Ten ways to breathe new life into your B2B marketing blog

An infinitely credible approach to driving customer engagement with your brand is through repackaging your expertise as helpful advice. This blog post looks at ways to re-energise your blogging and content marketing.

For me, the intricacies of the B2B decision making process coupled with the often long gestation period demand an integrated approach.

Carefully crafting a blog that regular provides useful insight and advice sits at the heart of the modern B2B marketing agenda. Great blog content provides for social and CRM rocket fuel and can be packaged at the end of the month and delivered to opted in subscribers as a newsletter and used for press release purposes.

Sometimes we can’t get started. Sometimes we can’t maintain momentum. Sometimes we need a jump start. Whatever the reason, it’s useful to have an agreed number of topics or styles to pull off the shelf in order to avoid writers block and to continue to deliver.

Here are ten things you could plan to do over the next week or so to give your blog fresh impetus. Do let me know how you progress – keep in mind the twin aims of delivering help and advice in a way that keeps visiting audiences interested.

1. Repurpose a piece of existing content into a new format – press release to blog, upload a presentation, create a manual/data sheet download.

2. Comment on a news story affecting your industry – even better if you can find an industry watering hole in which to do it.

3. Comment on a current piece of research or data.

4. Write a round up and publish at the end of the week.

5. Provide an industry resource list – this could in fact be a great evergreen piece of content that with incoming links could return traffic to your site for years.

6. Report on an event, conference, trade show or seminar.

7. Write up a customer case study.

8. Diagnose and solve an industry problem.

9. Offer a distinguished industry voice a guest post opportunity (and reciprocate).

10. If all else fails, take a provocative stance on something that needs to change.

Image: http://www.nothingtoblogabout.net/

What to do when blogging becomes a chore

I’ve been away for a while. This is a personal blog. It’s time to get personal.

I took my eye off the ball. What I have been doing has been important, but I’ve not been following my own advice.

I’ve been busy doing a whole load of interesting things. Set goals for the financial year ahead. Delivered some great work for existing clients. Won some new clients. Did some talks. Chaired some conferences. Read alot of stuff. Tweeted alot of stuff. Networked. Alot. All of it would have found a great home here on the blog and would have probably informed, entertained and even amused one or two readers.

But while I often thought about the blog, I couldn’t find the inspiration to get started. Blogging had become a chore.

Lost momentum

Which is strange because I’ve got a rich body of my own content to draw on – weirdly I wrote a book before writing a gazillion blog posts and then seamlessly turning them into a book. I’m opinionated. I follow a bunch of interesting people online and read extensively.

In losing momentum, I’ve probably lost subscribers. At its height, this blog was hitting 1,000 visits a day (before syndication and social really went mainstream in 2011). I know that a lost audience is a very hard one to gain back. If this has arrived in your inbox today and you read it before deleting it, thanks for your time.

‘Moment of clarity’

I’ve had a moment of clarity, one aided by what I’ve seen online in recent months. And I’ve learnt much through not blogging – perhaps more than I did when I was actively pushing out posts 3-4 times a week (or more).

So, if, like me, you want to develop a blog based content asset, rich in relevant SEO and customer material, but have either run out of gas (like I have) or don’t know where to start, this one’s for you.

What to do when blogging becomes a chore

I’m not going to make any sweeping statements or grand pronouncements about what is to come. But here’s the way I’m going about it from now on.

1. Face it head on. Accept it slipped and put a plan in place to get it going again. Tell someone about it. I’m telling you.

2. Be realistic about how to get going. I’m not going to get back on the horse and write 5x a week. I have commitments, plus as you’ll read later, 5x a week may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

3. Focus on a specific topic. I’m not going to try and write about everything under the sun. Being a specialist is better. Pick a subject and stick to it, selecting relevant keywords to build it around. Calendars and mindmaps help organise a blogger’s thoughts. I’ve also used RSS feeds to stay up to date with news and comment in specialist areas, but now need to shop around. Always used Paper.li to condense my Twitter feed once a day and tools like Evernote to help capture ideas when on the go. Just need to make more of them.

4. Write frequently. Not every day like Seth Godin or Michael Hyatt. They’re professionals, yes, but I get their daily emails and don’t always read them! And also not every day or twice or three times a day like big brand US content marketing sages suggest. I’m going to write frequently enough for it to have a positive impact on readers and frequently enough to rebuild the platform.

5. Write evergreen pieces. Ever wonder why, when you run a long tail search, you generally get an article that might be a year or more old? It’s because it is relevant and because people (probably in your Google+ or social circles) liked it. Evergreen pieces avoid the trivial, topical day-to-day and focus on meatier issues that are more likely to stand the test of time. They are also a good deal longer and need time spending on them so they are of greater value to readers. So, I’m going to write less, but write better.

6. Deliver rich content. We know what makes for a richer experience online and we know search engine bots and people like photos, video, audio, animation, infographics, slides and more. Mix it up a bit, remembering you don’t have to be Sam Mendes directing the next Bond movie.

