So, really, why are you blogging?
There are a lot of reasons B2B companies maintain a blog, but not all of them are valid, defensible reasons. Some aren’t even conscious reasons, at least to the publisher. But believe me, readers can tell. When they detect a not-so-salient motive, you’re likely to lose a reader.
Let’s look at some of the wrong reasons companies blog, as well as the reasons you should.
#1 To act as a sales brochure
When was the last time you made a sale as a direct result of a blog post? For sure, your blog should support demand generation by offering downloadable assets and driving top-of-funnel form fills. But don’t turn your posts into sales brochures for your products and services. No one likes to be sold to. A consumer might purchase a product based on a recommendation in a consumer blog. In B2B, where the sales cycle is long and the item price is high, this doesn’t happen as quickly or directly.
I regularly remind clients for whom I write blogs that readers see right through blatant sales messages that are disguised as an informative blog. In B2B content marketing, it’s likely to generate distrust and could potentially cost you a subscriber.
#2 To prove your intelligence
Who here hasn’t come across a blog post crammed full of doctorate-level words and sentences with paragraphs that go on forever? These long, meandering passages jump from one topic to another. By the end of a sentence or paragraph, the reader is exhausted. And because they’ve missed the entire meaning of the passage, they have to back up and start all over again.
The purpose behind this kind of copy? It is usually to prove how smart the author is. In reality, the opposite happens. By forcing the reader to repeatedly stop and re-read, the message—and often the reader—is lost.
#3 Because it’s “expected”
Have you ever had a favorite blog or blogger “go stale” on you? Oh, sure, the content keeps coming every week or so, but it starts feeling rather warmed over.
Are you writing out of obligation to a schedule? Maybe you find you’re repeating yourself, or worse, repeating someone else. Or the typical topic just isn't relevant anymore. (Let’s be honest, it's gotten boring.) If you post just because readers expect you to, but the topics have grown stale, the readers will stop expecting them—they’ll leave.
It’s unrealistic to think every post will be a home run. But without fresh, interesting content, there’s no point in continuing.
Now you know some of the wrong reasons many companies blog. But what are the reasons you should?
#1 Be useful, be helpful
Instead of trying to force your product name and features into every other sentence, do the opposite. Discuss a problem your readers are almost certainly facing. Tell them about typical approaches to solving it. Suggest an alternative they haven’t thought of, and tell them how to apply it. In short, give the reader something useful to think about.
It’s possible whatever you’re selling includes that alternative approach. That’s okay. Just don’t force feed it to the reader. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them.
#2 Demonstrate thought leadership
Instead of using big words to prove how smart you, try big ideas instead. This is more than suggesting an alternative to a reader’s problem. Thought leadership is taking a bold leap, expressing a new idea, coming at it from an unexpected (even controversial) point of view—even if it is controversial. You don’t even have to be right all the time.
Start a new conversation. Getting readers to scratch their heads means they are engaged. Engagement builds your reputation and authority.
#3 Foster more engagement
If your blog has become a tad repetitive and rather expected, consider these suggestions to banish the boring:
#4 Play nicely with search engines
To build trust, authority and engagement, readers have to be able to find your website. Use your blog to increase organic search traffic by including appropriate keywords. This increases awareness for your company and its solutions, not to mention potential for lead generation.
#5 Be in it for the long haul
What return on investment do you expect from your blog? Are you blogging for all the wrong reasons?
Just remember the goal of any content marketing strategy is to attract leads and nurture them for as long as it takes to gain them as a customer. That won’t happen overnight. To repeat, a B2B blog isn’t likely to get someone to whip out their credit card and place an order.
But if you keep blogging with all the right reasons in mind, your blog will attract more traffic and nurture your relationship with your leads over the long haul.