Brand Journalism: Why Companies Need to Blog

Marketing has evolved at warp speed over the last ten years. Today the small business owner, brand manager or marketing director has to be in the publishing business to tell their story and to establish a powerful reason why their customers should care about working in partnership. The effort today is a hybrid of brand management and journalism. I guess you could see it as the rise of the brand journalist.

What is a brand journalist?
In order for brands and businesses to connect, we must find a way to have customers really care about us. We must matter beyond our functional and transactional relationship. When I go to my favorite restaurant or buy a gift for a newborn baby online, I don’t just want to buy dinner or a teddy bear, I want the person I buy from to recognize that I am not customer #325; instead they should see a real live human being and help me want to keep doing business with them. Part of what I seek is a transaction, but the more important outcome is I want to be connected with someone who cares and really acknowledges me. 

For business to business marketing, brand journalism can be a powerful approach to differentiation. It allows me to connect with a range of influencers and to share knowledge and ideas first before I try and make a sale. It allows me to feature topics of interest and exciting new trends in our marketplace. Most of all, it is a more transparent and honest form of communicating than traditional advertising because the customer isn't interrupted by my message. Instead, they give permission for me to share ideas with them. 

Blogging is a reasonably easy way to build relationships with customers when your story telling is honest, open and informative. In the case of the restaurant, the owner has a chance to tell me how they have found a special way to get fresh fish for their menu that no one else is doing in the area. He can help me understand the extra mile she takes and more importantly, what that means to my eating experience. Since I care a lot about food, she is telling me stories I want to hear and helping me repeat his message to others I know who also care about the freshness of what she prepares for her customers.

For bigger companies, blogging helps to humanize the corporation and to explain thought leadership. As you know, I work in the wine industry and I love to read winery blogs where I get to hear real human beings telling me stories about wine making. If I am a new or regular customer, the blog is an open and transparent way to provide me with knowledge and connections.  In truth, that connection is often beyond information and helps me to know that the passion of this particular winemaker is going to deliver a sensational product. Far better than advertising, the blog helps me learn something new and to give me reasons to care about that brilliant new Chardonnay/Viognier blend.

Blogs must be honest, real, transparent, informative, well-written and fun to read. Like a writer at The New York Times, a journalist on NPR or a free-lancer with The Economist, brand journalists are in the story telling business and they know the power of emotional hooks that help you learn and care.

Blogs provide brands and businesses with a platform to show thought leadership on ideas that have an impact on your industry or community. They give you a chance to weave together a tribe and interested community on relevant topics. Most of all, they are the fertile ground to nurture and grow trust. 

Blogs are like seeds planted to grow a community. Overtime, you can harvest the fruits of that labor.

 Write on. 

Notes: When I am not writing my blog, I am writing about blogging and other marketing methods to help you connect with your customers. If you enjoy these posts, would you share them with like-minded friends? Thanks. 

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