Any B2B marketer worth her salt can list the many benefits of blogging: search engine optimization, social media engagement, audience development, and brand building. But guess what most B2B marketers really want from their company blog?
In other words, B2B marketers want their blog to position their brand as an authority in the industry — a source of expertise that prospective customers turn to for insights and advice. Thought leadership builds trust and credibility with prospects, long before they’re ready to buy.
Take a random sample of 10 B2B blogs and nine of them fail to position their company as thought leaders. Here are 5 common reasons.
1. It’s hard to find.
If the blog isn’t easy to find on your website, then it’s obviously not a key value you provide to prospects and customers. Or said another way, if it’s not that important to your company, then it’s not that valuable to your target audience.
2. It’s mostly about your company.
Your user conference is going to be great, your latest customer wins are exciting and boy, do those executive hires have a lot of experience in the industry. Guess what? Those topics are not keeping your prospects up at night.
Turn the tables: think not what’s important to you, but what’s important to your prospects. What is keeping them up at night? Thought leadership is about creating content that helps your prospects sleep comfortably. You’re removing worry and stress from their minds because your content directly addresses their concerns.
3. It’s anonymously written.
Why don’t your posts list anyone as the author? This implies either: your company is filled to the brim with so many domain experts that you don’t want to give anyone special attention, or there are no thought leaders at your company willing to take credit. Guess which your buyers will think?
Note: To address this, list the author of every post. It’s also useful to have author profile pages that list all of the posts written by that author. Here is my author page for this blog.
4. It’s not up to date.
It’s hard to be a thought leader if you’ve run out of thoughts to share. I’ve come across numerous B2B blogs where the most recent post is 1-2+ years old! The standing of your brand’s thought leadership requires constant care and feeding.
If your industry is faced with major changes, such as new regulations, your customers will want to know your perspective about those. If your blog has been “dark” over the past 1-2 years, then you’re absent from the conversation. And that’s a missed opportunity in thought leadership.
5. It’s not engaging readers.
Even if your company’s website doesn’t generate a lot of traffic, you should still get a few people (besides employees) tweeting out your posts and sharing them on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Not happening? Maybe your blog isn’t adding value – sorry! Not that I’ve covered what you might be doing wrong, let’s talk solutions 😎
How to establish thought leadership with your blog
Treat your blog like it’s important.
Make it easy to find on your website (top or bottom navigation or high up on the “About Us” or “Resources” menu) and prominently showcase recent blog posts on your homepage and other relevant pages.
You can even call it some other title that reflects thought leadership. For example, ADP calls theirs “Legislative Updates.” Here’s how their blog looks:
Think like a publisher.
Create an editorial calendar outlining the themes and topics to be covered and the desired schedule for the individual blog posts. Create defined roles for your publishing operation: writers, editors, editorial director, designers and web developers (if needed).
Ask senior management to suggest or write (gasp!) posts on a regular basis. Hire or contract for writing help if you need it. Don’t be surprised if the blog starts generating enough leads to more than cover the costs!
Make it about your target audience.
Keep your posts focused on the pains, opportunities, and aspirations of everyone involved in the buying process (e.g., users, decision makers, influencers). For example, even if you have company news to announce, ask yourself, “Why should buyers care?”
Blog often, but keep the quality high.
How often you post is important to generating visibility and audience for your company blog. Just make sure you don’t sacrifice quality for volume. Quality is what keeps your audience coming back and gives them reasons to share.
Get other experts to contribute.
Reach out to your community of employees, customers, prospects and partners to recruit others with a relevant point of view. The result will be a bunch of helpful, interesting and unbiased blog posts. Finding quality contributors will also help you generate more quality blog posts. But don’t forget to give author credit to everyone who contributes!
Example: We invited experts to discuss differences that B2B social media marketers can expect this year.
Companies leading the way
Now nobody’s perfect, but there are a few examples of B2B companies leading the way toward developing thought leadership with their company blogs. Check out Cisco, Marketo, and Hubspot and see how they’re doing on the points above. And let us know what you find works best for establishing thought leadership with your company blog.
Want to learn more about content marketing? Check out: 3 Ways to Boost Your Content Marketing Results
Note: This post was originally published on April 29, 2013 and updated on February 18, 2019.