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An Adventure in BtoB Blogging

This morning I attended the second part of the Chicago Chapter of the Business Marketing Association's social media round table. The speaker was Mike Volpe, a marketer who is really on top of the Web 2.0 world and is doing great things with his company, Hubspot. The main discussion in this morning's presentation was about leveraging social media and various web tools - such as blogs - for BtoB Marketing.

At Walker Sands, we are currently going through this journey. If you're here, you are looking at our new blog - Footprints. We started this blog just weeks ago and I am proud to say I am writing the 31st post. We have been very active on our blog. We are putting up posts with great thoughts, but are of course hoping to expand to leverage our blog for new business leads.

This morning's presentation by Mike Volpe really put some things in perspective for me that I would like to share with all of you. These ideas will help those of you walking down this path with us and hoping to start a blog or better develop your blog to promote sales leads and ultimately assist your business' bottom line. Mike said that the Hubspot blog is one of their major sources of lead generation and that they have over 20,000 subscribers. This statement surprised me but also makes a lot of sense. While starting a blog, it seems difficult to imagine it becoming a major source of lead generation. Right now we are posting about a post per day, but definitely not close to our traffic goals and have not yet developed any leads. So how did Hubspot do it?

It boils down to four simplified steps: publish, promote, optimize, convert. Mike suggested to publish content anywhere and everywhere you can. His team at Hubspot has successfully leveraged tools like YouTube, StumbleUpon and Slideshare (along with a whole slew of other tools and applications) for inbound marketing. The plus is that all of these things are free, they just take time and dedication to develop and follow through. In fact, I asked Mike what his thoughts were on how long it can take to develop good traffic to your blog and potentially start leveraging it for lead generation and he said it takes AT LEAST six months. Six months! That is a lot of months of dedication during a time when there will likely be little reward. It's important to keep your eyes on the prize and keep working on it because as the old, overused saying goes, "if you build it, they will come."

For promotion, Mike said the key is to make everything easy to share. But, don't limit the ability to share just to blog posts, let people share everything. Put easy links to everyone's favorite social networks on everything you can to make sharing easy and encouraged for everyone.

As you work to publish content everywhere and anywhere you can and promote it via social networks and other blogs, this will help develop links that will assist you in search engine optimization, another important tool to successful inbound marketing. SEO is becoming increasingly important, not only for BtoB marketing, but also for a wide variety of other applications including PR (check out this previous post on our blog about Merging SEO and PR). You can also take a look at marketing.grader.com for a very cool tool that helps you get an idea of how well your web site is optimized for search.

The final step in this process is converting. Mike and the Hubspot team put a call to action at the end of every blogpost they do. This plays to the "strike while the kettle is hot" sentiment. If someone is taking the time to read through your blog post, you might have a pretty good chance of engaging them to request more information at the end. Hubspot promotes webinars and all kinds of their products and tools at the end of their blog posts. Is this something for everyone? I'm trying to picture in my mind what that would look like for Walker Sands since we don't put on webinars or anything like that. All I'll say is that I know one guy doing it and he said his blog has become a major source of lead generation for his company (hint: it's the guy I've mentioned seven times in this post already).

That is a VERY brief overview of the discussion this morning (with a lot of stuff left out of course in the interest of space). But this has really got me thinking about our blog at Walker Sands and some of our strategies.

What do you think? What kinds of things are critical to BtoB blogging success? Are you seeing any one tool having greater success for your blog than others?

For those of you amidst this adventure or considering diving in, what kinds of things are you considering doing for your blog to turn it into a useful tool?

I'd love to hear some thoughts and this and we will of course share our progress and our ideas throughout the process of developing our own blog.