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13 Tips for Marketing Your Business With Your Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 16th of June 2009 Business Blogging 0 Comments

While much of the content here on ProBlogger is about the ‘Business of Blogging’ I’m regularly asked to speak at conferences and receive emails from readers with questions about how Businesses can use Blogs to grow themselves – particularly in their marketing efforts.

Below are a 13 tips that I usually try to share with Businesses wanting to use blogging in their marketing mix.

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1. Listen First, Blog Later

Perhaps the most useful thing a company can do before they start blogging is to monitor the blogosphere. There are some wonderful tools around for listening to what bloggers are writing about your industry, your company and your products. Many of these tools are free (Google News Alerts for example). Plug in some keywords relevant to you and your industry and see what is being talked about.

You’ll also find that as you ‘listen’ that you’ll begin to learn the culture of blogging and how those in your industry are already using it. This will teach you a lot both about what is acceptable and what the etiquette is but it also could give you some clues on how to differentiate your blog from what others in your niche are doing with their blogs.

Lastly – watching and listening will help you identify key bloggers and influencers in your niche – these are people who can teach you a lot, introduce you to the niche blogging network and perhaps help you get started .

2. Know what you want to achieve

What objective of your business is your blog helping you to meet? Don’t just start a blog because it is the ‘thing to do’. Consider what channel/s of your business your blog is going to help strengthen, what goals you want to achieve with it and what it will and won’t aim to do.

You might find as you ponder this that you have quite a diverse set of goals for your blog. This can work – but you should also probably consider multiple blogs if your objectives are wide and varied. There’s nothing wrong with multiple blogs, each with their own focus and purpose.

3. Be Useful

Good blogs meet needs, solve problems and help those who read them in some way. This doesn’t mean your blog has to be full of ‘tips’ (although tips related to how to use your products could work) but you should consider who will be reading your blog and what sort of needs they’ll have.

Will they be looking for information about your company and products? Are they looking to find information on your staff members? Do they need news from your industry? Do they have specific problems that you might be able to help them solve?

While being ‘useful’ might not sound like something that will convert to sales directly it can have a profound impact upon those reading your blog and your business in the long term. Solve a problem for someone and when they next are looking to make a purchase they might just come knocking on your door. Meet a need for someone and they might just tell their network about you.

4. Be Personal and Professional

There’s no single way to build a blog and no one style to have to write them in. Ultimately it’s your blog and you can develop your own approach…. BUT…. blogs do lend themselves to a personal style of communication. Your company probably already has a more static site which conveys content in the third person – use your blog (or blogs) to do something different.

Give your company a face, voice and personal touch by writing in a more personal voice, using pictures (of the author and other staff members), by showing some of the behind the scenes of your company etc. Be Human!

Try using different mediums (video, image, audio) as well as text to show your company is not just a logo and mission statement but a place where real people are at its heart.

This doesn’t mean professionalism goes out the door – always keep in mind that everything that goes up on your blog either potentially adds value to your company or takes away from it – keep your standards high and remember that everything you publish is effectively on the web for ever (even when you delete it it’ll usually be indexed in an internet archive somewhere).

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Sell, but Don’t be too Salesy

It’s OK to use a blog to promote products or run sales oriented campaigns. I’ve seen some people argue that blogs shouldn’t be used to sell – but I think as long as you’re transparent and keep your posts useful ‘sales’ related posts can work. The key is to make the post more useful than just going with a ‘sell at all costs’ attitude.

Why not run a blog special where you offer those who read your blog a special discount that can’t be had anywhere else? Perhaps offer blog readers coupons or bonuses when they buy? If you are providing people with value they won’t mind a promotion from time to time. The key is to keep everything you do on your blog of a high value and usefulness and avoid getting into hyped spin sales talk.

6. Link, Link, Link

Many businesses are afraid to send people away from their blogs and end up being very insular. This ignores one of the key things that blogging has been built upon – the link. Blogging is a medium that has grown so quickly because traditionally people have been very generous with their links to other sites and blogs.

