In my last post, I explained the benefits of solar blogging and why adding and maintaining a blog can help not only spread the word about solar PV, but also proactively help your businesses. In case you missed it, read that last post and return here so that I may now offer my tips for good blogging and the all-important content.
Let me first underline the importance of a blog by reminding you of the old saying: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?” This is actually a deep philosophical question posed by philosopher George Berkeley. But we’re talking business here, so, I would argue that the relevant solar blogging answer to this question is a big, loud …No sound.
Consequently, if your company is not keeping a consistent blog connected to your products and customer service philosophy, you don’t exist. Okay, I take that back: “You sell, therefore you exist,” but your existence is that much less perceived by the forest of the world, your present customers, and potential customers.
And now, for the sake of infusing solar into the hearts and minds of the American public— and your customers—I shall now reveal to you my 10 Solar Fred Tips for Writing a Pretty Damn Good Company Solar Blog. ::continue::
1) Find a true believer in your company. This really is the most important tip. A salesman usually works well, but that’s not good enough. Your ideal blogger must truly believe in your solar product. You don’t want the salesperson or marketing executive who brags that he can sell or market anything. You want the person in your company who can only sell your product and never feels like it’s an obligation to talk about it. Often, this is someone who has been in the company through thick and thin or the idealist who is educated but hasn’t been stung by too much rejection. Do this one tip, and your blog is already better than 90% of the company blogs out there.
2) Make sure that your blogger always includes key words that play nice with Google. Your company web guru can tell you what these key search terms are. Tack these words onto the wall or cubicle of your appointed blogger. Probably “solar” is one of them. If you’re a local installer, your town is probably another term. Keep these words in mind for every post, but don’t force it. The great thing about most blog structures is that individual posts accumulate on the landing page. Therefore, these search terms keep adding up. It’s like compound interest. Take advantage of that.
3) Be fairly brief. 3 or 4 paragraphs unless your true believer really has something important to opine for the day. For example, this post. This is a blog, and yet, I’m also offering what I believe is good info told well. People will continue to read if they find your post useful/and or entertaining. Hopefully both. To those I’ve lost, mea culpa. To those still finding this useful and/or entertaining, please read on.
4) Your content should be fresh. What do I mean by fresh? It should be news, of course. It should be something that your customers need to know today, may want to know today, or should know today. A new product offering is obvious. A sale or lower or higher prices is more obvious. What about the not so obvious?
5) Have a point of view about somebody else’s news. For example, Cap and Trade carbon legislation in Congress is important to your business, but I would suggest that your blogger should write about why it’s important to your customer’s business first. Then suggest how your product or service can help assuage its effects, save money, and help children breathe better, etc.
6) A picture is worth a thousand words. And they’re pretty too. If you don’t have a true believer in your midst, do you have someone who takes good photos? I would suggest that a solar installer or any B to B company that has photos of new happy customers with your product is good enough blogging. See also if you can squeak out a caption with key word search terms.
7) Don’t compare yourself to competitors. Seriously. Don’t. Words like “better than” or “more than” xyz company can do, these are sales terms that are a turn off. They sound like an advertisement and, in general, will diminish your message and make readers distrust your content…and your company. Avoid the hard sell at all costs. A blog should be useful info or perspective, not a long and uninteresting advertisement.
8) When you do talk about your products, simply highlight why your product is special. All products are unique or should be. If your solar product is a commodity or soon will be thought of as a commodity, highlight your customer service, your quality measures. Tell a story about your product. How did you solve a customer’s problem with your solar product? Again, don’t bash competitors and what they didn’t do or couldn’t do. Highlight what you did. That’s plenty.
9) Be consistent. The more posts the better. But at least once a week. Twice is better. If you haven’t kept up with your blog in months, or have 3 posts in 3 months, forget it. Delete it. If customers see that you’ve let your blog go, their immediate thought is going to be that something is wrong with your company. You have nothing new to say—and they’re right. Again, this is why the true believer blogger is so important. They will always find something new to say. On the other hand, if you are consistent and aligned with the above tips, existing customers will come back. New customers seeking your service or product will be intrigued. If you can’t keep up consistently, better to erase or block access to your blog than to leave it fallow for weeks or months.
10) Have an attractive design that matches your main website and easy to navigate to your contact info and main website. Duh. That being said, all of the above tips are more important. Looks do count, however, so do your best.
Do you have a blog? Are you proud of it? Does it have the 10 qualities mentioned above? Does it have more? Then here’s a chance for some free Solar Biz PR:
Put your blog URL in the comments below. Share it with other Solar Aardvark Shop readers as an example of what I’m talknig about. After all, this is what your blog is all about, no? To spread the word about your company, yes?
If you can’t put your blog URL below, then you’ve just proven my point. Your blogging tree has fallen into this extremely high traffic REWorld.com forest and nobody’s hearing it. Nobody’s reading it. Nobody’s passing it along or thinking about your perspective of your products and the solar industry that you know and adore.
In any case, stay tuned for part 3 of “Solar Blog or Die,” where I’ll talk more about blogging tools, more content tips, and how to build a following…and customers.
Thank you for reading and contributing.
Tor Valenza aka “Solar Fred” blogs about residential solar PV at www.solarfred.com and consults about how to effectively reach solar customers through innovative messaging, branding, and social media communications. Follow him on Twitter @solarfred. See his REWorld profile for more contanct info.