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Use Monroe’s Motivated Sequence to Call Your Readers to Action

This guest post is by Sean Davis of SDavisMedia.com.

Blogs do not produce income. Simply writing and publishing content does not increase your bank account balance.

The idea that money is a direct result of blogging is a myth that the best bloggers have dismissed, but most choose to treat it as a law of the blogosphere.

What a shame.

Many new bloggers will jump out of their online careers just as quickly as they jumped into them when they realize that it’s not enough to simply create content.

There is, however, another goal for creating content. It’s not until you understand this goal that you will know how to make money from your blog.

The goal of blogging is not to earn money. It’s to earn attention—the attention of those who will, in turn, provide the revenue you’re looking for.

Why you need to focus on attention

“If you build it, they will come.” We can argue all day about whether this is true or not. No matter what, though, we should all agree that just because people come to your blog doesn’t mean that they will buy your product, sign up for your email list, click your advertisement links, or whatever it is you need them to do in order to produce income.

As a personal testimony, I created an infographic about four months ago that seemed to be pretty popular on the internet for a day or two. The blog I published it on was only about three months old, and the infographic brought me over 1,000 visitors in one day. For some, that’s nothing. For me, it was the attention I had been dreaming about.

Take a wild guess at how many email subscribers I earned from that infographic.

If you guessed zero, you’re wrong!

The answer is actually one. One lonely person out of over a thousand visitors signed up to my free newsletter, which, by the way, offered a free gift for those who signed up.

This is when I learned that blogs have the power to bring attention, however, it’s what you do with that attention that matters most.

Introducing Monroe’s Motivated Sequence

If you’ve ever taken a college-level language course or a speech or communications class, chances are you’ve been introduced to the art of persuasion.

Simply put, in the business world, whether it be brick and mortar or internet marketing, you have to know how to persuade people to take action—especially when they are visiting your blog.

Almost a century ago, Alan Monroe of Purdue University introduced a persuasion method that takes the human mind through a natural cycle of establishing a need, developing a solution to satisfy that need, and then becoming enthusiastic about implementing that solution.

There are actually five steps to this sequence:

  1. Attention: The first step is to gain the attention of the target audience. You can do this with a story, a thought provoking question, or anything that makes the audience stop what they’re doing with curiosity and focus.
  2. Need: This is where you explain to the target audience what their need is. This can be an obvious, well-known need, or a need that you create on the spot. Often, a need is established by giving an extreme example of some unfortunate event that should never happen again.
  3. Satisfaction: Now that your target audience understands the need, it’s time for you to fly in like Superman and save the day. Provide a solution to erase that need and prevent the aforementioned unfortunate event from ever happening again.
  4. Visualization: Tell your target audience exactly how your solution can be implemented and how it will solve the problem. Also, tell them how things will progress (that is, get worse) if your solution is ignored. This is where you would provide proof—preferably a previous instance in which your solution was implemented—that convinces your audience that your solution will work. Politicians do this a lot when referencing what other nations have (or have not) done, and why it is important that we make the same (or different) decisions.
  5. Action: Get the target audience involved. You’ve already explained to them what the need is, how to satisfy that need, and what things will be like for them once the need is satisfied. Now, you have to convince them that they play an important role in making that change happen. In other words, you introduce an action that they can take to implement your solution.

If you take a step back and thoroughly observe TV commercials, political campaigns, sales pages, etc., you will notice that the most persuasive ones follow this sequence. Why? Because it was developed to follow your own natural thought patterns.

It was developed on the basis of human nature.

How to use this persuasion technique on your blog

What if you could use Monroe’s Motivated Sequence in every area of your blog?

From the content you produce, to your blog’s unique design, you can follow the steps in the sequence to lead your readers down a path that causes them to take action.

Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers.com enlightened me a few weeks ago on why he doesn’t write the typical “17 Things You Can Do To Blah Blah Blah” articles on his blog.

He said that he encourages the reader to focus on one action to take with each of his articles. As a result, his readers leave his blog with something they can actually implement instead of a list of options—something that’s been shown to be less effective at prompting action, by the way.

Considering Derek builds email lists like crazy, it’s safe to say that he understands human psychology and what makes people tick online.

Does he use Monroe’s Motivated Sequence? I don’t know. But imagine the results you could produce, article by article, if you focused each one of them on one specific action to take, as Derek does, and you used Monroe’s Motivated Sequence to do so.

Are the ideas flowing yet? I hope so.

Remember: blogs don’t earn money. Blogs earn attention. Once you have attention, which is nothing more than a visit to your blog, you have to know how to guide the visitor down a path that leads them to an action you’d like them to take.

Whatever your goals for your blog, you can start using Monroe’s Motivated Sequence right now. Simply break something you want your visitors to do down to one single action, and then follow the steps of the sequence.

Take a few moments to think about communications you encounter every day and how they follow this sequence. And imagine the possibilities for your blog if you can master this technique.

Sean Davis is an internet entrepreneur dedicated to constant growth and helping others. Check Sean out at SDavisMedia.com and follow him on Twitter @SDavisMedia.

