Blogs should: (Choose all that apply)
a) Promote the products and services of the company publishing the blog
b) Focus on best practices or current news in the relevant industryc) Be written in a formal, professorial style
d) Include some humor, personality, opinion, and fun imagery and multimedia
e) Include some messaging promoting the publisher’s offerings, or calls to action
If you picked B, D, and E, congrats!
Let’s face it; all content marketing is promotional in the end. You can publish a blog or eBook of “Best Practices” that excludes any mention of your offerings. But you publish it because it showcases your expertise, enhances credibility, and can help with SEO. (I freely admit that’s why I’m writing this particular blog; not to make the world a better place.)
But discussing the key value propositions of your offerings and competitive differentiation should not be the focus. “Why Acme Widgets are the Best Widgets on the Market,” is not a blog.
There is a time and a place for that content (the “products” section of your website, sales calls), but your blog is not among them.
So, I Can’t Pitch My Stuff?
No, that is not to say promotional content must be entirely barred from the text of blogs. A mention of a new product launch, new customer acquisition, or calls to action are all appropriate to include in blogs occasionally. In particular, it’s entirely appropriate to invite the reader to engage with your company to help obtain the types of solutions you’ve just discussed.
Think of it like cooking. In the meal of blogs, promotions are like fresh basil. It’s nice sometimes, but cannot be the primary ingredient.
What is the Primary Ingredient?
Fuse insight and opinion (with occasional mentions of your tech) into topics such as:
- The latest news in your industry
- Best practices
- Customer success stories
- Numbered lists: News, best practices, even reasons your tech is ideal for a specific use case. Yes, that latter is promotional, but numbered lists make it fit the blog paradigm.
Personality and Opinion
The freedom to infuse some humor and opinion is one of my favorite things about blogging. As one friend of mine recently said, “So, you don’t fan-girl out?” I laughed and replied that this was an excellent and highly-relevant expression to describe my approach to blogging.
A few of my favorite recent, fun analogies and statements include:
- Comparing a proposed tactic for coping with the Mirai IoT botnet to the children’s story, “The old lady who swallowed a fly.”
- “Using the findings from a penetration test, you can posture your security goals. Be someone who really knows where their towel is.” (I took a photo of my own copy of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” on top of a towel.)
- Thoughts on the downside of a “smart toothbrush” and the addictive properties of screens and gaming for kids.
But Who Has Time for That?
In my experience, companies are filled with subject matter experts who are a wealth of knowledge, but can’t dedicate time to writing. I recommend you find a talented, experienced content marketer who can work with those individuals to bring their ideas to content completion, in addition to contributing some insight, opinion, and humor. (And yes, that is indeed a service I offer, thank you very much.)