What To Blog About:15 Blog Post Ideas My Customers Will Love

Some of you have recently asked “What should I blog about in blog posts?” Here are some blogging topics you might consider as you look to write engaging, interesting content that is reader-focused.

Fifteen Types Of Blogs Your Customers Will Want To Read

What To Blog About - Blog Post Ideas - Great Blog Ideas
What do you think would make a great blog post? Share your ideas.

•    Pose a question a customer has recently asked and answer it. If you do not have “real” questions, visit forums, LinkedIn questions, Merchant Circle questions or questions posed on other blogs/blog comments.  Whatever the source, start with real issues that are current.

•    Instruct your visitors how to do something. For example, this blog is instructing you on some basic topics you can blog about in an effort to help you write your own blog.

•    Write about what not to do. Although this sounds counterintuitive, there is a lot of misinformation out there. It can be helpful to debunk myths and warn your audience against taking actions that could harm them. One of our clients, a Long Island law firm, does this through blogging about common mistakes and misconceptions related to various estate planning subjects.  The blog entries are short bursts of “truths”that are extremely valuable to readers.

•    Review something. Review a company, a product, a service etc. that is relevant to your industry or closely tied to your customer base’s lives. Offer a unique perspective that is not found elsewhere online, or review features and benefits others have overlooked.

•    Compare and contrast. Compare several products or services in a way that others have not done so before. For example, a marketing agency might compare several email service providers to help their readers understand why they work with company X. The entry helps build confidence in the agency while educating customers.

•    Do a case study on a local company or organization with a topic that relates to your target audience. For example, we recently did a case study of a Whole Foods on Long Island in which we discussed some of the local marketing strategies they used to integrate into the Long Island community seamlessly. The article is geared towards small local businesses. People can often relate to local places, brands and those that they interact with (i.e. the characters in their daily ‘story’) in their daily lives better than they can with theoretical cases.

Offer a controversial viewpoint to a “hot” new topic. While this is not for everyone, to get attention some people choose to take a current story and debate it or offer a contradictory view. Our view is that as long as you are presenting an authentic viewpoint with a rationale rather than writing something simply to provoke visitors and drive traffic, you will be in a better position when people start commenting on your blog and expecting well thought out responses!

•    Share News and recently published information in your industry with your customers / clients. For example, a law firm or CPA firm might explain how a new estate planning or tax law in New York can save families $10,000 or more if they make X, Y and Z adjustments to their estate plans.

•    Simplify something technical and make it accessible. Take a technical subject and break it down into relevant bite-sized pieces for your audience. If it helps better communicate what your company does and the value it creates for customers, that is an added benefit! For example, while some clients are savvy in Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, others have never heard of it before. It can be very helpful to write posts that help prospects overcome obstacles and customers understand at a deeper level what you are doing for their business. This gets back to the importance of writing for your audience, not for your peers.

•    Perform and share research. Perform research on a topic and present it to your readers on your blog.  Demonstrate how your study proves your hypothesis (or “rejects the null” – that’s for the statistics gurus).  Data is your friend here. Make sure it is significant and substantiated.  Show sources.

•    Discuss a trend or forecast a trend. If there is a trend to discuss, present or debate, a blog can be a great place to start the conversation and see what is on other people’s minds about the same subject.

•   Spotlight a business or a customer that did something remarkable. We’re all looking for inspiration and like to hear about remarkable events and people.  Truly remarkable events don’t happen every day, so if you have a story to tell, it can make for a great blog entry.

•    Provide Subject Matter Expertise (SME) on a specific subject.  For example, one of our clients writes articles on parenting strategies related to managing ADHD children. Each article written substantiates the writer’s expertise and authority in her niche while giving her clients a complimentary  resource.

•   Summarize another blog or article you have read. Not the most creative approach, however if you take a long or complex article, or something not previously publicly available, you can add value to your audience by packaging the essence of the article and summarizing key points in a new blog entry. It is important to openly give credit to and link to the original source.

•    Relate a personal event to a business learning. Share a story that your readers can identify with —  a story that simultaneously adds personality and offers a more personal insight into who your company “is” at heart. Personalization can help earn trust and show a more ‘human’ side to your blog.

Take Away

The common thread to all of these blog ideas is to think about your audience first and blog about something you believe is important to them in an authentic way. Blogs are a social media meant to spur interaction and engagement. When you put the reader first and your aim is to inspire, educate, motivate and help your readers, you will find the process and the results more rewarding.

We will provide more tips on blogging best practices, blog optimization and how to take your blog and market it using online marketing tools in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned! If you have any questions, please contact our Long Island marketing consultants or reply here. Thanks!

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2011 Marketing Plan Strategies: How To Write A Marketing Plan

“You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra

“Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be. Most people don’t have a plan. That’s why it’s is easy to beat most folks.”
– Paul “Bear” Bryant, football coach, University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide.

You’ve got to know where you’re going and how you are going to get there.  With the New Year weeks away, it is the right time to write your 2011 marketing plan and commit to the specific actions you are going to take in 2011 to grow and improve your businesses.  Writing a marketing plan will arm you with the confidence that you are allocating marketing dollars to the most productive marketing strategies.

While writing a marketing plan can seem like a daunting task, it does not have to be complicated or lengthy to be effective.  Often the most effective marketing plans are those that have been well thought out and then documented in a simple, brief and concise format.

