Written by: Nicole Horvath, Boston.com's Market Development co-op
It’s hard to believe my time as a co-op for Boston.com’s Market Development department is coming to a close. Where has the time gone since July? I’ve learned a lot over the past six months from my involvement with the development of the Insights product. Most of what I’ve learned deals with what makes a good and readable blog, and the various ins and outs of selling (or trying to sell) a product. This has been my first real experience with using a blog to determine the validity and strength of a product or company, as well as the frustrations and small victories that come with sales. Because these experiences are similar to what our readers deal with every day, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned concerning the relationship between blogs and sales.
My first job on the Insights team was to search various companies based in New England in hopes that some of them kept a blog. Finding companies with blogs was hard enough, but it was then my job to evaluate the blogs. After a few weeks of this, and hundreds of different blogs, I believe I have a pretty good understanding of what makes a good blog. Blogs that caught my attention first and foremost, are blogs that posted frequently. Frequent updating of a company’s blog showed me that the owner (or blogger) was invested in the company. Furthermore, they actually cared what they were writing about. You can only post so many different case studies and stories of gum disease and filling cavities each week, but you know what? I’d go to that dentist. He loves what he does, considering the amount of times he posted each week, and the obvious enjoyment I could pick up in his writing. The more you blog, the more your name is out there, and the more likely someone (like me), will stumble upon it.
Hand in hand with frequent postings, I would also notice the layout of the blog. I like blogs that are neat. Not necessarily boring to look at (I love finding blogs with pictures and videos), but one which I could navigate easily. You can post three times a day, but if I can’t figure out how to jump from one blog post to another, or how to enter your home page, I’m more likely to give up and exit the blog. One time I got stuck on a picture of some mechanic’s ugly dog for awhile. There were no exit links or explanations on how to get back to the original blog post. Make sure the exit links work, especially the links to your Twitter, Facebook, RSS, and homepage. Make sure the blog (and website) is organized and easily navigational. You want to appear professional and the customer should not have problems with your blog or website. No one wants to look at an ugly dog for five minutes when they’re trying to find tips on when it’s time to rotate their tires.
My second job after finding these blogs was to contact the company to see if they’d be interested in the product. Let me tell you something. Selling is hard. This is a life lesson I have learned at the tender age of 20. You can be as excited and enthusiastic about your product as you want to be, but sometimes people just don’t care. I’d send out 200 emails, to have only ten responses. You know what I learned from this? Celebrate the small victories. You’re going to hear “no” (if you hear anything back at all), but you’ve got to believe in your product if you want to succeed, and you need to keep putting your product, and yourself, out there.
So keep blogging! Keep using social media, which is so critical to reach out to all different platforms and audiences in this day and age. Be aware of how your brand is perceived, and make sure it stands up to the level of professionalism you know you can provide.