By Jennifer Gerlock (@jennifergerlock)
My interest in blogging began in 2008 when I answered an advertisement in my hometown newspaper. I’d always wanted a column of my own, and I figured a blog would be a nice audition for the “big” job.
I immediately fell in love with blog writing. That love grew to include the development of my own platform and opportunities to blog for local and regional publications. Soon, I had individuals coming to me, seeking advice and assistance for their blogging pursuits.
To say that blogging has become a passion would be an understatement.
I’m a true believer that blogging is a key component of an organization’s marketing strategy. A blog gives your company a voice and serves as the hub of your online marketing efforts. When executed correctly, blogging allows a brand’s personality to shine and feeds an organization’s social media efforts.
However, before embarking on any blogging program, you (the company) need to establish some clear outcomes.
Chances are you have one (or all) of these goals in mind:
- attracting new customers
- establishing credibility and authority
- telling your brand story
- generating buzz
- cementing customer loyalty
- gaining competitive advantage
- utilizing search engine optimization
Sticking to a blogging regimen can, at times, be challenging. Many blogging programs begin with the best of intentions, only to die quietly from lack of time, direction, focus and/or inspiration.
Any marketer who creates content for his or her organization has almost certainly experienced a creative drought at some point in the journey. Sometimes inspiration comes naturally, and the blogs practically write themselves. At other times, the topics are few and far between.
Ways to Keep Your Blogging Inspired
Talk with your customers and customer service representatives.
Think like a journalist and approach your customers directly. Determine their biggest marketing challenges and use that information to inspire topical pieces. Recognize and solve their problems. Tap into your customer service representatives and find out the most frequently asked questions.
Search industry news, current events, LinkedIn, SlideShare, Facebook and other social networks.
Is there an issue affecting your industry, specialty or customers? What are your colleagues discussing around the water cooler? Find a news hook and use it to spark spin-off topics and discussion points.
Pull back the curtain.
Go behind the scenes and let your readers experience an inside look at your organization and how it works. Showcase the people who make up the company. Encourage employees to contribute to the blog by offering their own unique tips and knowledge.
Use humor or opposition.
Got humor? Use it. Do something unexpected and fun, and your company will be remembered. Kicking over a hornet’s nest is also effective (and fun!). Don’t be afraid to express your opinion on a controversial topic that is relevant. It can even benefit you if enough buzz or discussion is generated.
Let your personal passions inspire your writing.
Are you an avid fly fisherman? A weekend foodie? An amateur juggler? Think of creative ways to relate your hobby to your industry to create unique and memorable posts. (Trust me, you won’t be forgotten quickly!)
Move beyond the written word.
Use photography and video to tell your story. Pictures from a recent event, trade show or industry conference (like ADMERICA) are powerful. Videos can be used a thousand different ways and don’t necessarily involve a full production studio. Even capturing a typical day’s creative process on Vine can pay off in spades and keep your customer’s attention.
Here’s a final piece of advice — mix it up. Variety is important to your editorial schedule and will keep the creative juices flowing. Mixing short and long posts, timely and evergreen topics, and video and image-based content is a great way to keep your reader’s attention and entice them to come back for more.
The ultimate goal is to consistently produce stories that your audience will find interesting, entertaining and informative. Look for inspiration in the everyday matter and in the unexpected places. Keep your readers coming back for more!
Follow Jennifer on Twitter @jennifergerlock as she reports on blogging and creative at ADMERICA! 2013, June 5-8 in Phoenix.
Jennifer Gerlock serves as Director of Marketing for Graphcom, Inc., a full-service graphic communications firm and Social Editor of Frederick Gorilla Magazine. With more than 15 years of experience in public relations, marketing and event planning, she has represented clients ranging from small mission-based non-profits to multi-platinum recording artists and their respective worldwide tours.