The Secret to Getting Buy-In for Blogging and Content Marketing Every Time

by Marcus Sheridan

buy inI’m literally blown away, and saddened frankly, with the number of emails I receive these days from visionary employees who are struggling to get blogging and content marketing buy-in from others within their organization—be it a business partner, a CEO, department head, etc..

I’ve written about some possible solutions to this problem in the past, especially when it comes to digital renegades, but today I want to give you one very, very simple way to help others within your organization catch the vision you share and ultimately get the buy-in you want. Here’s how it work…

A Language and Communication Problem

As an industry, we have a problem folks. Yep, we’re terrible at explaining to others what the heck blogging and content marketing really are. Even worse, when we are looking to commence these types of programs within our companies, our communications look and sound a little like this:

“I’m thinking blogging would be a great idea for us.”

“Content marketing is getting huge, we need to get on that train.”

“Our employees should all be blogging—that would get major results!”

These types of statements go on and on, but they all center around the exact same problem—and that is the fact they say the words “blogging” and “content marketing” in the first place.

Think about it this way for a second. Let’s assume you’re going to a company that has 6 people on the management team and you have to “pitch” them on the idea of starting a blog. Which of the following statements do you feel would be most effective?

1. “Currently, I see your company does not have a blog. As you have likely heard, blogging is becoming a major part of marketing, branding, and customer service for many organizations. That being said, don’t you think you should be blogging as well?”

2. “In terms of truly teaching the world about what it is you do and the problems you solve, do you feel there is room for improvement?”

Hopefully you didn’t skim over those two statements, and if you did, please read them again, because the first one (or some derivative of it) happens over and over again around the world every day and the second is rarely ever used to help convince others of the importance of blogging and content marketing.

In my research with other companies, I have concluded two simple truths:

1. Nobody cares about “blogging.”

2. Everyone wants to be a better teacher.

Do you see where I’m headed with this?

If the movement that is blogging and content marketing is ever going to truly catch fire, we need to boil it down to its essence. We need to better explain to the world what it truly is. And what it truly is—if done right—is great teaching and communication.

So the next time you decide to go to your business partner, your CEO, or your management team to convince them of the need to embrace this stuff, try it without even using the words blogging and content marketing in the main body of your pitch. The same rule applies to marketing agencies as well. Instead, shift the focus of the conversation. Place it on principles that have been a pillar of our society since the beginning of time and if you do, the results just may astound you.

Your Turn

I’m really curious to hear from readers that have struggled with content marketing buy-in from your employer/fellow team-members. How did you handle the situation? What have been the results thus far? Also, if you’re a marketing firm/agency, I’d be curious to hear how you convince companies of the importance of blogging and content marketing.

Jump in folks, let your voice be heard.

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob Reed May 28, 2013 at 9:08 am

We PR pros work to distill client messages so that they resonate with targeted audiences. Thanks for these two elegantly simple talking points to help us better connect with our prospects, Marcus.

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:36 am

Bob, so glad you liked the post my friend and I appreciate all the support bud :-)

Hope all is well on your end,

Marcus

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Ryan Hanley May 28, 2013 at 9:18 am

Marcus,

I know your TED Talk was about “The Honest Economy,” but truly I think we live today in the “The Teacher Economy.”

The companies willing to teach their consumers how to become more educated and efficient purchasers or their product are the companies growing. But even this idea is lost on many business owners. The unfortunate reality for some intrepreneurs is that management may never get it. You may always be regulated and stifled.

…the simple truth is that most companies do NOT have visionary leaders who will see the benefit in educating their consumers. This inevitably turns the conversation to ROI.

The cool thing about content marketing, is done right, content marketing makes your business, every business, boatloads of new revenue.

So if I could be so bold as to add a third option for pitching management on content marketing:

“I’d like to make you even richer than you are today, using online content in the form of stories, case studies, client and partner profiles and educational resources…”

Just my thoughts…

All the best dude,

Hanley

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:36 am

It’s funny Ryan, but I played with that word a LOT in prep for the TED talk. It came down to teaching and honesty. Frankly, teaching may have been the smarter play.

Great thoughts my friend and appreciate all the support,

Marcus

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Iain June 4, 2013 at 5:10 am

It seems like a ‘teacher economy’ could easily work in this content I agree Ryan.

