There are many, many myths about business blogging. That it’s boring. Tedious. Something to slog through or hire out the instant you have the budget.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
With a little ingenuity and a lot of input from your staff and customers, business blogging can be a breeze. A fun, energizing task you actually look forward to instead of dreading. (This post has tons of great tips for writing rock star blog posts that keep your readers coming back for more.)
Here’s a list of ideas to get your writer’s brain revved up:
1. Interviews & Profiles
There’s a saying that people don’t buy from businesses. They buy from people. Why do you think Steve Jobs appeared so much in the Apple marketing campaigns? Why do you think Orville Redenbacher is such a memorable brand?
People love to listen to and read about real people.
So look around.
- Who, in your business stratosphere, is interesting enough to interview and profile?
- Do you have suppliers who have unique start-up stories or fun family businesses?
- Think of people in your circle who work in any kind of interesting environment or conditions and interview them.
For instance, if one of your suppliers is a farmer of any kind, get him to send in a photo of himself or his employee out on the farm. Standing next to an impressive piece of machinery, or out in some endless looking field.
The idea is to think of unique, attention grabbing photos or environments that your average reader doesn’t see every day.
Doesn’t matter if you have only ordered from him once or twice, or if he’s really more of a friend of a friend. The ‘connection’ can be paper-thin to your business. Open the interview with a quick intro regarding how you or your company knows this person and then dive in.
This doesn’t just go for someone outside your company. You can profile someone internally as well. Maybe you have a long time office manager who happens to be a killer watercolor artist on the side. (Read more here about finding out how to visually create the perfect customer.)
Maybe your customer service staff plays in a volleyball league together. Get photos and get interviewing. Your readers will love to see the ‘real faces’ behind your company.
(Bonus: If you do interview and profile an external business, ask them to return the favor. See if they’d be interested in profiling you. Ask them, once your profile is complete, to cross-post it to their blog. Instant free traffic.)
Speaking of your customer service staff, if you aren’t already gathering a list of the most commonly asked questions or concerns from you customers, you should start. Now. Not only is this information absolute gold when it comes to improving and guiding your business and marketing decisions, but it’s fabulous blog fodder.
If you’re really clever, you can even use FAQs to create that holy grail of blogging: The Series. See if you can’t take on one FAQ per week and expand it into a blog post in and of itself. Why waste one big FAQ list on one blog post when you can stretch it out a little and instead spin off ten blog posts.
To help fill these in, try asking your customer service staff to tell you a personal story about each individual FAQ they report to you. Was there a time a customer called regarding that FAQ, ready to cancel an order, and because your staff was able to help them, the order was saved? Write about that.
Or flip it on its head and find out any IFAQs. Infrequently Asked Questions. See if your customer service department has ever gotten any weird or wacky requests. Those are often funny and interesting to read – plus they give you a chance to subtly brag about the fantastically helpful and engaged customer service staff you employ.
3. New & Old Products
These don’t have to be dry recitations of the product’s manual. In fact, make sure they aren’t. There’s no quicker way to make a readers eyes glaze over than to blah-blah-blah about tech specs.
Instead, think of ways to highlight the product’s features in unusual ways. Say you sell water pumps. Take photos of the same pump in several different applications: draining a pool, drying out a flooded basement, etc. Point out any interesting or unusual features.
Once again, make it personal. If you’re lucky enough to have customers calling or emailing you to praise your product, ask them if they wouldn’t mind sending you a photo of your product in use at their home. What you stand to lose in pristine photo quality, you’ll gain in credibility when readers see happy customers using and raving about your product. Heck, call it “Product X in the Wild.”
Same thing goes for brand new products. You might even want to ‘seed’ this kind of customer photography by sending free samples to some of your favorite customers. In return for the free product, ask them to ‘review’ the product and send in photos of them using it. Again: blog content GOLD.
4. How To’s
What’s that saying? A picture says a thousand words? Here’s your chance to video blog, or at least create a photo-heavy blog post. (These 3 insanely simple tips will help you create stellar video blogs.) Write a blog post or shoot a how-to video about how to get the most and best use out of your products.
Customers love when you take the time to break down, step by detailed step, all the ways to use your product. Can’t think of any ideas, or you don’t know where to start? Go on YouTube and do a few searches for how-tos that relate to your product line.
Pay attention to the Views count. If “how to install widget X” has gotten 1400 views and “how to tune up widget Y” only has gotten 14, you probably should at least start with widget X content.
5. A Day In the Life
“Woke up, got outta bed. Dragged a comb across my head…” The Beatles knew that there’s something compelling about being a fly on the wall to someone’s day to day life. So ‘report’ on that yourself.
Again, this kind of content easily lends itself to a video blog format but if you don’t have the equipment or editing skills, you can instead do a ‘photo diary’ of a day in the life of . . . anyone associated with your company.
Ask one of your technicians to snap some photos every 1-2 hours or so when he’s out making service calls. Find an employee who does a lot of varied tasks and take photos of her throughout the day doing different things.
(Note I said “different things.” Don’t try this Day in the Life technique with someone who sits at the same computer or on the phone call. Snoresville.)
Heck, try a Day in the Life blog post about YOU. If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you wear a million hats throughout the day. Show that to your readers! It’s interesting to watch it all come together.
6. Backstage Pass
This one can be tricky, but it’s worth a try. Think of ways to photograph ‘behind the scenes’ at your place of business. If you have a UPS truck that backs up to your warehouse, take a photo of that. Show off all the huge amounts of deliveries you make every day.
If you have a big meeting where you are brainstorming for the next quarter and have a whiteboard covered in multicolor post-its…well, post it! People are interested to see the creative engine that drives their favorite companies. (While planning your marketing and business system is a great time to take photos. You can learn more about setting up the perfect business system here.)
So why is this so tricky? Because you don’t want to mistakenly give away trade secrets to your competitor. And you don’t want to unwittingly post something that might invade you privacy or your customer’s privacy.
So before you post any photos at all, have someone else review them. They could catch a legible phone number, internal marketing detail or mailing address that you didn’t notice.
So what are your favorite blog posts to read? To write? How often does your business post? Do you have any themes you post about on a regular basis?
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