Many MSPs and VARs already have a blog but just as many often struggle with consistency and producing relevant content. This leads some to question the validity of continuing to publish a blog at all.
Are blogs still drivers of business for MSP and VAR businesses?
The answer is yes. Here are two reasons why:
- You position yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
Counterpoint: What if you’re not getting traffic to your blog posts? That’s sometimes to be expected. Blog traffic depends on a number of variables, not the least of which is the amount of people you have on your email list, receiving notices about your latest blog post.
- You control the platform.
This is one of the most important benefits of nurturing a blog and an audience for it. You’re, in essence, creating a social media platform of your own, without the hindrances and the fickle nature of the big three (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter). While those platforms have an audience, they’re also subject to heightened scrutiny that can drastically change how firms gain access to their target audience.
You Own Your Blog – You Rent Social Media
Think of digital marketing in terms of real estate. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Reddit you’re really just renting access to the platform. The rent varies. It can be your time and attention, the information you provide, or indeed the money you pay to place targeted ads in front of your ideal customers. With a solid blog and a decent following, you’re an owner, not a renter. You get to decide which improvements you make, where you place information, how often you share that information, and you also get to control who sees that info (if you have a decent blog following).
There’s extreme value in being an owner, but there’s also a huge responsibility, and it takes copious amounts of work to get the system up and running and producing consistent results. Powerful results from consistent blogging for MSP and VAR businesses include:
- Increased lead generation: Not every blog you publish will be popular, but some of them will strike the right note with your audience. If you do this enough times, you’ll start to get leads from potential customers clicking on your “Contact Us” link or the link to your content offer. (You are creating content offers, aren’t you? If not, here’s some help with that.)
- Greater market credibility: The industry is watching, listening, and waiting for a voice of reason to provide clarity around the avalanche of information we face daily about technology. Writing a blog that helps make sense of it all gives you an advantage over your competition.
- More sales support: A blog really is a digital asset that your brand advocates can point to when they want to convince others in their firm that it’s a good idea to do business with you. This is a more focused benefit of the credibility you create in your marketplace when you offer solid, actionable information on your blog on a consistent basis.
Though many have started blogs, few still publish fresh, original blog content. If they are publishing, it’s usually just for the sake of posting something and not to actually help potential customers address challenges they’re facing. Those who take this approach miss out an a great opportunity to be a market leader and to reap the benefits of being a voice of clarity about technology in a given vertical or geographic region.
For savvy MSPs and VARs, a blog gives the firm an aura of success, not just in terms of customer acquisition but in vendor partnerships as well. Vendors want to work with solutions providers that have an existing framework and systems for attracting, nurturing and closing leads. A blog serves your firm in all three categories when managed properly.
Keys to Proper Blog Management for MSPs and VARs
When developing your blog, be sure you have the right elements in place to be successful with it. One of the worst things you can do as an MSP or VAR business is start a blog and not consistently populate it with solid content that offers viable solutions to the challenges your audience faces.
It’s a tall order to make this happen and you’ll need tools to support you on your blog management journey. We’ve created a content calendar template for you here.
A few considerations for blog success for MSPs and VARs:
- Weekly cadence: Be sure to publish at least weekly. We’ve seen some firms publish two-to-three times per weeks with solid results. Weekly should be a baseline for something fresh, new, and useful on your blog.
- 1,000 or more words: We’ve noticed blogs that boast a word count of 1,000 words or more get the most “Google juice.” This means Google will rank blogs with 1,000-plus words higher in search engine results pages. Why, you ask? The thinking is, if you can write a cohesive blog article of more than 1,000 words, most likely you’ve mastered the topic, and it’s something valuable to your audience. That’s not the sole factor Google uses in determining quality by any means, but we’ve seen that it does factor into the firm’s algorithm when ranking web pages.
- Topics that matter: Write about topics that truly matter to your ideal customer. We’ve created a tool for that as well. It’s called the Persona Generator, and it helps you determine what the top-line issues are that your audience cares about. Access the Persona Generator here.
- Beautiful design: For all of the previous elements to work in your favor, the design of your blog has to be top-notch. Meaning, your blog should have an overall design that makes the information easy to read. But you also want to employ numbered lists, bulleted lists, underlines, bolding, and a good balance between words and graphics on each page of your blog.
About blog design:
- Make your blog articles scannable. People really don’t read, they scan. When something catches their eye, then they read. and they read in depth. With this in mind, focus on your headlines and sub-headlines, making them mini-articles that both tease and tell the story at the same time. Granted, this is difficult to do, but for those who make it work, the reward is a rabid following of dedicated readers who look forward to your weekly blog content.
- Research examples. When you come across a blog that you like, save it in your online swipe file. I use Google Keep. Others in the office are fans of Evernote. No matter which tool you choose, just be sure to hold onto the blog articles that catch your eye and draw you in as a reader. When it’s time to create your own blog content, you can refer back to this resources for ideas on how to best present your ideas.
- Include dynamic graphics. To make your blog eye-catching, include graphics that help tell the story you’re conveying the blog article. Here are a few places where you can get free stock photos to include in your blog.
When you keep these principles at the forefront of your blog marketing efforts, you’ll find the process becomes a normal part of how you drive business. As with anything, in the initial stages it will take effort, but when you get that first (and subsequent) lead from your blog, it’s a great feeling.
You are tracking your blog performance, aren’t you? If not, be sure you’re using Google Analytics to track how people are coming to your site, how long they’re staying, and which blog articles get the most visits. Here are some helpful insights into Google Analytics as well.
Look at Your Blog as a Digital Asset That Drives Sales
With consistency and high-quality content, your blog becomes a digital asset that will bring you targeted traffic, qualified leads, and closed sales. As you develop your blog, keep these benefits in mind. It’s not an easy process, but it’s one that truly does reap solid benefits for MSP and VAR businesses.
Some firms opt to outsource this kind of work so they can concentrate on developing the core offerings of their business. If that sounds like an approach you’d like to take, we’re happy to brainstorm ways to make developing a sales-driven blog for your MSP or VAR business a reality. Click here to get started.