I had a meeting this morning with one of my fellow ProVisors members who was starting to create her digital marketing foundation. She's a strong networker and an incredibly bright woman with a PhD from Pepperdine, but was pretty honest about the fact that blogging was totally foreign to her.
"Why do it? How does it even work? Will anyone even read them?"
All valid and common questions for those new to blogging for their business.
To answer all those questions in one blog would make for one...intolerably long...blog. So, I thought I'd cut this big ole' slab of blogging steak into tasty bite size pieces -- beginning with five must-have, non-negotiable, uber-important blogging traits.
Focus (on Personas)
Without understanding who you're writing for, it will be nearly impossible for you to see results from your blogging (or any content marketing) efforts. It's so simple of a concept, yet many businesses fail to narrowly define who their buyers really are.
These questions can help get you started:
- What is their basic demographic info (age, sex, location, etc)?
- What is their primary role/profession?
- What are their most common questions/concerns regarding your field?
- What are their most valuable assets (time, money, etc)?
- What are some of their more common issues/objections to your product/service?
It's also helpful to consider what their daily life might look like and where they tend to research things online. If you need a place to start, take a solid look at your current customer base and even survey them if necessary.
Once your personas are solid, you can begin to tightly focus on your potential buyers, transforming your blog content from a shotgun into a sniper rifle.
A lot of businesses (including some of your competitors) have caught on the value of blogging. So a quick way to differentiate your business lies in doing it well. Now, altruism can be generally defined as putting others before yourself and the surest path to writing a kick ass blog is to be altruistic in your intent. Those businesses who put SEO, sales and self promotion first are now finding their prospects drifting toward their more altruistic competitors.
Why? Because the self-centered mentality is a guaranteed trust killer.
And, with buyers conducting nearly 70% of their product/service research online prior to contacting a vendor, gaining that trust is absolutely imperative if you plan on gaining new followers and prospects. All this to say, the biggest chunk of the sales process is no longer in the hands of sellers, so you might as well quit selling and start helping.
While value is strongly intertwined the persona development listed above, it is important enough to warrant its own number on this list. Basically, your blog content can't just be some quantity-over-quality, keyword riddled promo-fest. It has to be valuable.
Even if you are focused on your personas and are altruistic in intent, you have to deliver some type of pertinent and actionable information. Otherwise, you'll end up like the Kevin Costner of content -- sure, nobody dislikes you but you're not really packing the house either.
Fortunately, creating value is simple:
Answer your persona's questions, solve their problems and help shed light on things they may not know even exist. Use your knowledge to make their lives just a little bit easier. Whatever you do, don't just aimlessly ramble on trying to sound smart. It has no value.
Time and time again, I've seen companies begin to write great blogs once or twice a week, then once every couple weeks until eventually, it's once a month to never. What I hear in response to this is, "I'm just too busy with other things," or "I can't come up with enough topics to write about," or even, "Yeah, I wrote a few but it didn't work for me." These excuses are just that...excuses.
Listen, blogging is a core facet to successful inbound marketing programs and it does work. I mean, you're here, reading this article now which is proof that it works! The trick is to stay with it, don't get caught in the weeds of perfection and continually improve them to better educate your prospects and customers. Holding yourself accountable to even just one blog each week can have a significant impact long term.
Still not convinced? Consider this...
B2B companies that blog generate over 67% more leads than those who don't according to Social Media B2B.
And according to research done by the Content Marketing Institute, 8 out of 10 people say that they are frequent blog readers with almost a quarter of their time spent on social media - an effective channel for promoting blog content.
You've delivered an informative, genuine and hopefully remarkable blog, why not allow your readers an easy way to further engage with you?
What we're really talking about here are conversions and CTAs are a perfect way to make this happen. Let's say you wrote a stunning masterpiece on Microsoft Outlook 2013 tips. Your reader is stoked about how useful it was and they now are wanting more goodies from you! Sure, they can subscribe to your blog in the typically adjacent blog subscription form - and there's a ton of value in that - but wouldn't you rather give them the opportunity to give you more of their info? Of course!
To do that, you place a crafty, well designed CTA at the end of that blog article offering something that's related to the blog's subject.
In the example above, it might be for an eBook like "The Definitive Guide to Microsoft Outlook 2013," or perhaps a comprehensive listing of more tips, or at the very least, an invitation to sign up for a monthly newsletter.
The goal is to offer your blog reader an opportunity to get something they find much more valuable than the contact info they provide you. Thus aligning with the ultimate purpose of your business blogs in the first place, generating leads.
Business Blogging Conclusion
With the ability to outsource content marketing services and simple methods to generate content in house, anyone can leverage all the goodness that comes from business blogging. And, as long as the above traits are incorporated without exception, results will indeed come from those blogging efforts!
Related Article: 12 Creative Ways to Generate Blog Ideas