Publishing content is like depositing money in a bank: Each blog post your brand shares can earn a little more of your audience’s trust. Eventually, there's a strong enough relationship to make a withdrawal, usually in the form of a sale.
In my company’s early days, I blogged for both our website, DivvyHQ, and the Content Marketing Institute. The articles I published on CMI helped me build relationships with other thought leaders and raise our brand’s profile. DivvyHQ’s blog built a subscriber base through our posts and gated content. Consumers who subscribed to and regularly read my content were (and still are) much warmer sales prospects than those who stumbled onto our site for the first time.
By going down this route, I had reached the Zero Moment of Truth, or the point when customers turned to my articles during moments of inspiration or need.
Looking to expand your influence or customer base? Use the following strategies to leverage the power of the blog:
1. Establish a mission statement.
“Know your why” has become such a ubiquitous phrase that it’s easy to overlook its wisdom. Whether you already have a blog or you’re still conceptualizing one, you must identify its purpose. The mission statement should include your target audience, content strategy and core values driving the writing.
2. Hire a journalist.
Many recent and soon-to-be journalism grads are panicking about job prospects, which means lots of great candidates for your marketing team. Recruit them to tell your company’s story. Their expertise in researching and crafting a narrative will prove invaluable to growing your audience. The most successful marketing organizations give their brand journalists free reign to apply reporting techniques to their work.
3. Repurpose existing content.
DivvyHQ often repackages our most successful older posts, revising them for the current market while retaining the crux of the sentiment. Most people who read the updated version won’t have seen the original, making this a great way to draw in new prospects.
Tailor your previously published work to your current audience by offering actionable ideas and easily shareable infographics.
4. Take prospects behind the scenes.
Audiences crave personal connections with brands. Instead of talking only about how great your product is, pull back the curtain on your business.
When Alex Blumberg left “This American Life” to start the Gimlet Media podcast network, he detailed the good, the bad and the ugly on his “StartUp” show. The series became wildly popular because people loved his honest account of what it’s like to launch an enterprise.
Don’t be afraid to divulge a few gritty details for the sake of a richer audience relationship.
The right approach for the right party
Creating good content is the first step in effective blogging but a solid social-media strategy is essential to promoting that content, driving traffic and engaging readers. When considering how to present your content on social platforms, it’s important to understand the differences among each social network. In the past, I’ve found it helpful to think of each network as a different type of party.
LinkedIn is like an after-hours networking event, Facebook’s a high-school reunion (literally and figuratively) and Twitter is the world’s largest cocktail party. Think about how you’d interact with people in those real-world situations, and build your posts accordingly. For instance, cocktail parties and Twitter are great places to listen for what people want so you can deliver the right solution for their circumstances.
Live blogging and live tweeting are also great ways to harness the power of social media. If I’m at an event with a marketing staffer, we can tweet the juiciest nuggets from the program and write a recap later in the day. We’re providing valuable, real-time updates to our followers. The companies that push content the fastest become the go-to sources for curated industry news.
Don’t blog to sell, blog to engage. High-quality content is an excellent way to warm prospects before drawing them into the sales funnel. Useful content makes people feel they know the minds behind the brand -- and they’d rather buy from a friendly face than someone who just asks for their money.