What would you do if you ran across a blog that was heavy on the sales pitch? Don’t do that to your customers – it won’t work.
You’ve seen them before, probably numerous
times: blogs that are heavy on selling and light on useful information. Their publishers might try to fool you by titling a post something like, 5 Tips For Buying a Safe, Inexpensive Used Car. But once you start reading, you learn that the five tips are blatant plugs for each of a car dealership’s five locations.
So you move on.
There is, as you know, a time and a place for outright sales talk. Your advertisements. Direct mail. At the end of a prospect engagement, when you know the potential customer is ready for it. On some social media sites – very sparingly and very low-key. But not on your blog. At least not very frequently.
People are drawn to the web for many reasons. Probably the two biggest are, to communicate with friends and business associates, and to learn about something. You can facilitate both needs with your blog, but the latter is critical.
Your visitors know that you would like to sell them something. They come to you for a.) information, b.) help, and c.) reviews from existing customers. Your job is to make the first two as helpful, jargon-free and valuable as possible.
In most cases, these consumers and businesses who drop in are trying to solve a problem, and they think what you’re offering is a possible answer. So focus on dilemmas and solutions. If you’re selling desktop PCs and mobile devices – and their maintenance and repair – you can choose from an endless list of topics, enough to keep you going for years. Consider these possible titles:
- How to Clean PC Monitors Without Damaging Them (how-to’s are exceptionally popular)
- Do You Really Need a Smartphone Upgrade? Explore the Apps Markets First
- Mom Was Right: Sit Up Straight to Prevent PC-Related Positional Pain
- 5 iPad Apps That Will Simplify Your Business Tasks
- Online Backup vs. Cloud-Based: How to Determine Which You Need
People gravitate toward businesses that offer free things. In this case, it’s assistance and information. When it comes time to make purchasing decisions, who do you think will be considered more seriously? Not the guy with the megaphone, telling you things you already know. Buyers do a tremendous amount of online research before talking sales these days.
Engage and Enjoy
Certainly, you can offer in-depth educational tools like white papers and e-books if they’re appropriate. But the internet is the new media, the home of social media. And blog-building sites like Blogger.com and WordPress.com build in numerous features that help you engage your readers. You should use them to make your visitors’ stay on your blog more fun, more effective and more productive.
For example, these applications let you say-it-without-saying-it by using pictures and video. Post from your mobile phone or tablet to keep critical conversations flowing. Automatically notify visitors via email when you’ve published a new post. Set up sidebar widgets that display your feeds from Flicker, Twitter, etc. You never know what is going to catch a prospect’s eye, so give them lots of clues as to who you are.
And yes, the latter is important. Social media have blurred the line between the personal and the professional. It’s good to let potential customers in on who the individuals behind the product or service are. You can do this – and encourage engagement – in numerous ways, including these:
- Start off-topic conversations on subjects not related to your business: The Bachelorette or Game of Thrones, sports, gadgets, social media itself, hobbies – things that people are likely to have opinions on. Stay away from politics and religion, and don’t be afraid to give the hook to unpleasant participants.
- Talk about something funny/absurd/interesting that you saw/read/heard.
- Comment on comments and encourage feedback by asking for it at the end of posts.
- Don’t let your blog feel like a ghost town – let visitors know you’re there and that you’re glad that they are.
- Write as well as you can, and be as brief and clear as possible. If you can’t express yourself well in print, find a ghostwriter, possibly even someone on your staff. Sloppy copy undermines your credibility.
Above all, don’t bang your drum loudly. Internet inhabitants are inundated with Buy Me! messages. Be the helpful, friendly, enjoyable blog. Create personal bonds without overreaching or getting too familiar. Just as they might if you’re an effective problem-solver, your readers are more likely to become customers if they like visiting your blog — and they like you.
Stock images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net