Nothing is without purpose so one philosopher said. Is that true of your blog? The blogging craze has hit and the “everyone’s doing it” mentality has begun to kick in. If you’ve considered starting a blog as a business and marketing communications tool, you certainly need to make sure you gave a goal in mind for its use.
Susannah Gardner, in her excellent resource Buzz Marketing with Blogs For Dummies, lists several possible goals to consider:
Inform or educate the public and your current customers
According to Susie, this is the most common purpose of a business blog. Using a blog in this manner makes a great “news & updates” section of your main website.
Provide customer service or help using a product or service
A blog can be a mechanism for feedback and as a way for consumers to ask questions. One blog I worked on sponsored by a lawn fertilizer and grass see manufacturer (believe it or not) focused on lawncare. We would get numerous questions from readers about the best time to apply fertilizer, the right type of grass seed to use in their locale, etc. Not only would those questions be answered directly by experts in the company, we would post the answer on the blog as well, making that information available to everyone.
The way most blog platforms work is that, when someone leaves a comment to a blog post, the writer of that post receives an email with the comment and the address of the commenter. With the above-mentioned blog we had all comments directed to the company’s customer service department. They would hand questions off to the person most appropriate to give the answer. It worked very well!
Convey a sense of company personality and culture
Blogs help “humanize” your company. Take McDonald´s Corporation for a moment. When you think of McDonald´s, what person comes to mind? Why, Ronald McDonald of course! (If you’re old enough, the name Ray Kroc may also come to mind.) I conjecture that Ronald needs a blog. But, there is much more to McDonald´s than Ronald and a company blog would be a good way to communicate that information.
It´s also a good way to let people know your company´s culture. Maybe your company is cool or a fun place to work. A blog is a good way to let people know that, as it gives them an insider´s view.
Another of my clients has a category on their blog called “Inside the Company.” I recall one post that showed a photo of the CEO sliding down the rail of an escalator at an airport as he was on his way to a trade show. That photo told a story and gave readers insight into the CEO’s personality (he is a fun guy). You open the gates to your company and, via the blog, let people walk inside.
It´s not a matter of making people like your product or service. It´s a matter of helping people like you, and gain a greater sense of loyalty to you as a result. Using a blog in this way helps to create goodwill, even if it can´t be measured in revenue growth or the acquisition of new customers.
Entertain readers and customers
I have this blogger friend. He’s a “moose.” His blog is Moosetopia.com, and it’s a fun place to visit. The blog is one of several run by Denali, an ice-cream manufacturer.
It’s what’s known as a “character” blog. The moose is the company mascot (icon). It serves to generate a positive relationship between the company and the consumer. But, entertainment is not just relegated to character blogs. Poking a little fun at yourself from time to time can make the blog more humorous and draw readers back.
Drive users to take action
In the US, political blogs have been used to convince people to take specific action, whether its to vote for a particular candidate or contact their congressman about a hot issue.
How does this translate into business? Your company produces a great product, right? Use a blog to help people find new and better ways to make use of it. You might also use the blog to provide incentives for people to help spread the message about your products, creating a viral effect.
Encourage dialogue with current and potential customers
Use a blog to start a conversation with your customers and keep it going. Get customer feedback and ask opinion.
In fact, most companies combine several of these purposes into one blog. Don´t feel as if you have to do everything at once though. Start small and build from there. If you have several purposes in mind, consider starting several blogs over time.
That’s what Denali has done, and it’s working very well for them. They even sponsor a blog on personal money management. I don’t see what that has to do with ice cream, except maybe that by saving money you have more to spend on the confection. Heh.
Regardless, make sure you blog has a reason to exist. One of more of these six goals might be yours.