7. Embrace social. I’m not done when I’ve written and posted. This amazing content needs to be seen. I’m going to get back to putting it out through social networks and syndicating it to popular article sites like Yahoo! Contributor Network, trade websites, trade associations and more. I’ll see a surge in traffic from unlikely places – so will need to update my enrolment and subscription call to actions here on the blog!

8. Above all, I’m going to make it personal. I was as guilty as most other bloggers when I set out, opting to fill a hub crammed with the express intention of creating mass. The reality is most of the content on the web, uploaded and shared on a daily basis is sh*t. It serves no relevant purpose to most readers but gives the publisher the critical mass they crave whilst providing the masses content to curate –  helping to build connector profiles. A vicious circle of sh*t content consequently becomes the norm.

Not for me. I want to make this blog matter. Make it my home on the web. Make it a force for better marketing and an outlet for ideas, thoughts, initiatives and more.

Maybe it’s a grand pronouncement afterall. Thanks for waiting for me.

Q: Have you had a ‘chequered’ blogging history that you now want to kickstart? What ideas do you have to overcome blogger’s block? Please share below.

 

Image www.laundrycompany.co.uk

7 reasons you need to blog your business

Blogging is a perennial hot topic when it comes to digital marketing. And for good reason. In this era of social currency, where profiles and content positively effect your search engine visibility and your ability to go viral, blogs continue to tick a number of boxes.

And not just as a cathartic, method of outpouring your inner most thoughts and feelings. No, businesses are realising that there are tangible benefits to blogging in their business.

Millions of businesses are blogging, millions are not. There are lots of strategies which are covered in other blog posts (see below), but if you are still not convinced or need to convince a sceptical manager, use this blog post to inspire you.

1. Relevant content referenced regularly makes your site more attractive to customers. It is becoming cliched but people really are looking for useful and usable information that develops them, challenges them and benefits their role. Becoming a trusted source of information that people can come to rely on puts you in a powerful position to potentially encourage them to transact.

2. It gets better. Relevant content referenced regularly makes your site more attractive to the search engines. At a base level, we know search engine spiders index sites based on how they are structured, the relevance of the content on the site and the frequency of new material. So if you add new posts on your blog regularly, they’ll stop by and re-index you more often, placing you higher up the rankings.

3. It gives your company personality. Whether it is the CEO, the MD, the Marketing Director, Sue in accounts or all of them, a blog offers a critical insight into the people that make the company tick. Sure your products and services are world beaters, but people do business with people. Don’t miss the opportunity to set a tone and deliver insight by drawing on contributions from your key people. Taking a group collaboration approach also means the workload is shared.

4. It creates experts. Over time, certain contributors will build a name for themselves on certain topics. They may even roll out their blogging to industry recognised sites, write their own and access the speaking circuit. Use them and their rising profile for the good of the business.

5. Blog content offers a perfect foundation for an entire marketing plan of activity. I’ve written extensively on the topic of content marketing. Having something to say, content that people can use, and content that can be distributed widely and re-purposed for use in all marketing channels makes it a natural prerequisite  of any modern marketing plan.

6. It stimulates community. The focused and sharing nature of a blog site provides a great opportunity to bring like minded people together and can position your blog as a hub, a place for the important discussions. Community leads to greater engagement.

7. It draws prospects out and makes them more receptive to working with you. As a business, there needs to be some tangible end point to the ideas, counsel and best practice you are providing through your blog. What the blog does over time is paint the picture of a knowledgable, forward thinking, approachable business that your readers may want to do business with in the future.

Follow up blog activity with opt in emails, webinars and white papers to really hammer home your credentials, to deepen relationships and to help ease the move to business transaction.

There are many other reasons for businesses to blog? What drives you to blog your business?

Want more?

Five ways to get more readers to your blog,

Why, what and how to blog,

Image: Labour List

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Links worth a click #7

Some digital titbits to start your week with.

GOOGLEWant to know more about the almighty battle going on between Google and Facebook right now and need an explanation of the key battlefields? Check out this must read piece on Google’s strategy to dominate on six fronts including search, mobile, browsing, local, social and technology.

B2B SOCIAL MEDIA: Interesting piece on locating and engaging with your connections online 5 Ways to Find Your B2B Company’s Online Fans

FOCUS ON BLOGGING: Three posts dedicated to the channel of blogging. First an interesting piece on 21 common blogging mistakes and how to fix them. Next some great advice on using a blog as a viral online publishing hub, and finally a useful piece on the biggest benefits of a company blog.

Image: Ark Wildlife

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Links worth a click #6

Links worth a click from the last week or so. Mostly picked to inform and educate but some may also serve the purpose of entertaining and engaging target audiences.

SEO & CONTENT7 New Ways to Improve Your Google Rankings . The key learnings naturally lie in creating relevant, useful content, lots of incoming links, seeding and sharing.

SOCIAL: Competition for attention online is hotting up as we learned this week that Google to launch own Facebook style social network. Apparently it will be less intrusive and more user friendly but will people really switch from existing platforms? Time will tell.

ONLINE PRTwitter launches Twitter for Newsrooms a new resource for journalists, and presumably PRs too.

