Most businesses understand the benefits of a blog. It’s an opportunity to express your company’s ‘real you’ by communicating in a way that’s friendlier and less corporate than your regular front-facing tone of voice. A blog is also a great way to position yourself as a thought leader in your field, as an expert in whatever it is you specialise in.But there’s a fine line between writing about yourself and coming across too pushy. Buyers don’t want to read content that feels like an advertorial; they want to be informed rather than sold. They want to feel like they’re making purchasing decisions because they want to, not because they’ve been told to. They want to feel like they’ve got the power in buying something, because they’ve found the right information to make a decision themselves.
To help influence those purchasing decisions (and hopefully sway them in your direction), a company first needs to understand that a business blog isn't about making pushing people into sales, it's about pushing them through the buyer’s journey.
What is the Buyers's Journey?
HubSpot defines the buyer’s journey as “the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service”.
First is the awareness stage whereby the buyer realises they have a problem that needs solving.
Then it’s the consideration stage: the buyer defines their problem and starts to research solutions, probably via Google.
Finally, there’s the decision stage when the buyer chooses a solution - and ideally, the solution is your product or service.
How then do you use your blog to directly promote your wares and take your target audience on a buyer’s journey without coming across too salesy? Here are five tips to point you in the right direction.
1. Determine How Your Product or Service is Useful
If you’re promoting your own product or service, you probably think it’s useful (in fact, there’d be a problem if you didn’t). But promoting your product or service via your blog is very different to traditional advertising.
Your blog’s target audience is going to be more specific than the audience who’ll read your advertising. For example, if you produce and sell organic sugar-free locally-produced lemonade, from an advertising perspective you’re targeting anyone who drinks pre-made non-alcoholic drinks (so that’s just about anyone). But from a blogging point of view, you might choose a select audience, like a health-conscious mum who’s looking for a healthy alternative to sugary drinks for her seven-year-old daughter. Both types of messaging are equally important for their own purposes, but both need to be quite different in order to appeal - and appear useful - to their specific audiences.
2. Establish Why You’re Promoting What You’re Promoting
Every blog needs to have a purpose. There’s absolutely no point putting all that time and effort into producing a blog that doesn’t have clear direction behind it. Once you’ve selected the product or service that you want to promote, it’s time to establish the ‘why’. Interestingly, though, the ‘why’ should actually have nothing to do with your business. Huh?
Successful blogs are not written about what you, the business, wants (usually more sales) but rather about what your intended audience wants. That means positioning the ‘why’ around ‘why they’ll be interested in reading your blog’, not ‘why you want to make more sales of your product or service’. Let’s look at that organic sugar-free locally-produced lemonade example again. Instead of positioning your blog as an infomercial that outlines this awesome new product that’s just hit dairy shelves, frame it in a way that will solve consumers’ and readers’ problems - because that’s the most important ‘why’.
An interesting and important article that might appeal to that health-conscious mum who’s looking for healthy alternatives to sugary drinks could be about the health benefits of organic fruit versus fruit that’s produced with the assistance of herbicides and pesticides. Another could be a research-based article that compares the teaspoons (or tablespoons!) of sugar found in a range of popular ready-made drinks, including, of course, your new drink.
In these examples, the problem, solution and ‘why’ revolves around health and wellbeing. The health-conscious mum’s problem is ‘there aren’t enough healthy options on the market’. The solution is your product, but it’s positioned around the ‘why’ which is ‘why organic is better’ or ‘why sugar is so bad for you’.
3. Let the Benefits Sell Your Product
Related to the ‘why’, the benefits of your product or service are far more important to a reader than your actual offering, particularly if they’ve never heard of it. But aside from all of that, focusing your article on the benefits of your product is a much gentler way of presenting your product or service to a perfect stranger than simply telling them about your offering and why (you think) it’s great.
If your product or service is so ingrained in you that it’s hard to step away from it, here are a few tips to write a blog that focuses on what the reader wants to learn rather than what you want to promote:
- Select your product or service (eg. organic sugar-free locally-produced lemonade)
- List the top 3-5 benefits (eg. made from organic fruit, no sugar/naturally sweetened, supports local growers and companies, on-par price-wise with other ready-made drinks)
- Choose one topic to focus your blog on
- Research the wider benefits (eg. why organic fruit is better than other fruit, what harm too much sugar does to your body)
- Pitch your product as a solution to the wider ‘why’ (eg. meet this new organic sugar-free locally-produced lemonade that’s just appeared on dairy shelves)
4. Craft a Story & Write Your Blog
The best blog posts that promote products or services camouflage them in the middle of relatable stories that engage the reader. References to a product or service are seamless and certainly don’t feel like a sales rep is pushing them down the reader’s throat. A well-crafted story makes your blog post more personal and relatable too.
The most effective story isn’t one that reads like a fairytale though; it promotes a strong message that will inspire your readers to take action (and ultimately purchase your product or service). Remember, the best blog posts centre on benefits, not your product.
For example, a blog post with this headline - “5 Reasons Why Sugar is Making You Age Prematurely” - will be much more engaging than one entitled, “5 Reasons Why You Need to Buy This Organic Sugar-Free Locally-Produced Lemonade”. Even though both revolve around similar benefits, the first puts the benefit at the centre of the blog, not the product. The second title comes across as being very pushy and overbearing.
If you’re still struggling to tell the difference between the two types of blogs, think of it this way: your product or service should almost be treated as an afterthought. Scary I know, but you've got to play the long game. If your product really is the best solution to the problem your reader has, they will be able to come to that conclusion themselves.
5. Offer Lots of Solutions
In order to become regarded as an expert in your field, you need to come across as being more far-reaching than simply the four walls of your own business. That means that a blog about how sugar could make you age prematurely shouldn’t only focus on your organic sugar-free locally-produced lemonade as a solution, it should offer up other solutions too. These solutions shouldn’t directly compete with your lemonade but they should provide your readers with genuinely useful content that they can apply to their daily lives.
For example, you could outline a range of dietary solutions like swapping lollies for frozen berries or increasing the amount of protein you eat so you feel fuller for longer. You could include links to recipes for sugar-free treats that will satisfy that 3pm snack craving. You could say that not all sugar is bad, and perhaps more exercise will give you permission to treat yourself every now again.
Become a Pro at Content Creation
Writing a blog that ticks the entertaining, engaging, promoting and converting boxes is a skill - a skill that any business can master. For more tips and tricks about creating successful content for your business, check out my blog, 5 Ways to Write Killer Content in Way Less Time (Yes, It Can Be Done). Not sure what your blogs are missing? Want a more in-depth discussion? book a time with the Hype and Dexter team.
Got some of your own tips and tricks about creating successful content? Share them with us below in the comments section.