While this might seem a little counter-intuitive (sending people away from your blog) if you provide value to your readers by sending them to high quality and useful information they’ll thank you for it and be back for more. Helping people learn something, be entertained, make a great new connection, stay up to date with the latest news etc can grow your own profile and perceived expertise. It can also help you to make in-roads with others in your niche when you send them traffic and could lead to links coming back at you and fruitful partnerships.

7. Establish a Rhythm of Posting

A blog doesn’t need to have new content on it every day to be successful. What is just as important as lots of posts is regular posts. In my experience readers like to know that they’ll get a regular stream of content and not sudden bursts of lots of posts and then extended periods of silence.

My advice for a new blog is to aim for 2-3 posts a week when you’re starting out. In time you might be able to lift this rate to 3-4 and then move towards 4-5 in time. This way you’re not biting off more than you can chew too early and providing your readers with a steady stream of useful content.

8. Avoid Ads

If your main objective as a business starting a blog is to grow your own profile and add to your own Marketing messages then you should avoid running ads on your blog. I’ve seen a number of businesses fall for the temptation of making a few dollars by selling ads on their blog – but all this really does is distract your reader from the one company you should be advertising – yours.

At the worst end of things you could be highlighting your own competitors by running ads on your blog with a system like AdSense which allows any company to target ads on your own blog. Instead of making some loose change with advertising – develop internal banner ads for your products and services and put them at key points on your blog so drive readers to buy from you.

9. Determine your Comment Moderation Policy

One of the biggest fears of many companies getting into blogging is about what will happen in their comments section. What happens if a customer with a vendetta starts doing damage there? What if a competitor sees an opportunity to stir up trouble or promote themselves?

Different companies have different approaches to moderating comments on their blog and while some bloggers can get a little rigid with their views on this – there’s really no one single rule that should be applied to all blogs. Ultimately it’s your blog and you determine how people should interact there.

My personal preference on blogs is to keep them as easy as possible to comment upon and to allow all comments unless defamatory, spammy or containing obscene language – however your comments policy might be a little more closed than this. The key is to know what you will and won’t allow ahead of time and to make that policy available somewhere for your readers.

Also have in place a system for enforcing your policy and moderating comments. This will probably include giving a person (or a team of people) the task of regular monitoring of comments.

10. Be Interactive

Blogging is often at its best when it’s an interactive thing. Encourage comments by asking questions in post, run polls and surveys, encourage your readers with blogs to write their own posts that extend ideas in yours, run competitions, offer special discounts for readers etc.

11. Integrate Your Blog with your Website

In most cases you should think carefully about how to integrate your blog with your company’s existing website. Again there are no rules here and it’ll partly depend upon your objectives but it’d be normal to link to your blog from your main company website and link from your blog to your website. In most cases you’ll probably also want to make sure your blog is on your main company domain (yoursite.com/blog will work well in helping both areas of the site to build your SEO authority) and that design elements are consistent between areas.

12. Finding Readers by Leveraging Your Existing Profile and Network

One of the challenges facing new blogs whether they be tied to a business or not is how to get people reading them. One of the starting points in this is to think about what existing profile or network you already have developed. Most companies have customers, staff, industry associations etc that they can notify (without being spammy) of their new blog.

If your company has other places of online presence (your company site, social network profiles etc) you should also link to your blog from these. Other marketing materials such as letterhead, business cards, email signatures etc can all also help get the word out about your blog.

13. Mix it Up

If you decide just to go with one blog instead of multiple blogs for multiple channels of your company it can be worthwhile to mix up the type of content that appears on your blog. There are so many types of posts that a company could run depending upon their objectives including:

  • highlighting key staff members
  • message from the CEO
  • state of the industry posts
  • linking to breaking news in the industry
  • polls
  • announcements of new products
  • highlighting key clients/customers
  • tips on how to use products
  • FAQs
  • live blogging from industry events

The sky is the limit on both the topics of posts as well as the mediums you can use to deliver them. Keep your blog fresh by mixing them up.