BLOGGING: Here is a cool infographic detailing the different blogging platforms 

WEB VIDEO / ANIMATION: Interesting piece on the rise of animation on the web, with some good examples. Arguably more creative and not as expensive as video – an option for clients?

TWO RANDOM LINKS:

As Twitter hits 200m tweets a day meet the people who scored Twitter’s shortest usernames by signing up first.

The First World Problem (a rap by a slightly annoying American kid, but funny and puts a few things into perspective).

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Links worth a click #5

There have been some really interesting reads online.

Here is my pick from the last week, we 24 June 2011.

SOCIAL MEDIA:  Mashable offered up an interesting ‘Behind the Scenes’ on 8 Innovative Social Media Campaigns. My personal favourite is The Voice because it is a new take on reality contest TV and was perfect for social media.

B2B: I particularly liked the advice on keeping your mind on ‘next action’ as a driver on what and how to present in Social Media B2B’s post on How to Create Great B2B Presentations

FACEBOOK: Australia’s finest, Jeff Bullas has pulled together an overview of 5 creative Facebook pages. I was initially surprised in scrolling through to find games, movies, cars and lingerie, but hey it is Facebook!

SEO COPY: The ever useful Marketing Profs site published a handy little guide on writing with SEO in mind. Their Five Tips for Writing Content That Keeps Pace With B2B Searches included titbits such as staying aware and staying relevant.

BLOGGING: If you need to get your CEO on board with your social media thinking, here is a useful post designed to get them involved in the blog side of things.

Now, a three way tie for content of the week:

EBOOKS: First off Hubspot’s How to Write and Launch an Ebook That Generates Leads. Staggeringly useful.

INFOGRAPHICS: Secondly, a must try: Infographics are all the rage right now if you have a dataset you want to present in an innovative way. Here are 5 tools to help turn data into infographics.

WEBSITES: Finally, from Econsultancy, and just to make most of you feel your age, just look at how some of the UK’s top e-commerce sites have changed in the past five years (or in some cases not changed).

Hope you see something you like. More next week.

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Links worth a click #4

Here’s my pick of the best click worthy content from the last week.

First from Hubspot, a piece positioned as a startup’s social media starter list but actually useful to companies at various sizes and points on their development trajectory.

Next  if you’re moving your PR online and targeting influential bloggers and writers online, heed the warnings in this piece offering 6 Ways to Guarantee Your PR Pitch to B2B Bloggers Will Be Deleted.

Interesting stats released by com.score and reported on by Mashable this week suggested that social networking accounts for 1 of every 6 minutes spent online. I’m just surprised that 1/ people still use MySpace and 2/ people think it is even fair comparing it with Facebook.

Lots of companies are entering the social media space. Most are cautious, some write guidelines and implement policies to steer safely through. It’s ultimately becomes a case of how brave or conservative, and how empowered you want your staff to be. Here is an interesting Econsultancy read looking at whether all your staff need be engaging in social media?

Did you twang the Les Paul guitar strings on Google’s recent doodle? If you did you contributed to $268m in lost productivity, claims Search Engine Journal.

A random, and finally and just for sheer ‘awesome-ness’ here is a behind the scenes featurette from the new Transformers 3 movie, focusing on the birdman footage shot above Chicago.

Q: What have you been reading? Share your links in the comments.

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What do you want from a marketing blog – poll feedback

Thanks to everyone who took the poll on Linkedin and took the time to add a comment as well. All feedback gratefully received.

It’s fairly unanimous that marketers look for information that is going to enrich them in their roles and stimulate fresh thinking and new ideas when reading blogs and websites online.

Some really interesting comments threw up how how to and best practice focused articles could actually draw on case study experience, even drawn from an interview!

So not entirely cut and dry but one thing is clear – people don’t want theory, they want real world experience they can learn and benchmark against.

Looking forward to implementing this insight into my future blogging. Thanks again for contributing.

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Links worth a click #3

Worthwhile clickable content from over the last seven days.

An interesting piece on the Social Media B2B blog discussed the importance of goals and objectives in B2B social media 

I stumbled across a great piece from Social Media Examiner which I think is essential reading for anyone writing or considering writing / managing a blog project. Their Ultimate bloggers guide to blogging with search in mind outlines a step by step approach to ensuring your blog is search friendly and will deliver targeted traffic.

If you’re a fan of Linked in and keen to find content to curate either through your status updates, group interaction or indeed further afield on your blog or Twitter account, consider this How to Use LinkedIn Today to Find Popular Content blog post.

And whether you are a Facebook marketer or not, consider looking at this aAstonishingly useful list: 75 of the Best B2B Facebook Marketing Tips.

MarketingProfs wrote an interesting piece on How to Present Analytics to Your Leadership Team. Also useful in selling to clients and customers I suspect too.

Finally, if you do any kind of writing for a living, this piece from ProBlogger which talked about a superior writing method might make a difference.

Image: Caught Offside

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What do you want from a marketing blog?

 

I’m running a survey on Linkedin right now, soliciting feedback from people operating in and around the sales and marketing environment.

The poll is one question and I’d love for you to stop by and take a moment to have your say.

 

Please click this link and you should arrive on the page.

The poll runs until 15 June 2011. Thanks for your input.

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