Businesses come in all shapes and sizes, from the sole trader working at home to massive multinationals. The main differences in their marketing strategies tend to come down to budget. If you’re a one person business you’re unlikely to be able to afford to plaster your message on a city centre billboard or nab an ad slot in the middle of ‘Coronation Street’. On the other hand, creating written content is accessible to everyone. Any business can create a blog, but a lot of the people I talk to tell me that they don’t need to as they’re already writing articles. The fact is, while there are similarities they aren’t the same thing. Here’s why.
Articles are on someone else’s platform
For the purposes of this blog I’m lumping all articles together. In reality, there are hundreds of different outlets for articles. You could be featured in a local magazine or in a professional journal that’s targeted at a specific industry. Finding the right outlet is crucial to raising your profile. When I was a solicitor one of our partners used to write articles about legal issues for food industry journals to showcase his expertise. If you’re offering a service that’s accessible to the general public a local magazine could help you to reach potential customers.
The big difference between these kinds of articles and your own blog is that the articles are all on someone else’s platform. You don’t get to choose how they’re promoted or if you get to publish them at all. An editor has to think about what message will appeal to their readers and it might not be the one you want to send.
In marketing it’s important to tailor the tone of voice you use to the platform as well as your audience. If you write articles for a local magazine your tone might be quite similar to that of a blog. By contrast, the difference in tone between a blog and a professional journal article is going to be pretty big.
I find that a lot of professional people shy away from writing blogs because they think it looks unprofessional. A serious article enhances their reputation but a blog might make them look frivolous. I’m generalising here, of course – some of my blog writing clients are very serious businesses. The key difference is that whilst articles make you look professional, a blog makes you look human. They can both win you clients but for very different reasons.
When you write an article for a magazine, do you know who is going to read it? You might have been given information about circulation so you know where it’s distributed or who the audience is. It doesn’t tell you who puts it straight in the bin. Even regular readers might stick to their favourite articles and ignore yours completely. The only way you’ll know if your articles have been an effective marketing tool is if someone mentions it when they get in touch.
Now I know that you might have the same issue with your blog. You can’t control who visits your website or whether Facebook shows your post sharing the link to anyone useful. But you can see the data on how many people are reading and where they’re based. You can also run adverts promoting key pieces of content and targeting them at specific people. The results might still be hit and miss but at least you have a fighting chance of discovering what worked and what didn’t.
If you’d like to learn to write blogs, or how to shift your tone from writing articles to something more customer friendly, I’m here to help. Sign up using the form below to find out more about my 1:1 and small group training.