Many businesses have embraced blogging as a way to connect with customers, but have met with mixed results. To be sure, there are certain kinds of blog posts that will benefit your business. And you’ve probably identified lots of topics to write about on your blog. Now, take your blog a step further by building value into your blog content.
No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
In my previous life as a media buyer for an ad agency, I got lots of free lunches. I welcomed these lunch invites because what better way to get to know the sales reps than to have lunch with them? It took us out of the office setting into a more neutral environment, where we could get to know one another on a more personal level. These lunches gave me some insight into the character of many, many people in the local media scene. I figured out who I could trust and who was just out there to make their sales numbers for the month.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Free Lunch
Let’s recognize a free lunch for what it is: something received at no cost, which may or may not translate into a purchase in the future. Business-wise, it’s a little bit of a gamble. There is no guarantee that what you offer to a potential customer for free will ever be returned to you in the form of a sale. However, if you offer something to your customer that they find some value in, it can translate into increased business.
That’s how it worked for me with those lunch invitations. After getting to know the sales reps and getting a feel for their expertise and motivation, I knew which ones I wanted to do business with. The ones who gave me solid information had a distinct advantage. They took the time to find out what my goals were for my clients, and they tailored their offerings to meet those goals.
It’s the same with your customers. Building value into your blog content will give them a reason to contact you when they have a need for the kinds of services you provide.
Where does value come from in blog content?
Ideally, you’ve identified a persona that describes your potential customers. (In ad-speak, that’s similar to a target market.) You know their challenges, their pain points, and their goals. You’ve got a good idea how your business can help them. The challenge is to make them comfortable with what your business offers, so that when the need arises, they have no qualms coming to you. This is where building value into your blog content can reap huge rewards.
Understand that “building value” is not the same as “giving away the store.” No successful business would give away all of their secrets for free. But maybe you pull back the curtain, just a little bit. Give your customers some useful, useable information. It doesn’t have to be directly related to your service offerings. Show off your expertise. Hand out a few golden nuggets of wisdom. Share some stuff that you’ve learned. Let your readers get to know you through posts that showcase your company culture.
Okay, you say. That makes sense. But how, exactly, do you go about building value into your blog content?
How to Build Value into your Blog
There are likely some questions you get pretty regularly. Take a little pressure off your help desk and address those on your blog. Bonus: you never know what potential customer will land on your blog through a Google search of a particular question.
Some business problems are fairly universal. Do you have a unique angle on problem-solving for a particular topic? Give your customers a solution that’s worth their consideration.
Respond to Comments
When someone comments on one of your posts, take the time to respond to them. Even if it’s just thanking them for their comment, it personalizes that commenter’s interaction with your company.
Sometimes you just want to help out your fellow man. Share what you know and make life a little easier for your readers.
Illustrate Your Point
Lots of words on a screen can be intimidating. What if you gave your readers an infographic that summarizes your post? And what if you made it into a downloadable PDF that they could print off and share?
Tell “How To”
If you get a lot of “how do I…?” questions, that’s the perfect opportunity to write a “how to” blog post. The next time someone asks, you or your sales team can direct them to that post. And just think about the amount of Google searches that start with “how do I …?”
Make Things Easy
Almost no one wants to do things the hard way. Most people will scan or skim a piece of content before they actually commit to reading it. Including bullet points in your blog posts gives them a general idea of what the post is about. Adding links throughout allows you to provide examples of your points without needing to go into greater detail. (I’ve been doing that throughout this post – did you notice?) And for those readers who like to share, adding social share buttons or embedding tweets helps to make the sharing process quick and painless.
So what’s the catch?
Those wise souls who say “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” are right – sort of. Most people, when faced with a sales pitch, will reject that sales pitch out of hand. But if you buy me a turkey sandwich, I might feel compelled to repay you in some way. I might look for reasons to give you some business. That turkey sandwich might be the beginning of a trust relationship. Building value into your blog content is similar to giving your readers a free lunch. Give them something, not because you have to, but because you want to. You’ll be surprised how people respond to such generosity.