We are constantly trying to teach people what is goo about this or that, or how you can teach the big wigs what it’s all about.

In the end, all you are doing is communicating clearly. Something teacherish comes to mind. Explain why blogging is important like they were five year olds.

Hopefully, by doing something like that they wouldn’t be able to disagree, but you may have to be careful how you say it still.

Just some thoughts.

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Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2013 at 9:58 am

Iain, great thoughts. This is truly like teaching a kindergarten class. Those that do this the best always seem to have the most success…

Thanks again,

Marcus

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Mike Brooks May 28, 2013 at 9:23 am

Totally agree with you Marcus! I might take it even further and ask them if they would like to increase their strategic advantage over their competition and possibly even leave them in the dust?

My company is an internet marketing firm helping businesses with SEO, social media, etc. The first thing I coach people on to get them ahead of the competitors is blogging.

But you’re right; I don’t talk about it as blogging. I talk about it in the way you just did.

In addition, it is part of a healthy SEO strategy. We know that Google wants to see continual changing content on sites. What better way to do that than blogging? Blogging is an essential part of a strong SEO strategy.

Plus, it gives the business a huge opportunity to bond with their audience. To build authority and credibility.

When people are searching on what you sell, what do they usually see? Marketing. If your company is filling the search results with educational and entertaining content that helps them, you’ve got a huge advantage.

One of the other things I think most businesses/execs do is equate blogging to writing. A blog doesn’t have to be written. It can be a video blog, images or podcast.

The business owners and execs I speak to all want to know the same thing. How can I blow away the competition and get more customers. This is what I focus on when I sell any type of online strategy. Show the value and the rest is easy.

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:35 am

Mike, if every SEO was like you, this digital world would be a heck of a lot better place. Seriously, loved this comment and your take on the subject.

Keep doing great things,

Marcus

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Jim May 28, 2013 at 10:06 am

I’ve found that the term “blogging” has a negative connotation for many. I usually don’t even use the word or at least not late into the conversation.

I always say the idea is to create a “dynamic website” and to use your website as a publishing platform (ie. the blog).

It’s like those who used to say they needed to be on Facebook. Why? Because isn’t everyone on Facebook?

Blogging is another tool in the arsenal–granted a powerful one though.

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:33 am

Yeah, I like that phrase dynamic website Jim. It’s a good one to use in conjunction with the “great teaching and communication” component of this.

Appreciate all your support bud!

Marcus

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Walt Goshert May 28, 2013 at 10:43 am

Now to Win Friends and Influence People- written 1936.

The principles of blogging and content marketing are nothing new. We simply have new tools to scale the winning and influence.

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:32 am

If People just read and followed every principle of that book Walt,they’d never need to read 99% of what we see online today, my site included!! :-)

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Jordan J. Caron May 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Marcus,

When I read your two pitches for blogging, I recall using the first one far too many times. Maybe that’s what’s holding me back from more jobs?

It’s all about framing it in a different way so they see the light and answer “yes”. I like what you have been talking about lately in that content should be educational . I’ll be changing the way I talk to people and content so potential clients see the potential more clearly.

Thanks as always Marcus!

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:30 am

No question Jordan, this type of language holds a lot of people back from getting more gigs. But a simple shift could lead to dramatic results, that I know for sure.

Let me know how it goes for you my friend!

Marcus

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Jordan J. Caron June 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Marcus,

As it turns out I had a meeting with a potential client a few hours after reading this. He has a business that sells cookies made from sprouted grains.

I don’t consider myself overly knowledgable about healthy foods but I am aware of a few things. Anyways, he’s going off about all the benefits of sprouted grains and other healthy alternatives. He loses me about a minute in!

Then I say, “How important is it for you to educate grocery store buyers and consumers about these benefits?”

“Extremely important!” he replies.

I followed with “Do you think your website and in store marketing materials can do a better job of educating?”

“Of course! And that’s why I want to work with you to help me get my knowledge across to people.”

If I mentioned blogging, my guess is that he would have been skeptical about it. But he knows deep down his website needs to better educate people about sprouted grains.

Thanks for the shift in wording!

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Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2013 at 9:59 am

AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

Marcus

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Davina K. Brewer May 28, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Blogging is the tactic, a tool. Don’t sell that – sell the solution, the problems it solves. Better yet, pitch the opportunities it creates!!