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Comments

  1. wow I loved this article, so refreshing to see something with authority say that collecting new subscribers can be really hard, even with a freebie sean struggled. I’ve run a consistent and quality blog for over 3yrs now, and still only 45?? (can’t remember last time I checked) subscribers. Then I see Darren’s 321,000 – and it really annoys me. I always post, always consistent, always what I say I do, regulars come back, most come and go, but I’ve never asked anyone, within a post, to subscribe. And I wonder why… hmmm, I def need to change that. :)

    • Sean Davis says:

      Hey, Annie! Thanks a lot for reading the article and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      It took me quite some time to realize that humans behave a certain way and it’s foolish of me to try and change them. I figured that I would just do whatever I felt like doing and everyone would simply grant me my wishes.

      Nope… doesn’t work that way.

      Solving problems has always brought me the most success. From helping someone realize something to selling them a solution… it always comes down to what they need. That’s why I like Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. It’s all about establishing that need.

      Once they recognize it, guess who’s the first person there to satisfy it? ;)

  2. The same thing happened to me Davis. When I started consulting for newbie and corporate firms in the area of blogging, I discovered that blogs can’t earn money, but it can earn attention. I’ve also decided to focus on channeling visitors to my email list. I think it’s the best strategy ever and if you consider it critically, a blog without an email list is a waste of time.

    Thank you for sharing and I hope Problogger readers’ take your advice to heart.

    • Sean Davis says:

      I agree, Michael. Unless you’re blogging purely as a hobby, blogging without building an email list just doesn’t make sense. Even as a hobby, I would argue that you’re better off just using Facebook (or another social site) to publish content.

      Thanks a lot for reading, my friend.

  3. Susan Cooper @Find Our Way Now says:

    I found this article very helpful. When you step back, as you said, it make s a great deal of sense. In the Blogosphere, garbing and keeping someones attention is the greatest challenge all bloggers face, especially when they are new. It is the reason many give it up. If they are “in it to win it” it takes time, hard work and learning new ways to attract people be visit and become part of the discussion on your blog. Thanks for the info. :-)

  4. Sergio Felix says:

    Hey Sean my man,

    I wasn’t aware that those “17 Things You Can Do To Blah Blah Blah” kind of articles were that bad for triggering an action on our visitors.

    Now that you bring this up to the table and the more that I think about it, I think it just makes sense.

    Why throw so much information when we just want our visitors to do only ONE thing (an action most of the times) right?

    Anyway, about the whole blogging for money scenario, I now see blogs as a way to know the person I’m dealing with.

    I can tell a lot just from visiting someone’s blog and it doesn’t takes me much time to see if I’m either going to love that person or just hop on to the next blog to never come back.

    The Monroe’s Motivated Sequence (never heard of it so thanks for showing that to me!) sounds like it is highly flexible to many tasks apart from article writing such as an entire product creation, sales copy and persuasion with video.

    I’m going to try this on a few offline projects I’m currently working on and see what happens.

    Thanks for the awesome write up Sean!

    Sergio

    • Sean Davis says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Sergio!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I learned about Monroe’s Motivated Sequence in college while taking a speech class. I gave a few speeches using that format. I couldn’t believe how often it was used in the real world once I sat back and took a look.

      You can most definitely use it outside of article writing. Hell, I’d go so far as to say that you could use it without even using words… just facial expressions and body language! I’m sure that music can follow this format as well. Whatever has the ability to trigger certain types of emotion in people can follow the format.

      Be sure to let me know how you implement it. Everyone else is doing it (advertisement industry… politicians… etc.), there’s no reason why we shouldn’t!

  5. Chris @ NPI says:

    Hi Sean, great article. I agree, that tutorials (how to solve ONE problem) are greater than lists. But even in tutorial it’s not so easy to get attention from your readers :)
    BR, Chris

    • Sean Davis says:

      Hey, Chris. Thanks a lot for reading!

      “But even in tutorial it’s not so easy to get attention from your readers :)”

      The point of this article is not to use single-action tutorials to get attention. It’s to emphasize the importance of doing something with the attention that you’ve already earned.

      You see, when people are under the impression that blogging = money, they write articles and think the job is done. Nope. Writing articles (blogging all together) is all about earning attention (which I didn’t say how to do in this article). Then, once you have that attention, that’s when you use Monroe’s Motivated Sequence to narrow down the action you want the reader to take.

      See what I mean?

  6. very very useful and practical – than you.

    I’m going to write that sequence on a card and keep it in my line of sight when I’m writing my blog as well as sales pages and press releases.

    There’s always something new to learn which is fab and good people like you to share it.

    Excellent.

    Liz

    • Sean Davis says:

      I’m glad you found it useful, Liz!

      Keeping the sequence in your line of site while writing is a great idea. It’s really easy to just write without any sense of structure. It’s a little harder when you follow a pattern… but I think the writing becomes more effective.

      Thanks for your input.

  7. Dana says:

    I needed to read this. Thank you. I plan to make a mini-checklist until it becomes more natural. Thanks again.

  8. Raymond says:

    I am a casual blogger still trying to find my niche. I get about 30-50 unique views on my posts daily. I want to share that when I used this sequence to write a post on the 5 Ideas of Adopting a New Idea (http://www.raymondduke.com/2012/05/5-stages-of-adopting-new-idea.html), I received 2000+ views in a day. Turns out my article was shared on a popular site (Hacker News) and it got a fair amount of traffic.

    I used the formula again for latest blog post titled “Is Telling Yourself “I Could have Done Better” Good or Bad?” (http://www.raymondduke.com/2012/07/SayingICouldHaveDoneBetterGoodOrBad.html). I am not expecting an extreme amount of traffic, but I do appreciate how the sequence provides a structure for blogging. I will be using it more in the future.