The Dale Carnegie Guide to Winning Web Content

In 1936, Dale Carnegie—a successful Midwestern bacon salesman, failed actor and popular lecturer on public speaking—published How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book, based on Carnegie’s experience in sales and adult education, went through 17 printings in its first year and has since sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.

With good reason. Carnegie’s insightful advice goes to the heart of building quality relationships, and holds as true today as it did just over 75 years ago. What fascinates me is how well his guidelines apply to creating excellent web content.

For starters, Carnegie’s writing style is personal, thoughtful and engaging—a great example of content that draws you in with intriguing, easily skimmed headlines and solid advice.

He understood his target audience and never spoke down, but offered practical, time-tested ways to build a following that easily translate to internet marketing.

Here, for example, are Carnegie’s “Six ways to make people like you”:

1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
This is another way of saying love your market. If you don’t love the people you hope to serve and really care to know everything about them, you’re in the wrong business.

2. Smile.
Maintain a positive, engaging tone in your web content. Your goal is to help, explain, teach and encourage your ideal client to solve her problems, and, in the process, demonstrate how you can be of assistance.

3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
Give outstanding, personal service to your clients. All the rest is commentary.

4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
There’s no other way to develop a clear understanding of your ideal clients’ needs and problems than to spend time listening. A sure-fire way to create a website that bombs is to do the opposite—talk all about your great product or service without bothering to find out what your market wants.

5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
This is the essence of solid web content. Write with your ideal client clearly in mind. What is the problem she’s trying to solve? What are her values? What are her favorite pass-times? What keeps her up at night?

6. Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.
If you’re faking it, because you don’t really care or you don’t really respect your customers, they’ll know. This goes back to the first point: pick a market that you genuinely care about. Write from the heart about what you do and how you can help. Be sincere in your work. Your customers will thank you.

If you’ve never read Carnegie, his advice is well worth your time. And if you have, give the book a second look. While it’s easy to get distracted by all of the new and ever-evolving tools for websites and social media, the basics of good communication and relationship building—what Carnegie describes so well—never really change.

 

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