Despite the title of his blog, Patrick Schaber of Lonely Marketer is not lonely whatsoever. He’s running a popular blog, is part of a team of branding experts that just launched BrandingWire, and is a full time marketing manager for a successful hardware manufacturing firm. Pat is a master of branding and marketing in the highly competitive tech arena and offers a no-holds-barred look at what makes some businesses popular while other struggle for visibility and business.
Like many successful bloggers, Pat says that he began blogging wondering if anyone would ever read what he had to offer. However, Pat’s expert insight on marketing quickly made Lonely Marketer a favorite blog among bloggers and business owners looking for smart ways to boost their visibility and build their brand image.
“I didn’t go into this thinking that anyone would read my content,” says Pat. But when he read a post by favorite blogger Matt McGee at Small Business SEM listing the Lonely Marketer as one of the 5 new blogs he was reading, he knew he was onto something.
Pat faced a challenge experienced by many online bloggers- striking a balance between sharing business insight and exposing his company’s strategies to the competition. Not only were the businesses owners and bloggers that he wanted to help reading, his insider knowledge was also readily available to any of his employers competitors to indulge in freely.
Soon traffic and readership levels to Lonely Marketer increased to a point where he felt it necessary to let his employers in on his project. Luckily, his company is a big believer in blogging. The success of Pat’s blog has inspired them to launch a corporate blog in the coming months.
Corporate Blogging: Striking a Balance Between Personalization and Too Personal
Many businesses have concerns and questions about the role of a blog in their business communications. Pat says that one of the most important elements of any blog, business or not, is to have well defined personalities and profiles of its authors.
If readers aren’t able to connect, they may not come back. There is a risk of the personality developing badly and turning people off. But the rewards far outweigh the risks. “If you’re producing content that is relevant to their job, readers are going to engage,” says Pat.
But how much personality is too much? As Pat warns, there is always a risk of going too far. At the same time, there is also the potential that one personality will become too dominate and define the brand of the blog itself. Were this personality to leave, they could potentially take the brand and the business with them like what occurred with Danny Sullivan and his departure from Search Engine Watch.
Pat’s Advice for Business Bloggers
Pat’s advice for business bloggers is solid and a must read for any company currently blogging or thinking about blogging. Pat says:
Have multiple contributors: Different people will connect with different personalities. People will come and go within the company so it’s not safe to rely on one dominant personality.
A variety of personalities: Pat says that defining the ideal business/personal personality can be difficult to develop. The personality should be professional, yet engaging.
Have a dedicated and detailed about page: Readers want to know from whom they’re getting advice. Does the writer have credentials? Can they relate to you personally? What are your reasons for blogging? I don’t think that labeling a post with by so and so is enough. It’s important that the name link to a bio page why not have a personality? When I can’t find a good bio page on a blog, I normally don’t stick around.
Consistency: Even with multiple contributing personalities it’s important to strive for a consistent approach. Don’t go for all of the same personality types however, instead, strive for a consistent approach with mixed personalities.
Assign a moderator: With so many different personalities and the fine line between personalization and getting too personal, use a single moderator to review posts before they go live.
Have an opinion: Businesses have got to take a stance and can’t be afraid to state their opinion. That doesn’t mean they have to bash anyone I try to find something positive, but if I’m going to reference something on my site, I’m going to add my opinion.
Step off the pulpit: One of the most compelling things about Pat’s blog is that although he’s a professional, he is open to ideas and opinions from his readers. I’m always looking for alternate views. Who is going to come to listen to you preach? I’m not on a pulpit. I’m interested in getting feedback from the community.
Provide Actionable Content: Write content often that people can read and then implement immediately to see results.
Don’t go overboard with promotion: People come to your blog primarily to read content that relates to them and how they can improve some aspect of their life, not to read your marketing material. Instead, try to maximize the engagement. Draw your target market in deeper with engaging content. Engage and converse and convert.
Prepare to do the time: Blogs are time draining. Time is money. You have to define your goals, understand your goals for the site, and understand what your outcomes could be and what is going to define a positive result.
Redefine ROI: If you’re at a traditional company, no doubt the boss will ask what’s the ROI on this blogging thing? Pat says the businesses must define an ROI on engagement. An ROI on engagement might mean number of comments, inbound links that help the site’s optimization, bounce rate vs. high click through rates, or number of subscribers.
Pat’s Recommendations for Businesses on Tight Marketing Budgets
As a marketing manager for a small company, Pat gets to dabble with all kinds of tools from Pay per Click, to print ads, to creating a presence at tradeshows. But what about those of us that don’t have deep pockets for marketing?
“You don’t have to have thousands of dollars to create a great campaign,” Pat says offering his top picks for budget spending for companies with marketing budgets of $100 to $500 per month:
Press releases: Using PR Web, you can get your press release in front of thousands of readers for anywhere from $80 to $200.
Blogging: He uses WordPress, calling it one of the best platforms out there, which costs only your investment in time and the hosting should you decide to host off of WordPress free hosting platform. Set up a blog and start creating buzz online.
Go for longtail keywords in paid search: You don’t have to put a lot of money into paid search by executing smart strategies. You can get away with a couple hundred bucks a months by focusing on longtail keywords. You may only get a couple hundred clicks, but they will be a couple hundred better qualified people than using more generalized search terms.
Optimize landing pages: One of the biggest money wasters is to not optimize landing pages that are linked to your paid ads. Make sure that landing pages deliver on what the ad says they will.
Social Media: The key to social media is getting people who are well connected to link to your content. Become connected in the social media networks.
Relevant, interesting content: One thing Pat mentioned several times is that content is king. The phrase may be becoming clique, but its truth is absolute.
The Lonely Marketer and Branding Wire are both a goldmine of useful information for anyone serious about marketing their business and strengthening their brand. And this marketer says that blogging itself is one of the most powerful tools for doing both. Believe it or not, the Lonely Marketer has only been online for six months at the time of this post. In that time period, he has made a number of important business connections and met a great deal of professional friends and contacts.
Lots of people are trying to calculate the ROI on blogging, but no one has successfully accomplished this yet. I foresee that blogging will produce positive results for businesses that we aren’t even aware of right now.