What Makes a Good Corporate Blog

When I talk with new, existing or potential clients about blogging or content marketing strategies, many of them are confused about how to run a good corporate blog. How do they write about things that customers and potential customers will find interesting or link worthy without being too salesy or too pushy. In this post, I’ll take a look at what I consider to be some bad examples and, more importantly, some good examples.

they educate me or make me want to experience something without hard selling me the way a timeshare salesman does …

It’s no secret that I play in the travel space myself and for a few clients, and I read quite a few travel blogs. In my example, one of the worst travel blogs comes from Orbitz. They have post after post filled with nothing but self referential sales posts. Do people want travel deals where they save money? Absolutely. But let’s be honest: the Orbitz posts are hardly deals. IMHO they are a textbook 101 case of brands abusing authority status and wrapping links around unexceptional, thin content.

What’s an example of a good travel blog? British Airways. What makes it good? Posts like this about historic bars in Amsterdam. They do an excellent job of highlighting the reasons why I would want to travel to Amsterdam and what will be interesting and exciting to see when I’m there. Simply put, they educate me or make me want to experience something without hard selling me the way a timeshare salesman does.

It may be easy to romanticize travel to places like Paris, but what if you sell an informational product? Some of my favorite informational blog include 37 signals, GTD Times blog, Evernote, and Trendwatching. In the case of the first three, they mix in posts about life/work organization, optimization, and productivity with some very light selling. Another important aspect of these blogs is the real life examples, case studies, or uses. There’s an old saying, “let one thousand flowers bloom”: in this case, it means that when you let your customers use your products in ways you didn’t expect or intend, sometimes you get amazing results. For example, I doubt Evernote thought a street food cart vendor would use their product when they built it, but the cart vendor did, and Evernote featured it on their blog.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQZHAMWuiR4[/youtube]

What if you sell a product, a completely boring, unsexy product like flour? Look at what the folks at King Arthur Flour do on their blog. It would be easy to write simple product descriptions and maybe offer a coupon or sale for the product. Instead, they take an educational approach. One of the core concepts of the blog is recipes and showing people how to cook better. Flour is primarily a baking product; however, look around the blog and you can see that they talk about all sorts of recipes, even ones that don’t include flour … like ice cream.

So what are the takeaways from this post on What Makes a Good Corporate Blog:

  • Use your company blog as a way to reach your customer, not just sell to them.
  • Use your blog to teach your customers about what they gain by using your product or service.
  • Show them how your product or service can make their lives better or easier.
  • Tell a story, don’t just pitch your product.
  • Don’t be afraid to showcase unusual or unexpected uses.
  • Educate and inform first, sell as a secondary function.

photo credit: Country Boy Shane

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