Part 1 of 2:
Content Marketing: 10 Ways You Should Be Using Your Blog to Build Business (But Probably Aren’t)
While modern blogs have evolved into a fairly consistent form, digital communities and digital diaries have existed pretty much since the internet came into existence. That puts the age of this medium at something like 20 or 22 years – which, I believe qualifies it as a grown up part of online marketing and marketing in general.
Even so, its’ still not uncommon for me to sit down to talk marketing strategy with a business owner only to discover that they really don’t know what a blog is. And it’s even more common to sit down with a small business owner to find that while they have a blog, they aren’t posting on it (1) at a regular frequency or with (2) any kind of strategy. Ditto when it comes to social media.
Once the bright shiny new toy-ness wears off your blog or social media marketing, without a plan, it’s likely to fall into disuse and become just one more piece of cyberspace litter. In fact, when this happens, it can actually harm your business to have an inactive blog “out there.”
Well, assume that your blog, although inactive (you can almost see the virtual cobwebs growing on the thing) actually does what it was intended to do: draw traffic to itself. Imagine that a reader lands on your blog only to discover that you stopped posting nine or ten months ago.
Your reader is left to wonder whether you’re still in business at all. Your reader is left with the impression that you don’t have your act together (if you did, your blog wouldn’t lie dormant, and if it was dormant, it wouldn’t be visible).
Or what if your address and phone number have changed, but your obsolete blog remains online, driving real traffic to real or virtual locations that no longer exist? Your contact information changes but your blog is there sending your inquiries out to non-existent phone numbers and email addresses?
What’s more, over time the brand of your business will change and evolve. If you leave obsolete, inactive visible brand identifiers online, and readers interact with your blog and then come to visit your website or business, the inconsistencies between the two are going to undermine your overall branding efforts.
So let’s say you do have a business blog (or a blog you’re resolved to bring back from the dead) – now what?
What are you going to do with your business blog to make sure that it doesn’t fall into disuse, or worse, become a business liability? To answer that question, I came up with a list of 10 ways that most business owners aren’t using their business blogs, but should be.
First, here is the ultimate secret for business blogging success; the number one way that you should be using your blog to build business (but maybe aren’t):
Number one, without question. It’s critical that your blog be populated with quality content on a continual basis. There is no way around it if you want to get found online, and there’s no way around that, because your prospects and customers are looking for you online.
If you’re stuck for content (that was how your blog went dormant to begin with, I’ll betcha) don’t feel alone. Not everyone loves to write, even when it comes to areas of passion, like their business, solutions, employees and customers.
Beyond telling you to “just do it” (which eventually you may have to) there are some other ways to make populating your blog consistently and with quality, relevant, engaging content easier, as part of your overall content marketing strategy:
- Use your website’s FAQ (frequently asked questions) as topics for multiple blog posts. You probably have enough to provide you with content for many, many blog posts, and they will also help you educate your customers about your services or products. Plus,they should enhance your SEO since they are likely to incorporate key-words and phrases that contribute to boosting your business in search results.
- Use a book like 365 Days of Marketing which has themed content for (literally) every day of the year. Share interesting facts and lists such as those found on sites like Wikipedia or MentalFloss.com. (Be sure to correctly credit original sites when sharing information from other sources!)
- Utilize corporate marketing and educational collateral such as your website, marketing brochures, materials provided by vendors or manufacturers, and even information found on the labels of your products themselves to build content on topics that would most interest your readers: namely, how your products or services would benefit them.
- (Solicit and) use customer testimonials and survey findings about your products and services as blog post conversation starters.
- See what other businesses like yours are blogging about and what their readers are responding to; these might be direct and indirect competitors or equivalent organizations in other communities.
- Ask your customers for input about what kinds of topics would be of interest to them, and add those to your content marketing editorial calendar.
- Keep it simple. Your blog posts don’t need to be longer than a few paragraphs. In fact, readers will remember more if you say less.
- If you really hate writing blog posts and maintaining your business blog, get help. Pay a content marketing expert to populate your blog and post on your behalf on a regular basis or identify someone within your business who wants to do it. Or share the responsibility out between several individuals so that no one person is burdened with a task that doesn’t come naturally to them.