Take the “Blah” out of Blog
I’m writing an article to post on my new website. I don’t like the word “blog,” so I’m not having one on the site. Instead, I have an ideas-and-thoughts-to-help-others section. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to use the word, even though it makes me sick. Literally. I’ll spare you the details.
More to the point, blogs and newsletters are an absolute beast to manage and keep on track. However, if they provide value to your clients and prospects, are clicked and read and create engagement through liking, sharing, and inbound leads, I’m all for it. So, I’m going to follow my own advice and get one done. The first one will be about blogging. Here we go.
First, let’s establish, “Why blog?”
I assume you know your audience, your target market, and their personas. That’s a given and you should already know all that from your sales efforts, so I’ll skip and go straight to why you should to talk to your audience via a blog. The obvious reasons are:
- To increase traffic to your website
- To drive people to ask for more info by filling out a contact form
- To see who’s interested and prioritize prospecting efforts
The less obvious, but most important reasons, are:
- Engagement – Blogs are a great way to start conversations with prospects and even clients.
- Thought Leadership – Blogs help you build and sustain credibility in the marketplace.
- Buyer Intent Data – Blogs enable you to gauge and pinpoint your prospects’ interests.
Now that you know why you need a blog, let’s look at how to narrow down what you want to talk about. Here are some suggestions.
- Write about how your product makes a difference. Case studies of how your clients have used your products to gain momentum and revenue. Benefits and feature comparisons provide shoppers with the information they need to make a decision. Most shoppers do a lot of reading online before becoming buyers. If your content is out there for them to find and it’s organized and informative, your chances are much higher that you’ll be in the running for their business. Set up the right web tools and you’ll also get the intent data that you need to properly follow up with that prospect.
- Write about solutions to problems. Things you just learned or figured out would be timely information to others seeking the same answers. Think about your target audience and what their business challenges are. It doesn’t always have to be a problem that your product resolves. It just needs to be a problem that your target audience faces. Be a champion for your industry. Lead the way for vendors, clients and even competitors by talking about where the industry has been, where it’s going, and how you’re going to get there.
- Write about the future. New Ideas. Give some thought and commentary on something new in your industry. Be brave and take a new spin on an old idea. Turn something upside down. Simplify something complicated. Don’t assume everyone knows everything already. Many people pretend to be a bit more up to speed than they really are and a nice, simple explanation of an idea or new technology can be refreshing.
- Talk about your Why. Your culture. How you innovate within your company. What tools are you using to change the game. Help people get better. Help other companies grow. Give others what they need and things will eventually come your way, too.
- Give quick tips. Short helpful tidbits. Q&A. Five reasons to do this. Ten ways to do that. Who, what, when, where, why.
Once you write your article, review your work and make it stand out. Create a checklist and don’t skip any steps.
- Is your headline compelling? Does it sound like every other headline or something new and interesting?
- Is the article meant to be a quick read or something meaty? There are readers and skimmers. Does the article give both of those types what they need? Break it up. Put in subheads and formatting. The length can be 400+ depending on what you have to say. Don’t say the same thing five ways and don’t explain in gory detail. Just spit it out and remember you’re trying to help people be more efficient.
- Proof it. Duh. But don’t stall getting it out for one typo – it’s online – you can fix it later. “Doing something is better than nothing,” I always say.
- Need a photo? Don’t make it a last minute rush. Think about the photo as you plan out your article. No people at keyboards, shaking hands or conference room meetings. Stop. Think about what you’re saying and how to illustrate the idea using photos. If you don’t have a photo that works to draw people in, then just put a quote from the article or the headline in a bold, simple font.
- This one is important: Have someone else read your article or read it aloud to yourself to check for the rhythm of the piece, repetitive words and phrases, and any awkward sentences.
- Next, go back through and make sure keywords are included that match the search words people will use to find answers to their problem and/or questions. Don’t overdo it, but keywords need to be there or what’s the point?
- The last step is put hyperlinks in your article to point to more content that solves your prospects problem. Keep showing them how you’re a resource and have all the answers!
So, you’ve written one article. Congrats! How do you keep going?
Start by getting the buy-in you need from key people that will make this happen. Make sure they understand why it’s important, see regular reports on web traffic your blog is driving, and the contact forms being filled out on your website. Include the clicks and opens and all the numbers. Even the bad ones, so you know when they’re good.
You’re after conversions – whether that’s filling out a contact us form, setting up a demo, or buying the product. You decide what you want to happen and make that experience great from beginning to end. That’s why you blog. Or someone in your company blogs. It’s a group effort. You need a team, a plan, a content calendar, a regular meeting to keep track of upcoming articles, approvals, articles on deck, and new topic ideas. Always be open to a last-minute blog idea that is timely. When those opportunities come up, just write it. Make it short and sweet, and get it out there.
You also need the right tools to keep track of documents and versions during the draft, editing and approval process. You need a blog software system like WordPress or other software designed for organizing posts, creating categories, making the blog searchable, adding photos or videos, and optimizing for SEO. The software system is also designed to help you distribute your blog via email and social media. It helps manage and grow your list. Keeps you from getting blacklisted and not sending to people that opted out of your list. That’s super important as your subscriber base grows.
So, that’s the bare-bone basics of a blog. It’s an online consultative sales method. Blogs show you’re knowledgeable, credible, and concerned with the success of your prospects. Don’t expect everyone to read all your stuff. People skim. But they saw the info and who wrote it, and sometimes that’s all the value you need to get them to the next step or even call back after you’ve been leaving them voicemails for two years. That’s what it’s all about.