Blogging can be one of the most powerful tools in your online marketing kit. But, it’s more than just about joining the conversation. It’s about sharing your knowledge, contributing to and, at times, controlling the dialog. Business blogging is also a proven way to drive traffic to your website, build trust among your prospects and convert them into leads.
Your blog should begin with a clearly defined purpose and follow best practices in order to maximize its effectiveness. Here are a few business blogging tips to help you begin to carve out your role, educate your customers and distinguish your organization.
1. Business Blogging is not for Selling.
People don’t read blogs for sales pitches. They read them to be educated. A blog is one of the best online marketing opportunities to share your subject matter expertise, which will indirectly promote your business. But, if there’s no, “What’s in it for me?” from the reader’s perspective, you’ve missed the mark of how business blogging should work. If your posts read like commercials, guess what? People will tune out. Keep it informative and save the direct sales and promotion for another time and place.
2. Make It All about Them.
Don’t write about yourself. The most-effective business bloggers remove their ego from their writing and make it about their audiences. If you find that your posts use “we” a lot, find ways to flip your message by changing the “we”s into “you”s. Remind yourself to focus on the “why”s and avoid getting trapped in the “what”s. A blog is no place for press releases, so make sure yours doesn’t read like one.
3. Share Meaningful Information.
Try writing posts that provide answers to common questions and address pain points. Share what you know that others will find helpful. By doing so, your prospects will be more likely to leap into your sales funnel when the time is right because they’ve already learned from you and you’ve built trust. Demonstrate that you’ve done your research, too, by providing relevant third-party links.
4. Empathy Is a Powerful Attribute.
Understanding the concerns and objectives of your audience enables you to write content that helps them achieve their goals or overcome their challenges and fears. Remember, in most cases, you are not your target audience. Identify with the reader. If you can get them to think, “Hey, they really know me!” you’ll go a long way toward establishing your own usefulness. When you blog with empathy, you’ll have a hard time creating content that falls flat.
5. Business Blogging Reinforces Your Authenticity.
One of the greatest things you can do with your business blogging is to be authentic. Often, it is the personal character of the business or staff that convinces a prospect to buy from them. If you can capture the spirit of your business’ personality in your blog, you’ll go a long way toward distinguishing it from your competition and building your brand. But, don’t go overboard trying to be too cute or funny. If it’s not your style, it will likely show. Avoid straying from your comfort zone by trying to be something you aren’t.
6. Strive for Continuous Improvement.
The best business bloggers are always willing to improve their online marketing skills and learn new best practices. There are many out there who don’t like to do revisions, don’t understand formatting and subtitles, or don’t take the time to ensure that their writing actually offers something meaningful to the reader. Remember, humility is a sign of strength! By accepting the fact that you cannot possibly know everything, both you and your audience will be better for it. If you open your blog for comments and that forces a few edits to the original post, that’s okay. Simply write an addendum and explain why.
7. Stay Connected to the Real World.
Great writers pull from their own experiences and apply them to real-world scenarios and current events. Your audience is probably well-read, so you should be, too. Get into the habit of reading what others have to say and try to add your own positive spin wherever you can. Not only does it inspire additional posts, it provides a way to further the conversation.
8. Commit to Your Business Blogging.
Don’t just dabble in blogging. Nothing looks worse than going to a company’s blog to discover that the most recent post is six months old. That shows a lack of commitment to your blog and, more importantly, your audience. Yes, we’re all busy and don’t always have the time to generate new content. So, empower a group of contributors who offer different perspectives, create a schedule and stick to it. And, don’t EVER launch a new blog without at least a few posts in-hand as a backlog.
A multitude of business blogging advice can easily be found online (see a few links below). (In full disclosure, I can’t say that I always follow them myself, but I’m still learning, too.) It’s important to follow the best practices that make the most sense for your business. Perhaps your specific market requires some bluster or a more nuanced approach. Whatever the case, you’ll find that many of the fundamentals remain the same.
The good news is that, the more you blog, the easier it gets.
If you’re looking to create a new brand identity or enhance your current one, expect to be deeply involved, regularly challenged and perhaps a bit frustrated. It surely won’t happen overnight. But your patience will certainly pay off.
As the calendar year winds down, it always a good idea to take a step back to revisit and refresh your marketing. Your business will be better off by doing so. But, don’t go overboard and be too disruptive.
We’ve collected a number of the more salient points from our blog and are presenting them as a marketing reality check list. A good number of these apply to new or small businesses. But you’ll also find that some of the largest corporations in the world make many of the same missteps.