What tips would you give businesses wanting to use blogs as part of their marketing mix or in some other aspect of their blogging?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. There are lots of major companies nowadays having a blog on their main website; Logitech, etc. It allows readers, visitors, and potential clients to communicate personally with a handful team in a company

    I wonder what will happen in the future (Web 3.0?)

  2. Though not heavy into the business aspect ‘yet’, many of these tips are the cornerstones of a good blog of any type. And a good blog is a good launching pad for business opportunities.

  3. My father had a family business in Singapore, the company does industrial gas, and I’m working there, I wanted to expend the business, since the customers are most Singaporean, so I would like to ask, business like industrial gas, does it had any potential to build an online blog talking about our service, and some other related industrial gas information?

    Is this kind of business be able to bring worldwide through internet or blogging?

  4. they are good tips. blog is very essential for a company. Blog can be easly updated. And these updates can be more frequent than a website.

  5. Very Good Tips. But the most Important point that “Not to use Ads on your Business Blog”, which is the most commonly committed mistake by most bloggers.
    Also, writing professional stuff and avoiding personal stuff is a must. Giving the blog a good mixture of Formal and Informal tinge is a must.

  6. I liked the point- “Listen first blog later”.

    I see a lot of bloggers rushing to make some non-sense post on some buzz on the internet without properly understanding the main point of it. If they rush and write a speed post they may get few hundred hits but a quality post that stands out gets more popularity and traffic.

  7. Businesses that are new to blogging often don’t know where to start or infuse marketing, so the space may begin with a heavy sales pitch, as you briefly mentioned, Darren, in No. 5.

    Readers have many questions about an industry, topic, product, or service. Allowing the space to develop through answering frequently-asked questions (which links to other questions and solutions on the companion site) is a great way to introduce a blog.

    I’ve found this to be a dynamic method to encourage interaction, uncover problems, and develop ideas.

  8. Getting readers to leave comments on a new blog is a challenge. So I decided to remove the no follow attribute to encourage readers to share their tips, ideas, thoughts, etc. Then I crafted a blogging policy clearly stating that I would prefer comments from people who add value to the posts frequently instead of a one time blast just for a backlink. Plus, I linked to some of your commenting tips in my policy to give my readers great examples of what moderators are looking for. Hopefully this strategy will build a long term community of like-minded individuals on the blog.

  9. These are some really great points you have gone over. I wish I could figure out how to use them in my photography business. I talk more about the business side on my website than on my blog. I need to change this but how?

  10. thanks for those tips!

  11. I’m afraid I started my blog because it seemed ‘the thing to do’! That was nearly 2 years ago and I’m still finding my way around, experimenting with different approaches – but enjoying it immensely.

    Thanks for these very sensible tips – I shall consider how each one can be applied to my own small business.

  12. Thanks for the wonderful tips.

  13. I just posted my first salesy article on my new Twitter blog, I’ll see if I can reach a good number of sales following your tips.

  14. I like the point about “listening”. I find the best way to do this is to track good info with a programme like Tinderbox (Mac only) that allows me to create mind-maps. I can then “see” areas I need to focus on and develop. I find that just writing notes or storing data doesn’t give me the leverage that visual thinking does.

    Finally, the big thing you always have to bear in mind is you target audience. Jonathan Swift always said: “know your reader.” You literally have to visualise who you are blogging for and to what end. Even in business.

  15. I added some ads to my blog about nine months after I started blogging and wonder if I made a huge mistake after reading this. There wasn’t much info on blogging to market your business (just blogging as a business in itself) and now wonder if I should take the ads down just swallow the $50 I made so far!

  16. I added some ads to my blog about nine months after I started blogging and wonder if I made a huge mistake after reading this. There wasn’t much info on blogging to market your business (just blogging as a business in itself) and now wonder if I should take the ads down and just swallow the $50 I made so far!

  17. Great post again … I do the same and I only advertise the only comapny i eed to thats me :)

  18. Appreciate the tips.

    I’ve just started a blog of my own and am pretty satisfied so far! I have made 1 cent but it’s been a lot of fun I’m enjoying it.

