Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is your blog's 'Bigger Idea'?

One of the themes I'll be hitting on early and often during the webinar I am doing for Marketing Profs on Friday, Next Steps with Your Blog: Building Excitement, Readership and Community, is creating value for your blog's readers. People simply won't get excited about a blog unless there's something in it for them. But the big stumbling block for many bloggers, is how do they create that value?

As @KathySierra's tweet above suggests, a great way to find that value is to tap into your blog's 'bigger idea'. Blog about the benefits of your products/services, not the product/services. For example, if you own a pet grooming store, don't blog about dog grooming products, blog about dog grooming. Don't blog about 'The Ten Best Shampoos for Your Dog's Bath', blog about 'Ten Steps to Giving Your Dog the Perfect Bath'.

Kodak's A Thousand Words blog doesn't focus on Kodak's products as much as it does photography. Graco's blog doesn't focus on Graco's products, it focuses on parenthood. Patagonia's The Cleanest Line doesn't focus on Patagonia's products, it focuses on the environment, sustainability, and environmental activism. In each case, these blogs understand what content would be relevant and valuable to their readers/customers, and they tailor the posts they write with this in mind. By taking a step back and focusing on wider topics and issues, these blogs become far more relevant and valuable to their readers.

If you are a company wanting to use social media to reach your customers, the key to doing so successfully lies in creating value for these special people. Is your blog tapping into the 'bigger idea' that makes your content valuable to your readers?


Kate Richardson said...

Hi Mack,

This advice is relevant to any brand operating in the brand entertainment or content marketing space.

It has to be bigger than you! It has to offer more than simply your product or service. The Kodak blog is a great example.


Justin Kownacki said...

I agree, in theory. But there *is* value in listing the 10 Best Shampoos for Bathing Your Dog. It might not be as expansive or conversation-inciting as a more open-ended topic (like 10 Tips for Bathing Your Dog), but it still serves a specific purpose at a specific time and for a specific audience.

I think a better solution than NOT doing the former list would be to find the right balance between strict, brief information-based posts and longer, conversational prose-based posts.

Mack Collier said...

Justin that's a good point, but I would argue that the value is only created IF the readers trust the blogger. If the readers see that post as the blogger simply trying to promote 10 dog shampoos that they sell, then value isn't created. But if someone like Gary Vee listed the 10 'best' wines he sells, I think his readers/viewers would find value in that, because they trust Gary's opinion.

I think the '10 Best Dog Shampoos' posts can work much better if they are the exception, rather than the norm. And, if there are plenty of 'Ten Steps to Giving the Perfect Dog Bath' posts mixed in.

But love the bigger thought you've tapped into, that value creation for a blogger is greatly dependent on the trust they have with their readers.

Marian B. Wood said...

Agree with Mack: Blog has to gain credibility by doing more than pushing company's products or agenda. Agree with Kate: It has to be bigger than you. Agree with Justin: Value might be to niche audience, but that's value all the same. Remember, people perceive a built-in bias to corporate blogs. Making posts more than product plugs will build the audience and change that perception.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the heart of your point on the "trust" factor and the "benefit" factor. I think an addition is the factor of thought leader. This, I believe, lives in the middle of the 'trust" and the "passion" behind the benefit. People seek out what they are passionate about and further find people that speak on those areas.

Great blog

Anonymous said...

Great points! And I believe Stonyfield Farms (the yogurt folks) do likewise with their blog on raising halthy toddlers.

Becoming a trusted resource to what your customers value is something many companies miss.

@heatherrast said...

Another example is Land's End and JC Penny--the public Web sites. While those weren't the focus of your post, I think both retailers found some ways to engage consumers and help them solve some problems. LE has a virtual model that can ease the anxiety of "What will this style look like on me?". JCP's home section has some great resources related to use of color, pattern, and design. Clearly both want to sell their products, but I think it can successfully coexist with info and resources that can ultimately engender some audience trust and help them be seen as a valuable resource.

Lena L. West said...

Mack, you are so right on with this! For the past few weeks, we've been refining the vision for our company. Collective consciousness is a powerful thing. Thanks for this post.

Eric Brown said...

Mack, Good Morning,

I really resonate with this blog post. We have a company sponsored blog post at UrbaneBlog.com that focuses on everything Royal Oak, MI It has nothing to do with Urbane Apartments. The blog has been growing at an exponential rate, which is exciting. In addition to the blog posts about blathering and goings on in and around town we are adding vlogs, Adventures of Royal Oak, which will feature two guys wondering around town, showcasing hip and cool events.

Here is the value. Lots of our prospects come from out of town, and they have no idea what there is to do, places to go, great restaurants, arts, and music. That is what we blog about.

I am most criticized by my peers for this approach of having and funding a blog that isn't about our apartment management company, but for now, I am putting my chips on continuing this approach, as I think that marketing and the manor in which you connect with folks has forever changed.

Another residual is, our main web site for our apartments has also been growing very nicely.