Dave at Red Fly Marketing asks: “You mentioned that you would probably not sell problogger because it sells YOU so well. What advice do you have for business bloggers wishing to use blogging to increase their exposure and leverage that exposure to sell THEIR products?“
Thanks for the question – it’s one that I’ve got a few thoughts on – as well as a short case study to illustrate.
The first advice I’d give to business bloggers looking to ‘sell’ through their blog is to be careful.
While blogs can be used as a tool for selling they are at their best when they are relational, conversational and offer their readers something useful that will enhance their lives in some way. Ask most blog subscribers why they follow a particular blog and you’ll find out that in almost every case they get something out of the blog (whether it be entertainment, advice, research, ideas etc).
Every company will have customers who will subscribe to a purely sales oriented blog because they are fans of the products that that company makes and want to keep up to date – however in most cases this will be a fairly small group of people.
Most people will not react overly positively to a blog that is just sales spin. We get it all day, on the radio, on tv, in our inbox, in our real mailbox etc.
So what is a business blogger wanting to ‘sell’ to do?
If I were a business blogger (and I guess I am in a way – but that’s another discussion) I would spend more time actively engaging with and enhancing the lives of my readers (and potential readers) than selling to them.
Make your primary focus to build trust, credibility, profile and perception of expertise while doing everything you can to develop a large, loyal and engaging community around your blog and you’ll find that on those occasions you do sell that your message will be all the more effective.
You’ll also find that instead of pushing your products on readers that they’ll push themselves on your products.
A Case Study as Illustration
I did a little work a year or so back with a company that was selling jewelry. Their blog had largely been a sales blog – mainly announcing new products and announcing specials. While they did have a small loyal readership they were not drawing in new customers.
I advised them that they write a series of articles that didn’t mention their products at all but that helped their readers in some way. The articles that they wrote were along these lines (I’ve changed them slightly as they wish to remain anonymous):
- how to clean your diamonds
- how to tell if your diamond genuine
- Diamond carats – what are they?
They started out with the goal of answering 5 of the questions that their customers asked most frequently and ended up reinventing their blog. They did this by publishing 2-3 new ‘how to’ posts per week. The results were quite amazing:
- their current readers loved it (they were the ones feeding the questions)
- some of the articles went viral and got linked to on many other sites/blogs
- over time the search engine traffic to the site increased
- rss subscriber numbers and traffic to the blog increased 100% in two weeks (and have continued to climb)
- when they did announce new products (they did this about 60% less than they previously had done) they saw sales increase
- they began to see customers searching the rest of their site in larger numbers – leading to higher sales
They found that by providing useful information to customers and prospective ones that they became the number one place in those reader’s minds when they next needed to make a purchase.
I should say that I’ve had limited experience in selling products through business blogging – so I’d be interested in the experiences of others who’ve had more than me.
- Can blogs be effective sales tools?
- How would you advice business bloggers wanting to sell through their blogs approach the task?