I love baseball. My wife and I are fortunate enough to live in St. Louis, home to one of the best baseball teams and Busch Stadium, otherwise known as “Baseball Heaven.” We watch virtually every Cardinals game, attend several a year, and we’re teaching our daughters to love the game as well. When she was two she could say “Home Run!” and “Yadi! Yadi!” (cheering for our All-Star catcher, Yadier Molina).
A couple years ago, when Tony LaRussa was our manager, he used to get furious whenever the opposing manager and pitcher would use a tactic against our hitters, particularly invaluable players like Molina. The tactic is called a Purpose Pitch.
If you’re not a big fan of baseball, it’s important to understand the “Strikezone.” Pitchers are supposed to throw the ball to the catcher and it’s supposed to be above home plate. If you draw imaginary lines upward from the sides of home plate, the ball is supposed to be between those lines. It’s also supposed to be above the hitters knees but below his elbows. If it is thrown through that virtual square, it’s called a Strike. If it’s outside that square when thrown, it’s a Ball. When a hitter gets three strikes he’s out, but if he gets four balls, he draws a walk and gets to proceed to first base.
So generally speaking, pitchers want to, and need to, throw more strikes than balls. But the thing is, the reason it’s a strike is because that virtual square is also the area where a hitter is most likely going to be able to make contact with the ball. If all a pitcher does is throw strikes, then he has to hope that his pitches are simply too fast for the hitter to hit.
In order for a batter to be able to make contact with a ball thrown anywhere within that strike zone, the batter must stand within the batter’s box, next to home plate, and must be close enough so that, when extended, the bat can cover that entire area.
Now, let me ask you something. If I throw a baseball at you, directly at you, and it’s moving along at around 90 m.p.h., are you going to move?
Yeah, I thought so.
MLB players are no different from you or I. You aren’t going to see them lean in and take one for the team like Corbin Bernsen’s character in Major League. If a pitch is thrown “high and tight,” which means above and inside the strike zone, close to the batter, he’s going to step back.
That’s a purpose pitch.
The pitcher knows it’s going to be called a ball before he even throws it. But he’s OK with that because there’s a purpose to it. It drives the hitter back, off the plate. it makes the hitter begin to question where the next pitch is going to come. Will it be down and away, or in his ear? If he’s not too sure, he may not get as close to the plate as he was previously, giving the pitcher an opportunity to catch the outside edge of the strike zone where the hitter will have no chance to make contact.
Sometimes Bloggers need to throw a purpose pitch.
One of the challenges in business blogging is coming up with interesting topics. But when you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll begin to get a feel for what your audience is interested in, and you’ll write more and more on those topics. So that part does get easier over time.
However, it can also be a bit of a trap. What if your most popular posts aren’t the topics that will actually bring you leads and sales? It’s great to have that traffic and readership, but if they aren’t converting into customers, there’s a missing piece.
Sometimes, you need to write blog posts that you know aren’t going to be popular, that you know aren’t going to get tons of readers and interest, but that you also know will be very helpful to your specific, targeted market.
Certainly, if you’re fortunate enough to be an industry where you can create content that is targeted AND popular, that’s great. But many of us aren’t.
If I’m writing a blog post for an attorney client who specializes in wills and estate planning, I might write a post entitled, “10 Critical Points to Consider Before Estate Planning.” If I share that to Facebook+, it’s not likely be so popular that it will go viral, or become trending on Twitter. However, if the post is really well-written and helpful, it will be extremely useful in the long run. It will draw in great search engine traffic, and can be used in client emails and communication.
While we may want all of our blog posts to get a ton of traffic, it’s OK to have alternate agendas sometimes. Blogging is an ongoing process, not a one-time shot in the dark. Just like you can have a publishing schedule that helps you key blog posts onto specific keywords and services at scheduled times, you can also afford to create content for a variety of purposes.
RELATED: The Ultimate Blogging Planner to help you organize your blog & blogging business.
1. Educate a Targeted Niche
This is essentially the example I gave above. Target a very specific niche or market and provide educational information for use as a resource in the future.
2. Set Up a Future Post
Sometimes you’ll have an idea for a topic that you might consider an “Advanced” lesson, but you haven’t even broached the topic at a “Basic” level yet. Write that Basic post first, so you’ll have it on your site, and then write the Advanced lesson so you can refer people back to the Basic post. Some people will refer readers to basic information on other sites, but I recommend having that information on your own site whenever possible so you aren’t sending people to other websites.
3. Hit Sales Points
Every business has customers that go through various phases within a sales cycle. At a minimum, those phases are recognizing that there’s a problem, identifying solutions and searching for potential providers. The content and information that people are searching for at each phase is often different, and savvy business owners will recognize that and produce posts that address their concerns and lead them to the next phase in the sales cycle.
Don’t be afraid to publish content that is useful, furthers your business agenda, and is educational. Throw a purpose pitch.