Whilst blogs are no longer the sexiest subject on the block, the ‘why blog?’ question still rages in B2B – and nowhere more so than here at Velocity.
Like many of our clients, our marketing is not exactly rocket surgery. It involves encouraging a few firms to enter into a rather lengthy (but very interesting) discussion about their brand and their communications (as opposed to experimenting with wacky tactics to convince a zillion consumers to try out our new fizzy drink).
As such, the most effective way for us to engage with more new prospects would probably be to hire another great sales guy and get him out there walking and talking. So why not scratch the marketing efforts and stop with all the blogging?
I’ve already written about reasons to blog this elsewhere. Conclusions have been as follows: its great for your SEO; wonderful for reputation management; a good way to polish sales messages and seed marketing collateral; and a nice way of engaging people in product feedback. All good, compelling stuff. But really these are fringe benefits.
The biggest and best reason to blog in the B2B space is because – if it’s done properly – it’s a relationship winner.
Let me explain…
Stan, Doug and I had lunch on Friday and talked about our first six months as an agency proper and our first few months as an online outfit. What about the blog?
In many ways, it’s a little too random – check out the tag cloud on the blog home page. No real thread. Shouldn’t we be thinking harder about editorialising our subject matter?
For sure, this can only help to make us even more relevant and interesting, but in our discussion we needed to take a step back. Why bother in the first place?
As mentioned, our sales are generated via relationships – and through Stan mainly. Surely a better way for marketing to bolster this effort would be to provide Stan with a brochure, or perhaps divert the time and money into a telesales agency?
Well, whilst both would undoubtably help, we think this approach misses the point.
As a sales guy, what Stan needs is differentiation. There’s plenty of agencies out there vying for our prospect’s attention. And they have a wealth of brochures to throw around.
In addition, they all have equally compelling web sites – stuffed to the brim with pages that describe their services, their people, their portfolio and their history. Ours does this very well too.
They also issue a press release every time something interesting happens to them.
So, we’re dubious that throwing more resource at this kind of thing would really help Stan.
Instead, what matters for us (and 99.9% of our clients) is the relationship that our prospects have with Stan (and our client’s Stans). Once they feel happy with our brand, then people buy from him, not our brochure.
So, investing time and money in differentiating the Velocity relationship seems to us to be a more sensible exercise.
Now, of course, we encourage Stan to wear impressive shirts and wear his hair in nice ways – and of course, he’s also a bit of a looker…. But our blog can really help him too.
Because aside from Stan the man, and a few meetings with Doug and I, where else can a prospect (or a new hire, or an investor) get a feel of who we are? Where can they get a nugget or two that adds value to their relationship with Stan?
Is it in a brochure? Nope – that’s just a hygiene thing. We have to have one of those because everyone else does. (By the way, we do it differently so that it IS memorable and loveable.)
Is it via a super-cool ‘Services’ section on our site? Nope – not entirely. Again, that’s something we’re obliged to do… but do well, and better than the other guys.
No… where we can really shine is in our blog.
This is the channel where we can best communicate our thinking, our experiments, our failures and our successes …ie, describe all of the things that make us the people that you’d like to have a relationship with.
It’s obvious though, right? Where else would you put this kind of stuff? Send a press release? Create a brochure? No way. A blog is your showcase for all the brilliant thinking that’s contained in your people (as opposed to your marketing material).
In other words, a blog is an extension of a Stan – it’s the showcase for your company’s soul when he’s up and left the sales meeting.
That might sound mushy, but its true and it’s very important to your success as a B2B outfit. How else are you going to get prospects to really engage with you other than through your people and their ideas?
So, after lunch had finished we decided that we’re going to devote a lot more focus to this blog in 2008. It’s going to become tighter and it’s going to possess better content on a more regular basis.
As a result, you should expect us to talk about it more and point you to it a lot.
Because it’s the home for Velocity thinking.
It’s what will differentiate us from the rest of the pack.
And we really think you should follow our lead….