With the right content, marketing and analysis, a defense contractor's blog can help increase awareness, preference and contract opportunities.
Until recently, when a defense contractor wanted to increase awareness and preference as part of a larger business development effort, they had to turn to a gatekeeper. For instance, a gate keeper might have been the editor of a defense industry publication. Only with their consent could your story be told.
Or, a defense contractor might have needed to buy advertising in defense industry trade publications. At one point when I was growing up, my dad was Director of U.S. Army Aviation, so there were all kinds of cool military aviation magazines in his study. And all those magazines had defense contractor ads in them.
And while media relations and advertising are still important aspects of marketing communications, they do not have the power they once did.
This power shift is largely due to the Internet and the ability of companies to be their own publishers. With compelling and useful content, many companies are finding that blogging is helping them get known, liked, trusted and preferred.
Done correctly, corporate blogging can generate business opportunities. In HubSpot's State of Inbound Marketing Report, the benefits are powerful:
Companies that blog get 55% more website traffic than those that don't blog.
Companies that blog get 70% more leads than those that don't blog.
57% of companies have acquired a customer through their blog.
Blogs affect purchasing decisions:
71% of companies said blogs affect their purchase decisions.
There Is A Catch
A few things are required for effective blogging.
- Your blog needs to offer high-quality content and be an educational hub. Specifically, your blog needs to provide remarkable, educational, helpful, industry-related content that appeals to your buyer persona.
- You also can't be afraid of commitment. To reap the maximum benefits, you need to blog consistently and frequently.
- Optimization: To be found via search, your blog needs to be optimized for keywords that your buyer persona will be using to solve a problem. Additionally, your content needs to be optimized for lead generation by adding a relevant call to action on each post.
What to Blog About
What to blog about sometimes paralyzes defense contractors, even those that are already blogging. Here's a checklist of how to get that blog to start kicking ass and taking names:
- Long Tail Keywords - make a list of all the long tail keywords that are relevant to your business and industry and use those for inspiration for blog content.
- Industry News - Offer your take on industry news and what the implications are for your readers.
- Customer Questions - Ask your business development or program managers what the most common questions are that they get and you'll generate some of the most helpful and popular posts.
- Blog Comments - One of the many benefits of blogging is that you get feedback and questions. Monitor your comments for blog ideas.
- Industry Topics - Read what others in your industry are talking about and offer a fresh perspective.
- Existing Content - Audit your company for existing content that could be repurposed into blog posts (such as executive presentations or excerpts from ebooks or whitepapers).
- Guest Bloggers - Ask other bloggers in your industry to contribute guest posts. The guest bloggers will get more reach and exposure to new readers while you get free content.
Whatever your write about, keep it fresh and relevant for your audience. It should be up-to-date information, whether it's industry advancements, data and statistics, or tips and best practices.
Promote Your Blog
Unfortunately, the notion of "if you build it they will come" does not apply to blogs. Even the very best content has to be promoted to help draw readers to a blog. Make sure you're doing everything you can to give your blog a fighting chance at getting found.
- Leverage Your Website - Use the real estate on your website pages to highlight relevant blog content. Add a blog link to your main website navigation, and add a blog RSS feed to your home page and any other pages that make sense (like on your blog page). Link internally to your blog from web pages where it's relevant. And don't forget to use a blog sidebar to promote your most recent or popular posts.
- Use Social Media - If content is fire, social media is gasoline. Promote your blog articles through social posts (Twitter, LinkedIn company page, Facebook, etc). Use your blog posts as a conversation piece, by answering questions online (e.g. LinkedIn, Quora) with links back to relevant blog posts.
- Email Marketing - Make sure to email your blog posts to your opt-in lists of buyer personas. You can include articles in newsletters, or create a weekly or monthly blog digest email.
- Use Your Network - Just like you can ask guest bloggers to write for your blog, connect with others for guest blogging opportunities on their blogs. Leave thoughtful comments on other industry blogs with links back to yours. You can also co-market with another complimentary company to drive traffic (e.g. webinar, events).
- But wait, there's more... include links to relevant blog posts on news releases (issued through a news release service), include a blog link on other content (webinars, ebooks), add a blog link to your business card, set up a "resource center" of helpful articles on your website (organizing different blog posts around a topic), add a blog link to your email signature (you can even pull in an rss feed of latest posts), and encourage subscriptions to your blog.
With all the effort you put in to the development of blog content and promotion, make sure to keep an eye on your analytics so that you can do more of what works and less of what doesn't work. Metrics to keep an eye on include:
- The number of article views (to see how individual articles are performing).
- Blog subscription growth (RSS and email).
- Most popular articles (you might be surprised).
- Inbound links (a good indicator of how remarkable your content is).
- Leads and customers (since that's why you're blogging in the first place).
One reality check while before your blog starts kicking ass and taking names: don't expect overnight success.