These days, it seems business blogs are everywhere. And why not? They’re simple to set up, and they’re a great way to promote your products and services. But here’s the real question: Do they get results?
Only if you do them right, says author Mark Satterfield. While anybody can key words into a template, it’s not so easy to create a professional blog that reels in potential clients and keeps current ones engaged. You have to strike the right tone, come up with great topics, know how to hold a reader’s attention, and more.
“Most compelling business blogs have several structural elements in common—and once you know what they are, they’re fairly easy to replicate,” says Satterfield, author of the new book The One Week Marketing Plan: The Set It & Forget It Approach for Quickly Growing Your Business.
Satterfield, who has spent the last two decades helping clients grow their businesses, says blogging can be a valuable way to establish yourself as a thought leader. Each time you publish a post, people searching for any keywords it contains will be drawn to your site, where they may sign up for your email list and buy your products or services. And it’s easy for readers to pass along interesting or controversial posts to their friends, fans, circles, and followers.
“I recently acquired a major client all the way from Australia because of a blog post,” Satterfield shares. “And my dentist says she gets a new patient for every few blogs she posts—and those are only a few examples. So yes, the time, thought, and energy you put into strategic blogging can have an incredibly positive ROI for your business.”
In The One Week Marketing Plan, Satterfield shares actionable strategies and real-world wisdom to help entrepreneurs set up a successful, sustainable niche marketing plan in just five business days. (Yes, really!) Here, he spotlights eight tips that will help you create a compelling, business-driving blog:
Know what your readers care about. First and foremost, successful blogging is all about offering value to your readers. It doesn’t matter how flashy or funny or well-written your posts are if they don’t provide useful information or answer readers’ questions. People aren’t interested in self-serving pontification; they’re looking for resources to enhance their lives. Keep this principle firmly in mind when considering all of the following tips.
“Specifically, I advise you to not only consider what your target audience cares about, but also to think about the words and phrases they’re likely to use when searching for that information,” Satterfield suggests. “Be sure to include these keywords (judiciously, not exhaustively!) in your headlines and copy so that your posts will be more likely to show up in the first few pages of search results. This is one component of search engine optimization, or SEO.”
Find your voice. (And make it an engaging one!) If your goal is to drive readers away or put them to sleep, write in dense “corporate speak” and use a lot of industry-specific, arcane phraseology. Oh, that’s not your goal? Then the tone of your writing should be more entertaining and approachable, even though you’re primarily talking about your business.
“If you read your blog post aloud and conclude that your words would turn an in-person meeting into a snooze-fest, think twice before hitting ‘publish,’” advises Satterfield. “In fact, when you’re creating posts, aim for the tone you’d strike in a one-on-one conversation with a prospect or customer you already like.”
Banish blogger’s block with a list of compelling topics. Consistently creating compelling content (say that three times quickly!) is a challenge for a lot of bloggers. So that you don’t find yourself facing blogger’s block, it’s smart to have a broad understanding of what readers generally find interesting.
“I suggest making a list of posts you want to publish so that you can work on them when inspiration strikes (and so that you can have a lot of content in the can for a rainy day!),” Satterfield says. “Be sure to keep a constantly evolving record of any new ideas that come to you. I use a program called ‘Evernote’ that enables me to keep all of my ideas readily available.”