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September 20, 2011

You Shouldn’t Blog

That’s the mantra I repeated to myself for the last two years. Every time I contemplated the possibility of blogging about marketing for A/E/C, my stomach would drop and I’d get completely tongue-tied, something my husband would attest (or complain) never happens. I fretted about content, voice, length and frequency of posts, blog software and template customization, SEO, ROI—oh my! So, I defaulted to: You shouldn’t blog. It was the simplest answer to all those questions.

So it seemed appropriate to launch the blog with a post about why you shouldn’t blog, either.

You shouldn’t blog…
…if you don’t have a clearly articulated goal.

What’s the purpose of the blog? Is it to reinforce expertise? Is it to pave the way toward new markets or sectors? Is it to attract and retain talent? Without a goal, you haven’t identified your audience and consequently, you don’t know what type of content to create for them.

…if you don’t know that your target audience reads blogs, in general, and in your segment of the industry specifically.

One of the worst scenarios I can think of is to start and carefully maintain your blog and then discover months later that your target audience hasn’t read it and has no intention to. Before starting a blog talk to current and previous clients about their online activities and preferences, which will help you craft the kind of content that brings traffic to your site.

…if you don’t know what type of content they rely on you to provide.

While you’re talking with them about how and how often they consume online media, find out how you can help them solve problems with the blog. What kind of information will be most valuable to them?

…if you don’t have an editorial agenda and a calendar.

A significant component of your content strategy is defining what topics you will discuss on the blog and which ones you will leave to other bloggers. This is where the adage, “If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense,” comes in handy. If a potential topic is exciting to the firm but isn’t relevant or useful to your target audience, it shouldn’t appear on your editorial calendar.

…if you don’t commit to a schedule and assign responsibilities.

Setting a schedule with intermediate deadlines and assignments creates conditions for success. Without a formalized process for generating and approving content, the effort is likely to be disorganized and haphazard, which will erode goodwill for the blog internally and possibly confuse your audience.

…if you don’t have a strategy to get found.

If your blog’s readership consists only of members of the firm and their moms, dads, girlfriends, and Mee-mahs, then there’s a problem, and it probably surrounds publicizing the blog with your target audience. I’ll tackle getting found in detail in a subsequent blog post. In simple terms, getting found involves optimizing the blog for search and announcing the blog in environments where it’s likely to get noticed by your target audience.

…if you don’t determine which metrics to track.

Most likely your firm tracks metrics already to evaluate the efficacy of its marketing program, including your hit rate for proposals and interviews or the expense of pursuing a lead relative to the value of that lead and the likelihood you will land the job. Similarly, you should identify metrics that help you determine the value of the blog to your firm.

…if you don’t analyze data to measure ROI.

Don’t set it and forget it. In a busy A/E/C practice, time is often your most valuable resource, and you want to be certain that the time you spend crafting blog posts is paying off. Define a period of time for experimentation with the blog, and then study the metrics. You will learn a lot about your readers from the posts that receive the most traffic, the ones that people spend the most time on, and those that get comments.

…if you don’t take it seriously.

Because there is a relatively low threshold to entry with a blog, there is the temptation download some software and jump right in! But repeat after me: “If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.” A methodical approach will help define a purpose and message for your blog and verify that there is an audience to receive and value those messages.

…if you take it too seriously.

A blog is just a tool. It’s no substitute for getting out of the office to reconnect with pervious clients and network with contacts. It can’t close a deal or repair a relationship. For that reason, it is most effective when bundled with other activities into an integrated marketing and business development program.

If the concept of starting a blog appeals to you, but you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by identifying a goal, defining an audience, and developing an editorial agenda, drop us a note or give us a shout! Maybe we can help!



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