86% of customers say they would engage with vendors if they provided insights or knowledge about their industry, according to a LinkedIn survey. Blogging is an excellent selling strategy and platform to provide these insights.
You are in charge of your personal brand and your sales success. You don’t have to be an expert content marketer. You don’t have to be a social selling savant. You just have to take ownership and find a way to connect with your customer on their terms.
In the age of content marketing, blogging has fast become one of the most effective ways to market your brand. It’s simple, cost-efficient, and a nicer way to drive traffic to your website than traditional interruptive marketing tactics like email blasting. Some B2B companies still haven’t adopted blogging as a business function despite its obvious benefits. Opting out of the blogging phenomenon makes a business seem like they don’t want to build a relationship with their customer, and in this day and age, that’s just shortsighted.
Why You Should Blog for Your Business
Blogging can help you generate leads. The content that you publish on your site can bring in new visitors (and potential customers) as they search for information relevant to the products and services that your company has to offer. It can also build a community and foster engagement, especially when you publish fresh and relevant content on a regular basis.
What’s more, blogging can help you position yourself as an industry expert. When you consistently publish articles about the latest industry trends, visitors will begin to perceive your site as a great source of insight. Sharing valuable information is a great way to get customers to trust your brand, and blogging is the perfect platform for you to do exactly that.
Whether you’re just about to start your first B2B blog post, or you already have a blog up and running on your website, here are some B2B blogging best practices and tips to help you build a strong online presence:
Know Your Goals
Before you start drafting a new article for your blog, determine what your goal is for this particular post. Is it to attract new visitors? Is it to generate business leads? Or is it to subtly inform your readers about the updates to your products and services? Having a goal to start with will give your posts more direction, making it easier to determine the steps you need to take to reach your goal.
Know Your Audience
Determine, who your audience is, and why you are writing for them. Keep in mind that visitors may read your blog for a variety of reasons. It may be to research a topic they barely know about, or it may be due to their need to address an immediate problem or concern. The more you know about your audience, the more personal and relevant your content will be.
Create Sales-Focused Content
Where do you find blogging ideas if you are a sales representative? Just look in your email inbox or your most recent customer conversations. TMG Custom Media reports 78% of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships. A sales representative-generated blog post is a great step toward generating custom content. Consider these five sources of content marketing for your social selling strategy:
1. Questions your clients are asking. Have you been asked the same question again and again by your customers and prospects? For example, “Why is cloud computing important to a non-profit company?” When a question is asked more than three times, it’s time to write a blog post to answer it – backing it up with personal experience and research. This content destination can become your 24-7 relationship builder. TIP: Make a list of the 10 most popular questions you receive from customers and write ten 300-500 word posts to answer them.
2. Questions your clients should be asking. Many customers don’t know what they don’t know. When you can present the questions they should be asking, then you have a consultative approach and are out to help them vs. just sell to them. This approach will hep position you as a solver vs. a seller. Pass on this type of blog content before you meet a client, or follow up for when you leave the appointment. TIP: Make a list of questions that support the benefit statements for the products or services you sell.
“Don’t get me wrong, sharing content is a great thing. When you begin social selling, it’s one of the first things you’ll want to do to stand out,” says Amar Sheth on the Sales for Life blog. “But at some point you must create your own content. The power of your own thoughts on a subject matter are vital to your building a personal brand. In my mind, these two are inseparable.”
3. Current industry research customers should consider. Read your email, review your Feedly feeds, or pull a statistic from the Wall Street Journal and develop 300-word blog post on why this statistic is important to your client or their industry. When you leverage secondary research, you build your credibility through explaining why someone else’s statistics is relevant to your customer. TIP: A 300-word post takes no more effort than a well-crafted email.
4. Current trends in the industry or category. Current trends are always a great conversation starter, and many times customer are not paying attention to them or keeping up with them. Take the time to understand the current trends, identified in trade publications or via thought leaders, to map them to the needs of your customers. TIP: Create a Twitter list of thought leaders or trade publications to quickly follow real-time trends.
5. Explaining complex issues in an easy-to-understand way. Explaining a complex issue, like cloud or big data, with a story or an easy-to-understand way is a gift that can keep on giving for you. If you take the complex and make it consumable with a simple blog post, then you can become a go-to resource which will move you into the circle of trust. TIP: Explain your POV to your significant other, your kids or your grandmother to see if THEY understand it. If they do, then write it down.
These five buckets are only a starting point. Writing content mapped to each of these buckets not only helps you help the customer but also trains you to be a master of your craft. Working on clearly articulating your POV and expertise will elevate you to a social selling winners circle.
Think Before You Post
Remember that your blog serves as an extension of your company’s values and morals. Thus, your content should reflect your company’s values. If your business values education and professionalism, make your posts more polished and formal. On the other hand, if your brand values entertainment, make your posts amusing and fun to read.
Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
Make your blog more searchable by keeping it SEO-friendly. Optimize keywords that are likely to be used by visitors when they’re searching for information related to your offerings. Integrate your blog with a writing platform like WordPress. Unless you’re a keen developer, these platforms will make your articles much more easy for search engines to find and index.
Make Subscribing Worthwhile
Your blog subscribers are potentially probably going to be your best source for generating highly targeted leads. Blog subscribers already love your content, so provide them with exclusive bits of content to help guide them further down your sales funnel.
Be aware of any blogging mistakes that you might commit (or are currently committing). Your blog may exist to help you increase sales, but having a strictly sales-oriented content can put readers off instead of attracting and enticing them. Remember, people read articles because they want to be informed and educated, not necessarily because they want to make a direct purchase.
Don’t forget to promote your blog too. Social media, article directories, and online publishing platforms are your friends when it comes to reaching out to targeted communities.
Maintaining a successful business blog is never easy, but with these tips in mind, it’ll be smooth sailing.