Breaking the Blogging Barrier
How to generate blog content that produces leads, attracts more clientele, and establishes your shop as a thought leader.
Marketing approaches and the way that businesses effectively reach their audiences have changed dramatically. The landscape is different, and consumers expect more. The tried-and-true methods for capturing sales from years past just aren’t cutting it any longer.
Think about it: Do you listen enthusiastically when you answer your phone, just to hear a canned sales pitch from the other end? What about when you’ve settled into your workflow, and your assistant informs you that a slick salesperson at the front desk is trying every possible trick to get 15 minutes with you? Or when you’re scrolling Facebook after a long day at the office, and an old high school classmate drops in to your messages to hawk dietary supplements, stretchy clothing, or makeup? These are all forms of interruption marketing, and they suck.
The best case scenario is that these methods get a polite “I’ll think about it and get back to you,” and maybe a stifled sigh. The worst case scenario? Irritation, annoyance, and an overall negative opinion of the product or business. Today’s consumers still thrive on the discovery of new products, but they tend to be repelled by interruption marketing. Instead, they prefer to interact organically with brands through inbound marketing methods.
Understanding Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing isn’t just a fancy buzzword thrown around LinkedIn comment sections. It’s a real and effective methodology that counts on potential consumers finding your brand naturally through search engines, social media, word of mouth, etc. These visitors click through, like what they see, and want to know more. This first interaction with your brand is positive, and sets the tone for a strong relationship. Your business capitalizes on this curiosity with well-placed calls to action, email lists, or other ways of grabbing contact information. Before you know it, your visitors are turned into potential – and willing – leads. No cold calls, stone-faced receptionists, or endless mailers in the trash. You have real leads who are interested in what you have to say!
There are a ton of ways to go about inbound marketing – too many to count here. Our printing company, Nonstop Signs and Graphics, has poured our resources into our very favorite technique: Channeling our knowledge and unique perspective through engaging content on our blog. That’s right! One of the best ways to attract potential clientele and make believers out of regular web-surfers is to write blogs, and write them well.
Our company’s blogging presence is one of the top ways we network, connect, and ultimately, convert. Since undertaking a blogging strategy on our favorite topics, we’ve attracted our ideal clients at a breakneck pace and flourished in sales. We’ve even been complimented numerous times by industry leaders on the depth and breadth of our blogging topics. Those leaders often wonder why we cover topics outside the narrow corridor of printing services, but the strategy behind our content is surprisingly straightforward.
Topics and Talking Points
How to Pick Your Company Core Values. The 20 Best Photography Blogs. How to Make Student Council Posters. What do all these topics have in common? Nothing, except they’re featured on the Nonstop Signs and Graphics blog!
Our content team is constantly receiving a grab bag of topics to cover on the blog – and pitching some wild ideas of their own. These topics don’t just appear out of thin air. Our blogs are written to answer real and perceived needs. Our team members, from the content staff to the CEO, are constantly being inspired by questions and conversations with other employees, clients, vendors, industry contacts, and more. The “ask us a question” box on our website gets a lot of use, and we do our best to respond with thoughtful, engaging, and useful content. For example, our “How to Make Student Council Posters” blog topic came from our sales team after meeting with a client who was running for student government. The blog about picking company core values came after a water cooler discussion about Fortune 500 companies and their benefits.
We find inspiration for our blog topics everywhere, and they are certainly not limited to printing services. You can use this strategy, too. Unsure where to start? Step back and take a look at your business. In your day-to-day operations, you touch on topics that others may want to know your perspective on – things like management techniques, customer retention, navigating HR, graphic design, textiles, and so on. Every topic on your blog is a reflection of your unique take on the world as business owners, employees, managers, officers, and investors. All you need to do to begin is choose a question (one your readers may not have even known they had) and dedicate resources to put out your company’s answer.
Pooling Your Resources
You can have all the ideas and topics in the world to blog about, but you won’t get far if you don’t have a solid strategy and the resources to get the content out there. After all, blogs must be written by somebody, and that somebody will need to be paid. Your first step is determining who will be writing your blog content. Nonstop Signs and Graphics employs a team of three to six content writers at any given time with a variety of backgrounds in business, entrepreneurship, software, marketing, and graphic design. Their work is overseen by a content manager, who is part of the marketing department. The larger scale of our content operations means that we can publish content multiple times a week with ease.
Not every business will have the resources to create such a large-scale content presence, and that’s OK! Do you have time to jot down your thoughts at least once a week, format for SEO and readability, and fire your post into the World Wide Web? If not, consider whether another team member might have the writing chops to get this accomplished, or explore hiring a freelancer to assist with a weekly blog post. Sites like Fiverr or Upwork often have freelancers willing to pad their portfolios with bylines in exchange for nominal fees.
The next important step is determining your publication schedule. If you’re only publishing once a week, make sure your blog post is drafted, edited, revised, fact-checked, and ready to go at the same time every week. Regular followers enjoy continuity, and your blog post appearing in their email at 3 p.m. every Tuesday may be the highlight of their week.
If you intend to hire more than one writer or post multiple times a week, your publication schedule becomes even more important. Give your team regular due dates and leave time for an editor or an extra pair of eyes to go over the piece, adjust SEO, and check readability and tone. When generating your content, be sure that the piece fits within your preferred voice as a company. After all, clients on your email list who look forward to your blogs every Monday and Thursday might become disillusioned if the pieces are full of errors or are written in a wildly different voice every time.
Gentle Promotion Never Hurt Anybody
The final step to sharing your wisdom with the world is to promote it. Nonstop Signs regularly publishes noteworthy blog posts and timely pieces on our social media networks for a little extra push. We choose different pieces for each platform in order to use each to our best advantage. Not all social media networks are created equal!
Take a look at your social media presence and decide where your content needs to be shared. These are the general guidelines we’ve put in place for our own content sharing. Your company might be slightly different depending on the demographics of your followers.
- Facebook: Past and current clientele are usually our followers on Facebook, so a wide range of interesting and shareable topics do well here.
- LinkedIn: We’ve connected with tons of entrepreneurs, company owners, managers, and more on LinkedIn. Business and industry-relevant topics generate a lot of buzz here, and lifestyle pieces usually fall flat.
- Twitter: Lifestyle pieces, listicles, and articles heavy on images do well on Twitter, aided by some relevant hashtags. Cool success stories, images of awesome creations, or musing on the best graphic design schools? #TweetIt
These three elements make up the backbone of the blogging strategy that has successfully skyrocketed our exposure. Inbound marketing is here to stay, and it’s worth the time and investment to figure out just how your business could lean into it. We truly believe the printing industry, and the world, can benefit from your unique perspective.
Kristen Klingensmith is a featured business writer and holds a degree in Entrepreneurship and Venture Management from the University of Oklahoma. She serves as the content manager for Nonstop Signs and Graphics, a print and design company based out of San Diego. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow the company on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter @nonstopsigns.
Read more from our October/November 2018 issue.