If you’ve been following the NextGear Marketing Blog, you will have seen the Business Blogging Basics series of articles. In most, I recommend a healthy blend of the different approaches being discussed. In this article, things might be a little different.
Salient vs. Sales
For the purpose of this article, “salient” represents the useful information, ideas and insight being shared in your business blog articles. Whether someone finds your article through a search or they are a regular follower, they are typically reading what you have written to find out more information on a specific topic. Let’s say you sell appliances and you write an article about how to pick out the right dishwasher. Someone is seeking out your article that will include salient points to help them make a dishwasher buying decision. They may be doing this to avoid going into an appliance store and being accosted by a salesperson right when they walk in the door.
“Sales,” on the other hand, is just that. It is the activity of using your blog articles to generate leads or create sales of specific products or services that your company offers. After you’ve given someone the information they sought out, what consumer actions do you want them to take next? You told them how to find the right washing machine, now you want to sell them that washing machine at your appliance store. Working sales messages into an article, though, is a bit like walking a tightrope.
What’s the Right Balance?
There could be some debate on this subject as to what the balance between salient information and sales tactics should be on a business blog. It may depend somewhat on your industry. Some businesses can get away with being more salesy than others. A tax consultant will be different than a used car dealership, for instance.
In general, professional bloggers will heavily slant toward the salient side of things. Having a lot of relevant information on different topics is good for SEO and the sooner someone feels like they are being “sold” in an article, the less credible the information in it will seem.
Calls to Action
That said, pretty much every blog article you post should include some clear call to action at the end. You want the reader to take the next step to explore more information on your website, call, subscribe to an email list, etc.
The call to action should be short, simple, clear and direct. Make it no more than a couple sentences in a separated paragraph at the very end of the article. You’ve given them the information they wanted to find. Now you can spin it back around to your company and make a quick and harmless sales pitch.
Subtle Sales Approaches
In many cases, a call to action at the end will be all the sales you’ll want to incorporate into your articles. However, there are subtle ways to sell your products/services throughout the article. In the information you are providing, you can build value for yourself. The article itself will naturally give you more credibility in the eyes of the reader. Then, you can also work in subtle references to your brand and your products/services.
Let’s say you are a tax preparation company. Write an article providing “10 Tips for Preparing Your Small Business Taxes.” Make one of those tips “Hire a Professional.” It’s actually a wise tip and it will build value for your service without shoving a sales message down the reader’s throat.
There are other subtle sales tactics you can use, including testimonials and case studies. Use third party stories and customer quotes to sell your business. You’re not the one saying great things about yourself. That’s a turn-off. However, when someone else says nice things in a review or case study, it’s so much more credible. Here’s an example of a customer testimonial story I wrote for one of my clients, Ralph’s Transmission.
Direct Sales Articles
In some cases, it makes perfect sense to have a whole article that is a bit more salesy than others. If you want to feature specific products or services, you can’t help but be a little more direct with your sales messages and calls to action. That’s just fine when the situation demands it. I wouldn’t make every article on your blog super salesy, but it’s okay from time to time.
In conclusion, you will typically want to skew much more toward “salient” information compared to “sales” messages when writing a business blog. However, you can work in a little sales so that the reader can take the next steps.
For more information about business blogging and custom web content for your company, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free marketing consultation.