Yesterday I met with the principles of a professional services company to discuss their lead generation strategy. Like most successful organizations in their industry they have a multifaceted new business program that leverages professional selling, paid advertising and earned media. For several months now I’ve been encouraging them to expand their lead generation efforts to include content marketing, with a company blog as the initial repository for the assets being created.
There were five people in the room in addition to myself when I made the suggestion of the blog. Four nodded in agreement. But critically one, the head of business development, wasn’t so sure.
The Argument For Why Blogging For New Business Is A Bad Idea
His thinking for why to skip the blog (and content marketing in general) is fairly straight forward:
- He couldn’t remember the last time he personally read a blog.
- He feels content marketing is time consuming, hard to do well and more trouble than its worth.
- He feels blogs and original content wouldn’t help them hit their sales goals in the next 3 to 6 months.
I can understand his concern. After all, as the Director of New Business, he wants to talk to qualified prospects right now, not next year. His experience tells him that with a good paid advertising campaign he can generate quick, valuable traffic and have conversations with prospects as soon as next week.
To some extent, he has a point. After all, that is the argument for paid media and why businesses continue to spend advertising dollars instead of leveraging inbound marketing 100%. And it’s an argument I hear from a lot of businesses (whether B2B or B2C) concerning content marketing:
”We don’t have time to create content.”
”We’re unsure what topics to cover.”
”Isn’t it expensive to hire a good writer?”
”Aren’t blogs just people’s personal options?”
”Even if we write good content, what do I do with?”
However (good) business blogs aren’t personal journals. They’re content-rich resources that generate sales leads, differentiate your brand from competitors and help you win new business. In fact, I would argue that this Director of Business Development probably has read a blog recently – he just didn’t think of it as a blog, but rather as a news site.
Consistent, Well-Crafted Content Will Make You Money
There’s good research available that shows how companies are effectively using content marketing to demand generation. However, to sum it up, the major benefits of blogging and content marketing for lead generation are:
1. Search engines love fresh, relevant and useful content. A good blog (and/or other digital assets on your website) mixed with a little technical SEO will increase the likelihood that your company’s site will show up high on the organic search engine results pages. And guess what? A high ranking means more traffic to your site from your intended audience… which means more sales leads.
2. Content can be repurposed to generate higher levels of value for your company while minimize development costs. For instance, that series of blog posts you wrote about how to make the perfect cupcake can be turned into a presentation, an ebook, a podcast, a video series, an email marketing series or even a mobile app. These all represent additional opportunities to get your company name out there and get noticed by prospects.
3. High quality, relevant content builds trust and rapport with your customers. A good content strategy will allow you to weave a compelling brand story that will differentiate your business from competitors and project the image of the kind of company your customers want to work with.
4. Blogs are an opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership and competance. Not every prospect will want to pick up the phone and talk to your sales team right away. However if you can keep them coming back to your website by providing valuable content then you’ll have that many more opportunities to get them engaged.
5. Blogs can help you build a sense of community and address customer service issues. In fact, the comment section on your blog can be just as important as the content you’re sharing. Don’t miss the opportunity for engagement as that can be a powerful motivator for a prospect to pick up the phone and talk to you about their needs.
6. High quality content encourages sharing. The more frequently you publish high value content the more likely your customers and prospects will share your assets on social media, link to it on their website and send it to their constituents via email. These are all FREE opportunities for additional exposure. Use them to your advantage.
The #1 issue I hear from businesses that are interested in blogging and content marketing is the challenge of managing time and resources. There’s no doubt that consistently creating valuable content isn’t easy – but most things worth doing aren’t. If you make the strategy a priority, set up proper metrics and testing procedures and work with partners who can help (*coughcough* call us *coughcough*) then you can create a lead generation engine that consistently delivers results while lowering the long-term cost of customer acquisition.