Blogging for Business – Look and Then Leap

I’m finally back to writing blog posts after a week-long disruption to power and internet access due to the power and reach of Hurricane Sandy.  I learned a big lesson about practicing what I preach and having a series of blog posts written and scheduled just in case life throws a curve ball my way.

In the last post about blogging for business I covered the differences between a blog and a website, reasons you should consider a blog for your business, and some key questions to ask yourself before making the leap into the world of blogging. Before we move on to talking about what to write there’s more planning and analysis to do. You’ve assessed your current situation now you need to figure out where you fit in the market, what you’re trying to achieve, and who you’re writing for.

Competitor Analysis

Competitors are no longer limited to businesses that sell similar products and services.  In today’s competitive on-line world we’re also competing with who is perceived to be a trusted resource for information.  This could be a direct competitor, a product aggregation, or a blog or website dedicated to product reviews.

Who does your target audience consider to be the authority in your niche and what are they talking about?

  • Make a list of all of the resources available
    • Look beyond traditional resources such as directories
    • Think like your target audience and search online
    • Research which platforms your competition is participating in and the level of engagement
    • Determine who stands out as the leaders in your industry
  • Evaluate your competitors
    • How easily did you find them?
    • How many places did you find them?
    • Check out their website – What was the experience like?
    • Who is doing a good job of differentiating themselves from the rest of the pack?

 

Use the best of the best to create your presence and learn from the failures to avoid making the same mistakes.

 Blog Planning and Strategy – Important Metrics Questions

  • What do you hope to achieve with your blog?
    • Build a community or a following
    • Generate leads
    • Drive traffic to your website
    • Drive traffic an affiliate website
    • Promote events
    • Gain customer insights
    • Product research
  • What metrics are important and worth measuring?
    • Brand mentions
    • Traffic
    • Opt-ins
    • Leads
    • Event attendance
    • Link growth
    • Comments received
    • Survey responses
    • Product/service developed

 

Define Your Target Market

Who do you need to attract in order to achieve your goals?  It’s easy to waste a lot of time and energy coming up with interesting topics to drive lots of traffic.  Attracting traffic is only valuable if the people visiting are doing more than reading about current events and industry novelties.

Think about who your best customers are (or who you’d like them to be)

  • What are they looking for?  What kind of information can you provide that will help them meet their needs?
  • What are their preferences, problems, challenges, goals, likes, and dislikes?

Create a profile, validate, and engage with your audience. Drive the experience from the voice of the customer not the voice of the CEO.  Use the resources you have at hand to further your insights.

  • Customer service call logs
  • Sales Reps notes
  • Inbound emails
  • Social media mentions
  • Outbound phone calls
  • Surveys

 

Define Your Position and Tell Your Story

Differentiate yourself and provide prospects and existing customers with a sense of who you are and what your story is.  People love stories; they always have and always will.  The great thing about having a social presence and a blog in particular is now there is an easy way to share what makes each of us unique and interesting.

  • Who is your prospect and what can you give them?
  • What do you do and how are you different?
  • What are the benefits for your customer?  Why should they do business with you instead of someone else?
  • How can you help them solve their problems?
  • What motivates you?  Why do you do what you do?  What’s your passion?

 

The more genuine and focused your message is the more likely you are to achieve your goals and reap the benefits of a business blog.  Use your knowledge of the competitive landscape to identify your competitive advantage and speak to your target audience with sincerity and purpose.

Next time we’ll talk about the fun stuff.  What to write and how to make it good.