Create a Blog to Boost Your Content-Based Marketing
Creating an online presence that offers free helpful content to those who are searching for it is a highly effective way to advertise your business. It needn’t cost you a dime, either! If you already have a website that does a good job of portraying your brand identity and offering helpful tips, use that. But do consider creating a new, more narrowly focused website that orbits your main site. For example, a management consultant’s main website could detail many different lines of business, from two-day planning retreats to web-based leadership assessments, whereas his more narrowly focused blog could drill into the topic of how to ensure good leadership in an organization.
If you don’t already have a branded website, you can head to WordPress.com to set up a clean, simple site, using one of WordPress’s professional-looking templates. Choose one that offers the following:
A top banner where you can place your brand name along with links to your key products or services and testimonials
A space below the banner for the main content — text and plenty of explanatory or illustrative images and/or videos
A column on the right labeled something like “Top Posts” or “Top Pages” for links to interesting content (some of which you’re going to write in a blog)
Now you’re ready to start collecting strong content for a blog. If you or others in your firm are expert on the topic of focus, then coming up with brief, compelling tips and insights shouldn’t be too difficult. Still, transforming content into a good blog requires good writing, so if you aren’t a writer, consider hiring one to help you.
Or use this simple tip: Carry a dozen index cards with you all day, and try to write down a helpful tip, emerging trend, or useful technique on each one. At the end of the day, sort the cards by originality (you don’t want to sound like every other expert in your field), and then try to merge pairs of closely related cards into single entries. Next, take the top five cards, and set the others aside (they may be good ideas for your second blog).
To start writing your first blog post, follow this process (and be sure to keep this list handy for future blog posts):
Write a short introductory paragraph.
Here’s an example: “For all you hardworking leaders in business and government, here are my observations on how to make a positive impact in the coming year. Don’t fall into the common traps, and do take advantage of new techniques and findings by implementing these five tips for leadership success.” See how simple writing can be?
Flesh out your top five tips from your index card notes by putting them in the form of a numbered or bulleted list, using italics for the initial (pithy, short) version of the tip and then explaining it with two to five more sentences.
About halfway to two-thirds of the way through your post, add a sentence with a callout to more helpful content at your topic-focused website.
Repeat the callout at the end of the blog, along with a one- to three-sentence bio of yourself or whoever is the best face of the brand to be the author of the blog.
Sometimes hardworking marketers write these brilliant pieces for the CEO; if this is you, be sure to also spend a little time reviewing the content with your CEO so he or she can speak easily to the bullet points should opportunities arise.
Be sure to tie the look of your blog and website together by using the color pallet and iconography of your brand. Also, verify that your blog and website link to each other in several places so search engines can find them more easily.