Blog Schmog: The Truth About What Blogs Can (and Can’t) Do For Your Business by Robert W. Bly will be released in January, and I had the pleasure of speaking with the author Robert W. Bly about this latest book.
In his book, Bly gives you what he termed in our conversation, “the second opinion” on blogs.
And before all the blogger folks get into a “blogger uproar”, let me say that Bly comes at blogs from the perspective of taking the hype that surrounds blogs and putting them into the proper perspective in terms of what companies might or might not need them.
Does everyone need a blog? Do I, for instance, go to my dry cleaners and ask them if I can read up on how to get a red wine stain out of my shirt, or do I hope they will just do it when I drop it off at the window?
Bly by the way, has a well-respected and popular blog. See it here .
What follows are some of Bob’s thoughts on the blogosphere and the blogging phenomenon.
Bob is a direct mail copywriter and he looks at any blog the same way he would if it were a company interested in direct mail services, from the vantage point of “Will this work for your company?”
“What I tell companies if they ask me about direct mail is I will tell them “direct mail won’t work for you”, if I think it won’t be a good option for the company. My attitude has always been “always do what’s best for the other person” regardless if it makes you money. Be objective,” says Bly.
“My problem with the marketing blogosphere is that no one there is the least bit of objective, not only are they not objective, but they’re militant to the point of murder if you dare question the supremacy of blogging as a communications tool and as a subset of that, as a marketing medium,” Bly notes.
“There was a very prominent blogger at one time that said, “Every business should have a blog,” and I thought, “Oh really? That is an absurd statement.” If I were to go on some of these marketing blogs and say I thought this was absurd they would attack me and call me an idiot and tell me I don’t understand.”
“I think there are some who are not objective, it’s just too convenient, if I only make money selling blogging services and you ask me, “What’s the best way to market my product” and you look at me and immediately say, “blogging” can I really trust that?”
In the direct mail industry if you want to rent a list, for instance, you don’t go to the list owner and say, “Should I rent your list?” What’s he going to say? “No, don’t rent my list?” He’ll say, “Of course you should rent my list.”
Nettie: Great points! Let’s say there is a group mentality to this, then let’s take that a step further and ask “Does my dry cleaners need a blog?”
Bly: No, and that’s the point! In the universe of businesses, there are a lot of businesses that could benefit from a blog, and a lot that couldn’t. The ones that could, generally deal in intellectual capital or sell products or services where the buyer is an information seeker. So for example, if you’re General Motors, people do want a lot of information about cars, so blogging makes sense.
But if you’re in a town where there are six pizza parlors and it’s competitive and someone said, “You need a blog, that will differentiate you, that’s silly.” The average person ordering a pie does not really want to know about the history of pizza. It’s not relevant.
Nettie: What are some ways to determine if your business needs a blog?
Bly: First of all divide the universe, half of the businesses out there don´t need a blog. Now the remaining half, a lot of them could but perhaps should not, or my argument is “I suppose you could have a blog, but you have a limited amount of time, and a limited amount of money.”
If I were to make a list of all the promotion and marketing message that were effective, blogs might be on that list, but they might be fifteen.
Nettie: Because you have to look at blogging (because it is so time-consuming) as a return on the time of your investment too?
Bly: Absolutely. There’s a number of problems with it, if you have a blog, you have to keep it up. A lot of people say, “Well it doesn’t take a lot of work,” but it takes more work than one would think. It takes a lot of time of energy and conciousness. Active blogging takes a lot of time.
That’s a very important point in the book, is to really measure your time. Time is a really precious resource. It’s the same phenomenon as forums, newsgroups etc. at first you’re really excited about them, and then you look up and you’ve wasted three hours of your time!
Nettie: Are there blogs you read?
Bly: I really like the AdRants blog and it’s very visual, it’s an advertising blog, but it’s really good, but I would just rather look at it when I can, and not get the constant emails that someone else has posted a comment to it.
Nettie: What are three takeaways from your book?
Number One — Blogging is way overhyped as a marketing medium and you should be aware of that when deciding whether you should use blogging to market your product or service.
Number Two — Consultants are often criticized for not being objective, for wanting to give you advice that makes them more money. Dilbert had the joke where the consultant said, “My findings of my consulting, is that you need a lot more consulting.” So I would make certain you have a good consultant on whether you should really have a blog or not have a blog.
Number Three — Blogging may work for you and I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from doing it, but since time and money are limited resources, you want to prioritize what marketing you are and you’re not going to do and based on ROI, I would say if you’re only going to do the top three, blogging would rarely be in the top three.
Nettie: So Bob, what would be in the top three?
Bly: It depends on the company, but if I had to make a generalization, I would say having an e-newsletter and building your in-house e-list, offering free content in the way of white papers or guides or downloadable demos or tools — giving new free stuff, and the third would probably be having a web site, the fourth would be email marketing, the 5th might be direct mail marketing. And blogging wouldn’t be last on the list, but it would probably be around ten. Good PR would come before blogging for me. People would say they’re related, but I think they’re different.
Nettie: So are you going to have to go into hiding after this book comes out? Will you be the Salman Rushdie of the blogging world?
Bly: (Laughs.) It is not my desire, but I did put a box on page 1 that says, “Warning, if you are a blogging evangelist, or blogging enthusiast or blogging consultant, you will hate this book.”
I think half the people will absolutely hate the book, but what it’s good for is for people who are marketers, who want to know the truth about this.
Like you go to a doctor, and get a second opinion. This is the second opinion. It’s not anti-blogging, it doesn’t say blogging is bad, but it’s a realistic assessment of what blogging can do and there are some positives and we talk about them. But it also shows what it can’t do and what’s bad about it.
Nettie: Thanks Bob!
This book is a definite Must Read and I urge you to pre-order this book on Amazon now!
I’m a giant fan of Bly, by the way, for full disclosure and I think the book is really going to be an amazing resource for businesses. Bob’s book really does “clear the air” in terms of blogging and schmogging!
Check out this link to see books Robert W. Bly has penned.
For Bly’s blog go here