Blog marketing is a win-win for you and your readers. Marketing is not a dirty word. That’s right: it’s not the art of being shady, spammy and deceitful. Marketers aren’t just spammers and sellers of tat that we didn’t need to buy.
OK, so there are some bad marketers and some bad marketing practices. But marketing is doing right by your audience in a way that you can benefit from too.
And ‘promotion’ — what we think of most about marketing — is perhaps only 5% of what marketing is.
Here’s the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s (CIM) definition of marketing:
“Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.
And here’s how the American Marketing Association defines it:
“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Blog Marketing in practice
You might think that the definitions are a bit too ‘corporate’. But your blog is a business and you are the manager.
Translating the definitions from corporate-speak, you want to give your audience what they need (and make some money in the process)
We can break the CIM definition down further and apply it to blogging.
Identify customer needs
This is about getting to know your audience. You’re doing your own market research. Bloggers do this using keyword research.
Who is your target audience? Is it big enough? What words are they likely to search for, and what words are likely to connect with them?
We’ll cover keyword research in another post, but there are both free and paid ways to do this.
Anticipate customer needs
This is trickier, but is about taking an educated guess about what your audience will want. I’m guessing that people interested in my Blogging Essentials: Domain Names and Web Hosting post will be interested in a marketing approach to blogging. An allotment blog owner might anticipate that readers will want winter job tips in the colder months.
Satisfy customer needs
So you think you know what your audience wants? Now it’s about the execution!
For bloggers, this is about writing compelling, useful content. At the very least it must answer the questions that your readers have.
Your audience can’t be satisfied if they can’t find your blog, so an awareness of SEO is essential. You text should read and flow well. Subheadings can help your readers scan through longer posts more easily.
Sometimes the customer isn’t just the reader. If you’re running affiliate campaigns then you must also satisfy the programme’s needs. An Internet user called ‘blue_beetle’ once cynically said “If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold“. It’s true that bloggers rely on advertising working on readers. However, readers aren’t simply products: they are part of a three-way exchange in which all parties benefit.
Ah, profit. No matter how good your writing you won’t make any money without a plan. You’ll be like the underpants gnomes in South Park!
It’s a horrible phrase but think about how you’ll ‘monetise’ your blog. You can either take a broad approach to monetising your entire blog, or concentrate on maximising return from each individual blog post. Sometimes individual blog posts can bring in visitors which you can then promote your more in-depth money-making posts.
There are several ways to do this. You could charge for the content in a course or membership. Popular posts bolster your stats (and attract sponsored post opportunities). You can add appropriate affiliate links to the post. General advertising networks, such as Google Adsense, could provide you with a trickle of income. You could use your blog to promote other paid services or products that you’ve created.
Don’t feel coy about promoting to visitors. Your audience is looking for answers and your products and services could help answer them.
Don’t like the idea of blog marketing? An alternative approach
You could blog from the heart without thinking about your potential audience’s needs.
There’s nothing wrong with that – but you’re writing for yourself rather than for an intended audience.
You might be lucky and just chime with your audience – but then again you might not.