As an author, sales motivational speaker and sales force development consultant it is very important that I walk the talk and continue to learn and develop myself. One activity which I am always recommending to clients, friends and everyone alike is to keep reading new, old and interesting ideas to keep yourself stimulated and on top of your game. My personal favourite subjects for reading about are personal development, sales training, sales force development, motivation and mindset, general business and marketing.
Nowadays I read a lot of blogs and am subscribed to several via RSS feeds. One blog which I read regularly is Trish Jones' blog. She recently posted two interesting posts on blogging as a sales tool and whether blogging can sell services or just products.
These are great questions and ones which every sales person, business owner, and entrepreneur needs to consider and as with all great questions there are probably several answers but first a little "sermon" about blogs and blogging...
Many blog marketeers have an inherent interest in positioning blogs as the second coming, as the only marketing required in your mix, as all you need to succeed in selling your products, services, or indeed anything that you want to sell.
For most people and for most businesses this is, at best, misleading and, at worst, dishonest. Blogs are a great form of marketing but they are only one form of marketing. Even if your business is your blog you still need to understand how to market your blog in the same ways that you might market a normal website.
Blogs do not market themselves!
What's worse is that you can market a brochure style, static website and if you do it well people will visit and when they do they may well buy from you. When you market a blog site people will read your blogs first, before they buy anything. This means that you have to write well if want to make any sales. For you to make sales on a blog site people have to want to read what you write, see value in what you write and like the way that you wrote it too.
And they still have to like, want or need your product or service enough to buy it or to make that call!
If your blog is not well written and people do not like it they will not buy anything off you even if they do come to your blog!
If you only market in the "blogosphere" and your target prospects and clients are in the "real world" you are not going to bring in shed loads of new customers. Many of my clients do not even know that my site is a blog, they just like reading it! They don't post comments, they email me and I respond!
Blogging also needs to be consistent. It is not a quick fix. Indeed it is probably one of the slowest routes to market and requires far more effort than many other instant fix marketing options (think Google adwords).
In my opinion, blogging also needs to be personal. Your content needs to be yours if you want to sell your services and you need to read and respond to your "community" on your blog. This is all very time consuming.
But it's not easy.
So why would anybody blog? To demonstrate expertise... To share a passion... To promote long-lasting marketing content... To build a following... To set themselves a cut above everyone else...
Everyone and their dog seem to be setting up blogs these days. Blogging is highly competitive. Whatever your industry is there will already be good blogs with reader bases up and running. To compete with this you need a good subject, a passion about your subject, real knowledge, good writing ability, a strong message, design skills, marketing skills and a connection with your audience. Perhaps most importantly you need to be able to add value for your readers constantly walking the line between interesting and factual. This is the minimum that you need (or need to buy in) to even get you off the starting line...
But can a blog sell a service?
Well... After converting my website at www.gaviningham.com to a blog some 18 months ago I have blogged consistently and on theme. Traffic has grown, readership has grown, enquiries have grown and conversion ratios have upped.
But does my blog sell my services?
Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't. I think most times my blog pre-sells people on the idea of working with me. They read my blogs and they know what I am about. They get my message and they like it. I guess that those who don't, never call.
But those who do are pre-sold to a certain extent. You still need to know how to sell. You still need to solve their pains with your solutions. You still need to position your solution effectively. You still need to do all of the other good stuff.
As with all areas of sales and marketing, blogging is not a quick fix super drug that will turn your business around over night but if you have time to commit to it, if you are passionate about it and if you make it part of your overall sales and marketing mix then blogging is a powerful weapon for selling whatever it is that you're selling.