In Business Blogging, Subtlety is Overrated

in Business

The Problem: Your blog is not converting visitors into clients or customers

People are coming (maybe in small numbers), clicking around, maybe even staying awhile, etc. They’re signing up for your free newsletter – maybe – or subscribing to your RSS feed. But they’re not contacting you or hiring you.

Somewhere along the path, people got the bizarre idea that if they put up a blog and loaded it with a plethora of helpful but general industry or location specific information, visitors would come, read, and then contact them or buy their services. I don’t get it. Where is the line that connects the two?

There isn’t one.

It’s a magical, mysterious load of B.S. Information alone will not convert visitors.

The Solution: Stop Being So Subtle

The whole point of being an entrepreneur is to bring something unique and great to the world of commerce, and by regurgitating general knowledge, you are missing a huge opportunity to talk about your unique and great service. If no one else is talking about you, you should.

If you want to see an example of a blog that sells, try visiting this one, and then go on over here to see exactly why. It’s not a mystery. It’s called marketing. It’s find a need and fill it. It’s the act of bringing your product or service to the people who are looking to buy it in a clear, helpful way and making the buying process obvious and simple. It’s an old, time-tested approach to selling that has been completely twisted as a result of blogging and social media hype. Somehow, people forgot to sell. It became taboo. But guess what? It still works.

“But… I just want my blog to be a source of information”

If you said that to me, I would then ask you why you want your blog to be just a source of information. Is it because that’s what you really want, or is it because someone told you that was the best way to get clients to come to your blog?

The answer to that question is the heart of the matter. If you want to be a source of info so people will hire you, then really, you are blogging so that people will hire you. Here’s the problem: because of what you’re producing, people are not coming to your blog looking for someone to hire. Instead, they are coming for that information. And your hope is that they become so comfy and trustworthy of you that eventually they will want your services. That’s a long shot. It might work. But it’s a long shot.

What About Relationship Building?

I believe in relationship marketing, really, I do. You can use your blog to communicate and engage and build strong, loyal followers and talk about your products and services at the same time. Make it so that the buzz is about you and your work, not about something completely unrelated to you specifically. And try really hard to remember what bucket you fit in as a company or service. Look for successful blogging models in your industry and company size.

The Keys to Targeted Blogging

If you are a professional and you are not talking about your products or services directly (like the link above to Field Notes), you are making a mistake. Your blog will suffer from multiple personality disorder and unfortunately there aren’t therapists for blogs. (Actually, maybe I could do that. I’ll be your blog therapist).

Sell Intelligently

On a serious note, though, you need to sort it out. Don’t put general and unrelated information in your posts and then sell like crazy in your sidebar. Instead, sell in your posts. Sell yourself. Who are you, what do you do, your stories and experiences and why are you better than the other guy/gal. And keep doing this in creative ways over and over and over. That is what your business’s blog needs.

Of course you have to be good at it. You may have to hire a copywriter, take a course, or read a book in order to figure out how to develop a tribe around what you are selling so that your blogging efforts are not made in vain.

If you don’t bring your services to your prospective clients or customers – whether in your blog or email marketing or even Twitter – do not expect people to weed through your info to find the thing they’re supposed to do with it. This is why I say that subtlety is overrated.

Target your prospective clients

Talk to them. Stop talking around them. In doing so, you are really talking down to them, and it’s sort of trickery. But more than that, it simply won’t work for you. You must learn to use your blog as a marketing method. So what if you think marketing is a dirty word? Call it whatever you want, the principles are still the same, and you still have to do it if you want to get some ROI out of your blog.

Here are some ideas of how you can use your blog to drive business:

  • Showcase your work, particularly your successes.
  • Talk about before and after.
  • Write about an upcoming product or service and put a big fat image of it in your post.
  • Toot your own freakin’ horn!

This seems to be the hardest thing for people to grasp. Am I saying that it’s okay to come off like a conceited jerk? Of course not! No one likes a jerk. But you have to talk about your products and services if you want people to feel like they have a handle on them enough to want to invest.

Remember what your clients are looking for

If your ideal client is searching for a local hair stylist, my suspicion is that blogging about general community news is not going to interest her very much. Perhaps you should try blogging about your recent changes or additions to the shop, a local celebrity’s makeover or a tell-a-friend deal you just launched (and that’s some great PR advice, too).

If your ideal client is looking to hire an interior designer, try blogging before and after stories, or how your particular service (with a unique name, of course) is the solution to cost-effective, stylish interior design.

Give Your Blog a Job

Define some clear objectives for your blog (also see Should You Blog? Yes, and here’s how). If its job is to bring in sales, you need to give it the right tools so that it can do its job well. Learn to manage your own expectations. If necessary, stop trying to do this yourself and hire a marketing consultant to help you use your blog to sell.

Or, Try Other Marketing Methods

If you just can’t bring yourself to make your product or service the focus of your blog, fine. Then seek other avenues. Buy some advertising, invest in search engine marketing, seek referrals, etc. These methods still work. Referrals are a great way to secure future business and will take some pressure off your blog. If you want to take that method, that is great.

In that case, carefully monitor your investment in your blog so that it doesn’t become a huge time suck for you. Or try (aff link), so that at least the time you do spend will pay for itself.

Your Turn: Are you being too subtle?

Do people get who you are, what you’re all about and the purpose of your blog? Do you feel confident people will walk away knowing those things? What do you need to get there?