Should You Write Your Business Blog in First or Third Person?

This is a very common question when it comes to business blogging, and it’s a good one. The answer may depend on your type of business or your specific blogging goals. In most cases, it comes down to simple personal preference.

Why I Like First Person

For me personally, I prefer writing blogs from a first-person perspective. I’m not just talking about my own blog articles, but also ones I write for clients of NextGear Marketing. I always ask each client at the beginning of the process whether they want their blog articles written from a first-person perspective or as a third-person narrative. If no preference is given, I will default to a first-person voice. But why? Let’s take a look.

Now, remember we are primarily just talking about blogs here. Most standard web content is presented in the third person, but I do see more and more that is written in first person and it can certainly be done. Print marketing is almost always in third person. Press releases should always be in third person!

On the positive side, first-person blog articles are more engaging to readers because they offer a little bit of personality. Blogs should inject some personal flavor. Unless you happen to have a business that is 100% one-of-a-kind, your blog will likely feature plenty of topics and information that can be found elsewhere online. Having your own voice to frame the content will help set it apart and build your brand message. If readers like the way you say things, they will be more drawn to your business and the information you are sharing on your blog.

How to Do It Right

On the negative side, writing effectively in first person is actually more challenging. It seems easy and natural to write in your own voice. Some content may come across as bragging and credibility is harder to establish. Oftentimes, using “we” and “us” as opposed to “I” and “me” is one simple way to soften the language. In this case, you are speaking for the whole company rather than just yourself as a lone representative of the company. At NextGear Marketing, we recommend first person, but it takes some skill and effort to get it to come across right.

Some larger companies prefer to have a more clinical approach to their blog content and may opt for a third-person voice. They want to deliver news, ideas and information in a direct manner. That’s perfectly fine. The larger the company, the more likely this is to be true. For smaller companies, however, establishing a rapport with readers is usually a priority. Therefore, a first-person approach may be more effective.

What About Second-Person Perspective?

Now, I don’t want to neglect the importance of second-person writing because it should be universal. Whether your primary voice is first- or third-person, you will always want to put some attention on the readers themselves. Address their questions, wants and needs with the strategic use of “you” and “your” in the content. Use metaphors and examples that they can relate to. In other words, deciding between first vs. third person is in reference to the general framework of the article, but the ultimate point is speaking directly to the reader and that will help keep them engaged.

Above All Else, Be Consistent

Whatever approach you take with your writing voice, it’s important to stay consistent. Trying to change perspectives based on different articles or topics can be tricky and you will lose voice consistency. You want to write as if the same people are reading your blog articles every week, even if that’s not really the case. You will build a regular following if you are engaging enough, but you will also get people who find specific articles through searches or social media links and that’s all they see. You still want everybody to feel like part of the target audience, no matter how they come across your blog.

To learn more about business blogging or to get started with a custom blog campaign for your business, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free consultation.

Should You Pay to Boost Blog Posts?

It’s a good question.

However, the answer—like so many things in marketing—is a bit more complex than just yes or no. It depends on your budget and your blog objectives. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of boosting specific blog posts.

What it Means to Boost a Blog Post or Web Page

First, let’s review what it means to pay for boosting a post. Facebook and most other social media sites will allow you to boost any post. You can set a daily advertising budget and whittle down your target audience based on geography, demographics and identified interests. You could also use Google Adwords or other online advertising outlets to boost a specific page on your website. That could be a blog post you think is engaging, a targeted landing page or just your general home page. For this article, though, we’re just talking about boosting specific blog articles.

There’s no doubt that paying extra to boost a blog post will garner more exposure for that article. As long as you have an interesting headline and tease copy, you will get some click-throughs. If more exposure for your company is your primary goal, then boosted posts are worthwhile. You will get more visitors to your site and that’s a good thing.

On the other side of the coin, if your objective is to generate sales, you will probably want to focus your efforts on a call-to-action oriented landing page rather than a regular blog article.

The Purpose of Blogging

At NextGear Marketing, we don’t view business blogging as a direct sales tool. It’s a long-term marketing strategy, not a short-term solution that will get you a ton of calls overnight. Over time, your blog will help you build up your brand exposure, customer loyalty, industry credibility and, obviously, SEO appeal through engaging, substantive content that’s posted on a frequent basis.

A landing page will allow you to be more sales-oriented and focused on creating a call-to-action from the consumer. Next week, we will focus more on how to build an effective landing page.

