Content Marketing, Blogging and Content Creation

Nice Blogs Finish Last

Content marketing works and brands everywhere are getting on board, writing, editing and posting fresh content. That’s nice.

But for most bloggers, ideas for post come along almost randomly. Inspiration strikes and something gets written. But was it what the audience needed? Does it relate to other content? …or is it just another post within a series of posts, about as organized as a Twitter stream?

Nice Blog

This post is about how some blogs are nice, but they lack foresight, direction and intent. Here’s how to fix the problem.

Align Posts with the Sales Process

Every buyer of every product and every service goes through a series of steps: awareness, consideration and then the action of actual transaction. From the impulse purchase of a tootsie-pop in the check-out aisle to the government purchase of radar installations, every purchase goes through this funnel.

For most buying decisions, the interests, questions and concerns of potential buyers is consistent, making it possible to define the funnel. Then the smart blogger can create content that aligns with prospects’ interests and concerns.

(That’s why they call it Convince & Convert, right?)

According to a study of 121 companies in the computer/software industry, only 34% of these businesses were able to align content with the buying states, even though a typical sale was worth $47,000 and the sales cycle averaged 6-12 months. Perfect changes to develop targeted content!

So what are they doing? They’re blogging nice, but not blogging smart. As study author Stephanie Tilton puts it,

They’re churning out content that probably fails to answer the distinct needs of buyers throughout the decision-making process.

When marketing listens to sales, they can find out what questions are being asked during the process and what concerns prospects have. New content can then be created to fill gaps in the funnel.

Note: When this isn’t possible, marketing can at least listen to the analytics, and producing more content around the pages and posts that are popular. Marketing should also be listening to customer service, company leadership and anyone else they can talk to.

Once the content is posted in the blog, it begins to educate visitors and create more qualified leads. If it’s really important, move it out of the blog and into the product or service pages. Better yet, the sales team can share it with prospects who are already in the pipeline.

Blog with the End in Mind: A Book

Another way to blog more strategically is to plan ahead for future reuse. As an expert, the blogger should understand the industry well enough to organize their topics into a larger framework. A great blogger sees each piece of content as part of a bigger whole.

This helps the connectedness and internal linking between posts. This helps keep the voice and formatting consistent. This helps the efficient repurposing of blogs into books and ebooks.

Just as posts are frequently constructed from outlines of short sections, a book or ebook can constructed from an outline of posts. If the posts are written specifically to fit into this outline, the book is gradually being written during the writing schedule and routine that was happening anyway.

Write a summary post and you have an introduction. Write a the outline of links and have you have your table of contents. Put it all together and send it off to the editor and designer. Order a short run on Lulu.com and give copies to prospects. Don’t forget to add “author” to your social media bios.

Example: Gretchen Rubin wrote a New York Times bestseller, The Happiness Project. But it didn’t start as a book. It was (and is) a very popular blog that was simply repackaged and promoted in a book format. It’s sold millions of copies. Now that’s a successful blog!

Blog with Intent

The actions are actually very similar to the nice blogger, but the outcomes are very different. So here’s what you’re going to do:

  • Look for weakness in your sales funnel, now write posts that strengthens those stages.
  • Think of how each posts first within a larger structure of content. Blog within this structure knowing you’re gradually writing a book.

It’s nice to blog, but don’t just write what you feel like writing. Write with intention and a bigger picture in mind. Or you may find that one day a more strategic blogger is kicking sand in your face.