Communication, reach, find-ability via search, reputation, brand value, trust, authority, leads, share-worthy content – that’s what will move the needle, that’s what the CEO needs to hear. The catch I run into is the Work part, the Time is Money part, the ‘no you can’t copy and paste your brochure and walk away’ part. That’s the heart of teaching, communicating – you’re playing my tune Marcus :-) – and it’s the bigger commitment, to think beyond just selling product X; it’s how communications – blogging, content marketing being significant part – can expand your brand, its reputation and value, build relationships w/ customers, vendors, employees, on and on – in ways an ad or a brochure simply can’t. FWIW.

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:28 am

LOVE this Davina (but that’s not unusual when you stop by here to chat ;-)

There is a major “rubber meets the road” to this and the teaching and great communication–be it by the consultant pitching marketing or the company pitching their products– is what continues to carry the day.

Thanks again for all your support,

Marcus

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Joey Giangola May 28, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Hey Marcus,

Business/sales is merely an exploration in understanding someone’s problem and finding the most effective way to solve it.

Right now there isn’t an easier way to start that process than with “content.”

I may go as far to say that if those leaders don’t understand that, content is just a pipe dream.

To borrow the title of a Spike Lee movie, we just have to “Do The Right Thing.”

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:25 am

Love your take here Joey. Rarely do we start with the “problems” but time and time again it’s what carries the day.

Keep it up brother and thanks for the support,

Marcus

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Marshall Ponzi May 28, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Right on, Marcus –

As with making any business case, don’t lead with “what” we need to do (ie blogging). Instead lead with “why” we need to do and the benefits we’ll receive (ie teaching & connecting to build trust & breakdown barriers).

Inbound marketing teaches us not to lead by pitching features and functions. Your first example tosses up a nice big juicy function – blogging. Isn’t it ironic that so many people would make a case for inbound marketing this way?

Best, Marshall

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:24 am

It is ironic Marshall, yes. And your thoughts about the “why” are spot-on. And I’m sure Simon Sinek would agree as well. ;-)

Really appreciate you stopping by bud,

Marcus

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Craig McBreen May 28, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Hi Marcus,

The term “blogging” is usually a great way to end a potentially productive conversation (for the client). And “Content Marketing” usually means absolutely nothing to them.

About becoming teachers: I recently used your model of taking 50 questions and turning them into your first 50 blog posts. When I suggested this in a meeting, we started off talking about a basic Q&A page, then fleshing out content pages, then a whitepaper, then we moved to SEO, then THEY mentioned a blog. Whew! (I’m now afraid to use that word with any potential client ;)) Anyway, I’ll let you know if your tip pays off.

So, I have to agree. When it comes to the small businesses I deal with …
nobody cares about “blogging.” You must change the “pitch.”

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:22 am

Craig, this was cool to hear bud. I tell you man, it has been fun watching your growth in this industry. You’re growing and growing my man :-)

Continued success!!

Marcus

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Dan Rippon May 29, 2013 at 9:25 am

Great post, and great way to reframe the issue Marcus. Turns out I’m presenting at a local networking group next week, so I’ll give it a test run and let you know!

Oh, and solid ideas aside for a moment, reading the post, am I the only one with that old soda drink ad about teaching the world to sing in their heads?

Anyone?

:)

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:19 am

Hahahaha, love it Dan!! “I’d like to teach the world to sing…in perfect harmony!!” ;-)

Thanks for the support bud,

Marcus

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Alan Pentz May 29, 2013 at 10:47 am

Good post Marcus. I’m in the position of being on a leadership team working to get people blogging. I think the same logic applies. If you tell people, “Go blog!” they don’t really know what to do but if you say, “Answer the questions your clients actually ask and teach them how to solve these problems,” it gives them something much more tangible to do and something where they can see the value to their customers. Thanks

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:17 am

Well said Alan, and thrilled you’re doing this so well. Keep it up sir!!

Best,

Marcus

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Mark Schaefer May 29, 2013 at 2:26 pm

There are two key elements I’ve found for organizational adoption of these tools. First, you need to explain the benefits in the language of the company. Use their already-established financial terms and metrics to show how you fit in. Second, the person at the top must understand what you are doing and truly support it — not just give lip service.

