Posted on Mon, Dec 10, 2012

The recent changes to the Google search algorithms have now made it essential to publish content on the webBlogging for Business.  It is no longer acceptable from a search engine standpoint to develop static web pages about your company's products or services, stuff them with a bunch of keywords, and stand back and wait for an avalanche of traffic and leads to come to your website.

Now, that's not to say that developing a clear understanding of your business' keywords and optimizing your website for these keywords does not have any value.  It still has value, but that value is lessening as time goes by.  You need to focus on educating your audience and finding ways of attracting more visitors to your website through your remarkable content.  Google wants you to optimize your customer's experience when that visitor come to your website.  The first, and most essential step in developing great content is by blogging. Blogging is the easiest way to help more of the right people discover your business online.

You're probably saying right now "But , I'm not a writer!  What the heck am I going to write about?  Blogging is not for me.  I don't get this stuff."  Wait!  Don't fret.  Most people, when they first start out, feel the same way.  I know I did.  I was like a deer in the headlights when my Hubspot account manager insisted that I HAD to start blogging and gave me two weeks to start my first blog post.  I don't think I recovered for a few days.

How Should You Think About Blogging for Your Business?

A great way to start blogging is to think about the 10 most common questions you get asked by prospective new customers.  Take each one of those questions and write a short article explaining an answer.  Do this once a week for 10 weeks and you have a strong foundation for a successful blog.  Once those first 10 blog posts have had a chance to be picked up by your audience, review which articles were most viewed and commented on.  See if there is a trend that jumps out at you.  Is there a particular question or set of questions that resonates more with your audience?  From this additional ideas can be generated.

When I started blogging, I quickly realized that customers are always asking us questions about what we do as a business, information about our services and how they could use these services for their specific application.  These questions were being asked by our customers every day.  Often, different customer types were asking the same types of questions over and over.  Sales calls were very repetitive since a large portion of any sales call was spent answering these same questions which left very little time to probe the customer to find out what their pain points were and how we could specifically help them.  Sales people are always asking for marketing materials to help them answer these questions for their customers.  Why couldn't we review our existing marketing and technical materials for ideas to blog about?  And what about questions that came to us through our website Contact Us page?  The 'aha' moment came when I looked at one question asked by a potential customer that was answered by one of our technical people in an educational format.  This was a blog post, wasn't it?  Of course it was! Blogging, all of a sudden, didn't seem so difficult.  We just had to listen to what our customers were asking us.

The goal of your business blog should be to publish articles that are not promotional but instead share industry expertise that educates the right people you want to attract - your ideal customer personas.

The next step, as I discovered, was to take off my hat as marketing manager and sales representative and instead I had try to think like my customers.  Who were they and what answers were they looking for?  Well, those were interesting questions.  First, most businesses have many different customer types like a technical buyer, an economic buyer, a technical user, a decision maker, a gatekeeper. . .the list could go on forever.

The first step is to define what an ideal buyer looks like for your business.  There could be a few different buyer personas, so this can take some time to develop.  Take your time.  Ask others in your company to get input from the different departments that come in contact with your customers, such as marketing, sales, customer service, operations, R&D, senior management and yes, even the accounting department.

When collaborating with these departments on defining the profile of a buyer persona, be sure to consider demographic information of that persona, job title and seniority level.  Also, What does a day in their life look like?  What are their pain points?  What do you help them solve to make their job easier?  Where do they go for information?  What experience are they looking for when seeking out your products or services?  What are their most common objections that you have to overcome to sell them your product or service?  Here is an example of a Buyer Personas Worksheet that can help you work out your buyer personas.

If your target personas are latching on to one or two threads, then go with the flow and come up with additional questions in the same threads to keep your business blog packed with interesting content that will continue to attract more of the right kind of audience that will help your business grow.  Those first 10 questions that were so hard to come up with at the beginning of your blogging efforts can easily become 100 questions with this approach.

Remember, when blogging for business don't try to be too stiff and formal; be natural and let your expertise and natural passion for your business shine through your blog posts.  Be careful to use words that your customers will understand and use an easy and relaxed tone.  Think of it as you are sitting around your kitchen table having a coffee with the persona you're writing for. Inbound marketing, is at its core, person-to-person marketing.

Lastly, a well-constructed blog post should include several components.  Because your blog article's title is the first thing people will see, think of an attention-grabbing title for your posts. It's important that it clearly indicates what the article is about, is concise and keyword-rich (i.e., uses words your customers use).

Blogging can be easier than you first think.  By analyzing what an ideal customer looks like for your business, identifying questions they are asking you and answering those questions in your blog, you too can become a successful business blogger.  More importantly, your blog and other content will attract new sources of website traffic, leads and new customers.  Your blog can help you transform your business.

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Tags: Online Marketing, blogging, marketing on a shoestring budget, SEO