Sales vs. Engagement

If your blog is too salesy, it just won’t be as effective. Yes, you definitely want to incorporate some call-to-action in the articles. Just follow our blog and you’ll see NextGear Marketing is always referenced with some sort of “contact us” line toward the end of each post.

That said, the quality of the content should always come first with a blog. It should be engaging and/or informative, otherwise nobody will read the articles and you won’t develop any consistent followers. Any call-to-action is secondary or should be subtly incorporated into the story. Though they will happen, you typically don’t want to expect a lot of direct sales to come from your blog. That line of thinking will lead to a poor blog strategy in our opinion.

So, going back to the original question. Boosting blog posts you think will garner a lot of interest from your customer base is a good idea if your main focus is to generate more exposure for your company. If immediate sales is the only priority, then come back to NextGear Marketing next week for insight on creating powerful landing pages.

Get More Bang for Your Buck with Blogging

“Traditional” print advertising is expensive. Running display ads in newspapers and magazines will cost you a pretty penny for sure. And yes, if executed well, print advertising can still generate great exposure and a good return on your investment.

If you can afford to run some targeted print advertising, we recommend it. However, many small businesses just can’t afford that type of marketing or it’s not targeted enough for the specific geographic or demographic audience they need to reach.

Blogging, especially when paired with good social media management, really is one of the most affordable forms of marketing. It will benefit your business on many different levels, from organic search engine optimization (SEO) that brings in new customers to engagement of past and present customers, which is good for repeat and referral business.

Best of all, it is not expensive at all to run an effective blog campaign. You can hire someone like NextGear Marketing for a few hundred bucks a month, which is WAY cheaper than just about any print, outdoor, direct mail or other forms of advertising you can run. With one of our cost-effective packages, you’ll have unique, targeted and optimized content written for your small business blog every week!

If you have the time and dedication, you can also manage your own blog. Just remember the content needs to be fresh and added on a regular basis. Putting up one generic post every few months will not cut it. Dynamic content is king and you must be proactive with your blog posts. Then, you need to share every post on your social media feeds and engage the people who follow you. You can also consider paying a little extra to boost specific posts on Facebook, Google Adwords and other online advertising.

A good blog gives you incredible bang for your marketing buck and it connects you with today’s (and tomorrow’s) more tech savvy customers. Don’t let your business get left behind.

For more information about blogging for your small business, or to set up a no obligation marketing consultation, contact NextGear Marketing today. And be sure to follow our weekly blog for free marketing tips and web content ideas.

Business Blogging Basics: Information vs. Insight

There are multiple ways to look at blogging for your business. Is your primary goal to provide useful information to consumers or vendor partners. Are you looking to share expert opinions and more personal insight? Or, are you purely putting up more blog content to boost your SEO?

All three are viable reasons to support having a business blog. In our opinion, though, a good blog should incorporate all of these elements.

First, let’s look at the obvious reason most business owners start a blog. That would be for increased Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A blog is a fantastic source of fresh content on your site and the more content you have, the better (so long as it is unique content). Your blog articles will incorporate searchable keywords within the verbiage, as well as SEO tags to help readers find your site when searching about specific subjects related to your business.

So, yes. SEO is probably the primary reason for having a business blog. However, let’s delve a little deeper into what kind of content you want to be creating. At NextGear Marketing, we get asked the question all the time. What is better, information or insight?

The answer is both are equally important.

Informational blog posts are pretty easy to explain. You write about a subject pertaining to a specific product or service relevant to your industry. If you run an auto repair shop, maybe you describe how certain engine parts function, provide car maintenance tips or talk about a certain type of service you specialize in. Informational posts are good for SEO because they naturally contain a lot of searchable content. However, a lot of similar articles can usually be found online with the same basic information.

So how do you get people to find your article about that subject?

That’s where insight comes in. Insight can refer to a number of different elements you can incorporate into any blog article to help make it more relevant to your company.

1. Sales

You want to be careful not to get overly “salesy” on your blog, but certainly you can use any article as a chance to weave in some key strategic marketing messages. When paired with good information, a subtle sales message can enhance the credibility of your company (i.e. expertise in that subject) in the eyes of the reader.