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:17 am

Amen to that Schaefer. I think the second one is really, really big you mentioned and it doesn’t get enough play out there. Personally, I have found that the person at the top can’t just be “agreeable” to all this stuff. They not only need to be an advocate, but a motivator too. When it comes to successful blogging and content marketing, the trickle-down effects are HUGE.

Great seeing you come by bud and can’t thank you enough for all the support.

Marcus

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Amy Hagerup May 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm

I’m in a health and nutritional mlm company and my frustration has been getting my team members on board to do blogging and content marketing to attract customers to them. If they get on the web at all, it’s with replicated sites and facebook only – and even then, sending posts to the replicated site. Teaching is the name of the game. We need more insights like yours! Blessings, Amy

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:14 am

Great points Amy, and I hope you have success getting that team of yours going!!

Best,

Marcus

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Priya Florence Shah May 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Usually the clients who approach us are already aware of the importance of blogging and content and they contact us because they need someone to do a good job of it. In cases where they are still unaware, we have a few educational freebies, like a webinar replay and an ebook that explain the importance of blogging to their business.

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:12 am

I think the educational freebies are great Priya, but I also think we have a longgggg way to go to convince more businesses. And our language is going to have a big impact on that growth.

Thanks so much for stopping by,

Marcus

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Richard Browne May 29, 2013 at 6:26 pm

I’ve found the reframing of blogging to problem solving very effective. Getting engineers to blog about issues our customers face is a challenge, getting them to share their knowledge about how to do things more effectively with our products, and thus reduce the number of inbound calls they get, is a win/win for the customer and engineer. This has helped transform the marketing / engineering relationship.
Richard

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:10 am

Love it Richard!! Great stuff :-)

Continued success,

Marcus

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Ian Altman May 29, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Blogging or content marketing is the “WHAT.” You need to get to the “WHY.” What’s the issue you are trying to overcome? For example:

Does your sales team struggle to find quality leads?
Do you have great stuff that falls on deaf ears?
Do you struggle to get noticed amidst giants?

These could be some of the “WHY” associated with content marketing and blogging. People don’t make decisions for WHAT, they make decisions for WHY.

Just my two cents (I’ll get down from the soap box, now).

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:10 am

All great questions Ian, no doubt. Maybe we should come up with the ultimate guide to asking smart questions that sell “blogging”and “content marketing” without actually using the two words ;-)

Marcus

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Ian Altman May 30, 2013 at 8:59 am

Marcus – I guess if the audience asks, we need to answer (straight from The Sales Lion). If there is demand for it, I’m happy to collaborate with you to make it happen.

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Andrea T.H.W. May 30, 2013 at 3:14 am

I am my own company and boss so usually I don’t have many problems communicating with them but you’re surely addressing a real issue here. Part of the difficulty about blogging is that given that anyone can start a blog everyone can have one and this obviously reflects on quality and percepton about it.

But blogging is also the counterpart to balance top dogs who would have the monopoly on information and knowledge. Clearly this means having to deal with Big G who has a particular love for monopoly, and top dogs. And big wallets.

Which doesn’t always represent quality but having money to spend.

And you’re surely right about teaching with a blog, that’s what a blog is, imho.

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Marcus Sheridan May 30, 2013 at 8:08 am

Great points about the counterbalance Andrea. It is a very necessary thing. And like you, I wish the big G would do a whole lot better than they do. The web is clearly becoming too “The rich get richer while the poor fall more behind” due to the components of the algorithm that I feel really mess things up.

Guess that’s a topic for another day ;-)

Marcus

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Andrea T.H.W. May 30, 2013 at 11:28 am

Well, we won’t easily surrender right?

And in my opinion the only thing that can help us and prevent the web from belonging to riches is cooperation between bloggers. Even if G prefers to divide and conquer. ;)

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Farhan May 31, 2013 at 11:44 am

This valuable information is worth everyone’s attention. When may I discover more?

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Debopam Banerjee May 31, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Thanks for this nice and informative post….. The term blog is often seems low in front of website…. People used to take blog less seriously than a website… Though a good blog may be better than many websites…. The main focus should be on the content, whether it is in a blog or in a website…..

