Content Marketing: What The Inc 500 Know That The Fortune 500 Do Not

7 Tactics To Unlock The Power of Your Business Blog

Represented by the Inc 500, the highest growth small businesses get content marketing as a means to expand their reach and increase profitable sales when compared to their larger, more established Fortune 500 counterparts.

These small business (SMB) organizations must be leaner and more effective at maximizing each aspect of their marketing mix to compete with larger, more complex firms.  Content marketing helps them build trust by offering the type of promotion-free information their customers actively seek during the purchase process.

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth research, entitled 2012 Inc 500 Social Media Settles In reveals that Inc 500 companies continue to blog at greater rates than their Fortune 500 peers. In 2012, 44% of the Inc 500 had a corporate blog, an increase of 7% from 2011. By contrast,  28% of the Fortune 500 had a blog in 2012. While this is an increase of 5% from 2011, the Fortune 500’s blogging rate still lags that of the Inc 500. 

Statistical tests run on adoption of blogging by industry revealed significant differences. Companies focused on software or advertising, marketing and media were most likely to blog. By contrast, government services firms were least likely to blog. It’s important to note that in 2010, there was an increase in the number of companies classified as government services due to changed policies. As a result, this changed mix of companies caused the overall percentage of the Inc 500 blogging rate to decline.

Furthermore, this University of Massachusetts Dartmouth research is directionally consistent with Hubspot’s 2012 State of Inbound Marketing that showed 59% of small and medium sized businesses viewed blogs as critical or important.

About two thirds of Inc 500 CEOs contribute content to their organization’s social media, especially blogs. The research data on the Inc 500 firms includes the use blogs since they are well suited for establishing thought leadership by company executives.

Why do smart small businesses use blogs more than established companies?

Smaller firms create and publish content that their target audience finds valuable on their blogs. Instead of being another corporate communication channel that’s someone’s responsibility that’s not integrated into the overall business plan, blogs are at the heart of small business’ content marketing because every piece of content must yield a return.

Seven tactics that unlock the power of your business blog.

  1. Set business goals for your blog. One of the main reasons Inc 500 and other businesses can’t track results back to their blog and other social media is that they haven’t set objectives aligned with their business plan and developed related metrics by which to measure them. (BTW—here are sixty-five blogging metrics you can use.)
  2. Give your blog a personality that reflects your brand. While you can use a separate blog name (even if your blog is integrated into your website), your brand must shine through. On social media and in content marketing, brand goes beyond the use of color and typography. (Here’s help creating your brand.)
  3. Be and speak human. As a form of social media, blogs must be written in a human voice. They don’t need to be your CEO but they do need to sound like something a real person would say and not sound like sanitized corporate-speak. That said, it’s critical to use good grammar and spelling. While an occasional typo is okay, remember that poor usage reflects badly on your firm and your brand.
  4. Skip the promotional, buy, buy, buy. While it may sound counter intuitive, you’ll scare potential readers away if all you do is talk about your firm and your sales. Instead answer your customers’ questions. Until you answer them, your prospects won’t purchase. Even better, you can use this opportunity to talk about your products and use your keywords to help your search rankings.
  5. Open your business to the public. Show your prospects, customers and the public what your product and business look like through the use of photographs, videos, audio and presentations. These other formats help you mix up your blog content as well as provide insights into your business. Include photographs of your employees at work as well as your physical site. This is a great way to get other employees involved in the creation of your blog content.
  6. Take the podium to present yourself to the world. Don’t think of a company blog like the writing assignments you had in third grade. As the UMass Dartmouth research shows, about two out of three Inc 500 CEOs blog. Use your company blog to build your chief executives’ platform. While many CEOs have limited time to interact on social media, providing one quality post per week puts his or her voice into the social conversation. It strategically positions your firm in a way that helps your customers, investors, employees and the public. (Note: This is important since consumers trust companies that are on social media more!)
  7. Think beyond the blog. Leverage your blog as a home base for social media and other content marketing such as a Tumblr or video. This can be particularly important for products where customers need help styling such as clothing and home design.

The Inc 500 businesses are more likely to use a blog since it’ provides a CMS (content management system) that is also their home base on social media. Used properly, a blog is an effective marketing tool where you can build your brand and drive sales.

Do you use a blog to support your business objectives? If so, what’s your experience been? What are your tips for other business bloggers?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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