In Part 1 we broke down for you why it is just good business for a business to have a blog. Now that you’ve decided that having one is beneficial to your company, Part 2 explores what type of blog will benefit you the most.
Now that you know how blogs can benefit your site, you might think that if one is good, two would be better. Or more. You would be right. However, it takes a little more than simply registering with Blogger or WordPress and throwing some verbiage into the void. You need to seriously think about what approach would benefit your company the most. If you take a well thought out planning process, your blogs will accomplish their mission—establishing you and your company as a useful, expert resource that motivates people to revisit your blogs and do business with you.
Remember, blogs can either reside right on your site, or they can be independent domains all to themselves. The advantage of having your blogs on your site is that it powerfully connects everything in them to you and your firm, which is a strong branding and ID play. Developing offsite blogs gives them a little more freedom, both perceived and real, and the “buffer” lets you be a bit more controversial or experimental than you normally might be. The blogs can be official or unofficial.
The executive blog
Every company, in every industry, can have at least two blogs. One, an “executive blog”—and a second, “news” or “insider info” blog. The executive blog should not be the CEO posting about where he ate lunch or his new Blackberry. It should show that the executive, and thus the company, is at the leading edge of the industry. This blog should cover industry and world news and events, items of particular interest to the firm’s industry or region, and company news—anything relevant, with the emphasis on relevant, not on anything—and offer intelligent, insightful comments.
Sharp analysis and insights will demonstrate up-to-date, intimate knowledge of industry trends and true expertise about the industry as a whole. This shows that your company has the sharpest people around and instills confidence in those who are considering doing business with you. All of this is accomplished in a way that helps the reader, so the value propositions of your firm come forth naturally, absent marketing blurbs or sales talk. Blogs are incredibly valuable communications tools, as people don’t automatically raise their defenses against your message.
News blogs and others
A news blog, obviously, will comment on news stories concerning your industry. It is probably wise to refrain from turning the blog into an op-ed. Just provide facts and figures—and others’ opinions. This way you can bring up controversial subjects without the risk of alienating readers. There are many other types of blogs that you can do, depending on your vertical and the defining characteristics of your target readers. By their very nature these are helpful and supportive, without the slightest risk of offending anyone.
Beyond executive and news blogs, many companies are at a loss for what kind of blog might help them succeed. Sometimes the solution is obvious, and other times it takes a little creative thinking.
For example, if you own a retail site that sells many products and you created a blog that just tried to sell a different product every day, it might come off as self-serving and clumsy. However, let’s say instead you created a pair of “cool product” blogs, one male-focused and one female-focused. Each could highlight cool, trendy products, but more from the approach of someone recommending something really great to a friend, or from the approach of an insider. It is a subtle difference, but if done right making them more recommendation-based instead of sales-based can come off much better and more successfully. On the other hand, retail sites selling few products could have a blog that discusses inventive ways to use the products, or invites third-party stories about unique, thoughtful product usage. Every site should consider blogs that offer insight into how different sub-demographics within their customer base can use or benefit from various products.
Unique firms, unique blogs
In the “B2B” universe, staffing companies could blog about staffing needs in various important times, like expanding, opening new offices, corporate transitions, planning for holidays or tax time, and so forth. Accountants could have a “tax tips” blog, or write about various issues of financial planning for executives and employees. Lawyers in virtually any law area could explain legal concepts and situations in their specialty in layman’s terms, comment on the legal ramifications of current events and analyze high-profile cases to give expert insights. Mortgage firms could target the many different demographics looking for refinancing or home equity loans, from newlyweds and couples with children to seniors, first-time buyers and people in mortgage trouble. Each group has different reasons for refinancing, giving you limitless fodder for endless blogging.
Companies in the food industry—from organic farmers and bakeries to the corner restaurant—can have recipe blogs that utilize the products they sell. A spice manufacturer could offer recipes using its ingredients, or an organic foods purveyor could offer tips on cooking and eating right in addition to a multitude of health-conscious recipes. Really, any blog could similarly tie into the company site and its products or services. Kitchen or cooking supply firms could offer cooking tips and processes that involve their products. Or they could answer technical “what is this?” and “what’s it for?” questions, and offer “stories from the front” relating real-life kitchen experiences, including important safety reminders.
Affiliates—and everyone else
Blogging is important for all firms, but can be enormously beneficial to affiliates. Every idea related above is just as relevant and powerful in the affiliate world, if not more so. Many affiliates keep their sites spare, just desiring to get the visitor through the site to get the sale. But by creating a highly informational and helpful blog in any industry, they can drive affiliate traffic and sales organically with high conversion. Anyone who wants to be a successful affiliate can use any of the above blog ideas as an affiliate to an industry.
Clearly, blogs are extremely valuable in the right hands. It may take a few tries to get your particular formula working smoothly and consistently, or to come up with just the right approach for your situation, but it’s time well spent and the ultimate results will be good for business. If you keep a service mentality and put yourself in the reader’s place during both the development and the writing phases, you will stay on track and your company will reap the benefits.