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Where Does Your Blog Hurt?

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I had the distinct pleasure of serving, along with Michele Linn, as a "blog therapist" during last week's B2B Forum. While this experience definitively demonstrated to me that blogs have become a fixture in the marketing mix (seems like everybody's got one), it also highlighted that everybody is wrestling with the same or similar problems.

Here are the common points of pain that my patients shared with me as well as the remedies I prescribed.

1. Promotion Begins at Home

The good news is that people are writing (although, as I'll discuss in a second, there is pain here as well). The frustrating news is that people aren't necessarily reading what's been written. The good news (again) is that you can do something about that.

There's plenty of advice out there on promoting your blog, but the sheer quantity can be overwhelming. The advice I gave was relatively simple: Start with what you got.

If you already send an email newsletter to your customers, use it to drive traffic to specific posts. If you have a website (wait, you don't?), put a widget on the homepage listing recent posts. If you sponsor webinars and such, link to supporting posts in your invites, follow-ups, and on your landing pages. If you have LinkedIn or Facebook pages, post there. And so forth.

Whether you realize it, you've already built a publishing platform or network. Turn it on!

2. Content: Quality AND Quantity

Most people I spoke with had fairly modest goals for post frequency (to the tune of once or twice a week), primarily due to resource constraints. Frankly, the one or two people responsible for the blog can only churn out so much because they have other things to do. And while folks in the company may express interest in contributing, who has the time?

To get more posts up per week, I recommend broadening the range of content on your blog. Sure, everyone wants the killer 600-1,000 word post that sets the blogosphere on fire, but if that's your constant standard, it's going to be a hard slog. Instead, fill in the space between the blockbuster thought-leadership stuff with:

  • Quick response pieces: "Blogger X wrote [pertinent quote]. We agree/disagree because [insert reason]. The question we have is [insert question]. What do you think?"

  • Link lists: This Week in [Industry]; What We're Reading; Our company in the news; Upcoming Events of Interest; Etc.

  • Recruitment (Give your recruiters a post a week to highlight hot jobs, internships, etc.)

As far as enabling those in the organization to contribute, I find the quick interview to be one way to work around their time issues. That is, they might not have two hours to commit to writing something awesome, but they will probably have 20 t0 30 minutes to share their perspective with someone who can do the writing for them.

3. Making Your Blog Purpose-Driven

Thanks to the miracle of technology, you don't need a purpose to start a blog; the blogging platforms just don't seem to care. However, decisions regarding blog content, not to mention blog promotion strategies and everything else, will become a lot simpler if you can with confidence answer the question, "Why does your company have a blog?"

If that question gives you a hot flash, it may be comforting to know that you are not alone, but it is also important that you set about finding a purpose and quick.

There are many reasons companies blog:

  • SEO (Blogs are, after all, a quick and easy way to add keyword rich content to your site.)

  • Sales support

  • Community engagement

  • Branding

  • A combination of these

There is no one right purpose---it really depends on your business model---and deciding on a purpose is just the start (fulfilling that purpose is where the real work happens). But if you are blogging without a clear purpose, how can you say with any certainty whether your efforts are succeeding?

In Conclusion

Blogging ain't easy. But, if you have a clear reason for doing it, rely on a range of content-types, and use the tools that are ready at hand to promote it, it does get easier.

Now, tell me, where does your blog hurt?

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My name is Matthew T. Grant, PhD. I'm Managing Editor here at MarketingProfs. I divide my time between designing courses for MarketingProfs University and hosting/producing our podcast, Marketing Smarts. You can follow me on Twitter (@MatttGrant) or read my personal musings on my blog here.

If you'd like to get in touch with me about being a guest on Marketing Smarts or teaching as part of MarketingProfs University or, frankly, anything else at all, drop me a line.

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  • by Alison Heath Wed May 12, 2010 via blog

    Hi Matthew! Great post and you totally nailed it with "Why does your company have a blog?". Blogging is all the rage (along with Twitter, Facebook and everything else), but so many of the people I know who are trying to blog for their business end up mainly blogging for their own amusement. Without a clear purpose, how can you tell if you're succeeding? Thanks for driving home this point again. People still need to hear it.

  • by Mike Jobs - Wise Step Thu May 13, 2010 via blog

    Great post ! on the aspects of Blogging.

    Blogging is a great exercise if not worked out properly you cant move well. One need to be really creative with their content in order to make their blogging flow through. You also needs to have a strong creative knowledge of what you are writing about

  • by Steve Sun May 16, 2010 via blog

    I appreciate your ideas for adding quantity to the posts. I think putting up some posts that might not win pulitzers is good as long as they have some value.

  • by Max Wallis Mon May 17, 2010 via blog

    Completely agree - although I find in the creative sector it's even harder trying to balance it all. I ended up going for the gimmick of creating new art/writing every day, in turn it managed to gain 16,000 hits in three months or so. Still, you never know with these things.

  • by Matthew T. Grant Mon May 17, 2010 via blog

    Thanks for all the comments.

    I'm glad to see folks responding on the "quantity" front and agree that this is not about sacrificing quality.

    On the "purpose" front, I have been wondering if having a blog is akin to having a website 15 years ago in the sense that, whether or not you've settled on the precise goal of it, you need a blog just to be in the game.

    I also think that, while you may have a set idea in mind when you start your blog, you need to be flexible enough to change direction based on the kind of response/engagement you are getting (or not getting).

  • by Krista Sat May 22, 2010 via blog

    A blog is hard work but it is also a satisfying piece of work. I started blogging in 2002, encouraged people to blog, taught people how to blog and I constantly see that people who blog need to really focus on the blog mission if they are to fully put their whole heart into blogging. But a blog is really about personality. Don't put someone dry and aloof as the key blogger - while our eyes are on the mission of the blog, don't forget to have fun and inject yourself into the posts. Also, a little goes a long way - I'd rather read a 300 word post than a 1,000 word post sometimes. And if you can break the 1,000 word post into 3 parts and turn them into 3 posts, all the better. But again, I say this, if one can't keep up with blogging, one shouldn't really force it. It's awful to come across dead blogs!

  • by Dean Turney Sat May 22, 2010 via blog

    Thanks for your tips, as well as those of your readers, particularly Krista.

    I hope I can make my blog posts as helpful and inspiring as yours.

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