Cover Photo by Dana Frames
It’s a universally acknowledged truth that a blog is an effective marketing tool for small business owners. But here’s the problem that arises:
Everybody wants a blog, but nobody knows why.
“Marketing” or “lead generation” is a start, but everybody wants that. It takes a more specific purpose to stand out from the barrage of content your audience sifts through each day. Your blog’s purpose is also a critical part of your content strategy and an achievable state of being that will inspire you to work at it consistently. Your blog needs to have a distinct business goal, different from all other pieces in your marketing mix, to get the highest ROI, give your audience a reason to read and give you a reason to write.
There are several core business goals that a blog is generally useful for:
- Educating your prospects and existing clients on your services or field of expertise
- Building authority and thought leadership
- Developing leads (helping them make their decision to purchase)
- “Building your brand,” or showing prospects who you are, why they should trust you, and what it will be like to work with you
Before you ever begin writing a post, you need to do a little more brainstorming to focus in on your scope: a nuanced picture of what your blog is and what it can do, kind of like its personality in the grand scheme of your marketing strategy. If your newsletter is the town crier that makes important announcements and your Instagram is the charismatic friend who drops in to share tips and inspiration, how could you characterize your blog in order to accomplish your goals?
Here are some questions you can brainstorm on to get started:
- What business goals can my blog support?
- What client needs can my blog meet?
- Who else might be reading my blog? What information and credibility are they looking for?
- How will my brand show up on my blog and remain consistent in each post?
- What topics am I genuinely excited to write about? Who in my audience is interested in those topics and why?
It might seem counterintuitive, but the last question here is really the most critical. Either you or your trusty copywriter are going to spend a lot of time coming up with topics and stories to share and then crafting them into a finished product. Narrowing your scope to a set of subject areas and purposes that are interesting to you and useful for your audience is the essential planning step that most people skip, and I would bet that it’s what separates long-lasting, successful blogs from those that sputter out after the first few posts.
When you’re all brainstormed out, it’s time to rein in your ideas for a manageable, well-defined scope. It’s up to you how you conceptualize this, but try to simplify your ideas into a few communication goals that cover the most essential functions of your blog.
Blog communication goals: An example
For an interior designer, it might look something like this:
- Familiarize prospects with my style and design process
- Educate/build credibility around design best practices and industry standards
- Give prospects a look “behind the scenes” for a realistic idea of what to expect during a remodel
To further characterize this blog, à la our personified newsletter and Instagram characters, we might think of it as a speaker at a TED conference. It forms a sort of connection and has room to go into detail, but it can’t solve all of the audience’s problems. It gives them enough of a taste to leave them wanting more, and hopefully encourage them to take the next step towards working with you.