Is a Blog the Best Marketing Tool for Your Business?

There is an adage in advertising that says, “I know that half my advertising dollars are wasted – I just don’t know which half!” Several authors claim credit for this quote, but no matter what the origin, I can assure you the saying is wishful thinking.

Not only is it possible that more half of your advertising dollars are wasted, on the flip side, it’s also possible that your marketing efforts are working very hard – against your business!

One every popular “advertising” avenue being touted is using blogs to promote your business. With all the hype surrounding blogs, you may be wondering if a blog could help your business.

The answer is easier than you might imagine. But in order to answer this question, you must first recognize that there are two different types of sales your business can be making.

Neil Rackham is the founder of The Huthwaite Corporation, which launched a 12-year, $1 million research study into effective sales performance. Rackham is not your typical “sales guy” but rather he’s a psychologist who studies the sales process. The study results are available in the book, Spin Selling, where Rackham differentiates sales into two categories… the Minor Sale and the Major Sale.

While Rackham applies this theory to sales people who make sales calls, I have taken this theory and applied it to advertising and marketing, because these activities are “selling” activities.

If your business is making Minor Sales, then a blog probably won’t be a really effective marketing tool for your business. However; if you’re making a Major Sale, then a blog can be a GREAT marketing tool for your business.

Are you making a Major Sale?

The elements that make up the Major Sale extend beyond the financial investment required. Asking a customer to spend a lot of money is one way you know you’re making a Major Sale… however, it’s not the only factor in play. To determine how much of a Major Sale you’re making, ask yourself the following questions:

QUESTION 1: How much risk is there in purchasing your product or service for your customers?

In other words, how much trust do they need to have to become your client or customer? How “high” is the risk if your customers make a wrong choice? Most businesses doing business on the internet need to establish a level of trust, but some require more trust to be built than others.

For example, if you’re selling office supplies, the consequences fof your customer of making a mistake and purchasing the wrong kind of copy paper is very, very low. If your customer orders the wrong kind of paper and then finds out that he/she made a mistake… the consequences aren’t very high. If the customer has children, then he or she merely brings home the reams of paper and the kids will take care of it in short order.

On the other hand, the choice of a financial planner is a VERY high risk decision for most consumers.

Several years ago, a financial planning firm in my home town made BIG news when it was discovered that the “investments” offered by the “financial planners” were not investments at all but actually a complex Ponzi scheme. As a result, several thousand of the firm’s clients in the area lost their retirement savings.

If you need to establish TRUST with your potential clients… then a blog is a GREAT marketing tool for your business.

If you’re selling baseball gloves to Little Leaguers… well, then trust isn’t quite as important as it may be if you’re a CPA or a financial planner. On the other hand, if you’re selling copy paper, trust may be downright irrelevant!

QUESTION 2: How much TIME will customers invest in researching their purchasing options?

The higher the “risk” is for your client or customer in purchasing your products or services, the more time he or shee will spend researching providers and searching for alternatives.

It’s important to note that devoting a lot of TIME to making a decision about buying changes the buying process significantly. Just because someone is spending time researching a purchase, it doesn’t mean that the decision will be made based ENTIRELY upon which provider has the lowest price.

If your customers are spending a lot of time researching options, then a blog is a great marketing tool because, via regular posts, you can illustrate time and time again why they should make an investment and build a relationship with you. You can use those blog posts to clearly illustrate WHY the lowest PRICE provider may not be the BEST provider.

If your potential clients spend a lot of time researching their options… then a blog is a GREAT marketing tool for your business.

Blogs are MAGNIFICENT COMMUNICATION TOOLS!! If you’ve got a good “handle” on the information you want to communicate to potential customers and your customers are SEEKING more information to make an informed choice.

QUESTION 3: How much TIME will your customers be spending with you after the sale?

Yet another factor that moves a sale from Minor Sale status to Major Sale status is the RELATIONSHIP that you’ll have with your customers or clients once the sale is completed.

The more interaction you expect to have with customers or clients, the more information those clients or customers need BEFORE they make the final decision. If you expect to have a lot of interaction with clients or customers AFTER the sale, then even if customers aren’t making a major financial investment, they still treat the transaction as a major sale. After all, breaking up with a service provider is hard to do!

So while the investment in choosing a baby sitter for a Saturday Night out on the town may not require taking out a loan, it still falls into the Major Sale category.

