What Makes You Fascinating? How to Find Your Blogging Competitive Advantage

  •    Tim is a freelance business writer. He writes about the business of innovation, comics and genre entertainment on The Full Bleed.

At bars around the world, Jaegermeister is routinely one of the best-selling liquors on the shelf. Why? Not because its better -- almost no one likes this battery-acid-like brew, after all -- but because it's different. Drinking it is a dare, an irresistible temptation. Or, as bestselling author Sally Hogshead puts it, Jaegermeister is fascinating.

Fascination is powerful in a world where the average attention span is nine seconds -- the same as your pet goldfish. "Find ways to spellbind your readers, and they'll give you much more than nine seconds. They'll give you their business," Hogshead says, speaking at the Authority Rainmaker content marketing conference in Boulder, Colorado.

How do you do that? In her latest book, How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination, Hogshead argues that we all have certain Fascination Advantages® that, when exercised, amount to a personal competitive advantage.

Know Your Advantages

We all have moments. The great meeting you led in which everyone was engaged and the ideas were flowing freely. The great event you planned to the letter that allowed your company to win an unprecedented amount of business. The presentation that ended with a standing ovation. Everyday moments like these make us feel like an athlete who's caught in the zone.

The key to being fascinating is to put yourself in situations where you are more likely to be in the zone, Hogshead says.

In her study of over 600,000 people, Hosghead identified seven Fascination Advantages that we express when communicating: Innovation, Passion, Power, Prestige, Trust, Mystique and Alert.

Take notice of the results. You're at your best -- as a blogger, spouse, friend, or human being -- when you're in situations that highlight your primary Advantages and bury your dormant Advantage, an attribute that doesn't come to you naturally. You might even call it a weakness. For Hogshead, the quest to amplify her primary Advantages led to more speaking engagements.

"In 2010, after a soul-crushing tour for my second book, Fascinate, I set out to win business from the 100 people I most wanted to work with," Hogshead said from the stage. "So I packed my book into boxes made to look like blue suitcases, inserting a hand-written note in each describing why I thought they were fascinating. One response in two weeks would have been enough to shift course; 73 came in."

2 Things You Need to Make Your Content Stand Out

Hogshead says we have a choice in everything we communicate. "You're either adding value or you're taking up space," she says.

When you know that, and you know which traits give you an edge, it becomes easy to get started developing content that's fascinating. You'll want to sharpen your focus and answer these two questions:

  1. What makes me different? You're looking for an adjective because it's a descriptor. It's relative to the competition. As a blogger, it most likely describes your style: witty, educational, structured or something similar.
  2. What do I do best? Here, you're looking for a noun because it describes the action or the deliverable that you provide. As a blogger, this is the type of content you're offering: news, analysis, training or something similar.

Different Is Better than Better, So Be Different!

Your blogging advantage is your Fascination Advantage, only expressed on the digital page and in a form that's unique and which highlights what you do best. If your primary Advantage is Passion, connect with your readers through emotion. You could use poetry or include beautiful soul-stirring images. Use whatever brings the force of your feelings to the page. By contrast, if your primary Advantage is Alert, give your readers specific and actionable information. You could include charts, spreadsheets or bullet points. Bring your analytical voice into your writing, because that's how you best establish authority.

"You don't learn how to be fascinating. You unlearn how to be unboring," Hogshead says. "Don't change who you are. Become more of who you are, because different is better than better."

Image Source: Jay Cross/Creative Commons