How to write brilliant business blogs: an introduction

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Suzan St Maur, who teaches and speaks on how to write brilliant business blogs

This is the presentation I gave recently, and I thought you might like to share what I said…

Today we’re going to take a look at blogging, how that benefits your businesses, and what you can write about on your business blog.

Until quite recently many businesses saw blogging as another form of advertising.

But as I’m sure you know, not only has blogging changed: the whole marketing scene has changed completely, especially online.

I could go on for hours about the details but that’s not what we’re here to talk about.

Basically though, it’s a bloody great paradigm shift from the days when you sold stuff to people in one-way communication, to a time now when you get involved with your marketplace, get to know the people, and then help them to buy.

Somebody the other day wrapped it up quite neatly when she said,

“People now don’t want presentations: they want conversations.”

So how does blogging fit into this picture? Why has it become such a must-have element in your marketing?

Many experts will talk about the position of the company blog within the overall context of the sales funnel, and what it really boils down to is that the blog does two very important things for your business.

Number one, at the fat, top end of the sales funnel, is that it provides your prospects with the chance to get to know you and your brand at a personal level – and establish the groundwork for your relationship with them.

It’s all nice and relaxed, not at all pushy. This inspires confidence and trust, and helps make you and your brand likeable.

Never forget the fact that people like to do business, with people they like. Your blog is a highly valuable tool to build mutual admiration with prospects so they’re then ready to move on into the next phase of the sales funnel.

Number two, at the thin, lower end of the sales funnel, is that your blog promotes an ongoing relationship with your actual customers or clients. It reassures them that you and your brand are not just some one-trick pony that takes their money and gallops off. It shows them that you’re thinking of their needs, which reinforces their long-term loyalty.

Something else you should never forget…it costs a lot more to win new business than it does to perpetuate business you already have. Your blog is a highly valuable tool to help you hang on to it.

There are other more mechanical benefits of blogging, too, including its way of making you much more visible on Google. But that’s getting into the realms of Search Engine Optimisation which is for another time.

Now, as you can imagine the key to making your blog work hard for you is to get to know your target reader very well. It takes quite a bit of work and a lot of common sense to do that properly.

Then, we need to crank up our imagination and come up with ideas that are relevant BUT extend beyond the obvious and into other dimensions.

Local businesses with local customers and clients have it easy – you not only know what generic problems your customers may face, but also what specific issues may be worrying them based on what’s going on in the neighbourhood.

Whatever your geographical circumstances, if you want your readers to grow in numbers and keep coming back, you’ve got to write about what they REALLY want to read – not what you THINK they should be reading about.

And you do this by putting yourself into your readers’ shoes.

Let’s look at an example.

OK. A solicitor who specializes in family law. What would she think she should blog about for her clients and prospects? Advice on pre-nuptial agreements? Descriptions of the different grounds for divorce? The thinking behind the structure of a Separation Deed, maybe?

How to write brilliant business blogs: an introduction

It may be all about law, but law affects humans

No, no. When she puts herself in her readers’ shoes, she’ll realize that they really want to read things like how to explain their divorce to their children … how to get their ex-partner to be truthful about his or her hidden assets … how to calm their nerves before a court hearing. Yes? Human topics.

So this changes the solicitor’s approach to her blog topics and opens up plenty of useful new ideas.

Solving readers’ problems will always provide you with a good foundation for blog post ideas. Just remember to make sure you understand what those problems really are.

You don’t need to restrict yourself to that, though. You can entertain as well as educate. That same solicitor could blog about some of the horrors and humor in past history of family law, both here and in other countries. She could share some of the more interesting or funny divorce cases. There must be hundreds of those…

Or she could put readers’ minds at rest over classic fears connected with family law – the Top Ten myths about divorce, abduction of children, jointly-owned property, co-habiting couples, and so-on.

Putting yourself in your blog readers’ shoes is actually a very liberating experience, because once you start thinking like they do, you’ll open up the needs they have and what will resonate with them. The more you try it, the more you’ll come up with topics and approaches that will grow your blog and maintain its popularity.

Now, before we go any further let’s get one great big hairy old chestnut out of the way.

It’s called “but I’m not very good at writing.

The short answer is you don’t have to be good at writing. You just need to be reasonably good at expressing yourself.

When you write a blog post, forget what you were taught at school.

Just write as you speak, informally – as if you were sharing something with a friend or colleague over a cup of coffee.

And if you find it hard to write stuff down in that way, record yourself speaking it and transcribe that. It sounds weird but it works. Alternatively, of course, you can use voice recognition software.

OK – now you may think it’s odd that I’m here telling you to write your blog posts yourselves rather than advertise myself to ghostwrite them for you.

There are lots of writers out there who offer you ghost blogging services but the main problem I have with that is because they’re ghosts.

They’re not you.

That doesn’t matter for very large companies because in any case they have to stick with their brand and a well-established corporate “voice.” That means ghost bloggers, like copywriters, can tune into that voice and produce whatever’s needed.

I actually do ghostblog for larger companies, and that works out OK because I just fall into step with the style and approach they’ve already established for their brand.

With smaller businesses though, the brand is much more likely to be about you first, the company or firm second.

You are the backbones of your businesses. Customers and prospects are much more likely to react well to you – the person and business person – than they are to some stuffy corporate voice.

HTWB business bloggingWriting good blogs does not have to be hard. It’s a lot easier than you think to come up with good ideas for blog posts.

And although it’s not possible to measure the exact Return On Investment you get from blogging, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to show that it really does pay.

Thank you – questions?

Suzan St Maur is available to speak on business blog writing to groups of any size, in the south-east of England and during August in Toronto, Canada. She also runs workshops and 1-2-1 tuition focusing on “What To Write For Your Business Blog.” See this page for more information.  

photo credit: Roberto Taddeo via photopin cc