Online Marketing: Build Relationships by Blogging

By Alexander Hiam

Many marketers and business owners are experts in their fields with interesting viewpoints, anecdotes, and tips. In other words, they’re people who can write good columns or blogs. A blog is really just a modern-day column posted on a website rather than printed in a newspaper.

Try writing blogs over traditional columns because they’re easier to set up and because they tend to attract more readers, thus creating new marketing relationships with prospective customers. However, note that the average blog — a personal rant that doesn’t seem very professional — isn’t very effective.

Most marketers need professional blogs, which take the same form as personal blogs but with content that’s more consistent and professional (think how-to advice, tips, and interesting facts aimed at potential customers).

To help you get your own business blog started, compare blog services to find one that offers the platform you want. Many are free, but if you upgrade to fee-based blogs, you can get rid of the ads that pop up on the freebie services — and on a corporate site you may not want other companies’ ads mixing with your message.

Take a look at Adobe’s blogs, where the software company aggregates technical and how-to blogs by many of its employees. The look is amazingly simple and clean considering this company makes software such as Illustrator and PhotoShop. (Perhaps the goal is to emphasize that the blog is all about serious content.) Many designers and artists visit these blogs regularly for ideas and tips, making them an important link to the customer community.

Also look at airplane maker Boeing’s blog, which is written by one of its top executives and speaks to employees as well as customers and the general public. This is a good example of brand management on a blog page. The banner features the Boeing logo on the left and a product — an airplane in flight — along with the more specific brand name for this blog: Randy’s Journal.

Another inspirational example of a corporate blog is the one maintained by the photography website Flickr. It features interesting examples of photographs on Flickr, and it has a simple, clean action and navigation options along the top.

The photos displayed on the main panel of the page are so compelling that you can’t resist browsing through them. Try following Flickr’s lead on blog page design, including the addition of a subscription option to your blog so you can capture readers’ names for your marketing activities.