At the Bloom Group we are serious about helping people produce quality content, and we have a rigorous set of criteria by which we evaluate both ours and others'. But there is another critical component to creating great content that we rarely ever talk about, and that’s fervor, or passion.
We know from our own and others’ research what B2B buyers care about in their reading matter. We usually express that as the Seven Hallmarks of Thought Leadership. Others use similar sets of criteria, for example, HBR’s Guidelines for Authors. To generate a readership, blogs don’t have to comply with all seven hallmarks—writing standards aren’t as rigorous for blog posts as they are for full-length articles—but they have to satisfy a few basic ones. For instance, they must say something new, and they must use at least one example or data point. You can test that this works. If you read any of the really popular ones in the marketing field—David Meerman Scott, Seth Godin or Chris Brogan for instance, you’ll find that almost every post satisfies at least these two criteria.[i]
But quality criteria aren’t the whole story.
There is another critical ingredient in making a blog post, or other content, compelling, and that’s passion. No-one was ever talked into bed by logic (not by me anyhow); no-one goes on reading just because an article is high quality; and no one buys anything entirely on the basis of reason. There’s usually something else.
Here’s an example. Brad Power, a business process redesign researcher and consultant, started posting regularly on hbr.com a couple of months ago. Brad has worked in his field for over 20 years, and currently does original research on process design for the Lean Enterprise Institute. Brad lives and breathes the subject, and he has a lot of insights into how to do it well. Although he only started posting a couple of months ago, he already has impressive reader interaction with his blog. This latest post had 33 comments at the time of writing. And they’re not comments of the “Nice blog post, keep up the good work!” variety. They are long, considered responses from people who are engaged in the conversation.[ii]
I would bet that all the good, well-read blogs are authored by people who are passionate about their topic. Passion helps make blog posts (and other content) compelling in a couple of ways. First, an author who is passionate about a topic stays on top of current developments and thinks about them all the time. This gives him an enormous advantage in assembling original and informed material. Second, it gives his posts character, and an infectious enthusiasm that can draw others into the story.
I can’t think of an objective way to measure passion. Perhaps that’s an oxymoron anyway—perhaps it’s just one of those things you know when you see it. In any case, blogs and other original content benefit enormously from it.
[i] This applies much less consistently to “contributor blogs” written by many people.
[ii] Full disclosure – we give Brad editorial help with his posts