The Internet has changed the face of Marketing. Although the basic principles of marketing and sales are essentially timeless, Internet technologies have provided marketers with a variety of new techniques to connect to and interact with new and existing customers.
The last couple of years have seen an increased focus on a brand-new channel: corporate blogs. This is a potent marketing tool, especially as a mechanism for starting a dialog with users. There are many ways to leverage corporate blogs:
1. Customer Interaction and feedback
Blogs can serve as an extended marketing channel to reach out to users. Unlike typical marketing communications, a blog is informal, interactive (two-way communication is almost a given) and timely - it's a great way to get user feedback and keep a finger on the pulse of user sentiment about your products and services.
2. A sense of community
A blog can be used to foster a greater sense of community among your user base. Attracting a core group of readers can serve as a jumping-off point to create user groups and forums ("users helping users!") and build a loyal following among your customers.
3. A "push" mechanism, to supplement or replace Email Marketing
Email marketing has some well-known problems, and is becoming increasingly ineffective as a way to communicate with customers. What is needed is a "push" mechanism, that combines the advantages of a subscription channel to express interest in a given area, with the ease-of-use of an online newspaper (no organize/delete actions are necessary to prevent inbox flooding!). Most blogs support RSS/Atom feeds, which provide exactly such a push mechanism.
4. Attract links and improve SEO rankings
One of the attributes that makes blogging special is the heavy interaction among content creators within the blogging community. There is typically a high level of hyperlinking between blogs related to a given industry or area of interest, and it is quite common to have widespread, ongoing discussions about key topics in that area across a cross-section of blogs - e.g. a blogger will post an article about a controversial subject (known among bloggers as "link bait"), and another blogger will respond with a different perspective in a different blog, which is then taken up by a third blogger, and so on. All this heavy url linking between blogs has a very positive effect on SEO rankings.
5. Control buzz
Blogs provide a rapid and effective way to generate, and more importantly, control buzz about your company, product or service. The blogging community tends to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies and solutions - if you have a new product or service coming up with exciting, "cool" features, creating some excitement within the blogosphere is a terrific way to quickly generate buzz and get lots of free, credible, word-of-mouth publicity.
At the same time, a corporate blog can provide an informal channel to enable a rapid response to a crisis, before negative publicity can spin out of control - a heartfelt apology by the CEO, for example, can get additional credibility in a blog post, because of the personal, informal tone.
So how do you convince your boss that your company needs a blog? You can argue the Top 16 Reasons to start an external corporate blog. Alternatively, you can start your own blog to discuss thoughts and news in your business area - most blog packages are free, and the time commitment is not large, as long as you post regularly! In the early days, there was a strong sense that a blog needed daily posts to be effective, but unless you want to be in the Technorati Top 50, that's not really necessary.
Once you have your own blog, as you start to collect a regular reader base, you will automatically gain credibility and be seen as a thought leader in your area. When your company eventually starts a blog - and they will - you will have a pre-existing high-authority blog that can be used to jump-start it and to boost its credibility, and you'll become an instant corporate hero!
Note: If you do intend to share your blog with your boss and with your company, then you should be careful to avoid the sins listed in Top 5 Mistakes to avoid in an external corporate blog; in general, it's a fairly good idea to avoid these even in a personal blog, unless there's a reason not to.
Help us raise Breast Cancer Awareness: