Blog Marketing

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Less is Almost Always More in Blogging

Posted by Dawn Walnoha

Title of the Post Goes Here

With so much noise out there on the Interwebs today, wouldn’t it be refreshing to visit a blog where one idea is presented in a clean, straightforward fashion? Just think of the sigh of relief you feel stepping into a sleek, modern home after spending a week at your nicknacky grammy’s, or the calm quiet your own home gets once the kids are asleep and their toys are put away.

Well, why not your blog?

One of the things we pride ourselves on here at Brandsplat is taking no more time than absolutely necessary to make a point. We know we’re on borrowed time here, and that your readers are only willing to give you a quick once-over before moving on — unless you can capture their hearts and minds for longer.

You do that by writing in a clear fashion about something you know and care a great deal about, whether that’s the law or making handbags or, well, anything at all. Your voice — the tone you use, the length of your sentences and the words you select — often communicates as much about you as the content. That’s another trick we Brandsplatters know: How to weave content and tone together into a tightly-knit package for your readers.

So take a look at your favorite blogs today. We bet the ones you read time and time again are carefully-crafted, concise nuggets of knowledge, not epic poems of meh.

When you’re ready for your blog to be on your audience’s go-to reading list, give us a call at 800-299-5498 or drop us a line at hello [at] brandsplat [dot] com.

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The Makings of the Perfect Summer PR

Posted by Dawn Walnoha

Perfect Summer PR.jpg

It’s summer — the season of grilling vs. baking, biking vs. driving and chilling vs. working. It’s that fabulous time of year when we collect around water on hot days and unwind amid warm evening breezes. We’re at our desks less, staying in touch more via mobile. So how does a company’s blogging and social media management help drive business during a time when everything’s so c’est la vie?

Simple: Keep it laid back. Nothing aggressive (unless it’s beach volleyball) is getting any attention until September. Ride the wave by sharing values-based messages on your blog. For example: Going on vacation? Call your last pre-vacation blog post “Gone Fishing” and explain what you’re doing with your time away from the office. Maybe it means quality time with your kids. Maybe you’re volunteering with your church. Maybe it’s catching up on chores at home. Summer is the perfect time to share this side of your life.

And don’t forget the power of images. Customers like knowing that business owners are people, too — so Instagram or Facebook the latest fun from your time off. Keep it clean, of course: No alcoholic beverages or nudity (sadly, these days that even includes even baby bums running through sprinklers). You can also engage followers by asking them to post photo responses to your own (again, keeping things squeaky clean will help you avoid having to clean up a mess later).

Finally, summer is a good time to drop hints about big things you have planned for the fall. Say you’re announcing new services, or expanding your office: Now’s a good time to say you’re resting up for what’s sure to be a busy fall, what with everything you have planned! This helps give the impression that things are booming for you business-wise, and customers love doing business with successful companies.

Now, go enjoy some time off. You’ve earned it! But if you need some help while you’re away, give us a shout. Just contact us and let us know what part of your business you’re hoping to grow, and we’ll get right on it.

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Three Benefits of Blogging You Might Have Missed

Posted by Benjamin Porter

Three Benefits of Blogging You Might Have Missed

 

Most business owners now understand the importance of blogging in terms of raising the profile of their business, both online and in their local community. But even those who were early adopters of blogging as part of their marketing strategy for their business don’t always think of the following three benefits:

1. Ward off competition

It’s true: Blogging can help your business stave off a competitor. Let’s say you run a small consulting firm specializing in helping companies save money on their telecommunications bill. If you’re doing it well, your blog is full of stories of satisfied customers and tips that make it clear that you’re the expert in a particular niche. Why would a potential competitor want to have to try to prove that she is more awesome than you when you’ve already cornered that market?

2. Attract investors

In the same vein, having this record of your thoughts and experiences can also lead to someone saying, “That company has a great business model and is led by a fabulous person. I’d like to meet with them and see if I can be part of their future success.” And once you sit down with this potential investor, they already feel as though they know you, your dreams and your company’s raison d’être.

3. Organize your own thoughts (and get feedback!)

Kind of like keeping a journal, a business blog helps you keep track of ideas that you’re considering for your company. Better yet, they’re ideas that your audience can weigh in on. Say you run a small chain of coffee houses in a tri-state area and you hit upon an idea: What if your stores hosted an open mike night or a poetry slam? By blogging about it, you can both record your idea and gauge potential interest in these events. Maybe your readers aren’t that interested in either idea, but they would like to see you make room for a mother/daughter tea event. There’s extra revenue, just like that.

We know what you’re thinking: “Man, I have GOT to get on this blogging thing, even though I have no time!” Don’t worry… we can help you out. We work closely with our clients to go beyond informative blog writing — we study your industry, learn its acronyms, talk about your dreams. In short, we capture your voice.

So when it’s time to finally start that blog, or turn your existing one over to a professional who can be sure it gets updated more than once a quarter, give us a call at (800) 299-5498 or shoot us an email at hello [at] brandsplat [dot] com. We’ll have your blog working for you in no time!

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How NOT to Attract Business with Your Blog

Posted by Dawn Walnoha

Just as responsible attorneys deplore ambulance-chasing hacks, we here at Brandsplat get our dander up when we see the art of attracting business through blogging debased with thoughtless posts. After all, our writers take great pride in their work and enjoy partnering with our clients to establish just the right tone and content necessary to increase traffic to their stores or offices. So we occasionally get little rants emailed around the office when they stumble across something especially bad.

Here are the top three types of posts that you DON’T want to have associated with your business (and which we promise never to write for you):

1. The Not-So-Humble-Brag Blog: This post is irritating in part because it has so much promise. The business has won some kind of recognition or reached a milestone and rightly wants its customers to know. So far, so good; sharing these accomplishments can help improve a company’s image with its current and prospective customers or reinforce an already good reputation. But in this case, the writer went tone deaf and belted out an egregiously self-congratulatory blog, forgetting to thank the company’s employees as well as other stakeholders. What could have been a gracious reminder of why customers choose to do business with this company instead prompts customers to ask, “Do I want to be associated with this kind of pompous behavior?” Brandsplat tip: Spread praise evenly for best results.

2. The Close-But-No-Cigar Blog: We’ll admit to geeking out a bit when a blog comes across our laptops with a Big Idea. Maybe it’s a philosophical confrontation of the nature of a company’s business a la Jerry Maguire. Maybe it’s a connect-the-dots piece that helps us write even more meaningfully about a certain topic. These types of blogs are rare and, when well done, command attention. However, the great majority get bogged down by a lack of proper execution. Some of them start out well, but the line of reasoning isn’t clearly borne out. Others have so many grammatical errors that we can’t see the argument for the typos. And nearly all need a good editor to stand back and say, “I do not think it means what you think it means.” Even your shampoo bottle knows enough to recommend that you rinse and repeat — or in this case, wait a few hours and review your work with fresh eyes. Or, even better (and this brings us to our Brandsplat tip): Have someone else look at your blogs before you hit the big button.

3. The My-Political-Opinion-Is-Better-Than-Yours Blog: Sure, most of us know that business and politics don’t mix; you’re more likely to offend someone and lose their business than you are to impress an already-like-minded individual and gain theirs. Unfortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for the politics of business to creep into a company’s blog (say, proposed tax code changes or a news story that criticizes hiring practices in a company’s industry). That’s usually when the trouble starts. This is particularly true when the business owner is handling a lot of the marketing him- or herself, as there’s no counter-check on what’s being put out there (see point 2). But let’s say the writer pulls it off and pens a post in praise of something he or she considers innocuous, like helping little old ladies cross the street. That’s when the blog’s readers take over and start commenting, adding their own two inflammatory cents. Haven’t enabled comments? That’s OK, they’ll just share your blog on Facebook with their own take — likely one you’d never want associated with your business. Brandsplat tip: Remember, it’s all too easy to start out writing about the virtues of a particular position and end up sunk in vitriol.

Interestingly, these poor choices often happen when writers feel pressured to “put something up on the blog already!” and don’t have the time to think through what they’ve written. That’s just another reason to hire a content marketing service, and we happen to know a good one. Let us know if we can help by emailing hello [at] brandsplat [dot] com or calling 800-299-5498.

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How to Handle Increasing Content Demand

Posted by Dawn Walnoha

Some of our clients already know how to write great web content (and if you’re not sure, take the “So What?” test here.

But once that great content gets noticed, it’s not long before it brings in new business as well as demands for more such great content. And that means less time to create it in the first place.

This is a common, though nice-to-have, problem among successful marketers. In fact, two-thirds of business-to-business marketers recently surveyed say they can’t keep up with content production demands. If you’re in this position, you have three choices: Delegate the writing, continue to hope the writing will somehow magically get done or resign yourself to the notion that the writing will not get done any time in the near future.

So, you’ve decided to delegate, then? How smart. Here’s how to proceed:

1. Choose a writing partner — Ideally, you’re looking for one or more individuals (perhaps even a firm) with a history of effective content creation and great client references. When you interview prospective partners, be sure to ask how frequently they hit content deadlines (we’re still at 100% here at Brandsplat!) and how they adapt their writing style to match your needs. A good copywriter will listen to the words you use to describe your work and jot down notes as you’re talking. He or she will ask questions about any jargon your industry uses and present several potential blog topic ideas based on your conversation. A great copywriter will have done research before this meeting and come armed with a myriad of additional questions, including our personal favorite: “What land mines are out there?” This helps the writer know where NOT to step — politics or religion or a weird industry deference to flamingos… Whatever it is, great copywriters know the wisdom in asking ahead of time.

2. Conduct a brain dump — Once you’ve chosen your writing partner, they will want to sit down with you for anywhere between 10 and 60 minutes to discuss your audience, previous attempts at connecting with them (what worked vs. what didn’t and why) and basically get a feel for how they can step into your shoes. When you’re busy, the thought of finding another hour in your schedule to bring your writing partner up to speed can seem daunting, but remember: That’s the last hour you have to spend worrying about how little writing you’re doing! You’ll be officially off the hook.

3. Sit back and relax — Totally kidding. You’ve still got that huge to-do list waiting for you, and it’s getting bigger by the minute! But now that you’ve delegated the content piece, you have freed up your schedule a bit more and can get down to business. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

Whether you or someone you love needs help with delegating their content writing, we’re here for you. Give us a call at (800) 299-5498 or drop us an email at hello [at] brandsplat [dot] com and let us take some of the pressure off.

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Storytellers Make the Best Bloggers

Posted by Dawn Walnoha

Everyone loves a good story. When they are well-crafted, stories capture our imaginations and motivate us like nothing else. So why aren’t we doing more storytelling in our blogs?

Each of us accumulates funny, moving and strange stories over the course of our lives — and so do our businesses. It may not seem like a natural fit at first glance, but dig deeper and you’ll find that everything from cautionary tales, like the client who didn’t heed our advice and ended up in a heap of trouble (names and identifying information redacted, of course), to an epiphany-filled saga of the decisions that led your business into its current gangbusters-growth period can help our audience get to know us in ways that keyword-dense, Google News Alert-triggered, predictable copy cannot.

But not if they’re one-sided, muddled or overly dense. And not if they don’t play by the rules of storytelling, which are hard-wired into our very brains: Setup, conflict, resolution. Toss unnecessary information into a story and suddenly the reader knows he or she’s not in the hands of a master. And because we invest emotionally in stories, we’re wary of those from untrusted sources.

Another thing to remember is that effective story-based blogs are written with the reader’s inner dialogue in mind. What is the reader thinking? Expecting? Wondering? What emotional payoff does the writer want him or her to experience through this story? As such, what breadcrumbs must the blogger leave along the way to encourage the reader to continue reading? Finally, what kind of timing does the writer need to observe in order to drive home the point?

And how does that help you if you’re already running out of time to blog or don’t love the writing process? Simple: A great ghostwriter can conduct a brief interview with you or another thought leader at your company and spin those experiences into storytelling gold. And, yes, we just happen to know a few.

But what about you, dear readers? Have you used your storytelling skills recently to make your point in Technicolor? Sound off in the comments section below!

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Compelling Collaboration Creates Confidence, or, Why You Should Have a Blogging Partner

Posted by Dawn Walnoha

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This is a Guest Blog by William Cain.

Blogging has come a long way since the days of the teen’s personal Livejournal account. Blogs as journalism, blogs as advertising, and even blogs as storytelling have become accepted parts of our society. However, there is still a perception that a ‘blog’ is a creator’s own property, driven by a singular voice. There is certainly something to be said for this approach, but there is a more collaborative effort that should be considered as a way to develop a lively, interesting, and prolific blog presence.

Consider the website Gaming as Women, which examines issues of gaming culture and the roles women have in that society. They tackle larger issues such as the nature of anti-harassment policies at large conventions, smaller ones such as the best way to handle difficult subject matter in a gaming environment, and more esoteric fare such as releasing a game built around the concept of sweeping social change.

This is a lot of material to cover, but to be fair the topic they have chosen for themselves is indeed one with broad implications. As a result, the blog has become a platform for multiple authors. Each has a different area they specialize in, but all comment on every issue in some measure. The effect is very similar to the Op-Ed section of a large newspaper, with essays steadily being presented on a number of issues, but with no one author being asked to ‘carry’ the site.

Another example is Skeptic Blog where a collection of some of the bigger names in the new Skeptic community (including Brian Dunning, Michael Shermer, and Steven Novella) cover issues ranging from debunking paranormal tv shows to the dangers of modern medical quack therapies.

Skeptic Blog is a great example of a thriving collaboration, particularly because it has such a lively comments section. Since many of the articles are about controversial topics, the comments are a source of extensive debate and criticism. Of course, each comment is a visit to the site, and high readership drives successful blogs.

So how should you approach building a collaborative blog?

First, start with a theme. Collaborations are more difficult to pull off than singular efforts because each party brings a different perspective and desires to the table. If there is a core theme that each of the writers is passionate about (BEFORE they start the blog), then getting them to work together on-message is much more effective. Develop a theme each of the writers you bring on is comfortable with and eager to write about, and you have a solid start.

Next, with the understanding that the content is to be written within the core theme, let each author develop their area of special comment. This isn’t to say that only this author writes on such things, but rather that they should be allowed to focus their content on a particular sub-theme of the site’s main message. People tend to be better at writing content they are eager to focus on, so allowing this kind of specialization will help their writing grow. In addition, each writer’s focus on a particular field of content will allow them to attract a particular subset of readers who enjoy their work.

Third, engage with your fellow authors. If a collaborator writes an article that resonates with you, perhaps go beyond making a comment and writing a response expanding on  their idea or analyzing a specific part of it. This kind of dialog will increase your content and give your readers a reason to check out multiple authors on the site.

Finally, each author on the site should have their own individual blog as well. This allows for a synchronicity among the readership. Readers of their individual blog can be referred to the collaboration, and vice-versa. The personal blogs don’t even have to be about the same specific subject matter as the collaboration – this allows someone interested in the specifics of Michael Shermer’s science education on Skeptic Blog to discover his writings on other materials, and creates a ripple effect of discovery.

As always, there is no magic formula that will make a blog succeed over others. If you get a good team with great chemistry together though, you might just find that lightning strikes and you have a real winner on your hands.

________________________________________________________________________________

William Cain is a freelance writer living in Apple Valley, California. He specializes in branding and blogging content, and is available for traditional and ghostwriting assignments. Check out his personal blog or contact him at wcain [dot] applevalley [at] gmail [dot] com.

 ________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

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Your Ghostblogger Can Be Your Timesaver

Posted by Dawn Walnoha
We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but effective blog content management isn’t something that can be handled in a matter of minutes once a month right before you take a power nap. No, great branded blogs take a lot time, creativity and effort. Most exhausted small business owners sigh heavily at the thought of regular blogging, while others try it for a few days and then quickly lose interest. If you want a great blog but don’t have the time, it’s high time you bit the bullet and hired a ghostwriter/ghostblogger to handle all of your blogging needs.

On average, a single brilliant blog post chock full of SEO keywords, thoughtful research and great images takes anywhere between 30-60 minutes to write. This doesn’t factor in the amount of time you need to edit, find and post images and market each blog post. Naturally, you are going to want to post new blogs at least a couple of times a week. When it’s all said and done, we’d say to plan on 5-10 hours a week to make blogging worth your while. This is a substantial amount of time, we realize – but after you get the hang of it, you can do faster and better than before. However, if “getting the hang of it” holds zero interest for you, ghostblogging could be the solution.

Ghostbloggers free you and your staff from the task of blogging so you can spend time promoting and growing your business. This isn’t to say that a ghostblogger takes over your entire blog and never gives you a say. Most ghostwriters are legitimate writers who rely on business owners to provide input and a content plan long before the first post is published. After a clear content strategy is devised, a good ghostwriter can be trusted to routinely turn in compelling posts that your following will want to read. Smart ghostbloggers who want to continue to work are ones who know how to collaborate. A few brainstorming sessions via email can help a business owner’s voice be heard while giving the writer a wealth of post ideas. Plus, your ghostblogger should have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to SEO and can be a great resource for picking out keywords and blog categories. 

Mainly, ghostblogging should provide a sense of relief. In talented and capable hands, business owners can breathe easy – and maybe even get that power nap.

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Blog Like the Big Brands: Boeing

Posted by Benjamin Porter

When we talk about unforgettable narrators in literature, we think of Huck Finn, Patrick Bateman, Humbert Humbert and Holden Caulfield. Every story needs a dynamic storyteller, and this is no different in blog creation. The most popular blogs, corporate or otherwise, have a distinctive voice that can also thread together a variety of topics. But your brand doesn’t need to be a personality-driven one to employ a compelling narrative. Boeing Commercial Airplanes, for example, uses the knowledgable and friendly voice of one of its employees to tell the brand’s story.

For a personal and less technical touch, Boeing relies on vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth. Randy’s Journal turns what could be a dull and robotic affair of blogging for Boeing into something fun to read. Tinseth blogs about his love of travel, experiences working at Boeing and, above all, lots of cool photos of the company’s airplanes. Tinseth’s images set against the simple blog design make an enormous impact. Boeing and Tinseth know that a blog about commercial airplanes better have lots of photos of the flying machines, and Randy’s Journal delivers. Take offs, landings, stunning aerial shots, airplane assembly photos and even photos from Randy’s own travels are all here and used wisely. Original images of the behind-the-scenes action at businesses are the easiest and most dynamic ways to provide visual content for your company blog. Randy’s personal recaps and pictures from corporate events along with easy-to-follow explanations of new Boeing programs and innovations keep the blog professional without getting dull. Whether it’s a 767 or 787, Randy blogs with an undeniable enthusiasm that air travel fans and regular old blog readers alike will find hard to dismiss. Each post on Randy’s Journal casually tells the readers a bigger, more powerful story. 

And that is what great narrative is all about. Narrative is often defined as a “spoken or written account of connected events; a story.” Using a CEO, longtime employee or a business owner is an easy way to make that narrative personal. Nobody knows your brand’s story as throughly as the folks who show up there every day. But it isn’t the only way. Compelling narratives can be built by a variety of channels, some of which you are already using in content marketing. The stories of your brand can be connected through customer narratives, social media narratives and even photo narratives, like Boeing’s, to give your readers a better idea of what your company does and what its story is.