Hot take: whether you’re a hairstylist, a life coach, or an accountant, you need a blog to grow your business.
You know a guy who makes a bunch of money without a blog?
You tried that once and it didn’t work?
You saw a Facebook ad from a “guru” who said to stop creating content?
You’re not a writer, you’re a [web designer, music teacher, massage therapist, etc.]?
That might all be true, but blogging strategically is absolutely key to not only differentiating yourself from other professionals in your field by building your brand (and yes, you have a brand even if you don’t sell a physical product), it’s also a way to shorten your sales cycle.
Your sales cycle is the time it takes from when a potential client finds you to the time they decide to book you for your services. The shorter, the better.
Here’s how a blog can do that for you:
1. A blog can shorten your sales cycle by establishing trust right off the bat
Every single sale is created on a foundation of trust. Whether or not you run a fully online business, you should be thinking of your website as a storefront, and a website without a blog is like a storefront with employees who avoid eye contact with you even though you clearly need help.
A lack of useful content gets a prospect’s wheels turning: Are they incompetent? Are they an active business? Should I go somewhere else?
In 2016, a reported 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of a business’s online content before engaging with a sales rep ( Demand Gen , 2016).
Even if they’re not online business experts themselves, potential clients understand on some level that a business or professional who appears to have the knowledge and resources to consistently offer creative solutions and talk about industry trends - in this case in the form of regular blog posts-- is probably more credible than one that simply wants them to buy and doesn’t bother to establish a foundation of trust.
How does this translate into a shorter sales cycle? The time that potential clients spend viewing those 3-5 pieces of content (or more) is time spent getting to know you, your brand, and your services on their own time and not on your time.
This means that rather than spending days or weeks on the phone, emailing, having meetings, etc. to build trust, your prospects come to you with a fairly developed sense of who you are and what you have to offer, which can directly cut down on the time they spend in your sales cycle.
2. A blog can create more productive sales conversations
There are three kinds of prospects: those who are problem†aware, those who are solution aware, and those who are product or service aware.
The ones who are problem aware are thinking, “I know I have this problem, but I don’t know how to solve it.”
The ones who are solution aware are thinking, “I know I have this problem and I know a solution exists, I just don’t know what it is yet.”
The ones who are product or service aware are thinking, “I know I need this kind of service or product, now I just need to find one that fits my needs.”
If a potential client is at the stage where they’re looking at your website, scheduling a consultation or discovery call, or is emailing you with very basic questions, you can assume they’re either solution aware or service aware.
At this point, they’re either asking “What’s a good solution for me?” or “Is this particular company/product/service going to be my solution?”
And guess what? Your blog answers those questions for them. When a client can take a look at your website and your blog is full of content about solving common problems that they might have or is a treasure trove of industry knowledge, they can say, “Oh, this is how I can solve my problem!” or “Wow! This seems like a business that has my solution!”
By the time you’re engaged in a sales conversation, a prospect who has spent some time reading your content will likely ask more productive, well-informed questions rather than starting at those basic questions they first came with.
When that happens, blog content that you only had to write once ends up doing a lot of the initial legwork towards making the sale for you over and over again.
3. A blog can help you build your email list, but not in the way you think
Obviously, having consistently helpful blog content on your website is a good incentive for people to join your email list. In fact, companies that do create blog content get twice as much traffic from their email marketing than those who don’t ( Hubspot ).
But beyond that, a blog essentially eliminates the guesswork involved in creating opt-ins that make your prospects go, “YES! I need this!”, and then happily give you their email address.
If you’ve ever spent hours creating a freebie or email opt-in that was a total flop, or you haven’t made one yet but you know you want to so that you can finally grow your email list, this is a great way to make sure you’re not spending time creating something people don’t want.
Each blog post you create is an opportunity to find out what your potential clients are actually looking for. When you create content on a regular basis, your website will tell you how many visitors each post is getting, which tells you what clients are interested in (and what they’re not interested in).
Those posts that are consistently getting the most attention? Pick the highest-performing one, give it a little more meat, and turn it into your new email opt-in as a downloadable PDF, a free email course, or a quick webinar that you know people want. Boom. More subscribers. More sales. More growth.
Alright, so how do you consistently create blog content that actually generates growth?
Keep in mind that you don’t need to create a blog post every day, or even every other day for that matter. One blog post a week is all you need to start creating a foundation of knowledge and trust that will ultimately shorten your sales cycle.
Right now, 45% of companies are outsourcing their blog posts to a freelance writer ( Social Media Examiner ), so that’s one way to go about it. LinkedIn is a great place to find writers by searching your niche and “copywriter” in the search bar.
But if outsourcing doesn’t sound like the right option for you, here are a few ideas:
- Think about the most common questions your clients ask you. For each question, write the answer as a blog post. For example, if you’re a massage therapist and you get a lot of questions about prenatal massage, you could create a post with the title, “5 Things You Should Know Before You Get a Prenatal Massage”.
- You can use this tool from Impact Inbound to get fill-in-the-blank prompts for blog titles that will help get your creative juices flowing. You can keep filling in the blanks on a certain topic, and the tool creates a list of your best ideas that you can keep for later.
- And finally, look at your competitors! Odds are, you have a competitor out there who’s already jumped on the blogging bandwagon. Take a look at their blog to use as a springboard for topic ideas that you can speak to better or in your own way.
Don’t overthink it
If you haven’t started a blog on your website yet, the best way to start is just to do it. The more you do it, the more you’ll understand it.
Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first, and if you want to grow your business and shorten the time it takes for a prospect to become a client, this is worth it.
Thank you to Andrea Brizendine for writing this article.