About two months ago, I published The Beginner’s Guide to Launching a Small Business Blog. But why should any business, large or small, invest the time, resources and money to go through the process of launching and then consistently publishing a company blog?
First, let’s take a look at a few key trends.
People are going out of their way to avoid ads. More than ignoring them, people are blocking, skipping, covering and opting out of ads.
This should be no surprise when you consider that the advertising community has gone out of its way to force ads upon people in a way that’s intrusive, disruptive and annoying.
As a result, more and more people don’t trust ads, the claims made in ads, and the companies that make those claims. People would rather do their own research, get recommendations from people they trust, and make up their own minds.
To be clear, I’m not anti-advertising. It’s just unfortunate that the trend of shoving ads in someone’s face with little regard for that person whose money the advertiser desperately craves has created a very anti-ad mentality.
Also, people are consuming content on-demand, whether it’s a news article, a TV show, a movie, a podcast or a webinar. Live, newsworthy content, such as sporting events, awards shows and election coverage, are a few of the rare exceptions.
For these and other reasons, content marketing has become a popular alternative to traditional advertising and marketing. It allows people to consume the content they want on their terms. The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as follows:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Blogging is typically a company’s first foray into content marketing and serves as a launching pad for other forms of content, like video, podcasts and infographics – all of which can be incorporated into a blog.
But why blog? What’s the value to my business?
Let me preface this list of benefits by saying that you’ll only achieve them if you blog consistently, provide helpful information instead of sales pitches, and present that information in a way that’s interesting, enjoyable, and easy for the average person to understand.
Blogs that are updated when you feel like it and loaded with sales pitches, on the other hand, are generally a waste of money. People tend to avoid those blogs like they avoid ads.
Now, on to some of the obvious benefits of business blogging.
The Higher Search Ranking
This is the primary reason why so many companies have embraced blogging. A higher search ranking is an outcome that you can see and measure, making it easier to embrace by people who sign the checks.
The folks at Google have said over and over that businesses should stop obsessing over keywords and backlinks and instead focus on providing their audiences with valuable, relevant content.
The easiest way to accomplish this is through consistent blogging.
The Trust Factor
It has become almost cliché to say that we prefer to work with people we know, like and trust. People say this over and over because it happens to be true.
A blog enables you to position yourself as an authority in your field. Establish your expertise. Make people feel more confident in your knowledge and skills. Build and cultivate relationships. Become a trusted source of information.
When a reader of your blog has a need for your product or service, or knows someone who does, guess who they’ll call or refer?
The Direct Response
I landed my two biggest clients when people read blog posts of mine on LinkedIn, contacted me soon after reading, and hired me.
Keep in mind that blogging usually doesn’t work this way. Some businesses bail on their blog after a few weeks because they expect the leads to come rolling in from the minute they hit “publish.”
But that doesn’t mean it can’t work this way, especially if someone who reads your blog has an immediate need for your product or service.
The manager of a mortgage company once said to me, “I’ve been reading your blog for months, so I finally decided to contact you to help me with XYZ.”
In this case, the business lead that was generated wasn’t an instant response, but a direct response to reading my blog.
The Educational Value
Everyone has a problem that needs to be solved. And every blog post represents an opportunity to educate people and provide them with a solution. Or at least point them in the right direction.
People remember those who help them, especially when it’s time to invest in something that will solve a problem, fill a need, or make their lives better.
By educating your readers, you can overcome obstacles, one at a time, and accelerate the sales cycle without spending an hour on the phone or emailing back and forth for days.
Not only are you helping people in the moment, but you’re creating a database of knowledge that lives online forever and can deliver leads for months or even years. More on that later.
Those are the widely recognized, fairly obvious benefits of business blogging. The majority of business owners and marketing directors who launch a company blog expect to boost their search ranking. They expect to generate leads by educating and earning the trust of people who read the company blog.
But what benefits are often overlooked?
Here are some of the not-so-obvious benefits of business blogging.
Expanded Search Presence
The search-related benefits of blogging have been well-documented. But those benefits go far beyond a company’s core keywords.
For example, my primary focus is to rank for keywords involving copywriter, content writer and content marketing. Geographically, I focus on my home state of New Jersey.
A few weeks ago, I received a call from an Arizona business owner who wanted a quote for blog writing. Her company offers a unique meditation method, and she felt that her current content writer wasn’t capturing her distinctive voice.
When I asked how she found me, she said that she had done a search for “authentic marketing.” One of my blog posts appeared on the fourth page of search results. She loved my writing style and picked up the phone.
We reached an agreement this week.
Regular blogging allows you to rank for a wider variety of keywords and cast a wider geographic net. This creates more ways – sometimes unexpected ways – for people to find you.
“Old” Content, Fresh Leads
The blog post that caused an Arizona business owner to call me from across the country was at least six months old.
How many types of marketing generate leads for months or years after they first appear?
Ads disappear when you stop paying for them. By and large, ROI is limited to a brief window during and after an advertising schedule.
Your blog will live online until you remove it. It has the potential to generate leads for as long as the content is relevant and helpful.
You can even go back and update old blog posts to ensure that the information is accurate and add links. Why can you do this?
Control and Ownership
How many times have changes to Google algorithms and Facebook brand pages sent business owners scrambling?
Suppose you publish your own content exclusively on LinkedIn. Suppose LinkedIn decides to make its publishing platform a paid feature. You can either pay or find someplace else to publish.
When your blog lives on your website, you control the platform. You own the content. You publish what you want, when you want, as often as you want.
You have total access to all data and analytics related to your site and your blog. You’re not subject to anyone else’s rules, terms and conditions.
If you’re a lawyer, you don’t have to worry about an ad for another law firm running on your site. You don’t have to worry about other advertisers running content that would turn off your potential clients.
These are the differences between owned media and paid media.
The Good Kind of Publicity
Last summer, I wrote a blog post for a law firm about the looming deadline for merchants to begin processing EMV credit cards with the embedded computer chips. These cards are gradually replacing the magnetic strips.
About a month after the post was published, the law firm received a call from a local reporter who wanted to interview someone from the firm about the topic.
A lot of businesses dress up shameless self-promotion as press releases, hoping to get free exposure. You know, because it’s never been tried before and editors can’t tell the difference.
A blog gives you the opportunity to get noticed by sharing your expertise and positioning yourself as an authority.
When an editor has the need for an article related to the topics you’ve covered in your blog, or a reporter wants to interview an expert, who do you think they’ll call?
The company that consistently provides people with valuable information, or the company that thinks the editor is too stupid to know the difference between a true press release and a lame attempt at free publicity?
A Window into Who You Are as a Business
A blog makes it possible to explain not only what you do, but the value of what you do, and why you do it the way you do.
Can you accomplish this on your website? Perhaps. But a blog allows you to dig deeper.
Share client success stories. Tell your own story of how and why you started your business. Share your company history and heritage. Profile your employees. Show your support for charitable organizations.
People care about this stuff. They want to do business with people who share their values.
If all things are equal in terms of price and quality of service, who you are as a business can be a powerful differentiator.
There you have it. Some of the benefits of business blogging are almost universally recognized. Some fly under the radar. All are valuable. With the right strategy and the right content, a company blog can be a powerful, game-changing marketing tool.
If you want to improve an existing blog, resuscitate a dormant blog, or launch a new blog, contact me and start taking advantage of the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of business blogging.