Blogging seems like a straightforward concept: think of something to say, write it down, then post it to your website; use the content to connect with clients and leads.
This is easier said than done. An effective corporate blog—one that connects with clients, prospects, journalists, and any other stakeholder groups—requires that you think like a journalist, a publisher, a marketer, and a business owner. You have to be engaging, personable, and relevant. You have to watch out for regulatory compliance concerns. You need to share ideas that benefit your business without sounding self-promotional. And you need to promote your blog.
That’s a lot to keep in mind when you prepare and post, whether once a week (or more) or once a month. To be successful, it helps to have a plan. Your blog should be a key component of your content marketing plan:
- Document how your blog fits within your broader content-related strategy (which may include case studies, white papers, articles, social media posts, website updates, and more).
- Establish process goals (such as posting frequency) and outcome goals (such as new leads and search engine rankings for specific keywords).
- Identify who will post and set a rotational schedule—knowing your schedule will adjust as you respond to topics in the news.
- Identify content categories you’d like to cover and sets of keywords to include when possible.
- Decide whether you will enable commenting on posts—an excellent way to engage with readers—and if so, establish a policy that comments will be responded to within 24 hours.
Getting beyond plan basics, here are additional suggestions based on our work with asset managers and advisers.
Effective blog posts start with knowing your audience: you are creating and distributing your blog content for the purpose of connecting with your audience.
Usually an audience is a combination of prospects, current clients, and media. For a given topic, think about what’s interesting to each of these groups. Current clients may benefit from technical comments. Prospects need to understand that you’re plugged in to industry news and thought trends. Journalists—especially if you’re seeking interviews for further exposure—need to hear why a topic is newsworthy and your thoughts on the topic’s relevance in a broader context.
Some asset managers may have multiple client audiences, such as high net worth investors, advisors, institutional. Blog posts can be geared to individual audiences or to all of those audiences depending on the topic. A post about narrow regulatory change affecting pension funds might appeal to an institutional audience while a broader post on market news might appeal to several audiences.
Building a reputation for thought leadership requires more than the kind of technical expertise you feature in white papers or in-depth articles for a highly specific audience. Blog posts provide an ideal complement to other content because they can be quick hits. A blog post lets you get in the conversation of whatever is happening right now in the market or in industry news. You can do that by solving a problem, meeting a need or sharing thought leadership.
Think of a blog post as an opportunity to quickly spread your expertise: “Just read XYZ. Here are 3 reasons this matters.” That kind of responsiveness gives you a way to get in the mix of whatever’s current. You can share your blog post with journalists who may be writing on that subject (and over time, journalists may start visiting your site to get a sense for your views). By commenting quickly on current happenings, you become a media resource and you communicate to clients and prospects that you’re at the forefront.
Have an opinion
Try to answer the question “why does this matter?” That takes you out of the land of mere reporting and into the realm of sharing your unique viewpoint, which communicates expertise to clients and prospects. You are offering something different than they can read anywhere else.
Journalists definitely want opinions; they need experts to bring life to an article, to get into the event’s significance. Having an opinion means some people will disagree with you. That’s good. As long as you’re not alienating clients, having and showing your own view is helpful.
If you’re referencing something happening in the news, include an in-text link to the source. Build your reputation for thought leadership by ensuring accuracy about details such as dates, names, publications, etc. Do use these specifics, which help give your comments immediacy and weight. You want someone to think, “Okay, this person knows what he’s talking about.” Or, “I can relate to that; let me see what she thinks about this other topic.”
A note of caution: avoid “copying and pasting” news from other sites. You cannot plagiarize others’ work. Even if you include someone else’s words and cite a source, you may be in violation of copyright rules. To avoid problems, include a brief description and a direct link to the other content.
Promote your postings
Show recent posts directly on your home page, with titles and brief excerpts or summaries that link to the post in full. Also, take the time to send your blog post by email or social media to clients or members of the media. When sending to media, you can say something like “In case you may be writing about ________, I wanted to share some content we shared with our clients on that subject.” Also, tweet about your blog to help drive traffic to your post.
Tone and length
Blog posts can provide a personal touch that offers prospects a window into your organization. By giving multiple people at your firm a voice, you enable prospects to “meet the team” and sense what their experience working with you may be like. Given multiple authors, the tone will natural vary somewhat. But here are standards that should apply across all posts:
- More than anything, be relatable. Keep your audience in mind. Speak to that audience. Nobody wants to read something sensing the author is talking all about herself.
- Strictly avoid sounding self-serving. Let your expertise and experience show as a subtle means of self-promotion. Be educational and offer practical suggestions. Again, this comes back to focusing on the audience.
- Avoid rants. Avoid getting pedantic. You are sharing, not proving or instructing.
Though blog posts can vary in length, you’re often best off with a quick-hit that gives readers insight into you, your ideas, and something happening in the wider world such as market or industry news. Some topics, such as investment explanations, may take more point-by-point development and will be a little longer. Regardless of length, work to make posts easy to read, using bullet points, sub-headings, and lists. Also, think carefully about the title of each post, considering both your own keywords and connecting to topics already on readers’ minds. In the end, everything comes back to knowing and serving your audience.