Blogging for Sales Leads: The No. 1 Reason Your Blog Isn’t Getting It Done

I used to believe in blogging authentically, transparently, telling good stories and being a thought leader, but these ideas consistently failed to generate leads for me. That’s because I was missing the one, essential piece that content marketing and blogging gurus don’t even know about: Use a blog to create confidence in the buyer—not me, my brand or my business.

I used to believe in blogging authentically, transparently, telling good stories and being a thought leader, but these ideas consistently failed to generate leads for me. That’s because I was missing the one, essential piece that content marketing and blogging gurus don’t even know about: Use a blog to create confidence in the buyer—not me, my brand or my business.

Today’s most successful B-to-B sellers are using blogs to do one thing really well: prove they’re worth investing in before customers pay a dime. They’re giving customers a few results and letting them experience what success feels like.

Blog to Help Prospects Believe in ThemselvesNot in You
The blogging gurus love to tell us to build trust with prospects using social media. Yet they never mention the best way to build enough trust to close a sale. (probably because they’ve never actually closed a sale)

I’m talking about helping a buyer get so confident in themselves—so sure that buying will give them everything they want—they can’t help themselves. They buy because they cannot argue against not buying anymore! (and of their own free will, of course)

Enter social media and all the bogus short-cuts we’ve been told will create trust. Telling stories, being honest, showing customers our “human side.” These things might help you foster trust but only if you apply them to help prospects get more confident in themselves.

Give Prospects Results In AdvanceNo Excuses
What’s the connection between convincing a prospect to buy through your blog and giving them overwhelming confidence? How do you execute this idea without wasting time? You create a process that manufactures “mini-successes” for prospects—in advance of their purchase.

This is the practical, tried-and-true strategy at the center of every blog that creates leads.

Start blogging in ways that prove your product or service is worth investing in. Start giving prospects a free taste of success before they purchase.

Help them do something that they really need to do, learn or accomplish. This gives them partial satisfaction (in themselves) and creates hunger for more. Not hunger for your product or service.

Hunger for more satisfaction in themselves.

Give It Away—All of It
If this sounds like a free trial you’re right but let’s say you’re selling a complex product or service. You’ll need to go further—convince prospects to buy based on what you’ve actually done for them lately.

I’m describing a situation where buying what you sell isn’t a point of consideration; it’s a logical next step for your prospect to take. Purchasing becomes part of the journey your prospect is already on.

By doing meaningful things for people that actually move the needle (solve a problem, teach a skill, etc.) prospects build a sense of achievement. Even if it’s a small one potential customers build trust in you based on this sense.

They begin to trust in your ability to deliver the FULL result if they were to actually buy from you.

Make sure your blog articles, video tutorials, white papers, ebooks and such are:

  1. Taking prospects on a journey toward (or away from) what it is you sell and
  2. creating confidence along the way by solving problems and/or teaching them new skills.

Lots of Examples…
This strategy is at the heart of thriving companies like HubSpot. I, myself, apply the technique to generate leads for a social media sales training program. Sure, money back guarantees help us close, so do customer testimonials. But nothing works better than giving away my best knowledge and helping prospects begin to experience actual success.

Nothing creates trust like having a material impact on your prospects’ lives before they buy. Nothing. Because it proves you’re able to create success for them and willing to prove it up front.

Again, all you’re really doing is building prospects’ confidence in themselves that they cannot argue with.

Look at every one of the social media sales success stories I’ve documented on this blog, in the magazine or on my other blog. Each of these B-to-B social selling success stories are finding a way to give out samples of results in advance.

Every successful B-to-B social seller I’ve found ever (and I do this full time!) is helping prospects get confident in themselves as buyers—before they’re doing anything else.

Let’s be honest. Can you really afford to not blog in ways that give prospects miniature versions of what it is you’re so darn good at? Especially when your competitors probably are—or are thinking of it?

