There’s no excuse for a company these days not to have a blog. – Matt Cutts, Google
Blogging and Social Media Are Spreading
As seen on the chart (click the chart to view a larger picture) below published by MarketingSherpa, 69 % of interviewed B2B companies are increasing their budget for social media marketing tactics.
In addition to such social media sites as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Flickr, one central piece of most companies’ social media activity is blogging. In social media one could say that all roads lead to your blog. In fact, very few companies leave blogging out of their social media plans.
Well, What’s In It for Us?
As an executive leading an organisation selling complex solutions you might ask yourself: what does all this blogging nonsense have to do with us? Isn’t blogging something that teenage girls do to tell the world about the latest nail polish colour they tried?
Yes and no. People blog about most everything under the sky. And blogs can most definitely provide substantial benefits in the complex sales environment. Below I have listed just some of the benefits from blogging from the complex sale point of view.
Your Blog Can Be an Excellent Source of Quality Leads and a Great Lead Nurturing Tool
Potential customers start their journey towards a purchase by gathering information and investigating their options about the challenges they are facing in their business. Studies suggest that even more than 90 % of all people turn to search engines – especially Google – for information.
It makes perfect sense to provide that information in a readily absorbable format – not as brochures filled with marketing speak – but as content created with the potential customer in mind instead of your company’s products and services. While providing valuable insights to your potential customers you can gently persuade them to give up information about themselves, such as an email address.
Your Blog Can Help Your Customers All the Way Through the Buying Cycle
While great for lead generation blogs can be much more. In fact, thinking that your blog is only a lead generation tool is a big mistake. Potential customers, once having had been in touch with your sales force will very likely be even more interested in what your company has to say in its blog. Now they’ll look for different things, though.
- Research. When in the early stages of a buying cycle, they don’t really give a hoot about the company that provides them with information. All they want is to find out if there really is a solution out there for their particular problem. At this stage the potential customers probably find your blog in the search engines using a general query.
- Evaluation. Once they have found that there indeed is a potential solution (and they possibly already even have talked to your company’s salespeople), they’ll start evaluating and comparing competing solutions. At this stage they will look at the information contained in your blog in a different way, looking for understanding of product or service usage and evidence about how other customers have used the solution to help their business.
- Reassurance. In the end, when it comes to actually committing to a selected solution, they’ll look for reassurance that the supplier of choice is knowledgeable, trustworthy and in it for the long haul. At this stage the potential customer looks for customer cases and other evidence that selecting this particular vendor is indeed a good choice.
Your Blog Can Help You Recruit Top Talent
People looking for a job in your company will read your company blog (if there is one). A well written and active blog can be a great asset in telling your potential employees what your company is all about. These days more and more young people are used to social networking and they will want to see the same in their potential employer.
If your blog is already well known in the industry, the top people will know about it and read it. Just talking about new interesting development plans within your company on the blog can already attract some of the best talent to your doorstep – even before you formally start recruiting people for those new positions.
… and There’s More
In addition to the mentioned benefits there are quite a few more that help your marketing, and sales effort, such as:
- you can use your blog as a way to help build thought leadership
- your blog helps in building your brand
- your blog can be an excellent PR channel
- your blog can increase your website traffic dramatically
- your blog acts as a natural landing page for visitors coming from social media sites
- In a blog you can write in a different, more human – and less corporate-like – tone
- In your blog you can have discussions and build relationships with potential and current customers alike
- if you do it well, you can even build an online community of your company’s “fans” around your blog
Any other major benefits that come to mind? Has blogging already helped your company in marketing and selling complex solutions? Or am I just full of hogwash and wasting your time here?