When I talk to my clients about blogging the first question I get is “who’s going to read it?” They are overwhelmed by the blogosphere and wonder that their blog will be just a drop of water in a very large sea of content. It’s a reasonable question and a reasonable concern. It’s just the wrong question.
So what is the right question? First we need to understand the function and value of a blog post as it relates to promoting yourself or your business. I always describe a blog as a conversation over a cup of coffee: a conversation with a colleague, a conversation with a customer or perhaps a conversation with a prospect.
Conversations With Your Prospects
When you meet with a prospect do you pull out your marketing literature and recite it verbatim? I hope not. So what DO you say?
My guess is it would be a variation on a traditional sales approach: exchange pleasantries, talk about his business, get an idea of his goals, challenges and needs. The next step would likely be to identify areas where your product or service can help him with his goals, challenges and needs.
You’ll explain your understanding of his problems and suggest ways you could help. You’ll cite some use cases and specific examples.
That is a blog post.
Conversations With Your Customers
Your customer calls you up to ask for some advice. You listen carefully to the issue. What’s your next step? Mail out some marketing material? Maybe, but most likely you’ll proceed to dole out your wisdom in the effective use of your product for her particular situation. Or maybe there’s a complimentary product or service you recommend.
That is a blog post.
Conversations With Your Colleagues
If you’re like me you like to talk about issues relating to your industry with co-workers, colleagues and other industry professionals. Where is the market going? What are the challenges? How can we improve? How do we educate the marketplace?
Those are blog posts.
So Who’s Going To Read My Blog?
Who’s going to read your blog posts? Your prospects, customers and colleagues, for starters. What makes a blog different than your conversation over a cup of coffee is one simple factor: sharing. When your customer gets off the phone after a great conversation with you, where she received some great advice, she might be excited enough to tell some of her co-workers and colleagues. But the impact will be diminished. She can’t share your conversation. Ah, but she can share a blog post.
It is true that for some people creating high-volume blog sites is a source of revenue. But for the average person looking to leverage blogging as part of a business strategy, you already have your audience. It’s the people you already know and with whom you already do business.
Bottom line: People love to share. Jokes, recipes, breaking news. Anything interesting. I continue to talk about content as the currency of the new millennium. The market for quality content is insatiable and sharing is the grease that lubricates the gears of the new economy. Old economy vehicles like print media are failing. Is it because the content is not good? No, it’s because you can’t easily share it (see Death of Print Media).
Sharing is what gets your message out beyond your immediate circle. It’s like having thousands of people standing behind your prospect/customer/colleague as you have that conversation over a cup of coffee.
So the question is not “who’s going to read it?”
What’s the right question?
“Can you write something they will want to share?”