2011 Marketing Plan, strategic marketing plan, Writing A Marketing Plan, Company Marketing Plan
Have your written your 2011 marketing plan?

A streamlined 2011 marketing plan could outline in five pages or less:
1. A summary of  industry /market trends that could impact how you market your business as well as an internal analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of your company, your products/services and your marketing operations.
2/3. Customer profiles and key messages (who your different target customer groups are and what message you will use to communicate value to each of them).
4. Key marketing/communications objectives (what you are going to achieve and when).
5/6. Marketing strategies and marketing tactics (how you are going to achieve those goals and through what specific marketing and advertising activities you are going to reach them). With each tactic that you decide to pursue, be sure to outline the 1) rationale for pursuing that marketing tactic 2) person accountable 3) an allocated budget 4) a timeline.

7. Timeline (What is going to be achieved and which actions are going to be taken in a defined period of time). Using a one page Gantt chart can be very effective. Here is video Tutorial of how to make a Gantt chart in Excel.

8. Budget (How much money will be allocated to specific line item marketing activities).
9. How you will evaluate and measure your success at key milestones throughout the year i.e. performance measures

How do I start writing my 2011 marketing plan?

In its essence, the key to writing a great marketing plan is asking the right marketing questions. These are questions that provoke thought and reveal opportunities and gaps in your marketing plan.  From this phase, you will engineer an action plan that pursues each of those opportunities in a logical, cohesive way that fits your marketing budget.

Remember, things have changed a lot even in one year

It’s especially important to keep an open mind about how to integrate new media and new technologies into your marketing plan. The fact is although it has been one year, a lot has evolved in marketing.

The social marketing space has grown exponentially as well as the age and demographics of web 2.0 users. The way people search for products/services is increasingly mobile.  Key search engines have become more “real time” and “instant” in how they process searches. It has become increasingly difficult to have your website show up on page one of Google due to the millions of new websites coming online which has made search engine optimization an essential part of every businesses internet marketing plan.

And consumers are much less influenced by interruptive, traditional advertising vehicles than in the past.  Where and how you communicate with customers may need to be reevaluated.

So, what are some of the key questions I should ask myself to write a 2011 marketing plan?

Our hope is that by asking yourself some of the questions below you will be inspired to take time out of your busy workday and start reflecting, strategizing and planning for how you will market your company in 2011.  Add to or edit the list. Make it your own.

•    Did I reach my 2010 marketing goals? If not, do I know why? Am I investing in marketing / advertising activities that can be measured in terms of performance?
•    What industry and consumer trends might shape my 2011 small business marketing plan? Here is an interesting article about 2011 consumer / marketing trends.
•    Is my product or service still in demand?
•    What are my marketing goals for 2011? Are they Clear, Quantified, Achievable, Realistic, Timely, and Agreed Upon) goals?
•    What is my budget for marketing in 2011? How can I shift my marketing dollars to higher return, more measurable marketing tools to grow my business?  On a monthly basis, where will my marketing dollars come from to fund marketing activities e.g. by decreasing inventory, ST loan, projected cash flow etc.
•    Who are my competitors in 2011? What are their weaknesses? Who has entered the market in 2010? Who has left in 2010?
•    What needs are not being filled in the market right now by my competitors that I can fill in 2011? Is there an opportunity to introduce a new product or service?
•    Do customers know what is unique about my business? Where am I positioned in the market e.g. price leader, specialist/generalist, service leader etc.?  Why should a customer buy from me instead of my competitors?
•    Am I pricing and packaging my products/services in the most profitable way?
•    Can I accurately describe each of my customer segments? Who is my most profitable customer segment? Can I really create a clear customer profile with what I know today?
•    What am I doing to maintain and deepen relationships with existing customers/clients?
•    What feedback do I have from customers that can shape my 2011 marketing plan?
•    What insights are revealed? What specific actions can I take to better serve my customers in 2011?
•    How have behaviors of my target audience changed? Am I using the right media to communicate to my audience?
•    Have I taken advantage of the many “free” marketing tools available online such as Social Media Marketing with Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube Video Marketing, Social Bookmarking, Forums etc. to build my marketing program?
•    What am I going to do to “wow” customers and stay memorable? What are some low-cost, high impact strategies I can use?
•    Who is going to be accountable for which marketing activities?
•    Can I reach my marketing goals with in-house resources or do I need to consider getting expert help from a marketing consultant?

What questions would you add to this list?

Going through the Discovery process and looking at your company marketing plan with a fresh set of eyes before allocating precious marketing dollars to the same activities you did last year can be the difference between being in the red or the black next at the end of 2011. Spending the time now to plan and make strategic decisions can save you a lot of money and missed opportunities this year as well improve your results significantly.

Once you have written a streamlined marketing plan for 2011, just remember that it’s acting on what you have learned and executing those ideas flawlessly that separates the successful from the unsuccessful.  If you’re not sure what to focus on, put resources toward marketing to the 20% of your customer base / target audience that will generate 80 % of your revenue. If you have questions that you cannot answer, it can make sense to engage a marketing consultant to work with you as you plan for the coming year.

Best of luck marketing in 2011! Feel free to share comments here or with our marketing consultants. Thanks.

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