  19. This is great information that everyone can benefit from. I own a PR firm and I’m also encouraging businesses and nonprofits to leverage social media and traditional media to increase their visibility, credibility and revenues. I have free resources and postings that can help you. http://tinyurl.com/cjp2gp
    I look forward to following more of your posts and work.

    Best regards,
    Susan Young (Twitter @sueyoungmedia)

  20. Darren, all I want to know is how are you able to create so many great posts each and every day? Nice post and keep them coming mate.

  21. very good post, will use some of the tips for sure.

    >Avoid Ads

    i don’t think that is a good idea, a lot of bloggs just living on ads

  22. I basically created my blog as bibliography for my website and also for upcoming news. But I also enjoy posting about myself and Internet Marketing. I believe that blogs are a great way to become part of a community.

  23. Nice graphic, did you make it yourself?

  24. One more tip for marketing your business with blog. Speak everything. Don’t just write what good things your business is into. Write about bad and negative as well. When people find your blog as a honest approach, they return back.

  25. “8. Avoid Ads” seems to be more and more popular ideas and suggestions. I think it is very important to run ads that you can really stand behind them. I think people will trust you more.

  26. @SeoProfy You can earn on your blog but if that’s your company’s blog then you should not earn on AdSense or banners of your competitors.
    @Jaky I agree – you should be honest. People will trust you more.
    @Darren Great post! Very useful for me. This is my first post I have read at your blog :) Found thx to Guy Kawasaki on Twitter.

  27. I have to admit that I’ve had problems with number 5 before: it’s ok to sell but don’t be too salesy. It was in finding that “right” balance.

    You want to be nice ya know, but too nice and you’re not really giving people an effective “Call to Action.”

  28. Thanks for sharing the insights. Although I’m not running a business blog, the tips are equally useful for me to run my integrated blogshop.

  29. Great Information indeed.Thanks a lot for providing the very useful information.

  30. Consistency of posts is something I have been trying to overcome. I recently just pasted a note on my computer screen that reads “Get to Blogging”. I am hoping this will help remind to, well, get to blogging.

  31. very good post. save it as i am Marketing My Business With My Blog.

  32. The point regarding avoiding ads – was an eye opener. Sill I have ads but as little and as less distractive as possible.

    Thanks for the tips

  33. I’m a life coach and I use my personal development blog as a platform to drive awareness for my coaching services. That’s just one aspect of it though – the blog itself is also my business (the ads provide a revenue source). I think the most important thing which has worked for me, and which might be helpful to others, is to understand what exactly is the role you want your blog to play. Do you want to use it to drive awareness for your service? Do you want to use it to gain a following? To you want to use it to educate and inform? When you are clear on the objective, everything will be much clearer.

    I have written an article on keeping the end objective in mind, which others might be interested to read here: http://embraceliving.net/blog/2009/02/keep-your-end-objective-in-mind/

  34. I like the fact you mentioned to avoid ads. I currently have no ads on my site as I don’t think they ad any value whatsoever.. and pay next to nothing compared to other methods.

    Some great points here.

    Will

  35. I’m a life coach and I use my personal development blog as a platform to drive awareness for my coaching services. That’s just one aspect of it though – the blog itself is also my business (the ads provide a revenue source). I think the most important thing which has worked for me, and which might be helpful to others, is to understand what exactly is the role you want your blog to play. Do you want to use it to drive awareness for your service? Do you want to use it to gain a following? To you want to use it to educate and inform? When you are clear on the objective, everything will be much clearer.

    I have written an article on keeping the end objective in mind, which others might be interested to read here: http://embraceliving.net/blog/2009/02/keep-your-end-objective-in-mind/
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

  36. Very good advice. Just wish that I had found this 14 months ago, when I first started my blog to promote my motivational speaking business. Better late than never.

    Will be sure to check your site regularly now.

    Thanks for sharing the info.

