Does your blog offer these 5 types of content?

Your business or organization can establish itself as an industry leader and provide valuable information to consumers—while guiding them through the purchasing process. Here’s how.

There’s a reason I’m so romantic about blogging: It works.

I’ve seen it for myself and for my clients. I have one set of clients who have been blogging for only a few months. Just last week, they received a lead from their website for a service that they had blogged about just a few days before.

Coincidence? I think not.

If a company’s blog post provides a solution for a problem you have, wouldn’t you be likely to buy through its website? I would. That’s what makes blogging and content marketing so darn powerful.

The challenge is coming up with the content that makes sense for your business (and finding time to create it).

To get started, I strongly recommend creating a content plan for your blog. As you build the topics you’re going to write about, think about how you’re going to present the information.

Here are five types of content you should include in your blog:

1. Educational posts

Educational content should be the backbone of your content marketing efforts. These posts can be how-to guides and answers to questions your clients and prospects commonly face.

Think about the questions you frequently get from clients. It’s likely that your prospects have these same questions. Your job is to answer them; the goal is to sell through education.

Here are some ideas:

  • Help readers break down complex issues in a way that’s easy to understand.
  • Explain recent changes in your industry (e.g., health care reform, law changes, tax updates, etc.).
  • Offer tools or resources that would be useful to your prospects.
  • Provide a step-by-step guide to solving a common problem.
  • Show unique ways your product or service could be used.

Creating content that helps people solve problems and better understand the work you do will benefit you.

RELATED: WEBINAR: Cisco shares its best brand journalism and social media tips from its corporate blog.

2. Expertise/innovation posts

You don’t want a blog that’s full of “me-too” content. Plant a flag for what you believe as an organization. Taking a stand on issues and offering original opinions and ideas can differentiate you from your competitors.

Write original, thought-provoking content to showcase your knowledge and mindset.

People want to know they are working with talented experts, and this kind of content will demonstrate your capabilities.

Here are ideas on how to do this:

  • Call attention to problems in your industry, and discuss what you’re doing to help solve them.
  • Offer a different view or angle on a popular topic. Don’t be afraid to be contrarian.
  • Share your opinion on how recent news or events affect your community or industry.
  • Write a manifesto that articulates what your organization stands for and why and how you approach things differently.
  • Discuss important trends, or make your own predictions about what trends people should watch. ( Here’s an example.)
  • Share industry data or research, and interpret what that means for your target audience.

These kinds of posts should be written somewhat sparingly, but they are an important component to successful blogging—especially if you want to position yourself as an expert and a go-to resource in your industry.

3. Humanizing posts.

Because blogging can help readers better connect with you and your company, you should include posts that help humanize your brand. Dedicate content to this idea, and weave storytelling and personality into everything you do.

There are many ways you could do this. Here are a few ideas:

  • Create videos to introduce key members of your team.
  • Develop a Q&A series that has employees answering the questions.
  • Show photos of your employees having fun together—at special events or on an average workday.
  • Share the community involvement of your staff members, or encourage people to join in your company’s fundraising efforts.
  • Tell the story of someone who benefited from the work you do.

Don’t be afraid to let your hair down and let your true colors shine through. Doing this will help people get to know you better and make them more likely to want to work with you.

4. Buying-decision posts

Because your blog is supposed to help you drive leads and business, you should also write content that will help readers make the decision to buy.

Think about questions that potential customers have. What do they ask about your products or services? What are their biggest reservations about buying?

Answer those questions to create powerful blog content.

Writing content that answers prospects’ questions will help them determine whether your business is a good fit for their needs. They are deciding whether they want to work with you.

Talk about pricing . If you provide this information, people will probably buy from you. It also could weed out unqualified leads.

Other ideas:

  • Compare your product or service against that of your competitors to help readers make an educated decision about the available options.
  • Write use cases that share ideas about how and when your service is a good fit for customers.
  • Talk about when your products or services are not a good fit for certain customers.
  • Write about the telltale signs that a company should seek a solution to a problem.

Here are examples of content I’ve written about the buying decision:

Each of these posts offers information to help someone determine which solution would be best for them. Think about how you can offer similar guidance through your blog.

5. Case studies and examples

One great way you can sell the work you do is by showcasing the results you’ve generated for others. Case studies are a great way to do just that. Sell your services by letting someone else to the talking.

If you’re unable to get case studies and client stories (for compliance reasons or otherwise), you could showcase examples of other people or businesses that are doing things right. People love to see how ideas or theories can be put to work—even if it’s not your own clients doing so.

The best overall approach is to integrate all of these types of posts into your blog. Not only will the varied types of content appeal to different audiences, but they also will help readers who are at different stages of the buying process.

A version of this article first appeared on the Blue Kite Marketing blog.

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