Blogging has become an essential piece of the marketing portfolio. Previously, marketing departments had two options for their marketing communications program component – either pay for advertising or engage in proactive media relations in order to secure coverage in news articles.
I believe those tactics are still essential, particularly to an early stage technology company, however social media, and blogging in particular, has provided a remarkable new vehicle where it can directly communicate with the prospects and customers.
Unfortunately, some marketing and PR folks see blogs and other social media as another channel for pushing out marketing communications; output only. That is a path for failure.
What incentive does an individual have to converse with another person who operates in one-way? Very little. The key to a successful blog is developing content that truly strives for communication to go both ways.
A successful corporate blog contributes to the marketplace of ideas, promotes or defends the corporate strategy, philosophy or methodology and facilitates a public dialog with target audiences including, but not limited to, prospects, customers, potential partners, analysts, media and other bloggers. When implemented as part of an integrated, long-view strategy to augment the overall marketing program, an effective corporate blog will generate substantive market awareness and in many cases facilitate the sales cycle.
These guidelines are written from the perspective of a B2B technology company, where much of my experience is derived – and more importantly where I have championed a successful blog (and now several successful corporate blogs):
An effective corporate blog:
- is about the customers, their needs and desires
- provides interesting, unique or even controversial commentary to the industry
- is generally agnostic in content, and approachable and conversational in tone
- publishes solution-oriented content about customer problems and industry challenges
An effective corporate blog does NOT:
- focus on you, your products or your brand
- replicate marketing materials or Web site content
- publish product heavy or product-oriented material
- focus on product functions and features
In line with these guidelines, an effective blog will:
- facilitate conversations and feedback with customers, analysts and key influencers
- lead to more media placements – in blogs and traditional outlets
- facilitate the sales cycle
- introduce new prospects
- get people talking about the company
In line with these guidelines, a corporate blog will provide useful and relevant content that will gain and retain a following. For example, customers will find validation at different points in the sales cycle; analysts will see thought-leadership and vision; media will find an alternative point-of-view; investors will see opportunity. These guidelines will prove hard for B2B marketers to accept initially – especially with the sales-team breathing down your necks for leads. However if you trust the process, aim for inclusive and cumulative conversation, you’ll find your corporate blog will become a reputable source for conversation.
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Photo credit: Flickr, Yordie Sands (CC BY-ND 2.0)