By Michele Linn published September 6, 2010

7 Questions to Ask Before Adding a Blog to the Marketing Mix

Last week I was talking with a couple of corporate B2B marketers, and the question of blogging came up: do they plan to have a blog?

Unlike many marketers who jump into having a blog because it seems like the right thing to do, these gentlemen were very thoughtful in their response and explained that they would only have a blog if they had a clear objective and a way to support it. Amen to that!

While I am all for trying different types of content and formats, I’m an even bigger proponent of consistency, which is why I caution marketers before undertaking a project that needs constant care and feeding, like a blog.

Here are some key questions to ask before you commit to a corporate blog.

Do you have executive commitment?

One of the key differences between companies that thrive with content marketing and those that do not is buy-in from executive management. Before you commit to a blog, make sure your executive team is on board.

In their eBook , B2B Blogging Basics, Best Practices. . . and Blunders, MLT Creative provides these warning signs that your culture is highly resistant to blogging – and blogging may not be right for you (Note: registration is required for eBook):

  • Hoping for a “grassroots” effort without executive sponsorship
  • Top executives unwilling to be personally involved in content planning and reader engagement
  • Influential executives actively lobbying against the effort
  • All content must go through unwieldy approvals (Legal, HR, etc.)

If you don’t have the right culture for a blog, it’s better to know this before you invest time and resources (and, you don’t want any additional ammunition against future content marketing projects).

What result(s) do you want to achieve with your blog?

After you know you have commitment, figure out what you want your blog to accomplish. The answer to this question will impact everything you do, from how you structure your blog to what the call to action will be.

For best results, your blog should directly support your marketing and business goals, and the criteria you use to measure success should be tied to this.  This may seem obvious, but it’s really common for marketers to start blogging because they think it’s something they should do to “keep up.” But, without clear criteria to measure success, it will be impossible to know if your blog is paying off.

Do you have realistic expectations?

In all likelihood, it’s going to take time to build up interest – and traffic – to your blog. And, truth be told, it’s going to feel discouraging at times. Be realistic about what to expect. For instance, it’s not as likely that your readers will comment if you have a B2B blog.

Do you have a customer-focused mindset?

Good blogs aren’t about products or companies. This, too, seems obvious, but I’ve talked to many marketers whose blogging plans revolve around what is going on with their organization. Step back and ask how you can educate your readers.

Do you have the resources?

Even if you decide that a blog is right for you, it’s a lot of work to do well. Many companies are using a collaborative approach to blogging, which is good as it spreads the work around, but it’s still a lot to maintain.

You need to have a plan for who will provide content and how often. Decide on the frequency of your blog posts, and stick with it. Of course, look at your internal resources and subject matter experts, but also think about if you can get customers or other advocates involved. To get your resources to commit their time to a blog, it’s imperative that you have executive support.

Do you have someone to manage this process?

You need someone to take ownership of your blogging efforts. Amanda Maksymiw had a great post on how her company manages its corporate blog, and one of the things that she highlights as key to their success is having a blogging administrator. Their blogging administrator keeps all bloggers on a schedule, educates them on best practices and simply keeps morale about the project high (don’t underestimate the importance of this).

I also suggest that the blogging administrator maintain an editorial calendar not only to track authors and topic but other metrics such as keywords for SEO and the call to action for each post.

Do you need someone to edit the posts?

In addition, if the people you are asking to contribute to the blog are not natural writers, you’ll need someone to edit the posts for logic and structure (this could be the blogging administrator or someone with more writing experience). I love this comment from John Bottom on one of his CMI posts that underscores the importance of strong writing:

“I believe a coherent structure is the biggest difference between a well-written piece of content and a poorly-written one. People tend to get sensitive about spelling and grammar but, while these are important, it is the way a story is told that really matters. And one of the biggest failings of untutored writers is that they tend towards ‘stream-of-consciousness’ writing that gets tiring to read and difficult to follow.”

Don’t get me wrong: I think the power of a blog is enormous, and if it is something you can maintain, it can be the most powerful tool in your content marketing arsenal. But, I don’t think a blog is for everyone – and it isn’t something marketers should jump into without a detailed plan.

What else do you think marketers should consider before launching a blog? Let us know in the comments below!

Author: Michele Linn

Michele is the Vice President of Content at the Content Marketing Institute. She is one of those people who truly loves what she does and who she works with. You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

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  • Dennis Baker

    What an Excellent Piece.

    Seems as if everyone over the last few years was “All In” with the just do it mentality. I too think there is value, but it is a lot of work to do right and if your not going to do it right, you probably shouldn’t do it.

    For some organizations there really be no payoff. If there is no payoff, you’re wasting valuable resources.

  • Michele Linn

    Dennis: Well said! I’m a huge proponent of thinking about what results you want to get from something before starting. If you don’t know, it’s best to figure it out first as it may not be needed at all.

  • Jennifer W

    This is an excellent post. Your comment about consistency is so important, Michele. I’ve got two clients right now who have corporate blogs — one was last updated in March, and the other one in … gasp! … 2008! If you can’t update your blog at minimum bi-weekly, it will end up not just worthless but may even be a detriment to you.

  • Kathryn

    You’re right: Companies should consider outsourcing editing. A talented editor can ease the grind of blog writing –and add valuable cross-functional expertise.

  • Mel

    Hi Michelle
    I like this post. Under the resources and blogging administrator questions I would also add that someone needs to have time to reply to comments/tweets on the blog, twitter, facebook etc because once you start sharing articles you also need resources to respond to the feedback to keep people engaged (and get the full value from your articles). I love this part of blogging but it does take up time and can be distracting from what you’re working on (don’t get me wrong, I love this type of distraction….)

  • Michele Linn

    Mel – What a fantastic addition to the list: engaging with your readers and promoting your posts is a substantial time commitment and shouldn’t be overlooked. And, when working on a collaborative blog, you need to give thought to what the authors will do vs. the administrator. Lots of details to think about!

  • Michele Linn

    Jennifer – I couldn’t agree more! I think it looks far worse to have a blog that hasn’t been updated than a no blog at all; it’s as if you’re announcing to visitors that you can’t get your act together. While I’m a huge proponent of blogging, I don’t think most visitors will think anything is missing if you don’t have one. Consistency is key!

  • Anonymous


    First of all, thanks for referencing our eBook and also for covering this side of the “To blog or not to blog” question. One of the best things about blogging in business-to-business or in general, is that the content lives forever (the twinkie effect). But the serve-by date is there for all to see and if you don’t keep your content fresh, any visitor to your site can easily tell. It’s interesting to me often you can tell exactly when a business began their blog and exactly when it ran into the ditch or just ran out of steam.

    Blogging is not easy to begin with, but add to the challenges a failure to get commitment from top management and you are running on borrowed time. I believe it’s worth the effort to do some homework upfront and that there is a wealth of solid case studies, how-to guides and a very accessible community of business bloggers ready to help a newbie make the case to the suits in the c-suite.

    For a final word of advice to a beginning B2B blogger I can reference a quote from Chris Brogan: “Grow bigger ears.” Start following other bloggers in your industry and commenting on their articles and invest in growing your network of industry related contacts on twitter and linkedin.

  • Michele Linn


    I love that – the twinkie effect. I’m going to start using that one . . .

    And, you’re so right: if you want to blog, you need to follow other bloggers and get involved in the conversation. I know people who want to blog, yet they don’t follow any of the blogs in their industry first (seems obvious, but it’s surprising how often it does not happen). Keep up the great work at MLT Creative – looking forward to your next eBook!

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