I remember a story from early in my selling career. It went something like this:
Two shoe salespeople are sent to an undeveloped country to expand a company’s shoe business. One calls back to the home office and says, “I’ve got some bad news. There’s no market here – no one wears shoes.” The other calls back and says, “I’ve got some great news. There’s unlimited possibility here, no one is wearing shoes.”
I thought of this story as I reviewed a recent study reported by Emarketer.com. A study conucted by Webtrends revealed that only 5% of UK companies reported they were using blogs.
This supports Socialtext’s study that “Less than 6% of the Fortune 500 and 2% of the Forbes 200 Best Small Companies blogged in April and June 2006, respectively.”
These reports don’t surprise me, as they match the response I get from clients to my recommendation that they begin blogging. Clients typically respond by questioning the commitment that is required to make a blog effective, or they complain about the cost of keeping it up. Then, they ask the cynic’s favorite question, “How do I know it will work.”
My response is pretty standard.
- Yes, it is a commitment.
- Yes, it will take resources.
- What do you mean by “work”?
According to Webtrends, “Many companies aren't blogging because they are not convinced it works.” While I am not a proponent of the idea that marketing should not be directly tied to results and ROI, it’s important that companies don’t take an overly micro-view of their marketing efforts. I also find it interesting that these same companies that are not convinced that ‘blogging works,’ mindlessly drop millions of dollars on advertising. Recently, I had a $3 million technology services company tell me “blogging won’t work in my industry”, all while spending a significant amount of time, money and energy having their salespeople cold call – when the cold calling effort was clearly not working. The president of the company was actually very disappointed with my recommendations, “Frankly,” he said, “I was hoping you’d just create better cold call scripts for us.”
I used to be a financial advisor. I learned that the key to successful, sustainable investing was not to follow the crowd. “Buy when everyone else is selling, sell when everyone is buying,” went the call of the successful investor. When you followed that advice, you had to understand that you would not necessarily benefit immediately – you’d have to give your efforts time.
The same goes for blogging, or for creating any advantage. There was a time that businesses said they weren’t sure if “having a website worked.” Now, if you don’t have a website, you might as well not exist. While I openly admit that I am a blogging enthusiast, I am not a blogging fundamentalist. I believe in blogging because it works – when you do blogging right.
I think one of the biggest barriers to businesspeople/companies blogging is the perception of the words "blog, blogging and blogger." Fast growth executives don’t think of themselves as “bloggers.” “That’s for young kids,” they think. My bet is that if it were called something like, ‘Dynamic Market Communication Effort’ instead of ‘blogging’, there would be less resistance to it. Additionally, as I’ve written before, I also think there is an issue of effort that prevents people from blogging. It’s a lot easier to pay someone to prepare a newsletter (e-mail or otherwise), to buy some ads, or to redo a logo than it is to commit to communicate with your market on a regular, open and authentic basis. Frankly, I think many companies are afraid to commit to blogging because they don’t have enough confidence that people would really care about what they have to say.
Blogging creates several compelling benefits for a company:
- It forces them to join the conversation and to be relevant.
- It creates tangibility for their thoughts.
- There is a networking effect – the more you post, the more valuable each post becomes.
- You allow people to get a clear picture of what you company is really about.
- You gain a ‘prove-ability’ to your claims. I’ve been blogging for two years now. When I propose an idea to a client or prospect, I have two years of posts to demonstrate consistency.
Remember, advantages are created when someone does something others don’t do. You can blog to gain an advantage, or, ultimately, you can blog to catch up. The choice is yours.