Many businesses and firms seek content marketing services in order to improve their SEO (search engine optimization) or organic visibility in search engine results. However, not all companies or firms want to outsource their content marketing, and not all companies have the sustainable budget to do that.
You may have heard of blogging, which started with the advent of the World Wide Web in which individuals would write a discussion or opinionated "post" for others to see. The nature of blog posts were casual, often conversational, and engagement with fellow readers was made a prominent feature with features that allowed outsiders to opine and comment on the material being written. In essence, many early blogs were public online diaries, and writers and readers alike found great joy in creating and reading valuable content.
Today, blogging has become a great necessity not only for individuals who enjoy the loyal viewership of interested readers, but also for organizations and businesses in producing content that bolster their online presence in target communities that may be interested in the material that the company produces. Blogging is now considered one of the easiest and most fundamental ways to create valuable content to attract viewers to your site. Major businesses and industries have begun using their blog's platform to take advantage of online marketing strategies. Defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, for example, have their own cybersecurity blog.
One of the things to keep in mind is that starting your company's blog may often feel overwhelmingly difficult. There are simply too many things that you might want to know before you set out to writing your content. You might be wondering where to find images that you can use, what type of content gets people's attention, what type of writing style you should employ, etc.
1. Why Blog?
We answered this question briefly above, but let's use some more concrete data points to get everyone in your team and business on board.
According to some statistics,
- B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not.
- Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI.
- Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website.
- Once you write 21-54 blog posts, blog traffic generation increases by up to 30%.
- On average, companies that blog receive 434% more indexed pages.
- Among those who use e-mail marketing, companies that blog get twice as much traffic from their email than those who don’t.
- Over and above TV advertisements, search-engine ads, and online banner ads, information in blogs is trusted by 81% of consumers.
The numbers speak for themselves. If you are targeting a military audience (a very large demographic in the United States) and you want to take advantage of the interactions between the military community and your business, you should try getting everyone on board to boost your business and organization's online presence.
2. Find Your Audience
Businesses and organizations need to be keenly aware of who comprises their target demographic.
It's of no use, for example, for the content marketing team at Nike to be writing about the Nigerian oil spill and its impact on the current debate on active environmentalism. It is far more valuable for the company to be writing about recent trends in shoewear fashion, what basketball athletes are wearing right now, and what their current sponsored athletes are doing.
Remember that your culture is your brand (recall this lesson from Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos in our previous post about making effective video marketing campaigns). The content you churn out in your company's blog reflects the culture you want to promote. Nike's blog content focuses on new pairs of shoes being released or which athletes are wearing a specific model. In the end, Nike's culture permeates the content that the company creates: athleticism, fitness, sports, and recreation. Men and women ages 10 - 30 with a stable income and who are passionate about playing sports and overall fitness resonate well with the type of content that the company produces and learning about the type of shoes that they may be interested in buying.
Business Insider gets 25.5 million unique monthly visitors. As the Content Marketing Institute notes, "Growing a fanatical reader base of nearly 30 million doesn’t happen through haphazard, unfocused article blasting. Business Insider is bigger than its rival CNBC and outperforms Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and other massive news sites...Business Insider pivots to make the most of this audience and its proclivity for engaging headlines, its love of business news, and its human curiosity about celebs, clothing tips, and cool start-ups."
According to the piece cited by the article, 2/3rds of Business Insider’s readers are male, many of them young, affluent businessmen and Wall Street traders. So they target that audience and do so fervently.
Companies that want to target the military need to understand how their products or services would be of use to the demographic. Are you offering something that the military community needs but that it doesn't know yet? With a sense of vision and a mission to build on the company's culture through a blog, you can make headway in gaining online visibility to spread your message.
Takeaways from Nike and Business Insider
The fact that you should create content for your target audience may seem obvious. Of course you would write content with relevant information that caters to your viewers. But sometimes there is more to it than simply having a general understanding for your market (e.g. Nike should write about shoes, Business Insider about business).
If your company or department is tasked with rolling out a new product/service and the ensuing marketing strategy, you will constantly need to find and understand your audience. This is not uncommon for companies or organizations who are thinking of acquisitions, innovation, or pivots to new audiences (think about the many different brands and goods Procter and Gamble is in charge of and the different audiences those goods may appeal to). This is also critically important when trying to establish an online presence and to market to the military community. Have you been selling products or services to a different sector before, or have you always focused on catering to the needs of the armed forces?
Writing valuable content for those who want to reach this audience should think about writing about issues and trending topics that are pertinent to this demographic and to do so continually. Consistent engagement with this particular subject will help you position your company's branding in a way that reflects the culture you want others to perceive.
3. Start Your Content Creating Machine
Create a Calendar
You should consider creating a content calendar. As Mel Carson from Entrepreneur.com suggests, "If you’re blogging once or twice a week, brainstorm and jot down some topics to write about and insert them into a calendar that extends into the next couple of months. Sound out trusted peers or customers about what they’d like to read about in your posts. The more choices you have in potential topics the better."
You want to post consistently and set and meet the expectations of the readers who go out of their way to view your content. Answer the following questions and determine what works best for you and for creating a reasonable schedule for creating and publishing content: How much time are you willing to dedicate each week to write on your company's blog? How many posts can you write without spreading yourself thin? Are you going to be enlisting the help of other members in your business's team, or are you the sole writer of the published content? Do you have a list of topics and ideas that you want to write about that can market to your military audience?
If you're having trouble thinking about how to begin the writing process, consult Rachel Sprung's post on how to write a blog post here. The post goes over some of the steps to begin the writing process that we'll point out quickly below. If you want more information or a longer blurb about a particular bullet point, consult to the link provided earlier for a more detailed explanation.
- Understand your audience
- Start with a topic and working title
- Write an intro (and make it captivating)
- Organize your content
- Featured image
- Visual appearance
- Edit/proofread your post, and fix your formatting
- Insert a call-to-action (CTA) at the end
- Optimize for on-page SEO
- Pick a catchy title
For more information about creating valuable content for marketing to general audiences as well as for specific military audiences, check out some of previous blog posts about content marketing.
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