Are you publishing regular blogs posts, but not getting a return on that investment?
Business blogging is a content marketing tactic that should be generating leads for you. When it’s working, every time you publish a new blog post, and distribute it through social channels, you should see an immediate and pronounced spike in traffic. Direct form responses increase, new subscribers add your RSS feed to their readers and join your email list, willingly entering your sales funnel. It's like turning on the faucet.
So why doesn't it play out like that for most business blogs?
Email altered the sales prospecting game forever. The discretionary time business people could spare for clever or persistent salespeople is now more than burned up each day slogging through email. Makes sense.
I often work closely with client sales teams. We recently took on a new project and I was asked to “give a short talk, to bring the sales guys up to speed with online lead generation.” The owner informed me I was penciled in for twenty minutes. I gasped... everything they needed to know about blogging, social media, building and managing their sales funnel, and lead nurturing in twenty minutes? Yikes! That should only get me 6 or 7 slides into my PowerPoint.
To prepare, I asked if I could interview one of the top sales reps. I quickly discovered that his boss expected him to “blog” (whatever the hell that was) and they had been led to believe that a flood of leads would then appear in Maximizer CRM every week from then on. If only it were that simple.
He lamented that increased gatekeeper resistance had made phone marketing almost a lost cause, so he was hoping I could help revitalize his career. He appeared terrified and very confused by these new methods of lead generation.
I noticed sales award plaques on the wall and trophies on the credenza. As a former sales trainer and manager I also immediately recognized that this man knew how to qualify prospects, cultivate leads and close business. He had been a legend, and now felt humiliated and washed up. Lead generation, as he knew it, was dead and he felt really lost. I came from a similar background and was happy I could help him.
I quickly read over the three blog posts he’d prepared and discovered they were the typical old school, “always be closing” sales hype. This is business blogging at its worst. It wasn’t his fault, of course, and I now knew there was much work to be done.
Blogging is a great way to promote your business, but it cannot be "about" your business.
- Jon Morrow
This is so typical. Company owners complain bitterly that people don’t know how to sell any more. But they’re expecting them to rely on lead generation tools and tactics that went out with the last millennium. Blogging and social media are treated like bulk mail, a place to blast unprepared recipients with shameless advertising. Wrong year, wrong century, totally wrong approach!
Examine the average business website and you’ll find a few pages of self-promotional hype (About Us, Services, etc.), a contact form, maybe a photo gallery… but nothing that delivers any real “value” to potential readers at all.
Ever wonder why a Google search may list hundreds of thousands of indexed pages for the keyword search term, while only the enviable top 5 will get roughly 90% of the clicks? Google doesn’t consider most pages on company websites as indexable content, with any value to the reader, and only a few "get it" when it comes to providing useful content. If almost everyone's doing it wrong, therein lies your potential advantage.
There are four basic reasons people search the web: research, shopping, entertainment and connection.
If the searcher isn’t looking for your company, its products and/or services by name, you’re “unfindable” unless you hold high rankings for search terms associated with your product or service. When it comes to being "findable" in Google and Bing, the standard business site loses.
People are unlikely to share your About Us, product and testimonial pages in social channels. While this content has it’s place — once people have pretty much already decided to buy from you already — it’s not interesting reading or a good introduction.
Leading with that self-absorbed content would be as lame as bringing the family tree and albums on a first date. The person don’t know you yet, so why should he or she care about your history and listen to you bragging about your many accomplishments? And the entertainment value for most company sites will usually be very low.
And that brings us to research. The world is looking for answers to their daily pain points. Sites with the most free help, and perceived expertise, develop the most authority in search engines over time. Business websites may provide answers to problems, but tend to shoot themselves in the foot by turning every page into a sales pitch.
Most business websites are trying so hard to be “professional” they suck at human connection.
In summary, the average business website fails to meet even one of the requirements of the four basic search types.
And that’s where blogging comes in. Effective blog writing is all about the reader. The articles offer writer(s) the opportunity to be useful instead of just pitching all the time. Interesting, informative, ridiculously valuable content is something worth sharing, and your readership will begin to promote your content for you.
When visitors find a source of valuable information that educates and improves their life, they’ll want more of it. Your blog is the perfect introduction, that can transition casual readers into email subscribers. Once they are on your email list you have the potential to influence their buying decisions for months and years (providing you don't screw it up by pitching the bejesus out of them in those emails). Your weekly or monthly emails are there to provide value, not sell your shit.
Blogging also heightens the potential for personal connection. You have the opportunity to let your personality shine through. If you joke around with your prospects on the sales floor, don’t be a stuffy writer in your blog. Many successful business bloggers are very entertaining. Readers look forward to the next post.
The goal in business blogging is to build your authority and credibility, drive traffic to your site’s landing pages and grow your ongoing influence by increasing subscribers.
Blog posts are NOT sales pages or a place for company announcements… well at least the majority of them shouldn't be. The average searcher doesn’t know or care about your company (yet), its products or services, its culture… they’re only there if there’s an immediate personal benefit.
Good posts aren't a regurgitated version of the same tired crap dozens of other writers have already flogged to death. Epic blog content worth reading and sharing, linking to and indexing, is flat out better than anything your competition has out there.
In the second post in this series we’ll explore what valuable blog content is, and how you can create it.
Cole Wiebe helps brands and professionals grow their influence and value online; so they can “out content”™ their competition. Cole is a content strategist, content writer, conversion copywriter and online marketing coach.