Any B2B marketer worth her salt can list the many benefits of blogging -- search engine optimization, social media engagement, audience development and brand building. But guess what most B2B marketers really want from their company blog? Thought leadership.
That’s right, they want to be viewed as thought leaders in their industry. Why? Because thought leadership content builds trust and credibility with prospects … often long before (and long after) they're ready to buy.
So why do so many B2B blogs fail to position their company as thought leaders? Here are 5 common reasons:
1. It’s Hard to Find
If the blog isn't easy to find on your website, then it’s obviously not a key value you provide to prospects and customers. Or said another way, if it’s not that important to your company, then it’s probably not that valuable to your target audience.
2. It’s Mostly About Your Company
We're not saying that no one cares about how great your user conference is going to be, or your latest customer wins, or even those new exec hires, it’s just that those topics are probably not keeping your prospects up at night.
3. It’s Anonymously Written
Why don't your posts list anyone as the author? This implies either: your company is filled to the brim with so many domain experts that you don't want to give anyone special attention, or there are no thought leaders at your company willing to take credit. Guess which your buyers will think?
4. It’s Not Up to Date
One way to gauge how a company is doing is to see how frequently their blog is updated. Has it been a while? Hard to be a thought-leader if you've run out of thoughts to share.
5. It’s Not Engaging Readers
Even if your company’s website doesn't generate a ton of traffic, you should still get a few people (besides employees) tweeting out your posts and sharing them on LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook. Not happening? Maybe your blog isn't adding value.
So how can you turn the tide and start establishing thought leadership with your blog?
- Treat your blog like it’s important Make it easy to find on your website (top or bottom navigation or high up on the “About Us” or “Resources” menu) and prominently showcase recent blog posts on your homepage and other relevant pages. You can even call it some other title that reflects thought leadership. For example, ADP calls theirs “Legislative Updates.”
- Think like a publisher Create an editorial calendar outlining the themes and topics to be covered and the desired schedule for the individual blog posts. Ask senior management to suggest or write (gasp!) posts on a regular basis. Hire or contract for writing help if you need it (don't be surprised if the blog starts generating enough leads to more than cover the costs!).
- Make it about your target audience Keep your posts focused on the pains, opportunities and aspirations of everyone involved in the buying process (i.e., users, decision makers, influencers). For example, even if you have company news to announce, ask yourself, “Why should buyers care?”
- Blog often but keep the quality high You can’t get around the fact that how often you post is important to generating visibility and audience for your company blog. Just make sure you don't sacrifice quality for volume, as that’s what keeps your audience coming back plus gives them reasons to share. A good place to start is two to three posts a week.
- Get other experts to contribute Reach out to your community of employees, customers, prospects and partners to recruit others with a relevant point of view that are interested in contributing. The result will be a bunch of helpful, interesting, and unbiased blog posts. Finding quality contributors will also help you generate more quality blog posts. But don't forget to give author credit to everyone that contributes!
Now nobody’s perfect, but there are a few examples of B2B companies leading the way toward developing thought leadership with their company blogs. Check out Cisco, Marketo, and Hubspot and see how they're doing on the points above. And let us know what you find works best for establishing thought leadership with your company blog.
Image courtesy of Fer Gregory (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: To read more from Carter, see his Why Knowing Your Target Audience's Mood is the Start of B2B Social Marketing