Blogging is not, nor will it ever be, a replacement for an advertorial. So please, pack up the cheesy salesman patter! If I see one more blog dripping in advertorial flavour with a light seasoning of pre-internet “step right up” style marketing, I fear I’ll throw up on my keyboard. And your customers will feel much the same, trust me.
You need to think about a blog from a different perspective and understand the difference between the two.
Consider this your guide to writing a blog as opposed to an advertorial.
What are your blogging motivations?
If you want to throw up 600 words or more about why someone should gleefully buy your latest product like a hairball from a cat onto the blogosphere, stop right there. Humans (contrary to what traditional marketers will tell you) are not waiting with bated breath for your latest sales pitch. They don’t want to hear some disingenuous story about how the latest bread knife saved your life.
Save that for infomercials.
Instead, your blogging motivations need to be closer on par with giving something to your audience they want to read. You need to think about it in terms of story meeting need as opposed to sales copy beating to death unsuspecting consumer.
So when you blog, consider things like:
- What is my customer looking to learn from reading this?
- Is it entertaining?
- Will it relate to their experience?
- Does it tell a story and capture the imagination?
Use a blog to draw your potential customer closer to your product. Treat them like a pound puppy that has had a rough trot prior to meeting you. Welcome them in, ask them to chill out with you and show your real intention is to build a long term connection. Don’t hit them between the eyes with the “all about me!” show.
Instead, build a rapport, be honest, and speak on their terms.
What are you giving to your customer?
Blogging is about building a community. The aim is encouraging your customers to visit your site even when they are not in buying mode. And giving them the information they require to choose you over a competitor once purchase time rolls around (again).
At various times there will be sales and events, new packages or products, and all manner of things to share with the customer base. But a good blog understands that these are not the only reason a customer keeps coming back for more. There is community and sales information working side by side, not competing for airtime.
That’s why your blog is a tool of giving, not broadcasting.
Blogging gives you a technique that values the light and shade available in your company story. It makes a connection before, during and after the sale. It’s a place to remind your customers where to come back to the next time they need to make a purchase. It helps the customer use the product, research the company AND give them the dialogue to share what you do with their friends in a manner that doesn’t make them sound cheesy.
This is the fundamental reason why a blog is at odds with an advertorial.
An advertorial doesn’t discuss the heart of the product and open itself up to you. It pretends to be the thing you need, not the thing that would organically attract you. It has one agenda, which is usually a once off experience or purchase. It’s for steering a sale right then and there as opposed to building a longer term relationship.
Here are some characteristics a blog has that most advertorials don’t share:
- A blog is not vague. A blog explores your issue with a potential solution in mind. An advertorial uses language to make their solution is the only one. You can’t get an answer to your problem with an advertorial, but you can with a blog.
- A blog will plumb the depths. A blog will investigate an aspect of a product or give customer assistance in detail. Blogs add value outside the product, give advice, educate and make a stamp on a customer in some way. An advertorial plays in the shallows and regurgitates sales rhetoric.
- A blog cares. A blog is about imparting information you think your audience will need in order to make the right purchasing decision. It’s helpful and relies on building rapport to work. An advertorial is more like a Tom Cat during mating season. It just sprays everywhere, hoping that the right kitty (any kitty) will walk past. It’s less about revealing a story and more about catching your eye when you are in buying mode.
Blogs influence customers because they are genuine.
Blogging (done well) is a vehicle that companies can make use of in order to feel closer to their customers. With a blog, you are sharing your story as you go along and answering questions before they arise through being transparent. You build the kind of connection a customer wants to allay fears and foster loyalty when you are blogging correctly.
I have said this countless times in various ways but here is the skinny- real human beings are your customers. And real human beings hate being spoken to as though your bowtie will start spinning and you could potentially be chased out of town.
Customers don’t like choking on exclamation marks and have been exposed to enough marketing to know what makes them feel violently ill when overexposed to it. And that’s the kind of image an advertorial creates.
And that’s why I believe you should write a blog, not an advertorial.
Don’t you agree?