  37. Great post – I’ll probably print it out and put it on my bulletin board! I like that you continue to emphasize that it’s “your blog” – there are a lot of people out there who want to give advice and tell you how to do it, as if there is only one way, but you’ve given a useful framework that people can customize to own their process. Thanks! Love the Wordle image too.

  38. Thanks Darren,

    I run a financial planning business in Adelaide and added a blog to our site early this year. Most financial planning sites are stagnent and boring – I wanted to give people a reason to keep coming back to our site.

    I’ve found it’s a great way to communicate with our clients about how we feel about certain topics. Once every 6 weeks I try and run a week-long series on a popular topic – things such as choosing a financial planner or our investment philosophies.

    The blog has also helped our placings in Google searches. We’re not on page 1 yet, but every month I can see our positions getting better as we add more content. Also, traffic is increasing as people who are searching for financial advice find our site via search engines.

    We’re receiving positive feedback from our clients and over time we’re hoping they share our articles with friends and generate positive word of mouth.

    The other thing that has helped me was running a separate blog since late last year with a marketing focus, totally unrelated to the financial planninb business. I learnt a lot through trial and error with that blog so when it came to setting up the work blog, I had a much clearer picture about what to do.

  39. Thanks for the timely tips! I’m a novice blogger and you’ve answered some very basic questions regarding voice and style, plus how to promote a blog among one’s existing networks. I invite others to visit my blog and give me your comments and suggestions at http://altruisticmarketer.wordpress.com.

  40. Marketing is the overall campaign for an item/location etc… From tv to banners and getting radio commercials and creating a feel by donating money to the local baseball team, Marketing does it all, and advertising is a small part of that.

  41. Excellent round up of blogging tips for business and marketing… especially since many companies are adding blogs to their sites, or even building their sites on a blog platform like WP… one would do well to heed your advice! =)

  42. I am sooooo breaking #7. What I need is a schedule and I really hate schedules! I dont get alot of comments, so I feel like it just gets thrown out there and no body cares. Thanks for the motivation. AND I am finishing your book this weekend! PROMISE!

  43. Thanks for the great advice! I’m starting up my business’ own blog soon and this is all very helpful. I especially agree with #6: LINK! I so dislike reading blogs that ignore other industry and opinion leaders. Great post!

  44. I am just beginning to build my blog and this was of very very useful.
    1. Listen first blog later
    2. Link link link

    I feel these are most important for any blogger.

  45. I think it is important to have a blog for a company. For a small business it is not that important. But the bigger companies have a real interest in companies blog. This can get more online customers and provide they the information online. The blog is a great tool because it is updateable. I read that the education sector is using blogs to teach the students. I think blog is a great invention. I think that people are finding out what the advantages of a blog can be.

  46. Now a days it is common that business owners are running up a blog for promoting their business. This really works good because you are building your own marketing medium for the business.

    And this is possible with zero investment of money. Thats great to say !

    -Ven

  47. Nice post, but I’m a little confused. Here you recommend not running ads, yet other posts, as well as on this blog and your other websites, you are running ads.

    Are you recommending not running ads on the beginning stages of your blog, or all together? You even made a video recommending a huge banner that came out recently so I’m a little confused by your advice. Otherwise, very nice tips :)

    • Hi Pete, I believe the recommendation refers to blogs that are connected to a business, for example, Apple. They don’t sell ads on their blogs. It’s different from “making money with a blog” AS your business… but more referring to “corporate” blogs.

  48. Another nice post @ Darren. Well i read whole and i think being profession and rhythm of posting effect of peoples. thanks for all these tips.

  49. Good tips, i will try it for my own business. thanks.

  50. Great post i have a somewhat profitable site making around $700 a week, Im trying to take it to the next leval, but I gota be patient, advertising is so expensive and though I love my products and could use the traffic some times it’s better to walk before you run. The income is fine but the potential is so much more, Ive done my PR and just started my article marketing have done 10 articles. Getting into a celebrity gift bag, which I worked out in exchange for some blog work, theres many options and you allways show me more, thanks Darren

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