You’re good at what you do – right?
You’re products and services are ‘best in class’.
But how do you convince prospective clients or customers of this?
How do you build the necessary trust and rapport with them and build that all essential credibility?
Testimonials, reviews and recommendations are by far the best source of credibility, but if you are just starting out it can be hard to gain enough of these to really make a difference. And they may not show the breadth and depth of your offerings.
A great approach is to showcase your knowledge and capabilities by delivering value to your prospects free of charge. And the easiest way to do that is blogging about the business you are in.
Notice I said about the business you are in and NOT about your business. Your prospects are not interested in your business (at least not yet). But they are interested in the business you are in.
Because you’re in the business of solving their problems.
Of taking away their pain.
Of providing the benefits they need.
They just don’t know that you can do that yet. So you’re going to tell them – through your blog.
Blogging – a short history
Blogging has been around since the internet started.
It started with hobbyists using the internet as an outlet to share their thoughts, views and knowledge on their hobbies.
Some started to turn this into a business by writing about subjects people would pay for like stock market tips, of technical help in the early days of personal computing. Some charged for their best stuff and others sought to monetise their blogs through banner ads.
Then companies big and small cottoned on to the idea that a blog was a great way to engage with their clients and prospects. The market became crowded with lots of ‘me too’ blogs either focussed on the companies themselves or on generic industry news and tips – just look at the websites of the accountancy firms and budget time – they all blog their assessment of what the chancellor has announced.
Most of these blogs are just noise and provide very little real value to the reader.
For you, that’s both good news and bad.
It’s good news because if your blog really delivers value to your prospects it’s easy to stand out.
The bad news is, how do you get noticed in amongst all the dross.
Let’s focus on the content of your blog first. Once we get someone to look at your blog we want it to have the wow factor to keep them coming back and also telling other people about it.
Your content needs to focus not on what your business does, but what your knowledge can do to help your prospective client.
Let me give you an example.
One of my blogs is about everything to do with project management. I have a business that offers project management consulting and training, but I rarely mention either of those business aspects in that blog. Instead I focus each blog post on a potential problem area and discuss the causes and potential solutions for the problem. I’ll weave in examples of how I have dealt with similar situations for my clients. I use the post to demonstrate my understanding of the problem and how my experience can be used to find and implement solutions.
All the while I am giving real world examples and demonstrating my knowledge and capabilities.
I’m building my credibility.
Some business owners think they will struggle to find suitable topics or material to write interesting or informative blog posts. But that is often because they are thinking of blogging about their businesses and not the problems and pains of their prospects.
Turn your thinking on its head and things will become clearer and easier.
Even then, the ideas can dry up so you need to have some strategies to find new ideas in your back pocket. Here’s a few to get you started:
- Look at what the leaders in your industry (or similar industries) are talking about, then swipe and deploy (see last week’s blog for more on this)
- Look through the press and news coverage to see if there is some news item you could leverage or put a slant on for you field of business
- Look for the national day of ‘X’ or the international week of ‘Y’ – no matter when in the year, there is always some sort of weird or wonderful national or international day or week. Just Google ‘international days’ or something similar and you’ll see what I mean. It can be a great trigger for a blog post
- Look at what’s happening in your business right now. This post was inspired by a conversation after a related talk. Many of my project management blog posts are inspired by situations I see in my consulting or training.
I use Evernote or OneNote to note down blog ideas or clip web pages or articles that could form the basis of a post. I sync the notebooks between all my devices so I always have somewhere to capture an idea when I get inspired.
Frequency and length
There are no right answers here, but plenty of wrong ones!
Blogging once every three months isn’t going to get you a following or build much credibility. I think it has to be at least monthly and preferably weekly. But don’t set yourself up to fail. Consistency will build your credibility much more than random intermittent bursts of posts. So create a plan and map out your posts. Pace yourself and you won’t run out of gas.
How long should your posts be? Short enough to keep your reader interested, but long enough to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding. It will depend on the subject matter. Some people get hung up about optimising their posts for Google and the other search engines. That requires writing anything from 1000 to 1600 words per post. That can be daunting when starting out on a regular blog and could stifle your enthusiasm very quickly.
I write for my audience – any hits as a result of searches are a bonus.
One of the most frequently read blog posts is Seth Godin’s. Most of his are less than 300 words.
Ironically – this post is turning in to one of my longest.
Getting your content read
Great content is worthless if nobody reads it.
So how do you get your wisdom in front of your ideal prospects.
I use social media – primarily Twitter and LinkedIn.
For Twitter I look for where my target audience hand out. For small business owners I will target small business organisations such as chambers of commerce and organisations like The Best of…. I follow the people that follow them and invariably get a high percentage of people following me back. Once I have followers I tweet about my blog posts to grow my readership. If you want to learn more about how to grow your Twitter following read my blog post “6 steps to growing your twitter following“.
LinkedIn is a lot more targeted. I deliberately connect with my target audience. Once connected they get my status notifications, including details of all my new blog posts. I addition I join groups that my target audiences belong to – it’s where they hang out. I then post links to my blog posts in those groups. All informational – no selling. Look at my blog post “Making the selling easy” which talks about using LinkedIn to make it easier to sell to your targets. If you are reading this on the first day of posting there may still be time to sign up for my free webinar on the same subject. Click here to find out more.
So that’s great content created and two excellent ways to share it. Expert authority on its way.