on corporate blogging

Alan at On Product Management want to know what makes a good “vendor blog”? He writes,

Like many things, there are good blogs, bad blogs, and good and bad corporate blogs. I dislike blogs that are blatant marketing pitches, and it’s clear that readers don’t like them much either.

That's for sure! When will marketing and sales departments understand that no one likes to be pitched? Pitches in blogs and other online forums are like a stranger running into your house and yelling BUY BUY BUY at you!

Alan asks,

What works for you and your blog?

I started the productmarketing.com blog originally to store deep-dive articles on topics from our training classes, ideas that required more analysis than a brief answer in class could provide. Originally the main page was a diary pointing to new content on my site (and others). I found myself writing article-length email replies to a question from class and realized that I should write the article once and distribute it on request. “Here’s the link!”

When I put all the articles online, Google had a field day. All that rich content in one place made the productmarketing.com website pretty attractive to search. The articles provided lots of great, rich content while the blog kept the content fresh. You can read all the details in our web history article.

My challenge of late has been to allocate blogging time with a travel schedule that is virtually 100%. I find it’s really hard to get my mind quiet enough in the cacophony of traveling life to write anything at all. That’s a real challenge when your company’s thought-leader has a “real job” too. Like so much of product management, it can be frustrating when the people you need for content are motivated to do something else.

My current strategy is to schedule a morning for writing before my week starts. I keep a folder on my desktop of topics that need exploration and then just write to whichever topic is most interesting to me at the time. I also need to remember to check to see if I’ve already written an article on the subject! There’ve been times when I say, “Hey, wait a minute! I’ve written this before!!” Silly me.

Our content management software has a handy feature. I can schedule when a post will appear. On those rare days when I’m particularly prolific, I can write a series of posts and then schedule them over the next few days and weeks. I try to post on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I have a bunch of stuff.

Our marketing people know the number of visitors to the site and which articles they read but I’ve never been much of a measurement person. I know, I know; it’s heresy... I'm supposed to be.  As much as I know that I’m supposed to use data, I learn through anecdotes. I measure success when people come to my seminar because they read an article or post on the website. That said, our annual product management survey reports that only 9% of product managers use RSS readers while 84% read our email newsletter.

I think Jacob Nielson is right. In Write Articles, Not Blog Postings, he concludes,

To demonstrate world-class expertise, avoid quickly written, shallow postings. Instead, invest your time in thorough, value-added content that attracts paying customers.

A blog is a great place to post short notes but schedule some time to fully explore an idea in the form of an article or webinar. If you don’t take the time, you’ll get shallow postings instead of thorough, valuable content.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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