Companies and professionals face two daunting situations with their business blog: they’re late in the game, and don’t know what to do, or they’re running a blog but aren’t being effective. A little forensic analysis finds telltale signs for why business blogs languish and die:
You’re Not In it For The Long Haul
The first 40 pieces of fresh content you produce will have a disproportionately small effect compared to the next 40, and so on. Content marketing is not a miracle solution, it’s a methodology that builds and audience and invests in an increase in future leads and referrals over time. Assuming ongoing coaching, and your company’s consistency, your company will get better at it, your titles will get better, you’ll get more in tune with your audience, you’ll extend the content into more channels, and you’ll grow your reputation as a source of something useful and important. Flash in the pan fluff only works in political campaigns. Your blog is meant to grow your marketing reach, company reputation, and business relationships on a curve that slopes up over time – with the gold going to the steady, consistent non-quitter.
Your Titles Don’t Grab Anyone.
The single most important piece of content you will produce, whether it’s for your blog posts, your videos, or your other core content pieces, is the title. Great content with an unprovocative title doesn’t get seen. If you spend 20 minutes writing a blog post, or 30 minutes making a video, spend 20% of that time working the title. One way to get good at that is write individual headlines for each paragraph of your post. It will speed up your practice at crafting killer headlines, and force you to think about how to convey the value of even the smallest iota of content you produce. Another is to make your titles an imperative to take action, a statement of inobvious fact, or a provocation that gets at a core need of your audience. If a title or headline doesn’t prompt a click, the content it represents is probably not useful. Focusing on titles will make you a better content producer, better at engaging your audience, better at having authentic social conversations, better at staying true to the people to whom you want to deliver insights, advice, or information.
You’re Not Focused Enough on Your Blog.
Consistency and frequency are your priorities. It’s easy to get ‘busy’ with the work of service delivery or product sales and neglect the things that will generate a pipeline of future sales. Then you wind up, after the rush, wondering where everyone went, strained with to many fixed costs for company resources, and back to paying attention to your blog as the last minute solution – which it can no longer deliver. Prioritize your pipeline of clients by keeping the marketing flow steady too. Make appointments with yourself to produce content, and make them just as important as an appointment with a client. Block out that time. Favoring “quality time” over quantity sets up a false dichotomy that ends up leaving our relationships, including the ones with our audience, as the low priority afterthought at the end of the day. One of the most effective decisions you can make in content marketing is to do it early. Schedule for the AM, create content in advance, against the eventualities, exigencies, and emergencies that happen in a business, and schedule the postings to come out at a consistent pace.
You’re Too Focused on Your Blog.
Your blog is the central content channel of your company’s marketing campaigns but, by itself, it will have little effect. Even the search engines use social signals to determine the value of content – that is, people interacting with your content in social media venues. Instead of ignoring Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, and Slideshare, repurpose your copy for intended audiences is those social networks. It will force you to create more flexible content, which will also make it more useful and far-reaching content. Your blog is a starting place. The social web is your goal. The audience in the social sphere is your target. The idea isn’t just to express, then wait and hope, it’s to express, then engage and reach people where they actually are, which is definitely not sitting on your blog all day waiting for your latest post.
Your Heart is Not in What You’re Writing.
If you’re kicking out content just to improve your marketing, but are really disengaged, cynical, and not standing in your audience’s shoes, that inauthenticity will doom your blog to a corresponding obscurity. This is good news. The competitive game field, the challenge, is not who can deliver the most, it’s who can be the most real. That flattens the playing field. It levels the opportunity, which means any size business, with any resources, can take on any market. When it was just ads and promotional brochures, the gold went to whoever had the most ‘campaign’ money for their marketing. Your blog affords you the pro-level equipment, so that all you need is a stellar coach to bat for the majors.
You Aren’t Giving to Get.
The give to get principle rests on the idea that people are tired of commit nothing, contribute nothing sales pitches that only want their business without inspiring, informing, and reaching their hearts and minds. It’s illustrated continually in social media spheres. Having 10,000 paid Twitter followers ads nothing, and the tweet that once again says “look at my latest reasons to buy my service” goes unshared, unfavorited, unresponded to. If you are in leadership of a business, even a leadership of one or a business of one, you are NOT merely a service provider or product salesperson. You are the thought leader, the industry leader, the audience mover – the person on whom it falls to be empathetic and vocal in reaching your market audience to give them not merely features and benefits, but an ethos and an intelligent and emotional reality that creates the culture that will buy. You are the creator of a market culture – we can get anyone to fulfill a service – you’re not needed for that – you’re needed for creating a much broader impetus, even and especially if your business is like man other businesses in the same industry. Give in order to get. Lead, inspire, and inform, in order to sell.
You Don’t Have a System.
It’s not just about scheduling a block of time, or crafting good titles, or even pushing out content across multiple kinds of social media. A system includes measuring – not just your results (which you should), but assigning a value to your output. A system, ideally, must ensure momentum in your marketing efforts. The opportunity is for efficiency and a repeatability that lends itself to continual improvement, continual optimization, and a manageable investment of resources (time and money costs). An effective system starts with an organized Digital Marketing Plan, consisting of committed digital marketing campaigns, coupled with the input and insights of an effective digital marketing coach. When a business is continually flitting from one platform to another, one trick solution to another, never fully committing, never putting in the time, consistency, and learning to get better, it’s starving its marketing efforts of being taken seriously internally and by the audience. Designing the marketing system is the critical starting place, or the remedial corrective for where it has gone wrong.
You’re Relying Too Much on a System – You’re Astroturfing
Over-systematizing your marketing becomes automation. Nothing shrieks inauthenticity more, and nothing yields lower return on the investment of time and money than attempting to game things as a way of remaining disinterested and disengaged. Companies that make content marketing or any other digital strategy an offload – a dump – into someone else’s lap do not produce optimal results, if they produce results at all. We’ve seen companies with Twitter jockies and blog automators who put out thousands of content pieces for them, and their results are a mere fraction of the investment, leaving them open to any competitor with a fresh voice and a heart and mind behind it. There not only aren’t any miracles in digital marketing, there aren’t any sheep who come at the mere sight of plastic grass on which to graze.
Astroturfing in political campaigns and for big industry lobbies is the practice of creating neutral 3rd party organizations to put out a crafted message as unbiased, grassroots content. It’s trumped by actual consumer reviews and anecdotal communications in the social sphere, and can backfire to show the sponsors as inauthentic and out of touch. Marketing astroturf takes the form of robo-information that doesn’t originate with the company at all, but is merely an offloaded series of insights from the web handled by freelancers who are detached both from the business and the audience. It’s a mistake to think this level of uninvolvement on your company’s part could actually create the kind of engagement that grows a business or the social signals that improve search position. Mostly, it just makes a company look cloned and bland. It makes business owners feel like they are doing content marketing, when in fact it’s the same kind of fluff that claims ‘caring about the community’ but is never really there serving in the soup kitchen or sponsoring the local animal rescue. Don’t systematize yourself out of a relationship with the audience you’re purporting to engage. Authenticity implies involvement.
Your blog can be more effective, your overall digital strategy more developed, and your content marketing more genuine when you engage a savvy digital marketing company. Contact MadPipe to get more from your marketing resources.