Down to Business
By Ilise Benun
Well, first, do you have something to say? You can start with a private rant about your clients
“We should be blogging.” I hear this often from clients and I agree that blogging is an effective marketing tool for many reasons, such as bringing qualified prospects to you via search engines and demonstrating your expertise.
However, it's hard to blog when you don't know what to blog about.
To blog (or to create any content, whether for a newsletter, Facebook or Twitter) you must have something to say. And if you don’t, whatever you post about will probably be a waste of your time and will certainly not achieve your marketing goals.
Here's what every design firm needs to be blogging effectively, that is, in a way that will get you the clients you want:
- You must have a content strategy in place.
- You must know who you're speaking to.
- You must know what they need to hear.
I recently spent two days with a small firm working on these three elements of their marketing, with a focus on brainstorming and developing content for their blogs, tweets, FB posts, etc.
The most effective exercise we did was The Rant. Try this in your next staff meeting. Get everyone ranting about your clients: what you wish they understood and what you wish they would stop doing. In addition to getting it out of your system, this exercise produces the valuable kernels of content that you can then develop for the blog (or whichever content platforms are most effective for your firm).
- Do your clients keep asking for something that isn't possible? Use your blog to explain why not.
- Are your clients clueless about what they need? Use your blog to help them figure it out.
- Do your clients misunderstand what you need from them in the design process? Use your blog to clarify and reiterate that (then you can point them there when they forget).
For example, one common complaint among many design firms is clients who ask for something to be designed for use in a popular word-processing software or slide-presentation software. It may be exasperating but you can’t blame them for asking. Instead, use your blog (i.e., your marketing process and your content) to educate them on why it’s not in their best interest to do that and to recommend a better alternative.
Here’s another common situation: Your client’s company was recently reorganized and your new contact was "promoted" from technologist to marketer, despite knowing little to nothing about marketing. You can either get frustrated or use your blog to educate them (and everyone just like them).
You see, if you can pinpoint what they don't understand, you can use your blog to explain it, to show examples, to make your argument and to reveal the value you bring to the process – simultaneously demonstrating your expertise, so others looking for it will find you!
According to Mark O’Brien, author of A Website That Works, you should be producing 2000 words per month. (That’s one 500-word blog post per week.) Then, once you have a few blog posts under your belt, send out an email newsletter with a round-up of the 'best of the blog" – otherwise known as “repurposing content.”
That should get your blogging on track!
Ilise Benun is an author, consultant and national speaker, and the founder of Marketing-Mentor.com. Her books include The Designer’s Guide to Marketing and Pricing and her latest, The Designer’s Proposal Bundle. You can sign up for her Quick Tips here and find more information here. She’s also giving a workshop on Nov. 10 at DesignThinkers 2012 on this topic, “How to Market with Content."