If your potential clients will develop a relationship with you after the sale… then a blog is a GREAT marketing tool for your business.

If your business is involved with making Major Sales, then establishing communication with customers BEFORE they make a purchasing decision is essential. When communication is key, a blog is a GREAT way to communicate with customers and clients.

This article was published at BizNik
Biznik - Business Networking

Choosing the Messenger

So, now that I have my end user in mind, the next step is to choose the messenger, because my messenger is going to dictate my content.

In the film Ghostbusters, Gozer (a powerful being from another dimension) stands atop an apartment building on Central Park West in New York City, and informs the Ghostbusters that the next thing they think of will be the form that of the Destroyer, one whose mission is to destroy the world. While all the other members of the team clear their minds, Dan Akroyd’s character Ray allows his mind to wander to an innocuous memory of his youth: the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

For many who spend their days on the internet, and in my case in particular, it would appear this would be an easy decision…. pick up a domain name and either set up a blog or a web site. VIOLA! However, for my campaign, choosing the internet as my SOLE delivery device would be an equally poor choice.

asleepatcomputer.jpgThere are just times when your target audience just isn’t looking for your product or service on the internet.

This may be shocking for some of you. It’s okay. Breathe.

This revelation doesn’t mean that a web presence can’t act as a powerful marketing tool. What it does mean is that when your audience isn’t searching on the internet for your solution to their problem, you have to find another way to BRING them to your internet presence.

And that is where I find myself as I plan the marketing campaign for my own product.

I can CLEARLY see how my product can benefit my intended audience, but if I try to reach them solely via the internet, then I won’t be reaching a significant number of them to even justify the time/expense of putting up a specific web site for the campaign.

See, my target audience doesn’t KNOW that someone has created a solution to their problem!

Now, I can sit back and wait for them to stumble to the internet and type in the words I think they’ll use when they head to the internet seeking a solution to their problem. That would be the “easy” way for me at least. However, from my analysis of keyword searches, it doesn’t appear that my target market is heading to the internet for answers.

The lack of search on the keywords doesn’t mean my target audience isn’t EXPERIENCING this problem, it just means they aren’t searching for a solution on the internet.

Because I know my target audience so well, I know that the lack of keyword searches doesn’t mean I shouldn’t launch the product or even set up a web site. It simply means I can’t count on the web site to attract heavy traffic from my target audience.

I have to find another way to drive my potential customers to my web site!

Fortunately, I have one clear advantage in choosing the form of my messenger: I have a very tightly targeted audience in mind.

Because I have such a TIGHTLY targeted audience, I can reach them cost effectively via Direct Mail.

Because I’m going to have a web site to direct them to, I can rely on a relatively inexpensive method of Direct Mail called Postcard Marketing.

By using Postcard Marketing ,

  • I can tightly target my message
  • I can choose an eye catching graphic
  • I don’t have to play games trying to get my prospects to open the envelope.
  • AND I can provide a web site for them to learn more or even place an order.

If you’ve got a product/service and you’ve been disappointed in your web site traffic and sales, it may be that your prospective customers either:

  • Don’t know they have a problem.
  • Don’t know YOU have a solution.
  • Aren’t searching the internet FOR the solutions you offer.

In either case, you may have to reach out and touch them and bring them TO your internet web site.

In my case, I can purchase a mailing list that goes ONLY to my targeted audience. SWEET! I then plan on creating a piece that brings my target audience to my shiny new web site where they will find a tightly targeted message created JUST for them.

The role of your product or service in your marketing campaign

Since this is a record of the process of marketing a product or service, I should probably start at the beginning with product development.

In my case, my product is my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results . 

LESSON ONE: Develop your product with the distribution channel in mind

I wrote the book with an end audience in mind and even with a potential distribution channel in mind. 

Never in my most sleep deprived state did I EVER expect my book to become a best seller merely by it’s appearance on Amazon.  That meant I was faced with deciding BEFORE I WROTE A SINGLE WORD on how I would get my book into the hands of my intended audience.

One way of reaching prospective buyers was to launch my Beyond Niche Marketing blog. 

At this point, I’ll go on the record as stating mistakes were made in the NAMING of my product.  I am horribly jealous of Jefferey Fox’s book’s name HOW TO BECOME A MARKETING SUPERSTAR: UNEXPECTED RULES THAT RING THE CASH REGISTER.  This is, in my opinion, the BEST title I’ve EVER seen PERIOD!  Also, for the record, Rosemary Davies-Janes wanted to change the name of my book when I hired her to create the book’s cover, but by then the chapters had been named and the book had been through three rounds of editing with two different editors and it was really too late to fix my naming mistake.

