This guest post is by Geoff Livingston of Marketing in the Round.
With so many marketing tactics to choose from, it seems off that more and more businesses elect to forgo blogging.
No, blogging is not easy. Blogging takes writing skills, creativity, and other centric behavior. It requires constant thought and value creation for readers.
However, given the world’s growing adoption direction of digital and increasingly mobile media, it’s hard to see how any business can avoid content creation. The easiest way to create content in a searchable manner remains blogging.
Blogging fits into a multichannel marketing strategy in four key ways.
1. Lead with blogs
If your business is truly a small online endeavor, your blog may simply be the leading driver of inbound marketing leads. In this case, you already understand the importance of blogging well and regularly.
For larger entities, some initiatives like new products and offerings require seeding. Interacting with community members via blogs and associated social networks offers the best way to begin a marketing initiative.
Blogging new ideas engages die-hard customers and loyalists in the conversation first. They are your word-of-mouth army. If the concept holds water, customers will engage, and perhaps even sharpen your offering with feedback and opportunities.
Then, as you deploy other marketing initiatives, you have already made your concept searchable, adding a foundation for long-term marketing initiatives.
2. Use blogging to support larger initiatives
I recently published a new book with Gini Dietrich on integrated communications, called Marketing in the Round. We discuss the many approaches a small business or entrepreneur can choose to lead, including blogging. Comparatively, advertising, media relations, social network-based activity, and direct marketing can all take precedence.
We recommend using tactics like blogging to support the four approaches to marketing.
Content—and specifically blogging—fulfills a valuable role in the marketing lifecycle. It helps you become searchable, it gives people something to talk about online that’s related to your business, and finally, it allows people to qualify you or your business.
Publishing content on a blog provides the honey that attracts the bees. With other initiatives driving interest, inevitably potential customers will search for information about you, either on Google, Bing, or Yahoo!, or through their social networks.
Use blogs to publish value-added content that continues the experience you’ve started with other marketing tactics.
3. Undercut the competition
Competitors. Can’t we live without them?
If your product or service has value, it’s inevitable that that competitors will arise or react to your offering. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can deploy blogging to counter competitive offerings online.
First, take a karmic marketing approach, and blog about larger industry trends, including what your competitors are doing right. Make sure you link to them with critical keywords.
Guess what? When they get searched, your blog should get sourced in the results. Hopefully, potential customers will click through.
Say your competition undercuts you by positioning you inaccurately. It’s certainly happened to me. Respond, perhaps not directly, but address the concerns and misrepresentations clearly. It’s important to state the facts here. Whenever the issue comes up, show people the blog post that offers a clear picture of your offering.
Perhaps you want to respond to a new competitive offering through innovation. Blog about potential weaknesses in the competing product and see what your stakeholders have to say. Perhaps they will give you insights you’d never have gained otherwise.
Again, take a karmic approach here, and don’t attack them publicly. Rather, speak to the issues their product presents.
4. Inspire word of mouth
So much of today’s conversation revolves around content marketing. Even this blog post discusses it at great length.
Content marketing represents a push to the marketplace. That’s not necessarily a good thing, as many people want to have a conversation with brands (even small ones), not receive messages.
Conversations provide word-of-mouth discussion of your brand. Peer discussion remains one of the most trustworthy forms of dialog a brand can produce.
If we step away from the blog itself, a business exists to solve problems, often with an idea that manifests itself as a product or service. Ideas provide a primary conversation topic online.
Use your blog as an idea virus generator. Literally use it to inject new ideas, concepts, and thoughts into the marketplace for larger conversation. Give people something to talk about, starting with your idea.
Let their conversation create the need and the justification for your product and services. In turn, you receive the benefits of a strong word-of-mouth conversation.
5. Content market with visual assets
Sometimes we’re get caught up in the blogger’s journey. As a blogger of seven years and a writer of 20+ years, I can identify.
But blogs are online publishing platforms, nothing more. You can publish just about any kind of content on a blog.
This matters in today’s online world. More and more people access the internet through smartphones and tablets. In turn, because touch interfaces hamper textual input, we’re seeing commenting levels drop. Smaller screens make reading harder, which increases the importance of publishing visual assets.
Your optimized blog already drives content into search. It should also serve new portable media users with visual content that gives them the information they need.
Integrate visual assets into your blog. Publish photos, infographics, charts, graphic design, and more. Make your blog a visual garden, and allow people to share and use these visual assets. In turn, word of mouth and search strength for your visual content increases.
Heck, you can even feature ads so long as you discuss them in a conversational, interactive way. For example, ask “What do you think of this creative?” Even let your customers choose the final design. Above all, make visual content engaging.
Because blogging offers so much strategic versatility, it has many uses in a multichannel campaign. However you choose to proceed with your blog, consider it a powerful tool within the larger context. Remember: blogs are not islands.
Geoff Livingston is an author and marketing strategist, and serves as VP, Strategic Partnerships for Razoo. A former journalist, Livingston continues to write, and most recently he co-authored Marketing in the Round, a book that shows you how to get more value from all your marketing and communications channels integrated together!