The ISA Marketing and Sales Summit planning team asked me if I’d be interested in doing a post on blog
ging. As Emerson’s self-proclaimed Chief Blogger & Surface Dweller, I eagerly agreed. I thought I’d briefly share why we started a blog over four years ago and why you and your company may want to consider having one.
About six years ago, we brought together the Process Systems and Process Solutions divisions to form the Process Systems and Solutions business for Emerson Process Management. We quickly discovered that marketing our people’s expertise in automation projects, optimization services, modernization services, etc. was very different than marketing our products. With services, trust, competence, commitment, creativity, and more are important qualities and they need to be demonstrated.
Around this same time, we noticed that people sharing “how to” type expertise in blogs were showing up on the first page of search results. I noticed when I’d hack around with open source software in my hobby time that I’d invariably wind up on someone’s blog when seeking an answer to the latest obstacle in front of me.
I’d also come across a 2004 study from Marketing Sherpa, How B-to-B Buyers Use Search. It shared that even when the supplier is well known, that on-line search such as Google was the first place 65% of respondents began in their quest for answers. And, a recent Chemical Engineering magazine E-media study I came across found that nearly 95% of the respondents ranked search the highest—either very useful or useful.
Blogs, by their nature, tend to be a conversational medium. People tend to link to other blogs in their subject area. Search engine algorithms value these inbound links and lift the posts up in the search results. Also, by being specific in a subject area these posts tend to be full of the same keywords people interested in that subject use in their searches.
Putting two and two together, it made sense that if we could highlight the expertise of our consultants, project engineers, support engineers, etc. and make their expertise more findable in the search engines, and then this would lead to more business opportunities. And thus was born the idea for the Emerson Process Experts blog for which I’ve been writing for the last 4+ years.
The lesson I’d like to pass along is to start first with your strategy. Are you trying to build thought leadership for your expertise? Are you trying to share tips and tricks around a product or family of products? Are you trying to establish a news feed for all the news and events in your organization? Blogs are a good fit as a way to accomplish these.
Once you established the strategy and business objectives behind the blog, then you can establish whom, how much, how often, what blogging platform or service to use, and other questions that take you from idea to execution of the idea.
In the early days, the Emerson Process Experts blog consumed 20%-30% of my time to do 2-3 posts per week. This time included quite a bit of reading other process automation and process manufacturing-related blogs and specialized RSS searches on key topics such as process safety, cyber-security, advanced process control, etc. By first listening to the conversations going on, it helped identify posts to do and be able to connect Emerson expertise to the conversation.
If you plan to start a blog, I’d suggest budgeting two-thirds of the time for listening and one-third for writing, reviewing, and posting. Also, patience and persistence are important. It takes time to build an audience and relationships with other bloggers and members of the trade press and analyst community. If you expect to jump to the top of the search engines the first few weeks, you’ll likely be disappointed.
Knowing your measures of success is important. For my blog, the contacts I received by phone, email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Skype are the most important. These often lead to business opportunities.
Finally, blogs come in many shapes and sizes. Some are done by individual bloggers or by groups of authors. Some like Greg McMillan’s Modeling and Control blog do a post a week and others post once every few weeks. The key is to be fairly consistent so that those who follow your blog have an expectation when they’ll hear from you next. You’ll also want to launch with several months worth of subjects to blog about to help get you kick-started and prove to yourself that you have enough to talk about to sustain the blog over time.
There’s plenty more ideas to share so I’ll save them for the ISA Marketing and Sales Summit and look forward to seeing you there!