Face it: blogging isn’t the easiest part of small business marketing. It takes time to create good content, and you’ve got a business to run. And, sadly, there really aren’t any shortcuts to crafting a good blog. But learn these 4 keys from the Bent Oak experts and you’ll be posting professional and effective blogs in no time!
Most Important, Know Your Audience
It seems obvious, to write effectively, you need to know who you are writing for. But it’s amazing how many folks in small business marketing don’t ever really think about this. Everything from the tone of your writing to the way you present information has to be well-matched to your audience for your post to be effective.
Sure, we all know we’re trying to convert prospects into customers. But consumers in the digital world expect information, not a sales pitch. They want you to know what their problems are, and to communicate clearly how your product or service solves that problem.
Knowing the problems your customers have helps you research good content to support your writing. Solving customer problems turns you from a common salesperson into a trusted adviser.
Members of your audience will process information in different ways and at different rates. To make your blog an effective part of your small business marketing, you’ll need to consider this in your writing.
Often, consumers are broken into three groups as far as their need for information is concerned, those that need just enough information to verify that you have what they want, those that are comparison shopping in some level of detail, and the “Missouri Man”: you’re going to have to show him everything you’ve got.
To satisfy each type of reader, you’ll need to present information in a hierarchy much like a pyramid. Initially, provide enough information to allow every reader to determine exactly what the blog is about.
Then add successively more detail to the content, then more yet, and so on.
We wouldn’t be very professional marketers if we didn’t repeat the famous marketing maxim:
tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em, tell ’em, then remind ’em what you told ’em
Lead in with an introduction to what the blog is about, share the information, and then close with a summary of the post. A gentle call to action in the closing is usually a good idea too.
Remember, Content is King!
The most wonderful information is useless if it’s poorly presented. And this isn’t just the writing; it’s the pictures, charts, tables, and diagrams, the type fonts, styles, and white space. If you don’t do a good job of communicating, packaging, and presenting, the information means nothing.
And, in the Digital Age, it’s become a bit more complicated yet. In 2015, for the first time, more people worldwide will access the Internet on handheld devices than on computers. That means your content has to play across everything from a smartphone to a tablet to a laptop.
To make it a more effective part of your small business marketing, you will likely want to promote your blog on social media as well. That’s another set of requirements.
You would think from all the focus on image sizes and how your post looks, the writing is secondary. Nothing could be further from the truth. Good writing engages and informs. Good writing lets you market to prospects, while they hear the words of a trusted advisor.
We’ll leave the responsibility for good writing to you; but, rest assured, the time you spend perfecting your writing will be time well-spent.
Great SEO and an Awesome Headline Get You Found
Like any other product, your blog will not successful if no one knows about it. In the digital world, you do that by getting Google’s attention using good SEO, and by getting the user to click through by writing a great headline and meta description.
There are lots of good resources on SEO best practices. You should keep up on them, because search engines are constantly changing. Here are some of our favorite SEO resources:
So, SEO is step one: doing it right gets your blog in search results. Now you have to get the user to click through to your blog. You have two chances to do it: a compelling and descriptive meta description (displayed in the snippet of the search results), and, most important, a powerful and attention-getting headline. (This is not necessarily the headline/title of your post, it is the SEO title that is displayed in search results.)
Google enforces a 66 character limits on SEO titles, but that is more than enough to grab someone’s attention. Here are some tips for writing good headlines:
When it comes to headlines, and old truth of marketing comes to mind. The gist of it is that any attention is good attention.
I don’t care what you call me,
Just call me…
With some of the public relations disasters we’ve seen in recent years, perhaps this advice is best not taken too literally. However, our point remains: you can write the best blog in the world, but all that effort is for naught if no one reads it.
Proofread, No Really: Do It!
Much like blogging itself, few like to proofread. It’s one of those things that many people rush through, if they even do it at all. It is not heard to find poorly edited content on the Internet; sadly, you can find it on some of the best known of all sites. Still, to give your content maximum impact and credibility, good editing is critical.
Our recommendation is to allot at least 10-20% as much time as you spent on the content to review, proofread, and make the necessary changes. Really, that is an absolute minimum.
Do not rely on spelling or grammar checkers. Do not rely on the writer to proofread. In fact, a labor-intensive method, but one that’s very effective, is to have a second person read the writing aloud to a third person. You won’t believe the number of things you’ll uncover, from misspellings and poor grammar, to explanations that just don’t resonate. It is worth the effort.
If we’ve not yet scared you into devoting effort to proofing the content, here are some some embarrassing mistakes made by big brands.
Good, regular blog content, well-presented and well-edited, will add to your firm’s visibility in the digital world, strengthen your brand, and establish you as a “go to” source for information prospects are seeking.