed.
About 2 hours after I sent the post to my email list, a reader unsubscribed and wrote:
“Seriously, I like the solopreneur concept but your pseudo emotional newsletters suck.”
(It’s supposed to be “pseudo-emotional newsletters.” Nobody knows how to use hyphens, but that’s a rant for another day.)
I don’t know what “pseudo emotional” means, but even criticism that doesn’t make sense leaves a mark. I was still smarting when daughter Clare and I went to dinner at the Panda Express that just opened in Owatonna. Fortunately, the unsubscriber’s barb didn’t ruin my sweet-pepper chicken, which was pretty good for a chain restaurant.
Later in the evening, somewhere ’round 1:30 a.m. (yeah, I’m a night owl), I was brushing my teeth, getting ready for bed. Still wondering what “pseudo emotional” means, I heard Mr. Horrell’s voice: “If you’re not being called for a few fouls per game, you’re not playing hard enough.”
“Wow, that applies to writing,” I said to myself.
I laughed. The “your newsletter sucks” comment was an indicator that I did good work on that post.
Then an idea popped in my head. “Use the full ‘your newsletter sucks’ quote on the website, underneath the ‘What Others Say’ section. That would be brilliant. Thanks for the unsubscribe, dude! You added some hot sauce to my site.”
You’ll Attract a Loyal Audience
If you’re not trying hard enough in your writing, if you equivocate and qualify, if you back off of a strong opinion, if you don’t tell stories from your life, then you’re not writing from a place of authenticity and truth. You won’t clash with anyone else’s reality. You won’t move anyone to click on the unsubscribe link and take the time to leave a message. You won’t “foul” anyone. You won’t make anyone mad, but you won’t attract raving fans, you won’t build a valuable audience, and ultimately your business won’t grow.
In my experience, the flip-side also is true.
When you write with authenticity and speak truth based on your experience, some folks aren’t going to like it; your truth clashes with their experience or hopes. But you’ll connect with people and ultimately you will build a loyal audience of people who want to buy from you.
Here’s my advice. Listen to Mr. Horrell’s voice: get out there, play hard, and commit some fouls. And DON’T GIVE UP THE BASELINE!