2. Opinions

You typically won’t want to offer any really polarizing opinions or staunch political messages, but you can take advantage of any opportunity to provide some personal insight about a subject. Perhaps you are reviewing a new piece of equipment or talking about a trend affecting your industry. Add some opinion and perspective to create more depth in the article and, again, show the readers you know what you are talking about.

3. Testimonials

Nothing adds credibility like a third-party comment. Utilize testimonials from your customers or specifically write testimonial story articles. This means someone else is heaping praise on your company. It’s not just you talking about how great you are. And that means a whole more to fellow consumers.

4. Examples

Like customer testimonials, using first-hand examples can really boost the appeal of any blog article. Walk someone through the service process by framing it as something that happened with a particular customer (even if that customer is hypothetical). It’s a way to incorporate your business name throughout the story without feeling too salesy.

Ultimately, the best business blog articles will include useful information along with insightful elements. Put it all together with other SEO components and you will have a very powerful blog to promote your business and drive more organic traffic to your website.

For more information about business blogging, contact NextGear Marketing today.

What Are Your New Year’s Marketing Resolutions?

The holiday season is upon us and it’s time to start thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. We’re not really talking about eating less or exercising more, though. We’re talking about your business. What new marketing ideas can you implement to make 2017 your best year ever?

First, you need to view your marketing as an investment. The more time, effort and money you put in, the better returns you will get. If you solely look at marketing as just another “expense,” then it probably won’t work for you like it could.

Next, it’s time to consider taking things to the next level. It’s a technology-driven world and the next generation of consumers aren’t going to respond as well to old school marketing tactics. You may already have a website for your small business, but is it dated? Is the layout mobile-friendly? Is there a lot of dynamic content? How is your SEO? Make the steps to update and upgrade your site to the modern age if you haven’t already!

For better content on your site, start a blog. It will give you new content on a regular basis, and if done right, it will organically boost your SEO appeal and web traffic immensely. It’s also a great way to stay connected with your existing customer base.

Likewise, make the resolution to utilize social media to the fullest. Is your business represented on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+ and YouTube? Maybe you do have accounts, but are you using them to the fullest? Get active with more posts and you will see an incredible difference!

Encourage more reviews from your customers. Follow up with your customers to get helpful feedback about their experiences, and then ask them to write reviews about your business online. Review sites like Yelp!, Google and YP.com (along with industry-specific review sites like RepairPal or Angie’s List) are huge with today’s mobile consumers. Put those reviews directly on your website, write customer testimonial blogs and post every positive review on your social media pages.

These are just some marketing resolutions you can make for the New Year. For a free marketing consultation to discuss specific ways you can maximize your business, contact NextGear Marketing today.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you from NextGear Marketing!

Why You Should Be a Storyteller

Jim Smith ran an automotive repair shop called Big Jim’s Automotive. He had been in the business for 27 years. For the most part, he stuck with traditional marketing avenues. Billboards, ads in the local newspaper, and good old word of mouth. The business was doing fine. However, Jim knew he needed to accomplish more. He was ready to take the plunge into online marketing such as social media, SEO and blogging. That’s when he called NextGear Marketing and signed up for one of our web content packages.

Okay, so Jim isn’t real. We’re just trying to provide an example of how to tell a story in a blog post. Why? Most readers will be more drawn in by that approach rather than something straightforward or, even worse, “salesy.” If we just came out of the gate and said NextGear Marketing is a leading provider of marketing services and online content for automotive shop owners, blah, blah, blah, you would have stopped reading after a couple of sentences. The goal with the story is to catch your attention and build up to the sales message in a more engaging way.

There’s an old adage in advertising that you should always show and not just tell. People would rather see the product in action or feel how the service will impact their life in a positive way. If marketing is emotional, it will be more effective. Just telling facts, figures and selling points will only get you so far.

When it comes to blogging for small businesses, there is a tightrope you need to walk. You want to tell a story and engage the reader with compelling writing. However, you also need to incorporate strategic keywords and key phrases (in addition to back-end meta tags for SEO) throughout the story. You want to repeat certain things because those words and phrases are how searchers will come across your articles, yet you don’t want to overload the posts to a point where they are unreadable. Be strategic in your approach and engaging with your storytelling. If you can accomplish both, you will have a blog that will succeed.

Keywords, key phrases and meta tags will enable people to find your blog. Good writing will keep them coming back. This is what the NextGear Marketing approach to blogging is all about. To learn more, contact us today or follow our blog on Facebook.