Blogging Commandment 10 – Your Blog is Only a Marketing Tool

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I got a lot of flack for including this “Thou Shall” in my 10 Blogging Commandments for a Successful Year”.

This came from one of the commenters on (who reprinted the post on their blog) –

What a load of crap. Some of the most successful blogs in the world exist to COMMUNICATE IDEAS, not sell stuff. This article is based on a narrow, shallow definition of “success.” – @ChristieKeith

And another…

Agree that this is a really useful post, however, I take issue with #10, and possibly #5. Blogs are not only marketing tools. Truly, that is one very fine way to use a blog, but blogs are also simply content publishing. They are a “new newspaper” of sorts, or at least a digital media for sharing op-ed writing.

As much as business seeks to “own” blogs as merely a marketing tool and PR IS all about business, the medium of blogging is far bigger than that. – Thomas Waters

I appreciate the disagreement. I even welcome my ideas being called a load of crap, somebody has to do it and my wife is tiring of the job.

The lively response prompted me to tackle each of these commandments in more depth. First, let’s deal with an underlying premise of business blogging that is sabotaging blog publishers.

Flawed Premise #1: Blogs Communicate Ideas Not Sell Stuff

There are two types of blogs: blogs that market and blogs that don’t.

Blogs that market exist to attract an audience, position a product or service, and demonstrate the skill, trustworthiness, and authenticy of the business.

These publishers communicate ideas but they have a purpose in mind – ringing the cash register. Guess what happens when the blog fails to gain attention, boost sales, or enhance the quality of leads? Yep – it’s abandoned.

A company who likes to spend marketing dollars to merely “talk” or “share ideas” quickly finds itself in bankruptcy court.

Look. Smart businesses user their blog to share profitable ideas. Blogs are not an excuse to ignore sound marketing.

What about blog’s that don’t market a product/service?

Blogs that don’t market are personal or professional hobbies. I love ‘em. They are often the home of fascinating perspectives and approaches. If you write for this reason, ignore this commandment. You are seeking something different from profit, cash for payroll, or market share.

Flawed Premise #2: Blogs Transcend Business Communications

I started Pushing Social, three years ago, to challenge this flawed premise. At the time, I was evaluating social media as a marketing tool. Almost everything I read about blogging had this scent of messianic expectation.

It seemed that everyone hated marketing and latched on to social media as a way to sidestep all of those “primitive” business tactics. Blogging and social media was a way sell by just “hanging out” with customers. Somehow the blog reader or Twitter follower magically absorbed a company’s unique value proposition from a vague 350-word blog post or 140 character tweet.

As a survivor of the first dot-com bust, I knew this social media approach was complete crap. Blogs are simply an easier way to publish information and establish a dialogue with readers. That’s it.

  • Blogs cannot sell a bad product or service
  • Blogs cannot create a vibrant company culture
  • Blogs cannot entice people to take action without giving them a reason to do so

I pray this is obvious.

Flawed Premise #3: Blogging = Content Marketing

Content Marketing is a big deal. Content marketing begins with the sound premise that offering valuable information that builds trust, credibility and authority creates customers. Content marketing requires a completely different marketing mindset, one that values the process of storytelling, dialogue, and sincere engagement.

Content Marketing, done right, is a potent approach for building a business.

Blogs are just a tool in a content marketers toolbelt. They are good for certain type of content (text) and struggle with other types (photos and videos). Savvy content marketers realize that a blog is clever software, a tool, not an approach to marketing.

What Do You Think?

Let’s have a conversation about the 10th commandment. What do you think? Am I selling blog’s short?

photo credit: L. Marie via photopin cc

About Stan

Stan Smith is the Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

11 thoughts on “Blogging Commandment 10 – Your Blog is Only a Marketing Tool

  1. Lawyer James

    I fully understand the frustration here. It also helps when people like Stanford publishes pieces like this to help people have a better understanding of having a blog.

  2. Georgina @GemWriting

    Hey Stan, it’s refreshing to read something so real. If you run a business and you run a blog alongside that it has to serve some sort of purpose, otherwise it quickly becomes a depressing time consuming void. For sure the blog needs to be useful, relevant, engaging, attractive to readers etc. otherwise it’s pointless, but we shouldn’t be afraid and hide behind a smokescreen. After all, if you’re not in business to make money (to pay the bills and all that) just what are you doing :-)

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  4. Stanford Post author

    My ideas have been called worse…shallow…and narrow-minded is refreshing. :)
    As you know, I’m not one for creating a mushy-middle ground to appease the kumbaya crowd. if you are in business, then market your products with honest, authentic intensity. If you aren’t then you are off the hook.

    Talk to you soon Lou ;)

  5. Lou Rodriguez

    First, let me say I applaud you Stan for posting those comments even though they weren’t flattering. Second, I’d like to add that as far as I’m concerned, why can’t a blog be both content driven and generate revenue?

    I say it can…and should. However, I think most readers can discern between the profiteers and those who really have a message they want to get out. I’ve been blogging for almost 8 months and haven’t concentrated at all on making money…but I need to :)

    I don’t think your post was a narrow, shallow definition of “success.” at all. Having followed your blog for some time now, I know the message you are trying to send, as I assume most who read your blog do, that you can deliver epic content and make money at the same time!

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  8. Eric Wittlake

    Flawed Premise #1: Blogs Communicate Ideas Not Sell Stuff

    Let’s just restate the flawed premise, for those marketers that are concerned about their blog turning into a hard-sell outlet, and I believe it then can hold true:

    “Blogs communicate ideas in order to sell stuff.”

    If the ideas you communicate do not position you, build an audience for you, or otherwise open doors to selling, then you are right, they will ultimately be shut down because no one is seeing a tie to revenue.

  9. Stanford Post author

    Well Mike. Companies can do stupid things. Keyword stuffing is stupid. Trying to game the search engines is stupid. Writing worthless content is stupid. Thankfully you can be write great content that pays the bills.

  10. Mike

    I definitely can see where you are coming from on this one. One major issue I see with company blogs is that they use them to simply try to keyword stuff and rank better for local search terms. I think a blog truly becomes valuable when it’s used to educate, entertain, and inform the end user.

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