LESSON TWO:   Sometimes you have to FIDO: Forget It and Drive On

The poor naming of my book damned my chances of selling it "virally" via traditional channels, (bookstores both on and offline).

However, I had in mind from the beginning a plan for selling books in quantities larger than 1-2 at a time and THAT is the basis of this "project".


Don’t kid yourself!  Marketing begins during product development.

The marketing process began as I was writing my book.  I wrote my book with my target audience in mind.  I wrote it focusing upon problems that audience faces and in the book, I provide solutions to those problems.

When you’re creating your product, service or even a logo it’s a really good idea to create it with the end user in mind.  It seems so basic, yet often it gets overlooked.

In my talkes with clients I’ve seen this critical issue overlooked time and time again.  Whether it’s product development or even writing a book, begin with the end in mind. 

Once you have the end user in mind, it’s easier to create engaging and compelling copy.

Fear as a Factor in Marketing & Advertising

Fear of failure is perhaps the biggest threat you’ll face when launching a marketing/advertising campaign.

See, promoting your product or services (marketing) is all about making mistakes.  As a matter of fact, failure in marketing and advertising – to a degree –  is to be EXPECTED!

Many business owners fear blogging for their business because they fear that they will “make a mistake”.

When it comes to traditional media campaigns, only after running a campaign and then going back, fixing mistakes and launching a subsequent campaign can you expect to achieve advertising and marketing success.

The same is true of business blogging.  Write a post and see how it lands with your target audience.  Then, try – try again.

The cycle for both marketing and blogging is simple – “TEST-LAUNCH-TEST-FIX”…. just like the cycle for washing your hair is to “lather, rinse and repeat.”

Anyone who enters into a marketing or advertising campaign expecting perfection should probably reconsider playing the game because, by it’s nature, marketing communication is ALL about improving the performance of your last campaign.

A perfect example of obsessively measuring performance of advertising messages is Nutri-System.   Nutri-System carefully tracks each and every marketing message they create.  They experiment with different testimonials in different media, seeing with customer story performs the best.  In the hyper-competitive and lucrative market of weight loss,  it’s essential that you keep improving on your latest success.

The key to overcoming fear as a factor in your marketing – whether it’s business blogging or traditional advertising –  is to bite the bullet and put that marketing message it out there…. then measure the results.

Marketing your business is a JOURNEY and you have to choose to begin somewhere.

One of the most common frustrations I have with clients are the ones who insist upon tweaking and tuning their marketing messages in a vacuum.  They will change the the colors of their theme – the font – and the images repeatedly – without creating a single blog post.  It’s almost as if they’re afraid to actually take their message to their target audience to see whether this marketing message ‘connects” with their target audience.

Trying to create the “perfect” marketing message before you launch means you’ll tweaking and waiting forever.  It’s infinitely better to post a poorly written marketing message to your business blog than to spend years crafting the perfect one in a vacuum.

Marketing Case Study

Over the past decade, I have worked with some truly brilliant marketing experts on marketing their products and services.

That statement may seem odd to someone who is not a "marketing guru" but it makes sense if you think about it.  (There’s a reason you rarely see ads advertising an advertising agency’s services!) 

shutterstock_154410.jpgSee, it’s easy for me to listen to you describe your product or service and pull from those conversations essential elements that need to be communicated to your potential clients or customers.  Even someone who is not particularly gifted in the "marketing craft" can still provide VALUABLE assistance by merely offering a fresh and objective eye on your business.

Looking at my own business with a fresh and objective eye is almost impossible … a phenomenon my high profile marketing clients have also experienced. One of those clients frequently says to me after I’ve helped to give her direction, "Why can’t I do for myself what I do for my clients?" 

Why indeed!  A better question to ask is, why when I have so much experience guiding other brilliant marketing minds would I try to market my own product without outside help? 

I guess the answer would have to be for kicks and giggles.  

Maybe I’m doing this because I’m in need of blog fodder or perhaps I just don’t have enough stress in my life (NOT).  What ever the reason, I’m going to embark on this, my own marketing campaign, solo and the "official" reason of record  is that I’m doing so in the interest of education and edification. 

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it! 

Next up… overcoming fear!