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 Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

Other posts by Michele Linn

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