I had coffee with an old friend last week. He works in a professional services firm and he wanted to talk about blogging as a marketing tool for the company. The president of his firm had heard the buzz around blogging and wants my friend to launch a blog for the company. Their business has six million dollars in annual revenue and they are experiencing what many B2B companies at this size face: growth has flat-lined. The president has a great rolodex and that’s been all the company has needed to grow in the past. But that sales-centric approach has run its course and now they have to figure out how to grow beyond the rolodex. Blogging is the answer the president came up with.
This situation is common – both the sales stagnation at this stage of growth, and the view that blogging will be their saviour. However, while marketing is often the answer for B2B sales stagnation between five and ten million dollars in revenue, blogging isn’t necessarily the top priority.
Blogging has two main benefits for B2B companies – it allows them to demonstrate their expertise, and it helps with search engine optimization (SEO).That’s what we use blogs for, both Mezzanine’s B2B marketing blog and our clients’ blogs. When a company blogs using keywords that are relevant for how prospects seek the products and services they provide, it will improve the company’s search engine (Google et al) rankings. That’s great – it means that people who don’t already know the company are more likely to find them and visit their website. And when those prospects read the firm’s blog, they’ll know that this company really knows its stuff. Which means perhaps they’ll contact the company to find out more.
The downside of blogging is that it takes serious effort to do right. Like so many things in business and B2B marketing - there’s blogging, and then there’s blogging right. Blogging right means knowing which keywords to use and how to use them. It means developing great content on a regular basis and promoting it across multiple channels. It takes dedication and discipline – and in my experience the majority of B2B companies struggle with it. It is a great tool, but only if you can dedicate the resources over the long term to do it well.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you’re a B2B company considering blogging:
- Are there other marketing tools we could use to achieve our marketing objectives? Will those other tools deliver better ROI?
- Who will write the blogs? How many will they write? How will they be held accountable for blogging?
- Who will be the central organizer and owner of the blog?
- How long will we keep at it? Can we envision consistently blogging three years from now?
Your answers to these questions will help you evaluate whether blogging should be at the top of (or elsewhere on) your marketing list. Blogging can be a great marketing tool for B2B companies – but only if you can commit the resources on a long-term basis to doing it right.