There’s a reason I’m so romantic about blogging – it works. I’ve seen it for myself and I’ve seen it for my clients.
For instance, I have a client that has only been blogging for a few months. Just last week, they received a lead from their website for a service that they had just blogged about a few days before.
Just a coincidence?
I think not.
If you are looking for a solution and you find a website with a blog post that addresses that particular issue you have questions about, wouldn’t that make you more likely to buy from them?
I know I would.
That’s what makes blogging and content marketing is so darn powerful.
The challenge is coming up with the content that makes sense for your business (and finding the to create it).
To get started, I strongly recommend creating a content plan for your blog. As you build the topics you’re going to write about, it helps to think about how you’re going to present the information.
Types of Blog Content
Here are the five types of content you should be including in your blog:
1. Educational Posts
Educational content should be the backbone of your content marketing efforts. These posts come in the form of how-to guides and answers to questions your clients and prospects commonly face.
Think about the questions you get from your clients on a regular basis. Chances are good that your prospects have these questions too.
Your job is to answer these questions. The goal here is to sell through education. You do that by helping make your prospect’s life a little bit easier.
Here are some ideas:
- Help readers break down complex issues in a way that’s easy to understand.
- Explain recent changes in your industry (i.e. healthcare reform, law changes, tax updates, etc.).
- Offer up tools or resources that can be useful to your prospects.
- Provide a step-by-step guide for solving a common problem.
- Show unique ways your product or service could be used.
Creating content that helps people solve problems and better understand the work you do will be extremely beneficial to you.
2. Thought Leadership Posts.
You don’t want a blog that’s full of “me-too” content. You need to be willing to plant a flag for what you believe as a company. Taking a stand on issues and offering original opinions and ideas can help differentiate you from your competitors.
People want to know they are working with talented experts and this kind of content will help you demonstrate your capabilities.
Here are some ideas on how to do this:
- Call attention to problems in your industry and discuss what you’re doing to help solve them.
- Offer a different view or angle on a popular topic. Don’t be afraid to be contrarian!
- Share your opinion on how recent news or events impacts your community or industry.
- Write a manifesto that articulates what you stand for and why you approach things differently at your company.
- Discuss important trends or make your own predictions about what trends people should watch. (Here’s an example.)
- Share industry data or research and interpret what that means for your target audience.
These kinds of posts should be written somewhat sparingly, but they are an important component to successful blogging – especially if you want to position yourself as a thought leader and a go-to resource for your industry.
3. Humanizing Posts.
Because blogging can help readers better connect with you and your company, you should make a conscious effort to weave in some posts that help humanize your brand. You could either dedicate content around this idea or make sure to weave storytelling and personality into everything you do.
There are so many ways you could do this. Here are just a few ideas:
- Create videos to introduce key members of your team.
- Develop a Q&A series that has employees answering the questions.
- Show photos of your employees having fun together – at events or on a day-to-day basis.
- You could share the community involvement of your staff member or encourage people to join in your company’s fundraising efforts.
- Tell a story of someone who was impacted by the work you do.
Don’t be afraid to let your hair down and let your true colors, or “killer swag” shine through. Doing this will help people get to know you better and make them much more likely to want to work with you.
4. Buying Decision Posts.
Because your blog is supposed to help you drive leads and business, you need to also write content that will help readers make the decision to buy.
Think about the questions that people have when going through the buying process. What questions do they ask about your products or services? What are their biggest hangups about buying?
Writing content that answers prospects questions will help them determine whether your business is a good fit for their needs. They are self-selecting whether they want to work with you. Which means when they come knocking on your door they will be more prepared to buy.
A great example of this kind of content is to talk about pricing. People are searching for this information and if you can be the one to provide it, they will be more likely to buy from you. Not to mention, this could decrease the sales cycle by weeding out unqualified leads.
Here are some additional ideas:
- Compare your product or service to your competitors to help readers make an educated decision about the options available.
- Write use cases that share ideas about how and when your service is a good fit for customers.
- Talk about when your products or services are NOT a good fit for customers.
- Write about the telltale signs a company should look for a solution to their problem.
Here are some examples of buying decision content I’ve written:
- Should You Outsource Your Social Media Efforts?
- Hiring an In-House Marketing Team vs. Marketing Agency
- Should You Hire a Digital Marketing Agency?
Each of these posts offers information to help someone determine which solution will be best for them. Think about how you can offer similar content with your blog.
5. Case Studies and Examples.
One of the best way you can sell the work you do is by showcasing the results you’re able to help generate for others. Case studies are a great way to do just that.
This is a great way to sell your services by letting someone else to the talking.
And, if you’re unable to get case studies and client stories (or you’re unable to do so for compliance reasons), you could always showcase examples of other people or businesses that are doing things right. People love to see how ideas or theories can be put to work and showing how others are applying those ideas can be super powerful – even if they’re not your own clients.
Balance Your Blog Content
The best way to be successful with your blog is to integrate all of these types of blog posts into your writing. Not only with the varied types of blog content appeal to different audiences, but it will also help readers who are at different stages of the buying process.
If you focus on writing these kinds of posts on your blog, you’ll be sure to see the benefits of it.
Are you writing these kind of blog posts? Which ones do you still need to add to the mix?
NOTE: A version of this post was originally published on February 19, 2013. But, because the tips are still so relevant today, we dusted it off from the archives and refreshed it a bit for our newer readers (or those who missed it the first time). We hope you enjoy it!
Don’t miss another great post like this one! Click here to get these articles delivered to your inbox.