Last Friday we published our 250th post in just over 18 months. It was a lot of work researching and writing them, but in doing so we’ve accomplished quite a few of our goals.
Among them was my personal goal to work with interior designers and vendors in establishing blogs, and crafting effective content marketing strategies. Having accomplished that I decided to write a series of posts on what I’ve learned about blogging, as I am firmly convinced that content marketing is something that every design professional and product vendor should consider to advance their business.
I’ve concluded there are 3 distinct steps to consider for creating an effective blog: establishing goals and identifying customers, crafting compelling content, and promotion. In this post I’ll share how I help clients set goals for their blogs, and the simple method I employ to help them understand their customers.
When I ask clients ‘what would you like a blog to accomplish for you?’, interior designers often answer ‘garner me new clients’ and showrooms say ‘increase our sales’. Those are the nearly universal goals for any blogger, because in addition to raising your Google Page Rank, you establish a blog so you can more easily sell something – be it a service or a product.
But a well written business blog can serve to accomplish many goals; including putting a human face on your company, enhancing your visibility, building credibility, establishing your expertise, promoting your product or service, generating leads, and addressing issues within your niche. I counsel clients to spend time establishing an ambitious ‘wish list’ of objectives for their businesses before they even consider blogging. Other than those I just listed, people have identified goals like the wish to create product lines, to be paid to endorse products, and to be paid for speaking engagements.
Straight out of the gate I encourage people to create a timeline. Where would you like your company to be in 5 years? 10 years? An honest and thorough investigation of your goals will inform and define the kinds of content you need to create. You’ve got to understand where you intend to go before you start the journey.
Then there’s the task of identifying and understanding your intended consumer. Seems like a fairly simple task, and it is, but I believe the amount of information you gather about your customer – in essence how well you truly understand who this person is – is the key to successful blogging.
I think that bears repeating. The better you understand your customer, the more successful you’ll be as a blogger.
To that end I ask clients to answer 2 lengthly questionnaires – one about themselves, the other about their archetypal customer, in the interest of creating dossiers from which to organize an editorial strategy. Much like a venn diagram, it’s where your interests, needs, and goals overlap with your customers’ that the important and compelling content concepts live.
Here’s an example;
I’m working with an interior designer who has a goal of attracting clients who collect art, more specifically contemporary works on paper, and he’s identified his ideal clients as well established couples in their mid-50’s who aspire to collect art, both to enhance their homes, and as an investment.
It’s clear the cross between his career goals, and his client’s interests, is art.
I’ve counseled the designer to make a list of the galleries that represent the artists and genres of work he appreciates most, and to establish a list of the openings at those galleries for the next 12 months. If he attends those openings, and crafts blog posts that review the works in any given show which effectively underscore their value, he’ll establish his credibility as a curator.
You may ask how that will help him attract his ideal customer? Imagine this scenario;
A solo exhibition of works on paper by Noriko Ambe opens on Tuesday at Leo Castelli. My client attends the opening, and later crafts a well-researched and insightful review of the show, including pictures of the work, and of the people he knows in attendance, in a blog post.
Upon publishing the post he shares it on his social media platforms. Taking it one step further, he shares the link to the post on Leo Castelli’s Facebook Fan Page.
The gallery has 540 people following its page, who presumably are either patrons of the gallery, or industry insiders who will now see the post. Some will click through to the post, and in addition to its content, in the right hand column of his blog, they will find a collection of images showing his best work – rooms which just happen to include beautifully framed and featured works of art. With the connection between the patrons of the gallery, and a talented interior designer who understands how to incorporate the kinds of art his ideal client appreciates into his work, it’s easy to draw a conclusion. By establishing his goals, and identifying his customer, my client has crafted a blog post with content that will advance his business; at the very least by enhancing his visibility among art collectors and the gallery, by building his credibility as a curator, and by establishing his expertise in incorporating works on paper into successfully designed rooms. He’s simply connected the dots.
Later this week, in the second installment of this series, I’ll share the 5 content strategies that have most successfully driven our traffic. Check back on Friday.