According to some social media commentators, cyberspace is now littered with abandoned blogs and populated by drive-by surfers who find even 140 characters a struggle. Has business blogging therefore become a waste of time for b2b technology marketers?
I think not! Despite what the ‘digital herd mind’ might be echoing, here are three compelling reasons why b2b blogging is still very much in play for marketers in the IT computer networking industry.
1) You Own the Words that (Help) Change Minds
What? You don’t think so?
Granted, by itself, an individual blog post may not. Taken together, it’s a different story. That’s because what others refer to as ‘content marketing’ comes alive to your prospects when you actively take the high ground and discuss how your products and services can make a real difference to their business… and to their careers.
Consider those controversial test results on your latest data center switch? Yes, customers and prospects really do want to know how you’ll address their concerns.
And that emerging standard your competitor’s taking the lead on?
Where, how, and when will your company respond? People with money to spend on products like yours want to know! And a significant number of them may be nowhere near signing your NDA to find out.
That’s why your blog’s an ideal place to woo and exchange ideas with this audience. And not only that. You can slice and dice posts into tweets and status updates. Use them as digital bait for discussion groups and email links.
Best of all, you (well, your company mainly, but see #2 below) gets to own the content and the messaging platform, something that those social media ‘experts’ advocating a headlong rush into Twitter’s event horizon and FaceBook’s content vaults, conveniently neglect to emphasize.
Yes, numberless others will probably (and hopefully!) re-purpose and curate the content you create. Sometimes they’ll do this well and you’ll be pleased. Other times, you’ll wonder why you even bothered. Maybe a stiff drink will help…
But the upside is that all roads lead back to your digital communication hub. An online fortress where friendly visitors are welcome, the drawbridge remains open and the moat is clean enough to swim in!
2) (Y)our Reputation is (Y)our Greatest Asset
Perhaps some readers remember corporate town hall meetings where the CEO reminded assembled employees:
“Our employees are our greatest asset.”
There are two problems with that immortal line:
a) Many employees don’t (if they ever did) believe it anymore.
b) It’s wrong.
Perhaps the CEO would be more accurate with this revision:
“Some employees might be our greatest asset.”
Now b) could be true for a tech start up when their idea’s written on a restaurant napkin, and further VC funding depends on geeks coming up with the goods.
However, for larger, established IT networking companies, the market reality is that both talent and companies are ambitiously mobile. Meaning, this month your job is in New York until it’s moving to Mumbai… but without you.
(For those in Mumbai, I offer little solace to the likelihood that same displaced job may eventually disappear with automation; but not before it turns up in Vietnam. There’s really no hiding place for being just expensively competent anymore…)
No, what our savvy CEO should really be telling the assembled troops is the truth. Something I once heard a multinational’s CIO explain to staff based in Asia. It went like this:
“Our reputation is our greatest asset.”
And he meant it. While employees are important, and companies will often do their utmost to attract and retain the best, they’re all expendable. Every last one of them, from the CEO downward. And, in my mind, that include Steve Jobs, Apple’s visionary and iconic leader.
However, a company’s reputation is a different matter. It can be damaged and even lost in mere seconds and minutes these days, thanks to those very same communications networks and informed communities many marketers rely on to build their brand.
And the cost in time, expertise, delayed products and lost sales to resuscitate a tarnished image can run into many millions of dollars.
Of course such disasters are thankfully rare but employee attrition, force adjustments, overseas centers of excellence – whatever you want to call losing your job – are much more common.
So that’s why accomplished b2b tech marketers should do all in their power to cement both their company’s reputation, and their own.
Blogging’s an ideal vehicle in which to do this. Interesting and (sometimes) controversial b2b tech bloggers get known and liked not only by prospects and customers, which their employers quickly appreciate; but their voices are also heard by peers and competitors.
While your loyalty should be to your employer first and foremost, any tech marketer who follows trends will know that the online world not only brings people together to do business, but it also introduces millions of potential competitors for your job!
Yes, it does. And a growing number of these people are multilingual and ‘hungry’ to succeed. They may not be multicultural (who really is?) but they invest time and effort in learning how to market and do business with the “Western world” (an admittedly imperfect label for numerous languages and cultures. But restrict it to a universe of the top 20 IT networking companies, and the view through cultural glasses becomes a little clearer.)
The interesting thing about blogging is the career doors it can open. To see what I mean, take a look at this post I wrote on my career change and personal growth blog:
“Your Online Resume is Everywhere”.
Naturally, without permission, you can’t use content your ex-employer owns, even if you wrote it. Still, imagine that same blogging content syndicated, re-purposed, commented on by an army of peer bloggers over the years; and archived forever more by those tireless Google bots…
“Your online reputation really is your greatest asset.”
(Thanks for the inspiration, Mr. CIO!)
3) Pitfalls, Prats and Pisspoor Writing
Fortunately, the blogging world’s full of people making asses of themselves. By itself, that isn’t a disaster because many established bloggers are open to helping others who genuinely want to write better and build an audience.
A b2b blogger who consistently posts interesting and eye catching content is something to behold. Even rarer is one who responds to comments and respect the opinions of others while ignoring those of the willfully ignorant (“that’s what a search engine’s for, you muppet” – my favorite expression on meeting such folks).
Are you up to the b2b blogging challenge?
Do you disagree with any of what I’ve written here?
I’m open to hearing all constructive comments!
– Mark ‘case study writer’ McClure