Talk to the (Twitter) Hand: The Perils of Non-Engagement

Every day, companies are jumping on the Twitter bandwagon—and perhaps, yours has done the same. Maybe it’s the lure of gaining new followers. Or possibly the attraction comes from all those Twitter success stories circulating the ‘Net. Or maybe it’s because Twitter takes five minutes to set up and doesn’t cost a dime. That’s OK, too. The thing is, many brands forget that Twitter is more than having a “who’s bigger” follower list or having the ability to Tweet pithy sales pitches.

Every day, companies are jumping on the Twitter bandwagon—and perhaps, yours has done the same. Maybe it’s the lure of gaining new followers. Or possibly the attraction comes from all those Twitter success stories circulating the ‘Net.

Or maybe it’s because Twitter takes five minutes to set up and doesn’t cost a dime. That’s OK, too.

The thing is, many brands forget that Twitter is more than having a “who’s bigger” follower list or having the ability to Tweet pithy sales pitches. Twitter is two-way communication, people. Not a one-sided soliloquy where you’re Tweeting solely for corporate self-gratification.

So let’s talk about two major brands that “get it” and use Twitter to its fullest potential. And then zero in on one company’s massive Twitter #fail.

Alaska Airlines and Starbucks give really good Tweets. When you read them, you get a sense that there is a person behind the computer—rather than a faceless corporate PR entity. In fact, Alaska Airlines even names the person handling the Tweets that day. And yes, their Tweets are more than just what these folks had for breakfast. For instance, Alaska Airlines promoted gift certificates and Starbucks previewed an upcoming sale on Cyber Monday (see the actual Tweets in the media player at right).

But here’s what makes both companies decidedly different: These brands engage with their customers. Starbucks and Alaska Airlines chat with their Twitter followers, answer questions and provide real-time customer service (see more examples in the media player).

Pretty cool, eh? And that’s why many people follow Alaska Airlines and Starbucks. The content is good, you know you’ll get a response and you’ll learn something. Maybe it’s early notification of a sale. Maybe it’s when in-flight wi-fi will be back. It’s useful information.

Let’s compare this to Citibank’s Twitter stream.

To say that Citibank has had reputation management issues in 2009 is putting it mildly. From taking bailout money to hiking credit card rates on some customers to 29.99 percent, the bank’s latest missteps have caused many good customers to cut up their cards. If there ever was a time for a robust social media campaign so people could “meet” the friendly customer service team members behind the scenes (that is, humanizing the corporation), now would be that time.

The good news is that Citibank has a Twitter account. The bad news is that it’s running it all wrong. Rather than using Twitter as a way to engage customers, the firm’s locking its customers out.

For instance, check out some Tweets mentioning @citibank in the media player, above, followed by a screen capture of Citibank’s Twitter page.

So, OK, let’s give Citibank the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it signed up for a Twitter handle to protect its brand identity—but doesn’t plan to leverage this account for some reason. You could almost forgive the bank … except for the Twitter account promoting the Citi Forward credit card (see the media player again, please).

Here are three problems:

  1. Although it will re-tweet, Citibank doesn’t answer Tweets (I tried)—so there’s no real interaction
  2. Saying that Citi Forward is “the card that rewards you for good behavior” seems a bit disingenuous considering that other Citibank customers with good credit histories have had their interest rates hiked to almost 30 percent.
  3. There’s no customer service component.

In short, Citibank is basically telling its Twitter followers to “talk to the hand” (or perhaps, its middle finger.) Rather than dealing with its reputation management issue head-on—communicating with folks and showing the human side behind the financial institution—Citibank is sending out Tweets that provide useful tips, yes … but talks AT its followers rather than WITH them.

If you’re planning a Twitter account (or currently maintaining one,) remember that Twitter is a real conversation (in 140 characters or less.) You wouldn’t keep a friend who constantly talked about herself, seemed oblivious to how other people perceived her and never listened to you.

It’s no different in the online world.

The perils of non-engagement in the Twitter universe are real—and the rewards for an excellent, interactive campaign are also real.

After all, what would you rather do? Tell people to talk to your Twitter hand or, instead, engage with your prospects and customers in a new, interactive (and profitable) way?

Seems to me, the choice is easy.