If blogging is part of your business strategy then you've probably asked yourself:
- What should I be writing about?
- How should I be writing it? What should the tone of my posts be?
- How can I best use my blog to tell people about my business?
So what do you do if your orchestra sounds like a couple of kazoos and a banjo? (No offense to banjos, I play one myself) The instruments in a symphony orchestra are divided into four groups:
- Describing problems you solve for your clients.
- News and trends in your industry, education, and information.
- Behind the scenes activity in your business.
- Personal anecdotes that humanize you and your company.
A symphony orchestra may have as many as 32 violins but generally only one bass drum. Used at specific moments, one single bass drum can have a tremendous impact upon the audience. However if the sound of the bass drums is the only thing the audience hears, they will probably be shaking their heads and walking away.
The point is that proportionality is important. A few posts about the antics of your cat are endearing and provide a point of connection for your animal-loving audience. Too many such posts and it's a blog about your cat and not about your business.
Describe Problems You Solve For Your Clients
This is the most important group and by far the hardest one to get right. Classic marketing texts call it your USP or Unique Selling Proposition, but it's more than that. Your blog is not about you or how you "efficiently and effectively integrate a wide range of resources and core competencies to provide flexible, scalable, ground-breaking industry-standard, cutting-edge solutions." Instead, your blog posts in this group must be about:
- Me, your reader,
- My problems,
- Conveying to me that you really do understand my problems, and
- How you solve them
The most important - and most difficult - part is to articulate it the same way your customer does, not the way you would do so. Look at their problem through their lens. Frame it in language they would use. For example, a personal growth coach might be working with people who are living too timidly, but her client would never say it that way. Her client would say something like "I keep wimping out."
If making this shift in thinking is difficult (you're not alone), try calling your most recent dozen or so customers on the phone. Begin with, "Hi, how are you doing?" Let the conversation be open-ended and non-directed. After the conversation has warmed up a bit simply ask, "So tell me: I’m curious why you chose to do business with me instead of my competitor." Then listen. Really listen. Take notes.
Write about the problem in a way that doesn't bury it half-way down the page; Get it right up there in the first sentence so that your reader doesn't have to invest a lot of time to learn that you are talking about his problem.
Most of us get too formal in our blog posts. When you are writing, imagine yourself sitting across the table at a coffee shop from your client who is an old friend. Write like you would say it.
Your objective is for your readers to think, "She really understands my problem."
News and Trends in Your Industry. Educate and Inform
You are an expert. The more you share that expertise, the more you will be considered an expert by others. The objective of this group of blog posts is for your readers to think, "She is eminently qualified to solve my problem."
For example, if you are a tile installer, explain the process of installing tile in a shower stall in such a way that it stays intact for twenty years instead of falling down in three. Educate your reader. Strive to help your readers be informed consumers.
Behind the Scenes
Everyone loves to get the inside scoop. If you are a printer and the new printing press arrived today, blog about it (better yet include some pictures!). Blog about getting it set up and calibrated. If you are an auto mechanic, blog about the new diagnostic machine. If you are a janitorial company, blog about your hand-held air-born particle counter. You have clients who are your fans. These are the ones who drive past six of your competitors to buy from you. Make them feel like they are part of your inner circle.
Personal Anecdotes that Humanize You and Your Company
Now that your reader recognizes that you understand his problem and knows that you are qualified to solve it, there is one more thing you want him to think:
"She is the kind of person I am comfortable doing business with. I can trust her."
People don't do business with your company, they do business with you. You want your readers to know that you are not a big cold impersonal company. Write about your hobbies, kids, pets, and personal achievements. Readers who are your future clients will connect with you.
Video is a great way to accomplish this. With YouTube, an inexpensive video camera, and some free editing software, anyone can include video in their blog.
One caution: It's easy to get carried away and let the volume of posts in this group overwhelm the rest. The objective is for posts in this group to act as that one lonely French horn in your orchestra that gives the whole thing an emotional tug.