Your company blog is great for pushing your own content marketing agenda and for providing endless resources to your leads and site visitors. But have you ever considered taking it a step further?
There’s a lot of value in building your brand’s thought leadership by thinking beyond your customer. Turning your blog from just a piece within your content strategy to a full-fledged go-to industry resource can be extremely beneficial, particularly as it pertains to increasing your brand’s authority among your peers. And while many marketers solely think of thought leadership in terms of guest content and what they can publish elsewhere, sometimes the best place to start is right on your own site.
So, let’s dive into the specifics needed to take your blog from an essential component of your small business marketing plan to a reliable, go-to resource for others within your industry.
1. Designate a Team
You’ll need reliable hands on deck to spearhead these efforts, and if you don’t already have a marketing team, it’s time to assemble one. A successful, consistent company blog takes work, coordination, and oversight, along with a regular stream of relevant, high-quality content. There are a few team members I recommend considering:
- Project Manager – This role serves as the point person for driving each blog post, ensuring that the company blog is consistent in terms of post quality and frequency and meeting the informational needs of your industry and audience.
- Writer and/or Editor – You’ll want someone with strong writing and editing abilities to craft your articles. It’s helpful if this person has a background in writing and has worked within the marketing industry for at least a year.
- Distributor/Social Media Manager – Did you know that when you publish your article, its life cycle has only just begun? You want people to actually see the content you’re publishing, so it’s helpful to have someone dedicated to sharing this content out with the right people.
I know marketing budgets are tight, especially right now. If you don’t have the resources to hire new team members, then consider delegating these tasks to one person (preferably someone who isn’t also performing other roles within your company). But, whether you are able to hire a team or not, it’s crucial that these roles are covered by someone so you can keep your strategy focused and your content creation process seamless.
2. Hold Regular Brainstorming Sessions
When it comes to content development, the more places you source ideas from. the better. Use brainstorming sessions to give everyone a voice about what topics you should be covering on your company blog, with a focus on diversifying input so that you cover as many bases as possible. This means bringing in not just your marketing team but your sales team and other core teams to figure out what conversations are taking place in your selling process and what your prospects and your peers are looking to learn more about.
It’s wise to hold brainstorming sessions at least once a quarter, but depending on your needs and publishing frequency, you may want to consider monthly brainstorms. Make sure you also have an agenda and that everyone comes to the meeting ready to share their ideas. Time is money, and it’s important that you stay on course and come away with great ideas to tackle.
3. Create a Strategy Document
As you structure your company blog strategy, be sure to document it so that your team is always on the same page. A strategy document will help align everyone on purpose and objectives and ensure that you’re creating the content you need. Here are a few things that you’ll want your documented content strategy to include:
- Marketing team breakdown – List the roles on your team and their functions
- Audience personas – Make sure you know exactly who your target audience is, and if that includes industry peers, create personas for them as well.
- Goals – You may think you know your intent with your blog content, but it never hurts to clearly identify it in your documented strategy. Make sure you include this, so everyone understands what you need to achieve.
- Content creation process – Outline how you plan to create each piece of blog content, so everyone is on the same page from start to finish.
- Editorial calendar – When will you be publishing your blog content? What content will you publish, and when? Having an editorial calendar keeps everyone aligned on deadlines and overall strategy.
- Distribution plan – How will you share each piece of published content out, so the right people see it? Make sure you include tactics for getting it seen by industry peers and how your sales team should use it in their drip campaigns and other communications.
4. Prioritize Educational Content
When it comes to thought leadership, education outweighs promotion. Certainly, brand awareness is one goal of your company blog (and of thought leadership in general), but if your blog’s sole purpose is to talk about your company and your product, you’re not going to keep people engaged. Instead, cover broad industry topics and need-to-know information that’s relevant to your company but not entirely centered around it.
