Once upon a time, all that a business had to do was to produce. Customers were called “consumers” then. Today, that term just won’t apply. No one consumes anything. Before customers patronize, they wield a huge list of expectations that businesses have to match up to.
As usual, transactions already come with the usual science of shopping, a hundred factors affecting their buying decisions, the right time, and place. There’s the zero moment of truth. Potential customers conduct searches, they venture out to solicit answers. Their decisions are heavily weighed with how much social proof a company has.
Where does that social proof come from? How does a brand build credibility? How do you make customers vouch for you without you having to break the bank? It’s called blogging. And no, there’s nothing out of the world that I aim to introduce here.
While businesses still scramble to get their content marketing strategy right, a few patterns are beginning to emerge. Blogs are churning. B2B Social media accounts are getting more active. The push for good content on social media and many other parallel platforms such as Q&A sites and communities is now more evident. Businesses – at least some of them – seem to be getting it.
Yet, blogs lie at the very core of content marketing strategy, according to Brian Clark of CopyBlogger.com. Without blogs there’s no bridge; without content being produced regularly, there’s nothing available for businesses to feed into their respective social media networks. Blogs form the crux of online marketing. So, here are some specific reasons why you ought to blog:
It’s the first step
There’s absolutely no content marketing without a blog. Your blogging efforts signal the start of your content marketing strategy, with the blog posts being the root for everything else you do with your online marketing.
Since online marketing depends on trust, engagement and traction you gain on web and mobile through thought leadership, your blog becomes your sounding board. It holds its own as your standard vehicle for thought proliferation.
Mitt Ray of Social Media Examiner reveals how credibility is built with a blog in this infographic.
Your blog is your training platform. It’s your expression board. It’s your graffiti wall. It’s the sole vehicle through which the world will come to know that you exist, that you are awesome, and that you have something to provide – a problem to solve maybe?
It defines your individuality
Of course, all other businesses, including your competition, will also have blogs. They’ll have a frequency and blogging schedule of their own. They’d initiate their own efforts to tap into the power of content marketing. How are you to cope?
Just as it was for businesses earlier when they had to think ahead and execute to retain a competitive edge, you have to not just “produce” content but also put in all-out, all-you-can-spend efforts to make your blog stand out. In case you are wondering how to “stand out,” Leslie Samuel of Become a Blogger has a full list of 118 ways to be different. For most businesses, it just means:
- Publish regularly.
- Publish outstanding content.
- Give your content your own personal touch.
Every blog post has a job to do
Go ahead and put up your ratios on the whiteboard in your office. Say, you want to talk about your products or services with every 10th blog that you produce. Maybe you want to make a soft pitch every 5th blog post. You might want to keep most of your blog posts focused on your niche and never pitch at all – DON’T make that mistake!
No matter what your approach to blogging is going to be, each blog post has a job to do and a goal to meet, as Tommy Walker of Unbounce.com explains. You might want to invoke comments, encourage conversations, trigger social shares, or work up blog posts to actually get you sales. Some posts are published only as floodgates for traffic. Some others are pieces that help establish your credibility.
Whatever you do, make sure you think through the objective of every blog post before hitting the publish button.
Technology just busted your “Blogging is tough!” excuse
It’s mind-boggling to just think about the number of apps available to help you achieve whatever you want to.
Blogging is blessed with content management solutions such as WordPress and Ghost. Thousands of plugins, countless themes, and an abyss of support from virtual communities make it easier to blog today than ever before. You could pick any blogging solution – from open-source CMS to socially skewed ones such as Tumblr.
Tools exist for virtually every thing you need – from research to collaboration; from contact management to CRM solutions. For instance, Builtwith tells you what technology powers a given site. You could find out hosting ownership, server and provider details for the website using WhoIsHostingThis.
Finally, you could spy on the online marketing and advertising your competition is doing using Spyfu. The list of tools for everything you ever wanted to do is “endless”.
You can connect with absolutely anyone on social media networks, and you can even influence the world with the content you’ll develop.
You could pick your style. You could build your own footprint. As Seth Godin writes in his book Tribes, it’s your chance to lead your own tribe through the written word.
It feeds your social chatter
Without a blog and a running, fixed, and established frequency of posts showing up with a bang, there’s nothing else you could do on social media. All that content you produce on your blog becomes the perfect fodder for conversation on social media. A blog post goes live, it gets shared on social networks, and conversations begin.
Many posts later – and maybe years later – you’ll have already dug your hole to put up the credibility pole.
You’ll have established enough clout. Leadership begets followers. Followers turn into customers. They then turn into advocates and fans.
The result: A formidable brand that’s priceless, in business-speak.
It nurtures relationships
Be it the 1960s or today, customer is still the king. Your business will do well when you’re able to nurture relationships, build on them and leverage them, whether offline or online, whether you stay in touch with your audience using social media or email marketing as your conduit. Contrary to what popular literature might make you believe, the money is not in traffic.
The profits are in conversions. No customer converts unless he or she absolutely trusts you. Blogging, email marketing, and social media efforts are all different tactics to get the vote of trust.
Either you get it or you don’t. You’ve got to show up to be in business, and your blog is the best way to show up – dressed to the nines!
How do you approach blogging for your business? What makes you stick to it and what makes you want to run away from it all? What are the things you wanted from your blog when you set out? Are you on the way to getting them? Please let us know in the comments!