Why Marketers Should Blog

In my latest MediaPost column, I focused on what I’ve learned through blogging…

Why All Marketing People Should Blog

May 18th, 2007 by Max Kalehoff

I’ve authored, contributed to and built several blogs over the past four years. My blog endeavors have spanned my work and personal life, and, most recently, that fuzzy area in between. Heck, this very MediaPost column, whose legacy is email newsletter, has even morphed into a blog platform!

While I don’t label myself a blogger – it’s something I do, not something I am – I’ve concluded that it’s one of the most important and enriching activities any marketer, especially a digital one, can pursue. Why? Not to experience the hype, and certainly not to join the proverbial “me-too club.” Those are lame justifications for such a time-consuming, mentally strenuous activity.

But blogging is one of the best ways for a person to internalize and sensitize one’s self to the essence of marketing. Because when you blog, you essentially expose your ego and subject it to the most important and intense dimensions of marketing, media, communications, networks and individual relationships. While I’m still learning and growing with this evolving platform, blogging has brought me far closer in touch with my profession than any other pursuit. Without a doubt, it’s been the single-most instructive experience I’ve ever had on the Web.

How so? First, I learned to become one with a Web site like never before. When you single-handedly build and publish a simple and elegant online diary – a blatant expression of yourself – the resulting Web site almost becomes an extension of you. You begin to pay attention to every detail, from the graphical design, to interactive flow, to custom functionality. Inside or out, regardless of what others think, the creation is you.

Second, the blog forced me to better understand my community – those individuals formerly known as the audience. I developed an innate sense of engagement based on the culmination of visitor traffic, profiles, usage intensity, frequency of comments, quality and variety of discussion, number of subscribers, endorsements and linking – among other characteristics. I quickly bridged the gap between the individuals I thought should be in my community, and those who actually were. If you were never a Web metrics junkie, you’ll become one. I already was one, but I became a bigger one.

With that understanding of my community, I learned about the powers of attraction, affinity and affirmation – or, what sticks. I became more focused on my own content and voice. I quickly learned that talking like a human – not a machine or a corporate voice of god – tends to resonate with existing and future community members. I also learned to package and express my thoughts more concisely and naturally than ever before – whether it be through text, visuals, audio or video. I also found that giving to others results in them giving back – whether in the form of feedback, endorsements, suggestions or exposure. And I learned some tough lessons about the consequences of full public exposure.

If you didn’t already understand search behavior and search optimization, you soon will. My job has provided me access to some of the most sophisticated search behavioral data available anywhere, though it was my blog that taught me firsthand the power of links and references, and how they impact the brand equity of my very own name in Google search results. (Go ahead, search “Max Kalehoff.”) I learned about people’s intentions and information-seeking habits, and why they’re ultimately connecting with me – and that’s sometimes scary!

I also received a great education in syndication. While publishers, advertisers and agencies get caught up in site visitors, I found it interesting that I have roughly five times as many active RSS and email subscribers. And I now can understand why; I’m making it easy for others to discover and regularly consume my content, on their terms.

Finally, I’ve learned about the spontaneous and fluid nature of the Web and social networks. As far as I can tell, it’s a very democratic and capitalistic place. It’s somewhat of a meritocracy, it can be very messy, and also can self-correct. The Web is a living, fast-morphing place. You can’t really control it, but you can actively participate in it.

It’s this submersion in blogging – marketing essence, really – that has made me a better marketer.

Have you tried it?

(Reader comments at MediaPost are here. Interestingly, a blogger at Gawker mocked my candid thoughts, going so far as to associate my conclusions with justification for suicide. I think those sorts of comments are entirely inappropriate, though I still believe people are entitled to their opinion. I point this out only because it demonstrates another key learning which I omitted: that the Web will alway be host to a cadre of tabloid gossip addicts who get get their thrills by attempting to bring others down. But not me!)

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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