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 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.

  • wmwebdes

    Hi Andy
    I think that I blog with intent.
    I review Genesis child themes and emphasise that they are “mobile responsive”.
    Most people appreciate how quickly mobile browsing is catching up with desktop browsing so I am looking to provide a solution.
    I always finish with a call to action, which is head on over and buy the theme.

  • LauraPetrolino

    This is probably the best breakdown/tutorial of effective blogging for small business I’ve ever read. Definitely one to keep in the files and re-read often. 

    • crestodina

       @LauraPetrolino So glad you liked it, Laura! That means a lot to me. Happy blogging!

  • Tony Shays

    The clever title drew me in, but this post provides an excellent look at blogging. Thank you for sharing!

    • crestodina

       @Tony Shays Thanks for the feedback, Tony. Good titles are “nice” but the article has to follow through.

  • suegrimm

    I’m late to this one Andy and first time posting here but this is far too good to pass up.   I have been seriously fighting the urge to post about some of the bigger issues in the industry. There are days I want to come out swinging and join the larger industry conversation as they say and even feel left out at times. But I’ve found myself surprised as I see how my small but very important audience who represent my ideal client, are reading along while I build my case. Your post confirmed it’s not only o.k., its’ right on track. Thank you for that.  Sue

    • crestodina

       @suegrimm So glad to hear it, Sue. Stay focused! Persistance wins every time.

  • tom8williams

    Fabulous insight Andy. I encourage my clients to write with customer personas in mind and the way our Innoblogs software is structured supports your idea of framing a book. However, we (at my company) an our clients could to a better job writing for the sales funnel, as you described it. I’ve been looking for that piece – that missing link – and I think conceptualizing and understanding the sales funnel (strengths and weaknesses) and wrapping your content around that is incredibly powerful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 
    p.s. I spent 10 yrs in Chicago and did my MBA there as well. Great city.

    • crestodina

       @tom8williams Thanks, Tom. When companies start thinking this way, it solves the big “I don’t know what to write about” problem. Blogs topics are often random and disjointed. I hope this post helps people think about the bigger picture.
      Chicago is still going strong. If you come back for a visit, let me know! Maybe we can connect.

  • NinaAmir

    Great article! I thinking blogging with the intent of writing a book is THE number one missed opportunity by most bloggers. Most bloggers “book” their blogs–repurpose content later; they don’t set out to blog a book. It’s so much easier and more effective to actually blog a book, to blog with a book in mind and create your manuscript as you blog. That’s what I did when I wrote How to Blog a Book: Write , Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time on my blog (, and what I teach bloggers and writers to do in the book and on the blog. Plus, if you don’t want to self-publish–and there are lots of ways to do so, including CreateSpace, Kindle, Lightening Source, etc., in addition to Lulu, a successful blog–one with a large readership, is likely to attract a traditional publisher. So, you can actually blog your way to a book deal. An you are so right! A book gives a blogger extra credibility as an author expert. Becoming an author will boost any type of business.

  • Bane Coat

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  • Prateek

    Andy, I stumbled on this archived post. Truly prolific stuff! We constantly seek to engage readers yet miss the bigger picture, and therefore, the conversions by default… Will definitely be implementing these strategies in 2013. Thanks so much for the insight!