Business Blogging Tip: Think Like An Association Magazine

Several years ago, via Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, I discovered the meaning of social media, including blogging.  Be helpful.  Not be flashy, noisy, tenacious or controversial – to be successful in social-for-business, you must help people enough to earn their attention (and maybe loyalty).  

While that sounds easy enough, it’s pretty easy to just talk about how you can help your readers via your product or service.  This is the brochure approach to social that’s offputing.  You are really selling, not helping.  You need to earn the right to occassionally be a little self-promotional.  

Here’s how to be helpful with your business content:  Think like a trade association magazine editor.  They don’t just blow their horn, touting various assocation benefits or programs.  They draw up an editorial calendar that considers their member’s whole set of problems and then writes content to thoughtfully address them.  Great example: MPI’s One Plus magazine, the trade for meeting professionals.  

During my recent speaking tour for Chase (How To Win Business Using Social Media), the owner of a CFO Technology Consulting company asked me how he could create a blog worth reading, and content worth retweating.  My suggestion, based on the above, was to meet with his team and maybe a few customers to whiteboard a four point content strategy that solves CFO’s problems, even the ones he doesn’t address with this service. 

I asked him, “What problems does a CFO have in her day to day job?”  Of course, his first nomination was “Technology”.  Kind of reminds me of the Maslow observation: If you are good with a hammer, everything’s a nail.  I pushed him for something else they struggle with.  

“The regulatory environment is a moving target, so that’s definitely a problem area for a CFO,” he added.  I asked him if there were any experts he could interview, articles he could recommend or alerts he could set up.  You could hear his wheel’s turning.  

“Two more problems, dude,” I continued.  He stammered a little, then finally said, “Politics at work.  They are often in turf battles either because they said no to a request or cut budget.”  Turf battles, getting along and corporate tactics.  That’s a great category, I thought. 

Finally, he suggested, “meeting other CFO’s and sharing direct notes.”  Although many join LinkedIn, not all due to their high profile, and the regulatory issues about disclosure, etc.  At this point, he had four things he could write about or provide solutions for.  If he blogs on 1 or 2 times a week, this four pronged approach will supply him with ample content to grow his following and extend his reach. 

I told thim that when you solve their total problems, even the ones you don’t sell against, you produce surprise and delight, which positions you as a trusted partner, ready to add value.  When it’s time to announce a new product, you’ll find them more than ready to give it a try.  If you are really helpful in your content, like Triumverate Environmental is, just putting your phone number in your blog navigation will do all the selling you need. 

Read Trimverate case study in this free ebook by Hubspot. 

For more of Brogan and Smith’s logic, read their book, Trust Agents