Editor’s note: We are privileged to have Dan Bischoff of Lendio.com, a mighty PR guru of extraordinary industry insight, provide The Blog Aesthetic a guest post today!
It’s an honor to guest post for Praecere. Public relations has changed dramatically in the last few years, and Praecere is at the forefront of this evolution.
Blogging has become an essential part of marketing and PR. It supports lead generation, provides engaging content needed for social media and search engine optimization, establishes a company as a thought leader in its industry, and can be used as a tool to get media attention.
If your blog can deliver content your prospects find interesting, informative, and entertaining, they’ll see you as a trusted source of information – an advisor, an industry leader. If all things are equal when choosing between two companies, the prospect will likely choose the company with a great blog.
In fact, in the DemandGen and Genius.com report titled “Inside the Mind of the B2B Buyer” 66% of people say “consistent and relevant communication provided by both sales and marketing organizations was a key influence” in choosing the company they ultimately made a purchase from.
Any business can set itself apart with good blogging, no matter the industry or how boring you think your business is. I’ve put a list together that can help freshen up your blog. Please add to the list in comments.
1. Define Your Purpose
Before you start your blog, answer these questions: Who is your audience? Who is the competition for your audience? What is the focus of your blog? What goals are you trying to achieve? Have you set metrics for measuring those goals?
Did you notice most of those questions revolve around your audience? The blog shouldn’t be about your company as much as it should be about your customers and prospects. A successful blog is a resource for your audience. The purpose of your blog should be how it engages and interests that audience.
2. Create a Blog Calendar
To build and maintain a following on your blog, it must be consistent. Ideally you want at least three blogs every week; the more the merrier. Place them live at the same time every day. For example, plan to publish a blog every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 9 a.m. Put together a calendar and schedule blog posts, otherwise it won’t get done.
3. Mix and Mash
Brainstorm a variety of topics around your industry and company. Create short and long posts. Have meaty posts with lots of information and others that are less serious. Move beyond the written word with photos, infographics, charts, videos, and presentations.
4. Stir Conversation
To engage readers, you want them to participate in the conversation. Write many of your blogs as if you are having a conversation and want people to respond. A blog shouldn’t be a soap box, but rather a two-way conversation with each reader. Don’t fill in all the blanks; sometimes leave a post undone and ask for the reader’s participation.
5. Compelling Headlines
As people judge a book by its cover, they judge a blog post by its headline. Don’t underestimate how important a good title is; it may be the most important part of your post. A few tried and true headlines include numbered lists (5 Reasons …, 7 Ways …, etc.), how-to posts (How to Survive Prison), why’s (Why Richard Branson’s 5 Tips to Success are only 4.5), surprising headlines and odd analogies.
6. Share Everything
If you your blog can’t be easily shared online, then you are wasting an opportunity. Make sure you have social share buttons and RSS feeds near every blog post. [Ed. Note: new Praecere site coming soon with these features!]
7. Guest Bloggers
Guest bloggers can extend your network, add credibility from third parties, and provide a fresh, new perspective to your blog. Contact respected people in your industry and invite them to guest blog on your site. Always offer to provide a link back to their site. Those links not only help send visitors to their site, but also with SEO through quality link building. Also look for opportunities to guest post on other blogs.
8. Blog in Real Time
Keep an eye on current events and news, especially around your industry. Write a blog post to respond to news and how it relates to your industry. Praecere does a great job with these types of posts. They can show up quickly on the first page of Google as more people search for that trending topic. You can also use real-time, newsy posts with the media. Pitch them on doing a story about that subject and send them a link to your blog.
9. It’s the Appetizer for Lead Gen
A good blog post massages a viewer and warms them up to your services or products. The right calls to action placed on those pages can drive significant leads. Good calls to action on blogs might be a newsletter sign-up, RSS feed sign up, a download of a free whitepaper, etc.
These are just a few ideas to make a great blog. Any other ideas that have worked for you?
Dan Bischoff is the Director of Communications at Lendio, a company helping entrepreneurs and startups succeed through obtaining the right business loans and funding. Previously he was the VP of PRMarketing.com and the online PR manager at SEO.com. He has been a journalist and editor in various media outlets – including the Associated Press, The Salem Statesman Journal, the Deseret News and the Park Record. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danbischoff.