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Lisa May 31, 2013 at 7:12 pm

I definitely think the term “blogging”, for whatever reason, puts a negative mental picture in the mind of those who dont do it, dont believe in it, or dont even know what its all about.
Statement #2 allows for whoever you are pitching the idea on to open their mind to the possibility of, or at least being open to the idea of improvement through blogging and or content marketing. Even if the aprehension creeps back up once those two strategies are mentioned it leads back to the reality of needing to do something in order to improve the business.
All in all I couldnt agree with you more about those 2 simple truths, great post & great points!

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Jeremy Abel June 1, 2013 at 6:04 am

Hi Marcus,

I really like this topic as it opens up a dialogue about how to influence the behavior of the people who will be influencing behavior (i.e. the content producers) when done properly.

My approach on content marketing has two phases during the discovery meeting:
(1) Asking them, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could start a conversation with a potential customer everyday?” (Answer: yes). My goal is to try to get the business owner (or person who works for the business owner) to see that there is a platform available that enables this behavior. In fact, all they need to do is figure out what information to include in that conversation…

(2) Now the question becomes, “Do you have enough knowledge or substance to create a that conversation that your potential customer will be interested in joining?” This is where the endless examples of content come into play- but here are just a few: Do you want to keep your potential (and current) customers updated with industry news; Do you want them to know more about your products, services, and industry issues; Do you want to give them information that enhances the value of your product, once they’re already using it (think HubSpot style of content).

The questions above fall in line with my mind-set that your visitors’ experience on your company website must be a reflection of their experience interacting with your business off-line. For example- if I go into your store I want to be able to navigate easily from section to section, get answers to my questions about your products/services, and feel that I can trust your company before doing business with you.

That’s the client-side approach.

With regards to getting buy-in internally, we thought about improving efficiency of answering common client questions (thanks brother- your eBook provided a huge level of support with that one). So, whenever we received a questions about hosting, responsive design, Google+, etc., an article would go up on the blog. The next time we got the question all we needed to do was send it in an email to the prospect.

Once you get buy-in, it’s like the rules have been lifted; the creativity starts flowing faster and faster as there is one less barrier in your way to sharing information with the world.

Great topic Marcus! (by the way- are you going to be at HubSpot this year? I think I earned the green light to attend this year and hope to see you there!)

Jeremy

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JC June 2, 2013 at 8:49 am

It’s good to see others who see it simply and I agree completely! It was a lot easier convincing my clients and associates to ‘teach’ and ‘inform’ rather than simply ‘blog’ – even though they in essence they are one and the same! Blogging seems to have this negative ‘ghetto’ or ‘hobby only’ connotations with it, which many people still seem to be struggling to move away from.

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Marcus Sheridan June 4, 2013 at 10:00 am

That’s the thing JC, they are the same thing, no doubt…but the word shift can make all the difference ;-)

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Leah Hoppes Strohman June 4, 2013 at 11:30 am

Excellent Marcus! What’s the saying -if you want better answers, ask better questions? This is a perfect example of how it really is in how you frame things.

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Nick Stamoulis of Brick Marketing June 7, 2013 at 10:11 am

It is all about the approach you take to blogging. Showcase that you have a content strategy in place, and that the content you will be publishing is well-written, relevant, and edited prior to publication. A company blog is different from a personal blog. Companies just don’t write anything they want to (or at least they shouldn’t), but rather they leverage their blog as another communication channel in their overall marketing strategy.

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Maureen Thorne June 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Marcus,

I recently wrote a blog on transforming your employees into lead-generating content producers which highlight 6 ways to get your employees on board your content marketing strategy.

I hope you and your readers find it helpful. Enjoy!

http://marketingcopilot.com/how-to-turn-employees-into-content-producers-bloggers-content-marketing-strategy/

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Ozio Media June 21, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Part of the problem with encouraging business to take the teaching role is that they will want to see how doing that will directly impact on their ROI. Convincing people that are focused on the bottom line that they need to educate their customers is as difficult as it is to bring them around to recognizing blogging as a marketing medium. The key is to show management how a more informed person can be converted into a customer.

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Kris Reid July 26, 2013 at 5:30 am

Hi Marcus

I would really appreciate your feedback on our new service. We are providing guaranteed unique, high quality content by professional writers to help people promote their business or niche sites. We have even built a wordpress plugin to help automate the whole process

It’s very early days yet but we have had great feedback already. I would love to get your thoughts.

Cheers

Kris

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