When you incorporate more educational content into the fold, you’re showing readers that you have a wealth of knowledge to share. You’re providing consistent value that they’ll appreciate time and time again. It builds trust and credibility with your audience, which is the foundation of authentic thought leadership. This point is extremely important, as educational content is essential to building a blog that’s an industry go-to.
5. Research What Other Industry Brands Are Talking About
More often than not, you’re going to be adding to a conversation instead of being the one to introduce it. By paying close attention to the dialogues going on throughout your industry, you can pick up on un-explored threads and add more value to your voice. This helps keep your blog up to date and competitive and is also imperative to creating a company blog that others rely on for industry news.
Start subscribing to other blogs and publications that cover topics in your industry. Carve out some time every day or once a week to read articles that can share more insight with you and your team. Don’t just stick to articles you agree with, either. Some of the most interesting and thought-provoking pieces are ones that immediately contradict theories or strategies you may be used to relying on. And, every time a new industry report is released, download it. There are tons of data and insights to be gleaned from these pieces of content, and they serve as great inspiration for future topics.
6. Enrich Your Posts With Data
Data always has a role to play in marketing, and that’s as true for your company blog as it is for things like lead generation. Back up your insights with compelling data from other trusted industry experts, or, better yet, create your own data. This shows readers that there’s real legitimacy behind your claims and increases your likelihood of getting links and references back to your site.
A great way to create your own data is to survey your customers. You can ask them things about their marketing practices, what they love about your product or their biggest business concern. Entice them to participate by offering them gift cards or discounts on your product or service. The results of these surveys not only help inform your blog content but they provide you with valuable insights into your audience so you can improve your customer service and product offerings.
7. Publish Consistently
Don’t publish one blog post one week and then go on radio silence for a full month. Use the editorial calendar you included in your strategy document so you can keep your team accountable and the content flowing.
The biggest question mark surrounding your editorial calendar is how often you should decide to publish your content. Every publication differs, but the answer to this relies mostly on your team’s capabilities, goals, and how much content you can create while still maintaining quality. At BenchmarkONE, we publish three blog posts a week, but that could change tomorrow if it means getting higher engagement. Start with a low frequency, maybe one or two blog posts a week. See how that goes for a while and measure engagement through various blog metrics. Then, if you feel like you should increase or decrease, just make sure you’re doing so for the right reasons.
8. Have a Distribution Plan
I’ve mentioned the importance of distribution a few times in this article, but let’s discuss what an effective distribution plan looks like so you can get your content seen. After all, growing the relevance of your company blog relies on whether or not people find it. Make sure you share your content on various platforms and avenues, such as:
- Social media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.
- Email marketing – Drip and nurture campaigns and your company newsletters
- Sales outreach – Aside from your email marketing outreach, you want to make sure your sales team is aware of specific articles you’ve published so they can use any that relate to one-on-one conversations they’re having. Either share these articles with them in by email or Slack, or create a knowledge base for them to find these pieces easily.
It’s also not a bad idea to join certain LinkedIn and Facebook groups so you can share your articles there. These may not elicit a ton of engagement, but it’s a great way to reach a group of people based on their particular interests.
9. Bring In Guest Contributors
Your company blog is a publication just like any other, and there are advantages to bringing in additional perspectives and ideas. Create a way for outside contributors to pitch content by designating an email for pitches. Or, create a page dedicated to soliciting and vetting outside contributions so you can manage these efforts and keep interest strong. Not only will this help you bulk up the amount of content you have available, but it can potentially bring a new audience to the page when your contributor shares the published piece with their networks.
However you go about bringing in guest contributors, make sure you have established blog guidelines clearly outline your expectations for each pitch. These guidelines will save you when you receive content that isn’t up to snuff or has clearly been shopped around to other publications and isn’t a fit for your blog.
Approach your company blog the same way you’d approach any other blog, with a focus on the high-interest topics that aren’t just interesting but that have real-world tips, advice, and actions others can take away from them. It’ll still be the place where you share news and updates about your business, but it will also be so much more